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Improving global health through competition

The annual Global Health Case Competition helps students explore complex real-world global health challenges, such as refugee crises, sanitation, violence, sustainable development and infectious disease outbreaks, which are increasingly common in a world with more people, changing climates and drug-resistant viruses. Its success is now paving the way for similar competitions around the world.

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Research snapshot: Opioid prescriptions common among Medicare beneficiaries

The often devastating misuse of prescription opioids has slowly caught the media and public’s attention in recent years. It is estimated that opioid addiction affected nearly 2.5 million adults in the U.S. in 2014. Some estimates suggest more than 44,000 drug overdose-related deaths occurred in 2013 and nearly one-third of those deaths were attributed to prescription opioids. Furthermore, prescription opioid abuse can often lead to heroin use (and eventual addiction) when addicts can no longer get prescription medication and/or they move on to cheaper, easily accessible and stronger heroin.

Tragically, an estimated 40 people die every day from opioid drug overdoses.

The University of Minnesota is doing its part to take on this public health crisis and recently hosted Pain. Pill. Problem., an all-day conference that examined the many facets of Minnesota’s issues with opiate abuse.

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Childhood immunizations: What parents need to know

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and throughout the month Health Talk will focus on several key life stages and immunizations to keep you informed and help you cut through the clutter of misinformation available online about this critical public health issue.

Health Talk spoke with Mark Schleiss, M.D., professor of pediatrics in the University of Minnesota Medical School, and he provided some useful, reliable and scientifically proven information for parents regarding childhood immunizations.

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Two U of M College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members appointed to National Presidential Advisory Council

An increasing number of bacterial infections no longer respond to antibiotics, which threatens public health and the economy. As a result, the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria was formed. Out of just four U.S. veterinarians to be appointed to the committee, two are University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine faculty members Peter Robert Davies B.V.Sc., and Randall Singer, D.V.M.

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Preventing childhood obesity while promoting a positive body image

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month—a new observance that started five years ago, but is in keeping with mounting public awareness about the problem of childhood obesity. While parents are hit with messages to prevent obesity, they often get conflicting advice. So what can parents do to prevent obesity without instilling an unhealthy obsession with weight?

Researchers at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health recommend parents start by modifying the home environment to make it easier to engage in healthier eating and activity and by modeling healthy eating and physical activity behaviors, a positive body image, and avoidance of weight talk. Their advice is based on research gathered through Project EAT, one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to examine weight-related issues in teenagers led by Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Ph.D. Neumark-Sztainer used the findings from Project EAT to provide parents strategies in the book, I’m, Like, So Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight-Obsessed World.

Health Talk spoke with Colleen Flattum, M.S., R.D., senior program manager with Project EAT.

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Breastfeeding at Work: Challenges and Opportunities for Minnesota’s Mothers

Editor’s note: This post was developed by Alexis Russell, M.P.H., a 2015 graduate of the Public Health Administration and Policy Program, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Katy Kozhimannil, Ph.D., M.P.A., associate professor, Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health.

August is National Breastfeeding Month. It’s also the “Back-to-school” time of year, when students and teachers prepare for the upcoming school year. It’s a time of great excitement, but, it’s also a particularly challenging time for teachers who also happen to be mothers who are breastfeeding.

In 2011, fewer than 1 in 4 Minnesota infants were breastfed to the recommended length of time. Employed mothers are one subgroup of women that struggle to meet recommendations for breastfeeding, due in part to barriers they experience as part of their day-to-day schedules and obligations at work.

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