Tag Archives: mmwr

CDC: Obesity rises unabated, no state meets goals

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

obesityAccording to Vital Signs, a new part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (more on that in a minute), the number of adults whose self-reported numbers indicated obesity rose 1.1 percent between 2007 and 2009. Nationally, 26.7 percent of adults were obese in 2009, a number that’s even higher for non-Hispanic blacks (36.8 percent), Hispanics (30.7 percent) and folks who didn’t graduate from high school (32.9 percent.) [PDF transcript of today’s briefing.]

States ranged from Mississippi (34.4 percent) to Colorado (18.6 percent) and none met the federal Healthy People 2010 obesity target of 15 percent.

Healthy People 2010 was started by the HHS in 2000 as an effort to improve public health and eliminate disparities across the country. Obesity percentages were a key benchmarks, as were tobacco use, access to health care, mental health, environmental quality and immunization.

The objectives for Healthy People 2020 are being considered now. They would keep the obesity-related goals from the 2010 effort and augment them with nutrition-based standards.

The CDC says Vital Signs, which will be published on the first Tuesday of each month, “is designed to provide the latest data and information on key health indicators – cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, alcohol use, access to health care, HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle passenger safety, health care-association infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, asthma and food safety.”

ER visits caused by nonmedical use of opioids double in 5 years

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC focuses on the rapid increase of emergency department visits caused by the abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers. The report is based on a review of the five most recent years of data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network.

DAWN’s national estimates are based on a 220-hospital sample. According to DAWN, “nonmedical use” means “taking a higher-than-recommended dose, taking a drug prescribed for another person, drug-facilitated assault, or documented misuse or abuse, all of which must be documented in the medical record.”

The big takeaway?

… the estimated number of ED visits for nonmedical use of opioid analgesics increased 111% during 2004-2008 (from 144,600 to 305,900 visits) and increased 29% during 2007–2008. The highest numbers of ED visits were recorded for oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone, all of which showed statistically significant increases during the 5-year period.

It’s a number-heavy report, so I’ve put together a quick overview with the help of the DAWN and MMWR reviews, as well as this DAWN report. You’ll find it below.

drugabuse

Little recent progress on foodborne illnesses

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report contains some early numbers on foodborne illness rates in 2009. The data, NPR health blogger Scott Hensley writes, aren’t promising, and it looks like most infection rates haven’t really improved since 2004. A transcript and audio of the April 15 media briefing is available.

The report comes with data for the 10 states monitored by the CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network; they’re also broken down by age. To demonstrate just how variable the infection rate is, we’ve pulled numbers for two of the most common foodborne illnesses, salmonella and campylobacter.

infections1

AHCJ resources

Tip Sheets

Article

Web sites

AHCJ Award winners

Health News

MMWR: Mass. reform narrowed insurance gap

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.

Studying data from the Massachusetts Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System has led researchers to conclude that health care legislation in that state has narrowed the gap in insurance coverage for underserved populations. The data did show that “some groups continue to experience lower rates of annual checkup and less access to a personal care provider.”

The percentage of respondents who reported having health insurance rose 5.5%, from 91.3% in the pre-law period to 96.3% in the post-law period.

The report, “Short-Term Effects of Health-Care Coverage Legislation — Massachusetts, 2008” is in the March 12 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Survey looks at use of leftover pain meds

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.

One in five people in Utah have been prescribed pain medication in the past year, according to new figures from the Morbidty and Mortality Weekly report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While the survey only takes into account the use of pain medications in Utah, the CDC notes that “This percentage is comparable to the 18.4% of insured persons aged ≥18 years who reported receiving a prescription for opioids in a national study in 2002.”

The report says that deaths in Utah as a result of  “poisoning by prescription pain medications” increased nearly 600 percent from 1999 to 2007.  It also looks at the problem of leftover medication and people using medications not prescribed to them:

An estimated 72% of respondents who were prescribed an opioid had leftover medication, and 71% of those with leftover medication kept it; during the same period, 97% of those who used opioids that were not prescribed to them said they received them from friends or relatives.

The state has set out some recommendations for health care providers aimed at reducing the availability of unused medications.

The data comes from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an on-going telephone survey system that collects information about health risk behaviors, preventive health practices and health care access. Utah is apparently the first state to include pain medication questions in the BRFSS, “although Kansas added a module of questions regarding chronic pain in 2005 and 2007 with one follow-up question asking how the pain was treated.”

Reports on cold-weather morbidity, mortality

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Always one to stay on top of the latest news trends, Poynter’s Al Tompkins takes on the extremely cold weather much of the nation has been experiencing. Tompkins includes some relevant studies and data sets from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, in a bulleted list at the very end. Here, we’ll take a slightly deeper look at some of Tompkins’ selections.

Carbon Monoxide Poisonings Associated with Snow-Obstructed Vehicle Exhaust Systems — Philadelphia and New York City, January 1996 (MMWR 1996; 45(01);1-3.)

According to the review, “Most of these poisonings occurred among children and elderly persons and resulted from exposures in idling automobiles with exhaust pipes blocked by snow.” During one two-day stretch, 21 people who had been found unconscious in running cars were brought to the Jacobi Medical Center in New York. In that spirit, the investigators look at the individual cases of a 4-year-old girl (left in the car because her family thought she was napping), and two older men. In all cases, their primary mistake seems to have been in starting cars surrounded by deep snow without making any attempt to remove the snow first.

snowblower

Photo by Buzz Hoffman via Flickr

Snow-Blower Injuries — Colorado, New York (MMWR 1983;32(6):77-78.)

The takeaway from this article? Using your hands to clear a snowblower’s clogged exit chute is probably not a good idea.

Public Health Impact of a Snow Disaster (MMWR 1982;31(51):695-696.)

A review of studies related to 1978 storm in New England found that, during the blizzard, mortality rates didn’t increase significantly (though a third of the deaths that did happen were classified as storm-related), and that emergency room visits declined to less than half their normal levels. Hospitals also had supply problems because they could not discharge patients.

To solve these problems, the authors recommend that officials ask folks not to drive during storms (and to bring emergency supplies if they do), and to create a “rumor clearinghouse” to investigate reported hazards and outbreaks. They also suggest that overcrowded hospitals can use emergency vehicles to bring discharged patients home.

Unintentional Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Following a Winter Storm — Washington, January 1993 (MMWR 1993; 42(06);109-111.)

Most of the 44 patients studied were members of ethnic minority groups, and half didn’t speak English. In 65 percent of the cases, the cause was burning charcoal briquettes. All those incidents, the study noted, involved racial/ethnic minorities.

Work-Related Injuries Associated with Falls During Ice Storms, January 1994 — National Institutes of Health (MMWR 1995; 44(49);920-2.)

The review found that, during ice storm season, workers tend to fall outdoors more often than usual. Slightly more interesting is that the workers in this study were NIH employees on NIH campuses.