May 3, 2008

Double Dose: Bush White House – “Where All Good Public Health Protections Go to Die”; Afghanistan’s High Maternal Death Rate; The Disney Hypocrisy; Divorce Tied to Professor’s Job Loss; Amy Richards on “Opting In”; and More

Federal Agencies Can Now Offer Secret Input on EPA Chemical Reviews: The Washington Post reports on changes the Bush administration has made to Environmental Protection Agency reviews of chemicals — changes that officials with the Government Accountability Office say will delay scientific assessments of health risks and open the process to politicization.

Richard Wiles, executive director of the Environmental Working Group, called the EPA process a “bureaucratic quagmire,” adding, “With these rules in place, it’s now official: The Bush White House is where all good public health protections go to die.”

Death in Childbirth a Health Scourge for Afghanistan: Reuters takes a close look at the staggering maternal death rate in Afghanistan, where about 1,600 Afghan women die in childbirth out of every 100,000 live births.

“In some of the most remote areas, the death rate is as high as 6,500. In comparison, the average rate in developing countries is 450 and in developed countries it is 9,” writes Tan Ee Lyn. “Virtually everyone in Afghanistan can recount a story about a relative dying in childbirth, often from minor complications that can be easily treated with proper medical care.”

Plus: Read our previous posts on Afghanistan and maternal health — and how the United States has mismanaged funding and programs intended to improve hospital conditions.

The Disney Hyprocrisy: From Slate: Forget Miley Cyrus. Check out Disney’s Chinese underwear ad. Just go.

Plus: There’s a new book out on the sexualization of ‘tween girls: “The Lolita Effect,” by Gigi Durham, a University of Iowa journalism professor.

“I’m criticizing the unhealthy and damaging representations of girls’ sexuality, and how the media present girls’ sexuality in a way that’s tied to their profit motives,” said Durham in this release. “The body ideals presented in the media are virtually impossible to attain, but girls don’t always realize that, and they’ll buy an awful lot of products to try to achieve those bodies. There’s endless consumerism built around that.”

Divorce Leads to Job Loss: So imagine you’re a professor and you’re going through a divorce. Your college requires that you talk with a staff member to see whether the grounds for divorce meet Biblical standards. If you don’t, you’ll lose your job. Yep, that’s what happened to a popular English professor who has taught at Wheaton College in Illinois for 20 years. From the Chicago Tribune:

Many theological conservatives say the New Testament permits divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion. Wheaton requires faculty and staff to sign a faith statement and adhere to standards of conduct in areas including marriage, said Provost Stan Jones.

Still, every year, the college has dealt with several cases in which it must evaluate the divorce of a job applicant or a staff or faculty member and consider whether it matches the exceptions laid out in Matthew 19 and the writings of the Apostle Paul.

I admit I’m not up on Bible readings, but what about, say, domestic abuse — along with a host of other very good reasons?

Genetic Link to Osteoporosis: “Researchers have identified two common genetic mutations that increase the risk of osteoporosis and related bone fractures, according to a study released Tuesday,” reports Reuters.

U.S. Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS: The Kaiser Family Foundation has released a new fact sheet on federal funding for HIV/AIDS in the President’s Fiscal Year 2009 budget request, and comparisons over time, with key funding highlights for domestic and global HIV/AIDS programs. It also includes additional information on federal funding for global TB, malaria and other global health efforts.

Can I Get A May Day for Immigrant Women’s Health?: “May Day, May 1st, has come to hold the promise of rallies for immigrant rights staged across the United States. And this year is no different. But with McCain’s more-of-the-same health care plan having just been released, it’s a perfect time to focus on why women’s reproductive health care must be a crucial part of any discussion about immigration reform,” begins Amie Newman’s essay at RH Reality Check.

Rescue Us From Our Bodies: Here’s a nice round-up of responses to Midol’s new “Reverse the Curse” campaign.

Stop the Mommy Madness: Salon talks with feminist activist Amy Richards, whose new book is titled “Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself.”

Plus: Rachel Fudge reviews “Opting In” for Mother Jones.

More Mothers Breast-Feed, in First Months at Least: “About 77 percent of new mothers breast-feed their infants at least briefly, the highest rate seen in the United States in more than a decade, according to a government survey released on Wednesday,” reports The New York Times. Enthusiasm, however, was tempered.

Breast-feeding experts said that they were cheered by the report’s numbers but noted that rates of breast-feeding at 6 months of age have remained unchanged and are significantly lower than goals set by government agencies. The most recent C.D.C. survey did not report breast-feeding rates at 6 months because of a lack of data. [...]

In the most recent survey, breast-feeding rates increased among non-Hispanic black women to 65 percent from 36 percent in 1993 and 1994. Eighty percent of Mexican-American infants and 79 percent of non-Hispanic white infants had been breast-fed.

The age and income of mothers played important roles. Just 57 percent of poor mothers and only 43 percent of mothers under 20 breast-fed their infants, the survey found.

Dr. Barbara L. Philipp, associate professor of pediatrics at Boston University, said the C.D.C. survey had not asked mothers whether they breast-fed exclusively. “One sip was positive, so they set the bar very low,” Dr. Philipp said.


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