Health and Welfare

9:41am

Mon December 31, 2012
Health and Welfare

UK Autism Clinic Offers Help to Patients and Families

Ionut Moga, 11, is a cheerful, talkative, über sports fan who doesn't care that the name of the new clinic in the little white bungalow not far from the University of Kentucky main campus is CASPER, which stands for Center for Autism Spectrum Evaluation, Service, and Research. He's unaware it offers diagnostic and social-skills assessments that many previously had to drive to Cincinnati or Louisville to get. Ionut just knows that if he listens and practices what he learns it will help him make friends. Eventually, he hopes, they will come to his house to play.

5:47pm

Wed December 26, 2012
Health and Welfare

Flu Cases on the Rise in Kentucky

Across the state, flu activity has increased from regional to widespread, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health. The flu season can begin as early as October and last through May, and usually peaks between January and March. It takes about two weeks for immunity from the vaccine to develop and offer protection against flu.

3:01pm

Fri December 21, 2012
Health and Welfare

Deaths from Drug Overdoses Hit New High in 2010

Deaths from drug overdoses in Kentucky jumped to a new high in 2010, and "rose a staggering 296 percent from 2000 to 2010," Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. "A tidal wave of prescription-drug abuse drove the steep increase," with just over half of the deaths involving prescription drugs, according to a study by researchers at the University of Kentucky.

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9:30am

Fri December 21, 2012
Health and Welfare

Drug Overdose Deaths Rise 296 Percent Since 2000

The number of drug-overdose deaths in Kentucky rose a staggering 296 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to a study by a research center at the University of Kentucky. A tidal wave of prescription-drug abuse drove the steep increase in overdose deaths. Of the 979 deaths in 2010, prescription drugs were involved in 522, or 53 percent, according to the study by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center.

6:01pm

Wed December 19, 2012
Health and Welfare

Feds Tell States Medicaid Expansion is All or Nothing

When the Supreme Court upheld federal health reform but said states could opt out of the expansion of Medicaid to people with incomes above the poverty line, to be funded with generous federal subsidies, one of the first questions was whether a state had to go all the way: to 133 percent of poverty (138 percent with an official fudge factor). Now the Obama administration has answered "no." And that could make the decision tougher for Kentucky, which is the only state The Washington Post listed this month as leaning toward expansion.

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4:49pm

Wed December 19, 2012
Health and Welfare

Researching Murder-Suicide in Kentucky

In the week since teachers and students were massacred in a Connecticut school, little has been reported on the shooter’s motivation.  In murder-suicide cases, an explanation is often hard to find.  Uncovering the reason behind violence often takes patience and persistence.  Most often, though, the motivation behind a murder-suicide is found in the shooter’s relationships.  University of Kentucky professor Sabrina Walsh directs Kentucky’s Violent Death Reporting System.  Since 2005, the system has tracked violent deaths in the Commonwealth.

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4:22pm

Tue December 18, 2012
Health and Welfare

Survey Shows Kentucky Parents Don't Acknowledge Child Obesity

Many Kentucky parents don't realize that their children are obese or overweight, or at least aren't willing to acknowledge it. That is the obvious conclusion to draw from the latest results of the Kentucky Parent Survey, released Tuesday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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1:37pm

Tue December 18, 2012
Health and Welfare

Turfway Park Pilots Substance Abuse Program

Credit Creative Commons

Turfway Park will begin piloting a substance abuse program for licensed racetrack workers next year, which officials hope can extend to other tracks around the state. “That’s our intent is to have a program in place that will be effective at all the racetracks in Kentucky,” said Richard Riedel, executive director of the Kentucky Health and Welfare Fund, which is paying the $5,000 cost to pilot the program.

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2:41pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Health and Welfare

Full Blown Flu in Kentucky

What started out early is now full-blown. The Kentucky Department for Public Health informed federal health authorities this week that data it has received from local health departments, hospitals, clinics and private doctors indicates that flu is now "widespread" in the state.

