Public Health News Roundup: August 27
U.S. Court Strikes Down Graphic Warnings for Cigarette
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has backed a lower court’s ruling that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s graphic warning labels for cigarettes constitute a First Amendment violation. Major tobacco manufacturers such as R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. have opposed the nine new labels, arguing they “went beyond factual information into anti-smoking advocacy,” accord to the Associated Press. The U.S. Department of Justice can appeal the ruling. Advocacy groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids are pushing for an appeal, saying the court’s 2-1 ruling “is wrong on the science and law, and it is by no means the final word on the new cigarette warnings.” Read an earlier Q&A with Deputy Director of the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium about the preliminary ruling.
AAP Says Circumcision Benefits Outweigh Risks, But Decision Should Be Parents’
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has revised its guidance on newborn male circumcision, stating the health benefits outweigh the risks, but it should still be up to parents to determine whether to perform the procedure. Male circumcision has been linked to reduced risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. The rate of circumcision has fallen dramatically since the 1970s, from approximately 80 percent to 55 percent in 2010. Still, AAP says parents should consult with their doctors and that the procedure might not be right for all newborn males. “We recognize that the topic cuts across many paradigms in your life — cultural, religious, ethnic, family tradition, aesthetic,” said Dr. Andrew Freedman, a member of the AAP’s task force that issued the new guidelines, toHealthDay. “We’re not in a position to make recommendations on those paradigms.” Read more on infant health.
Study: Physicians Who Use Electronic Health Records May Overlook Patients’ Mental Health Issues
Medical professionals who use electronic medical records (EMRs) are more likely than those who use paper medical records to overlook signs of depression in their patients, according to a new study University of Florida. The study is in the August issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine. “While we don’t know why EMRs are associated with lower odds of depression treatment in patients with multiple conditions, we think that either they reduce the amount of interaction between patients and physicians or they focus a physician’s attention on physical health issues, pushing mental health issues off the radar screen,” said Jeffrey Harman, an associate professor and the Louis C. and Jane Gapenski Term Professor of Health Services Administration at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions and the study’s lead researcher. Read more on mental health.
Study: Special Needs Children at Higher Risk for Obesity
A first-of-its-kind study in the International Journal of Pediatrics finds that the majority of children and youth with special health care needs (CYSHCN) suffer from obesity and do not get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. The study was conducted by the Drexel University School of Public Health. While childhood obesity can lead to major health problems late in life—such as heart disease and diabetes—there are no national statistics on CYSHCN obesity. The percentage of typically developing children with obesity has increased to 17 percent from 5 percent over the past 30 years. Read more on obesity.