Monday Morning Round-Up #4


Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

Air pollution affects preterm birthrates globally, study finds via The Washington Post

A recent study published in the journal Environment International is the first global estimate of preterm births associated with pollution caused by fine particulate matter. The study found that a pregnant woman’s exposure to air pollution has adverse effects on her fetus, with prolonged exposure associated with nearly 1 in 5 premature births globally.

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Fight the Flu this Holiday Season…and Win!

The holidays are almost here, and there is nothing worse than being home for the holidays battling the flu. Even though only about 5-20% of people in the U.S. get the flu each year, the virus can be dangerous for elderly people, newborns, or individuals with chronic illness. Luckily for all of us, there are some things we can do keep from catching the virus. Read on to find out how to protect yourself this winter.


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Resource Guide for National Diabetes Month

Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Americans. Whether you or someone you know suffers from diabetes in some capacity, our Health Sciences Library can provide you with access to top-notch resources to help you get educated about the disease and learn how to manage it. We’ll get you started with a few of our favorite places to start looking for patient information.

Notable Consumer Health Resources

Medline Plus

MedlinePlus is a resource produced by the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest medical library. You can rest assured that the information found within the site is reliable, up-to-date, and free. Each health topic typically includes a landing page which acts as a portal to more in-depth information. The diabetes page contains links to videos and tutorials, as well as patient handouts in multiple languages, among other quality resources. Perhaps most useful of all is that all information is presented in easy-to-understand language, so you don’t need to be an MD to make sense of the facts.

Center for Disease Control

The CDC houses information on a number of health topics. This month features a great page on managing diabetes, including tips for preventing complications and getting into healthy habits. The main diabetes page can direct you to a bevy of other useful resources, too. is another safe government resource for health information. It is simple to navigate – use the Health Topics A  – Z to search for the condition you are interested in.

Need any additional guidance or in-depth help? Our staff are happy to point you in the right direction. Stop by the library anytime between 8am and 5pm Monday – Friday to talk with one of us. While we’re certainly no substitute for the medical advice of your doctor, we’re experts at finding reliable health information that can help you as you both work together to make responsible decisions for your health.

Summer Sun Safety

Summer is here and that means spending more time doing the things we love, like going to the beach, swimming, and just generally being more active outdoors. If you’re one of the millions of Americans who can’t wait to get a nice summer tan, read on. Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? This week we’re sharing some important information you need to know to be safe in the sun this summer.


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Spotlight on Health: A Happy and Healthy Holiday to You All!

HSL-FestiveWow, 2014 flew by! We really enjoyed putting together all of the blog posts this year. Coming up in January, we’ll be introducing the new name for our blog; we hope you’ll look forward to it!

As we break for the holidays, we wanted to leave you with this informative (and fun) carol courtesy of the CDC. Consider this festive song our reminder to keep healthy and safe while you’re enjoying the best of the holiday season. We hope you like it so much you want to sing along!


See you in the new year!

Spotlight on Health: Let’s Talk Turkey…and Holiday Food Safety



Today is Thanksgiving and turkey is on everyone’s mind. But there is one other thing we should all be mindful of as we get ready for the day’s big meal: food safety. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Clostridium perfringens is the second most common cause of food poisoning from bacteria. Most outbreaks (92%) are caused by meat and poultry.

Here are few tips from the CDC on safely preparing, cooking, and storing your Thanksgiving feast for a happy, healthy holiday:

  • Always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces immediately after handling raw poultry.
  • If using a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw your bird at a safe temperature. Bacteria thrives between 40 and 140°F.
  • The three safest ways to thaw your turkey (and any other frozen food) are (1) in the refrigerator; (2) in cold water; and (3) in the microwave. See the USDA’s “Safe Methods for Thawing” website to learn more.
  • To stuff in or out of the bird? The CDC’s answer to this debate is “for optimal safety and uniform doneness,” cook your stuffing outside the turkey in a separate casserole dish.
  • Always use a meat thermometer when cooking your turkey and be sure your turkey reaches a safe minimal internal temperature of 165°F. Stick the thermometer into the meatiest portions of the turkey breast, thing, and wing.
  • Refrigerate your Thanksgiving leftovers as soon as possible, ideally within 2 hours of preparation. This can prevent food poisoning. Be sure to keep your leftovers at 40°F or below.

For more information on having a safe food holiday, check out the CDC’s “It’s Turkey Time” website.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Harriet F. Ginsburg Health Sciences Library!

What you should know about Ebola

By now you’ve probably heard about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The U.S. has been treating two cases at the Emory University Hospital in two American doctors who were working to combat the virus in Liberia. They were both released from the hospital yesterday, and pose no public health threat. Still, it’s good to know some additional information about the disease, so here are some interesting graphics courtesy of the CDC.


Further, some guidelines on handling potential threats.


GHS Ebola Materials_Page_1 GHS Ebola Materials_Page_2


For more information about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, visit the CDC website for the most up-to-date news.



Spotlight on Health: Safety and Water Activities

LoungingAs we approach Memorial Day weekend, it’s important to discuss some easy ways to keep your family and loved ones safe as you enjoy the holiday. No doubt you may find yourself catching some rays at the beach or by the pool as you take in the lovely pre-summer weather. With that in mind, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention marks the week preceding Memorial Day as Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week to prepare potential participants in water activity for a safe experience. Here are some quick things to keep in mind as you relax by the shore or on the deck  this weekend.

