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Updated: 56 min 30 sec ago

Oklahoma City Bombing Occurred 23 Years Ago Today

Thu, 2018-04-19 09:54
Photo of downtown Oklahoma City

“Downtown Oklahoma City” by Gerson Repreza via, November 5th, 2017, CCO

Twenty three years ago today, Oklahoma experienced one of the worst terrorists attacks to ever occur on U.S. soil.  A little after 9:00 a.m., a truck exploded in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building located in the downtown of Oklahoma City.  168 lost their lives that day and many more were injured.

Domestic terrorists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were responsible for the attack.  They were both arrested, tried, and sentenced for the crime.  Terry Nichols was sentenced to life in prison and is serving his term in a Colorado penitentiary.  McVeigh was sentenced to death and was executed in 2011.

Today is National Oklahoma City Bombing Commemoration Day and there are a number of events happening at the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum today and throughout the month.

Oklahoma is part of our region which is why we wanted to share this day in history and offer our support to their community.  Please join us in a moment of silence after you finish reading this blog post.

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Categories: RML Blogs

Recap: 2018 Louisiana Public Health Association Annual Conference

Wed, 2018-04-18 18:48

Last week, I attended the Louisiana Public Health Association annual meeting for the first time. I had the privilege of also being a presenter there, premiering a session I’ve been developing on mHealth to a packed room.  It was a two-day conference with a crawfish boil at the President’s Reception on the first night.

My particular focus was on opioid- and disaster-related presentations. One of the plenary sessions was delivered by Natalie Roy, MPH, the Executive Director of the AgriSafe Network, a non-profit organization that aims to reduce health disparities in the agricultural community. She spoke about the importance of addressing farmworker safety and the Ag Health Risk Assessment Tool (AgHRA), a tool (only one of its kind) they developed for assessing risk and taking steps to reduce risk for those in agriculture.

Dr. Joseph Kanter, the Director of Health for the City of New Orleans, talked about the Opioid Crisis in Louisiana and how they were addressing it. He stated that addiction was not the result of abuse but rather over-prescription, citing a statistic that 75% of current injection drug users began with a legitimate prescription. Louisiana has one of the highest rates of prescription, with 118 prescriptions per 100 residents in 2012.

They are taking a multipronged strategy that includes but is not limited to reducing the available of opioids, decreasing harm to current users, reducing stigma and dispelling myths around drug use, and expanding treatment. More information can be found here:

The final one I’d like to highlight was a Bleeding Control Basics course, taught by Dr. Jennifer Avegno and Dr. Rebecca Schroll. It is a trauma-version of CPR training that was developed after the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings where it was found that with basic training, some of the children could have been saved with basic bleeding control skills. The two main tools in the arsenal during this training was a tourniquet and a moulage trainer (simulated casualty in a small box).  To find out more about this training, you can visit:

There were a lot of great sessions. And at the reception, I also learned about Second line, a traditional dance where people walk and twirl handkerchiefs in the air. Eventually, I’d see this out on the street when visiting the French Quarter during my stay. Overall, it was a fantastic conference and I hope to return again.

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Categories: RML Blogs

It’s Donate Life Month

Tue, 2018-04-17 10:57
 Organs People are Waiting for

“Organs People are Waiting for” via, July 2017, CCO.

April was designated as Donate Life Month in 2003; however, it was previously celebrated as a week long awareness event starting back in 1983.  Increased awareness about organ donation could potentially save the lives of the estimated 20 people a day that die while waiting for an organ donation.

The CDC estimates that on any given day there are approximately 75,000 individuals on the waiting list for organs but the demand far exceeds the supply.  Numbers show that 95% of adults support organ donation but yet only 54% are actually signed up to donate.  One organ donor can save up to eight lives!

There are two types of donors:  living and deceased.  Deceased donors make up the majority of donated organs.  Living donors donate a kidney more frequently than other organs but they have also donated part of a liver, pancreas, lung, intestine and some tissues.  Very few issues prevent someone from donating an organ so factors such as age, religion, and most illnesses are typically not going to rule someone out.

There are two ways to register to donate, either online or at your local motor vehicle department.  You can also learn more by visiting one of these websites:

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International Day of Human Space Flight, Astronauts, and Space Parties

Thu, 2018-04-12 10:29

Debbie Montenegro with Astronaut Clayton Anderson

During the race to the stars, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space on April 12th, 1961. The UN recognizes today as the International Day of Human Space Flight to commemorate “the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in… increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes” (UN).

