PopFam in the News


Prenatal Exposure to Common Air Pollutants Linked to Cognitive and Behavioral Impairment

March 25, 2015

New research demonstrates a powerful link between exposure to common air pollutants during the final trimester of pregnancy and disturbances in parts of the brain that support information processing and behavioral control. PopFam’s Virginia Rauh directed the study, which used magnetic resonance imaging to measure the brains of 40 children from a cohort of more than 600 mother-baby pairs from minority communities in New York City, gathering data from before birth until seven to nine years of age.


Female Health Workers Increased Use of Health Services in Hard-to-Reach Rural Area

March 23, 2015

Posting female health workers in rural areas led to major and sustained increases in service utilization, including antenatal care and facility-based deliveries in Northern Nigeria, according to new research by PopFam Professors Alastair Ager and Sally Findley. The research also showed that providing a residence allowance in addition to a standard salary helped recruit and retain female workers. “Our pilot study led to the major improvements in health impacts reported over the course of seven years,” noted Ager. 


3 Cool Things to Know about the New IUD

March 3, 2015 by Natalie Matthews

This article explores the recent approval by the FDA of a new intrauterine device (IUD) called Liletta. The piece quotes Carolyn Westhoff, a professor in PopFam and Epidemiology and an OB/GYN at Columbia University Medical Center, which helped conduct trials for Liletta. “I have a lot of satisfied customers, and I’m seeing a high continuation rate,” Dr. Westhoff says. She also notes that the company that makes Liletta is working to make this IUD more affordable.


Dollars Running out for Colorado Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program

March 2, 2015 by Megan Verlee

This article discusses the political opposition that threatens funding for a successful teen pregnancy prevention program that has made intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants more widely available in this state. It notes that the teen birth rate in Colorado has declined by more than 50 percent since the 1990s and quotes PopFam Chair John S. Santelli, who explains that “the first 15 years of that drop is likely due to the AIDS epidemic, as fear of the disease led more teenagers to use condoms.” 


IUDs Can Be Practical for Teenagers, but Pediatricians May Lack Training in Their Use

February 10, 2015 by Shefali Luthra

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended IUDs as a first-line form of contraception for sexually active adolescents, but pediatricians often lack the training to provide this method. In this article, Pediatrics and PopFam Professor Melanie Gold, an adolescent medicine physician and medical director of Columbia University’s School-Based Health Centers, makes the case for increasing access to IUDs. “So many kids never pick up the pills, or pick up the pills and don’t take them right,” she says. “Clearly, an IUD is a better choice.”


Disney Measles Outbreak May Have Originated in the Philippines


February 18, 2015 by Jessica Firger

Public health officials have yet to confirm the source of the recent measles outbreak at Disneyland in California. However, federal investigators have found evidence of links to a measles outbreak in the Philippines. According to the CDC, specimens from 30 California patients are a direct genetic match to the strain of the virus in the Philippines—both are classified as measles genotype B3. “It's basically a fingerprint of the virus,” explains Melissa Stockwell, a pediatrician and assistant professor of Pediatrics and Population and Family Health, which, she says reinforces the need for vaccine campaigns not only in the U.S., but abroad.


The Unrelenting Pursuer in Horror Film "It Follows"

January 24, 2015 by Chris Kaye

This article explores the implications of an indie movie in which a teenage girl discovers she has contracted a sexually transmitted monster—a disease that will cause her great bodily harm unless she passes it on to another partner. Curious to know whether it is common for people to deceive their sexual partners about their STD status, the author spoke with PopFam’s Leslie Kantor, an assistant professor and vice president of education at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Most people are very responsible these days when it comes to their sexual lives and taking measures to prevent STDs,” Ms. Kantor said. “There are a lot of STDs out there, but most of them are out there not because people are trying to give them to someone else but because they don’t know they have them.”