Population Health Topics to Be Focus of Statewide Public Health Conference

“From Patient to Population Health - Disparities Matter” is the focus this year as the Connecticut Public Health Association (CPHA) expects approximately 300 public health practitioners from around the state to gather at the CPHA Annual Meeting and Conference, being held on October 30. The day-long conference will include more than 30 sessions on various public health topics, along with two keynote speakers and a range of professional development opportunities for attendees.  The keynote speakers will be Mark Masselli, Founder/President/CEO of Community Health Center, Inc., based in Middletown, and State Senator Doug McCrory of Hartford, Democratic Deputy President Pro Tempore, elected to the Senate this past year. 

Conference objectives include:

  • Understand how public health policies and programs influence health disparities throughout life for patients and populations.
  • Identify evidence-based strategies that can reduce health disparities and improve community health outcomes
  • Influence health policies in state and country through disparities research and dissemination of evidence
  • Promote the formation of collegial professional networks and the exchange of ideas among members of the public health community

Among the topics to be discussed in sessions throughout the day are youth suicide prevention, pregnancy screening in community-based settings, addressing the needs of people with complex social and health needs, substance abuse, health disparities, healthy eating and hunger, and nutrition education.  Sessions will also focus on early intervention, asthma, drinking water safety, intimate partner violence, and the impact of Federally Qualified Health Centers in improving health outcomes.

Represented among the presenters are the Community Health Center Association, UConn, the state Departments of Public Health and Mental Health and Addiction Services, the Connecticut Data Collaborative, Institute of Living, March of Dimes Foundation, Western Connecticut Health Network, Connecticut Hospital Association and the State Innovation Model Program Management Office.

A welcome address, via video, will be offered by U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy.

The Connecticut Public Health Association, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, has been committed to improving the quality of the public health profession and advocating for policies and programs that promote health and prevent disease.  The organization provides professional development and education, public health advocacy, mentorship and communications to members and the public. This year’s conference is being held at AquaTurf in the Planstville section of Southington.

Gary Ginsberg Receives Public Communications Award from the Society of Toxicology

Dr. Gary Ginsberg, a Senior Toxicologist with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has been awarded the “Public Communications Award” by the Society of Toxicology, an international organization dedicated to enhancing the impact and relevance of toxicology. Dr. Ginsberg was recognized by the organization for his efforts in explaining complex toxicology issues to the public, with the conference program noting that “Dr. Ginsberg is able to consolidate vast amounts of science into easily digestible useful information to help protect consumers from potentially hazardous situations.”ginsberg

At DPH, Dr. Ginsberg regularly prepares educational material for citizens on emerging contaminant issues, such as arsenic in pressure treated wood, the hazards to children from mothballs, and chemicals in children’s products and toys.  He has represented DPH in the media on numerous topics ranging from mercury in fish to chemical spill emergencies. He has also appeared on television shows such as the Dr. Oz Show and had his own radio program covering environmental issues of the day.

The organization’s annual conference, attended by 6,500 toxicologists and 350 exhibitors from across the country, and held in New Orleans last month, honored Ginsberg, who has been employed by DPH for over 20 years and regularly communicates with the legislature, local health departments, the general public and other state agencies on a wide variety of toxic exposure issues.

The recognition comes as Connecticut and the nation mark National Public Health Week, April 4-10.sot_logo

Conference organizers pointed out that “his dedication to toxicology is evident though his tireless endeavors to educate the public and other health care professionals with accurate and practical knowledge.”  Also noted were his regular contributions to a Yale University blog on toxicology issues, and his website, www.whatstoxic.org, as well as writing on toxicology issues in state and national publications. Dr. Ginsberg evaluates human exposures to chemicals present in the air, water, soil, food, and in the workplace, and provides risk assessment expertise to state agencies in standard setting and site remediation projects.

Dr. Ginsberg was featured in a recent “Wastebusters” video produced by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and CT DPH on the importance of selecting green cleaning products in schools and homes.  He has drafted numerous fact sheets on chemical hazards in consumer products, such as sun screen and chemicals in hand sanitizers. In 2006, Dr. Ginsberg co-authored a book called “What’s Toxic What’s Not” (Berkeley Books, 2006).

book“We are extremely proud of Dr. Ginsberg and congratulate him on this prestigious and well deserved award,” said Ellen Blaschinski, DPH’s Regulatory Services Branch Chief.  “His expertise in toxic exposures and ability to consolidate vast amounts of science into easily digestible, useful information helps protect and inform Connecticut’s citizens.”

