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Supplement Facts table, highlighting 100% Daily Value of Folic Acid

Of Interest: National Folic Acid Awareness Week

January 5—11 is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. Folic Acid is a B vitamin used by our bodies to make new cells. Everyone needs folic acid but it is particularly important for women who may become pregnant. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before she is pregnant, it can help prevent major birth defects of her baby's brain and spine.

Learn more about how much folic acid women should have every day and get answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on folic acid.

Happy New Year

Of Interest: Happy New Year

The beginning of 2009 is the perfect time for you to make resolutions for a healthy new year.  Small changes can make a very big difference.  Get active and eat right!  Just taking a few extra steps a day can make a big difference. 

Commit to eating right, exercising, getting a good night’s sleep and enjoying a healthy lifestyle.  If you’re a smoker, make this the year you quit smoking.  Find a resolution friend and encourage each other to keep your resolution.  Have a happy healthy New Year!

Holiday food

Of Interest: Healthy Holidays

The holidays are a time to celebrate, give thanks, and reflect. They also are a time to pay close attention to your eating habits. One of the best ways to avoid weight gain during the holidays is to take the extra calories out of cooking. This means being smart when you shop and when you cook.

Read SAMHSA's Healthy Holiday Eating Tips or listen to CDC's podcast on Healthy Holidays for more information on making smart choices this holiday season.

winter weather scene

Of Interest: Stay Warm and Safe

Staying warm and safe can be a challenge when temperatures drop. You can meet the challenge head-on if you plan ahead for the cold weather by preparing your home and your car, and stocking up on emergency supplies. Also, keep in mind that in extremely cold temperatures, winter storms can cause both indoor and outdoor hazards.

Check out CDC's winter weather tips for more information on how you can protect yourself and others.

Don't get the flu.  Don't spread the flu. Get Vaccinated.

Of Interest: Protect Yourself from the Flu

Fever, headache, extreme tiredness, sore throat, dry cough, runny nose, and muscle aches are all symptoms of the seasonal flu. Five to 20% of Americans get sick with the flu each year. You can reduce your chance of getting the flu by practicing good health habits and getting the flu vaccine. Find a flu clinic near you and get vaccinated. The flu shot is a vaccine containing inactivated flu viruses. Within two weeks of getting the vaccine, you develop antibodies that may protect you from getting the flu. Wash your hands, cover your cough, and practice good health habits throughout the year to stay healthy!

world aids day

Of Interest: World AIDS Day

Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day. Looking for ways to get involved in this important day? Visit

In the United States, an estimated 1 million people are living with HIV. A new CDC study on HIV Incidence found an estimated 56,300 new HIV infections occurred in 2006. You can help stop the AIDS epidemic. Get tested for HIV, help end the stigma of AIDS and educate others about effective AIDS prevention. This World Aids Day wear your red ribbon and get involved!

a photo of a crushed cigarette

Of Interest: Stop Smoking

Fewer and fewer adult Americans are smoking each year. Quitting smoking can save your life. Smoking causes at least 30 percent of all cancer deaths and is responsible for early cardiovascular disease and death.

On November 20, join with millions of other smokers to take part in the Great American Smokeout and say "no" to tobacco for 24 hours. 70 percent of US smokers say they want to quit, and smoking cessation has substantial and immediate health benefits. Just 20 minutes after you quit smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drops and after a year your excessive risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smokers. 15 years after you quit smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smokers. Stop smoking today!

parent checking child's blood glucose level

Of Interest: November is National Diabetes Month

Someone you know probably has diabetes. 23.6 million Americans have diabetes and 5.7 million of these people don't know they have it. An estimated 57 million people have pre-diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to use sugar properly for growth and energy. The body gets sugar when it changes food into glucose (a form of sugar). A hormone called insulin is needed for the glucose to be taken up and used by the body. In other words, people with diabetes have defects in insulin production, action or both. It's important to work with a doctor to stay healthy and effectively manage your diabetes.

