Research | January 17, 2018
January kicks off a new year of health awareness. This month focuses on mothers and their babies, specifically issues pertaining to cervical health, birth defect prevention and folic acid awareness.
It’s January -- the time of year when health clubs are full of well-intentioned new members, committed to establishing healthy habits that will carry them through the year and hopefully beyond.
But perhaps the best way to achieve good health is through prevention—especially relative to the health of babies and their mothers who are in a unique position to influence a lifetime of health for themselves and their children. January shines a bright light on three key areas important to mothers and their babies.
Cervical Health Awareness Month brings attention to the importance of early detection in cervical cancer prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, most cases are found in women between the ages of 20-50, although 15% of cases are found in women over 65. Formerly one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths for women, the last 40 years has seen deaths from cervical cancer decline by more than 50%, largely due to the increased use of the Pap test. Not only does the test help detect early signs of cancer so treatment can be implemented at its most curable stage, it can also identify changes to a woman’s cervix even before cancer develops.
Folic Acid Awareness Week, celebrated January 7–13, 2018, highlights the importance of B-vitamin in the prevention of up to 70% of neural tube birth defects of the brain and spine if taken before and during pregnancy. Available to women through multi-vitamins containing folic acid or through eating fortified foods like grains, pastas or breakfast cereals, the CDC and U.S. Public Health Service recommend that women between the ages of 15-45 consume 400 micrograms a day of folic acid to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly.
The types and scope of birth defects are as diverse as the many children affected by them, making January an ideal time to bring awareness to ways that parents can help prevent birth defects. The National Birth Defects Prevention Study, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, increased awareness and understanding of correlation of lifestyle choices and specific medications in the incidence of birth defects in babies. This comprehensive study, completed over the course of 14 years of interviews with 43,000 women from ten states, provides data to highlight the impact of a variety of factors in influencing the incidence of birth defects, from the type of medication that mothers take before and during the pregnancy, to the role that obesity or smoking play in influencing the incidence of certain birth defects.
Medical libraries can serve as a valuable resource in helping call attention to these and other health observances during the year, by promoting them monthly to faculty, staff and students and by providing the latest science and medical journals…
Medical libraries can serve as a valuable resource in helping call attention to these and other health observances during the year, by promoting them to faculty, staff and students, and providing the latest science and medical journals from publishers such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Peer-reviewed journals by AAAS, including Science Signaling, the leading journal of cell signaling and regulatory biology; Science Translational Medicine, integrating medicine, engineering and science; and Science Immunology reporting critical advances in immunological research, can all serve as valuable resources in a medical library.
Whether it’s bringing awareness to the important role that prevention can play in promoting and maintaining the health of women and their babies, or providing resources on the latest research and reports, medical libraries are in a unique position to help medical faculty, staff and students learn more about these important health observances.
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