prevention

Tag archives for prevention

A recent study finds vaccine refusals have, indeed, accelerated the resurgence of whooping cough and measles here in the U.S. The findings are making headlines around the country — and comment sections are filling up with vitriol from anti-vaxxers — but it would feel amiss not to highlight the study on a blog dedicated to public health. But first, let’s remind ourselves of the pain and suffering that preceded vaccines.

In another example of the value of investing in public health, a recent study finds that PulseNet, a national foodborne illness outbreak network, prevents about 276,000 illnesses every year, which translates into savings of $507 million in medical costs and lost productivity. That’s a pretty big return on investment for a system that costs just $7.3 million annually to operate.

Poverty and poor health often go hand-in-hand. However, the effects of poverty may be especially profound for children, who are moving through critical developmental and educational phases in their young lives. Knowing that this social determinant of health can lead to a lifelong struggle with poor health and disease, the American Academy of Pediatrics is now calling on pediatricians to screen their young patients for poverty.

It seems obvious that workers with paid sick leave are more likely to stay home and seek out medical care when they or a family member is ill. But it’s always good to confirm a hunch with some solid data.

In the U.S., just a tiny fraction of the chemicals used in consumer products have been tested for human health effects. And with the current climate in Congress, it feels unlikely that we’ll see any true reform of the nation’s terribly outdated chemical safety rules anytime soon. In the meantime, scientist Thomas Hartung may have created the next best thing.

Another day, another study on the potentially life-saving impact of vaccines. This time it’s a new study on the vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical cancer. Earlier this week, researchers announced that since the vaccine came on the scene, rates of HPV among young women in the U.S. have plummeted.

Manufacturers who market their products as “BPA-free” aren’t just sending consumers a message about chemical composition. The underlying message is about safety — as in, this product is safe or least more safe than products that do contain BPA. However earlier this month, another study found that a common BPA alternative — BPS — may not be safer at all.

For public health workers, it’s no surprise that social, economic and political conditions shape the distribution and burden of disease. They’ve always known that it takes much more than medicine to keep people healthy. Still, when public health scientist Kristina Talbert-Slagle decided to study the impact of social and public health spending on HIV/AIDS, she wasn’t sure what she’d uncover.

In the midst of another national debate over gun safety regulations, some argue that higher rates of gun ownership will protect people from dangerous strangers with deadly intentions. Physician and public health researcher Michael Siegel set out to study that argument. He ultimately found no relationship between gun ownership and stranger-related firearm homicides. But he did find that gun ownership levels translated into higher homicide risks for one group in particular — women.

Each year, the U.S. spends $26.2 billion on costs associated with preterm birth — that’s birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Beyond the costs, babies born too early experience immediate and long-term problems, from developmental disabilities to asthma to hearing loss. For years, scientists have been studying possible environmental contributors, with many finding an association between preterm birth and air pollution. Earlier this week, a new study brought even more depth and clarity to this connection.