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Story Ideas

Story Ideas - 2016

	Radon Gas

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.

More Information:

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	Dentist with his patient

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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	Trisomy Awareness

Trisomy Awareness

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

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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.


	old and young hands holding a velvet heart

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Child maltreatment is any act or series of acts, including child abuse or neglect, by a parent or other caregiver, for example, clergyperson, coach, teacher, that cause harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.

Child Abuse

Words or actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm

Words or acts of child abuse are deliberate and intentional; however, harm to a child might not be intended. Intention only applies to caregiver acts—not the results of those acts. For example, a caregiver may intend to hit a child as punishment (that is, hitting the child is not accidental or unintentional), but he or she did not intend to cause the child to have a concussion. Child abuse includes the following types of maltreatment::

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological abuse

Child Neglect

Failure to provide needs or to protect from harm or potential harm

Acts of child neglect are the failure to provide for a child's basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm. Like acts of child abuse, harm to a child may not be intended. Child neglect includes the following types of maltreatment:

  • Physical neglect
  • Emotional neglect
  • Medical and dental neglect
  • Educational neglect
  • Inadequate supervision
  • Exposure to violent environments

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse and neglect are serious problems that can have lasting harmful effects on children. The goal is clear—to stop abuse and neglect from happening in the first place. Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent child abuse and neglect.

Effective strategies for preventing child abuse and neglect focus on influencing individual behaviors, relationships among families and neighbors, community involvement, and the culture of a society. These might include campaigns to ensure attitudes supportive of parents and positive parenting or on modifying policies and societal norms to create safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. Effective strategies can help stop child abuse and neglect before they happen and foster commitment to social change.



	Woman using an inhaler

Asthma Awareness

Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs. An asthma attack happens in your body’s airways. During an asthma attack, the sides of the airways in your lungs swell and the airways shrink. Less air gets in and out of your lungs, and mucous clogs up the airways even more. An asthma attack may include coughing, chest tightness, wheezing, and trouble breathing.

Asthma’s Reach

Asthma affects 24 million people living in the United States, including more than 6 million children. It causes 3 in 5 people to limit their physical activity or miss days at school and work. Asthma is the leading cause of missed school days related to chronic illness. It causes more than 10 million missed school days a year. Asthma is also expensive, costing the nation $56 billion each year.


There is no cure for asthma. But you can control it. Here are some tips that can help you control your asthma:

  • Follow Your Doctor’s Advice
    • With your healthcare provider’s help, make your own asthma action plan. Decide who should have a copy of your plan and where they should keep it.
  • Use Inhalers and Take Your Medicine
    • Asthma medicines come in two types: quick-relief and long-term control. Quick-relief medicines control the symptoms of an asthma attack. If you need to use your quick-relief medicines more and more, visit your doctor to see if you need a different medicine. Long-term control medicines taken daily help you have fewer and milder attacks, but they don’t help you while you are having an asthma attack.
  • Avoid Triggers
    • Your triggers can be very different from those of someone else with asthma. Know yours and learn how to avoid them. Watch out for an attack when you can’t avoid them. Some of the most common ones are tobacco smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, cockroach allergen, pets, mold, and smoke from burning wood or grass.

In most cases, we don't know what causes asthma, and we don't know how to cure it. Certain factors may make it more likely for one person to have asthma than another. If someone in your family has asthma, you are more likely to have it. Regular physical exams that include checking your lung function and checking for allergies can help your healthcare provider make the right diagnosis.

The important thing to remember is that you can control your asthma.

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