As we think about the first human in space today, I’d like to share a first for my Astronaut Health class… a real live astronaut in attendance! As the consumer health coordinator, I created a course on astronaut health and STEAM resources (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math). I have had the wonderful opportunity to present the session at different conferences throughout the South Central Region. Sleeping Bear Press was kind enough to send on my invitation to astronaut Clayton Anderson and he came to attend my session at TLA! Clayton was very enthusiastic and interactive during the session and answered several of my presentation questions with real world experience.

While discussing astronaut anatomy, I mention that fluid shifts may cause Visual Impairment Intracranial Pressure (VIIP) syndrome in some astronauts. In other words, their eyesight can worsen in space. Clayton let me know that he did not suffer from loss of vision after five months in space, due to a special protein in his body. My mind was blown! We also discovered that astronauts eat tortillas instead of bread in space, not only because the crumbs could float into and ruin equipment (or lungs!), but because bread goes bad faster and takes up more room. He added a very unique perspective to the session. I would like to extend a huge thank you to Clayton Anderson for coming and also to Sleeping Bear Press, TLA, and Mike Pullin for helping to make it possible.

Astronaut Clayton Anderson’s own session, Turning Pages into Dreams, took place right after mine. I attended his session and was delighted to find he was a raucous hoot and an unexpected package of astronomical hilarity. For visual evidence of this, see the photo above! He talked about his own experience growing up, becoming an astronaut, what it was like, and told us about the books he has written since. His latest book is titled A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet and is filled with beautiful illustrations with an A to Z space story for little ones, along with additional text in the side bars for all ages.

After the excitement of having an astronaut attend my class, I’m already looking forward to the next event and it’s one you can participate in too. Taking place on and around April 12th is “Yuri’s Night”. Held by science centers and other organizations around the world, Yuri’s Night combines education and outreach with space-themed partying to celebrate humanity’s journey into space as well as the anniversaries of Yuri Gagarin’s trip to space and the first space shuttle launch on April 12, 1981. See the events list to find an event near you or to plan for next year!

For more information on the Astronaut Health: Science Education Resources session presentation, check out the Class Descriptions page on our website:

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Categories: RML Blogs

Happy National Library Workers Day

Tue, 2018-04-10 09:56


This week is National Library Week.  Every year, the Tuesday of this observance week is recognized as National Library Workers Day.  This day was first celebrated in 2004.

The ALA-APA has a list of 10 Ways to Celebrate National Library Workers Day.  You can also visit their website to nominate a library worker that you think deserves special recognition.  We plan to celebrate by recognizing our own amazing staff of NNLM SCR library workers.

Daniel Burgard                  Executive Director, Library and Information Services





Carol Knisley                      Senior Administrative Coordinator





Brian Leaf                              Community Engagement Coordinator





Bethany Livingston              Research Administrator





Sara Miles                             Health Professions Coordinator





Debbie Montenegro           Consumer Health Coordinator





Lisa Smith                              Executive Director





Rachel Tims                           All of Us Community Engagement Coordinator





Kelly Wonder                       Social Media Assistant





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Categories: RML Blogs

Join us in Celebrating National Minority Health Month

Thu, 2018-04-05 11:45

“NNHM Official Logo” via,April 2018, CCO.

The month of April is designated as National Minority Health Month.  This is a time to learn more about the health status of minority populations in the United States.  The theme for this year is Partnering for Health Equity.

Throughout the month the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will host a series of webinars.

TOPIC: Community-Based Participatory Research in Indian Country
DATE: Thursday, April 5, 2018                         TIME: 2:00 p.m.– 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
This webinar will focus on Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) principles to address health disparities among American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

TOPIC:  State Legislative Approaches to Reducing Behavioral Health Disparities
DATE: Tuesday, April 10, 2018                         TIME: 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
This webinar focuses on the results of the analysis, which were recently published in a policy brief.

TOPIC:  Strategies for Building and Strengthening the CHW Effort in Your Area: A Case Study from Utah
DATE: Thursday, April 26, 2018                       TIME: 2:00 p.m.– 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time
The webinar will focus on the history, infrastructure, strategies, goals, and progress of the Utah Broad-Based CHW Coalition.

TOPIC:  Making the Invisible, Visible: Lessons Learned from a Hispanic/Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Needs Assessment
DATE: Monday, April 30, 2018                         TIME: 1200 p.m.– 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time
This webinar will share findings from the latest diabetes needs assessment for Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers (MSFWs).