A resident of East Granby, Dr. Ginsberg received his PhD from UConn in 1986. In addition to working at DPH, Dr. Ginsberg is an assistant clinical professor at the UConn School of Community Medicine, an adjunct faculty member at Yale University and has served on a number of US EPA advisory committees and on the National Academy of Sciences.

The Society of Toxicology is a professional and scholarly organization of scientists from academic institutions, government, and industry representing the great variety of scientists who practice toxicology in the US and abroad. The Society’s mission is to create a safer and healthier world by advancing the science and increasing the impact of toxicology.


Jewel Mullen: Public Health Commissioner At Center of State's Ebola Response

Described on the Yale School of Public Health website as “a leader in building effective community-based chronic disease prevention programs,” Connecticut’s Commissioner of Public Health, Dr. Jewel Mullen, has a long academic association with Yale, even as both were catapulted into the breaking news spotlight with a possible case of the Ebola virus in a patient under care at Yale-New Haven Hospital. Mullen is also well-acquainted with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having served on public health advisory committees, appointed by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Little known by state residents outside of the public health community, she is well regarded within those circles.Dr. Jewel Mullen

She is the New England regional representative to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Board of Directors and chairs ASTHO’s Prevention Policy Committee. In 2013, she was appointed to the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Quality Measures for the Healthy People Leading Health Indicators.

Appointed as Commissioner by Governor Dannel Malloy at the start of his administration in 2011, Dr. Mullen has combined clinical work, research, teaching and administration throughout a career focused on improving the health of all people, especially the under served. Board certified in internal medicine, Dr. Mullen received her Bachelor (1977) and Master (1996) of Public Health degrees from Yale University where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship in psychosocial epidemiology.dph-color_bigger

Earlier this month, Malloy declared a public health emergency in Connecticut, issuing a precautionary and preparatory order that allows state public health officials to coordinate a targeted quarantine in case Ebola arrives in the state, with decision-making authority residing in Commission Mullen.  Without the Governor’s declaration, there would not be a statewide ability to isolate or quarantine – instead, the authority would have remained with individual local public health directors.

Prior to joining the Department of Public Health, Dr. Mullen was director of the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. In 2012 the CDC appointed Dr. Mullen to its advisory committee on health disparities, a subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director.  Earlier in her career, she was the medical director of Baystate Mason Square Neighborhood Health Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. She graduated from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine where she was elected to AOA, the National Medical Honor Society, after which she completed her residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to being a physician, Mullen is also an educator, who has taught medicine at several different universities including New York University, the University of Virginia, Yale and Tufts University. . She also holds a Master in Public Administration degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is currently listed as a lecturer in epidemiology (chronic diseases) and in public health by the Yale School of Public Health and is an ex-officio member of the state Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Her priorities at the Connecticut Department of Public Health, according to the Department website, include chronic disease and injury prevention, health care quality and safety, health equity, and supporting local efforts to create healthy communities.  She has lived in Connecticut since 1992.

Tolland County is Healthiest in Connecticut, Fairfield Next, Report Finds

The healthiest county in Connecticut is Tolland County, according to a new report analyzing health data from nearly every county in the country. The 2014 County Health Rankings & Roadmaps ranked Connecticut’s eight counties by health outcomes and health factors. According to the report, health outcomes represent how healthy a county is while health factors represent what influences the health of the county.

county_health_ranking_300In health outcomes, Tolland County led the way, followed by 2)Fairfield County, 3)Middlesex County, 4)Litchfield County, 5)New London County, 6)Hartford County, 7)Windham County and 8)health outcome ranksNew Haven County.

In health factors, Middlesex County ranked first, followed by Tolland County, Fairfield County, Litchfield County, New London County, Hartford County, New Haven County and Windham County.

The County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program helps communities identify and implement solutions that make it easier for people to be healthy in their schools, workplaces and neighborhoods, according to study authors. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation collaborated with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute on the state-by-state analysis and report, which measured the health of nearly every county in the nation.

