Category Archives: Public Health

Today is Heatstroke Prevention Day

Summer is about to reach its peak, but temperatures are still soaring.  Take the time to protect yourself and your loved ones from extreme heat.  Today is Heatstroke Prevention Day.  Do you know the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke?

Heat_Illness

Follow these tips from Ready.gov for protecting yourself in extreme heat:

  • Find air conditioning.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • Watch for heat illness.
  • Wear light clothing.
  • Check on family members and neighbors.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Watch for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
  • Never leave people or pets in a closed car.

Did you know that 21 young children have died in hot cars so far in 2019?  A child’s body overheats 3-5 times faster than an adult body.  Make sure your child is never left alone in a car.  If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved.  Call 911 immediately.  If the child seems hot or sick, try to get them out of the vehicle as soon as possible.  For more car safety tips for children, visit www.kidsandcars.org.

For more information about heat related illnesses, visit https://scdhec.gov/heat-related-illnesses.

South Carolina Health at a Glance: Maternal and Infant Health

Our next installment of the 2018 Live Healthy State Health Assessment summaries covers maternal and infant health.  Because the document is 346 pages, we will summarize each section.  Check out our previous posts:  overview of the report, South Carolina demographics, leading causes of death and hospitalization, cross-cutting, and access to healthcare.

Infant Mortality

The five leading causes of infant death in South Carolina were:

  • Birth defects (85%)
  • Preterm birth and low birthweight (14.2%)
  • Unintentional injuries (9.7%)
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (6.7%)
  • Maternal complication of pregnancy (5.0%).

Targeted education and interventions focused on infant death prevention and contributing factors helps to reach audiences in greatest need.  Although the infant mortality rate decreased from 8.5 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007 to 7.0 deaths in 2016, this rate is higher than the national infant mortality rate and the Healthy People 2020 targeted goal.

Infant Mortality_SC Health Assessment

Birth Defects

Babies affected by birth defects are at an increased risk for long-term physical, cognitive, and social challenges.  Families affected by birth defects often deal with complex medical conditions that require surgery and early intervention services within the first three years of life.  Approximately 8,074 birth defects were reported in South Carolina from 2009-2015.  Birth defect types include:  cardiovascular, central nervous system, chromosomal, orofacial, musculoskeletal, renal, genital, gastrointestinal, limb defects, and eye and ear defects.

Strategies to prevent birth defects include maintaining a healthy diet and consuming at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, regularly visiting a healthcare provider for chronic disease management and infection prevention, and avoiding exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Preterm Birth

Preterm birth is the live birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy.  The earlier a baby is born, the greater the chances of having health problems in the short-term and long-term for the newborn.  These health problems can include respiratory distress, bleeding of the brain, anemia, or other health issues.

In 2016, preterm birth in South Carolina was higher than the United States.  The percent of preterm birth increased as the age of the mother increased.  Approximately 14.7% of non-Hispanic Black women experienced preterm births.

Preterm birth_SC Health assessment

Low Birthweight

Low birthweight is the birth of a baby weighing less than five pounds, eight ounces.  Although some low birthweight babies are healthy, others may require special care at birth due to respiratory distress, intestinal complications, bleeding of the brain, or other health problems.  Babies born at a low birthweight also have increased risk for developing chronic health conditions later in life.

Low Birthweight_SC Health Assessment

Teen Birth

The birth rate for teenagers aged 15 to 19 has continuously declined since 1991, reaching historic lows across the United States.  Success in the decline may be attributed to increased access to long-acting reversible contraception, delayed onset of sexual activity, and effective abstinence education.  Although the teen birth rate has declined significantly from 2007 to 2016, South Carolina’s teen birth rate is higher than national rate.

Teen birth_SC Health assessment

For more information about South Carolina maternal health statistics on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), intended pregnancy, prenatal care, breastfeeding, and pregnancy-related death, read the full Maternal and Infant Health chapter of the 2018 State Health Assessment.

