Thursday, May 16th, 2013
Legislation that would ban adults from smoking in cars where children in car seats are riding, nicknamed the “Little Lungs” bill, is under consideration in Massachusetts. The website Wicked Local has the story:
Rep. Paul Heroux, a freshman representative from Attleboro, wants to make it illegal to smoke with children in the car, citing health risks from secondhand smoke. Heroux said the proposed law could be enforced in a manner similar to the law banning texting while driving.
“If an officer sees it, you are busted,” Heroux said after testifying Tuesday on his legislation (H 1984), dubbed “an act to protect little lungs” and cosponsored by Reps. Mary Keefe, D-Worcester; Thomas Sannicandro, D-Ashland; and Marjorie Decker, D-Cambridge.
Any driver or passenger who violates the law would be subject to a $100 fine. Police officers would not be able to search or inspect a motor vehicle, or its contents, the driver, or a passenger solely because the vehicle was pulled over for the smoking violation, according to the legislation, which would apply to vehicles including children who are required to be secured by a child passenger restraint.
Heroux acknowledged his proposal would not be easy to enforce but said he hopes it would make smokers think twice before lighting up with children in the car.
Heroux also said a smoking ban when children are in the car would raise awareness about the dangers of secondhand smoke, which led the Legislature and Gov. Mitt Romney to pass a 2004 law banning smoking in most workplaces.
Image: Cigarettes and pacifier, via Shutterstock
Monday, December 17th, 2012
An innovative new program in New York City is offering nurses special training to offer support and guidance to low-income, first-time moms who may be uneducated on how to give their babies–and themselves–the crucial care that can keep them healthy and thriving. The New York Times reports:
“The program, which was started in upstate New York in the 1970s and has been adopted in 42 states, is one of the rare public initiatives that have shown consistent and rigorously tested benefits for the mothers and children, as well as significant savings for taxpayers.
In different studies on different demographic groups, women in the program have had fewer premature deliveries, smoked less during pregnancy, spent less time on public assistance, waited longer to have subsequent children, had fewer arrests and convictions, and maintained longer contact with their baby’s fathers. Their children have had fewer language delays and reported less abuse and neglect, slightly higher I.Q. scores, fewer arrests and convictions by age 19, and less depression and anxiety.
A 2011 study of New York City’s Nurse-Family Partnership program, which currently has 91 nurses serving 1,940 families, projected that by the time a child in the program turns 12, the city, state and federal governments will have saved a combined $27,895, with additional savings thereafter — more than twice the program’s cost per child. The study was conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation using data from the Nurse-Family Partnership’s research at three locations, then extrapolated to New York.
This fall, I attended a dozen home visits, all in the Bronx, with five nurses — three from the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, which contracts with the city to provide service in the Bronx, and two, including Ms. Schmidt, with the health department’s Targeted Citywide Initiative, which tackles the most at-risk cases. The nurses’ styles and backgrounds varied; the families’ needs and challenges even more so. Each mother participated voluntarily and at no cost.
The problems were many: violence on the street, abuse in the women’s past, illness, anger, obesity, insecure housing or financial circumstances. Most of the women had the poor luck to have been born in poverty. Like their middle-class counterparts, none came into the world knowing how to raise a baby.”
Image: Young mother and baby, via Shutterstock
Friday, December 14th, 2012
Teenaged girls who smoke cigarettes have been found to develop bone mineral density more slowly than non-smoking girls, putting them at higher risk for disease like osteoporosis and other musculo-skeletal issues. The study is limited because the sample had a lower calcium intake than the national average. Regardless, The New York Times reports that the findings should give pediatricians another issue to raise with teen patients who smoke:
“The scientists studied 262 healthy girls ages 11 to 19, using questionnaires and interviews to assess their smoking habits. The researchers also measured the girls’ bone density at the hip and lumbar spine three times at one-year intervals.
Smokers entered adolescence with the same lumbar and hip bone density as nonsmokers, but by age 19, they were about a year behind on average. After adjusting for other factors that affect bone health — height, weight, hormonal contraceptive use and more — the researchers found that even relatively low or irregular rates of smoking were independently associated with lower bone density.”
Image: Teen girl smoking, via Shutterstock
Wednesday, July 11th, 2012
Tweens and teenagers are so vulnerable to messages they receive in movies that any film that depicts a character smoking should automatically earn an “R” rating, a new study suggests. CNN.com has more:
PG-13 films account for nearly two-thirds of the smoking scenes adolescents see on the big screen, according to the two-year study, which surveyed roughly 5,000 children ages 10 to 14 about the movies they’d seen and whether they’d ever tried a cigarette.
Smoking in PG-13 films — including background shots and other passing instances — was just as strongly linked with real-world experimentation as the smoking in R-rated films. For every 500 smoking scenes a child saw in PG-13 movies, his or her likelihood of trying cigarettes increased by 49%. The comparable figure for R-rated movies was 33%, a statistically negligible difference.
Assigning an R rating to all movies portraying smoking would lower the proportion of kids who try cigarettes at this age by 18%, the authors estimate. (Children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult to buy a ticket for an R-rated movie.)
“The movie industry [should] treat smoking like it treats profanity and sex and violence,” says lead author Dr. James D. Sargent, a cancer-prevention specialist and professor of pediatrics at Dartmouth Medical School, in Lebanon, New Hampshire. “If saying the ‘F’ word twice gets you an R rating, certainly something as important as smoking should get you an R rating.”
Image: Teenagers at the movies, via Shutterstock.
Friday, June 15th, 2012
Researchers in the United Kingdom have made some surprising findings when it comes to lifestyle changes that have long been believed to help improve male fertility. Smoking, drinking, and body weight were found in a recent study to have no impact on fertility–and in fact, if couples delay treatment while waiting for the male partner to improve on these measures, their chances of achieving a pregnancy might actually decline because time continues to go by. Time.com reports:
Based on the data, researchers further found that lifestyle factors like use of recreational drugs, smoking, drinking and body weight had little effect. For instance, the proportion of men with low swimming sperm counts was similar whether they smoked over 20 cigarettes a day or if they had never smoked before. Alcohol use was also unrelated to fertility among men.
“The message of ‘No smoking, drinking in moderation, no street drugs and not be too overweight’ is clearly sound and should be offered to men as good health advice,” says study author Dr. Andrew Povey of University of Manchester’s School of Community Based Medicine. ”However, the evidence from this study is that even if the man changes his lifestyle in such a fashion, such changes are unlikely to improve his chances of conceiving a child.”
The findings came as a surprise to the researchers. “I expected to find a link with smoking, as studies have often reported that smoking is bad for semen quality,” says Povey. “When I looked again at the evidence for such statements, I found that it wasn’t necessarily that strong and that if there was an effect of smoking, it was more likely to occur within the normal range of semen quality and not then directly affect whether a man was likely to be infertile or not.”