Most injuries occur in or around the home – CDC

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m6503qsf Americans are injured about 39 million times a year, according to a new report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most occur in or around the home.

The percentage of injuries occurring inside the home was greater among females (38%) than males (26%).

In contrast, males were more likely than females to sustain injuries in recreational areas (16% versus 8%) and in commercial areas (8% versus 4%).

For the purpose of this study the areas included:

  • Recreation areas includes sport facilities, athletic fields, playgrounds, parks, rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans.
  • Street includes public and nonpublic roadways, highways, sidewalks, and parking lots;
  • Commercial area includes shopping centers, restaurants, places of business, farms, and industrial or construction areas;
  • School includes nonresidential schools, preschools, and child care centers.
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Gene’s effect on brain connections may play role in schizophrenia, study

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Suspect gene may trigger runaway synaptic pruning during adolescence

From the National Institutes of Health

Versions of a gene linked to schizophrenia may trigger runaway pruning of the teenage brain’s still-maturing communications infrastructure, NIH-funded researchers have discovered.

“Normally, pruning gets rid of excess connections we no longer need, streamlining our brain for optimal performance, but too much pruning can impair mental function,”

The site in Chromosome 6 harboring the gene C4 towers far above other risk-associated areas on schizophrenia’s genomic “skyline,” marking its strongest known genetic influence. The new study is the first to explain how specific gene versions work biologically to confer schizophrenia risk. — Psychiatric Genomics Consortium

People with the illness show fewer such connections between neurons, or synapses.  The gene switched on more in people with the suspect versions, who faced a higher risk of developing the disorder, characterized by hallucinations, delusions and impaired thinking and emotions.

“Normally, pruning gets rid of excess connections we no longer need, streamlining our brain for optimal performance, but too much pruning can impair mental function.”

“Normally, pruning gets rid of excess connections we no longer need, streamlining our brain for optimal performance, but too much pruning can impair mental function,” said Thomas Lehner, Ph.D., director of the Office of Genomics Research Coordination of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). “It could help explain schizophrenia’s delayed age-of-onset of symptoms in late adolescence/early adulthood and shrinkage of the brain’s working tissue. Interventions that put the brakes on this pruning process-gone-awry could prove transformative.” Continue reading

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Despite kvetching, most consumers satisfied with health plans, poll

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By Jordan Rau
KHN

Bashing insurance companies may be a popular pastime, but a poll released Thursday found most people were satisfied with their choices of doctors and even thought the cost of their health coverage was reasonable.

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The Kaiser Family Foundation poll revealed that 71 percent of insured adults younger than 65 considered the health care services they receive to be either “excellent” or “good” values. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

A majority — 61 percent — said their insurance plan was either excellent or good, given its cost.

A majority — 61 percent — said their insurance plan was either excellent or good, given its cost.

While many insurance plans are limiting the networks of doctors and hospitals to restrain prices, the survey found that a majority of people didn’t mind.

Fifty-four percent of insured adults younger than 65 said they were “very satisfied” with their selection of doctors. Another 34 percent said they were “somewhat satisfied.”

Only 12 percent said they had to change doctors because they were not covered by their insurance plan.

People lacking insurance — frequently because they found it too expensive — were less pleased with the value of their health care services. Forty-eight percent considered those services to be “only a fair” or “poor” value: nearly double the percentage of those with coverage who thought their care wasn’t worth the money.

The poll found health care was not a top priority for voters in the upcoming presidential election. Only 6 percent of registered voters considered the cost of health care and insurance to be the most important factor in their presidential choice, fewer than those who were focused on the economy and jobs, terrorism or gun control.

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Twenty-eight percent did say health care costs would be “extremely important” in determining who they would vote for. About the same number expressed similar concern about gun control, the situation in Iraq and Syria, and dissatisfaction with government.

 

Just 4 percent ranked the 2010 health care law as their highest concern — fewer than those who were focused on the economy and jobs, terrorism, dissatisfaction with government or gun control. Republican candidates have been promising to repeal the law if elected president. Continue reading

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Final call for 2016 coverage

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Washington Healthplanfinder Delivers Final Call for 2016 Coverage

Residents have until Sunday, Jan. 31 to sign up for health insurance, avoid higher tax penalties

clockThe Washington Health Benefit Exchange today issued a reminder to those individuals and families still needing to sign up for 2016 health coverage that they have until 11:59 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 31, to confirm the selection of a health insurance plan through Washington Healthplanfinder.

