Wednesday, March 18, 2015

UDOH Issues Tri County Adverse Birth Outcome Study

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) today issued a final report evaluating adverse birth outcomes (ABOs) in the Tri County Health District (TCHD), which covers Daggett, Duchesne, and Uintah counties. The TCHD requested the analysis last year after residents in the area reported a perceived increase in the number of stillbirths and infant deaths in the area.

UDOH investigators collected birth records from 1991-2013 to determine if the rate of ABOs in the Tri County area was higher than the rate experienced in the rest of the state. The ABOs included in the study were low-birth weight, premature birth, small-for-gestational age, infant deaths, and stillbirths. 

Statewide, approximately 16 percent of all pregnancies result in an ABO each year. In the TCHD area, the study found approximately 20 percent of pregnancies each year resulted in an ABO. However, when the study controlled for risk factors that can increase the likelihood of an ABO, such as teen pregnancy, maternal weight, race and ethnicity, maternal use of tobacco, alcohol or drugs, and maternal chronic health conditions, there was no evidence that the overall rate of ABOs in TCHD was higher than in other parts of the state.

The study did reveal periodic, increased risk for some ABOs, including:
The number of stillbirths exceeded the state average in the final time period of the study, further analysis will be needed to determine if this elevation is an isolated variation, 
Small-for-gestational age births were elevated in almost all time periods, and significantly elevated in some,
The study also revealed several important risk factors that can lead to poor birth outcomes are more common in Tri County than in the rest of the state (namely, tobacco use and diabetes among expectant mothers).

While the statistical differences for these specific outcomes were small, the overall trend does present reason for concern.

“Although the statistical differences between the TriCounty area and the state are minimal when it comes to adverse health outcomes, there are obviously patterns that raise some concerns for public health locally,” said TCHD Executive Director Jordan Mathis. “It is important that we take measures to better understand these patterns through continued monitoring and evaluation.  However, many of the risk factors that contribute to ABOs are controllable, and the department will maintain its efforts to educate and promote programs we know can have a positive impact on reducing the risk for ABOs. We look forward to working with the community to determine what the next steps should be in helping to ensure babies born in the Uintah Basin are as healthy as possible.”

While the report did not attempt to link any ABOs to specific causes, the most important risk factors that typically lead to an ABO include chronic health conditions of the mother, such as diabetes, tobacco use, and inadequate prenatal care.

The UDOH committed to revisit the study in another two years to help better understand and monitor the situation. The full report is available online at

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Media Contacts:
Tom Hudachko
Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6232 (m) 801-560-4649

Jeramie Tubbs
Tri County Health Department
(m) 435-822-3061

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tri County Adverse Birth Outcome Study to be Released

WHAT: The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) will present the results of its Tri County Adverse Birth Outcomes statistical review to the Tri County Board of Health during its March meeting.

WHY: In June 2013 the UDOH was made aware of a perceived increase in stillbirths and infant deaths in the Tri County Health district (Daggett, Duchesne, Uintah counties). The Department reviewed adverse birth outcomes including low birth weight, premature birth, small-for-gestational age births, infant deaths, and stillbirths to determine if these outcomes were more frequent in the Tri County area than in the rest of the state.  

The study did not attempt to identify factors that may have lead to any adverse birth outcomes.

WHO: Sam LeFevre
Utah Department of Health

WHEN: Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WHERE: Tri County Health Department – large conference room
                133 South 500 East
                Vernal, Utah 

**Note: Members of the media who agree to an embargo of noon on Wednesday, March 18 can receive an advance copy of the report by emailing Tom Hudachko at**

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If You Won’t Get a Colonoscopy for Yourself, Get One for Your Family

(Salt Lake City, UT) – There are countless things you do for the ones you love; make getting screened for colon cancer be one of them. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Utah for both men and women. But if caught early, 92 percent of those cancers are treatable, which means you’ll be around to keep taking care of your loved ones.

Doug Miller, television personality, outdoorsman, and family man, lost his life to colorectal cancer. “My dad was just 58 years old when he died,” says his daughter, Karen Miller Coleman. “He had never had a colonoscopy. Had he gotten one, he would still be here. So get a colonoscopy.” 

Karen is featured in the Utah Department of Health’s Utah Cancer Control Program (UDOH UCCP) campaign, which is aimed at saving lives by increasing colorectal cancer screening. Current TV ads are the third installment in an ongoing prevention effort where Karen encourages Utahns to get a colonoscopy, “If not for yourself, for your family.”

The campaign runs through March, which is Utah Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. The Cancer Control Program believes the campaign will motivate Utah men and women aged 50 and older to get the life-saving recommended screening.

Newly-released data from the Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that Utah men and women aged 65+ were much more likely to get screened than those aged 50-64. But screening really must begin at 50 for the best chance of survival.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following colon cancer screening tests for adults aged 50 and older:

• Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) done at home every year;
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy done every five years, with FOBT/FIT done every three years, or;
• Colonoscopy done every 10 years.

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need to be screened at age 40, or 10 years before the youngest case in your immediate family, whichever is earlier. In other words, if your father was 48 when he was diagnosed, you should get screened at age 38. “If caught early, 92 percent of colorectal cancers are treatable,” said Kelly Robinson, UCCP health educator.

