Health Topics of the Month

October Awareness Activities

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Getting mammograms regularly can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that if you are 50 to 74 years old, be sure to have a screening mammogram every two years. If you are 40 to 49 years old, talk to your doctor about when to start and how often to get a screening mammogram.

Many factors over the course of a lifetime can influence your breast cancer risk. You can’t change some factors, such as getting older or your family history, but you can help lower your risk of breast cancer by taking care of your health in the following ways: 

  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks to no more than one per day.
  • If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
  • Breastfeed your children, if possible.
  • If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
  • Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer, and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs.

Get free guides about breast cancer and breast health here: Free Educational Guides (National Breast Cancer Foundation)

SIDS Awareness Month 

October is SIDS Awareness Month. Sudden unexpected infant death (SUID) is the sudden and unexpected death of an infant less than 1 year old without an obvious cause of death before investigation. Despite decreases in rates of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths, more than one-third of sudden unexpected infant deaths that occur in the United States each year are from SIDS. Research also shows that unsafe sleep areas, such as those that include non-fitted sheets, blankets, or stuffed toys, remain a leading cause of infant death.

Health care providers and researchers don’t know the exact causes of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, research shows parents and caregivers can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths by doing the following:

  • Place your baby on his or her back for all sleep times
  • Use a firm, flat sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet.
  • Keep your baby’s sleep area (for example, a crib or bassinet) in the same room where you sleep until your baby is at least 6 months old, or ideally, until your baby is one year old.
  • Keep soft bedding such as blankets, pillows, bumper pads, and soft toys out of your baby’s sleep area.
  • Do not cover your baby’s head or allow your baby to get too hot. Signs your baby may be getting too hot include sweating or his or her chest feels hot.

SIDS is sometimes called "crib death" or "cot death" because it is associated with the timeframe when the baby is sleeping. Cribs themselves don't cause SIDS, but the baby's sleep environment can influence sleep-related causes of death. 

In addition to the recommendations listed above, other recommendations from the AAP to reduce the risk of SIDS include:

  • Do not smoke during pregnancy, and do not smoke or allow smoking around your baby. For help quitting, see How to Quit Smoking.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use illegal drugs during pregnancy.
  • Breastfeed your baby.
  • Visit your baby’s health care provider for regular checkups. Your baby will receive important shots to prevent disease.
  • Offer your baby a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may want to wait to use a pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established.

For more information visit: 

What Does a Safe Sleep Environment Look Like? (NIH Safe to Sleep Campaign)

SIDS - Information for Parents and Caregivers (CDC)


Infection Prevention Week - October 17-23

COVID-19 continues to show the world what we’ve always known—infection preventionists (IPs) play a crucial role in keeping our neighborhoods safe and healthy. In addition to fighting a global pandemic, the infection prevention and control community is protecting us from surges in healthcare-associated infections, measles outbreaks, flu season, and so many other day-to-day infectious battles. 

International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), established in 1986, aims to shine a light on infection prevention each and every year. This year’s theme is “The Future is Infection Prevention: 50 Years of Infection Prevention” —highlights the decades of infection prevention throughout APIC’s 50 years and inspire the next generation of IPs to join the fight

Each of us—patients, families, and healthcare personnel—has an important role to play in keeping patients safe from infection. First and foremost, know the basics of infection prevention. Do your part—and hand hygiene is key! Whether you’re in a healthcare facility or in the community, there are things healthcare professionals, patients, and family members can do to stay safe from infections. 

Know the top ways patients and families can prevent infection:

  • Speak up for your care. The best way to stay healthy while visiting the hospital is to speak up for your care. Don’t be shy. After all, we’re talking about your health. Your doctors, your nurses, and other members of your care team want you to have a voice in your care.
  • Clean your hands often. Keeping your hands clean is the number one way to prevent the spread of infection. Clean your hands after using the bathroom; after sneezing, blowing your nose, or coughing; before eating; when visiting someone who is sick; or whenever your hands are dirty.
  • Ask about safe injection practices. Safe injection practices are steps that your healthcare providers should follow when they give injections. For example, not using the same needle or syringe on more than one patient.
  • Ask to have your room cleaned. Keeping healthcare facilities clean is extremely important. It’s very easy for germs to be passed from the surfaces to the hands and to other people.
  • Ask questions about your medications. Know what they are for, how to take them, how long you should take them, and how often you should take them. If you are taking antibiotics, take them exactly as prescribed, even if you start to feel better.
  • Ask about vaccinations so you stay healthy.
  • Recognize an infection preventionist. These germ sleuths work every day to protect you. Your safety is their #1 priority. They strive to keep you, visitors, volunteers, employees, and healthcare providers safe from infection.
  • Learn about healthcare-associated infections. Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) are infections that patients can get while receiving treatment for medical or surgical conditions. No matter where you are—in a hospital, a long-term care facility, outpatient surgery center, dialysis center, doctor’s office, or elsewhere—you are at risk for infections.

 

Red Ribbon Week - October 23-31

The Red Ribbon Campaign® is the oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation, reaching millions of young people each year. It is a way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs. Show your personal commitment to a drug-free lifestyle through the symbol of the Red Ribbon, October 23 – 31. 

The Red Ribbon Campaign® was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered DEA agent Kiki Camarena in 1985. This began the continuing tradition of displaying Red Ribbons as a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign® is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a DRUG - FREE AMERICA. Red Ribbon is designed to get people talking with other people and working on activities that will help rebuild a sense of community and common purpose.

This year’s theme is Celebrate Life. Live Drug Free.™ Created by Emily King, Chelsea Abbott, and Celise Wicker, 7th graders at Wayland-Cohocton Middle School in Wayland, New York, the theme is a reminder that everyday Americans across the country make significant daily contributions to their communities by being the best they can be because they live Drug-Free!

Learn more at https://www.redribbon.org.

 

Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (October 23-29)

About 3.3 million American households, including 2.1 million low-income households, have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. Even relatively low levels of lead exposure can impair a child’s cognitive development. Children with blood lead levels can experience delayed growth and development, damage to the brain and nervous system, learning and behavior problems, and a host of other health-related problems. There is no safe blood lead level in children. 

Lead can be found inside and outside the home, including in the water that travels through lead pipes or in the soil around the house. However, the most common source of exposure for children is from lead-based paint, which was used in many homes built before 1978. Adults and children can get lead into their bodies by breathing in lead dust (especially during activities such as renovations, repairs, or painting) or by swallowing lead dust that settles in food, food preparation surfaces, floors, window sills, eating paint chips, soil that contains lead, or other places. 

Children can also become exposed to lead dust from adults’ jobs or hobbies and from some metal toys or toys painted with lead-based paint. Children are not exposed equally to lead, nor suffer its consequences in the same way. These disparities unduly burden minority families and low-income families and their communities.

National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The goal is to encourage organized, local community events, and empower families and other stakeholders to take action.

The themes of this year’s National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week (NLPPW) are:

  1. Get the Facts
  2. Get Your Home Tested
  3. Get Your Child Tested

Learn more about what you can do at https://nashuanh.gov/1271/Lead-Program and CDC’s Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention page.