Good news! If you are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, you can cut your risk of getting diabetes by making some minor lifestyle changes. Stay active and try to get 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Aim for a healthy weight and try to lose 5 to 7 percent of your body weight.

the kids with pumpkins

Of Interest: Fall Fun Outdoors

Autumn is a wonderful time for you to safely enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise with family and friends. It's a great season for picking apples and pumpkins, going for a hike, or biking. Be sure to bring appropriate clothing and protective gear like sturdy, comfortable shoes for hiking and helmets for biking.

If you are having a picnic, always pack plenty of clean water and healthy snacks. Pick healthy choices like seasonal fruits and vegetables such as apples, figs, and persimmons. Separate raw and cooked food and keep food in waterproof containers stored at the proper temperature. Go outside and enjoy the fall weather!

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans logo

Of Interest: Get Moving!

Safe physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Even a little exercise may provide substantial health benefits. Of course, the more physically active you are, the more benefits you will reap. The new science-based Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that children and adolescents stay physically active for at least an hour every day. Adults should participate in at least two and one half hours of moderate aerobic physical activity or an hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity each week.

image of mold on a surface

Of Interest: Prevent Mold

Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions. After a flood, moisture and standing water often leads to mold growth on both seen and hidden surfaces. Mold may cause stuffy nose, eye irritation, skin irritation, or wheezing. People with a compromised immune system may have an increased risk of developing mold infections in their lungs.

To prevent mold growth, clean and dry out buildings quickly and carefully use soap or bleach solution to remove any mold that appears. Remove any porous items like carpet and upholstery that can’t be thoroughly dried and cleaned. Learn more about mold.

September is National Preparedness Month

Of Interest: Prepare Your Family Now!

If disaster strikes, are you and your family prepared? If not, then take the steps to prepare your home and business for emergencies. You will greatly increase your family's chance of survival by being informed, being ready with a plan and creating an emergency kit.

Emergency Preparedness and You

"Whether it's tackling diseases that don't know borders, or ensuring the safety of products that cross our borders, we must work together. No nation can afford to go it alone."
-Secretary Leavitt

Of Interest: Global Health Diplomacy and Product Safety

Secretary Leavitt and senior HHS officials met with European Ministers of Health to discuss global health diplomacy and product safety. During his visit, Leavitt emphasized the importance of global collaboration and cooperation particularly in handing pandemic preparedness and import safety. He also toured a vaccine-production facility and attended the opening of a global partnership exposition on malaria.

Read Secretary Leavitt's remarks to the European Union Health Minister Forum

Learn more about global health diplomacy

Reduce Cholesterol logo

Of Interest: Cholesterol

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high. It's also a good time to learn about lipid profiles and about food and lifestyle choices that help you reach personal cholesterol goals.

Over 65 million Americans have high cholesterol levels! When there is too much cholesterol (a fat-like substance) in your blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. The build up of cholesterol in your blood causes artery walls to narrow and become inflexible and blood flow to the heart is slowed down or blocked. If enough blood and oxygen cannot reach your heart, you may suffer chest pain from the blockage. The result can be a heart attack.

Family Guide Logo

Of Interest: Going Back to School

As the days of summer wind down, kids are heading back to school. For parents, teachers, and caregivers, the start of the school year is often exciting, but it can be difficult for kids of all ages. Peer pressure, bullying, and social anxieties can take their toll on kids in hallways and classrooms. Practical information is available for you as your child moves from basking in the summer sun to zippering up a backpack. Whether kids are starting second grade or senior year, resources are available to keep them mentally healthy and drug free.

Check out the Back to School section of SAMHSA's "Family Guide" for ways to make the best out of school time for your children.

Picture of whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat baked goods

Of Interest: Whole Grain Goodness

Whole grains are often overlooked. In fact, surveys indicate that the majority of Americans are lucky if they consume even one serving of whole grains a day. Start making whole grains a part of your balanced diet because they are an important part of your digestive health and may reduce the risk of some cancers and chronic diseases.

