Hospitals in Washington D.C. are experiencing what appears to be an aftereffect of the 16-day government shutdown in October: bustling maternity wards.
Nine months after the furlough, D.C. hospitals are seeing an increase in the number of births, according to an article in the Washington Post.
At Sibley Memorial Hospital, an average 9.2 births occur each day. In the last month, the hospital has averaged three more births per day – a 33 percent increase, according to the Post article.
At Anne Arundel Medical Center, births during the first part of July increased from 265 in 2013 to 385 in 2014, according to the article.
Nine months ago, nurses at D.C. hospitals joked about the possibility of a post-shutdown baby boom. One nurse mentioned her theory on Facebook on the 10th day of the shutdown. Now she’s credited by her colleagues with predicting the boom, according to the article.
Of course, there are skeptics who say the increase is just a coincidence. The increase isn’t occurring across the country – birth rates are still near historic lows nationally, according to the Post article.
“But every time (something unusual happens), I think, nine months from now, here we go!” one nurse told the Post. “And sure enough, I’m usually right.”]]>
If you want to cut down on the spread of bacteria, try ditching the traditional handshake greeting and instead give a fist bump.
Researchers have found that fist-bumping transmits significantly fewer bacteria than handshaking or high-fiving someone, while still making hand-to-hand contact, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
Researchers performed trials to determine if there was a less-germy alternative to handshaking.
In the experiment, the greeter stuck a sterile-gloved hand into a container of germs. Once the glove was dry, the greeter exchanged a handshake, fit bum or high-five with a sterile-gloved recipient.
After the exchange, the receiving gloves were immersed in a solution to count the bacteria transferred during contact, according to a news release about the research.
The experiment revealed nearly twice as many bacteria were transferred during a handshake compared to the high-five, and significantly fewer bacteria were transferred during a fist bump than a high-five.
Higher bacterial transmission was linked to longer hand-to-hand contact and stronger grips, according to the researchers.
“Adoption of the fist bump as a greeting could substantially reduce the transmission of infectious diseases between individuals,” study author David Whitworth said in the news release. “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.”]]>
School administrators say kids have warmed up to the idea of healthier school lunch offerings.
Last school year, administrators said kids started off the year complaining about the new offerings implemented after the USDA introduced new standards in 2012, according to a Time article.
The new requirements called for less sugar, sodium and fat in meals and more grains, veggies and fruits.
But most of the students had come around by springtime, according to a study backed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Now, about 70 percent of elementary school students like the new lunches, according to the Time story.
Middle and high school administrators say their students are also satisfied with the new offerings; 70 percent of middle school students and 63 percent of high school students “generally” liked the new lunches, according to the article.
School administrators also reported the number of school lunches remained about the same after the changes.
Apparently, that trend doesn’t extend to students in rural schools.
According to the Time article, a new survey found only about 25 percent of middle and high school administrators noticed “a little more” plate waste. About 16 percent of middle schools and 20 percent of high schools noticed “much more” waste, according to the article.]]>
Many overweight and obese kids and teens in the U.S. think they are thinner than they actually are, according to a new study.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found about 34 percent of Hispanic-American children and teens believe they’re thinner than they are, as do 34 percent of black kids and 28 percent of white kids, according to an MSN.com article.
Researchers also found about 81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls think their weight is about right. The same is true for about 48 percent of obese boys and 36 percent of obese girls, according to the report.
“Children who have a misperception of their weight are not going to take steps to control their weight or reduce their weight, and reduce the risk of future health complications,” lead researcher Neda Sarafrazi, a nutritional epidemiologist at the CDC, told MSN. “If people perceive their weight accurately, they can start weight-control behavior.”
Samantha Heller, a senior clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center, told MSN that seeing many overweight and obese children and adults has become the norm. Because of that, it would seem reasonable that overweight kids see themselves as being at a normal weight, she said.
At the other end of the spectrum, Heller said, media and social influences create unrealistic ideal body types that boys and girls try to achieve.
“We can help bring children and adolescents to appropriate weights by focusing on healthy foods, regular exercise and a positive self-image,” she told MSN. “Parents, educators and caregivers can make headway by becoming role models themselves and creating opportunities to support and enjoy healthy lifestyle choices and activities with children.”
