Tag Archives: ahcj-cdc health journalism program

Environment of enthusiasm at CDC strikes reporter

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

Modern Healthcare‘s Jessica Zigmond writes about the enthusiasm she encountered among public health experts at the CDC during the recent AHCJ-CDC fellowship program.

Julie Gerberding

Julie Gerberding

In addition to finding excitement at the CDC – including a scientist who talked about “barf” – Zigmond writes that she also found experts who “not only had great interest in his work, but who also seemed genuinely interested in sharing that information with a group of 11 journalists, all of whom had different backgrounds, interests and goals.”

She attributes the relatively new environment of openness to former director Julie Gerberding and her efforts to get the CDC’s divisions to work together. Zigmond also describes the CDC Director’s Emergency Operations Center, installed after Sept. 11, 2001, and changes in how the CDC deals with emergencies.

Related

CDC working to uncover cause of autism

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

This is a guest post from Elizabeth Fernandez of the San Francisco Chronicle. Fernandez is among the first class of AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellows who are spending the week studying public health issues at two Atlanta campuses of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amid a seeming explosion nationally in rates of autism, advances are emerging in science’s understanding of the illness, but no cause has yet been found to explain the profoundly puzzling disorder, a government researcher said Thursday in Atlanta.

Multiple causes — a combination of complex genetic and environmental interactions — are likely responsible, said Catherine Rice, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.

Marshall Allen, Las Vegas Sun, asks Catherine Rice if the prevalence of autism is increasing or just more easily diagnosed. (Photo: Christy Stretz)

Marshall Allen, of the Las Vegas Sun, asks Catherine Rice if the prevalence of autism is increasing or just more easily diagnosed. (Photo: Christy Stretz)

Vaccines have become the focus of concern in recent years among some parents as a possible trigger, but studies generally have found no connection between the two, Rice said.

“There is a strong genetic component, but genes don’t explain everything,” she said.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is the term for a variety of developmental disorders including autism, atypical autism, Asperger’s disorder, and Rett Syndrome — Rett alone has a biologic confirming test.

An estimated 560,000 youths in the U.S. have the disorder. It’s far more prevalent among boys: three to seven boys are affected with the illness for every girl with autism.

“Our best estimate is 1 in 150 or 6-7 per 1,000 children have autism,” Rice said.

Despite a hike in rates over the past quarter-century, attributed to better assessment tools and to a broadening of the diagnostic category, researchers are “more concerned that children are being under-identified than over-identified,” Rice said. She expects a “leveling off” in rates over the next 12 years.

The disorder typically begins to unfold during the first two years of life, often noticed through a lack of interest in interacting with family. The child may engage in repetitious play behavior, may not respond to the parents’ voice “but would respond to, say, the opening of the refrigerator,” Rice said.

By age three, the disorder becomes much more evident. The median age of formal diagnosis is between 4½ and 5½.

Some children with autism have a wide range of impairments; they may have ADHD or self-injurious behaviors. Some children become overwhelmed by sounds, sights, smells. They may suffer from gastrointestinal problems, food sensitivities and sleeping disorders. Preoccupied within their “own world,” some children lack a sense of safety, and may wander into streets or other hazards.

“Children can have a lot of frustration because of their difficulty communicating,” Rice said. “It’s a lifelong disorder. We consider autism an urgent public health concern.”

Avian flu still a danger, CDC official tells fellows

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

This is a guest post from Marshall Allen of the Las Vegas Sun. Allen is among the first class of AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellows who are spending the week studying public health issues at two Atlanta campuses of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marshall Allen (right), a Las Vegas Sun reporter, speaks to Grant Baldwin, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s Injury Center, about interpreting child safety data for localizing stories. (Photo: Christy Stretz)

Marshall Allen (right), a Las Vegas Sun reporter, speaks to Grant Baldwin, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s Injury Center, about interpreting child safety data for localizing stories. (Photo: Christy Stretz)

Media furor over avian influenza, also known as bird flu, has died down in recent years, but that’s more a reflection on the news cycle than the actual threat posed by the disease, according to a CDC expert.

That’s the assessment of Dr. Scott Dowell of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s global disease detection program. Dowell spoke Wednesday to a group of 11 AHCJ-CDC fellows, who are in Atlanta to learn about the federal agency’s programs around the world.

Dowell said there is less anxiety about bird flu, also known as H5N1, than there was in the early days of the outbreak, but it still remains a danger. Since 2003, the disease has infected nearly 400 people in more than a dozen countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, Europe and the Near East. Continue reading

Fellows to spend a week studying at CDC

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism FellowshipsThe first class of AHCJ-CDC Health Journalism Fellows will learn about public health issues at two Atlanta campuses of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fellowship program, supported by the CDC Foundation, will include presentations, roundtable discussions and lab tours on epidemiology, global disease prevention efforts, obesity, vaccine safety, pandemic flu preparedness, autism and many other topics. Fellows will tour the CDC director’s National Emergency Operations Center, meet sources on policy and research and learn how to tap the agency’s abundant resources to produce better stories.

Find out who the fellows are and learn more about the program.