Discussions about vaccinations occur regularly within legislatures across the nation. Policymakers aim to protect public health while scrutinizing conflicting information and heeding concerns of constituents, including parents who want options for their children.

The Zika virus garnered global attention when an outbreak began in April of 2015 in Brazil, spreading to 84 countries as of July 2017. But with Zika cases declining overall, the conversation has recently shifted towards a promising discovery made by researchers at Washington University. Researchers have shown in lab and animal experiments that the Zika virus could target and destroy stem cells that drive the growth of glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer that can occur in the brain or spinal cord.

The chair of the Midwestern Legislative Conference, Iowa state Sen. Janet Petersen, is putting a spotlight on healthy birth outcomes in the Midwest, from home visit and safe sleep programs to (sadly, when necessary) child and/or infant death review teams. States can do plenty to help newborns and their parents get a good start to life.

Proceedings of the Medicaid 201 Leadership Policy Academy, Sept. 13-15, 2017

 

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CSG Midwest
As the Midwest’s legislators look for ways to reduce infant mortality, prevent maternal deaths, and improve long-term outcomes for mothers and children, one policy option is to invest in home visiting.
The idea of bringing preventive services and resources to the place where families live has captured more interest, and funding, during this decade.
In 2010, the U.S. Congress created the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, and every year since then, states have received federal dollars to provide home services for vulnerable or at-risk families.

Drug abuse is an ever-growing epidemic in the United States. In a series of research briefs, CSG will examine the effects of drug abuse on the states through incarceration, treatment and the workforce.

A measles outbreak in Minnesota has reached 69 cases total and is costing public health departments thousands of dollars as they try to track, treat and control the spread of this disease. Among the 69 confirmed cases, 65 have been confirmed in people who are unvaccinated. In addition, 66 of the cases occurred in children under 18 as reported by the Minnesota Department of Health.

CSG Midwest
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts in April signed LB 195, also known as “Cheri’s Law,” requiring that women be notified of breast tissue density following mammograms. It had passed the states’ Unicameral Legislature by a vote of 48-0.
The law requires that written notice be given to women if a mammogram reveals heterogeneous or extremely dense breast tissue. Such tissue can make breast cancer more difficult to detect. Under the new law, mammography patients must be told that a finding of dense breast tissue is normal, and that notice is being given to raise awareness and so patients can further discuss risk factors and detection methods with their doctor.
CSG Midwest
Take a look at the longer-term trends in maternal mortality rates, and you see one of the great success stories in modern-day public health: In 1900, for every 1,000 live births, up to nine women were dying of pregnancy-related complications; a century later, that rate had declined by almost 99 percent.
But the story told by more recent data is less clear, and more troubling.
According to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths increased between 1987 and 2013 — from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births to 17.3 in 2013. Better reporting (for example, the addition of a pregnancy check box on state death certificates) is one explanation for the increase. Another reason, though, may be that pregnancy-related deaths are actually on the rise. The CDC notes, for example, that more pregnant women have conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and chronic heart disease that may put them at a higher risk of complications. 
CSG Midwest
On March 10, Ohio became the first Midwestern state (and the second overall, behind New Jersey) to begin providing a safe place for newborns to sleep by offering “baby boxes” to all new parents.

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