There are also several other events during the month to “celebrate impactful public and private sector collaborations that advance health equity and help improve the health of the nation.”  Learn more at

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Rising to the Call of Providing Health Information

Wed, 2018-04-04 19:18

As the Consumer Health Coordinator for the NNLM South Central Region, I have the opportunity to support community partners and help serve a variety of populations. Everyone needs access to health information! A Philadelphia Pew study found that more than a third of people coming to the library are seeking health information (Library Journal). Upon attending the Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia, I learned how public librarians are rising to the call in big ways.

Librarians from all over the nation held sessions that ran the gamut of subjects and ideas. Several covered the topics of outreach, community engagement, civic engagement, after school support, STEAM programming, diversity, health information, the opioid epidemic and more. I attended a session where UPenn taught us how to administer Narcan. Media outlets have picked up on this, an example below:

“In at least three major cities — Philadelphia, Denver and San Francisco — library employees now know, or are set to learn, how to use the drug naloxone, usually known by its brand name Narcan, to help reverse overdoses. Their training tracks with the disastrous national rise in opioid use and an apparent uptick of overdoses in libraries, which often serve as daytime havens for homeless people and hubs of services in impoverished communities.” (CNN).

For more information, see the article in American Libraries magazine: Saving Lives in the Stacks: How libraries are handling the opioid crisis.

Other sessions were lighter hearted and intriguing. One session I walked into had a speaker fully dressed in Harry Potter-style academic regalia and led us through a visualization activity. We found out later in the session that this was a way of teaching coping skills. The session taught us how to use fandoms to build STEAM summer camps for youth and also to approach challenging topics delicately. Instead of having a session for teens on depression or suicide (what teen would come to that?) one can have a “defense against the dark arts” class. For the National Library of Medicine’s take on how to use Harry Potter to teach about science, see the exhibition page.

From striving to be the “community’s university”, to discussions of how to provide health information resources, librarians showed how hard they are working to provide resources and connections within their communities.

Categories: RML Blogs

April is Autism Awareness Month

Tue, 2018-04-03 13:26

“Puzzle.” by Hans-Peter Gauster via Unsplash, May 6, 2017, CCO.

The month of April is designated as Autism Awareness Month.  Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) typically appears early in childhood when developmental milestones are missed and/or delayed.  It is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how one interacts with the world around them.  This includes learning, thinking, and social interaction.

In more recent years, it is also commonly referred to as Autism Acceptance Month by those in the Autism community who find the traditional Autism Awareness Month offensive and insufficient.  Those who advocate for Autism Awareness Month state on their official website that it “promotes acceptance and celebration of autistic people as family members, friends, classmates, co-workers, and community members making valuable contributions to our world.”

About 1 in 68 children born in the United States have been diagnosed as having ASD.  This is a condition that lasts throughout life and there are currently no cures or a set standard of care.  There are a myriad of treatment options available based on what symptoms are present.  Some of these treatments include:

Common activities during the month of April to raise awareness include social media campaigns, wearing the color blue, and displaying puzzle pieces.

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What is the Fear of Public Places?

Thu, 2018-03-29 11:55

“Photo 438393” via Pixaby,December 8, 2012, CCO.

There are quite a few people who prefer to avoid public places because they dislike them but others are actually fearful of them. Approximately 1.3% of the U.S. population will at some point in their lives experience fear of public places so intense it can be classified as a phobia. A phobia is an out of proportion fear of something that does not pose a threat or the threat is minimal. Agoraphobia is a specific phobia where the sufferer fears public places.

Symptoms of agoraphobia can include:

  • Being afraid of spending time alone
  • Being afraid of places where escape might be hard
  • Being afraid of losing control in a public place
  • Depending on others
  • Feeling detached or separated from others
  • Feeling helpless
  • Feeling that the body is not real
  • Feeling that the environment is not real
  • Having an unusual temper or agitation
  • Staying in the house for long periods

Physical symptoms can include:

Agoraphobia treatments typically include medicine and psychotherapy. The medicine prescribed is usually an antidepressant or anxiety medicine. The American Psychological Association has a resource that allows you to find a practicing psychologist in your area.

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The Future of Detecting Atrial Fibrillation

Tue, 2018-03-27 08:49

“Atrial Fibrillation: via, March 2018, Public Domain.

