Monday, April 14, 2014

Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! Campaign

Several government agencies have partnered for a public outreach campaign supporting young children. Birth to 5: Watch Me Thrive! highlights the importance of universal developmental and behavioral screening. The page for families includes a screening tool to help parents keep track of a child's developmental milestones. The page also has links to:
  •  resources to learn what milestones children from 2 months to 5 years of age should be reaching,
  • tips on what you should do if you're concerned,
  • simple learning activities to incorporate into your child's routine,
  • tips and resources on positive parenting to promote healthy child development.
This page has links to other resources, like early intervention programs,  that can help families who have concerns with their child's development. There are additional  resources for various child care providers, including behavioral health, child welfare, primary care, educators, and homeless shelters.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sign the Declaration in Support of Libraries!

National Library Week is April 13-19. Sign the declaration to show your support of libraries. Go to:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Unhealthy NEPA

Health rankings are nothing new. Several national organizations and government agencies do population studies and report on various health behaviors, obesity, general wellbeing, etc. One that drills down to county level is the “County Health Rankings & Roadmaps” program, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin population Health Institute. Their 2014 results were just released and NEPA does not fare well.

 For “Total Health Outcomes” (length of life and premature death) Luzerne County ranked 57, Lackawanna County ranked 56, and Wyoming County ranked 54 out of 67 Pennsylvania counties. Monroe County did a little better overall coming in at 30. In “Social & Economic Factors” which include high school graduation, unemployment, poverty, crime, injury deaths, etc., Luzerne County ranked 63, Lackawanna County ranked 43, Monroe County ranked 50, and Wyoming County ranked 56. Each county’s unemployment rate, percentage of children in poverty, and children in single-parent households were well above the Pennsylvania average.

The NEPA population engages in unhealthy behaviors. Each county was above the Pennsylvania average in smoking physical inactivity, and excessive drinking. Lackawanna and Wyoming counties had higher than average alcohol-impaired driving deaths with Wyoming County well above the average.  All three counties were below the average in access to exercise opportunities with Wyoming County at only 7%. (Pennsylvania's average is 80%.)On a more positive note, all counties were well below the average in sexually transmitted infections.

NEPA did better in “Clinical Care,” which includes percentage of uninsured; primary care physician, dens, dentists, and mental health provider ratios; preventable hospital stays, diabetic and mammography screening. Luzerne County ranked 28, Lackawanna County ranked 27, and Wyoming County ranked 40; however, Monroe County raked 56.The number of mental health providers for all three counties was well below the Pennsylvania average.

NEPA also did well in the “Physical Environment” rankings, which includes air pollution, drinking water violations, housing shortages, and commuting. Here Luzerne County ranked 14, Lackawanna County ranked 4 and Wyoming County ranked 7; however, Monroe County ranked 49.

The rankings and more information regarding the methodology is at

Monday, November 18, 2013

New Recommendations on Statins

Last week the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology issued a major change in their recommendations regarding the use of the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins. For the past decade statins have been prescribed to lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) below 100.

The new recommendations shift from triggering the use of a statin when a cholesterol level reaches a certain number to prescribing the drug for people who fall into one of four risk groups: people who already have heart disease, those whose LDL is very high (190 or more), those who are middle-aged and have type 2 diabetes, and those between 40 and 75 years of age whose estimated 10-year risk of heart disease is 7.5 percent or higher. (Check here for a heart disease risk calculator.)

The new criteria may mean more people will be prescribed a statin. Those who are already on such a drug but who do not fall within one of the risk groups should consult their doctors.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Invisible Universe: Video from NPR

The human microbiome is the term for the invisible world of microorganisms that live on and in the human body. National Public Radio has a beautiful, animated video that briefly explains what the microbiome is and why it is important. View the video here.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Flu Season

It’s that time of year again. Flu season is just around the corner and, since it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to offer maximum protection, you should be getting your vaccine now. This is especially important for people 65 and older, pregnant women, caregivers, and people with medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease. But the flu can kill anyone, even healthy children and adults. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that everyone six months of age and older get a yearly flu vaccine; getting one now will protect you through the 2013-2014 flu season.
In addition to your doctor’s office, you may be able to be immunized at your local health department, drug store, or grocery store.
Influenza seasons are unpredictable. Last year saw more hospitalizations and deaths compared to recent years, and your best defense is being vaccinated.