Tag: public health

Alcohol and pregnancy: Is it safe to have a little?

alcohol pregnancy evidence single drink

When Alison was pregnant six years ago, she asked her Toronto-based midwife what she thought about her having a drink. Her midwife advised her to avoid alcohol during the first trimester. But after that, one drink at a time, once or twice week, would be okay. She followed the advice. “I really enjoy a glass…

Complacency about road safety hiding a public health crisis

“96 vehicles involved in collision after ‘wall of snow’ hits Highway 400” “Highway 17 Crash Leaves Five Men Dead” “Huge multi-vehicle pile-up injures 100 people near Edmonton.” Every winter, we’re snowed under by headlines like these, on stories of car crashes that seem as inevitable as the season. But it’s not just Old Man Winter…

Does non-celiac gluten sensitivity really exist?

Gluten sensitivity: bread

When Linda Kerr’s son’s growth flatlined, a doctor suggested the teen might benefit from a gluten-free diet. In support, she tried the diet with him. Her son eventually decided he wasn’t going to follow it, but it did have an unexpected effect: after about a month, Kerr herself found her health improved. “I’d been struggling all…

Are food labels more sell than science?

Front-of-package labels

Probiotic ice cream. Antioxidant 7Up. Cupcakes that are “a good source of iron.” Grocery store shelves are lined with products that claim they’re good for you. Some food labels say they’ll help you dodge health conditions – like oatmeal boxes that say “oat fibre helps reduce cholesterol.” Others let shoppers infer the benefits of vitamins or minerals,…

Regulating the ‘wild west’ of e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes have exploded onto the market in recent years and there are multi-billion dollar questions swirling around them. Advocates say that they offer a safe and effective smoking cessation aid while opponents are concerned that they may erode the success of decades of tobacco reduction efforts. E-cigarettes have the appearance of tobacco cigarettes and simulate…

Canadian alcohol pricing research makes waves abroad, not so much at home

Alcohol pricing and public health

Canadian research that shows how alcohol price policies can reduce alcohol-related harm is making waves in the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States—but not yet at home. International attention has far outstripped domestic attention for a surge of public health-related alcohol research coming out of the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of…

“Chronic blindness” to health impact of alcohol policies

Health Impacts of Increased Availability of Alcohol

It’s a political football. Whenever the prospect of privatizing the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is placed on the agenda, the result is a heated and polarized debate. Tax revenues, employment, competition and consumer convenience—these are the concerns that dominate discussion. But when it comes to any changes in alcohol policy, explicit consideration of the health…

Promoting vaccine benefits: public health officials call for a rethink of communication with parents

Promoting vaccine benefits: public health officials call for a rethink of communication with parents

Public health officials must find better ways to communicate with parents about the risks and benefits of childhood vaccination, researchers and public health officials agree. That task is particularly challenging in the absence of a national, or a provincial, vaccine surveillance registry because, to target messages effectively, accurate and timely information about vaccination rates and…

Absence of vaccine registry hampers ability to track vaccine-preventable outbreaks

Absence of vaccine registry hampers ability to track vaccine-preventable outbreaks

The re-emergence of vaccine-preventable illnesses is a major concern for Ontario’s public health officials. Efforts to create a national vaccine registry have stalled. A real time, comprehensive vaccine registry and surveillance system in Ontario may be the best answer to the information deficit. Faced with a measles outbreak at an elementary school, nurse Susan Otten spent…

Should health care workers be required to get the flu vaccine?

flu vaccine

Each year several thousand Canadians die from influenza. Vaccinating health care workers against flu reduces transmission and would protect patients who are most vulnerable.  However, only about 40% of hospital staff in Ontario were vaccinated last winter. Is it time for Ontario to make the flu vaccine mandatory for health care workers? Explaining the influenza…

Are bedbugs a health problem?

Bed Bug

The past ten years have seen a surge of bedbug infestations across North America, with many cities across Canada affected.  Although they do not cause or transmit disease, bedbug infestations are often perceived to be a health problem. An effective and efficient bedbug strategy requires coordination among various sectors, including public health, housing, community and…