Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Place and Race Affect Infant Mortality in Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A Utah Department of Health (UDOH) study shows Pacific Islander and African American/Black residents have the highest infant mortality rates of all Utah racial/ethnic groups. However, data from the same report show that rates are also higher in three small rural areas of the state with very few Pacific Islander or African American/Black residents.

“These infant mortality data demonstrate why it’s so important to look at health differences by geography as well as by race,” said April Young Bennett, Health Program Specialist with the UDOH Office of Health Disparities Reduction (OHD).  “Our office has been working with racial minorities to address their infant death rates, but non-minorities in certain rural areas have high rates as well.”

In 2005-2008, the statewide infant mortality rate was 4.4 per 1,000 live births. In comparison:
§         The Utah Black/African American rate was 6.8 per 1,000 live births
§         The Utah Pacific Islander rate was  8.4 per 1,000 live births 

During the same time period, the small areas with the highest infant mortality rates were:
§         Sevier/Piute/Wayne counties at 9.07 per 1,000
§         Wasatch County at 8.21 per 1,000
§         Box Elder County (excluding Brigham City) at 7.91 per 1,000

OHD has interviewed Utah Pacific Islanders and African Americans/Blacks to learn how to address infant mortality in their communities.  Pacific Islanders reported that many people in their community were unaware of pregnancy health guidelines such as folic acid consumption, appropriate pregnancy spacing, and when to get prenatal care.  African Americans told OHD staff that they need better access to birth control options and women’s health care before pregnancy. Based on these discussions, OHD has contracted with the Queen Center, the National Tongan American Society, and Project Success to conduct health outreach projects.

“The new report is one of the first OHD efforts to analyze health disparities by geography since Utah lawmakers expanded our mission during the 2011 legislative session,” said Bennett.  “We’re excited to address all kinds of health disparities, whether based on race, geography, income, or some other factor.”

The report also discusses overweight by race and geography.  Unlike infant mortality, Utahns living in urban areas have higher rates of overweight and obesity than those in rural areas.

Media Contact:
April Young Bennett
(801) 703-0127

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stop School Health Emergencies Before They Start

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Once the excitement of a new school year fades, many Utah families face the anxiety that comes with dealing with their children’s chronic health problems.

Utah County mom Andrea Jensen understands how critical it is to work with your child’s teachers and school nurse to properly manage their health problems in a school setting. She and her three children all have asthma. In the 11 years since her children were diagnosed, they have been hospitalized a combined total of 12 times.

“It’s vital that parents tell their child’s teachers and school nurse what triggers their asthma, how to deal with an asthma attack, where their inhaler is, and how to use it,” said Jensen. “Every year we fill out an asthma action plan and self-medication form and give it to the school so everyone knows what to do in case of an emergency. My kids’ lives depend on it.”

Diabetes, food allergies, seizure disorders, mental health illnesses, school-related injuries, and immunizations are just some of the other health issues parents and students deal with.

Alexandra Davis, School Nurse Consultant with the Utah Department of Health (UDOH), emphasizes that parents and school nurses must work together to keep students healthy. “In Utah we have an average of one school nurse for every 5,000 students. School nurses do their best with the limited resources they have, but depend on parents to inform them of any health concerns their child may have,” said Davis.

The UDOH encourages parents to do the following as their children head back to school:
  Talk to your school nurse.  To find your school nurse, visit

  Update your child’s asthma action plan and self-medication form. Utah law allows children to carry their inhaler with them if the proper forms are filled out every year. These forms, along with other tips and free resources, can be downloaded at
  Make sure your child’s immunizations are up-to-date. Proof of immunization is a requirement to attend any school, Head Start, or childcare facility. Immunization requirements can be found at

  Update your child’s Primary Diabetes School Care Plan. This form gives school nurses important information about the types of medications and monitoring needed, symptoms that may occur, and other special care requirements for children with diabetes. The form can be downloaded at

  Walk or bike with your child to school. Adding physical activity to your child’s routine not only benefits their health, it’s a great way to stay connected to your neighborhood. Utah law requires every elementary, middle, and junior high school to create a Student Neighborhood Access Program (SNAP) plan. This plan includes maps of the safest walking and biking routes to schools. Find more information at,T:,1388.

