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Monday, June 10th, 2013
A new analysis of health statistics published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology is suggesting that women who breastfeed their babies for at least a year–the recommended period for breastfeeding–may significantly lower their risk for breast cancer, heart disease, and hypertension, as well as saving the medical establishment hundreds of millions of dollars. The findings, not based on new research, are sure to be controversial, as Time.com reports:
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If new moms adhered to the recommended guidelines that urge them to breast-feed each child they give birth to for at least one year, they could theoretically stave off up to 5,000 cases of breast cancer, about 54,000 cases of hypertension and nearly 14,000 heart attacks annually.
Averting those diseases could also save $860 million, according to research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
Those figures, while significant and intriguing, are not actual numbers from documented cases. Rather, they’re the result of a sophisticated statistical model used to compare the effect of current breast-feeding rates in the U.S. to ideal rates.
The study, led by Harvard researcher Dr. Melissa Bartick, simulated the experiences of about 2 million U.S. women from the time they were 15 until they turned 70, estimating outcomes and cumulative costs over the decades in between.
Number-crunchers ran the data applying current breast-feeding rates – about 25% of U.S. women breast-feed for the recommended 12 months per child — and again assuming that 90% of women embraced the guidelines. “To be totally scientifically accurate, those are costs for a cohort of women in a certain year,” says Bartick, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Harvard Medical School. “If breast-feeding rates change, the cost would be different.”
Still, she says, the point is that breast-feeding boosts mom’s health in a big way. “We know that 60% of women don’t even meet their personal breast-feeding goals, whether it’s three or four or six months,” says Bartick. “We need to do more to support women so they can breast-feed longer. There are thousands of needless cases of disease and death that could be prevented.”
Friday, November 18th, 2011
A federal report released this week showed a decline in birth rates among U.S. women. Younger women–teenagers and women in their early ’20s–showed the greatest decline, a 9 percent drop among teens alone since 2009.
Experts hypothesize that the drop in birth rates is related to the economic downturn, which has left many families concerned with their ability to provide financially for their futures. Young women are especially vulnerable to feeling they cannot afford to have a child or add to their families.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt now that it was the recession. It could not be anything else,” Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington, D.C.-based research organization, told The Associated Press.
The report contained other findings, including:
- The cesarean section rate declined slightly since 2009, coming in at 32.8 percent of all 2010 births. This follows more than a decade of steady increases in c-section rates.
- The total fertility rate for U.S. women also declined, with the average number of children a woman is expected to have dipping from 2.1 to 1.9.
- Hispanic women’s total fertility rate had a sharper decline, dipping from nearly 3 to 2.4.
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Monday, September 5th, 2011
Fewer parents are choosing to have their newborn sons circumcised at the hospital, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC looked at three different surveys that tracked rates of hospital circumcisions, and found the circumcision rate dropped slightly in all three. From Reuters Health:
In one survey, newborn male circumcision rates fell to 56.9 percent in 2008 from 62.9 percent in 1999. In another, rates of circumcision fell to 54.7 percent in 2010 from 58.4 percent in 2001. In a third, rates fell to 56.3 percent in 2008 from 63.5 percent in 1999.
The CDC said these statistics don’t include all circumcisions, since some boys are circumcised in their communities, in religious rituals that take place after they leave the hospital, Reuters reports:
Circumcision is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys, and is also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.
The wider U.S. population adopted the practice due to potential health benefits, but those advantages have become the subject of debate, including a recent effort to ban circumcision in San Francisco.
This summer, an anti-circumcision group in San Francisco collected more than 7,500 signatures to place a measure banning the practice on the November ballot. A judge blocked the ballot measure, and the California state legislature is currently working to prevent such bans at the local level.
Before these recent decreases, the rate of hospital circumcisions had been rising. “Circumcision rates rose to 61.1 percent from 1997 to 2000 from 48.3 percent in 1988,” Reuters reports. The researchers suggest that cost may be one reason for the current drop. From Reuters:
Medicaid coverage may be one factor. A recent study found circumcision rates were 24 percentage points higher in states in which it was routinely paid for compared with hospitals in states that do not cover the procedure.
As of 2009, Medicaid paid for circumcision in 33 U.S. states.
(image via: http://alphamom.com)
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Thursday, July 7th, 2011
An annual report compiled by statistics collected by a set of federal agencies has revealed new information about children and teenagers in the US, tracking issues from teen pregnancy to drug use to poverty.
The report, America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being 2011, is the 15th in an ongoing annual series of such reports. This year, the major findings included a series of positive indicators including, for the second year in a row, a drop in the pregnancy rate among adolescents, to 20.1 babies per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 17.
Another encouraging finding was a decline in injury deaths among teenagers, including driving deaths, from 44 per 100,000 teens in 2008 to 39 per 100,000 in 2009. Binge drinking among 12th graders also dropped from 25 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2010.
Other findings point in a less positive direction. The proportion of eighth-graders who had used drugs in the past 30 days rose from 8 percent in 2009 to 10 percent last year. And children were also more likely to live below the poverty line–21 percent in 2009 compared to 19 percent in 2008. Children are also more likely to live with unemployed parents, and to live in crowded or physically inadequate housing.
“This report documents some significant changes in several key areas,” Edward Sondik, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics told CNN.com. “This annual report is an important tool to monitor the well being of our nation’s children,” said Sondik. “Each area we report on is critical to our youth”
Other researchers say the report has political ramifications.
Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, chairman of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, told HealthDay that, “while not earth-shattering,” the report is important because it can guide policies that affect children.
Lipshultz is particularity concerned that programs that benefit children’s health and well-being are being cut during the ongoing anemic economic recovery.
“There is so much political rhetoric that gets bantered about that without a scorecard it’s hard to sort out what the real facts are,” Lipshultz said. “And kids don’t vote, and so they are not necessarily a constituency that is a high priority among policy makers.
“If we are going to take limited resources and we are going to work to have the next generation healthier than the current one, the same old solutions may need to be modified,” he added.
(image via: http://rogerfields.com/)
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Thursday, June 16th, 2011
An initial review of each state’s birth certificates by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals a decline in the number of births nationwide, for the third year in a row following the peak in 2007.
After recording 4.3 million births in that year, the number has dropped steadily, down 3 percent last year for a total of 4 million births.
According to the Associated Press, the weak economy may be a decisive factor:
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Experts believe the downward trend is tied to the economy, which officially was in a recession from December 2007 until June 2009 and is still flagging. The theory is that women who are unemployed or have other money problems feel they can’t afford to start a family or add to it.
In 2008 and 2009, the only increase in births was in women older than 40 — considered more sensitive to the ticking of their biological clocks.
A drop in immigration to the United States, blamed on the weak job market, may be another factor in last year’s decline.