Policy Updates 11/18/2022

  1. STD Testing

KHN: As STDs Proliferate, Companies Rush To Market At-Home Test Kits. But Are They Reliable?
Among the more remarkable legacies of the covid-19 pandemic is how quickly federal regulators, the health care industry, and consumers moved to make at-home testing a reliable tool for managing a public health crisis. But that fast-track focus is missing from another, less publicized epidemic: an explosion in sexually transmitted diseases that can cause chronic pain and infertility among infected adults and disable or kill infected newborns. The disparity has amplified calls from researchers, public health advocates, and health care companies urging the federal government to greenlight at-home testing kits that could vastly multiply the number of Americans testing for STDs. (Szabo, 11/18)

  1. Children’s Health

NBC News: Biden Administration Sidesteps Calls To Declare RSV A Health Emergency
The Biden administration on Thursday sidestepped calls from pediatric groups that have been urging the government to declare a public health emergency in response to the surge in respiratory illnesses in children. (Alba, Egan and Bendix, 11/17)

The Hill: Pediatric Health Groups Call For National Emergency To Fight Respiratory Illnesses
Pediatric health provider groups are calling on the Biden administration to declare a national emergency to help them combat the surge of hospitalizations due to respiratory illnesses in children. Seasonal flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other respiratory viruses are hitting young children especially hard this year. The resulting hospitalizations are putting an immense strain on a pediatric health system that is still reeling from COVID-19. (Weixel, 11/15)

CNN: As Measles Outbreak Sickens Children In Ohio, Local Health Officials Seek Help From CDC
A growing measles outbreak in Columbus, Ohio, has sickened dozens of unvaccinated children and hospitalized nine of them, and local public health officials are seeking assistance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We asked the CDC for assistance and they will be sending two epidemiologists at the end of the month to assist with our local investigation,” Kelli Newman, a spokesperson for Columbus Public Health, told CNN in an email Thursday. (Howard, 11/17)

The Washington Post: Parents Are Missing Work At Record Rates To Take Care Of Sick Kids
This fall has been a blur of runny noses, body aches and lost paychecks for Jacob Terry. His 18-month-old daughter came home from day care with Respiratory Syncytial Virus a few weeks ago. Now he’s got it, too, while trying to juggle child care responsibilities with his job as a marketing freelancer. “My daughter’s at home, she’s sick, I’m sick,” said Terry, 39, who lives near Los Angeles. “If I don’t work, I don’t eat. I’m medicating myself and staying up all night to catch up. It’s one big mess.” (Bhattarai, 11/15)

NPR: A Nonprofit Says Preterm Births Are Up In The U.S. — And It's Not A Partisan Issue
Preterm births are a leading cause of infant deaths and can have long-term effects on a child's health and development. And, according to a new report, they're on the rise. On Tuesday, the nonprofit March of Dimes released its 2022 Report Card, which grades the whole country as well as individual states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico on measures related to the health of moms and babies. (Treisman, 11/15)

CNN: US Gets D+ Grade For Rising Preterm Birth Rates, New Report Finds
Taking an in-depth look at premature births, the new report found that the US preterm birth rate rose to 10.5% last year, representing an increase of 4% since 2020 and the worst national rate since March of Dimes started tracking this data in 2007, based on its new calculation system. “This is actually a 15-year high in the preterm birth rate in this country,” said Dr. Zsakeba Henderson, senior vice president and interim chief medical and health officer at March of Dimes. (Howard, 11/15)

Reuters: FDA To Review Baby Formula Production Rules To Prevent Bacterial Illness
The U.S. health regulator said on Tuesday it would review guidance and rules about manufacturing infant formula as part of its strategy to prevent bacterial illness similar to Abbott Laboratories' products this year. The Food and Drug Administration will also consider whether to establish a dedicated group of investigators and realign staff across two of its divisions to better support regulatory oversight of infant formula, among other measures, it said. (11/15)

NPR: March Of Dimes Report Shows An Increase In Pre-Term Births, Racial Disparities
On Tuesday, the nonprofit March of Dimes released its 2022 Report Card, which grades the whole country as well as individual states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico on measures related to the health of moms and babies. The report found that the U.S. preterm birth rate reached 10.5% of live births in 2021, marking a 4% increase from the previous year's rate, and the highest rate since 2007. (Treisman, 11/15)

Bloomberg: COVID Hospitalizations Are Rising In Infants Under 6 Months, CDC Says
“We’re seeing more and more of those younger babies getting hospitalized,” Walensky said. “That’s really where we’re trying to do some work now because we think we can prevent those by getting mom vaccinated.” (Griffin, 11/14)

