Aug 30 2012
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Public Health News Roundup: August 30

New Report Finds Decline in U.S. Preterm Birth Rate
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the nation’s preterm birth rate has dropped to less than 12 percent and that full-term births (babies born at 39 weeks of pregnancy) increased 11 percent from 2006-2010. The increase in the percentage of full-term births is important because babies born even just a few weeks too soon have higher rates of death and diseases than those born at 39-41 weeks of pregnancy. The report also points out that the decline in preterm births may be associated with programs to reduce early elective deliveries.

1,700 People May Have Been Exposed to Hantavirus in Yosemite
More than 1,700 visitors to Yosemite National Park may have been exposed to the Hantavirus—and two people have already died from the rodent-borne lung disease, according to Reuters. The two people who died had stayed in the Curry Village camping area; a third Curry Village camper is recovering and officials are trying to determine whether a fourth was infected. The deadly virus first manifests as a fever, headache and muscle ache. “We are encouraging anyone who stayed in Curry Village since June to be aware of the symptoms of Hantavirus and seek medical attention at the first sign of illness,” said Park Superintendent Don Neubacher in a statement.

U.S.’s Preventable Death Rate Higher than Those of Major Western European Countries
The United States has a higher rate of amenable mortality—deaths that could have been avoided with timely and effective health care—than France, Germany and the United Kingdom, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund. The report appeared in Health Affairs. From 1999 to 2006/2007, the U.S. rate among men ages 74 and under declined 18.5, compared to a decline of approximately 37 percent in the United Kingdom. The U.S. rate for women dropped only 17.5 percent, compared to about 32 percent in the United Kingdom. “Despite spending about twice as much per person each year on health care as France, Germany or the U.K.— $8,400 in 2010—the U.S. is increasingly falling behind these countries in terms of progress in lowering the potentially preventable death rate,” said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis in a release.

New HHS Grants to Enhance Public Health Training
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced millions of dollars in new grants to promote public health in the nation’s workforce. They include $23 million in grants to 37 Public Health Training Centers to improve training of health workers and $25 million to support fellowship programs that place workers in state and local public health departments. “These investments are part of our work to promote public health and they will help strengthen our efforts to fight disease and illness before they happen,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Tags: Maternal and Infant Health, News roundups, Public Health , Public Health Departments, Public health