Next time you make a sandwich for lunch or cook pasta for dinner, experiment a little. Use whole wheat bread or pasta instead of the traditional white stuff we've all grown used to eating.

Childhood Immunization Schedule for children 6 years of age and younger

Of Interest: It's Back to School Time!

Many schools require that your child's immunizations be up-to-date before they begin the school year. Make sure your child is ready for school--check the Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedule.

You can also get a personalized immunization schedule based on your child's date of birth. Use the Instant Childhood Immunization Scheduler to print this handy chart of what age to get which vaccine, for what disease, and the exact recommended vaccination date. There's even room to record the date when the vaccination was received.

Poison ivy plant

Of Interest: Poison Ivy

Do you enjoy the outdoors when the weather is warm? If so, be sure to watch out for this three-leafed monster. The oily sap from the poison ivy plant comes from the plant's stems, leaves and fruit. If you come into contact with the plant, a blistering skin rash may form. Depending on how much sap you get on your skin and the sensitivity of your skin, the rash can range from mild to severe.

The best way to avoid the rash is to learn what the plants look like and stay away from them. If you come into contact with the plants, wash your skin and clothing right away. If you develop a rash, question your pharmacist or doctor on how the rash should be treated.

Two children wearing protective eyewear

Of Interest: Children's Eye Safety

Eye injuries are the leading cause of blindness in children in the United States, and most injuries occurring in school-aged children are sports-related. These injuries account for an estimated 100,000 physician visits per year at a cost of more than $175 million.

All children who play sports should use protective eyewear. Protective eyewear is made of ultra-strong polycarbonate, which is 10 times more impact resistant than other plastics. This material does not reduce vision. Student athletes who have vision in only one eye or a history of eye injury or eye surgery should especially use protective eyewear.

Satellite picture of hurricane Dolly

Of Interest: Hurricane Awareness

A hurricane is a severe tropical cyclone with wind speeds that can exceed 155 mph. Hurricanes are classified into five categories based on their wind speed, central pressure, and damage potential. The catastrophic damage that hurricanes can cause will affect coastlines, as well as hundreds of miles inland. The high winds and heavy rains can not only destroy buildings, roads, and bridges, but also they can knock down power lines and trees. In coastal areas, very high tides called storm surges cause extensive damage, as well.

Although there are no guarantees of safety during a hurricane, you should take actions to protect yourself by mapping out a disaster plan. Be aware of new safety issues created by the severe weather such as washed out roads, contaminated buildings, contaminated water, gas leaks, and damaged electrical wiring.

Of Interest: Aphasia Awareness Month

Aphasia is a symptom of brain damage caused by damage to the portions of the brain that are responsible for language. This symptom can result from a brain tumor, infection, head injury, or dementia that damages the brain. Aphasia is most common in adults who have suffered a stroke.

Aphasia can be divided into four broad categories: expressive, receptive, anomic or amnesia, and global. Treating aphasia requires rehabilitation with a speech pathologist, although in some instances people have recovered with little or no treatment.

Rip current in ocean

Of Interest: Rip Currents

Rip Currents don’t pull you under the water — they pull you away from the shore. This is a common misconception, but the risks are still high. Every year in the United States over 100 people are reported from drowning due to rip currents. If you are caught in one, never swim against the rip current; swim parallel to the shore.

Take precautions! Never swim alone, make sure a lifeguard is around, and stay away from piers and jetties where rip currents are known to form. Do not test the ocean; rip currents can drag even the strongest swimmers out to sea.

Skeletal muscle

Of Interest: Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a disease characterized by varying degrees of weakness of the skeletal muscles of the body. Sometimes, muscles that control eye movements, facial expressions, chewing, talking and swallowing become very weak. Other muscles affected may be those that control breathing or neck and limb movements.

This disease is not directly inherited nor is it contagious. MG most commonly affects young adult women and older men, but it can occur at any age. MG can be controlled, and there are many therapies available to help reduce muscle weakness.

