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South Central Region
Updated: 42 min 51 sec ago

Antidepressants Taken During Pregnancy Don’t Harm the Baby

Thu, 2017-07-20 00:57

Untitled by Carlo Navarro is licensed under CC0.

New research suggests antidepressants taken during pregnancy don’t harm the baby. For women battling with depression, this decision to continue taking antidepressants while pregnant no longer has to be such a difficult one.

The study, which was conducted in Sweden, found little risk of intellectual disability in children whose mothers had taken antidepressants while pregnant.

“It is imperative that women who are living with depression remain appropriately and effectively treated during pregnancy,” said Dr. Ruth Milanaik, who reviewed the new findings, and is directs the Neonatal Neurodevelopmental Follow-Up Program at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

For women who took antidepressants, the risk of their child having an intellectual disability was heightened only by 0.4 percent, which is not significant enough to warrant concern.

To read more about the study, please visit “No Sign That Antidepressants in Pregnancy Harm Kids’ Brains: Study.”

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Painkiller Misuse Second Most Common Illegal Drug Problem

Tue, 2017-07-18 00:42

Untitled by frolicsomepl is licensed under CC0.

The opioid epidemic has taken center stage in both 2016 and 2017. In November, the Surgeon General released a landmark report regarding addiction in America, and a new study finds that abuse of prescription opioids is the second most common illegal drug problem in the U.S.–second only to marijuana.

The data from 2012-2014 showed that 4 percent of people aged 12 and older had reported nonmedical use of prescription in pain relievers. It was most common in several states, including two in the SCR region: Arkansas and Oklahoma, with rates exceeding 5 percent. None of SCR states were in the list with the lowest rates.

Although the problem is still large in the grand scheme of things, the nonmedical use of prescription pain relievers did fall nationally and in 13 states. But there’s no quick fix; it will take years to fully overcome the opioid epidemic.

To read more about the study, please visit “Painkiller Misuse Remains a Pressing Problem Across U.S.”

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First Case of Heartland Virus Found in Arkansas

Wed, 2017-07-12 22:39

Untitled by Jordan McQueen is licensed under CC0.

The Arkansas Department of Health recently reported that it has identified the first individual in the state with Heartland virus–a relatively new tickborne disease. The individual lives in Little Rock, in the northwest portion of the state.

To be infected with Heartland virus, individuals have to be bitten by the Lone Star tick, which are common to Arkansas as well as much of the eastern united States. Since first being described in 2012, all cases of Heartland virus have been occurred between May and September.

Symptoms of Heartland virus include having a fever and feeling very tired. Other symptoms may include headaches, muscle aches, and diarrhea, among others. Most patients infected with the virus have required hospitalization, but nearly all of them have fully recovered; there has only been one death attributed to the disease.

To avoid ticks and becoming infected with tickborne diseases, read one of our previous blog posts for prevention tips.

To learn more about Heartland disease in Arkansas, please visit “Case of Heartland virus found in Arkansas resident.”

For more information on the Heartland virus, please visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s website.

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Bullying Causes More Than Just Emotional Toll on Schools

Mon, 2017-07-10 21:32

A new study finds that bullies take more than just an emotional toll on students–they also take a financial toll…how?

California is one of a number of states who receives funding based on student attendance, rather than total enrollment; in SCR’s region, Texas is one of the states that follows this method. In California, schools lost about $276 million in attendance because kids were afraid to come to school for fear of the bullies and being bullied. The data found 10 percent of students missed at least one day of school in the past year because they didn’t feel safe–which means 301,000 kids missed out on a day of school for this reason.

This new study finds an economic reason to prevent bullying in schools.

To read more about the study, please visit “Bullying Takes Financial Toll on U.S. School Districts.”

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Untitled by Aaron Burden is licensed under CC0.

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Be Prepared for an Emergency

Wed, 2017-07-05 23:39

Untitled by Arny Mogenson is licensed under CC0.

Did you know last year the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency recorded 102 emergency declarations? These included wildfires, severe storms, hurricanes…any sort of natural disaster. These disasters can often be sudden and unplanned for, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared in case you’re caught in the middle of one!

The first thing you need to do is plan. You know the saying–failure to plan is planning to fail, and in these instances, you really don’t want to be caught unprepared. Here’s a list to get you started provided by

  1. Make a list of emergency contacts
  2. Designate an emergency meeting place for your family members. Have one for both in the neighborhood and outside, depending on what the emergency is.
  3. Make copies of your emergency plan–every family member should have access to their own copy.
  4. Practice your plan! It’s great to have it all on paper, but make sure everyone knows what to do if a disaster were actually to occur.

