Author: Jenny Brown

Will IVF result in a baby? There’s an app for that

iPhoneA new iPhone app, which can also be accessed online at, was recently developed by British researchers and will predict a woman’s chances of conceiving when using in vitro fertilization (IVF). The tool asks nine questions and then calculates the probability of IVF leading to a baby.

The test, created by Debbie Lawlor from the University of Bristol in England and Scott Nelson from the University of  Glasglow in Scotland, is based on their analysis of data on over 144,000 IVF cycles from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in Britain. The questions on the test range from basic like mother’s age to more involved such as the type of medicine that will be used in IVF. Speaking to this new tool in TIME, the authors say,

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Massive polio outbreak in Nigeria prompts new health communication plan

polio vaccination posterHealth communication is recognized as part of the solution to decrease the incidences of polio in northern Nigeria, as reported on

A team of communication experts is traveling to Nigeria this week in order to talk to the Nigerian community and develop better ways to get public health messages about polio vaccines out to community leaders. This team is from Michigan State University and is using a $384,000 grant from the World Health Organization to design a health communications plan.

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Tweens bully too

bullying imageA recent article in Time points to the issue of tween bullying. They argue that although teen bullying is being brought to the attention of the public through television shows like Glee or campaigns like “It gets better”, younger adolescents, ranging anywhere between 8 and 14, are being ignored a lot of the time.

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Entertainment education: A way to eliminate health disparities?

advertisement for telenovela, El Cartel 2Health communication is an emerging field, with many of its uses still coming to light. It was not until 1975 that health communication was recognized as a subset of the field of communication and not until  1996 that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed an office of communication. For the first time, in 2000, health communication became a part of the Healthy People objectives. And as was written about on Upstream last week, health communication will remain an objective on Healthy People 2020 (awesome!). And still we are finding new areas in which health communication tools can be used to promote health! For instance, the use of entertainment education as a way to eliminate health disparities.

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American television and alcohol

shot of David Hasselhoff

David Hasselhoff's new A&E television show sparks conversation about depiction of alcohol on television

A recent article in the New York Times addresses the relationship between television and alcohol, touting the line, “Television has a drinking problem.” It cites David Hasselhoff’s new reality series, “The Hasselhoffs”, which premieres on A&E, as a prime example of this issue. You may remember a 2007 YouTube video of Hasselhoff laying drunk on the floor, trying to eat a hamburger. Alessandra Stanley of NY Times asserts that his new show treats his alcoholism lightly, poking fun at a serious addiction. The problem? Television’s take on alcohol is either black or white, leaving out what lies in between. Encounters with alcohol are either hilariously funny or reason to admit someone to a rehab center. What about the grey area?

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Today is World AIDS Day

character holding red ribbon in honor of World AIDS DayIt being December 1st, it was quite obvious to me what I would write about today- World AIDS Day. In pursuit of news articles on the topic of the day, these are the headlines that jumped out at me: Alicia Keys, Kim Kardashian go ‘dead’ for World AIDS Day, ‘Runway’ Designer Does T-Shirts for World AIDS Day, Hilary Duff: World AIDS Day Book Signing!, Editor Sir Elton Marks World Aids Day With Symbolic Flower Front Page. Yes, funds are being raised and the efforts being made are noble, but can articles like these that draw so much attention to celebrities and not AIDS itself really be considered health communication?

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Facebook and Breast-Feeding

breastfeeding mother with two babiesEmma Kwasnica, at one point, was very frustrated with Facebook. They kept taking this breast-feeding activist and mother’s photo down, which pictured her nursing her two children. Kwasnica protested initially, however she has recently embraced the social media in order to organize a global community that facilitates offline milk sharing, reports Time.

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WARNING: Cigarettes cause fatal lung disease (and much more)

picture of diseased lungs next to healthy lungs on cigarette label

Fact: Tobacco kills about 443,000 people each year in the US. Fact: 46 million US adults or 20.6% of the US population smokes cigarettes. Fact: Although the number of Americans who smoke has dropped over the last 40 years, this rate has reached a plateau in recent years. What is the FDA going to do about this? Cue the crying children, corpses, and tombstones.

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Fruits and veggies, never knew you could look so good

colorful display of fruits and vegetablesWhat you encounter when you walk into your local grocery store may soon change.

Grocery stores are beginning to respond to consumers desires to have more healthy diets and are also finding that they can benefit from this. Brian Wansink, the co-director of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs notes, “Grocery stores want you to buy healthy things. They want you to buy produce, because if produce goes bad, they lose money.”

Research on what people eat and the subtle cues that facilitate the decisions people make regarding food choices has found that there are changes that stores can make in order to promote healthier food items like fresh produce. For example, product placement and soft lighting may have the power to make that bunch of bananas you may not have intended to purchase, all that more desirable.

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