Atrial Fibrillation (Afib) is an arrhythmia caused by a problem with the hearts electric system. An arrhythmia occurs when either the speed or the rhythm of a heartbeat is not normal. Although there are 3 types of arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation is the most common.

Currently, determining if someone is in atrial fibrillation is primarily done by use of an electrocardiogram (ECG). An ECG uses sensors attached to your upper torso to record the heart’s electrical signals. Although there are other devices that can track these signals such as event and holter monitors, they are typically used by patients at home to assist physicians in diagnosing paroxysmal atrial fibrillation.

A new study is looking at smartwatches to see if they could be a viable option to alert the wearer of an Afib event.   The lead author of the study, Dr. Gregory Marcus, stated, “Our overall hope is to leverage the growing use of smartwatches to help detect atrial fibrillation without any extra effort on the part of the user.” This could lead to earlier detection so people could receive earlier treatment for a condition that doesn’t always have obvious signs and symptoms.

Read more about the study:

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Can UTI’s be Treated Without Antibiotics?

Thu, 2018-03-22 11:13

“Urinary Tract Infections” via, August 8, 2016, Public Domain.

A new study finds that urinary tract infections (UTI’s) might have more than one treatment option.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection in any part of your urinary system.  The urinary system is comprised of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.  Most infections impact the bladder and urethra but more serious risks occur if the infection spreads to the kidneys.

If you have a bladder infection caused by bacteria, a health care professional is likely to prescribe antibiotics. Which antibiotic you take is based on the type of bacteria causing your infection and any allergies you may have to antibiotics.

Often, UTIs can be cleared up with antibiotics prescribed by a health care professional.  An appropriate antibiotic is chosen based on the type of bacteria causing the infection and that individuals health history; however, 10 to 20 percent of cases do not respond to current first-line drugs.  The new study looked at new treatment options.

One of the co-authors of the study, Scott J. Hultgren, professor of molecular microbiology at Washington University in St. Louis said,  “Millions of women every year suffer UTIs, and they’re getting harder to treat.  We’ve shown that just by blocking the bacteria from adhering to the mice’s urinary tracts, we can treat the infection. This is a new way of approaching the problem of antibiotic resistance.”

Click here to read more about the study.

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March 18th – 24th is National Poison Prevention Week

Tue, 2018-03-20 09:42

“National Poison Prevention Week Logo.” via, March 2018, CCO.

This week is National Poison Prevention Week sponsored by The National Poison Prevention Council.  On September 26, 1961, the 87th United States Congress passed Public Law 87-319, a joint resolution, requesting that the President of the United States proclaim the third week of March National Poison Prevention Week.  On February 7, 1962, President John F. Kennedy positively responded to this request and the first National Poison Prevention Week was observed in March 1962.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers offers the following tips to prevent poisonings:

  • Be prepared for an emergency.
  • Practice safe storage habits.
  • Read and follow all labels and directions.
  • Detect invisible threats.

If a poisoning does occur, the CDC recommends:

  • Remain calm.
  • Call 911 if you have a poison emergency and the victim has collapsed or is not breathing. If the victim is awake and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222. Try to have this information ready:
    • the victim’s age and weight
    • the container or bottle of the poison if available
    • the time of the poison exposure
    • the address where the poisoning occurred
  • Stay on the phone and follow the instructions from the emergency operator or poison control center.

Other resources: — When someone has come into contact with a poison, this tool can give information about what to do. — The Pillbox website was developed to aid in the identification of unknown pills (oral solid dosage form medications). It combines images of pills with appearance and other information to enable users to visually search for and identify oral solid dosage form medications. — A resource for searching databases on toxicology, hazardous chemicals, environmental health, and toxic releases.

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Bystanders Save Lives Using Defibrillator for Cardiac Arrest

Thu, 2018-03-15 11:21

“Cardiac Arrest” via, August 18, 2016, CCO.

Cardiac arrest is defined by MedlinePlus: “The heart has an internal electrical system that controls the rhythm of the heartbeat. Problems can cause abnormal heart rhythms, called arrhythmias. There are many types of arrhythmia. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or it can stop beating. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart develops an arrhythmia that causes it to stop beating. This is different than a heart attack, where the heart usually continues to beat but blood flow to the heart is blocked.”