Once you have your plan, it’s time to think about the other practicalities of a disaster–if there’s a disaster in the winter, you’ll need some warm clothes. You’ll generally always need bottled water, no matter the emergency. What about a hurricane in the summer? You can find a full list of tips and more on SCR encourages you to be prepared!

To read more about emergency preparedness, please visit “Be Ready When Disaster Strikes: Your guide for emergency preparedness.”

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Raising the Minimum Smoking Age

Thu, 2017-06-29 01:21

Untitled by Nuna Silva is licensed under CC0.

Just last week, we shared that teen tobacco use had dropped from 4.7 million to 3.9, a significant drop, but something that needs to be further reduced, as it is at this age when they develop the smoking habit; 9 out of 10 smokers started before age 18, and almost no one starts smoking after age 25.

Well, the drop could be further reduced due to one particular measure that has been put up to debate–raising the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes. New research is showing that nearly two-thirds of teens support raising the minimum age for purchasing tobacco products to 21.

According to a MedlinePlus article, “Raising the minimum tobacco purchase age to 21 would likely have significant public health benefits. There would be 249,000 fewer premature deaths and 45,000 fewer lung cancer deaths for people born between 2010 and 2019, the researchers said.”

The study surveyed more than 17,000 kids aged 11 to 18 at 185 different schools.

As we mentioned in a previous blog post, oftentimes, teens turn to alternative nicotine methods, such as vaping or e-cigarettes, sometimes not realizing these products contain nicotine themselves. The initiative proposed to the students would also limit the sale and purchase of e-cigarettes to those 21 and older.

To learn more about the research and the tobacco age limit increase initiative, please visit “Raise the Smoking Age to 21? Most Kids Fine With That.”

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National HIV Testing Day

Mon, 2017-06-26 23:41
HIV Testing

Graphic provided by CDC.

Today is National HIV Testing Day, and we at SCR want to inform you about the importance of getting tested for HIV and AIDS, as well as other sexually transmitted diseases.

In the United States, there are 1.1 million people who have HIV, and 1 in every 7 don’t know they have it. In the SCR region, 110,721 people were living with diagnosed AIDS according to the last report in 2014 from AIDSvu. The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. Many people with HIV don’t have any symptoms. In the United States, 1 in 8 people living with HIV don’t know they have it.

Even if you don’t feel sick, getting early treatment for HIV is important. Early treatment can help you live a longer, healthier life. Treatment can also make it less likely that you will pass HIV on to other people. HIV and AIDS is only dangerous nowadays if you don’t know you have it. Once you know, you can treat it, and lead a normal, healthy life.

Are you at risk for HIV?

HIV is spread through some of the body’s fluids, like blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. HIV is passed from one person to another by:

  • Having sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) without barrier contraception
  • Sharing needles with someone who has HIV
  • Breastfeeding, pregnancy, or childbirth if the mother has HIV
  • Getting a transfusion of blood that’s infected with HIV (very rare in the United States)

Under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, insurance plans must cover HIV testing. Talk to your insurance company to learn more.

Free HIV testing is also available at some testing centers and health clinics. You can find a nationwide list of centers on the CDC’s website.

To learn more about National HIV Testing Day and HIV in the United States, visit the CDC’s website.

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Graphic provided by CDC.

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First Decline in Vaping Among Teens

Thu, 2017-06-22 01:49

Untitled by Phong Nguyen is licensed under CC0.

Fewer teens are vaping, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. This is the first time there has been a decline since the U.S. government began tracking vaping or e-cigarette use in 2015. According to the report, vaping fell from 3 million in 2015 to 2.2 million in 2016, which is a pretty significant drop. The drop also correlated to the number of teens who used nicotine. Dropping from 4.7 million to 3.9 million the same years.

While the drop was large, it still means that nearly 4 millions middle and high schoolers are using tobacco products, which needs to be reduced further. Still, the decline in e-cigarette use is promising. Previously, SCR has shared blog posts related to vaping. Research showed that teens who vaped preferred non-nicotine flavors and that teens who frequently used e-cigarettes were more likely to be heavy smokers. There also seemed to be a misconception that e-cigarettes didn’t contain nicotine, which they often did.

