Public Health News Roundup: December 28
Most US Cancer Screening Rates Didn’t Meet Government Goals
Too few Americans are seeking preventive cancer screenings, according to a recent study in Frontiers in Cancer Epidemiology.
Researchers say that reasons for the decline include disagreements among medical professional societies abut which screenings to recommend, and how often, which can be confusing for consumers, and a high rate of uninsured people who would have to pay the full screening costs themselves.
For the study, researchers looked at cancer screening rates for colorectal, breast, cervical and prostate cancer among nearly 175,000 Americans who took part in the U.S. National Health Interview Survey between 1997 and 2010, and found that except for colorectal cancer, which exceeded the screening goal of Healthy People 2010, screening rates fell short of the U.S. goal for the other cancers. Among employed cancer survivors, screening rates met or exceeded goals except for screening rates for cervical cancer.
Poor Reading Rates in Middle School Linked to Higher Rate of Pregnancies among High School Girls
Seventh grade girls who have trouble reading are more likely to get pregnant while they are in high school than average or above-average seventh grade readers, according to a new study in the journal Contraception. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reviewed standardized test reading scores for 12,339 seventh grade girls from 92 different Philadelphia public schools and tracked the girls, and their scores, over the next six years.
During that period, 1,616 of the teenagers had a baby, including 201 who gave birth two or three times. Among girls who scored below average on their reading tests, 21 percent went on to have a baby as a teenager. That compared to 12 percent who had average scores and five percent of girls who scored above average on the standardized tests.
The researchers say that the link between reading and pregnancy may be that poor academic skills may shape how teens see their future opportunities and have an impact on the risks they take.
Obesity Declining in Children Ages 2-4
Obesity may be declining among preschool-aged children living in low-income families according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers analyzed data on 27 million children in the Pediatric Nutrition Surveillance System which includes almost 50 percent of children eligible for federally funded maternal and child health and nutrition programs. The children ranged in age from 2 to 4, and came from thirty states and the District of Columbia. Data collected on children included height, weight and levels of obesity and extreme obesity. The researchers found that the prevalence of obesity increased from 13.05 percent in 1998 to 15.21 percent in 2003. The prevalence of extreme obesity increased from 1.75 percent in 1998 to 2.22 percent in 2003. However, the prevalence of obesity decreased slightly to 14.94 percent in 2010; and the prevalence of extreme obesity decreased to 2.07 percent in 2010.