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2:38pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Health and Welfare

Obesity is the Leading Cause of Military Ineligibility

Between 1998 and 2010, CNN reports, the number of active-duty military personnel deemed overweight or obese more than tripled. In 2010, 5.3 percent of the force -- or 86,186 troops -- received at least a clinical diagnosis of overweight or obese, according to the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center. The trend has prompted the Pentagon to re-examine its training programs, and it is now actively weeding out soldiers deemed unfit to fight. It is also a tidy way to trim the budget at the same time as federal cuts loom. (CNN photo)

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1:28pm

Fri December 14, 2012
Health and Welfare

Kentucky Gets Federal Approval for State-Based Health Exchange

After months building a state-based health exchange, Kentucky officials have been told that the federal government has given approval to their work. Despite objections from Republican lawmakers, Kentucky officials quickly began working on a state-based exchange --- a part of the Affordable Care Act.

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3:58pm

Wed December 12, 2012
Health and Welfare

Study Shows Health Risks for Kids with TVs in Their Bedrooms

Kids who have TVs in their bedrooms are twice as likely to be fat and nearly three times as likely to be at risk for heart disease and diabetes as those who don’t, according to a new study that elevates concerns about health and screen time. The report, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, studied 369 children, ages 5 to 18, who have TVs in their rooms and watched more than five hours of television a day.

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2:06pm

Wed December 12, 2012
Health and Welfare

Kentucky Still Ranks Low in Annual Health Ratings

Kentucky has ranked 44th among the 50 states in overall health in United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings. Darla Carter of The Courier-Journal reports that while this is the same rating the state achieved last year, the commonwealth is not without some high points. Among them, Kentucky is 9th best nationwide for its low incidence of binge drinking. We are to be congratulated as well for our low violent crime, high immunization coverage and improved high school graduation rate.

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2:03pm

Wed December 12, 2012
Health and Welfare

Dollar General to Sell Tobacco in Stores by Mid-2013

By the middle of 2013, most of Dollar General's 10,000 U.S. stores will carry cigarettes and other tobacco products.. The company has made the decision in response to “competitive pressures” which came about when Family Dollar Stores, a key competitor, began adding cigarettes to its stores last year. In a press release issued by Dollar General, customer demand also drove the company's decision, citing their perception that their core customers -- mostly based in rural America -- are more likely to smoke than the national average.

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1:03pm

Wed December 12, 2012
Health and Welfare

Flu Level Raised to Widespread in Kentucky

FRANKFORT – Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) officials reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week that the flu activity level in the state has increased from regional to widespread. Widespread activity is the highest level of flu activity, which indicates increased flu-like activity or flu outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state, according to a DPH news release. The activity levels for states are tracked weekly as part of the CDC’s national flu surveillance system.

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2:29pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Health and Welfare

Toolkit Created to Tackle Rural Obesity Epidemic

When the Journal of Rural Health recently reported that 40 percent of adults living in rural areas are obese, compared with 33 percent of adults living in urban areas, the size of the disparity was larger than expected and previously estimated. In response to the severity and urgency of the obesity epidemic, the Rural Assistance Center of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created a Rural Obesity Prevention tool kit which contains resources to help communities develop obesity prevention programs. (Read more)

1:10pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Health and Welfare

Colorful Fruits and Vegetables Linked to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Come to find out, pink isn't the most important color when it comes to breast cancer. According to researchers in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, women loading up on carotenoids, the  micro-nutrients found in red, yellow and deeply colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes spinach and kale, showed lower rates of breast cancer than those who didn’t eat as many of them.

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1:04pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Health and Welfare

Legal Issues with Kentucky Spirit Remain

Weeks after their announced departure from Kentucky’s Medicaid managed care system, operator Kentucky Spirit and the state are still locked in a legal battle. Both sides have sued each other, blaming the other for the situation. Kentucky Spirit announced their departure, scheduled for the middle of 2013, due to massive losses in the system.

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12:54pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Health and Welfare

UK Team Receives Grant for Alzheimer's Research

University of Kentucky researchers have provided the first direct evidence that activated astrocytes could play a harmful role in Alzheimer's disease. A UK news release explains, "The astrocyte is a very abundant non-neuronal cell type that performs absolutely critical functions for maintaining healthy nervous tissue.

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12:52pm

Tue December 11, 2012
Health and Welfare

Loud Basketball Games Can Result in Hearing Loss

Ray Hull (Wichita State Univ. photo)

December is the cruelest month, basketball fans -- in more ways than one. Witness this news out of Kansas.  Yes, Kansas: Loud basketball games can often generate deafening noise that result in real hearing loss. So says Wichita State University audiologist Ray Hull, who found that gymnasiums and arenas are built like reverberating echo chambers that can wreak havoc on ears by amplifying noise to dangerous levels.