From a recent NIH article, “After a 911 call about cardiac arrest is made, an estimated 4 to 10 minutes may pass before emergency medical services arrive. A research team led by Dr. Myron Weisfeldt of Johns Hopkins University explored whether a significant proportion of lives could be saved if bystanders used AEDs before emergency medical services arrived. The study was funded in part by NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Results appeared online on February 26, 2018, in Circulation.”

What is an AED?  The American Red Cross sells this device as well as conducting training on proper usage.  Their website lists these facts about AED’s.

  • AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.
  • It is a medical device that analyzes the heart’s rhythm.
  • If necessary, it delivers an electrical shock, known as defibrillation, which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm.

The leader of the research team exploring if lives could be saved by bystander intervention using AEDs had this to say about their findings: “We estimate that about 1,700 lives are saved in the United States per year by bystanders using an AED,” Weisfeldt says. “Unfortunately, not enough Americans know to look for AEDs in public locations, nor are they are trained on how to use them.”

To read more about the study and the findings, visit the NIH website by clicking here.

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March is Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month

Tue, 2018-03-13 14:26

“Blood Topics.”, January 24, 2017, CCO.

March is Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month.  Raising awareness is  a focus because there are “three million people across the U.S. live with bleeding disorders that can cause extended bleeding after injury, surgery or trauma, and can be life-threatening if not treated effectively,” explains the National Hemophilia Foundation.

What are bleeding disorders?

Per MedlinePlus, “Normally, if you get hurt, your body forms a blood clot to stop the bleeding. For blood to clot, your body needs cells called platelets and proteins known as clotting factors. If you have a bleeding disorder, you either do not have enough platelets or clotting factors or they don’t work the way they should.  Bleeding disorders can be the result of other diseases, such as severe liver disease or a lack of vitamin K. They can also be inherited. Hemophilia is an inherited bleeding disorder. Bleeding disorders can also be a side effect of medicines such as blood thinners.”

How else can you help raise awareness of bleeding disorders?  The CDC recommends:

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March 8th is World Kidney Day

Thu, 2018-03-08 10:26

“2018 Campaign Image” via, March 2018, CCO.

World Kidney Day is a global awareness campaign aimed at raising awareness of the importance of our kidneys.

The official website states, “World Kidney Day comes back every year. All across the globe many hundred events take place from public screenings in Argentina to Zumba marathons in Malaysia. We do it all to create awareness. Awareness about preventive behaviors, awareness about risk factors, and awareness about how to live with a kidney disease. We do this because we want kidney health for all.”

Why is kidney health important?  MedlinePlus describes the kidneys and the important function they perform: “You have two kidneys, each about the size of your fist. They are near the middle of your back, just below the rib cage. Inside each kidney there are about a million tiny structures called nephrons. They filter your blood. They remove wastes and extra water, which become urine. The urine flows through tubes called ureters. It goes to your bladder, which stores the urine until you go to the bathroom.”

What is the best way to keep your kidneys healthy?  The CDC recommends:

  • Keep your blood pressure below 140/90 or ask your doctor what the best blood pressure target is for you.
  • Stay in your target cholesterol range.
  • Eat foods lower in salt.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay active.
  • Take your medication as directed.

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Texas A&M Teams up with ofo for Campus Bike Share Program

Tue, 2018-03-06 10:39

“San Diego Bicycles.” by Maria Soledad via Unsplash, January 13, 2016, CCO.

Earlier last week, Texas A&M Transportation Services announced a partnership with ofo, the world’s first and largest station-free bike share company.  ofo’s is providing 500 bikes to service the 70,000 students, faculty, and staff of the campus of Texas A&M.

“We are excited about collaborating with ofo and the opportunity this partnership brings to the Texas A&M campus,” said Peter Lange, associate vice president of Transportation Services at Texas A&M. “With the continued growth of our community we are always evaluating new innovations for modes of travel and the station-free bike share system offers the reliability and ease of access that we want to provide for our customers,” he said.

Bringing a new mode of transportation to campus that is accessible and cost effective will also offer an added health benefit.  MedlinePlus states physical activity increases your chances of living longer. It can also help:

  • Control your blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight
  • Lower your “bad” cholesterol and raise your “good” cholesterol
  • Prevent heart disease, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and type 2 diabetes

The CDC also has a revealing graphic that illustrates the costs and benefits of physical activity.  Their figures show that $117 billion in annual health care costs are associated with inadequate physical activity.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that biking at a moderate pace for an hour can burn 290 calories!