  Ask if your school participates in the Student Injury Reporting System. Tracking student injuries helps schools identify problem areas, eliminate risks for injury (such as repairing broken playground equipment), and develop programs to reduce students' risks for injury. Student injury data and safety tips can be found at
Parents and school administrators can also download the School Health Resources Guide, which provides information on many health-related resources, at
Media Contacts:
Jenny Johnson
Bureau of Health Promotion
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569
Alexandra Davis
UDOH School Nurse Consultant
(o) 801-538-6814

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Indoor Clean Air Act Protections to Take Effect

(Salt Lake City) – Beginning September 12, 2011, the Utah Indoor Clean Air Act (UICAA) rule will include additional language to protect people from tobacco smoke. The new language is in line with the intent of the UICAA statute that mandates the elimination of secondhand smoke exposure in indoor public places. The rule treats smoke from heated tobacco products like hookah the same as smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipe tobacco.

“Secondhand tobacco smoke is known to cause cancer in humans,” said Steve Hadden of the Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program. “There is simply no safe level of exposure to tobacco smoke.”

With new tobacco products coming on the market, and growing concern from the public and businesses about tobacco smoke, the rule consistently eliminates secondhand smoke exposure in indoor public places Utahns patronize every day, such as health care settings, worksites, and restaurants that are already required to be smoke-free spaces according to the Act.

For free and confidential help quitting tobacco, call the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW (784-8669) or visit

Media Contact
Steve Hadden
Health Program Specialist
Office: 801-538-6260 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Planning for a Violence-free Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Sexual violence is a pervasive public health issue in Utah. In a 2006 survey, one in three Utah women reported they had experienced some type of sexual assault in their lifetime and one in eight was raped. More than seven percent of Utah adults report being a victim of sexual abuse in their lifetime. Among Utah high school students, a 2009 survey found that nearly 11% reported being in a violent dating relationship and more than 7% had been raped. Today, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) and its partners unveiled a new plan to prevent sexual violence in Utah.

“Our vision is that Utah will one day be free from violence, and all residents will interact with each other in a healthy and respectful manner,” said Teresa Brechlin, UDOH Violence Prevention Coordinator. “This plan provides concrete action steps communities can take to make that happen,” she added.  “We’re already seeing improvement in areas where primary prevention programs are being implemented.”

Effective primary prevention programs currently underway in Utah include:
  Safe Dates program in Richfield. The New Horizons Rape Crisis Center, in partnership with the University of Utah and Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, has begun implementation of the Safe Dates program. Safe Dates is a school-based program for students ages 12-18 designed to stop or prevent dating violence. Nationally, studies show a 56% to 92% reduction in reports of physical, serious physical, and sexual dating violence among participants.

  Rape Prevention Coalitions in Cache and Rich Counties. Forming strong partnerships with communities is a vital step in the prevention of sexual assault. Logan’s Community Abuse Prevention Services Agency (CAPSA) has spent more than 13 years developing successful partnerships with high schools and community-based organizations and providing educational programs, discussions, and peer-to-peer and youth leadership to thousands of students in Northern Utah.

  D.A.T.E. program in Utah County. The Center for Women and Children in Crisis has implemented the D.A.T.E. (Do communicate, Always set boundaries, Take a stand, and Exercise respect) curriculum for three years. The curriculum reaches students in grades 6-12 and has been modified for college-aged students and community groups. It incorporates positive skill building exercises designed to increase protective factors shown to prevent or reduce violence.

Protective factors are proactive efforts and were developed to counter Utah’s historically  reactive response to violence, meaning resources are dedicated to responding to sexual violence after it occurs. However, Utah’s Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Plan, 2010-2017 seeks to reduce sexual violence by enhancing social and community support and better availability of services, as well as teaching both girls and boys and men and women problem solving skills, self-efficacy, good peer relationships, parental supervision.  

“The plan addresses the roots of the problem instead of the outcomes, after it’s too late,” said Anne Freimuth, Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah and chair of the committee that developed the plan.  “Every single Utahn has an opportunity and the responsibility to prevent sexual violence.”

Copies of Utah’s Sexual Violence Primary Prevention Plan, 2010-2017 can be downloaded at  

Jenny Johnson
Violence and Injury Prevention Program
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569
Anne Freimuth
Prevent Child Abuse Utah
(o) 801-393-3366 (m) 801-710-7323

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Waterways and Species Added to Utah Mercury Fish Consumption Advisory List

(Salt Lake City, UT) – Three new locations and one new fish species at an existing advisory location have been added to Utah’s Mercury Fish Consumption Advisory list. The advisories are being issued after state officials found elevated levels of mercury in fish tissue in these waterways.

Since 2000, fish in 322 waterways in Utah have been tested for mercury. Only 19 of these sites had average concentrations of mercury that exceeded the federal Environmental Protection Agency limit.
The 322 sites that were sampled included 200 river/stream sites and 122 lake/reservoir sites.