Lots of germs can be spread through water activities. Just swallowing, breathing, or having contact with contaminated water in locations from pools to splash parks, or lakes to oceans has the potential to get you sick. Even in chlorine treated environments, some germs are just too resilient for these sorts of treatments to be 100% effective. As such, there are few simple things one can make sure to do to lessen everyone’s chances of becoming ill. The CDC suggests the following on their website:

Keep the poop, germs, and pee out of the water.

  • Don’t swim when you have diarrhea.
  • Shower with soap before you start swimming.
    • Take a rinse shower before you get back into the water.
  • Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes.
  • Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.

Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.

  • Pools: Proper chlorine (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power.
  • Hot tubs/spas: Proper disinfectant level (chlorine [2–4 parts per million or ppm]) or bromine [4–6 ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) maximize germ-killing power.
  • Most superstores, hardware stores, and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips.
  • Don’t swallow the water you swim in.

Parents of young children should take a few extra steps:

  • Take children on bathroom breaks every 60 minutes or check diapers every 30–60 minutes.
    • Change diapers in the bathroom or diaper-changing area and not at poolside where germs can rinse into the water.¹

Another important thing to remember about water activities is the risk of drowning. If you have a child between the age of 1 and 4, this is especially important to take note of, as drowning is the leading cause of injury death for that age group. Victims that manage to survive may never be the same, often experiencing brain damage from the ordeal. Being aware of easy ways to prevent this sort of accident is the first way to ensure the safety of your loved ones. Consider the following suggestions for prevention of drowning:

Keep swimmers safe in the water.

  • Make sure everyone knows how to swim.
  • Use life jackets appropriately.
  • Provide continuous, attentive supervision close to swimmers.
  • Know CPR (for older children and adults).

Prevent access to water when pool is not in use.

  • Install and maintain barriers like 4-sided fencing and weight-bearing pool covers.
  • Use locks/alarms for windows and doors.¹

Along with these tips, it may be useful to ask yourself to think about whether or not you actually know what drowning looks like. TV and movies have conditioned us to believe that if a person is drowning, they will be thrashing about in the water, waving their arms and yelling for help. More likely, a drowning person may actually exhibit signs of what is called the “Instinctive Drowning Response”, a phrase coined by Dr. Francesco A. Pia, a water safety expert. In Fall 2006, Pia and another gentleman,  Mario Vittone, wrote an article for an issue of On Scene, the journal of the US Coast Guard Search and Rescue, explaining what this response is. The most important points:

  1. The majority of the time, people that are drowning are physiologically incapable of calling out for help; the body is wired to default to its primary respiratory function in a case like this. Breathing will therefore be most important.
  2. The mouth of a drowning person is typically not above water long enough to exhale, draw breath, AND call out; there’s hardly enough time to do the first two before the mouth descends below the surface of the water again.
  3. The natural instinct of a drowning person is not to wave their arms above them, but to press their arms outwards and downwards in an attempt to leverage the sinking body up and out of the water to facilitate proper breathing. Once the drowning process has stopped, the body can again perform voluntary movements like waving for help and grabbing rescue equipment.
  4. While drowning people stay upright in the water, they’re not actually performing any supporting kicks under the water. They might struggle on the surface of the water (exhibiting the responses discussed previously) for about 60 seconds before they go under.²

Pia also makes note of other ways you may notice someone is drowning: closed, glassy or unfocused eyes, mouth low in the water or head tilted back with mouth open for instance².  More signs can be read about here. As always, stay vigilant and alert – if you were hearing laughter and frivolity a few moments ago and all of a sudden it is quiet on the side of your boat, quickly move to figure out why.

For more information and resources about keeping safe this weekend – and all summer – when enjoying yourself near the water, visit the CDC page on Healthy Swimming, and the page on Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention. We hope you enjoy the holiday weekend – we’ll be closed on Monday, so see you on Tuesday.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2014. Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week 2014.
2. Medical News Today. 2010. Do You Know What Drowning Looks Like?


Spotlight on Health: National Cholesterol Education Month

September is National Cholesterol Education Month! Here are some things we learned courtesy of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website.

What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that your body needs. There are two kinds: high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (“bad” cholesterol). Having too much of the “bad” in your blood is bad for you; excess cholesterol can build up on the walls of your arteries and form blockages. Due to this, too much cholesterol in the blood is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

What role does screening play?
High cholesterol doesn’t exactly have any symptoms, so many people do not know their cholesterol is too high. It’s good to have your doctor do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol levels. The National Cholesterol Education Program recommends that if you’re an adult aged 20 years or older that you should look into checking your cholesterol every 5 years. Depending on some other factors, you may need to do this check more often.

How can you prevent or treat high cholesterol?

Here are some lifestyle changes to consider!

  • Eating a healthy diet – avoid saturated fats and trans fats, as they are known to raise cholesterol levels. Some other fats, like polyunsaturated fats, can conversely lower the level of cholesterol in your blood. Eating more fiber is also useful!
  • Exercising regularly – Physical activity is also good for lowering cholesterol. 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week is recommended for adults by the Surgeon General.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight – Your cholesterol levels may raise and be much higher if you’re overweight or obese. It follows that losing some of that weight can help lower that cholesterol.
  • Not smoking – Quit as soon as possible if you do!

For more information, visit the CDC website to find more resources like useful links and additional reading. You might also find some helpful related information on heart disease in our Consumer Health LibGuide on our library website!