Being overweight or obese is associated with adverse health outcomes, such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.]]>
The death of Major League Baseball great Tony Gwynn has prompted public health organizations to once again push the league to ban chewing tobacco.
The 54-year-old San Diego Padre all-star died last month of cancer in his salivary gland. Gwynn’s death came after two surgeries to remove malignant growths inside his right cheek, where Gwynn said he chewed tobacco while he played, according to Bloomberg.
Gwynn’s death prompted nine major public health organizations to send a letter to MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and a representative of the players association. The letter urged Major League Baseball to ban all tobacco use by players and staff at games and on camera, according to CNN.
A few years ago, Selig proposed a total ban, but the players union negotiated restrictions that would allow players to continue to use chewing tobacco – just not where the public could see.
The labor contract, which runs through 2016, prohibits players from using smokeless tobacco during TV interviews and club appearances. It also orders players and staff to hide tobacco when fans are around and prohibits them from carrying the tobacco in their uniforms, according to CNN.
“You can’t go through a three-hour game, and not see players with a big wad of chew in their jaws,” Erika Sward, with the American Lung Association, told CNN. “It’s clear that the 2011 agreement did not go far enough, and what we really need to have with the agreement starting in 2017 is an end of smokeless tobacco use in general on the field.”
According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, about 40,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer each year in the U.S.
Gregory Connolly, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Bloomberg the use of chewing tobacco began to increase among younger people in the 1980s and has increased again in the past several years.
As a result, the number of people in their 50s, like Gwynn, being diagnosed with the oral cancer later in life is on the rise, Connolly said.
“We do know your risk factor greatly increases with age,” he told Bloomberg. “It’s devastating. The 5-year mortality rate from oral cancers is about 50 percent, and if you don’t die, you’re left totally disfigured.”]]>
Want to avoid sunburn while at the beach?
There’s an app for that.
Smartphones are offering apps that predict how much UV exposure you’re getting and track when you may need to reapply your sunscreen.
The New York Times took a look at some of the sun exposure apps on the market and what they have to offer.
The iTanSmart app (for the iPhone, of course) allows users to select whether they want to avoid sunburn or get a tan. They then enter their skin type and the SPF of the sunscreen they’re using.
The app then looks up the UV levels for the given location and calculates safe exposure times. The app also has a timer to alert you to when you need to apply more sunscreen or head for the shade.
The Go Tanning Tan Timer UV Index for Android works in a similar fashion. This app also apparently has a timer to alert you when it’s time to flip over so you get an even tan.
Have you ever used a tanning app?]]>
Leaving kids in hot cars – or even warm cars – is never a good idea. Tragic stories of kids dying from heat stroke after being left in too-hot cars remind us of that all too often.
But, according to a new national survey, an alarming number of parents say they have left their children alone in a parked car, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
The online survey – conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Washington D.C. – found 14 percent of parents have intentionally left their infants, toddlers and kindergarteners alone in a parked vehicle. For kids 3 years old and younger, the rate increases to 23 percent.
In addition, 6 percent of parents are OK with leaving their young children in a parked, locked vehicle for more than 15 minutes, according to the survey.
About 11 percent of parents admit to forgetting their kid in a car (nearly 25 percent for those with kids 3 years and younger), according to the survey.
“Many people are shocked to learn that the temperature inside of a car can rise up to 20 degrees in 10 minutes and cracking a window doesn’t help,” said Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. “Tragedies from heatstroke in cars happen far too often. They are heartbreaking and preventable, and this research is a reminder that we need to continue to raise awareness, particularly for dads and parents with children under three, to never leave a child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”
Heatstroke occurs when the body isn’t able to cool itself quickly enough, causing body temperatures to climb dangerously high. Young kids are at particular risk because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than adult bodies, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
A child can die when his or her body temperature reaches 107 degrees, according to the organization.
This handy graphic from the National Weather Service in New York shows how quickly temperatures inside cars can rise. In just 20 minutes, an 89-degree car can become a 107-degree oven.
