First-ever quantitative data about the toll of BPA exposure

From Health Affairs:

The risks of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) have been well-known for some time. While exposure to BPA in the United States affects an estimated 92.6 percent of Americans over the age of five, there are gaps in the knowledge of the health consequences of BPA exposure. A new study, Further Limiting Bisphenol A In Food Uses Could Provide Health And Economic Benefits, presents the first estimate of the potential disease burden and costs associated with ongoing exposure to BPA. It found that $2.98 billion in annual costs are attributable to BPA-associated childhood obesity and adult coronary heart disease. Of the $2.98 billion, the study identified $1.49 billion in childhood obesity costs, the first environmentally attributable costs of child obesity to be documented.

The study modeled the potential health and economic benefits associated with replacing BPA in all food uses by quantifying childhood obesity and adult coronary heart disease attributable to BPA exposure in the United States in the year 2008. The data used were from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2003-2008 as well as other sources. Its analysis methodology followed the approach developed by the Institute of Medicine in assessing the “fractional contribution” of the environment to the causation of illness in the United States. “This analysis suggests that regulatory action to reduce BPA exposure could produce net benefits to society,” concludes the author. “From an economic perspective, it might make sense for the Food and Drug Administration to require that an additive free of obesogenic and cardiovascular risks be substituted for BPA. However, pre-market testing of potential substitutes is needed to prevent the use of another synthetic chemical instead of BPA that may lead to the same or worse health consequences.”

Read the article here.

E-cigarette poisonings & more in the new edition of Public Health Law News

From the CDC’s Office for State, Tribal, Local, & Territorial Support:

The new edition of Public Health Law News reprints an article from USA Today on the rise in reports of poisonings in children by e-cigarettes.

Other stories include reports from the states on changes in public health laws and an interview with Chester Antone, Councilman of the Tohono O’odham Nation Legislature.

Read the complete newsletter here.

Making New York the healthiest state

From the Health Affairs Blog:

In early December, the New York State Health Foundation and the New York State Department of Health cosponsored a summit focused on improving population health, with the title, “Making New York the Healthiest State: Achieving the Triple Aim.” We had hoped to convince a critical mass of health sector leaders to come together for a day to begin to understand a simple but difficult task: how can we get to be as good at keeping New Yorkers healthy as we are at getting them better after they experience significant medical problems? . . .

[W]ithin two weeks of our announcement of the conference, we had 250 people filling the allocated slots and another 300 people on a waiting list hoping to attend the meeting. It turns out that the issue of keeping people healthy has taken hold. Also, to our surprise, there were as many people who were health care providers interested in attending as there were public health leaders.

What explains the interest? The presentations at the conference brought at least two answers. First, health care providers know that they are going to benefit financially from keeping people healthy and out of hospitals as capitated payment systems become more important in medical care financing.

Second, our city and state are getting refocused on the challenge of dealing with inequities, as a new mayor in New York City has struck a popular chord in saying that we are “two cities”—one challenged by low incomes, poor education access, and substantial chronic health problems and the other enjoying an exciting, vibrant economy and culture.

To read more, click here.

Sugar-sweetened beverages playbook

One of the 4 legal tools discussed in the current issue of the CDC’s Public Health Law News, is a Sugar-sweetened beverages playbook from ChangeLab.  The playbook offers a sequence of ten strategies—from public education campaigns to restrictions on the availability of sugar-sweetened beverages—communities and states can use to reduce consumption of SSBs. Find more information and download a poster and the playbook.

Project Tycho – Data for health

TychoBraheProject Tycho, from the University of Pittsburgh (with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & the National Institutes of Health), is a database created to advance the availability & use of public health data for science & policy.

The project has completed the digitization of the entire history of weekly Nationally Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (NNDSS) reports for the United States (1888-2013) into a database in computable format (Level 3 data); standardized a major part of these data for online access (Level 2 data); and a subset of the U.S. data was cleaned further and used for a study on the impact of vaccination programs in the United States that was recently published in the NEJM (Level 1 data).

Read more about this fascinating project here.  You can also find it on the Health Statistics research guide on the “Incidence/Prevalence” & “Visualization” pages.

Hat tip to Gillian Mayman!

“Access to HIV care: Real results” & live stream of White House observation of World AIDS Day

From the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA):

On December 1, 2013, the Health Resources and Services Administration celebrated World AIDS Day to show our support and commitment to those who are living with the disease and to remember those who have died from HIV/AIDS in the United States and around the world.

Learn how five key activities are making a big difference in access to HIV care and treatment – click the infographic below to see it full size.

wad13infographic

White House Observation of World AIDS Day live stream
December 2, 1 to 3 pm ET

Better care at lower cost: Is it possible?

From the Commonwealth Fund:

Evidence continues to pour in that America’s sky-high health care spending is not only unsustainable, it isn’t making us any healthier either—especially compared with other advanced countries. But what are we to do about it?

In Better Care at Lower Cost: Is It Possible?, we examine the sources of high costs in the United States, the obstacles to getting them under control, and the promising public and private efforts under way to uncover the pathway to high-value health care.

Read more posts in the series Health Reform & You on the Commonwealth Fund web site.

New health policy brief: Specialty pharmaceuticals

From Health Affairs and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

Specialty pharmaceuticals–drugs and biologics used to treat chronic, serious, or life-threatening diseases–are complex to manufacture and distribute, often difficult to administer, and may require special patient monitoring. They are a rapidly growing share of the costs borne by both public and private health plans. A patient could pay a few thousand dollars a month to use them, and the annual total cost for some products could exceed $100,000. This policy brief discusses the potential impact of specialty pharmaceuticals on consumers and the health care industry and some of the key challenges for policy makers.

To learn more, click here.

Sports-Related Concussions in Youth

New from the National Academies Press:

In the past decade, few subjects at the intersection of medicine and sports have generated as much public interest as sports-related concussions – especially among youth. Despite growing awareness of sports-related concussions and campaigns to educate athletes, coaches, physicians, and parents of young athletes about concussion recognition and management, confusion and controversy persist in many areas. Currently, diagnosis is based primarily on the symptoms reported by the individual rather than on objective diagnostic markers, and there is little empirical evidence for the optimal degree and duration of physical rest needed to promote recovery or the best timing and approach for returning to full physical activity.

Sports-Related Concussions in Youth: Improving the Science, Changing the Culture reviews the science of sports-related concussions in youth from elementary school through young adulthood, as well as in military personnel and their dependents. This report recommends actions that can be taken by a range of audiences – including research funding agencies, legislatures, state and school superintendents and athletic directors, military organizations, and equipment manufacturers, as well as youth who participate in sports and their parents – to improve what is known about concussions and to reduce their occurrence. Sports-Related Concussions in Youth finds that while some studies provide useful information, much remains unknown about the extent of concussions in youth; how to diagnose, manage, and prevent concussions; and the short- and long-term consequences of concussions as well as repetitive head impacts that do not result in concussion symptoms.

For more information & to read the free PDF, go to the NAP website.