Mar 1 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: March 1

Severe Weather Kills Twelve in Midwest

Tornadoes in five Midwest states this week have left at least 12 people dead and hundreds injured. Severe weather could move to the Northeast by the weekend. Read more on public health disasters.

Judge Rules Tobacco Graphic Warning Labels Unconstitutional

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon has ruled that Food and Drug Administration regulations requiring graphic health warnings on cigarette packaging violate free-speech rights under the Constitution. An earlier preliminary injunction resulted in an appeal by the Department of Justice to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and Reuters is reporting that it’s likely that the most recent ruling will be appealed as well. Read more on the latest tobacco news.

NIH Launches Online Tool to Help Navigate Genetic Testing

An online tool launched by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) will help consumers make decisions about genetic testing. According to the NIH, genetic tests currently exist for about 2,500 diseases and the numbers of available tests are expected to increase rapidly. The tool will be updated frequently and include the purpose of each test, what is measured and the test’s limitations.

Text4Baby to Promote Enrollment in Medicaid and CHIP

The Centers for Medicaid & Medicaid Services has announced that it will partner with Text4Baby, a free national health texting service, to promote enrollment in both Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as well as provide pregnant women and new mothers free text messages on important health care issues. More than 184,000 current Text4Baby users will receive messages that provide a connection to the InsureKidsNow phone number and website for information about how to sign up. Read more on maternal and infant health.

HUD Launches Public Database of Agency-Assisted Households

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has launched a public database to help researchers better understand the characteristics of households receiving assistance under the Department’s main rental programs. The new database includes household-level data for five percent of households assisted through the department, and will be updated each year. It won’t have personal information on households, but it will have data on family type, income, race, gender, state of residence and poverty rate based on census data. Read up on health and housing.

Tags: Disasters, Housing, Maternal and Infant Health, News roundups, Preparedness, Public and Community Health, Public health law, Technology, Tobacco