Midlands health notes

January 23, 2013 

20071226 Fitness green

300 dpi Bradenton Herald Staff color illustration of a green doctor's scale; an icon for fitness. Bradenton Herald 2007

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National health survey comes to Lexington

Lexington County residents in the coming weeks will have a chance to participate in the most comprehensive survey of the health and nutritional status of the U.S. population.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and is used to help develop health policies and programs. Each year, 5,000 residents across the nation have the chance to participate in the latest survey.

The survey “serves as the nation’s ‘health check-up,’” said CDC director Thomas Frieden. “The survey is a unique resource for health information, and without it we would lack important knowledge about major health conditions.”

The survey, which has been conducted for five decades, may not be a household name, but the comprehensive data collected has far-reaching and significant impacts.

The key to the survey is participation by people across all ages, races and ethnicities. Survey workers will be knocking on doors in Lexington County to recruit participants. An advance letter about the program was sent to households in the survey area.

If survey workers come to your door, you should ask to see for their photo ID from the CDC. They will do a health interview in willing participants’ homes, followed by a health exam in one of three mobile examination centers.

No medical care is provided directly in the mobile examination center, but a report on physical findings is given to each participant along with an explanation from survey medical staff. The various tests and procedures depend on the participant’s age. All information collected in the survey is kept strictly confidential and privacy is protected by public law.

Individuals who agree to participate will receive compensation for their time and travel expenses of up to $125.

State infant mortality rate stabilizes

South Carolina’s infant mortality rate in 2011 remained stable at 7.4 deaths per 1,000 babies born.

The 2011 statistics were released last week by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. The 2011 rate is 12 percent better than five years ago, but it was the same as 2010.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” said DHEC director Catherine Templeton.

Of the 57,338 children born in 2011 in the state, 423 died before their first birthday. The rate is identical to that of 2010, when there were 58,325 births and 430 infant deaths. The rate for white babies improved from 5.5 in 2010 to 5.0 in 2011. Black and other infants died at 2.4 times the rate as white infants in 2011. The previous year, the rate was 2.0 times that of whites.

The agency plans to promote the use of folic acid among women of childbearing age and provide information on the important role nutrition plays in the health of the mother and her baby. Also, the agency hopes to encourage more pregnant women to quit smoking.

The agency works with other state and local groups in the South Carolina Birth Outcomes Initiative, a collaboration formed in 2011. One of the initiative’s major accomplishments was convincing all 43 of the state’s birthing hospitals to commit to ending non-medical inductions prior to 39 weeks of gestation. That change portends improvements in the infant mortality rates in the 2012 statistics.

Family Connection gets grant for Hispanic outreach

Family Connection of South Carolina, a nonprofit organization that provides support to families with children with special healthcare needs, has received a $3,790 grant to support its Hispanic outreach program.

The grant will expand the organization’s Spanish-speaking support to families in the Midlands, helping Hispanic parents with children who have special needs to find the healthcare resources and emotional support they need through parent support groups and one-to-one mentoring.

The grant is funded by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s outreach committee, which funds organizations that serve the critical needs of children and families in the Columbia area.

“Many of these families are here alone with no one to depend on,” said Hispanic Outreach coordinator Adriana Shacklock. “We must speak for this growing segment of the population and help develop the same support structure that English-speaking families have access to, so that every Hispanic child with special needs has the greatest opportunity to succeed.”

Be careful when using smart phones as health tools

A smart phone is an incredible health tool, but users need to be careful ... especially when it comes to privacy issues.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has new tools to help you keep your health information safe.

Some basic questions to ask, according to the office’s Kathryn Marchesini, are do patients use a password to access their mobile device? And do they have an ability to remotely wipe the information on the device, if for some reason it gets lost or stolen?”

If you’re concerned about privacy issues when using your smart phone for health care, go to healthit.gov/mobiledevices for tips.

Compiled by Joey Holleman

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