Various health programs may shut down at the end of September without congressional action; maternal health experts push for midwife workforce expansion amidst high maternal mortality rates in the United States; studies find that heightened screen time in teens and tweens before bed can result in a lack of sleep.
Health Programs Threatened by Government Shutdown
Various health programs may shut down at the end of the month without congressional action due to the looming government shutdown, according to Axios. Two programs affected are those supporting community health centers and ensuring pandemic preparedness. The Community Health Center Fund, which provides 70% of federal funding for health centers, is due to expire on September 30. Since 2015, about 300 grantees have relied on it, and backers say ongoing funding is needed to keep workers and continue providing care. The shutdown would also affect reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which is currently being held up in the House due to partisan disagreements on whether it should also be used to address drug shortages. If not renewed by the end of September, 2 provisions in PAHPA related to the Freedom of Information Act and antitrust exemptions could expire, which would affect what medical countermeasure companies are willing to share due to intellectual property concerns.
Midwives Needed to Improve US Maternal Health Disparities
Maternal health experts are pushing for the expansion of the midwife workforce amidst disproportionately high maternal mortality rates in the United States, according to Stat. This comes after studies showed that births attended by midwives had fewer complications and better outcomes because their training relies less on medical intervention, meaning fewer C-sections. Despite the steady growth in the number of credentialed midwives, the workforce continues to be small and racially homogenous, as more than 90% of midwives are White. Racially concordant care is associated with better outcomes, meaning having a more diverse midwife population is important in reducing maternal mortality that affects Black women at almost 3 times the rates of White women. Due to the high financial costs of a midwife’s education and the difficulty of finding placement opportunities for those in training, diversifying the midwife workforce is challenging.
Screen Time Contributes to Chronic Sleep Deprivation in Tweens, Teens
Heightened screen time activity in teens and tweens before bed can result in a lack of sleep, according to The Conversation. When teens and tweens cannot sleep, they often use their smart devices to browse social media, which displaces sleep and ultimately makes it more challenging to fall asleep. Studies show that over 120,000 children aged 6 to 18 years who engage in any type of social media have shown worsened quality and decreased quantity of sleep due to the light emitted from hand-held devices, which causes melatonin levels to decrease, making it harder to fall asleep. Lastly, the stimulating content consumed on the platforms before bedtime is disruptive. As a result, their bodies require more time to settle down to fall asleep, but their brains may not sustain deep nondream sleep as they continue to process the fast-paced images.