NIHCM Newsletter / November 2023

Updates on Children's Health

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Rabbitt, M.P., Hales, L.J., Burke, M.P., & Coleman-Jensen, A. (2023). Household Food Security in the United States in 2022 (Report No. ERR-325), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.

Updates on Children's Health

A recent study found that socioeconomic deprivation was associated with poorer health outcomes. Additionally, there is a rise in mental health conditions for children during the school year, with public health implications to prioritize protective factors at school. Learn more about concerns surrounding children’s health:

  • Mental Health: The American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica recently released a report on the impacts of climate change on children’s mental health. New data, released in partnership with the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, found that student’s health declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Social Media & Screen Time: A recent study found an association between infant screen exposure and delayed development. States are holding social media companies liable for the impact on children’s mental health.

  • Child Care: A predicted 70,000 child care programs may close after the discontinuation of federal relief funds. A study found that subsidized meals provided by child care were tied to better child health and decreases in household food insecurity.

  • Drug Overdoses and Accidents: Pediatric overdoses have spiked in recent years, with the rise of fentanyl, but it is difficult for children to receive treatment. Recent research warns that electric scooters, curling irons, and magnets are injuring kids.

Resources & Initiatives

Flu, COVID, & RSV Season

A new study from the CDC reported adults ages 65 years and older accounted for 63% of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Fewer than 24% were up to date with their coronavirus shots. With the seasonal uptick in COVID-19 cases, infections and hospitalizations are expected to rise. With the launch of the National Institutes for Health’s clinical trials focused on Long COVID, there have been scientific improvements in the identification of biomarkers to determine a diagnosis. Amidst the rise of COVID-19 infections, RSV is also on the rise.

  • Long COVID: Researchers suggest serotonin depletion caused by the presence of COVID in the gut led to the neurocognitive symptoms of long COVID. They also observed that restoring serotonin levels with treatments for depression reversed memory loss in mice.

  • Vaccine Updates: 7 million Americans have received an updated COVID vaccine. Experts are urging people to get vaccinated. For RSV, there is a newly approved vaccine for infants up to 8 months and for children with risk factors that make them susceptible to severe RSV.

  • Vaccine Shortages: The CDC recommends clinicians ration the RSV shot for infants under the age of 6 months and those who are susceptible to severe illness. During the 2022-2023 flu season, over half of the US states had shortages of flu antiviral drugs, leading them to rely on national and state stockpiles.

  • Children: Parents are struggling to find updated pediatric COVID shots to bolster their child's immune system. The lack of insurance coverage is hindering their ability to obtain child care. For people in their later stages of pregnancy, the CDC encourages the uptake of the RSV vaccine during RSV season.

Resources & Initiatives

  • See the CDC’s Health Alert Network for updated health advisories on RSV and other public health incidents.

  • Learn more about the release of new COVID shots.

  • BCBSM released an article detailing the differences between a cold, the flu, and COVID.

Chronic Diseases & Cancer

American life expectancy is plummeting due to the presence of chronic conditions. Researchers at Highmark Health, Allegheny Health Network, and the Penn State College of Medicine found that people diagnosed with diseases of despair (DoD), which includes deaths and diseases resulting from drug use, self harm, and alcohol use, had a 42% likelihood of developing a cardiovascular condition. For people under 50, cancer rates are soaring.

  • Diabetes: According to a new study, routinely eating red meat may be increasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In addition, the increased prevalence of young people with multiple chronic conditions has led the American Heart Association (AHA) to create a new heart disease syndrome called cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome, or CKM.

  • Cancer: A proposed ruling by the FDA will institute a ban on formaldehydes in hair relaxers. The ban is set to start in April 2024 and follows reports demonstrating increased risk of developing hormone-related cancers. Regarding advancements in lung cancer research, a drug from Roche has demonstrated a 76% decrease in risk of recurrence or death in comparison to traditional chemotherapy.

Resources & Initiatives

  • The CMS “Million Hearts” payment model was associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease without increasing spending.

  • The CDC has resources for medical providers assisting with diabetes management.

  • The National Cancer Institute also has resources for people seeking more information on the different types of cancers.

In Other Public News...

Drug Shortages and Access
Closures of national pharmacy chains are disproportionately impacting communities that need access to care. In order to combat the lack of drug accessibility and increase transparency, a mother started a nonprofit in search of answers about the availability of a cancer drug. As demand for the RSV vaccine (nirsevimab) increases, supply chain issues are leaving parents empty-handed. Previously, parents could order through the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. However, those orders have been placed on hold. Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina is integrating pharmacy benefits in order to help employer groups reduce drug costs.

Antimicrobial Resistance
In order to address the ‘silent pandemic’, the Biden Administration is investing $100 million into a research drive led by the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health. According to the CDC, more than 29,000 people died from antimicrobial-resistant infections in the first year of the pandemic. Superbugs are not only spreading in hospitals, but they are prevalent in the environment from wastewater to air pollution.

Health Equity
The Health Affairs recent issue focuses on structural racism’s impact on health, such as housing. The articles also share responses to racism such as through utilizing Community Health Workers to serve marginalized communities. Philadelphia-area health organizations, convened by Independence Blue Cross, have formed a regional coalition to eliminate race-based medicine utilizing 15 clinical decision support tools.

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