Man eating a bowl of fruit

Of Interest: Men's Health Week

The life-expectancy gap between men and women has shrunk to 5.2 years, the narrowest since 1946! Although the gap is sliming, men's health is still a major issue. Men tend to lead far less healthy lifestyles than women for several different reasons. When problems do arise, their "tough-guy" image sometimes keeps them from seeking medical help.

Many of the major health issues that men are faced with can be prevented and treated if they are diagnosed early. Staying healthy at any age is possible if you get into a routine of healthy activities and regular medical checkups.

cruise ship

Of Interest: Cruise with Confidence

All Aboard! Setting sail on a luxury liner is a common vacation getaway for travelers. Their opulence, however, comes with tight surroundings. Cruises put you in close quarters with a high volume of vacationers which enables illness to spread easier. Although infrequent, there is always a possibility that person-to-person contact and contaminated food or water could make you sick.

Before boarding, know the tricks of the trade for keeping you and your family healthy. Wash your hands and keep hands away from your face. Ask the cruise line for alternative options if you’re sick prior to embarking.
Learn more cruise tips>>

Family riding bicycles while wearing helmets

Of Interest: Bicycle Blunders

Helmets are not optional. Make sure your child wears a helmet when he/she is riding their bike no matter how nerdy they think it looks. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of a brain injury by 88%.

If you wear a helmet your child is more likely to wear one too. Each year some 140,000 children are treated for head injuries in emergency rooms from bicycle accidents. Be a role model-wear a helmet.

Learn More>>

Woman sleeping on subway

Of Interest: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Researchers recently launched the most comprehensive population-based clinical study ever of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), a condition characterized by fatigue, memory problems, and pain.

Experts estimate that between one and four million people in the U.S. may suffer from CFS. Unfortunately, an estimated one in five CFS sufferers haven't been diagnosed, which is troubling since early treatment may improve rates of recovery.

Learn About CFS>>

Nursing baby

Of Interest: Breastfeeding

More than three out of four new moms are nursing their infants, the highest rate in years, according to a CDC report.

The benefits and advantages of breastfeeding are well-established: Mother's milk helps protect infants against infection, it's less expensive than formula, and it's good for mom, since nursing burns calories and lowers the risk of certain cancers. If you want to know more about breastfeeding, call 1-800-994-9662 or visit our breastfeeding page.

Healthcare provider vaccinating a baby in woman's arms

Of Interest: Love, Protect, Immunize

Shots aren't fun, but immunization is one of the most effective ways parents can protect their infants and children from potentially serious diseases. Today, we can protect children younger than 2 years old from 14 serious diseases, including polio, measles and influenza.

Find out if your child is due for a vaccination. If he or she needs shots, call their healthcare provider or your local health department to make an immunization appointment.

Graphic treatment of active kids and family enjoying picnic.

Of Interest: A Movement for Movement

There’s no shortage of obstacles to keeping kids fit and active: TV, gaming, obsessing over web personas at the computer. They’re all sedentary and share a role in kids’ health problems like obesity.

To fight back, an NIH program called We Can (Ways to Enhance Children's Activity & Nutrition) offers families tips to encourage healthy eating and increase physical activity in kids 8-13. The campaign is promoting Turnoff Week April 21-27 to reduce screen time and get children up and moving.

Family at picnic table

Of Interest: Picnic Safety

Get out your picnic baskets and head to the park-spring is in full bloom! As the weather gets warmer, you'll want to be outside with friends and family for a barbecue or picnic. Keep it fun, but keep it clean. Not properly cooking and storing food could make you sick.

Make sure your hands and utensils are clean, keep hot foods at or above 140°F and cold foods at or below 40°F, and always cook food thoroughly. A healthy picnic is a happy picnic.

Learn More>>

Dairy products milk, cheese, butter, ice cream

Of Interest: Got Lactase?

Does your stomach churn after drinking milk? You may be like 30-50 million other Americans who are lactose intolerant. In short, their bodies don't have enough of an enzyme called lactase to digest a natural sugar in dairy products called lactose.

"For most people with lactase deficiency, it's a discomfort," said an FDA official. Symptoms may include gas, cramps, bloating. For sufferers, the best treatment is managing diet. Look for the "lactose-free" label.