Recommended screening beginning at age 50 is the most effective way to prevent colon cancer.  If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family.  For more information about colon cancer, visit

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Media Contact:
Katie McMinn
Media Specialist

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Utah Declares End to Measles Outbreak

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Utah public health officials today declared the end of a measles outbreak that infected three residents and exposed hundreds more to the highly contagious virus. The measles cases were first identified in January by Dr. Douglas Hacking when two Utah County residents tested positive for the disease after traveling to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in mid-December where they were exposed to the virus. A total of three confirmed cases were identified, and nearly 400 other individuals who were exposed to the confirmed cases were contacted to assess their immunization status. 

No additional measles cases have been confirmed and Utah’s outbreak is considered over. 

As a result of this vaccine-preventable disease outbreak, local health departments (LHDs) completed numerous case investigations, assessed patients and contacts for symptoms, vaccination history, and evidence of measles immunity. Contacts without documented evidence of immunity were offered MMR vaccine or immunoglobulin, a protein the body uses to fight infection, or placed in voluntary quarantine. 

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) made more than 1,600 phone calls to the 117 individuals who were placed in voluntary quarantine. These individuals were monitored for symptoms of disease on a daily basis throughout their 21-day quarantine. The Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL) conducted 29 laboratory tests and sent two samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmatory testing. Utah County Health Department administered 586 doses of the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine in January alone, and logged more than 600 staff hours (UCHD typically gives about 100 MMR vaccinations a month). In addition, public health partnered with the Utah Poison Control Center, which triaged nearly 300 phone calls from the public.

Public health’s direct cost for the measles outbreak response was approximately $115,000. Those costs include such items as public health staff hours: approximately 90 employees spent nearly 3,000 hours working the outbreak, including administering vaccines and immunoglobulin and laboratory testing. The estimate does not include other indirect costs such as public education and awareness, provider consultation conducted by local health departments, or any private health care associated costs. These costs are difficult to determine, but would certainly increase the overall cost of responding to the outbreak. 

Measles is a highly contagious, acute viral illness that spreads quickly in unvaccinated populations, highlighting the importance of protecting children and adults against measles in the United States through vaccination. 

Vaccination is an important line of defense for two reasons. First, vaccination directly protects the person being vaccinated. Second, having a high percentage of the population vaccinated protects others, including those who cannot be vaccinated because of severe allergies to vaccine ingredients, medical conditions, or who are too young to begin vaccination. This outbreak serves as a reminder of the importance of maintaining high vaccination rates, even for diseases that are rarely seen in the United States, as long as those diseases continue to circulate in other parts of the world. 

While this Utah outbreak is considered at an end, public health officials continue to closely monitor the community due to the ongoing outbreak in other states. As of Monday, the CDC reports 133 people in seven states were linked to the same outbreak. Anyone not fully vaccinated runs the risk of being exposed and beginning another disease outbreak in Utah.

For general information on vaccines, please visit, or call the Utah Department of Health Immunization hotline at 1-800-275-0659, or your local health department. For more information on the measles outbreak, contact the Bureau of Epidemiology at 801-538-6191. 

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Ward, Utah Department of Health
(o) 801-538-6682 (m) 801-352-1270

Lance Madigan, Utah County Health Department
(cell and text) 385-204-4627

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Why It’s Never Too Early to Begin Brushing Your Child’s Teeth

(Salt Lake City) - For those who think cavities affect only school-aged kids, think again. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Association says about 40% of children ages 2 through 5 have cavities.  This may be a sign that children are either not brushing enough, or aren’t brushing the right way.  But there are many things parents and caregivers can do to prevent tooth decay in children.

The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Oral Health Program (OHP) recommends parents start cleaning baby’s mouth even before the first tooth pushes through the gum. “The human mouth is full of billions of bacteria,” says the program’s Michelle Martin, RDH. “Sugar, acid and bacteria are what start the process of decay,” Michelle adds.  “So wet a soft, clean washcloth and clean the tooth and the gums every day. When a few more teeth start coming in, that’s when you buy an infant brush and use it for two minutes twice a day on every surface of every tooth.” 

Other important tips for infants and children include:

Parents should brush their child’s teeth. It’s ok for the child to practice brushing daily with a parent’s help.

When children are old enough to tie their shoes, they’re ready to brush their teeth on their own. 

Remind children they don’t need to brush hard. Instead, show them how to brush softly in a circular motion. Electric and battery-powered toothbrushes are great for helping to remove plaque. 

Avoid giving children sodas and other sugary drinks. Encourage more water. 

Use only water in sippy cups.

Everyone in the family should floss once a day. Place a container of it in the shower and encourage everyone to floss there.

Don’t share spoons or forks with children. Bacteria spread that way.

NEVER put a child to bed with a bottle. The sugar in milk starts the process of decay. NEVER put anything in a bottle but milk, water or formula.

February is Children’s Dental Health month, and experts say it’s a reminder that children of all ages need to be good caretakers of their teeth. Kim Michelson, DDS, State Dental Director, Utah Department of Health, says tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children ages 6 to 11 years. “The good news," Michelson says, "is it’s very preventable if you just brush and floss your teeth daily.”  Michelson recommends children see their dentist every six months, starting at age one.
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Media Contacts:
Michelle Martin
Kim Michelson, DDS