Story Ideas - 2016
Is Radon on your Radar?
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer after cigarette smoking. If you smoke and live in a home with high radon levels, you increase your risk of developing lung cancer. Having your home tested is the only effective way to determine whether you and your family are at risk of high radon exposure.
Radon is a gas that forms naturally when uranium, thorium, or radium, radioactive metals, breaks down in rocks, soil and groundwater. People can be exposed to radon primarily from breathing radon in air that comes through cracks and gaps in buildings and homes. Because radon comes naturally from the earth, people are always exposed to it.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Surgeon General's office estimate radon is responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. When you breathe in radon, radioactive particles from radon gas can get trapped in your lungs. Over time, these radioactive particles increase the risk of lung cancer. It may take years before health problems appear.
People who smoke and are exposed to radon are at a greater risk of developing lung cancer. EPA recommends taking action to reduce radon in homes that have a radon level at or above 4 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) of air (a "picocurie" is a common unit for measuring the amount of radioactivity).
Your chances of getting lung cancer from radon depend mostly on:
- How much radon is in your home—the location where you spend most of your time (e.g., the main living and sleeping areas)
- The amount of time you spend in your home
- Whether you are a smoker or have ever smoked
- Whether you burn wood, coal, or other substances that add particles to the indoor air.
What Are School-based Dental Sealant Programs?
Tooth decay may result in pain and other problems that affect learning in school-age children. Sealants protect the chewing surfaces from decay by keeping germs and pieces of food out. School-based dental sealant delivery programs provide sealants to children unlikely to receive them otherwise. The programs—
- Define children in a school district who should receive sealants
- Confirm that there is a need for sealants
- Get financial, materials, and policy support
- Apply rules for selecting schools and students
- Arrange to apply sealants at school or offsite in clinics
School-based sealant programs are especially important to reach children from low-income families who are less likely to receive private dental care. Programs generally target schools by using the percentage of children eligible for federal free or reduced-cost lunch programs. Learn more by reading Oral Health and Learning, which includes more information about:
- Lost school time
- Oral health and learning
- Nutrition and learning
- Programs for improving oral health
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What is Down Syndrome?
Down syndrome is a condition in which a person has an extra chromosome. Chromosomes are small “packages” of genes in the body. They determine how a baby’s body forms during pregnancy and how the baby’s body functions as it grows in the womb and after birth. Typically, a baby is born with 23 pairs of chromosomes. Babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes, chromosome 21. A medical term for having an extra copy of a chromosome is ‘trisomy'. Down syndrome is also referred to as Trisomy 21. This extra copy changes how the baby’s body and brain develop, which can cause both mental and physical challenges for the baby.
Even though people with Down syndrome might act and look similar, each person has different abilities. People with Down syndrome usually have an IQ (a measure of intelligence) in the mildly-to-moderately low range and are slower to speak than other children.
Common physical features of Down syndrome include:
- A flattened face, especially the bridge of the nose
- Almond-shaped eyes that slant up
- A short neck
- Small ears
- A tongue that tends to stick out of the mouth
- Tiny white spots on the iris (colored part) of the eye
- Small hands and feet
- A single line across the palm of the hand (palmar crease)
- Small pinky fingers that sometimes curve toward the thumb
- Poor muscle tone or loose joints
- Shorter in height as children and adults
Types of Down Syndrome
There are three types of Down syndrome. People often can’t tell the difference between each type without looking at the chromosomes because the physical features and behaviors are similar.
Trisomy 21: About 95% of people with Down syndrome have Trisomy 21.2 With this type of Down syndrome, each cell in the body has 3 separate copies of chromosome 21 instead of the usual 2 copies.
Translocation Down syndrome: This type accounts for a small percentage of people with Down syndrome (about 3%).2 This occurs when an extra part or a whole extra chromosome 21 is present, but it is attached or “trans-located” to a different chromosome rather than being a separate chromosome 21.
Mosaic Down syndrome: This type affects about 2% of the people with Down syndrome.2 Mosaic means mixture or combination. For children with mosaic Down syndrome, some of their cells have 3 copies of chromosome 21, but other cells have the typical two copies of chromosome 21. Children with mosaic Down syndrome may have the same features as other children with Down syndrome. However, they may have fewer features of the condition due to the presence of some (or many) cells with a typical number of chromosomes.
- Page last reviewed: March 4, 2016
- Page last updated: March 4, 2016
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