Learn More>>

World TB Day March 24 – Partnerships for World TB Elimination

Of Interest: World TB Day

Get off your seat and do something - March 24 is World TB Day! In 2005 more than 14,000 cases of TB were reported even after increased funding. The disease is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. You are at risk if someone with TB of the throat or lung coughs, talks or sneezes near you.

TB won't go away on its own. Join together on World TB Day to help educate our communities and help raise money. By taking action today, we can help achieve a TB-free tomorrow.

Learn More>>

Blurred image of products used as inhalants

Of Interest: Kids, This Breath Could Be Your Last

Kids as young as 12 bent on experimenting with drugs are turning to easy-to-find inhalants to get high. Common household products like glue, gas and spray paint are more often abused by 12 and 13-year-olds than marijuana or painkillers, a new report shows.

Youngsters "sniff" or "huff" the substances, largely unaware that that a single session can kill them. Some 1.1 million adolescents used inhalants in the year of the study, more than half of them for the first time.

Learn More>>
Facts About Inhalants>>

Boy drinking glass of milk

Of Interest: Boning Up on Calcium

Kids are keenly tuned in to the benefits of building firm foundations. They care for and feed their social networks as though their lives depend upon on it. It's a good lesson. A strong network provides firm footing.

If only kids put as much effort into their own foundations-their bones-because the quality of their lives may depend upon it. Most aren't getting enough calcium during the critical bone-building time between ages 11 and 15.

Learn More>>

Group of young boys walking along the street

Of Interest: The Choking Game

Some older children and adolescents are playing a deadly game. Using a noose or at the hands of friends, kids are choking to the point of passing out for a brief high that may accompany oxygen deprivation.

At least 82 kids have died playing the choking game, which has many names. Most victims were boys who died alone. Know the risks and warning signs.

Learn More>>

Dog and cat seated near bowl of pet food

Of Interest: Pet Food Safety

FDA recently announced federal indictments in a scheme to import pet food products into the U.S. that were contaminated with melamine. The tainted food sickened and killed cats and dogs last year and led to a major pet food recall.

FDA compiled a list of the product recalls, which can be searched by brand name, description, container type and UPC code.

Learn More>>

National Donor Day logo

Of Interest: Organ Donation

Leave a legacy. If you're healthy, you have the potential to save eight lives and enhance many more by becoming an organ, eye and tissue donor.

Nearly 100,000 Americans are in need of healthy organs-more than three times the number of transplants performed last year. Learn how to become a donor and read the personal accounts of recipients who were given a second chance at life.

Learn More>>

Woman preparing to put contact lens in eye

Of Interest: Seeing Contacts Clearly

There's a reason some 30 million Americans use contact lenses. They're easy, convenient and let you shed your glasses. They also help with a number of problems, real (nearsightedness), and perceived (narcissism). But contacts also present potential risks.

Learn about the different types of contacts, which are regulated by FDA, and read our tips for buying contacts, caring for them and avoiding problems.

Learn More>>

FDA-approved Home Access System HIV test kit

Of Interest: HIV Home Test Kits

Privacy is one of the main reasons people choose in-home, do-it-yourself kits to screen for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Unfortunately, many of the kits marketed to the public make dubious, if not illegal, claims of FDA approval and promises to deliver results in 15 minutes or less.

There is only one FDA-approved product legally sold in the U.S. as a "home" testing system for HIV.

Learn More>>

CDC building in Atlanta

Of Interest: Mysterious Skin Condition

The unexplained skin condition sounds like a scene in a B movie or sci-fi mystery. Sufferers report creepy-crawly and stinging sensations under their skin and the emergence there of tiny threads or fibers. Some also report fatigue and confusion.

Responding to a growing number of inquiries, CDC recently announced an investigation to learn more about the condition some refer to as "Morgellons."