The new and revised fish advisories include:
  • Newcastle Reservoir (Iron County) – Pregnant women and children should not eat Smallmouth Bass.  Adults should limit their consumption to one 8-ounce serving per month.
  • Newcastle Reservoir (Iron County) – No one should eat large sized Wipers (greater than 16 inches or 2.2 pounds). For smaller sized Wipers, pregnant women and children should limit their consumption to one 4-ounce serving per month and adults should limit their consumption to two 8-ounce servings per month.
  • Recapture Reservoir (San Juan County) - Pregnant women and children should not eat Black Bullhead.  Adults should limit their consumption to one 8-ounce serving per month.
  • Duchesne River near Tabiona (Duchesne County) - Pregnant women and children should not eat Brown Trout.  Adults should limit their consumption to two 8-ounce servings per month.
  • Brough Reservoir (Uintah County) - No one should eat Brown Trout.  Pregnant women and children should not eat Rainbow Trout.  Adults should limit their consumption of Rainbow Trout to one 8-ounce serving per month.
  • Red Fleet Reservoir (Uintah County) – Pregnant women and children should not eat large sized Walleyes (greater than 12 inches long) and adults should limit their consumption to two 8-ounce servings per month. For smaller sized Walleyes (less than 12 inches long), pregnant women and children should limit their consumption to one 4-ounce serving per month and adults should limit their consumption to two 8-ounce servings per month.
  • Steinaker Reservoir (Uintah County) - Pregnant women and children should not eat Largemouth Bass.  Adults should limit their consumption to two 8-ounce servings per month.

For a complete list of all Utah Mercury Fish Consumption Advisories please visit the following Web site:

An 8-ounce serving is equivalent to the size of two decks of playing cards. According to an analysis completed by the Utah Department of Health, eating more than the amounts noted in the advisories over a long period of time could result in an intake of mercury that exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health recommendations.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be transformed into methyl mercury, a toxic form found in some natural waters. Those most vulnerable to the effects of mercury toxicity include women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children. Chronic exposure to low concentrations of methyl mercury in fish may result in neurological effects in the developing fetus and children.

Any health risks associated with eating fish from the fish advisory areas are based on long-term consumption and are not tied to eating fish occasionally. Eating fish remains an important part of a healthy diet. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals eat at least two fish or seafood meals weekly.

There is no health risk associated with mercury in the water for other uses of the reservoirs, streams, rivers or creeks, such as swimming, boating and waterskiing.

Not all water bodies have been tested and further testing may result in additional advisories. Utah fish consumption advisories are issued in partnership between the Utah Department of Health, Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the Utah Department of Natural Resources.

For more detailed information please visit the following Web site:

Sam LeFevre, (801) 538-6191
Department Of Health/Environmental Epidemiology Program
John Whitehead, (801) 536-4314
Department of Environmental Quality/Division of Water Quality
Mark Hadley, (801) 538-4737
Department of Natural Resources/Division of Wildlife Resources

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Heart-healthiest Recipe Chosen for 2011

(SALT LAKE CITY) – The Utah Department of Health’s search for the state’s healthiest and tastiest recipes for the “Heart-Healthiest 2011” contest is over, and the UDOH Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program (HDSPP) has named Marie Thatcher of Salt Lake City its grand prize winner.

Thatcher’s recipe for curried yams and chickpeas was selected because it was not only delicious, it also emphasized key ingredients of a healthy diet, with little or no saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, or salt and added sugars.

“Marie proved that a recipe can not only taste delicious, it can also be good for you,” said Tania Charette, HDSPP Media Coordinator. “We want to thank all of our participants this year for their nutritious recipes.  It was very tough to pick the winner.” Charette added, “We’re grateful for the help the contestants gave us in educating Utahns about the importance – and ease – of eating healthy for a healthier heart.”

The public was asked to submit their recipes on the contest’s Facebook page, A “Healthful Recipe of the Week” was selected each week. Those winners received a Papa Murphy’s gift certificate for a free deLITE pizza, and were included in a competition for the grand prize.  All who submitted recipes will receive “Heart-Healthiest 2011,” a cookbook featuring all the submitted recipes.

The contest culminated with three overall winners who each received a J.A. Henckles International Fine Edge Synergy two-piece Santoku Knife Set, kitchen towel, and a “Meals In Minutes – Everyday Grilling Quick, Easy & Delicious” cookbook.
Contest runners-up were Carolyn Lund of Salt Lake City for her ‘Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Meatloaf’ and Sarah Robinson of Salt Lake City for her ‘Strawberry Banana Breakfast Bars’.

The recipes from “Heart-Healthiest 2011” will be available on HDSPP’s Web site at and on the program’s Facebook page.

For more information about HDSPP, visit, or call 1-866-88-STROKE.

