Facing Lawmaker Pressure, Facebook Plans Changes To Protect Young Users
Politico reports on Facebook's meek response after congressional pressure last week, with upcoming protections for Instagram that include content blocking and encouraging breaks. Meanwhile, reports say depression and anxieties have risen globally by over 25% during 2020.
Facebook Exec Offers A Plan, Klobuchar Wants 'Action'
Addressing a whistleblower's warning that users should not trust Facebook, the company is working on several changes in the way Instagram affects its younger users, one of Facebook's top executives said Sunday. In addition to current tools like hiding specific words, blocking specific people and automatically prompting users away from harmful material — like content related to eating disorders — Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs and communications, said Instagram plans to introduce controls for parents to supervise what their teens view, “nudge” teens away from content that “may not be conducive to their well-being” and encourage users to “take a break” periodically while using the app. (Farrow, 10/10)
In other public health news —
Rates Of Depression And Anxiety Climbed Across The Globe In 2020
Rates of depression and anxiety climbed globally by more than 25% in 2020, a devastating ripple effect of the Covid-19 pandemic that has particularly affected women and young people, according to a new study. “We knew Covid would have an impact on these mental disorders, we just didn’t know how big the impact was going to be,” said Alize Ferrari, a lead researcher at the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research in Australia and co-author of the study, published Friday in the Lancet. (Gaffney, 10/8)
Exercise Lowers The Risk Of Breast Cancer, Studies Show
Exercise is well-known to benefit a person's physical and mental well-being, and research also suggests exercise may lower the risk of developing breast cancer. According to the Cleveland Clinic, one study demonstrated that increasing exercise and decreasing body fat lowered the risk of breast cancer for postmenopausal women. The findings, published in JAMA Oncology in 2015, involved a 12-month long randomized trial, and ultimately found that 300 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous exercise was more effective than 150 minutes per week in reducing total fat among postmenopausal women. (Lencki, 10/9)
Cases Of West Nile Virus Have Been Confirmed In Collier County
The Florida Department of Health in Collier County has issued a mosquito-borne illness alert after confirming three cases of West Nile virus Thursday. Health officials are concerned that additional residents may become ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most people infected with West Nile virus don't develop symptoms, but symptoms of severe illness can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, and muscle weakness. Residents are advised to "drain and cover" to protect themselves from mosquitos. (10/8)
Health Officials Report A Measles Case At Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia, But No Threat To Public
Health officials said Friday that people recently inside Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia may have been exposed to measles, but the exposure was limited to the hospital and there was no outside threat to the public. The people with possible exposure were receiving notifications, officials said. No further details about the measles case were provided. “We believe there is no threat to the public associated with this case of measles,” acting Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said in a statement. (Moran, 10/9)
Increase In Accidental Burns Seen For Kids At Home During Pandemic
A new study shows that accidental burn injuries among children increased during the coronavirus pandemic compared to 2019. According to Dr. Christina Georgeades, a pediatric surgery research fellow at Children's Wisconsin, stay-at-home orders "created a new dynamic between their social environment." "Understanding specific factors that contributed will be key in minimizing the risk of future burn injuries as we continue to navigate the pandemic environment," Georgeades said in an American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study. U.S. News reports that most burns occurred with unsupervised children. The study shows that fireworks share some of the blame too. (Jones, 10/9)
Pandemic Has Exacerbated "Diaper Need" In The U.S.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, one in three families in the U.S. struggled to afford to buy enough diapers for their young children. But while "diaper need," as it's referred to, has long been a condition of living in poverty, it has become even more pervasive over the course of the pandemic, according to the National Diaper Bank Network (NBDN), a coalition of 240 member diaper banks — sites that distribute diapers to community organizations — across the U.S. "The issue of diaper need has existed for a long time," Joanne Goldblum, chief executive of NDBN, told CBS MoneyWatch. "But during COVID, some of our member diaper banks have seen upward of a 500% increase in people asking for product." (Cerullo, 10/8)
EPA Closer To Unveiling Plan For Tackling 'Forever Chemicals'
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will soon unveil a plan to address what it sees as “inadequate” regulations on a class of toxic chemicals that disproportionately affects vulnerable groups, according to documents obtained by The Hill. The agency’s forthcoming effort to crack down on the chemicals called PFAS, which have been linked to health problems such as kidney and testicular cancer, were previewed in a slideshow recently obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. (Frazin, 10/10)