Learn More>>
Frequently Asked Questions>>

Cough syrup

Of Interest: Kids and Cold Products

Infants and children under 2 should NOT be given over-the-counter cough and cold products. Serious side effects can occur. Meanwhile, parents of kids ages 2-11 should follow these guidelines when using cold medicines:

  • Follow dosing directions on the label,
  • Understand the medicine will NOT shorten or cure a cold,
  • Check the "Drug Facts" label,
  • Use only measuring spoons or cups that come with the medicine.

Learn More>>

X-Ray of knees with osteoarthritis

Of Interest: 'Smurfs' and Joint Problems

You may remember Smurfs as the friendly blue cartoon characters from the 1980s. But to osteoarthritis researchers the term conjures images of painful, degenerating joints.

They believe an enzyme called Smurf2 may hold clues to the development of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. The enzyme controls whether cartilage cells calcify into bone-perhaps from injury-withering the cushiony soft cartilage. The discovery may help prevent a condition that affects 21 million Americans.

Learn More>>

Cover page of Q&A with Director of FDA's Division of Metabolic and Endocrine Drug Products about thyroid dysfunction

Of Interest: Thyroid Medications

What is thyroid dysfunction? How can it affect the body? What types of medications are approved for treatment and how do patients know they are getting the right dose?

January is Thyroid Awareness Month. The director of FDA's Division of Metabolic and Endocrine Drug Products answers questions about the gland that affects the body's ability to regulate metabolism.

Learn More>>

Video screen grab from SAMHSA Web site

Of Interest: Mental Illness Myths

Mental illnesses are common and also widely misunderstood. The truth is mental illness can happen to anybody. Arm yourself with the facts to help educate others and to reach out to those around you with mental illness.

Learn about the different kinds of mental illnesses, read real-life stories about support and recovery and interact with a video to see how friends can make all the difference.

Learn More>>

Red ribbon

Of Interest: Common spermicide does NOT protect against HIV/AIDS, STDs

Contraceptive foams, gels and other over-the-counter contraceptives containing a common spermicide will carry new warnings on their packaging to make it clear that the chemical nonoxynol 9 (N9) does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.

The FDA issued the ruling to correct misconceptions that the N9 contraceptive chemical protects against disease.

Read the Warning>>
AIDS/HIV Information>>

Tattoo Safety promotional ad

Of Interest: Are Tattoos Safe?

As the popularity of tattoos grows, so do concerns about potential risks. The threat of infections through the use of unsterilized needles has long been known. But what isn't clear is the safety of tattoo inks.

Recent reports associated with permanent make-up inks have prompted the FDA to see what's beneath the surface.

Learn More>>

Woman with headache

Of Interest: In Your Head

Anyone who gets migraines knows they're not run-of-the-mill headaches. The intense pulsing. The sensitivity to light and sound. The nausea. It's a condition that affects women more than men but is equally debilitating.

Treatments include drug therapies and also changes in behavior, since stress, diet and sleep are among the triggers. Use our resources to learn more.

What is a Migraine?>>
Migraine Q&A>>

Baby crawling

Of Interest: Learning About Autism

There is no medical test for autism, a variety of behavioral disorders that can begin before age 3 and last a lifetime. Doctors look at behavioral symptoms and rely on specific indicators (babbling, talking, pointing) to help shape diagnoses.

To help you learn more about autism, we've assembled information on research and treatment programs and resources for families.

Autism Information>>

Hand holding prescription drugs

Of Interest: Your Medicare Benefits

If you receive Medicare benefits, now is the time to review your plan to make sure you get the most out of it.

Some questions to ask: Does your current plan provide the medical and prescription benefits you need? Will the plan change in 2008? Are there better alternatives? The six-week enrollment period ends Dec. 31.

Open Enrollment Center>>
Find and Compare Plans>>
Medicare Resources>>

Old advertisement for snake oil medication

Of Interest: Bad Medicine

The online ads are hard to miss: "Get Prescription Drugs Fast! Absolutely Safe! No Doctor Needed!" The pitches are reminiscent of snake oil sales—cheap cures for whatever ails you.