 

From Other Blogs: National Watermelon Month, Pet Preparedness During Hurricane Season, Cancer Statistics

A collection of health and environmental posts from other governmental blogs

The Science Behind a Favorite Summertime Treat

Many people consider watermelon a delicious summer treat — whether in granitas, salads or simply freshly sliced. It’s not surprising that July is National Watermelon Month.  Watermelons, which originated in Africa, have been grown in the North America since the 1600s and are an important U.S. crop. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the United States produced 4,494,000 pounds of watermelon in 2016. – From The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Blog

 

Pet Preparedness:  10 Items You’ll Need for Your Pet’s Hurricane Emergency Kit

Amid rushed evacuations, strong winds, and approaching floodwaters of a disaster, chaos often ensues, forcing families to make impossible decisions about the animals that are part of their families.  It’s never easy to leave a pet behind but often, there is no choice. These situations may not always be preventable but having a plan in place can give your pets their best chance.  Keep that plan, and the tools needed to implement it, within an emergency kit tailored specifically to your pet. – From the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s Blog

 

Four Reasons Why You Should Use the US Cancer Statistics Tools

US Cancer Statistics, the official federal cancer statistics covering the entire US population, has been updated with new data and new ways to analyze the data by demographics and risk factors. Learn more about how you can explore and use the latest US cancer data. – From The Topic is Cancer, A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Blog

South Carolina Health at a Glance: Access to Healthcare

Our next installment of the 2018 Live Healthy State Health Assessment summaries covers access to healthcare.  Because the document is 346 pages, we will summarize each section.  Check out our previous posts:  overview of the report, South Carolina demographics, leading causes of death and hospitalization, and cross-cutting.  Data is analyzed from 2010-2016.

Access to health care refers to the ability of residents in a community to find a consistent medical provider for their primary and specialty care needs and ability to receive that care without encountering significant barriers.  Special populations who may face unique barriers include those who are experiencing homelessness or mental illness, lacking adequate health insurance, or non-English speakers such as some immigrants and refugees.

Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians specialize in family medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and pediatrics.  They provide preventative care, identify and treat common conditions, and make referrals to specialists as needed.  Typically people with familiar primary care physicians have better chronic disease management, lower overall health care costs, and a higher level of satisfaction with their care.

According to America’s Health Rankings, in 2017, South Carolina ranked 36th in the nation for the number of primary care physicians per 10,000 residents.  The counties with the highest rates of primary care physicians in 2015 were Charleston, Greenwood, and Greenville.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants are certified medical professionals who can give medical and surgical care in teams with physicians.  They can practice under the direction of a physician to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medicine.  The ratio of physician assistants increased from 1.5 physician assistants per 10,000 residents in 2009 to 2.5 physician assistants per 10,000 residents in 2015.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners have clinical knowledge and skills to provide direct patient care.  They have the authority to prescribe medications and can also be utilized in rural communities, which often lack primary care providers.  South Carolina saw a 50% increase in the ratio of nurse practitioners from 2009 to 2015.

Health Insurance Coverage Among Adults

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimated 550,000 South Carolinians were without health insurance in 2016.  Although the number of insured adults in South Carolina increased from 2008 to 2015, the rate was below the United States, as well as the Healthy People 2020 target.  In 2015, 85.7% of South Carolina women were insured compared to 81.6% of men.

Health Care Insurance_Health Assessment

Delayed Medical Care

Worse health outcomes and higher medical expenditures are often results of delayed medical care.  Late diagnosis and advanced disease may require more extensive services.  Being insured and having access to affordable medical care could increase utilization of preventive health care services.

Delayed medical care_Health assessment

In South Carolina in 2016, 21.2% of Hispanic/Latinos delayed healthcare due to cost, compared to 18.8% of non-Hispanic Blacks and 13.7% of non-Hispanic Whites.  More women delayed medical care due to cost than men.

For more information about avoidable hospitalizations and emergency department visits, the leading causes of hospitalizations among children, and oral health, read the full chapter about Access to Health Care.

 

Food Recall Alert: Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns Due to Plastic Pieces Found in Products

Flowers Foods, Inc. has issued a voluntary recall of hamburger and hot dog buns as well as other bakery products due to the potential presence of small pieces of hard plastic that may have been used in production.  Consumption of these products may pose as a choking hazard.  No injuries or illnesses have been reported yet.

The recall affects several grocery stores and private brands in South Carolina, including:  Publix, Piggy Wiggly, Ingles, IGA, Walmart, Target, and more.  Brands affected include:  Flowers, Great Value, Market Pantry, Natural Grain, Nature’s Own, Wonder Bread and more.

Consumers should discard affected products or return to the place of purchase for a full refund.  For the full list and UPC codes of the recalled products click HERE.

Please note that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is not involved with this recall as it not within our regulatory authority.  This information is provided for informational purposes only.