High number of flu cases in Michigan result in two child deaths; the top public health issues of 2012 are reviewed; and a recent study suggests that kids should drink exactly two cups of milk a day.  Read these and more public health news stories for Dec. 27, 2012.

Lansing State Journal – 2 Michigan children die during flu outbreak

Two children in Michigan have died of the flu as health officials in the state and across the country are reporting a higher than usual number of influenza cases for this time of year.
The deaths of an infant from the southwest region of the state and an adolescent from central Michigan were reported last week to the state, said Angela Minicuci, public information officer for the Michigan Department of Community Health. She didn’t have information late Friday about the children’s ages or counties of residence

Washington Post Wonk Blog – Five ways your health care will change in 2013

The Affordable Care Act’s biggest year is, without a doubt, 2014: That’s when the federal subsidies to purchase health insurance roll out. It’s also when penalties for not buying coverage kick in.
But many of the big changes will start gradually in 2013. They range from increasing payments to Medicaid doctors to upping Medicare taxes to the exchanges’ very first open-enrollment period. Here’s a quick guide to what will happen in health care in the next year.

Philadelphia Inquirer – Top public health issues of 2012

Approximately 3.9 million babies will fondly recall 2012 as the year they were born in the United States. The year will hold a special place in their hearts for an estimated 78.5 years—the average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. Their chances of living beyond that estimate, and their quality of life as they age, will be greatly influenced by the issues that we write about on this blog—the issues which fall within the purview of public health.  Here are some of the top public health issues that we, and perhaps a cohort of 3.9 million, will think of when we reflect back on 2012.

The Atlantic – Study: U.S. surgeons still leaving things in patients

The Atlantic – Despite widespread quality assurance and safety measures, so-called “never events” occured on average 4,082 times each year between 1990 and 2010.
PROBLEM: When something goes wrong during a surgery that can be chalked up to human error or a breakdown in the chain of command — say, a surgical sponge getting left behind in someone’s abdomen — surgeons refer to it as a “never event.” Because they should never happen. Unfortunately, they sometimes still do. Measuring how, when, where, and why they happen is a step toward making them literal never events.

American News Report – Doctors say gun control is a public health issue

The school shootings that left 26 children and adults dead in Newtown, Connecticut have reignited a national debate over gun control. But according to some in the medical community, legislation that restricts research into gun violence may be just as much to blame for a string of mass shootings as easy access to firearms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 31,000 Americans die from firearms annually. While there’s decades of research on what leads people to commit violence against themselves or others, there’s significantly less information on how access to firearms contributes to the likelihood and consequences of these acts.

The Atlantic – Study: Kids should drink exactly two cups of milk per day

PROBLEM: Still in the throes of “Got Milk?” inundation, disagreement is rife over whether drinking cow’s milk is as good for us as we’ve been led to believe. After all, critics argue, it’s estimated that up to 75 percent of people experience a reduction in their ability to digest milk after infancy, and the beverage has also been associated with iron deficiency — not only because it’s low in iron itself, but because it also hinders the body’s ability to absorb iron from other sources. Milk remains, on the other hand, an important source of vitamin D, which among other things, has been shown to protect against both diabetes and the common cold in children. So, should you be giving your kids milk? And if so, how much?