Jun 8 2012

Public Health News Roundup: June 8

Former NFL Players, Families File Law Suit over Brain Injuries

The Associated Press is reporting that many former players or their families have filed a master lawsuit against the National Football League, accusing the league of withholding information that linked head injuries during practice and games to permanent brain injuries. Read more on sports-related head injuries.

GAO Report on School Bullying Finds Insufficient Legal Protections for Victims

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on school bullying finds that 20-28% of youths reported being bullied in school, but that federal and some state laws provide only limited protection against bullying since they don’t identify specific groups, such as race or gender. The report recommends that federal agencies investigate legal options for victims of bullying, provide more information on state-level protections and determine whether current protections are adequate. Read more on violence.

CDC Survey Finds Some Improvements, Some Concerns in Youth Health Risk Behaviors

A recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that U.S. high school students have shown significant progress over twenty years in improving many health risk behaviors particularly related to motor vehicle safety, but still engage in some dangerous practices such as cyber bullying, marijuana use and texting and emailing while driving.

Improved behaviors in the report include:

  • From 1991 to 2011, the percentage of high school students who never or rarely wore a seatbelt declined from 26 to 8.
  • From 1991 to 2011, the percentage of students who rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol during the past 30 days declined from 40 to 24.
  • The percentage of high school students who had driven a car during the past 30 days when they had been drinking alcohol decreased from 17 in 1997 to 8 in 2011.

Concerning behaviors identified in the survey include:

  • One in three high school students had texted or e-mailed while driving a car or other vehicle in the thirty days before the survey.
  • Current cigarette use did not change significantly between 2009 (19 percent) and 2011 (18 percent).
  • Marijuana use increased from 21 percent to 23 percent, although there has been an overall decrease in current marijuana use (from 27 percent in 1999 to 23 percent in 2011).
  • Current marijuana use among high school students was more common than current cigarette use (23 percent compared to 18 percent).

Read more on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HHS Report Finds Some Children’s Vaccines May Have Been Improperly Stored

The Department of Health and Human Service Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report "Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program: Vulnerabilities in Vaccine Management." this week that found that some vaccines stored by health care providers as part of the government’s Vaccines for Children program may have been stored at the wrong temperature, which could make them less effective. In some clinics and offices, expired and unexpired vaccines had been stored together.

In a statement responding to the report, the CDC said that most of the expired vaccines were seasonal flu shots that would not have been administered and that, “While the safety and health of our nation’s children has not been compromised by the issues identified by the OIG, the findings are important and underscore that we must do better at ensuring that all vaccines are stored properly at all times, including removing expired vaccine from units where viable vaccines are stored.” Read more on vaccines.

Tags: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Injury Prevention, News roundups, Substance Abuse, Transportation, Violence