The report website includes “county snapshots” - detailed data for each county, in each of the health factors and health outcomes. Comparisons between counties, and the statewide numbers, are also available.ranks

Health factors data included in the analysis are health behaviors, such as tobacco use, diet and exercise, and alcohol and drug abuse; clinical care, including access to care and quality of care; social and economic factors, including education, employment, income, safety and family support; and physical environment, including air and water quality, housing and transit. Health outcomes date included length of life, and quality of life, with factors such as physical health and mental health.

The report website provides specific data in each of the categories, and ranks Connecticut’s eight counties in each factor. This year’s Rankings release marked the fifth anniversary of the first national release of the County Health Rankings.

Soda Tax Won't Hurt Job Prospects, Tobacco Tax Offers Preview, New Studies Find

As the Connecticut legislature considers a proposal to implement a 2 percent tax on sodas, proposed by Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney at the suggestion of New Haven Mayor and former state senator Toni Harp, two new academic studies challenge the beverage industry’s view that state and local taxes on sugary drinks will hurt employment, and offer suggestions to policy makers based on the tobacco tax experience.

Harp has said the soda tax would discourage consumption of the sugary beverages – part of her campaign to combat obesity - and bring in public health logoan estimated $144 million in revenue for the state each year. It would tax all beverages “high in calories or sugar” by two percent, but does not specify how many calories or grams of sugar would trigger the tax.

The studies, appearing in the February and March issues of the American Journal of Public Health, argue, in one case, that claims of employment losses are off base because they focus only on the effects within the industry, ignoring the economic activity that comes with people substituting lower-priced goods for more expensive products as wellsoda as new spending from tax revenues.  The other study says that tobacco taxes offer a how-to road map for policy makers.

The study to be published in March, led by Jennifer L. Pomeranz, JD, MPH, while at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, uses as its premise that “excise taxes on sugary beverages have been proposed as a method to replicate the public health success of tobacco control and to generate revenue.”

Sugary Beverage Tax Policy: Lessons Learned from Tobacco indicates that “as policymakers increase efforts to pass sugary beverage taxes, they can anticipate that manufacturers will emulate the strategies employed by tobacco companies in their attempts to counteract the impact of such taxes.”  Pomeranz suggests that “policymakers should therefore consider two complementary laws—minimum price laws and prohibitions on coupons and discounting—to accomplish the intended price increase.”

Researchers at the University of Illinois, in a just-published study in the February issue of American Journal of Public Health, found that a 20 percent increase on the price of sugar-sweetened beverages would have an overall positive impact on the labor market.

The American Beverage Association has traditionally argued that manufacturers, distributors and small business owners, particularly grocers and convenience store proprietors, would suffer were soda taxes to be imposed, but the study says that’s not likely.

In recent years, proposals to tax those beverages fell short in California, Vermont, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York and Rhode Island, Governing magazine reported.  In Maine voters passed a soda tax of 42 cents per gallon in 2008 but repealed it two years later amid a major lobbying effort from the American Beverage Association. Voters in Washington state similarly reversed their legislature in 2010.  As of the end of state legislative sessions in 2011, Governing reported, only four states had taxes specifically targeting sugary beverages, including Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, according to the Tax Foundation.

In the study publstrawished this month, researchers ran a simulation of the impact of 20-percent soda tax in Illinois and California—selected for regional differences—and found slight employment increases would occur, but the net effect would be close to nothing. They found that people choose to spend their money on other things, not to forego spending entirely, and that employment gains in other sectors of the economy far outweigh the job losses for soda makers, National Journal reported.

“We find there are losses in the beverage industry, but when you’re talking about the whole economy suffering job losses, you can’t just talk about your own industry,” Lisa Powell, health policy professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the study’s lead author, told National Journal. “Using job loss as a scare tactic for the economy overall is misleading.”

