Study shows that black children are less likely to be prescribed antibiotics than other children; CDC study finds that many mothers are feeding babies solid foods before the six month age; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funds a challenge to improve condoms. Read these and more public health news stories for March 25, 2013.

The Atlantic – Study: Black children are less likely to be prescribed antibiotics than children of other races
Pediatricians in New Jersey and Pennsylvania prescribed 36 percent fewer antibiotics to black children than their other patients of other races, according to a study in this week’s journal Pediatrics.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania tracked 222 clinicians over the course of a year, looking at differences between patients treated by the same doctors. It was clear that the children weren’t receiving equal care; but it may not be that black children were under-treated so much as the other children, who were mostly white,     were over-treated. Acute respiratory tract infections are common in children; a lot of the time, they’re caused by viruses, which antibiotics aren’t able to treat. In many cases, doctors prescribe them anyway, which can end up causing harm.

The Sacramento Bee – Sacramento County ER visits rose as funding for public clinics fell
The emergency room in Sacramento County has become the primary care clinic for many of the region’s poor.
Four years ago, Sacramento County supervisors began shoring up successive budget deficits by making large cuts to public health clinics that primarily serve the poor. Since those cuts began, the number of patients at public health clinics in Sacramento County has fallen by about 50 percent, or 80,000, the latest county figures show.

Fox News – Babies shouldn’t get solid foods until 6 months old
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found many mothers are feeding babies solid foods earlier than the recommended age of six months, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends solid foods are introduced to infants no earlier than six months of age.
“Solid foods were being started before 4 months in about half of those kids,” said Dr. Deb Lonzer, a pediatrician from the Cleveland Clinic, who did not participate in the study. “And in about 10 percent of them, it was actually being started in the first four weeks of life.”

NBC news – Gates Foundation challenge shoots for a better condom
They’re cheap, easy to make and they not only prevent pregnancy but protect against a range of infections, including the AIDS virus. But men often don’t like to use condoms and women are afraid to ask them to.
So why hasn’t someone figured out how to make one that more people would want to use? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is putting up $100,000 to try to entice someone to try.

Minnesota Public Radio – GOP opposition on Medicaid seems to be softening
Given the choice of whether to expand Medicaid under President Barack Obama’s health care law, many Republican governors and lawmakers initially responded with an emphatic “no.” Now they are increasingly hedging their objections.
A new “no, but …” approach is spreading among GOP states in which officials are still publicly condemning the Democratic president’s Medicaid expansion yet floating alternatives that could provide health coverage to millions of low-income adults while potentially tapping into billions of federal dollars that are to start flowing in 2014.