More consumers are buying risky drugs online. Some are trying to save money, but many are turning to the Web to avoid the need for a doctor's prescription. That's a risky practice. And the promised remedies may not deliver.

Read About It>>
How to Evaluate Health Sites>>

Health IT image

Of Interest: Technology and Your Health

Remember the last time you filled a prescription? You probably carried a handwritten script to the drug counter where your pharmacist deciphered the contents. Then maybe you wondered: Did the harried physician remember my allergies, or my other medications? Could the pharmacist read the writing?

A plan is afoot to allay those anxieties—and also reduce errors and paperwork—by creating a national system of electronic health records. In digitized form, your portable records follow you—to the hospital, doctor, pharmacist—whenever and wherever you need them.

Learn More>>
HHS Announces Incentives for Electronic Health Records>>

Donut, cheeseburger, cupcake, and French fries

Of Interest: Junk Food in Schools

Is junk food on the way out? The proliferation of junk food—sodas, French fries, cakes and other high-fat baked goods—at U.S. schools may soon be history. Pressed by states to foster healthier learning environments, school systems are balancing their diets. Increasingly, vending machines are turning out water bottles instead of soda cans. Salads have cropped up on more a la carte menus, replacing deep-fried potatoes.

Of course there's room for improvement—salty snacks and soda still dominate snack choices, and one in five schools does not require physical education to help burn off all that energy.

Read About It>>
State-by-State Restrictions>>
Background on School Health Survey>>

Flu vaccine administered through a syringe

Of Interest: Who Gets Vaccinated First in a Flu Pandemic?

What if a flu pandemic appears imminent, and there is not enough vaccine to initially protect everyone? Who gets protected first? Everyone hopes this never happens, but if it should, we need to be prepared.

Your input is sought on a plan that will determine how a limited supply of vaccine is distributed at the beginning of a worldwide flu epidemic, or pandemic. The guidance document, which is still a draft, establishes which individuals or groups should be given priority—first-responders, medical personnel, civic leaders, children, the elderly. The public comment period is open for 60 days.

Read the Draft Plan>>
More Information on>>

Boils from MRSA infection

Of Interest: Drug-Resistant Staph Infections

The recent death of a student caused by the drug-resistant bacteria Methicillin-resistant staph aureus, or MRSA, is drawing renewed attention to this particularly virulent strain of staph. Careful attention to personal hygiene is key to avoiding MRSA infections. Wash your hands frequently, cover all wounds with a clean bandage, and if you share sporting equipment, clean it first with antiseptic solution.

MRSA Fact Sheet>>
Causes, Symptoms & Treatments>>

Boy running

Of Interest: A Heavyweight Fight

It's no secret the past two decades have seen a dramatic rise in overweight children. But the phenomenon isn't rooted in mystery. Kids are simply less active today—and more likely to unwrap fatty meals than to prepare healthy ones.

Sure, kids have plenty of excuses to put off getting fit (lack of time, resources, motivation, energy), but the grim prospect of diabetes and heart disease down the road should jog anyone (grown-ups included!) off the couch. Here's help.

Ways to Enhance Children's Activity>>
Prevention Tips for Parents>>
Kids' Body Mass Calculator>>
Small Steps for Healthier Kids>>

Young girl smiling and holding tooth.

Of Interest: When's the last time you went to the dentist?

Yes, you. Not your kids. You. Studies show that kids and teens are more likely than their parents to visit a dentist. That doesn't mean grown-ups have healthier teeth—they may simply be more pinched for time or resources.

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, a reminder to check your chompers and remember what your mom kept telling you about steady brushing and flossing. Now more than ever we have access to tools and information to better care for our teeth. Let's take advantage of it!

More on Protecting Your Teeth>>

image of many fruits and vegetables

Of Interest: Mom was right: eat your veggies!

September is Fruits & Veggies Month. A good time to have salad for lunch or an apple for a snack. Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients that may help protect you from chronic diseases. People who enjoy more fruits and veggies as part of a healthful diet are likely to have reduced risk of chronic diseases, including stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers, compared with people who eat only small amounts.