Learn more about the partnership between Texas A&M and ofo:

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Racial Disparity Before, During and After Pregnancy – Blog 6 of 6

Thu, 2018-03-01 10:43

“BlackWorkspace in Closeup” by Lauren Peignault via Unsplash, August 5, 2016, CCO.

Our blog posts over the past couple of weeks have examined a disturbing statistic:  Black women are dying of pregnancy related causes at 3x the rate of other races.  Our blog has discussed issues black women could face with fertility, prenatal care, labor and delivery, and postpartum care.    One issue that stood out at each stage we examined was that accessibility or awareness of resources was lacking.

This is a great opportunity to share some of the great resources that the National Institute of Health has available:

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development – NICHD’s mission is to ensure that every person is born healthy and wanted, that women suffer no harmful effects from reproductive processes, and that all children have the chance to achieve their full potential for healthy and productive lives. The institute also aims to ensure the health, productivity, independence, and well-being of people through optimal rehabilitation.

PregSource –  a research project that aims to learn about the pregnancy experience. Getting information directly from pregnant women about what they feel, think, do, and experience during pregnancy and after giving birth.

MedlinePlus – information about diseases, conditions, and wellness issues in language you can understand. MedlinePlus offers reliable, up-to-date health information, anytime, anywhere, for free.

Your Healthiest Self:  Wellness Toolkits – features science-based health tips in five different areas: Your Surroundings; Your Feelings; Your Body; Your Relationships; and Your Disease Defense. Each area has checklists of tips you can print for yourself or share with others.

National Child and Mental Health Education Program – The Program’s objectives are to identify key challenges in child a​nd maternal health, review relevant research and initiate educational activities that advance the knowledge base of the field, and improve the health of women and children.

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Racial Disparity Before, During and After Pregnancy – Blog 5 of 6

Tue, 2018-02-27 09:19

“Mothers Love.” by Andrae Ricketts via Unsplash, September 8, 2017, CCO.

An earlier blog post brought you the story of Shalon Irving, the CDC epidemiologist who died just a few short weeks after giving birth to her daughter.  Shalon’s story is tragic and brings to light a bigger issue.  Black women are dying of pregnancy related causes at 3x the rate of other races.  In our last blog, we examined labor and delivery.  This post will discuss postpartum care.

The postpartum period immediately follows giving birth and has three distinct but continuous phases.

  • Initial or acute period – first 6-12 hours following birth
  • Second Phase – can last 2-6 weeks
  • Third Phase – can last up to 6 months

The March of Dimes lists the following risks that can occur in the postpartum period:

Not all complications result in death, but the latest numbers do show that between 2011 and 2013 at least 5,259 women died within a year of giving birth.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the causes for those deaths:

  • Cardiovascular diseases, 15.5%
  • Non-cardiovascular diseases, 14.5%
  • Infection or sepsis, 12.7%
  • Hemorrhage, 11.4%
  • Cardiomyopathy, 11.0%
  • Thrombotic pulmonary embolism, 9.2%
  • Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, 7.4%
  • Cerebrovascular accidents, 6.6%
  • Amniotic fluid embolism, 5.5%
  • Anesthesia complications, 0.2%
  • The cause of death is unknown for 6.1%

Although all women are susceptible to suffering a fatal complication, black women are dying at 3x the rate of other races.  There is ongoing research as to why this statistic exists but one issue that stood out is accessibility or awareness of resources is lacking. In our next blog post, we will share some of the great resources that the National Institute of Health has available

If you missed Shalon’s story earlier, read it here:  story on about Shalon Irving

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Racial Disparity Before, During and After Pregnancy – Blog 4 of 6

Thu, 2018-02-22 10:40


“Baby Girl Foot” by via Unpslash, December 14, 2017, CCO.

An earlier blog post brought you the story of Shalon Irving, the CDC epidemiologist who died just a few short weeks after giving birth to her daughter.  Shalon’s story is tragic and brings to light a bigger issue.  Black women are dying of pregnancy related causes at 3x the rate of other races.  In our last blog, we examined prenatal care.  This post will discuss labor and delivery.


MedlinePlus: “Labor is the process of giving birth.  Labor happens in three stages. The first stage begins with contractions. It continues until your cervix has become thinner and dilated (stretched) to about 4 inches wide. The second stage is the active stage, in which you begin to push downward. Crowning is when your baby’s scalp comes into view. Shortly afterward, your baby is born. In the third stage, you deliver the placenta. The placenta is the organ that supplied food and oxygen to your baby during pregnancy.  Mothers and babies are monitored closely during labor. Most women are able to have a baby through normal vaginal delivery. If there are complications, the baby may need to be delivered surgically by a Cesarean section.”