CNN: Covid-19 Boosters Could Keep Thousands Of Kids Out Of Hospitals, But Uptake Remains Low
Higher Covid-19 vaccination rates among US children could prevent thousands of pediatric hospitalizations and millions of missed school days, according to an analysis published Tuesday by the Commonwealth Fund and the Yale School of Public Health. (McPhillips, 11/15)

CIDRAP: Infant COVID Hospitalizations—But Not Severe Cases—Rose Amid Omicron
COVID-19 hospitalization rates among US infants younger than 6 months rose during Omicron variant predominance compared to the Delta period, but indicators of severe infection didn't, according to a study published today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. (Van Beusekom, 11/10)

Confronting Racism In Pediatric Care

Benjamin Danielson

  1. COVID

Los Angeles Times: L.A. County Returns To Strongly Recommending COVID Masking
Amid a sustained rise in coronavirus transmission, Los Angeles County is once again strongly recommending wearing a mask in indoor public spaces. The daily number of newly reported cases has jumped almost 70% from a month ago, though case rates are still well shy of previous waves and officials continue to tout the benefits of available vaccines and therapeutics in warding off the worst COVID-19 has to offer. (Money and Lin II, 11/17)

  1. Mental Health

Axios: Rise In Mental Health Needs Persists
Nearly three years into the pandemic, demand for mental health services is swamping the psychology profession, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association. Nearly half of 2,300 psychologists surveyed said they were unable to meet demand for treatment, while 60% said they have no more openings for new patients. (Moreno, 11/17)

CNN: Study Finds 'Huge' Increase In Children Going To The Emergency Room With Suicidal Thoughts
There has been a steady increase in the number of children who are seen in emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts, according to a new study – and the increase started even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which brought record high demand for psychological services for children. (Christensen, 11/14)

The Boston Globe: Teens And Young Adults Are Self-Diagnosing Mental Illness On TikTok. What Could Go Wrong?
But too often, experts say, suggestible people mistake having one or two symptoms with having the disorder itself. “If I were to go through the DSM” — the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — ”and take a tiny snapshot of every diagnosis, we would all relate and self-diagnose,” said Alex Chinks, a licensed clinical psychologist in Needham. “A symptom of depression is fatigue. Well, I was fatigued all week.” (Teitell, 11/15)

Modern Healthcare: Mental Health Epidemic Creates Emergency Department Backlog
Patients are being held in emergency departments for as long as months as they await psychiatric beds. Many outpatient referral partners have cut back or are struggling with staffing. The patient burden is straining ill-equipped hospitals, taxing already overburdened staff and delaying care. (Kacik and Hudson, 11/14)

The New York Times: Amid the Adderall Shortage, People With A.D.H.D. Face Withdrawal and Despair
By the time Michael Kenneally found himself pacing outside a CVS drugstore in Cambridge, Mass., this summer, he was on a first-name basis with the pharmacist. Mr. Kenneally, 48, had been told multiple times that his Adderall prescription couldn’t be filled. For 25 days, he continued to check by phone and in person. Mr. Kenneally had been on the medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D., for 25 years. “It’s been so long for me that I’ve been on it that it’s difficult to function without it,” he said. (Blum, 11/16)

The Washington Post: Nobody Can Find A Therapist. High Demand Signals Continued Mental Health Crisis.
America’s therapists are booked. Six in 10 psychologists say they don’t have openings for new patients, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association. The high demand for therapy is the latest sign of and ongoing U.S. mental health crisis exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Though millions of Americans have returned to normal life, many people feel far from normal. A majority of the psychologists surveyed said that since the start of the pandemic, they’ve seen an uptick in patients who are dealing with anxiety, depression and trauma, and that the demand for services continues to remain high. (Amenabar, 11/16)

  1. Nurse Practitioners

Nurse Practitioner Rules Are Changing: California’s nursing agency has approved rules that will allow nurse practitioners to treat patients without physician supervision. It’s a move that aims to expand access to care in the Golden State at a time when workforce shortages plague just about every corner of health care. Read more from CalMatters.

  1. Personal Assistants

Personal Assistants issue- https://people.com/health/quadriplegic-veteran-develops-infection-becomes-double-amputee-cant-find-personal-care-assistant/?hid=31bed12b6ff2994a2f2e5c606b9420af0038a3b7&did=873104-20221115&utm_campaign=people-news_newsletter&utm_source=people.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=111522&cid=873104&mid=102048648269

  1. Transgender Care

The New York Times: Puberty Blockers Can Help Transgender Youth. Is There A Cost?
There is emerging evidence of potential harm from using blockers, according to reviews of scientific papers and interviews with more than 50 doctors and academic experts around the world. The drugs suppress estrogen and testosterone, hormones that help develop the reproductive system but also affect the bones, the brain and other parts of the body. (Twohey and Jewett, 11/14)