Public health advocates have warned of a link between added sugar and illnesses ranging  from Type 2 diabetes and obesity to heart disease and osteoporosis. The caloric intake of sugary beverages increased dramatically from 1988 to the mid 2000s, though consumption has dropped across all age groups in recent years, Governing reported, with some citing the increased public attraction to teas and other beverages.  Like Harp and Looney in Connecticut, some elected officials around the country have proposed raising taxes on sugary drinks in order to reduce consumption.  The New Haven Register reported that Harp has pointed out that revenue from the cigarette tax has decreased, showing that the effectiveness of a tax in reducing consumption.Jennifer-Pomeranz

Pomeranz is a public health law and policy researcher focusing on marketing, labeling and youth access issues related to food and beverages, over-the-counter diet drugs, and dietary supplements, publishing on topics including discrimination, the First Amendment, public health preemption, and innovative regulatory strategies to address public health problems such as obesity. She is Assistant Professor at the Center for Obesity Research and Education in the Department of Public Health and at the College of Health Professionals and Social Work at Temple University, having served previously as Director of Legal Initiatives at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.  She is currently the Policy Chair of the Health Law Section of the American Public Health Association and the official liaison between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association.lisa powell 2

Lisa Powell is a Senior Research Scientist in the Institute for Health Research and Policy and Research Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has extensive experience as an applied micro-economist in the empirical analysis of the effects of public policy on a series of behavioral outcomes.

A 2011 study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity found that young people are being exposed to a massive amount of marketing for sugary drinks, such as full-calorie soda, sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruit drinks.  The study, described as the most comprehensive and science-based assessment of sugary drink nutrition and marketing ever conducted, found that companies were marketing sugary drinks targeting young people, especially black and Hispanic youth.

Health Risks of Flame-Retardant Chemicals Require Policy Changes in CT, Nation, Report Says

The 2014 session of the Connecticut General Assembly is expected to include consideration of legislation designed to protect the public from potential health risks of flame retardant chemicals that are present in many consumer products.  Such a proposal, currently being developed, comes following a report from North Haven-based Environment and Human Health Inc. (EHHI), an organization of physicians and public health professionals, that calls on state and federal governments to institute new policies to protect the public from flame-retardant exposures that the researchers say “pose health risks to fetuses, infants, children and the human population as a whole.”

The comprehensive 107-page report, “Flame Retardants: The Case for Policy Change,” closely examines the health risks that flame-retardants pose to the general population and recommends sweeping policy changes to protect the public.

"It has become clear that flame-retardants are proving to be a health risk to both the human population and the environment,” said Nancy Aldermaflame reportn, president of Environment and Human health, Inc. “It is time for flame-retardants to be removed from all low fire-risk situations and products. As well, a certification program should be established where manufacturers certify the absence of flame-retardants, just as organic food programs certify the absence of pesticides.”

The report examines the history of flame-retardants and demonstrates the enormous scope of the problem, noting that flame-retardants “are now ubiquitous in our environment.”  The history of flame-retardant use in the United States is a story of substituting one dangerous flame-retardant for another, the report outlines. The country lived through decades when asbestos was used as a fire-retardant. Then when asbestos was proven too dangerous to be used, the country moved over to PCBs, and five decades later, when PCBs were deemed too dangerous for use, the country moved on to chlorinated and brominated flame-retardants.

The report points out that “the labeling of flame-retardant chemicals in consumer products is NOT required by Congress, EPA, FDA or the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  It is therefore impossible for consumers to avoid flame-retardants in their purchases.”  Sources of exposure cited in the report include carpets, mattresses, children’s and baby products, furniture, and electronics.  falame retardant

In the 1970s, a flame-retardant called "Tris" was added to children's sleepwear. Tris was later found not only to be carcinogenic but also capable of being absorbed through the skin. Tris was finally banned in children's sleepwear in 1977, according to the report.  Tris is still used in many other infant products, such as crib mattresses, changing tables, nap mats, and infant car seats, the report indicated.

"Tris was, and remains, carcinogenic," said Dr. D. Barry Boyd, oncologist at Greenwich Hospital and Affiliate Member of the Yale Cancer Center.  There is ample evidence concerning the health risks from Tris to conclude that it should be removed from all infant products."

