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Moving Mountains & Changing Minds

Midwives to the Rescue

Research led by Linda Bartlett, MD, MHSc, in the Department of International Health, found that a 10% increase in the number of active midwives every five years through 2025 could reduce the number of maternal, infant, and fetal deaths in 26 of the world’s neediest countries by 25 percent.

Her team also looked at 58 of the world’s poorest countries and discovered that a similar strategy could save the lives of nearly 2.3 million mothers and babies. Increasing the number of midwives and obstetricians in those countries could nearly triple that number.

Bartlett’s next task: Persuading governments and aid agencies to shift their budget priorities. “We have identified a cost-effective way to spend the money,” she explains.

Now it’s up to the institutions to take action.

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Uncomfortably Numb:
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic

Nearly one in three Americans suffers from chronic pain. Not surprisingly, prescriptions of opioid (morphine-related) pain relievers have nearly doubled in the last decade, leading to a sharp increase in overdoses and a public health crisis. More people now die from prescription drug overdoses than from heroin and cocaine combined.

G. Caleb Alexander, MD, MS, associate professor of Epidemiology and Medicine and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness, explains that the over-reliance on prescription opioids “has caused incredible morbidity and mortality among patients young and old alike.”

In a recent study, the first to focus on patterns in outpatient pain treatment, his team discovered that the soaring use of stronger meds hasn’t led to better pain relief. Alexander’s work is challenging policymakers and health professionals to improve the way we treat pain by focusing on alternative pain-management methods and a more responsible approach to prescribing potentially addictive meds.

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Beyond Protein Factories

It takes 25 pounds of feed to produce one pound of beef—an equation that could equal disaster, warn researchers with the Bloomberg School’s Center for a Livable Future (CLF). Tremendous increases in meat consumption in the U.S. and around the world have created an unsustainable trend. CLF investigations indicate that mass production of pork, beef and poultry is having catastrophic effects on our health, the environment and the agricultural economy.

As the world edges toward a population of 9 billion by 2050, CLF scientists are sounding the alarm for industry, lawmakers and the general public. Their message is simple: Make significant changes to the way we consume and farm meat or be prepared for a future where animal waste pollution, drug-resistant disease and nutrient-sapped soil threaten the very survival of human beings.

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Weighing in on the Diet Soda Myth

Think drinking a diet soda will help keep the pounds off?

Think again, says Sara Bleich, PhD, associate professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health Policy and Management.

She and a team of researchers examined national patterns in diet beverage consumption and calorie intake. Data showed that overweight adults who drink diet beverages actually end up eating more than overweight adults who drink sugary beverages. Ultimately their findings could provide Americans with a better grasp of healthy weight management techniques.

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