Health News Roundup

Week of August 14, 2017

Health equity

Contaminated childhood: The chronic lead poisoning of low-income children and communities of color in the United States
Emily A. Benfer, Health Affairs Blog, August 8, Copyright ©2017 Health Affairs by Project HOPE – The People-to-People Health Foundation, Inc.
The end of the lead poisoning epidemic requires addressing its underlying causes, such as housing quality, poverty, racial inequity, and environmental injustice.The risk of lead poisoning falls disproportionately on minority children, with black children nearly three times more likely than white children to have elevated blood-lead levels.

Working to close the breastfeeding gap
Shannon Shelton Miller, The New York Times, August 17
Despite decades of the “breast is best” message, African-American women often are not encouraged to nurse as much as white women. “When your mother hasn’t breast-fed, it’s hard to get that support to breastfeed your own child,” said Dr. Chelsea McKinney of NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Ill. “This is where health care providers have the opportunity to step in.” She was the lead author of a National Institutes of Health community study published last summer in Pediatrics, which found that the newborns of African-American women were nine times more likely than the babies of white mothers to be given formula in hospitals – a factor the researchers considered a significant contributor to the entrenched disparity in breastfeeding rates between black, white and Hispanic mothers.

The United States can reduce socioeconomic disparities by focusing on chronic disease
Kenneth Thorpe, Kathy Ko Chin, Yanira Cruz, Marjorie A. Innocent, and Lillian Singh, Health Affairs, August 17
One unorthodox but highly effective approach to addressing health and socioeconomic disparities in the United States would be to close the racial and ethnic wealth gap in our society by improving health. People of color face higher rates of diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, and cancer than whites. In the case of diabetes, the risk of being diagnosed is 77 percent higher for African Americans and 66 percent higher among Hispanics, than for whites. Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders are at twice the risk of developing diabetes than the population overall.

Health reform

Often missing from the current health care debate: Women’s voices
Jenny Gold and Anna Gorman, Kaiser Health News/NPR, August 16
Women have a lot at stake in the fight over the future of health care. Not only do many depend on insurance coverage for maternity care and contraception, they are struck more often by autoimmune conditions, osteoporosis, breast cancer and depression. They are more likely to be poor and depend on Medicaid, and to live longer and depend on Medicare. And it commonly falls to them to plan health care and coverage for the whole family. Here are the stories of eight women from around the country.

mental health

Budget cuts may erode gains in school mental health services
Julia Werth, The Connecticut Mirror, August 11
Since the horrific shooting of children and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, Connecticut has made significant investments in school mental health services and specifically in identifying and treating victims of trauma. But with no state budget and school beginning in less than a month, many Connecticut districts may have to cut back on recently expanded mental health services or make room for them in their own budgets.