When the Bough Breaks

I have taken a lot of classes in the past concerning health and health care so I expected to do decently well.  I got 6 out of 10 correct.  Most of the questions I got wrong were concerning statistics and my answers were close.  The question that I was most surprised about was the one about health care spending in the U.S. I was not aware that we were spending so much more on health care.  One of the questions I got right but was still surprised about was the fact that recent Latino immigrants have better health than the average American.  In another class I learned that each generation of a family has worse health outcomes the longer they have been in the U.S.  To me that really says something about the American lifestyle.

One of the videos I watched was “When the Bough Breaks”, which concerned the drastic disparities in infant mortality rates between black and white women.  Researchers originally have attributed this to differences in socio-economic factors such as wealth and education levels.  When these were factored out the gap in infant mortality rate widened, rather than shrunk.  It was determined that college educated black women had higher infant mortality rates than white women who did not complete high school.  Researchers are now working under the assumption that the everyday stress of racism felt by black women is leading to poor health outcomes in infants, putting them at risk of death before age one.  This everyday stress affects the baby in utero through decreased blood flow and can lead to premature birth, which was the case for Kim Anderson.  The conclusion is that nine months of pre-natal care is not enough.  Things need to start changing so that black women do not feel this stress and this cycle can end.

The development, spread, and treatment of illness is affected by several different areas, as we learned this week in lecture.

Politics: Politics can be influential in regards to health care policy.  This includes how a government reacts to an epidemic to how health care is made available to the people

Economics: One example of how economics can affect the spread of illness is the case of shistosomiasis along the Nile River.  It was because of economic development and the building of the dams that interrupted the homeostatic balance between humans and parasitic disease, bring the parasite closer to local villages.

Environment: The environment can become either a breeding ground for disease or prevent it by being an unlivable environment for things like bacteria and parasites.

Culture: Culture effect come from how people understand disease and their behaviors, which can increase or decrease the likelihood of infection.  In the case of shistosomiasis, cultural norms surrounding water affect who gets infected.  Fishermen and young boys have high risk of contracting it because they spend a great deal of time in the water.  Muslim women, on the other hand rarely contract it because they do not enter the water.

Biology: Biology can affect disease in terms of peoples susceptibility.  One example of this is the case of malaria and sickle cell anemia, where being a carrier of the sickle cell gene prevents malaria .

Individual Choice: One example of the effect of individual choice is the decision to participate in risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, and engaging is unsafe sex practices.

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