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1:13pm

Mon December 10, 2012
Health and Welfare

Report Shows Racing Drugs Render American Horses Unsafe to Eat

Credit Creative Commons

It's the most unsettling sentence in print this week, on the front page of Sunday's New York Times. "The meat of American racehorses may be too toxic to eat safely because the horses have been injected repeatedly with drugs." That's the warning European food safety officials have sent to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico (there aren't any in the U.S.) that specialize in processing horses for consumption abroad. 

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1:06pm

Mon December 10, 2012
Health and Welfare

CDC Says Kentucky Doesn't Spend Enough on Tobacco Prevention

Kentucky is not even remotely up to snuff on state tobacco-prevention programming. According to a new report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control, the state spends only $2.2 million on such programs. That amount is only 4.5 percent of what the CDC recommends that state, which has the highest incidence of tobacco use in the nation, spend. If the state spent what the nation's most prestigious health institution recommended, state spending to improve Kentucky's collective lungs should be in the $57 million range.

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1:54pm

Sun December 9, 2012
Health and Welfare

Court Rules Health Boards Can Pass Smoking Bans

In Kentucky's first appellate-court ruling on the issue, the state Court of Appeals today upheld the Bullitt County Board of Health's smoking ban, which is virtually the same as others enacted by several other county health boards. However, the panel's 2-1 vote and the strength of the dissent suggests that the ruling will be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

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12:40pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Health and Welfare

Heroin Use on the Rise in Eastern Kentucky

It was only few months ago that Northern Kentucky law enforcement officers and substance abuse clinics began expressing grave concern that heroin was fast becoming the go-to drug in their region. Today, there are signs that the drug is already moving swiftly east, into the already drug-ravaged mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The reason for the uptick in heroin use? Because pain pills aren't as available anymore.

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12:33pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Health and Welfare

Hiding Tobacco Displays Could Curb Teen Smoking

For Kentucky which has the dubious distinction of having the nation's highest rate of teen smokers, an study published this week in Pediatrics reports that teenagers may be less likely to buy cigarettes at convenience stores if they aren't sold in plain sight. Genevra Pittman of Reuters Health explains that requiring stores to hide tobacco product displays is one option some states are considering to curb teen smoking after the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 was passed, according to Annice Kim, the study's lead author. No state has yet banned the displays. (Associated Press photo)

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12:29pm

Fri December 7, 2012
Health and Welfare

Flu Season Hits Early and Hard

Prepare for a bad flu season. According to the Centers for Disease Control, this flu season seems to be ahead of schedule if you use the last decade as any judge of when the season should begin, which is usually around Christmas. Suspected cases have already showed up in Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas, with two infant deaths already having been reported. (Getty Images)

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12:45pm

Wed December 5, 2012
Health and Welfare

Mistletoe Extract Used for Colorectal Cancer Treatment in Europe

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancers in the nation, with about 50 of every 100,000 Kentuckians being diagnosed with the disease each year. The state also ranks among the worst in colorectal cancer deaths, with 18-20 deaths per 100,000 annually. So perhaps Kentuckians should care more about some research that was announced as seasonal fare: using mistletoe extract in chemotherapy. (Wikipedia image)

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4:18pm

Tue December 4, 2012
Health and Welfare

Group Organizes Meetings for Medicaid Recipients

Credit Wikipedia Commons

As Kentucky moves to a new Medicaid arraignment in the Louisville region, the publisher of the Louisville-based Medical News is organizing community meetings to help Medicaid recipients avoid confusion about the changes.

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2:17pm

Sun December 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Study Says Raising Cigarette Tax Would Curb Smoking

The more you raise cigarette taxes, the less people smoke. That presumption was confirmed this week in a study by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. This has some resonance in Kentucky, where just last week the state’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Tax Reform told Gov. Beshear the state should raise taxes on tobacco, to $1 per pack from 60 cents. Other forms of tobacco would get a corresponding tax hike, reports Beth Musgrave of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

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2:15pm

Sun December 2, 2012
Health and Welfare

Kentucky Hospitals Fall Short in Patient Safety

In an analysis of the nation's hospitals and their safety records, many of Kentucky's health care facilities have some shortcomings. A study by the Leapfrog Group finds that the vast majority of the state's hospitals score a B or C in overall patient safety, a term defined here by analysis of data on accidents, errors and infections as kept by the Centers for Disease Control, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research.

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