Population Fell In Three Quarters Of US Counties In 2021

Media outlets cover Census Bureau data that shows that 2021 was the slowest year of population growth in U.S. history, and that nearly 75% of U.S. counties actually lost population numbers. Separately, a study links low cholesterol and glucose levels at 35 to later lowered Alzheimer’s risks. And the CDC is monitoring bird flu cases.

The Washington Post:
Nearly 75% Of U.S. Counties Lost Population Last Year As Deaths Outnumbered Births, Data Shows 

Almost three-quarters of all U.S. counties reported more deaths than births last year, a development largely caused by the pandemic, which contributed to a dramatic slowing in the nation’s overall population growth, according to data released Thursday by the Census Bureau. Low fertility rates, which have persisted since the end of the Great Recession, and the nation’s continuing demographic shift toward an older population also combined to create the smallest population increase in 100 years, said Kenneth M. Johnson, a sociology professor and demographer at the University of New Hampshire. He said he expected the data to show a natural decrease but was surprised at its scale. Natural decrease occurs when a population records more deaths than births. (Kunkle, 3/24)

The New York Times:
Cities Lost Population In 2021, Leading To The Slowest Year Of Growth In U.S. History 

Substantial population loss in some of the nation’s largest and most vibrant cities was the primary reason 2021 was the slowest year of population growth in U.S. history, new Census data shows. Although some of the fastest growing regions in the country continued to boom, the gains were nearly erased by stark losses last year in counties that encompass the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco metropolitan areas. (Gebeloff, Goldstein and Hu, 3/24)

In other public health news —

Boston Herald:
Cholesterol And Glucose Levels At Age 35 Are Linked To Future Risk Of Alzheimer’s, Boston Researchers Find

Getting your cholesterol and glucose levels in a healthy range at a young age could save you from an Alzheimer’s diagnosis later in life. That’s according to Boston University School of Medicine researchers, who found that lower HDL (high-density “good” cholesterol) and high triglyceride levels at age 35 are linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s. The Boston scientists in this new study also concluded that high blood glucose levels measured between ages 51 and 60 is associated with Alzheimer’s risk in the future. (Sobey, 3/23)

NBC News:
Bird Flu Outbreak In The US: Human Risk Remains Low, CDC Says

Federal health officials are closely watching a highly lethal type of bird flu that’s devastated poultry farms along the East Coast and the Midwest in recent weeks. There are no signs the strain of avian influenza poses a danger to people yet, but experts are on the lookout for potential mutations of the virus that could make it more of a threat. Although the risk to humans remains low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it will monitor people who’ve been exposed to domestic and wild species infected with H5N1 — a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus that spreads easily among birds. (Lovelace Jr., 3/23)

USA Today:
Researchers Warn Of Tick-Borne Heartland Virus In US. What To Know About The Viral Pathogen

The Heartland virus is circulating in ticks in Georgia, researchers warn. A new study published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases last week and led by researchers from Emory University analyzed virus samples from ticks collected in central Georgia. But the Heartland virus, first identified in Missouri in 2009, has been documented in multiple states across the Midwest and Southeast. But what does that mean for your next hiking or camping trip? Is it time to be on the lookout for ticks that could carry the virus? (Pitofsky, 3/23)

Scientists Test Common Bacteria As A Weapon To Target Pancreatic Tumors

Pancreatic cancer has proved one of the most deadly forms of the disease, and the most difficult to crack. It shrugs off immunotherapy drugs and resists chemotherapy, and only about 10% of patients live longer than five years after diagnosis. But Albert Einstein College of Medicine immunologist and microbiologist Claudia Gravekamp is trying a new, unconventional approach: using Listeria bacteria to develop an immunotherapy that makes pancreatic tumors vulnerable to immune attacks. The results from her experiments in mice, published Wednesday in Science Translational Medicine, found the therapy can extend survival by 40% — a figure that experts said was very promising, though preliminary, and warranted further research in humans. (Chen, 3/23)