John Wargo, Ph.D., first author of the report and the Tweedy-Ordway Professor of Environmental Health and Political Science at Yale University, said, "Flame-retardants are not required to undergo health and environmental testing, and they are not required to be labeled on the products that contain them. Because exposures to flame-retardants carry health risks, they should only be used when the risk of fire outweighs the risk from flame-retardant exposures. When risk from fire is high, such as in airplanes, then the use of flame-retardants is warranted; when the risk from fire is low, flame-retardants should not be used."

Recent toxicological studies demonstrate that flame-retardants pose the greatest risk to the normal growth and development of fetuses, infants and children. "Manufacturers should start labeling their products so that consumers can understand when flame-retardants have been added," said Dr. Andrea Asnes, associate professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine.

Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI) is a non-profit organization composed of physicians, public health professionals and policy experts, dedicated to protectinEHHIg human health from environmental harms. EHHI does not receive any funds from businesses or corporations.   The organization’s mission is “to conduct research to identify environmental harms affecting human populations, promote public education concerning the relationships between the environment and human health, and promote policies in all sectors that ensure the protection of human and environmental health with fairness and timeliness.

By promoting effective communication of environmental health risks to those exposed and to responsible public and private officials, EHHI hopes to empower individuals and groups to take control over the quality of their environment and be more protective of themselves and their families.  The report was issued in November 2013.  Among the recommendations :

  • States should pass laws that protect their citizens from flame-retardant exposures.  Industry will always work to pre-empt states’ legal authority to set safety standards that are more stringent than those adopted by the federal government. States should have the right to protect their citizens when the federal government fails to do so.
  • States should restrict flame-retardants in infant and toddler products.  Recent toxicological studies show that flame-retardants pose the greatest risk to the normal growth and development of fetuses, infants and children. Infants and small children’s body weight is so low that their exposures to flame retardants, in relation to their body weight, is simply too great. The health risks that all infants and children are experiencing, due to the federal law mandating that flame retardants be in many of their products, far outweigh the risk of fire.
  • States should require that products containing flame-retardants be labeled.  Any product containing a flame-retardant should be labeled as such. Labels should include which flame-retardant has been used.
  • States should promote fire-prevention programs.  States should invigorate their fire prevention programs. Promotion of fire prevention is the most effective, least expensive, least environmentally damaging priority our nation could pursue to reduce loss of health, life and property from fires. States should promote low-cost and highly effective early warning technologies. Smoke alarms save lives. They should be available to all, regardless of income status.
  • States should offer opportunities to recycle electronic products.  Foam that contains flame-retardants remains a problem for landfills. State and local governments have primary responsibility for managing the disposal of solid and hazardous wastes. Most solid wastes in Connecticut are disposed of via incineration, but some are still placed in landfills. The broad failure to effectively recycle electronics, building materials, auto plastics and foam means that most products containing flame-retardants are released to the environment at the end of their life-cycle.

Newtown High School Students Win International Public Health Education Contest

Each year, about 3.5 million children die before their 5th birthday due to preventable diseases, mainly diarrhea and acute respiratory diseases.   According to survey data from the Global School-based Student Health Survey, over 15 percent of schoolchildren in some countries say they rarely or never wash their hands before eating.

Those facts spurred a group of Newtown High School student to action.  They participated in the World Health Organization’s Touching Lives School Talent International Contest.  The onewtown highne-minute educational video they produced was selected by a jury of international experts as the winning entry in the middle/high school age category (age 10-16) and was the only United States-based entry to win its category.

The Newtown Public Health class submitted the video at the start of the school year, and it was selected this fall among the winners in various age categories.  Their video now appears on the website of the Pan American Health Organization, and has begun to appear on other public health websites, including the Connecticut Public Health Association.  It was designed, written and pan americanproduced in the opening weeks of school, just prior to  the mid-September entry deadline.

Experts point out that “just rinsing your hands is not washing.” In order for hands to be clean, soap and water must be used, for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensivsinke way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections. Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths, officials report.

Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter, experts predict.  They also point out that a vast change in handwashing behavior is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.

The educational video is preceded with the words “A Message from Newtown High School’s Public Health Class” filling the screen. It then begins with a male student gently singing over a strumming guitar, reminding viewers of the importance of hand-washing in rhyming lyrics, including urgintv monitorg viewers to “always think, 20 seconds at the sink.”  The video then features a variety of voices repeating “20 seconds” in nearly a dozen world languages.  It concludes by suggesting “don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.”