As important, residents who fail to select a 2016 health plan face possible tax penalties from the IRS and could be required to wait until next year to sign up for health coverage, officials said.

Residents who fail to select a 2016 health plan face possible tax penalties from the IRS

The Exchange advises customers to take immediate action to review their health plan options and sign up for a Qualified Health Plan that best meets their needs and budget.

“With only a few days remaining until the Jan. 31 deadline, we are urging all those who have not selected a 2016 health plan to take the necessary steps to get covered,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “Our customer support network is available now to help residents locate affordable health insurance options that meet their individual needs.”

Washingtonians who have not yet signed up for coverage may access assistance offered through the Exchange including: Continue reading

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Everything you need to know about the Planned Parenthood Videos

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Logo_plannedparenthoodBy Adam Harris ProPublica, Jan. 27, 2016, 12 p.m.

On Monday, a grand jury indicted David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, a center employee, on felony charges of tampering with government documents and a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

The charges stem from the investigation surrounding the controversial Planned Parenthood videos that surfaced last summer.

Marjorie Dannensfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said the videos “caused a watershed moment that we weren’t expecting.”

They also helped set the stage for the latest battle in a decades-long attempt to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds.

According to Daleiden, the goal of the videos was to prove that Planned Parenthood actively sold fetal tissue for profit.

Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit reproductive health organization, immediately pushed back against the videos following their release.

The organization questioned the legality of the tactics used to obtain the videos, which led to a massive lawsuit against Daleiden’s organization.

The videos became a hot-button issue and talking points for many GOP primary candidates 2013 some of whom turned to Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustrations with Planned Parenthood.

Even Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, called the pictures from the videos “disturbing,” although some of the images were later found to be deceptive [see below].

To help sort through the timeline of the controversy surrounding the videos here’s a reading guide: Continue reading

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US cancer centers urge HPV vaccination

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hpvSixty-nine top US cancer centers, including Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute, have issued a letter urging that adolescents, teens and young adults to be vaccinated against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV).

They write:

Approximately 79 million people in the United States are currently infected with a human papillomavirus (HPV) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and 14 million new infections occur each year. Several types of high-risk HPV are responsible for the vast majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers.

The CDC also reports that each year in the U.S., 27,000 men and women are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer, which amounts to a new case every 20 minutes. Even though many of these HPV-related cancers are preventable with a safe and effective vaccine, HPV vaccination rates across the U.S. remain low.

Together we, a group of the National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Cancer Centers, recognize these low rates of HPV vaccination as a serious public health threat. HPV vaccination represents a rare opportunity to prevent many cases of cancer that is tragically underused. As national leaders in cancer research and clinical care, we are compelled to jointly issue this call to action. Continue reading

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Nations across Latin America grapple with rapid spread of Zika virus

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By Lourdes Garcia-Navarro
South America Correspondent/NPR

MosquitoAuthorities in Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica are encouraging women to delay getting pregnant due to the spread of the mosquito-borne illness, Zika. The virus has been linked to brain damage in infants. Delaying pregnancy is a challenge for women in the region where rape is the cause of many pregnancies, and women have little access to contraception.

 

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More than 1 in 20 US children have dizziness and balance problems

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From the National Institutes of Health

First large-scale, nationally representative survey finds issues slightly more common in girls, non-Hispanic white children.

spiralMore than 1 in 20 (nearly 3.3 million) children between the ages of 3 and 17 have a dizziness or balance problem, according to an analysis of the first large-scale, nationally representative survey of these problems in U.S. children.

Prevalence increases with age, with 7.5 percent of children ages 15-17 and 6.0 percent of children ages 12-14 having any dizziness or balance problem, compared with 3.6 percent of children ages 6-8 and 4.1 percent of children ages 3-5.

The research was led by investigators at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers found that girls have a higher prevalence of dizziness and balance problems compared to boys, 5.7 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively.

