Public Health Roundup: Identifying Best Breast Cancer Treatment; Study Finds Wider Lead Exposure

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Other news stories related to public health cover Zika, the status of a canceled climate change summit, the benefits of Vitamin D on the cold and flu, depression in new dads, cardiovascular disease, ADHD and more.

Stat: Mammograms Plus Genomic Testing Identify Best Breast Cancer Treatments
Critics of annual mammograms point to the issue of overtreatment. Just last month, for example, a report in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that screening mammograms (those done for women without signs of breast cancer) often lead to unnecessary treatments. One in three women in the study whose breast cancer was identified by a screening mammogram had a potentially harmless disease that may not require treatment. That work has raised questions about the benefits of screening mammograms. The findings of screening studies, including mammography, can be influenced by certain biases in the study design. (Citrin, 2/16)

Modern Healthcare: Report Warns That Lead Contamination Could Be Greater Than Reported 
Current testing for lead contamination does not accurately measure exposure, according to a new report. That could mean providers are facing a whole generation of patients with long-term health effects. An analysis of lead levels in school water fountains across 16 states showed many schools had levels that exceeded the federal threshold of 15 parts per billion. Water from school drinking fountains has increasingly been tested for lead since the contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., sparked municipalities across the country to test their own water supplies. (Johnson, 2/15)

Stat: Zika Persists In Semen, But Shedding Typically Stops In Months
A new study suggests at least half of men who have been infected with Zika will emit traces of the virus in their semen, but in most cases that viral shedding stops after about three months. The research, conducted in Puerto Rico, found that 56 percent of men who had been infected had traces of virus in their semen but about half of them stopped emitting those viral traces by about a month after they first became ill. And by three months after the onset of symptoms, only 5 percent still had virus in their semen. (Branswell, 2/15)

Stat: CDC-Scrapped Climate Change Conference To Happen On Thursday
Remember how CDC officials abruptly cancelled their long-planned climate and health summit right before President Donald Trump took office? Well, an unofficial version featuring many of the same speakers will happen Thursday in Atlanta. After word spread last month of the summit’s cancellation, a group of advocates — led by former Vice President Al Gore — scrambled to put on an one-day version of the original three-day conference so experts in public health, public policy, and climate science could gather to talk about global warming and its impact on public health. (Blau, 2/15)

NPR: Vitamin D Can Reduce Colds And Flu, Study Finds
It’s long been known that Vitamin D helps protect our bones, but the question of whether taking Vitamin D supplements can help guard immunity has been more controversial. An analysis published online Wednesday in the British journal the BMJ suggests supplements of the sunshine vitamin can indeed help reduce the risk of respiratory infections — especially among people who don’t get enough of the vitamin from diet or exposure to sunlight. (Aubrey, 2/16)

Stat: Dads, Like Moms, Are At Risk Of Depression After A Child’s Birth
New dads are at risk of experiencing the same symptoms of postpartum depression as women who’ve just given birth — despite the fact that their bodies don’t go through the same sort of changes. A paper published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry finds that just over four percent of new fathers experience elevated symptoms of depression after their children are born. The idea of postpartum depression among new dads is a relatively new one, and the study’s authors say raising awareness about the issue is a critical first step. That, combined with screenings, could help catch symptoms of depression among new fathers and treat them early. (Thielking, 2/15)

The Washington Post: Survival Rate Improves For Extremely Premature Infants
Survival rates for very early preterm infants have improved slightly, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. Those who survive are also somewhat less likely to suffer from neurodevelopmental impairments, the study found. Researchers gathered survival and neurodevelopmental impairment data for 4,000 extremely premature infants by analyzing records from a National Institutes of Health research network. The infants were born between 22 and 24 weeks of gestation, rather than after a normal 40-week pregnancy. (Naqvi, 2/15)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Progress In Saving Preemies On The Edge Of Viability
For premature babies born at the edge of viability, the chance of survival without serious health problems has gotten slightly better, at least at the nation’s top neonatal care centers — a small change with potential implications for the bitter abortion debate in  Pennsylvania and other states. Researchers from the 11 centers analyzed the records of more than 4,200 babies born at 22 to 24 weeks of pregnancy between 2000 and 2011. While the grim picture at 22 weeks did not change — 96 percent of newborns died — the outlook for the rest of the “periviable” infants improved over the 12-year period. (McCullough, 2/15)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.