In December, e-cigarette use among teens was labeled a “major public health concern” by the U.S. Surgeon General’s office. And earlier in 2016, new U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations took effect sharing that e-cigarettes are not a safe alternative to traditional cigarettes or other nicotine products.

Preventing youth tobacco use is particularly important because 9 out of 10 smokers started before age 18, and almost no one starts smoking after age 25. And as most of us know, if there are any benefits of smoking, the health disadvantages far outweigh them.

To read more about the decline in teen e-cigarette use, please visit “First Decline in ‘Vaping’ Among U.S. Teens: CDC.”

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SCR Regional Highlight: Jump into the Summer with a Concert

Mon, 2017-06-19 23:54
jump on it

Photo provided to SCR by Jump On It.

With the start of summer just over a month away, you may be looking for ways to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Or you might be looking for ways to avoid the heat. For SCR’s social media coordinator, Sara, she’s choosing the latter considering Phoenix (where she lives) can, and is starting to, get up to 120 degrees!

But in general, for the rest of the U.S., including the SCR region, while it may be hot, it’s not always completely unbearable during this time of year. Even when it’s warm out, there’s still plenty of opportunity and reason to get outside. In Austin, Texas, one great reason is to attend the annual summer concert series, Jump On It!

This year is a big one for Jump On It, as 2017 marks its 20th anniversary. First started in 1997 by community activist Dorothy Turner and local rapper Charles “NOOK” Byrd, Jump On It was a way to reinstill a sense of pride in East Austin. This mission has remained the same but expanded to playing a role in social development, bringing together people of all ages, incomes and ethnicities

This year’s concert series also has an expanded component dealing with health and wellness of patrons. According to an Austin360 article, “This year, event organizers have partnered with the City of Austin to focus on health screenings, from fitness testing to diabetes screens and STD tests. They will also host financial literacy and education workshops.”

Some of the lineup includes B.O.B. Trae tha Truth and Mo3. A full lineup is available on their website. The concert series will take place each Wednesday in Givens Park in Austin from June 21 to August 9.

We plan to profile each of our grant recipients through a blog post, so keep checking back to learn more about what we’re funding in the SCR region!

To find out more about Jump On It, visit their website.

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Babies Can Tell Face-Like Images Inside the Womb

Thu, 2017-06-15 02:33

Untitled by Hal Gatewood is licensed under CC0.

Parents may have noticed that their babies were often more fascinated with faces than with human objects, researchers did too. But new research shows that facial recognition for babies actually starts in the womb–as early as the 34th week of pregnancy.

Researchers have known that fetuses can distinguish between different shapes in the womb, but this facial recognition is a new discovery.

How were they able to show a fetus these images? They projected light images through the uterine wall in dozens of pregnant women. The fetuses were more likely to turn their heads to face-like images opposed to any other shape.

The study also shows that baby have enough light to have visual experiences inside the womb–another scientific revelation.

To read more about the study, please visit “Babies’ Fascination With Faces May Start in the Womb.”

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June is Men’s Health Month and this Week is National Men’s Health Week

Mon, 2017-06-12 22:30
men's health month

Untitled by Cole Hutson is licensed under CC0.

To celebrate Men’s Health Month, which occurs every June, Men’s Health Network, the Congressional Men’s Health Caucus, and hundreds of other local and national organizations have launched an awareness campaign.

The goal: Educate the public about the many preventable health problems that affect men and boys, and empower them and their loved ones to move towards a healthier, happier life.

The need for this sort of campaign is definitely timely: men die five years younger than women, on average, and die at higher rates for nine of the top 10 causes of death. Men are the majority of workplace injuries, less likely to be insured, and far less likely to see a doctor for preventive care. All of this impacts their ability to be an involved father, supportive husband, and engaged member of their community.

“This year continues to be a pivotal one for men’s health—new guidance on prostate cancer  screenings and the declining mortality rates for large groups of men means awareness and education is paramount,” said Ana Fadich, vice president at Men’s Health Network.

Throughout June, there will be hundreds of events across the country and around the globe hosted by churches, private business, civic organizations, government agencies, fraternities, and other organizations. To find ideas on hosting your own, visit the Men’s Health Month’s website.

This year also marks the 23rd anniversary of National Men’s Health Week, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994. It began yesterday, Monday, June 12, and ends on Father’s Day, June 18, 2017.

You can find more information on a variety of health issues on MedlinePlus’ Men’s Health page and health profiles of men and boys in each state can be found on the State of Men’s Health website.