Media Contact:
Tania Charette
HDSPP Media Coordinator

Monday, August 15, 2011

Engaging the Media to Raise Awareness of Health Disparities

What:  The Office of Health Disparities Reduction is hosting a conference of public health professionals and community-based organizations to discuss engaging the media to:
•  Promote the National Partnership for Action, including the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity
•  Raise awareness of health disparities affecting Utah communities

Why:    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently unveiled the National Stakeholder Strategy for Achieving Health Equity, which encourages public health advocates to leverage local media outlets using traditional and new media approaches to encourage action and accountability in addressing health disparities. 

Who:    Local and national experts from:
•  Salt Lake Tribune
•  Office of Minority Health Region VIII
•  Local and ethnic media
•  Utah Dept. of Health Public Information Office
When: Tuesday, August 16
8:00 am to 2:00 pm

Where: Noah’s
322 West 11000 South
South Jordan, UT 84095


For more information, contact:
April Young Bennett
Media Coordinator
Office of Health Disparities Reduction


Monday, August 8, 2011

Youth Make "Death Masks" as Symbol of Tobacco Addiction

What:              Anti-tobacco youth groups from across the state are joining forces to fight a new generation of slickly-packaged, melt-in-your mouth addictive products in a statewide initiative called “Hardly Harmless.” The youth wear death masks and pose as corpses to represent the danger posed by the only consumer product that kills when used exactly as intended.

                        More than 50 youth from across the state have worked on the project, which will be displayed at various events across the state throughout the school year. They will also ask Utahns to endorse a new website that aims to keep all new tobacco products out of Utah.

Who:                One Good Reason, a group of teens who advocate for a smoke-free lifestyle.
When:              Tuesday, August 9, 2011
10:00 a.m.

Where:            Reservoir Park
42 South University Street (1345 East)
Salt Lake City
Why:                To warn youth about the manipulative tactics of the tobacco industry. Tobacco use is the single greatest cause of preventable death in Utah, claiming more lives than car crashes, murders, suicides, AIDS, alcohol, drug abuse, and fires combined. For more information, visit


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Give a Child the Gift of Hearing

(Salt Lake City) – Wondering what to do with your used hearing aids?  Here’s your answer: the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Hearing Aid Recycling Program (HARP) would love to have them. HARP helps families that cannot afford new hearing aids or don’t qualify for help from other state agencies.

Each year, 150 children in Utah are born with hearing problems.  Since hearing aids can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 and more, depending on features and power requirements, they are out of reach for many families.

“Many families really struggle to be able to afford hearing aids for their child, but they don’t qualify for financial assistance such as Medicaid,” said UDOH Children’s Hearing and Speech Services director Richard Harward, Au.D.  “If a family can pay for a new hearing aid, they probably can’t qualify for Medicaid, so it’s truly being caught between a rock and a hard place.”

The HARP Program accepts used devices and reconditions those that are in good shape. The rest are sold for salvage or sent to a manufacturer for credit toward the purchase of new hearing aids.  The HARP Program does not compete with private hearing aid providers or duplicate services that are already available to families.

“Without appropriate amplification, a young child may not develop speech and language normally or perform well in school,” said Dr. Harward.  “I think people would be amazed by what we can do with used hearing aids, and the families we are able to help are very grateful,” he added.

To donate hearing aids, make a cash donation, or to see if your child qualifies for the HARP program, call 801-584-8215. You may send donated hearing aids to Children’s Hearing and Speech Services (CHSS), 44 North Mario Capecchi Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84113. Those outside the Salt Lake City area may call 1-800-829-8200 (use option 2, then option 2 again). 
Hearing aid donors will receive a self-addressed, stamped packing envelope in which to send used hearing aid(s) to the program.  HARP also accepts assistive listening devices such as FM systems that can be used in school classrooms.  Please contact Children’s Hearing and Speech Services at 801-584-8215 with questions or comments.

For more information on services for children with special health care needs, please visit

Media Contact:
Rich Harward, Au.D.
Children’s Hearing and Speech Services Director
(o) 801-584-8215  (m) 801-707-2106

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Stay Safe and “Know Before You Go” Off-Road

(Salt Lake City, UT) – As thousands of Utahns head to the mountains and deserts for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation this summer, Utah State Parks and the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) are reminding riders to “know before you go” by obeying Utah laws and wearing a helmet.  

UDOH data show that every year, an average of more than 1,800 Utahns are treated in emergency rooms or hospitalized for injuries suffered in OHV crashes. OHVs include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and off-road motorcycles. Nearly 14 Utahns die in OHV and snowmobile crashes each year.