The video was edited by Amylee Anyoha.  Students in the Newtown High Public Health Class included Jess Amante, Maddie Erhardt, Enea Musaka, Sarah Craig, Kelly O’Connell, Chris Beaurline, Sydney Allen, Gabby Durkin, Tim Krapf, Amanda Paige, Taylor Strolli and Heather McKeown.

In the 2013 #TouchingLives School Talent International Contest, students could work individually or in a group, and all the countries in the Americas, were eligible and encouraged to develop songs, videos, illustrations, written compositions or any other expression of art promoting hand washing. The contest was, according to organizers, “about giving your personal touch to change the world.”

Pediatrician’s Invention to Stop Pain of Injections Could Improve Public Health

Many parents bring their infants and young children to the doctor for injections and leave muttering “there’s got to be a better way,” their child in tears or traumatized by the shot – or shots – administered to prevent illness and disease.  When Amy Baxter left the pediatrician’s office with her youngster, she resolved to find that better way.

Baxter, who attended Yale University as an undergraduate, Emory Medical School, and is now an emergency pediatrician, pain researcher and inventor in Atlanta, successfully developed  - with financial support from the National Institute of Health – a game-changing  device that combines high frequency, low amplitude vibration and a unique reusable ice pack a combination sAmy Baxter ATLpecifically designed to remove pain from the injection.

By stimulating competing sensations, nerve transmission of sharp pain, itching, or burning is blocked.  Simply put, the shots don’t hurt – and independently verified research indicates that it works.

As inventor of the unique needle pain blocking device - called Buzzy - Baxter founded a company that manufactures and distributes the product nationwide.  It is now in 1,200 children’s and adult hospitals across the country, including Yale-New Haven Hospital, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London,  and it is being used in Connecticut, with varying frequency, by about 100 physicians in medical practices all across the state, from Ashford to Westport.

Buzzy is a bee-shaped palm sized device (wings included) that appears as cute as a toy but has a more important mission – to alleviate pain, thus eliminating the onset of fear. Baxter’s company, Georgia-based MMJ Labs, produces the fast, effective solution– which has applications beyond children, and beyond injections, to other ailments and sources of quick, sharp pain.

Since its launch in 2009, Buzzy has amassed more than 36,000 users, $1 million in annual revenue, and rapidly increasing sbuzzy shotales.  Baxter is one of Inc. Magazine’s Top Women in Tech to Watch, and is asked all over the world to educate physicians, nurses, Child Life specialists, and others about the importance of pain management.

“I invented Buzzy after experiencing first-hand the indifference of the healthcare system to the pain and suffering of children. As a pediatric emergency physician and pain researcher, I have learned that pain relief is not just a luxury; it actually improves the outcomes of procedures,” Baxter explains.

Data indicates that fear of needles is growing among children and the general population, and Baxter says that’s reason for concern.  Especially troubling is the long-term impact of a growing population oneedle phobia over timef needle-averse adults will have on their own health and the health care system.

She cites statistics that reflect a dramatic increase in the number and frequency of shots children receive as youngsters – as much as four times higher than 50 years ago – and sometimes as many as four or five shots in a single doctor’s office visit.  And she stresses that pediatricians generally do little or nothing to try to diminish the pain that accompanies those injections.  That, Baxter says, has dramatic and long-lasting effects, on children as well as their parents.   The youngsters come to view the visits as more about pain than health, and the parents begin to have second thoughts about continuing to inflict the pain of needles on their children, often regardless of the potential benefits.

In a TEDx talk in Atlanta last month, Baxter discussed the public health repercussions of having populations whose fear of vaccinations could turn them shotsaway from the very remedies that can improve their individual health and the health of entire populations, warning that “by ignoring pain we’re endangering the future of health care.”

In the talk, titled “Pain, Empathy and Public Health,” Baxter warned that “the number and the way were giving shots is causing needle fear” which may lead to today’s children electing to stay away or delay visits to doctor’s offices as adults – at considerable potential health peril.

In the face of a potential “public health tsunami,” Baxter says “the solution is not to stop vaccinating, it’s to start making the shots better— vaccines shouldn't have to hurt.”