To find out more information about Men’s Health Month and National Men’s Health Week, please visit Men’s Health Month’s website or the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s website.

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Fewer Teen Births Equal Historic Low

Thu, 2017-06-08 00:52

Untitled by Jorge Rojas is licensed under CC0.

Teen births reached a historic low in 2014, dropping 9 percent from 2013 to 2014–the birth rate is currently 2.4 percent for 15 to 19 year olds. On the other hand, the birth rate for women over 30 increased by 6 percent and is currently at a rate of 30 percent. And overall births increased by approximately 1 percent to 4 million.

There are a couple of reasons that may suggest why the rate decreased so significantly. For one thing, Dr. Paul Jarris, chief medical officer at March of Dimes, suggests it has simply become less acceptable for teens to be pregnant. In addition, teens have more access to long-lasting birth control, opposed to condoms or a daily pill.

The decline in teen pregnancy is good for several reasons. In general, teens receive worse prenatal care compared to adults and there’s a higher risk of complications. And, as you might expect, Jarris explains teen moms may be more likely to experience poverty and loneliness, and they may miss out on education opportunities.

However, early reports of 2015 and 2016 data show an increase in early deliveries, which in itself have complications. And it is most often minority women who are experience pre-term births. Jarris explains researchers should want to understand why this disparity is increasing.

To read more about the decline in teen pregnancy, please visit “U.S. Teen Births Hit Historic Low: CDC.”

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National Safety Month 2017

Mon, 2017-06-05 21:39
national safety month

Poster provided through National Safety Council’s National Safety Month media kit.

Did you know that every four minutes, someone dies from something that is 100 percent preventable? That’s where the National Safety Council comes in. Every June, National Safety Month is observed where the NSC raises awareness for the different risks that are present both at home and at work and how you can keep yourself, your employees/coworkers and/or family safe.

This year’s National Safety Month is all about promoting:

  • Prevention of falls
  • Better sleep habits
  • Preparation for active shooters
  • And ergonomics

Prevention of Falls

Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injury, and oftentimes, preventing falls is as simple as removing any sort of tripping hazards. The NSC recommends using non-skid rugs or rug liners, securing electrical cords, cleaning up any spills immediately and using proper signage to note that a floor might be wet, and more.

Better Sleep Habits

One-third of adults aren’t getting enough sleep. And while it may seem like you just don’t have enough time and the only effect a little fatigue will have on you is that you’re a little more tired, you’re actually wrong. Prolonged sleep deprivation has been known to cause an increased risk for obesity, heart disease and depression; plus, it can make you less focused and therefore less productive at work. Make it a point to get the recommended 7-9 hours’ rest every night.

Preparation for Active Shooters

If you’ve been watching the news, you may have become more aware of the threat that active shooters pose. It’s important to know that these situations are often unpredictable and victims are often chosen at random, but there are ways to prepare yourself for this sort of emergency. For one thing, be aware of at least two exits wherever you go. If there is an active shooter and you have the opportunity to flee, the NSC recommends you do so, leaving all belongings behind. If you can’t, hide in a place where the shooter can’t see you. Don’t forget to silence your cell phones and call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so.


About 80 percent of the U.S. population will experience back pain at some point in their life. To help prevent this, it’s important to make sure you are lifting heavy boxes correctly. For one thing, do a couple of quick stretches to prepare yourself, and as we’re sure you’ve heard before, lift with your legs and not your back.

Besides just lifting, if you have a very sedentary job, this can also cause back pain. Make sure you have a good chair that offers proper lumbar support and has arm rests, and make sure you can sit so your feet can rest flat on the floor. It’s also important to take short breaks from looking at the computer screen (every 15 minutes) and actually getting away from your desk and moving (every hour).

To find out more about National Safety Month and about this year’s initiatives, please visit the National Safety Council’s website.

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No Research Shows Fidget Spinners Effective

Wed, 2017-05-31 21:45

Product photo from

fidget spinner

If you have young children, you may have noticed the latest toy craze that is fidget spinners. Except the toy hasn’t been marketed as a toy–marketers said the contraption was supposed to help kids with autism, anxiety or ADHD because it would keep them calm and help them focus. However, according Dr. Louise Krause, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry for the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Ill., in a MedlinePlus article, “there’s no science behind what they’re advertising.”

Krause said in the article she suspects the creators of the fidget spinner base their claims on smaller studies that show that kids with ADHD pay better attention when they’re allowed to fidget. But given the distracting nature of the toy, fidget spinners actually do very little to help kids pay attention in a classroom setting.