In addition, non-Hispanic white children have an increased prevalence of dizziness and balance problems (6.1 percent) compared with Hispanic (4.6 percent) and non-Hispanic black (4.3 percent) children. The findings were published online January 27 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

“These findings suggest that dizziness and balance problems are fairly common among children, and parents and providers should be aware of the impact these problems can have on our children,” said James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D, director of the NIDCD and a pediatrician. “Parents who notice dizziness and balance problems in their children should consult a health care provider to rule out a serious underlying condition.” Continue reading

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State prisons turn to telemedicine to improve health and save money

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Video CameraBy Michael Ollove
Stateline

CONROE, Texas — Texas prison psychiatrist Pradan Nathan recalls an unsettling face-to-face session with a dissatisfied patient about a dozen years ago at a maximum security prison in East Texas.

The large man, a member of a notorious prison gang, insisted Nathan prescribe him a particular medication. Nathan said he didn’t need it.

“I’m going to stab you to death the next time you come in here,” the prisoner growled.

Nathan feels a lot safer these days. He sees up to 16 patients a day from a suburban Houston office here, using an audio console, a camera and a monitor to treat inmates at two state prisons — including one with a death row — at least 30 miles from where he sits. He’s still threatened occasionally, but now it’s from a comforting distance.

Though some prisons used telemedicine as early as the 1980s, its use has dramatically increased with the arrival of vastly improved technology, electronic medical records, and pressure to control ever rising medical costs.

Needless to say, he’s a big fan of telemedicine.

He’s not the only one. Most states have turned to telemedicine to some extent for treating prisoners — often in remote areas, where many prisons are located — because it allows doctors to examine them from a safe distance. It enables corrections officers keep potentially dangerous inmates behind bars for treatment rather than bearing the cost and security risk of transporting them to hospitals. And because more doctors are willing to participate, it makes health care more available for inmates. Continue reading

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Medical advocates can help guide patients make difficult choices

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Patient advocate Dan Polk, left, provided support to client Stan Smith as Smith’s son, Travis, awaited surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. (Courtesy of Stan and XuXia Smith)

By Barbara Sadick
KHN

Stan and XuXia Smith learned from an ultrasound midway through the pregnancy that their son would be born with an often-fatal congenital heart defect. In the first week of the baby’s life, they got more bad news: Some major organs were incorrectly formed and mislocated inside Travis’s tiny body. They faced a long journey.

“I felt like I’d been hit by a tidal wave. I couldn’t process the information I was being given fast enough, and I knew we’d need someone to help us translate and evaluate the enormous amount of information we were being bombarded with,” Stan Smith said.

The Chicago couple hired Dan Polk, a patient advocate and retired neonatologist whose specialty is working with sick babies and their families.

Polk helped the Smiths understand the complexity of their son’s condition while building an experienced health care delivery team, and he has guided them through the intricacies of Travis’s treatment. More than two years after his birth, he still has medical issues that require Polk’s counsel.

“I was trained to take care of patients but found myself spending too much time away from the bedside,” said Polk, who took up patient advocacy in 2013 after 35 years in practice. “Being an advocate for babies and parents has allowed me to do what I was trained to do: take care of patients.”

There are perhaps 250 to 300 patient advocates for hire in the United States, one professional association estimates. Some advocates such as Polk have clinical backgrounds and know how to navigate the health care system. They may accompany patients to appointments and facilitate doctor-patient conversations in patient-friendly language. They may also handle tasks such as prepping for medical appointments, finding the right doctors and even deciphering medical bills and health insurance plans.

Advocates aren’t cheap — their rates can start at $100 an hour or more, depending on experience and credentials — and insurance doesn’t cover them. Continue reading

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Taking older drivers off the road tied to increased depression risk | Reuters

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640px-Standard-lock-keyWhen older drivers stop getting behind the wheel, they may be more likely to feel depressed and to develop other health problems than their peers who remain on the road, a research review suggests.

Giving up the car keys was linked to an almost doubled risk of depression, the analysis found, a connection the researchers believe might be at least partly due to the social isolation or lack of independence that can ensue when elderly people can no longer get around by car.

