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expert-perspectives

UMN expert: Prevention and treatment key elements to reduce infant mortality rates

Photo: S.Raj/CC 2.0/https://flic.kr/p/D2LiL

A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found infant mortality rates in the U.S. declined 2.3 percent between 2013 and 2014, reaching a new low of 582.1 infant deaths per 100,000 live births (about 22,000 deaths a year).

In a recent New York Times article, CDC demographer T.J. Mathews said, “This is potentially the best news we’ve had yet.”

Despite the drop in rate, the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than many Western or developed countries.

Health Talk spoke with Wendy Hellerstedt, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health to better understand infant mortality and what can be done to help decrease infant mortality in the U.S.

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expert-perspectives

UMN experts: New cases of diabetes may be down but more work is needed

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found new cases of diabetes dropped by roughly one-fifth from 2008-2014, from 1.7 million to 1.4 million. And while the investigators are unsure whether prevention efforts are working or if the disease peaked in the U.S., the findings were good news after decades of seeing numbers skyrocket.

According to a recent New York Times article, “there is growing evidence that eating habits, after decades of deterioration, have finally begun to improve. The amount of soda Americans drink has declined by about a quarter since the late 1990s, and the average number of daily calories children and adults consume also has fallen. Physical activity has started to rise, and once-surging rates of obesity, a major driver of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, have flattened.”

Health Talk spoke with Mark Pereira, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health and Elizabeth Seaquist, M.D., professor of medicine in the University of Minnesota Medical School to help understand the numbers.

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expert-perspectives

UMN expert: New FDA sugar recommendations are lofty but likely necessary

Photo: Uwe Hermann/cc 2.0/ https://flic.kr/p/cFMMc

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a daily limit on sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of a day’s calories. An article in the New York Times does the math: most people, including children, should not have more than 50 grams per day. It is roughly the same amount in a can of Coke.

Cutting out soft drinks won’t be enough to get down to the recommended values. Consumers have to be aware of hidden sugars throughout the American food supply.

Health Talk spoke with Mark Pereira, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, to provide a little more clarity.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: Rural Wisconsin has limited access to licensed child care, may exacerbate health care workforce shortages and recruitment challenges

In general, research has shown that rural communities face serious shortages in health care workforce. This is especially concerning, as rural areas are aging at a faster rate than the rest of the country, and therefore have particular needs for a robust long-term care workforce. Women make up the vast majority of the health care workforce, including more than 90 percent of all nurses and health care paraprofessionals, such as home health care aides — which make up the backbone of the long-term care workforce. Efforts to recruit and retain health care workforce in rural areas tend to focus on individual-level initiatives, such as loan forgiveness and provider training, rather than on broader family and community issues like access to child care.

In a new study in the Journal of Community Health, researchers in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota found fewer than one-third of all children under the age of five living in rural Wisconsin counties had access to an available slot in a licensed child care facility (either center or family-based), compared to nearly half of children under the age of five living in urban and suburban Wisconsin counties.

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expert-perspectives

UMN expert: Expanding access to health care coverage critical to reducing a state’s uninsurance rate

Photo: New York Times/http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/10/31/upshot/who-still-doesnt-have-health-insurance-obamacare.html?emc=edit_th_20151101&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=20932956&_r=2

According to a recent New York Times article, the majority of people who remain uninsured after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented in the United States live in the South and Southwest and they tend to be poor.

But why is this the case?

Health Talk spoke with Brett Fried, a senior research fellow at the State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC), to learn more about why there are such glaring differences in uninsurance rates across the United States.

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research-and-clinical-trials

Research Snapshot: New tool provides more accurate representation of family satisfaction with nursing home care

Making the decision to move a loved one into a nursing home is a big decision, which often leaves family members with questions and concerns regarding their satisfaction with their loved one’s care and quality of life (QOL) while in the facility.

To measure family satisfaction in nursing homes, most states rely upon measures developed by the nursing home industry that have not undergone rigorous testing. There is now, however, a new tool developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, in collaboration with Minnesota Department of Human Services, that provides validated measures of family satisfaction. These measures have been used in all nursing homes in Minnesota and show strong performance among consumers.

The tool consists of 32 questions. Family members are asked to reflect on their experiences with the nursing facility and the care given there. They grade each item on a scale from A-F, where A=excellent; B=very good; C=average; D=below average; and F = failing.

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