U.S. Army Combat Fitness Test Ditches Gender- And Age-Neutral Scoring

Leg tucks are out. The plank is in. And gone is the gender- and age-neutral scoring when the U.S. Army’s new combat fitness test becomes compulsory this fall. Even with the latest revisions, the Army is still banking on lean, mean fighting machines. But this time around, the largest U.S. military service doesn’t want to disadvantage any groups and kick out valuable soldiers because they couldn’t pass the new fitness test as it was initially envisioned. (Tiron, 3/23)

Houston Chronicle:
Houston Expert Explains Why Your Allergies Are Worse Than Usual

Texas is one of the most challenging places to live in America for people who deal with seasonal allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. And unfortunately for many, allergies are getting worse every year. Dr. Omar Ahmed, an otolaryngologist at Houston Methodist, says the hospital is seeing a trend toward longer and worse allergy seasons across the country and, in particular, Houston. “In Houston, we’re expecting a bad season,” Ahmed said, “and that’s because we had a moderate to mild winter. You can track the allergy counts. Especially March and this coming April, it’s going to be a bad season.” (Nickerson, 3/23)

Fox News:
Bella Hadid Speaks Out About The Perils Of Plastic Surgery In Teenagers

Bella means beautiful, but Bella Hadid didn’t think she was when she was a teenager. Supermodel Bella Hadid is finally coming clean about having plastic surgery, but she is speaking out on her regret of having it done when she was 14, according to a Vogue report last week. “I was the uglier sister. I was the brunette. I wasn’t as cool as [my sister] Gigi, not as outgoing,” the twenty-five-year-old said. (Sudhakar, 3/23)

Can Melatonin Gummies Solve Family Bedtime Struggles? Experts Advise Caution

For three exhausting years, Lauren Lockwood tried to get her son Rex to sleep through the night. As an infant, he couldn’t sleep without a blanket over his carrier to drown out the world around him. At age 2, it sometimes took hours for him — and her — to fall asleep, only for him to be jolted awake from night terrors that left him shrieking in panic. Over the years, Lockwood, a nurse midwife who runs a group for new moms from her home in Oakland, California, experimented with a gamut of approaches to bedtime. When Rex was a baby, she let him “cry it out” so he could learn to put himself back to sleep. As he got older, she would lie beside him for hours each night. Finally, she hired a sleep consultant who created yet another plan that didn’t solve the problem. By the time Rex was 3, Lockwood, with another baby on the way, was worn out and desperate. (Gold, 3/24)

Also —

The Washington Post:
Madeleine Albright Dies; First Female Secretary Of State Was 84

Madeleine K. Albright, who came to the United States as an 11-year-old political refu­gee from Czechoslovakia and decades later was an ardent and effective advocate against mass atrocities in Eastern Europe while serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the first female secretary of state, died March 23 in Washington. She was 84.The cause was cancer, her family said in a statement. (Otis, 3/23)

Bay Area News Group:
Bob Saget Said He Had Long COVID, Didn’t Feel Well Before Death

To add to the mystery of how Bob Saget fell in his Florida hotel room and suffered a fatal brain injury, the “Full House” star said he didn’t feel well and that his hearing was “off” before performing a comedy set the night before his death, according to a new report. Saget, 65, also told a showrunner at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall near Jacksonville, Florida that he was suffering from “long-term COVID” and that it had taken “his body a long time to get over it.” That’s what the showrunner, Rosalie Cocci, told Orange County Sheriff’s investigators in an interview conducted after the actor’s death, according to audio obtained by Page Six. (Ross, 3/23)

NBC News:
Disability Advocates Say Amanda Bynes’ Conservatorship Case Isn’t The Norm

Amanda Bynes’ conservatorship was terminated Tuesday without public contention or fanfare. But disability advocates say her case is not the norm, and warn against using Bynes as evidence that conservatorships don’t need to be reformed. Bynes’ parents filed to place her in a conservatorship in 2013, following what the former child actor previously described as a dark period in her life. Her case has rarely played out in the public eye and draws a contrast to that of pop star Britney Spears, whose conservatorship was dissolved after a protracted, public court battle and has led to legal reform efforts in California. (Madani, 3/23)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.






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