KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

full issue

DNA Testing May Prove Key To Employee Wellness Programs

Newtopia, a wellness service company that offers genetic testing to employees, has shown promising results. About 50 percent of participants remain "engaged" a year after starting the program, compared to a national average of 24 percent for wellness efforts. In other public health news, CDC tweaks its HPV vaccination recommendations; American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists updates its philosophy on breastfeeding; and colleges are teaching students how to avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Bloomberg: How Testing Workers' Genes Could Make Office Wellness Programs Work
Aprillia Jeffries is a model success story for her company's efforts at improving the health of its staff. Jeffries, who works at Aetna, has lost 50 pounds and dropped eight dress sizes in the last two and a half years through a program at Aetna run by Newtopia, a company that provides wellness services. She has access to one-on-one coaching and a personalized diet and exercise regimen, but Jeffries, 46, credits her stellar results to a DNA test offered as part of the program. (Greenfield, 2/1)

NPR: CDC Endorses A More Effective HPV Vaccine To Prevent Cancer
The updated childhood immunization schedule, released today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes a couple tweaks to vaccine recommendations for older children and teens. One officially moves the recommendation for the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine a few years earlier for children with a history of sexual abuse and officially recommends the HPV-9 vaccine over other HPV vaccines. Another offers all older teens the option of a meningitis vaccine previously recommended only for high-risk children. (Haelle, 2/1)

The Kansas City Star: American OB-GYNs Are Told To Support Moms Whether They Breastfeed Their Babies Or Not
Julia Willhite felt on edge every time she went to the grocery store to buy formula for her baby, Gretchen. She was afraid of being judged. “I had more than one friend who was in the formula aisle at the store getting formula for their baby when some busybody came up and said, ‘You know, you really shouldn’t be giving them formula. You should be breastfeeding.’ Total strangers who came up to them in the store,” said Willhite, a social worker who lives in Olathe. (Gutierrez, 2/1)

Stateline: Some States Help College Students Avoid Unplanned Pregnancies
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the 11 students in Carol Jussely’s “Essential College Skills” class were talking about sex. Crammed into school chairs and clustered in groups of three or four, they leaned together to confer and then shouted out answers to trivia questions like, “Fact or fiction: You can’t get pregnant from having sex in a hot tub.” Mississippi has among the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the country, and the teens most likely to get pregnant are college-age. So in 2014, the state passed a law that requires public colleges like Hinds Community College here to teach students how to avoid unplanned pregnancies. Arkansas passed a similar law last year. (Quinton, 2/1)

NPR: Researchers Test Microbe Wipe To Promote Babies' Health After C-Sections
Babies get a lot from their mothers. But babies born by cesarean section don't pass through the birth canal and miss out on the benefits from picking up Mom's microbes on the way out. Researchers studying the human microbiome have asked: Could there be a way to fix that? If so, it might help restore the microbes a baby naturally gets that help fight off disease and foster normal development. (Stein, 2/1)

And The New York Times looks at a new eating disorder being called diabulimia, and the cost of a new schizophrenia treatment  —

The New York Times: An Eating Disorder In People With Diabetes
People with Type 1 diabetes, who don’t produce their own insulin, require continuous treatments with the hormone in order to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. When they skip or restrict their insulin, either by failing to take shots or manipulating an insulin pump, it causes sugars — and calories — to spill into the urine, causing rapid weight loss. But the consequences can be fatal. (Rabin, 2/1)

The New York Times: New Plan To Treat Schizophrenia Is Worth Added Cost, Study Says
A new approach to treating early schizophrenia, which includes family counseling, results in improvements in quality of life that make it worth the added expense, researchers reported on Monday. The study, published by the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin, is the first rigorous cost analysis of a federally backed treatment program that more than a dozen states have begun trying. In contrast to traditional outpatient care, which generally provides only services covered by insurance, like drugs and some psychotherapy, the new program offers other forms of support, such as help with jobs and school, as well as family counseling. (Carey, 2/1)

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