Elevated levels of lead in adults unnoticed


Capital News Service

LANSING —  While the Flint water crisis brought national attention to children exposed to lead, a larger group of adults and children with elevated lead levels is mostly ignored, officials say.  

Young children whose parents have elevated blood lead levels are a high-risk group, health experts say. In Michigan, 34 percent of children under 6 with parents who have elevated lead levels also have elevated levels, according to a 2014 report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The lead comes home on the shoes and clothes of the parents who pick it up at work.

“The percentage of children in this group is much higher than in Flint,” said  Ken Rosenman, chief of the Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Michigan State University.

“What about these kids? Why aren’t they being mentioned?” Continue reading

Super gonorrhea: bad bugs, no drugs


Capital News Service

LANSING—Health experts are bracing for a strain of gonorrhea resistant to all forms of antibiotic treatment, a threat potentially more daunting than HIV AIDS.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that it is still too early to determine whether this strain has become widespread, Michigan communities are playing it safe.

“We’re not waiting until it becomes a problem to start talking about it,” said Meghan Swain, executive director of the Michigan Association for Local Public Health.

The main focus of health departments’ efforts right now is prevention.

“I’m not aware of any recent spikes in gonorrhea,” said Kate Donaldson, public information officer for the Local Health Department for District 10, which serves Crawford, Kalkaska, Lake, Manistee, Mason, Mecosta, Missaukee, Newaygo, Oceana and Wexford counties.

“Educating the public and raising awareness among doctors is one approach adopted by local health departments and global institutions, such as the United Nations World Health Organization,” said Kara Schrader, doctor of nursing practice and family nurse practitioner for the College of Nursing at Michigan State University. Continue reading

Drug epidemic leaves more Michigan children with uncertain future


Capital News Service

LANSING — The use of prescription opiates, heroin and other drugs is a rising statewide epidemic that threatens the future of more children.

Drug overdose was the number-one cause of injury-related deaths for Michigan adults in 2014 when they jumped to 1,745. That’s about a 12 percent increase over the previous year, according to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services data.

The illegal use of drugs, specifically prescription opiates, has steadily increased during the past five years, said Alicia Guevara-Warren, Kids Count project director for the Michigan League for Public Policy.

But the real state-altering issue here is the children’s lives that are uprooted as a result, she said.

The number of children of parents with substance abuse problems and who entered foster care rose from 6,989 in 2011 to 7,971 in 2013, which Guevara-Warren said is the latest reliable data. Continue reading

Lake fish, even with some mercury, good for your health


Capital News Service

inter-tribal-fisheries-assessment-program-logoLANSING — Eating Great Lakes fish that contain mercury may threaten your health, but the nutritional benefits may outweigh the risks, according to a new study of lake trout and lake whitefish consumption by members of Native American tribes with high rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

“Great Lakes fish should be considered for their nutritional importance relative to contemporary options, even when adjusting for risks of mercury toxicity,” according to the researchers from the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority’s Inter-Tribal Fisheries and Assessment Program in Sault Ste. Marie and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Continue reading

Vaccination waivers drop, decreasing disease risk in schools

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan schoolchildren are less susceptible to diseases such as pertussis, chickenpox and measles, thanks to a recent decrease in immunization waivers, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Michigan has experienced a 39 percent decrease in the number of waivers submitted for the 2015-2016 school year, compared to the same time last year, the department said in a news release.

Waivers, which some parents seek for religious or philosophical reasons, exempt children from required vaccines to enter a specific grade. The fewer children who are vaccinated, the higher the risk of spreading preventable diseases.
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Diversity in health care coming too slowly for some

Capital News Service

LANSING – Health experts urging more diversity in Michigan’s health care workforce may see graduation statistics from local universities as good news.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, more than a quarter of medical school graduates from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan – 27 percent and 36 percent respectively – were minorities, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Set.

In that same year, according to the data, minority students constituted 37 percent of the graduating class at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, up 68 percent from its preceding graduating class.
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Push underway to expand telehealth services

Capital News Service

LANSING—A new federal proposal co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters would expand access to health care, especially in rural areas.

The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act would require Medicare to work with local providers to expand their telehealth services.

“Telehealth has revolutionized health care, helping more patients receive life-saving treatment, and we must ensure that people living in rural areas have equal access to the care they need,” Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said in an announcement.
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More funding ahead for jail mental health projects


Capital News Service

LANSING — Health and law enforcement professionals are increasingly recognizing the importance of innovative mental health jail diversion programs, working to implement them in their own counties with state and locally funds.

The Department of Health and Human Services will fund expansion of jail diversion efforts in January 2016 through Gov. Rick Snyder’s Mental Health Diversion Council. The program will award about $1.2 million in total to two new agency projects and current pilot projects.

Steven Mays, the diversion administrator at the department said, said this year’s program will be a little different from previous years’.
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New federal map pinpoints major Michigan health risk



Capital News Service

LANSING – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 610,000 people every year – one in every four deaths – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cardiovascular disease is a common term. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACD) is not, however, and Michigan residents are dying of this malady at a significantly higher rate than the national average.

Earlier this year, the CDC issued a map reporting the cause of death most distinct to each state.
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