“More than a third of the OHV-related injuries we see in Utah happen to young people under the age of 19,” said Jenny Johnson, spokesperson for the UDOH Violence and Injury Prevention Program.

In 2009, there were 1,718 OHV-related injuries:
  • 328 (19%) were Utah children ages 14 and younger;
  • 329 (19%) were among teens ages 15-19;
  • 231 (13%) were adults ages 20-24;
  • 345 (20%) were adults ages 25-34; and
  • 485 (28%) were adults ages 35 and older.
The cost of treating these injuries exceeded $11 million in hospitalization and emergency department charges for 2009 alone.

Chris Haller, OHV Program Manager for Utah State Parks and Recreation, stresses the importance of staying within your riding limits. “OHVs aren’t toys. When handled improperly or beyond the driving abilities of the operator or manufacturer specifications, they can be deadly.”

Operators ages eight to 15 are required by law to take an OHV Safety Education class approved by Utah State Parks and Recreation and obtain their Utah OHV Safety Education Certificate before operating OHVs. It is illegal for any child under age eight to operate an OHV on public land. Drivers 16 years of age and older must have a valid driver’s license to operate.

“More than 45,000 Utahns have taken the OHV Safety Education classes. They are an invaluable teaching tool for young drivers and their parents,” said Haller. The classes focus on safety, handling, maintenance, and riding etiquette. Online OHV safety education courses are available at

Helmets, having at least a U.S. Department of Transportation approved safety rating for motorized use, are required for all OHV operators and passengers under the age of 18. “Despite the law, we see people riding OHVs without helmets all too often,” said Johnson. “Helmets do save lives and are a must for riders of any age,” she added.

UDOH and State Parks officials recommend the following when enjoying OHVs:
  • Always wear a helmet and other safety gear. Other safety gear includes goggles or face shield, long sleeves, long pants, gloves, and boots that cover the ankles. 
  • Ride a machine that is the right size for you. Children should only ride OHVs that the manufacturer indicates are appropriate for their age. Riding a machine that is too big or too small is a major cause of crashes. Riders should be able to straddle the machine with a slight bend in the knees while both feet are on the footrests. Riders should be able to reach the controls while turning.
  • Always ride in control. Never attempt anything that is beyond your skill level or machine capability.
  • Only carry passengers if an OHV is specifically designed for it. Off-road motorcycles and most ATVs are designed to be ridden by only one person.
  • Don’t drive or ride on an OHV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
For more safety tips, information on trails and riding conditions, and OHV Safety Education classes, contact the Utah Division of State Parks and Recreation OHV Program at 801-538-RIDE or visit

Media Contacts
Jenny Johnson, UDOH
(o) 801-538-9416 (m) 801-298-1569
Chris Haller
Utah State Parks and Recreation
(o) 801-349-0487

Monday, August 1, 2011

UDOH, Partners Set Diabetes Best Practice Guidelines

(Salt Lake City, UT) – The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) recently released Utah Diabetes Practice Recommendations for Adults (UDPR). The provider guidelines were developed as part of a multimillion-dollar health care quality improvement grant awarded to Health Insight of Utah by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Utah received the funding after being selected as a Beacon Community for diabetes prevention and care in 2010.

Diabetes is a serious condition that is increasing dramatically throughout the U.S. And, with new advances in diabetes care, it can be a challenge for providers to stay informed. The DPCP and its partners say the UDPR is a simple but powerful decision-making tool for treating patients.

“Our goal is to help busy providers stay on top of changes in their field,” said Vivian Giles, UDOH Health Program Specialist.  “The guidelines are meant to supplement those authored by the American Diabetes Association and other physician organizations,” she added.

The UDOH conducted a survey to assess health care providers’ knowledge about, and use of, the UDPR. “Unfortunately, only about one-fourth of providers in the state knew that the UDOH had developed the guidelines, “said Giles. “However, doctors and nurses who used the document reported that the UDPR plays an important role in guiding the care they provide.”

The UDOH has partnered with organizations throughout the state to inform health care providers about the new recommendations.  According to Giles, “The bottom line is, we can improve a person’s quality of life if we can help his or her primary care provider stay up-to-date on best practices.”

For example, this edition of the UDPR includes a much-needed section on managing depression in people with diabetes, and new information on vaccine administration.

Project chair Sarah Woolsey, MD, adds, "The recommendations were a group effort, combining the best Utah specialists with primary care providers to make the document very user-friendly, since they do the most care for patients with diabetes."

The UDPR for Adults and three other sections of UDPR can be viewed and downloaded for free at

Media Contact:
Vivian Giles, MPH
Health Program Specialist
Diabetes Prevention and Control Program
(801) 538-7013