Nutrients should come primarily from foods. Fruits and vegetables contain not only the vitamins and minerals that are often found in supplements, but also other naturally occurring substances that may help protect you from chronic diseases.

Fruit and Vegetable Benefits>>

Diagram of the brain and spinal cord

Of Interest: Spinal Cord Injury

The tragic injury to Buffalo Bills tight end Kevin Everett makes us all aware of the seriousness of spinal injury. Spinal cord injuries can be the result of a car accident, a sporting event, or even a fall. A spinal cord injury takes place when the vertebrae discs are fractured or dislocated, putting pressure on, and sometimes destroying, nerves within the spine. This can lead to limited or complete paralysis.

Nearly 200,000 Americans live with a disability related to a spinal cord injury. Learn how you can prevent spinal cord injury and realize that if an injury does happen, there are people and organizations waiting to help ease your recovery and get you back on track to achieving your goals!

Spinal Cord Injury Resources>>
Further Information>>
Advice for Injured Teens>>

USA map image with link to Treatment Locator tool

Of Interest: Cool Tool: Drugs or Alcohol a Problem? Here's Help!

Drug and alcohol abuse is a serious issue for individuals, their family and friends, and even their coworkers. Help is available. Our locator tool helps you find treatment centers close to work or home.

The Quick Search lets you find centers by city and state. The Detailed Search can help identify centers that offer different payment scales, in-patient or out-patient services, or services for people with special needs, including those with HIV/AIDS or speak other languages. You can also find specialized groups, such as teenagers, women with young children, seniors, or criminal justice clients.

The locator provides information on treatment centers in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Palau, and Micronesia.

Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator>>
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)>>

girl with school lunch tray

Of Interest: School Nutrition

This August and September, classrooms will once again fill with kids and teens returning to school. Since youth spend most of the day at school, nutrition is vital to their wellbeing.

Educating students about nutritious choices at school can help to influence their eating behaviors and can promote a healthy lifestyle. Learn more about the National School Lunch Program and talk to your children about eating healthy, both on and off the school grounds.

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National School Lunch Program (USDA)>>
Recipes for Schools (USDA)>>

Secretary Leavitt participates in HIV testing in Mozambique

Of Interest: HHS Secretary Visits Africa

Mozambique: Secretary Leavitt's HIV test, in front of dozens of patients and 15 members of the media, helped get out the message that counseling and testing is free, safe and easy. He also underscored that although counseling and testing is always confidential, he was doing the test publicly to show that everybody should do it. Local media were fascinated by the high-level American official doing such in a country where the HIV/AIDS stigma is still extremely strong. National television TVM ran a three-minute piece on the evening news on the event, providing information to viewers about the HIV pandemic in Mozambique and how to be tested. Read more about the Secretary's African trip>>

Children at an AIDS hospice for orphans in South Africa

Of Interest: HHS Secretary Visits Africa

AIDS has orphaned hundreds of thousands of children throughout Africa. We are supporting the work of local aid workers in caring for them. Through their efforts, orphans and other vulnerable children can receive psychological counseling, medical treatment, and personal care to help them grow into a healthy adulthood.

The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is the largest international health initiative in history dedicated to a single disease. The idea was to massively scale up prevention, treatment and care in the developing world. For the program’s first five years, the U.S. Congress supported this vision by committing over $15 billion.

The United States has worked in partnership with Governments, the private-sector, faith-based and community organizations around the world to make a real difference in the lives of people afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Never before has a nation attempted such a massive effort to fight a disease beyond its borders.

More about the visit to Africa

Alcohol calories calculator: picture of beer stein and glasses of red and white wine.

Of Interest: Cool Tool: Which Alcohol has the most Calories- Beer, Wine, or the Hard Stuff?

Whether it's a drink with dinner or a drink after a long day, calories are likely not the first thing on your mind when you relax with a cocktail. It's also easy to forget that unlike diet soda, light beer still has calories. Check out the Alcohol Calorie Calculator to see how many calories you consume from alcoholic beverages.
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