Since 1998, at least 606 children have died from heatstroke after being left unattended in a vehicle. Nearly 90 percent were 3 years old or younger, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.
In 2013, 44 children from heatstroke in hot cars – one of the worst years on record, according to the organization.]]>
Nearly half of the people included in a nationwide survey said they’ve had a major stressful event in the past year, with most people pointing to health-related problems as the cause of the stress.
NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health conducted a poll on stress this spring, surveying more than 2,500 adults across the country.
Forty-nine percent of people surveyed said they’ve had a major stressful event in the past year. Among that 49 percent, about 43 percent cited health-related problems as the root cause of the stress.
About 27 percent pointed to illness and disease as the source of stress; 16 percent said the death of a loved one.
The health issues were followed by problems with work (13 percent), life changes or transitions (9 percent), family events or issues (9 percent) and problems with personal relationships (6 percent).
The top three groups of respondents who said they had experienced high stress levels in the previous month were people in poor health, disabled or have a chronic illness.
The survey also looked at how the sources of stress vary by age. Young adults (18-29 years) most often felt overwhelmed by too many responsibilities (65 percent). Older adults (65 years and older), however, cited their own health problems (60 percent).
The survey also looked at how stress affected people’s behavior, particularly in areas that can affect health.
Among the respondents who said they had a great deal of stress in the previous month, the most common behavior change was sleeping less than usual (70 percent).
Other behavior changes included eating less than usual (44 percent), exercising less than usual (43 percent), attending religious services or praying more than usual (41 percent), sleeping more than usual (41 percent) and eating more than usual (39 percent).]]>
A review of meals from the top restaurant chains found restaurants have decreased the amount of sodium in their meals slightly but progress has been slow and unsteady.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest reviewed 136 meals from 17 restaurant chains. On average, the restaurants reduced sodium by 6 percent between 2009 and 2013. That’s just 1.5 percent per year.
The biggest sodium reductions came from Subway, Burger King and McDonald’s. But KFC and Jack in the Box increased sodium by 12.4 percent and 7.2 percent, respectively, according to the report.
Subway had the most dramatic progress between 2009 and 2013, reducing sodium in each of the 10 meals reviewed by the study. In addition, the four children’s meals reviewed had sodium amounts 29 percent lower, according to the study.
The three Burger King kids’ meals in the study were 40 percent lower in sodium on average, largely because the chain switched its default side dish from French fries to apple slices. The chain also reduced sodium in its cheeseburger, double cheeseburger and chicken nuggets, according to the study.
Despite the progress, 79 percent of the 81 adult meals in the study contained more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium – the upper limit of what most people should consume in a day.
At table-service chains such as Red Lobster, Chili’s and Olive Garden, it’s easy to find meals with 5,000 milligrams of sodium, according to the report.
Here five of the saltiest meals in America:
And here are five of the saltiest kids’ meals in America:
For the study’s complete list of the most and least saltiest meals, check out the “Stalling on Salt: Restaurant Meals Still Loaded with Sodium” report.]]>
Biting your fingernails doesn’t only make your nails look bad. It can also make you feel bad.
Time magazine readers asked whether biting your nails was dangerous or just gross. The magazine went to the experts, who said nail biting is dangerous for a number of different reasons.
Nails harbor germs, in particular a family of bacteria that includes salmonella and E. coli. The bacteria thrive in the crevice between the finger and the nail, Dr. Richard Scher, an expert on nail disorders at Weill Cornell Medical College, told Time.
When you bite your nails, those bacteria end up in your mouth and gut, where they cause gastrointestinal infections that come with all sorts of lovely symptoms.
Long-term nail gnawing can lead to tears or abrasions in the skin of your fingertips where strains of bacteria or yeast get inside. Both can cause swelling, redness and puss under the nail, which has to be drained surgically and treated with antibiotics or antifungal medication, Scher told Time.
Nail biting can also cause dental problems.
“Constant biting can lead to poor dental occlusion, so the biter’s teeth shift out of position or become oddly shaped,” Scher said.
Biters also suffer from higher rates of gum disease and infection, he added.
So for the sake of your nails – and your health – stop biting those nails.]]>