Cesarean birth is defined by the American College of Obstetricians and Obstetricians as “the delivery of a baby through incisions made in the mother’s abdomen and uterus.”  Since a Cesarean section is a surgery, it can pose more risks than a vaginal birth.  The March of Dimes lists potential risks and complications on their website.  Their statistics also show that black woman have more C-sections than any other race.  The March of Dimes also states that “Although it’s rare, you’re more likely to die during a c-section than during vaginal birth.”


Once a black woman survives labor and delivery, they still face issues with postpartum care which will be the focus of our next blog.  If you missed Shalon’s story earlier, read it here:  story on about Shalon Irving


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A Trip to the Space Exploration Educators Conference – Part 2

Wed, 2018-02-21 19:39

Astronaut suit at the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory

Our Consumer Health Coordinator, Debbie Montenegro, recently had the privilege of attending the Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC). It is held annually at NASA’s Space Center Houston. In her role with the SCR, Debbie works with K-12 educators, particularly in the sciences, through outreach, classes, membership network, grants, and partnership opportunities. Here is a recap of her conference experience:


As an educator, and also previously a researcher, I was over the moon at the opportunity to meet fellow educators and scientists with a passion for educating the next generation about science. The SEEC conference is designed for K-12 educators, and I fit right in with my previous experience as a high school Chemistry teacher and current outreach work. SEEC is comprised of sessions and keynotes hosted by scientists, engineers, fellow educators, and even astronauts!


The conference sessions were very hands-on. Teachers from across subjects teamed up to conduct classroom activities, such as a “Mars Escape Room” or building small rovers. The Aerospace Education Member representatives from the Civil Air Patrol gave us lesson plans to teach elementary students about aeronautical flight. Mars Academy USA hosted a simulated medical EVA (extravehicular activity) mission on a Mars moon, Deimos. The Director of Education and Outreach at the Lone Star Flight Museum gave tours, and his passion for educating students shined through.


Regional “crew meetings” highlighted teachers from our region who completed their own “Year in Space” mission. The previous year, they had been tasked with performing outreach to other educators in their schools, districts, states or region for one year. Here they shared their results. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet teachers in the SCR region and talk to them about the awesome projects they have done and possibilities for the future.


Our conference keynote sessions started off with Astronaut Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger. She spoke to us about her experiences as a teacher and astronaut. Then we made a call to the “Teacher on Board” the International Space Station (ISS), Astronaut Joe Acaba. Joe answered questions LIVE from the ISS and the call was aired on the local news station. Between former teachers Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold on the ISS, NASA is celebrating a “Year of Education on the Station”.


Keynote speaker Dr. John B. Charles, PhD, Associate Director of the NASA Human Research Program spoke about health issues and experiments in space. He mentioned the Twins Study, where Astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while his twin brother, Astronaut Mark Kelly, stayed on Earth. Principal Investigations for this study took place in order to gain information on telomeres, cognition, sleep, biochemical profiles, fluid shifts, eye health, and more. Dr. Liz Warren, PhD, Associate Program Scientist at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, spoke about how studies on the Space Station have contributed to positive healthcare changes here at home. It might surprise you how many technologies now benefiting life on Earth started off with experiments in space. NASA has started a website for these “spin-offs” called NASA SpinOff.


In addition to all of these wonderful sessions, the absolute highlights for me were the field trips offered as part of the conference. In one trip, I visited the Neutral Buoyancy Lab (NBL) which houses a mock-up of the International Space Station inside a large pool. The NBL staff emphasized the importance of safety and described the measures taken for the health of the divers and astronauts. I also had the opportunity to visit the Planetary Analog Test Site and ride inside the Multi-Mission Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV), a special treat offered this year. It can move sideways, diagonally, and can climb rocky terrain pretty well. It was a bumpy ride, but it was amazing!


Debbie Montenegro is the creator and instructor for the NNLM course Astronaut Health: Science Education Resources and also teaches NLM’s Online Playground: K-12 Science and Health Education Resources.


#TeacherOnBoard #SEECspace


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Debbie with the MMSEV

Neutral buoyancy lab mock ISS underwater

Categories: RML Blogs