Beside just being distracting, Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., said he worried that kids wouldn’t be able to take notes or do other written assignments while playing with them.

One benefit the fidget spinners could have is rewarding children with autism who use sensory stimulating behaviors (such as clapping or spinning around), according to Thomas Frazier, chief science officer at Autism Speaks. Frazier recommended rewarding an autistic child who exhibits good behavior, as the fidget spinner may be less stigmatizing.

To read more about if fidget spinners actually help children focus, please visit “Are All Those ‘Fidget Spinners’ Really Helping Kids?

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No Fruit Juice for Babies

Wed, 2017-05-24 23:49

Untitled by Erwan Hesry is licensed under CC0.

orange tree

For the first time in 16 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has revised its stance on fruit juice and recommends that no children under the age of 1 drink it. In fact, it’s fine if parents their children to forgo fruit juice altogether at any age.

The new recommendation opposes the AAP’s previous stance that it was ok for children 6 months and older to drink fruit juice. According to Dr. Steven Abrams, one of the authors of the report, there is no health benefit to drinking fruit juice. Once old enough, parents should give their kids mashed or pureed whole fruit opposed to fruit juice.

While it’s ok for older children to have limited amounts of fruit juice, the AAP is worried that all too often fruit juice replaces the whole fruits that children should be eating. These whole fruits provide kids with fiber, vitamins and other nutrients. Fruit juice, on the other hand, is often not fruit juice at all, but rather fruit “drinks” and is almost entirely sugar.

It’s important to start healthy eating habits early on. This includes developing a taste for whole fruits and vegetables opposed to juices, according to Dr. Alisa Muniz Crim, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.

For more information, please visit “No Fruit Juice Before Age 1, Pediatricians Say.”

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Healthy and Safe Swimming Week

Mon, 2017-05-22 23:47

Untitled by Dan Gold is licensed under CC0.


This week is Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, and as the summer swim season approaches, adults and children will be flocking to local pools for fun in the sun and exercise. Not only is swimming a great way to have fun with family and friends, it’s also a fun form of physical activity. Just 2.5 hours of water-based (or other forms of) physical activity per week have health benefits for everyone. However, swimming, like any form of physical activity, is not risk-free. Each of us plays a role in preventing illnesses and injuries linked to the water we share and swim in, this summer and year-round. Check out some of the tips below to make sure you have the safest summer yet.

Illnesses and Germs

Chlorine can kill most germs within minutes at concentrations recommended by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and typically required by state and local health departments, but one germ, Cryptosporidium, can remain up to a week. To prevent Crypto and other illnesses, every swimmer should:

  • Stay out of the water if they have diarrhea.
  • Shower before you get in the water.
  • Not urinate or defecate in the water.
  • Not swallow the water.


Every day, two children less than 14 years old die from drowning. Drowning is a leading cause of injury death for children ages 1–4 years. To keep swimmer safe:

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
  • Use life jackets appropriately.
  • Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers.
  • Know CPR.

Pool Chemicals

Pool chemicals are added to maintain water quality, but each year, mishandling of pool chemicals leads to 3,000 to 5,000 visits to emergency departments across the United States. To prevent injury by pool chemicals, pool operators should:

  • Read and follow directions on product labels.
  • Wear appropriate safety equipment (for example, goggles), as directed on product labels, when handling pool chemicals.
  • Secure pool chemicals to protect people, particularly young children, and animals.
  • Add pool chemicals poolside ONLY when directed by product label and when no one is in the water.

To learn more about Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, visit the CDC’s website.

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May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Wed, 2017-05-17 00:27

Untitled by Dan Gold is licensed under CC0.


Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the main cause of skin cancer. UV damage can also cause wrinkles and blotches or spots on your skin. The good news is that skin cancer can be prevented, and it can almost always be cured when it’s found and treated early.

This year’s American Academy of Dermatology’s Skin Cancer Awareness Month theme is “Check Your Partner. Check Yourself,” encouraging women to check both their partners and themselves for signs of skin cancer. Why women? Women are nine times more likely than men to notice melanoma on others, according to research.

Some of the simple steps you can take today to protect your skin are:

  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Use sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher. Put on sunscreen every 2 hours and after you swim or sweat.
  • Cover up with long sleeves and a hat.
  • Check your skin regularly for changes.

For more information on Skin Cancer Awareness Month or spotting skin cancer, visit the American Academy of Dermatology’s website.

