News Roundup: Majority of Children Are Vaccinated; 30% of Kids Eat Fast Food on 'Any Given Day'

Childhood vaccination rates are either up or stable — depending on the region of the country — and a sizable majority of U.S. parents are getting their children vaccinated against serious illnesses and diseases, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most recent statistics were published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and were from the CDC’s 2013 National Immunization Survey (NIS) – Children (19-35 months).

Rates remain above 90 percent for the vaccination that prevents measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), as well as vaccination against poliovirus, hepatitis B and varicella. Use of the rotavirus vaccine increased to 73 percent in 2013, up from 69 percent in 2012. The number of unvaccinated children remains at less than 1 percent, the CDC says.

However, vaccination rates vary from state to state, thereby creating potential risks of outbreaks, the report said.

“Low coverage levels can leave states and communities vulnerable to outbreaks of potentially serious vaccine preventable diseases,” the report states.

Global Outbreaks

Recent measles outbreaks in the U.S. and abroad have elevated the discussion about preventable childhood diseases and related complications of illnesses.

There have been outbreaks of measles in the United States since January 2014, the biggest surge since 2000. Measles is the eighth-leading cause of mortality worldwide, and the top vaccine-preventable cause of death among children.

“About three out of 10 people who get measles will develop one or more complications including pneumonia, ear infections, or diarrhea. Complications are more common in adults and young children,” according to the CDC.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) speculates that some parents are not vaccinating their children intentionally because of safety concerns regarding the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. And that trend may have contributed to the renewal in measles cases, the AAP says. “The truth is that today’s vaccines are the most effective and safest in history and have protected and saved millions of lives from vaccine – preventable diseases. However, some children are too young or too sick to receive vaccines. And some children do have side effects,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The measles vaccine may offer protection from a wide range of diseases, including some that could be deadly, according to a new study from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The study was recently published in Science, an academic journal.

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–Sharon Harvey Rosenberg

Fast-Food Diet and Kids

A new government report finds that children get 12 percent of their calories from fast-food restaurants. Moreover, a third of kids eat fast food on any given day, according to a new report by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, based on data from 2011–2012, found that children and adolescents, aged 2–19, consumed an average 12 percent of their daily calories from fast food. However, teens, or adolescents, aged 12–19, consumed twice the average daily percentage of calories from fast food than did younger children.

“About 34 percent of all children and adolescents, aged 2 to 19, consume fast food on any given day,” says Cheryl Fryar, health statistician for the CDC.

Children who eat too much fast food tend to consume more calories but have a nutritionally poorer diet, compared with other kids, the report said.

According to a report released last month by the CDC, 17.5 percent of children and adolescents between the ages of 3 and 19, are now obese. That number is 30 percent higher than the rate of 5.6 percent in the late 1970s. Research found the prevalence of childhood obesity in the last 10 years has remained relatively flat, increasing only 0.9 percent since the last study conducted between 2001 and 2004.

The latest study found that from 1994 through 2006, caloric intake from fast food increased from 10 percent to 12 percent among children aged 2–18 years. As part of the study, “restaurant fast food/pizza” was selected as fast food, the CDC said.

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— John Fernandez

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