Hear from the Mississippi Public Health Association about why we have public health to thank for protecting the public from disease and keeping communities safe; research shows fluctuations in summer temperatures could put some at higher risk of death; legislation in Washington state mandating insurance coverage of abortion services on hold this year. Those stories and more topping public health headlines today, Tuesday, April 17, 2012.

Mississippi Press – Public health funding: Why you should care
The successes and efforts of public health are often taken for granted. Times of good health generally fly under the radar. When you brush your teeth with clean water, public health is the reason. As you serve clean milk to your child and leave your child with a licensed day care center, public health is the reason. As you eat your meals in an inspected restaurant or visit a family member in a licensed hospital or nursing home, public health is the reason.

Modern Healthcare – IOM: Double health spending
The Institute of Medicine has ambitious goals for the U.S. to transform its investment in public health amid congressional battles to rein in government spending. In a report released last week, the IOM recommended the U.S. at least double its annual federal spending on public health to about $24 billion from its current level of about $11.6 billion and floated a new healthcare tax to pay for it.

UPI – Prenatal air pollution linked to obesity
Air pollution may play a role in obesity among as many as 25 percent of children living in U.S. inner-city neighborhoods, researchers said. Lead author Andrew G. Rundle, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York, said pregnant women in New York exposed to higher concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were more than twice as likely as others to have children who were obese by age 7.

NOH Research Matters – Summer Temperature Swings Linked to Shorter Lifespan
Fluctuations in daily summer temperatures may boost the risk of death in older people with chronic diseases, according to a new study. The finding could have important implications for the nation’s aging population. People generally adapt to the usual temperatures where they live, but the sweltering heat waves of summer are known to raise death rates among susceptible people. Those who are very old, very young, overweight or infirm are especially vulnerable. Scientists have been less certain about the long-term effects of sudden temperature changes. Climate models predict that day-to-day summer temperature swings will become increasingly common.

Kaiser Health News – Wash. Abortion Coverage Bill Placed On Hold
A bill that would require insurers to cover abortion services is off the table this year in Washington state. A special session of the Washington legislature ended Wednesday without the Reproductive Parity Act reaching a vote. The bill would require private insurers that provide maternity coverage to also cover abortion. Advocates now hope to reintroduce the bill next year.