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Untitled by Dan Gold is licensed under CC0.

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Furry Friends Are Family Too

Thu, 2017-05-11 18:03

Suma Chewing by Brian Leaf is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.


A staff member of the NNLM SCR recently adopted a new member to the family, a sweet little puppy. For some, our furry friends become members of our families. Even governmental entities are acknowledging these developments.

MedlinePlus, the National Library of Medicine’s consumer health resource, has a pet’s page called “Pet Health”. The Pet Health page contains curated links to the basics of pet health, prevention and risk factors, treatments and therapies, related issues, specifics, journal articles, and latest news.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet resource to assist you in creating your own plan and kit, so that you know Fluffy will also be taken care of in the event of a disaster.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has an Animal Health Literacy page that covers feed safety, animal drugs, and other information concerning your pets. For more information on pet toxicology, see the ASPCA Animal Poison Control page.

Our local library has also incorporated our certified furry friends in the form of therapy dogs, who bring cheer during test days. This has become a student and staff favorite!

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Overcoming the Obesity Gene

Thu, 2017-05-11 00:02

Untitled by Stephen Di Donato is licensed under CC0.

coffee shop

Doctors and researchers keep telling us that exercising is important. Well, if you have a family history of obesity, you could reduce the effect of the “obesity gene” by about one-third with regular exercise.

Lead researcher Mariaelisa Graff stressed that individuals still have a lot of choice over their behavior. If you choose to exercise, you have a chance at also reducing the risk.

“This shows, once again, that genes are not your destiny,” said Timothy Church, an obesity researcher not involved with the study.

There has been conflicting findings determining if it’s more of a person’s diet or lack of exercise that contributes to a person’s obesity the most.

However, Lavie, of the John Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute who is not affiliated with the study, explained that Americans nowadays are overall less active in work, at home and in leisure time. And while the benefits of exercise in this study is reducing obesity, regular exercise has been proven to prevent heart disease and in the long run, allow people to live a longer, healthier life.

The bottom line? Exercise.

For more information, please visit “No Excuses: Exercise Can Overcome the ‘Obesity Gene.’”

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May is Better Hearing and Speech Month: How to Protect Your Hearing in Your Leisure Time

Tue, 2017-05-09 02:40

Untitled by U.S. Air Force is public domain.

coffee shop

With more than half of Americans who experience noise-induced hearing loss not working in noisy jobs, the spotlight turns to what Americans are doing in their leisure time. May 1st marks the beginning of Better Hearing & Speech Month—a time to assess lifestyle habits that may be contributing to hearing loss as well as schedule a hearing evaluation for anyone with concerns about their hearing.

About 40 million U.S. adults 20–69 years old have noise-induced hearing loss, a form of hearing damage that results from exposure to loud noise. This could be cumulative harm that developed from exposure over time, or it could occur from one severe episode. Although completely preventable, once it occurs, it is irreversible. Far from simply being an annoyance, hearing loss can affect almost all aspects of life, including physical health, mental health, employment status and success, social functioning and satisfaction, and much more. Hearing loss can be treated through various technologies and techniques under the care of a certified audiologist, but hearing is never fully restored.

In addition to the dangers posed by listening through earbuds or headphones at too-loud volumes and for too long, noisy settings are commonplace in today’s society. Many restaurants are specifically designed to elevate noise levels to make establishments feel more energetic. Similarly, some sports stadiums have been built with sound elevation in mind, thought to improve the fan experience and serve as a home-team advantage. Coffee shops, fitness classes, and more all make modern society a collectively loud place.

Here are some simple ways that you can take charge to better your hearing health—this month and always:

  • Wear hearing protection. Earplugs and earmuffs are cheap, portable, and (with a good fit) offer excellent hearing protection. Bring them along when you know you’ll be in a noisy setting.
  • Reduce exposure. Take steps to reduce your exposure to noisy settings. Visit noisy establishments during off times, consider quieter settings, and talk to managers if you find the noise level uncomfortable.
  • See a certified audiologist for a hearing evaluation. A recent government report stated that 1 in 4 U.S. adults who report excellent to good hearing already have hearing damage. Many adults don’t routinely get their hearing checked, and even those who are concerned often delay treatment for years. Postponing treatment can have serious medical and mental health repercussions in addition to reducing a person’s quality of life, so visit a certified audiologist if you have any concerns.

To find out more about Better Hearing and Speech Month, visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s website.

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