Source: Taking older drivers off the road tied to increased depression risk | Reuters

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More cases reported in salmonella outbreak linked to Mexican-grown cucumbers | The Seattle Times

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Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH

Salmonella poisoning tied to cucumbers from Mexico has made nearly 900 people sick since last summer, including 26 in Washington state. Cases are still being reported, federal health officials said Tuesday.

Source: More cases reported in salmonella outbreak linked to Mexican-grown cucumbers | The Seattle Times

Photo: Credit: Rocky Mountain Laboratories,NIAID,NIH

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Last minute help to sign up for health insurance for Snohomish County residents

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clockWhatcom Alliance for Health Advancement is reminding Snohomish County residents there are only a few days remaining to sign up for a Qualified Health Plan through wahealthplanfinder.org.

Residents have until midnight on Sunday, January 31st to select a 2016 health plan that meets their needs and budgets.  After open enrollment closes, individuals and families would need to have a recent life change and qualifying event for special enrollment eligibility.

As individuals and families research their coverage options, they should be aware that tax penalties for not having health insurance have increased in 2016. Adults who remain without health coverage now face individual penalties of at least $695, and families could be asked to pay upwards of $2,000.

People who are unable to attend the open enrollment event can still access free, in-person assistance by locating a navigator or broker. To make an appointment with a navigator in Snohomish County, people can contact any of the organizations below:

WithinReach: 800.322.2588
WAHA: 360.255.3986
Refugee & Immigrant Services NW: 425.388.9307
Community Health Center of Snohomish County: 425.789.3789
SeaMar Community Health Centers: 855.289.4503

Health enrollment navigators will be available to assist and answer questions on Friday, January 29th, 2:30-5:30 at Mountlake Terrace Library.

The toll-free Customer Support Center (1-855-923-4633) will also host extended weekend hours from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 30 and 10 a.m. to midnight this Sunday, Jan. 31.

The Customer Support Center is regularly open every weekday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All residents needing to sign up for a 2016 Qualified Health Plan may do so by visitingwahealthplanfinder.org.

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Trying to conceive after a pregnancy loss — NIH

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Blue Pregnant BellyFrom the National Institutes of Health

A pregnancy loss, also called miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, is the unexpected loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. After such a loss, many doctors recommend that couples wait at least 3 months before conceiving again.

The World Health Organization recommends waiting at least 6 months. However, there’s little evidence to support such delays.

At a Glance

  • Researchers found no evidence to support the idea that couples should wait for 3 months after an uncomplicated early pregnancy loss before trying to conceive.
  • For those who are emotionally ready, the common recommendation to wait at least 3 months after a loss may be too conservative.

A research team led by Dr. Enrique Schisterman at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigated the link between how long couples waited after an early pregnancy loss before trying to conceive again and their success in achieving live births.

The team analyzed data from a trial that took place from 2007 to 2011. The trial’s primary goal was to evaluate the effect of daily low-dose aspirin on reproductive outcomes in women, ages 18 to 40 years, with a history of pregnancy loss.

The participants were followed for up to 6 menstrual cycles and, if they became pregnant, until the outcome of their pregnancy was known. The investigators examined data from more than 1,000 of these women.

Their analysis excluded women with pregnancy complications known to require longer follow-up care. Results were published online on January 7, 2016, in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The researchers found that more than 76% of the women began trying to conceive within 3 months after losing a pregnancy. Compared to those who waited longer, this group was more likely to become pregnant (69% vs. 51%) and to have a pregnancy leading to a live birth (53% vs. 36%).

The investigators didn’t find any difference in the risk of pregnancy complications between the groups.

“Couples often seek counseling on how long they should wait until attempting to conceive again,” Schisterman says. “Our data suggest that women who try for a new pregnancy within 3 months can conceive as quickly, if not quicker, than women who wait for 3 months or more.”

“While our data show no basis for delaying attempts at conception following a pregnancy loss, couples may need time to heal emotionally before they try again,” says first author Dr. Karen Schliep. “For those who are ready, our findings suggest that conventional recommendations for waiting at least 3 months after a loss may be unwarranted.”

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