Midwives must be licensed under new law

By CAITLIN TAYLOR

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan midwife associations were pleased when Gov. Rick Snyder signed new midwife licensing legislation into law at the beginning of the year.

Midwives are trained to assist women in childbirth. They help with delivery as well as provide prenatal and postpartum care. Michigan has 31 certified professional midwives currently registered with the state, according to the North American Registry of Midwives.

To further protect the safety of mothers, some midwifery advocates lobbied for such a licensing law for nearly six years, according to Stacia Proefrock, president of the Michigan Midwives Association and a certified professional midwife at Trillium Midwifery in Ypsilanti. Continue reading

Some Michigan fish safe for pregnant women, sometimes

By CAITLIN TAYLOR

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan health professionals still want pregnant women to eat fish in safe amounts, despite local fish advisories throughout the state.

Fish provide nutrients, like omega-3 oils, that are important to fetal brain development, Jennifer Eisner, public information officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, said. But some of the state’s water bodies are contaminated with toxins like mercury that could harm a growing fetus, she said.

“We do want pregnant women to eat locally caught fish,” Eisner said. “But we want them to check our guidelines to find out how often it’s safe to eat them.”

The department develops Eat Safe Fish guidelines that  provide information on the health effects of chemicals in fish by geographic area. The guidelines apply to all Michiganders, but offer specific recommendations for pregnant women, children and those with chronic illnesses. Continue reading

Medical officials applaud new state vaccination campaign

By ISAAC CONSTANS

Capital News Service

LANSING –  Michigan, with vaccination rates that put it near the bottom of a list of all states, has launched a new campaign — I Vaccinate — that it hopes will boost rates up to 90 percent.

Currently, 67.6 percent of Michigan children aged 19 to 35 months have received all of their recommended vaccinations, according to a 2016 United Health Foundation report.

The program, which was launched in late March, has an “innovative” multi-platform structure that will educate and encourage Michigan residents, according to state officials.

I Vaccinate combines a social media, web and TV presence to convey the importance of vaccinations for communities by focusing on parents’ concerns. Its website offers vaccination schedules, links to the immunization registry and answers questions that parents and guardians typically have. Continue reading

Fewer Michigan parents seek vaccination waivers

By LAURA BOHANNON

Capital News Service

LANSING — The percentage of Michigan parents opting out of vaccinating their children has continued to drop since the state changed its waiver rules, Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon said.

“We’ve changed the way the waivers worked for parents to basically ask for an exemption for vaccinations for their children,” he said. “We’ve seen those waiver rates drop from 4.6 percent in November 2014 to 2.9 percent in 2016.”

Now, Michigan parents must speak with a public health provider to obtain a nonmedical waiver. In 2015, the year the changes were implemented, statewide waiver rates dropped to 3.1 percent.

The changes were prompted by the large number of Michigan parents waiving vaccines for their children. Michigan has one of the highest immunization waiver rates in the country, with some counties reporting rates as high as 12.5 percent, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Continue reading

Severe impact predicted in Michigan if new health care bill passes

By ISAAC CONSTANS

Capital News Service

LANSING — About 2.5 million Michiganders could lose health care coverage under the Republican-proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy.

The study comes on the heels of a Congressional Budget Office projection that the recently introduced American Health Care Act(AHCA)  would cause 24 million people to lose their insurance over 10 years, while reducing the federal deficit by about $337 billion.

The Republican proposal jeopardizes the Healthy Michigan Plan, the Michigan Medicaid expansion that has insured 650,000 residents under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. The ACA would be repealed and replaced with the AHCA. Continue reading

Antibiotics rules create buzz for bee doctors

By BEN MUIR

Capital News Service

LANSING — Michigan State University is hunting for veterinarians willing to treat bees.

MSU’s Pollinator Initiative launched the search after a recent Food and Drug Administration decision outlawing over-the-counter antibiotics for all food-producing animals went into effect this year.

Medication for cows, pigs, chickens and bees is no longer available over the counter after low levels of antibiotics were detected in the food.

“The concern is that if it’s not well-regulated, antibiotics can get in the food supply, and then people get low doses,” said Meghan Milbrath, a beekeeper of 23 years and a research associate in the MSU Department of Entomology. “And all of sudden you are resistant to those antibiotics. And if you get sick down the road, those antibiotics won’t work.” Continue reading

State Senate: Make February about taking care of you

By CAITLIN TAYLOR

Capital News Service

LANSING — If taking time for yourself often feels like an impossible task, now you have a reason to be a little more selfish.

A  Senate resolution promoting healthy lifestyle choices was adopted at the end of January. Introduced by Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, the resolution recognizes February 2017 as Self Care Month.

The resolution’s sponsors include Sens. Darwin Booher, R-Evart; Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage; John Proos, R-St. Joseph; and Wayne Schmidt, R-Traverse City.

According to the resolution, self-care is a lifelong commitment to good hygiene practices, monitoring changes in health, knowing when to consult a healthcare practitioner and preventing infection and illness.

While there are many types of self-care, the resolution highlights knowing when it is appropriate to self-treat physical health conditions with over-the-counter medications.

Schuitmaker said Perrigo, an over-the-counter pharmaceutical company in Allegan, asked her to propose Self Care Month.

Continue reading

Climate change threatens Great Lakes forest health, researchers say

By MARIE ORTTENBURGER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Great Lakes forests will get warmer and suffer more frequent short-term droughts, scientists say.

“We know climate change is going to really stress these systems in ways they haven’t been stressed in the last several thousand years,” said Stephen Handler, a Houghton-based climate change specialist with the U.S. Forest Service.

How trees will respond to such different growing conditions is unknown. But experts say they can’t wait to find out.

“You don’t wait until the car has already gone over the cliff,” Handler said. “You hit the brakes when you can. You steer and find a better way around the cliff.” Continue reading

Physician assistants could expand access to health care

By BRIDGET BUSH

Capital News Service

LANSING — Patients would gain greater access to health care if lawmakers approve a bill that would let physician assistants practice with less supervision and make it easier for some of them to prescribe drugs.

The measure would make Michigan the first state to offer that level of autonomy.

The idea is to help physician assistants better reach and serve patients, said Michael DeGrow, executive director for the Michigan Academy of Physician Assistants. The legislation will make it easier for them to practice in many different counties.

For example, if you’re homebound with a chronic condition in rural Northern Michigan, multiple visits to outpatient health care may not be possible. Physician assistants can help better serve these patients, DeGrow said.

Current law creates a burdensome reliance on physicians when prescribing medicine, he said. This bill would relieve that bottleneck, while allowing individual physicians to decide the terms of oversight that best fits their practice. Continue reading