Posted On: March 28, 2008

Anti-Vaccine Sentiment Leads to Public Health Risk

A small but growing number of parents across the U.S. refuse to vaccinate their kids, doubting the efficacy and safety of the vaccines.

The article suggests an intriguing reason for these refusals:

It is the absence, or close to it, of some illnesses in the United States that keep some parents from opting for the shots. Worldwide, 242,000 children a year die from measles, but it used to be near one million. The deaths have dropped because of vaccination, a 68 percent decrease from 2000 to 2006.

“The very success of immunizations has turned out to be an Achilles’ heel,” said Dr. Mark Sawyer, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. “Most of these parents have never seen measles, and don’t realize it could be a bad disease so they turn their concerns to unfounded risks. They do not perceive risk of the disease but perceive risk of the vaccine.”

Most of these concerns, however, are unfounded: the safety risk of most vaccines are negligible. And failing to vaccinate not only puts the non-vaccinated child at risk, but also his or her playmates. Even effective vaccines do not work 100% of the time, so a vaccinated child is not necessarily protected from his or her non-vaccinated friends.

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) fact sheet on common vaccinations.

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Posted On: March 27, 2008

Anne Arundel County Infant Mortality Reduction Program at Risk

The Healthy Start Program for reduction of infant mortality in Anne Arundel County, Maryland is at risk after its recent loss of $610,000 in federal funding.

From the article:

The black infant mortality rate became a "widespread concern" for the county five years ago, when data indicated that the rate increased to 23 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, the Capital reports. Currently, the infant mortality rate for blacks in Anne Arundel County is four times higher than that of whites, and 21 black infants in the county die before age one for every 1,000 live births, a rate three times higher than the national average.

County Health Officer Frances Phillips hopes to "cobble together a diminished Healthy Start program," but nurses would be unable to complete the 500 home visits or address the 3,000 in annual referrals as they did before, according to the Capital. If county or state funds are not made available for the program, it "would be catastrophic" for the health department, Phillips said, adding, "There is no fat. There is no ability to shave [that much money]."

The loss of funding for this program threatens to have a serious effect on the infant mortality rate in Anne Arundel County.

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Posted On: March 27, 2008

UK Bans Cold Medications For Children Under 2

On this blog, we have discussed concerns over the efficacy and safety of cough and cold medications for very young children and babies many times.

Today, the Medicine and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom has removed these medications from the shelves. Most of them will be allowed back on the shelves after the addition of a warning label saying that they should not be used on children under 2. From the article:

Sara Coakley, spokesperson for the MHRA, told BBC News it was a precautionary measure and the medicines are not dangerous.

"There's nothing wrong with these medicines, it was the way that they had been given," she said.

There was no need to panic, said Coakley, they would not be on the shelves in the first place if they were inherently dangerous.

The alert concerns 12 active ingredients: brompheniramine, chlorphenamine, dextromethorphan, diphenhydramine, ephedrine, guaifenesin, ipecacuanha, phenylephrine, pholcodine, pseudoephedrine, oxymetazoline, and xylometazoline.

According to Times Online, at least 5 deaths of children under the age of two and more than 100 cases of serious adverse events have been linked to cough and cold medicines in Britain.

The danger occurs when a child is given too much of the cough medicine or has more than one at the same time. Small children are more at risk of overdose because of their smaller body size, said the MHRA.

The MHRA is encouraging parents to give their children simple remedies like honey and lemon.

For more information, see the older discussions linked at the beginning of this post.

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Posted On: March 21, 2008

Study: Computerized Program Helps Teens Quit Smoking

A smoking cessation program involving four computerized sessions is effective for teens, new research indicates. From the article:

Fritz studied 128 teenagers, 14-19 years old, divided in half for control and experimental groups. The experimental group completed four CASCP computer sessions as well as questionnaires and post-intervention testing. Not only did the experimental group report more quit attempts than the control group subjects, who did not participate in the computer sessions, but 23% of the teens actually quit smoking.

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Posted On: March 21, 2008

Black Infant Pre-Term Birth and Mortality Much Higher than for Whites

Black infants are twice as likely to die as white infants and have a much higher-than-average rate of pre-term birth.

Researchers have suggested many possible causes for this, including the following:

-lack of pre-natal care

-lack of health insurance and health care generally

-physiological impact of the chronic stress of racism

This statistic is just one of many that indicates a highly disturbing healthcare apartheid for children in America.

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Posted On: March 21, 2008

Six-Year-Old Girl Dies from Swimming Pool Injury

Abigail Taylor, a six-year-old girl whose intestinal tract was ripped out by a swimming pool drain, died yesterday.

From the article:

Her parents, Scott and Katey Taylor, lobbied for tougher regulations to help prevent similar injuries, and in December, Congress approved legislation in December to ban the manufacture, sale or distribution of drain covers that don't meet anti-entrapment safety standards.

The Taylors also brought suit against the golf club where the pool injury occurred and the pool equipment manufacturer, Sta-Rite Industries owned by Pentair.

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