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ColoradoSPH's Top Stories of 2023

Prenatal supplements, the safety of gas stoves, detecting cannabis use, forever chemicals in drinking water, and reframing autism research round out our top public health stories of the year

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In 2023, some of the nation’s top public health researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health tackled a variety of the largest public health questions facing us today.

From findings that call for new approaches to nutritional supplement management during pregnancy, to how we might accurately measure and detect recent cannabis use in drivers and workers, and understanding how COVID-19 vaccinations worked to reduce severity and mortality following breakthrough infections, ColoradoSPH researchers are asking the questions that matter to better prevent injury and disease and break down barriers to ensure more equitable access to health solutions, making the world a healthier place, for everyone.

Our students and alumni are also changing the world and included in our top 10 stories this year is a story about one Master of Public Health student who took a personal tragedy and turned it into a passion for public health education, launching a nonprofit to raise awareness and prevention around “fentapills” and the recent increase in fatal fentanyl overdoses.

Our top 10 stories for 2023 are highlighted below, along with an honorable mention for the research led by one of our doctoral students in partnership with the CU Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative that made waves in media outlets across the nation this summer.

1. Study Reveals Prenatal Supplements Don’t Offer Adequate Nutrition for Women and Babies

April 4, 2023

Research shows a need for doctors, patients and supplement companies to develop new approaches to nutritional health management during pregnancy. A new study by researchers at CU Anschutz shows that 90% of pregnant women do not receive adequate nutrients during pregnancy from food alone and must look to supplements to fill that deficit.

2. What is the Health Risk of Meth Contamination?

January 31, 2023

Abrupt closures at public libraries in Boulder, Littleton, Englewood and Arvada due to methamphetamine contamination are a cause for concern, if not alarm. But the initial shock of the local and national headlines needs to be put in the proper context, said Mike Van Dyke, PhD, industrial hygienist and associate professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health and the Center for Work, Health & Environment at the Colorado School of Public Health. 

3. Should You Extinguish Your Gas Stove?

January 18, 2023

A paper published last month attributing 12.7% of childhood asthma cases to gas stoves generated a lot of heat, especially after U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka Jr. said banning these common household stoves was being considered. But the issue, which is not new to Jonathan Samet, MD, MS, dean of the Colorado School of Public Health and a national expert on respiratory health and inhaled pollutants, may have ignited some undue alarm.

4. New Research Gains Ground in Detecting Recent Cannabis Use

October 23, 2023

New research at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus could help develop improved test methods for determining if a person recently used cannabis, a question growing in importance with the drug’s widespread legalization.

5. Fake News: Medical Quackery Enters a New Dimension

March 27, 2023

Today, pandemic “news” has abated. But misinformation has not. Experts discuss the dangers of the proliferation of health misinformation, pointing largely to threats to patient safety and to evidence-based medicine.

6. New Research Shines Light on How COVID-19 Vaccination Reduces Severity and Mortality After Breakthrough Infections

August 8, 2023

A new study is among the first to examine how COVID-19 vaccinations affect inflammatory markers over time among those recently infected. The researchers assessed blood samples from nearly 900 vaccinated and unvaccinated patients over multiple months to study the impact.

7. Boyfriend’s Fentanyl Death Inspires Nonprofit to Battle Crisis

May 15, 2023

A Colorado School of Public Health MPH student, whose boyfriend died after taking a fake prescription he thought was Percocet, is helping raise awareness about “fentapills” and the opioid epidemic through her work with the nonprofit Song for Charlie.

8. Worried About Forever Chemicals in Your Drinking Water?

July 21, 2023

“Forever chemicals” are unavoidable and found in everyday consumer products. They have even infiltrated our natural resources, including our drinking water, triggering concern about the dangers they may pose to human health. Ned Calonge, MD, MPH, offers guidance on how to manage your exposure to forever chemicals and what to do if you have high levels of PFAS in your blood.  

9. Positive Psychology, Neurodiversity and Reframing Autism Research

September 1, 2023

For any child, the birth-to-age-5 period is vital to healthy development, but another important period – the transition into adolescence – is an opportunity to support positive developmental trajectories. For autistic children, matching the right intervention approaches to the right developmental period is essential to support healthy development and well-being.  

10. Deadly, Treatment-Resistant Fungus Sees Notable Rise

October 2, 2023

As Hollywood portrays fictional fungi, the real Candida auris poses a severe threat to the immunocompromised. The fungus Candida auris is showing up more frequently in high-risk areas such as intensive care units at hospitals, posing a serious risk especially for immunocompromised patients. This fungul blood infection spreads quickly in the immunocompromised, and can kill one in three patients. 

Honorable Mention: Mapping Mass Shootings in the United States

July 26, 2023

The United States has more than 10 times the number of mass shooting incidents than other developed countries, yet little research has shown the distribution and types of shootings, geographically. CU Firearm Injury Prevention Initiative researcher provides new visual analysis on recent mass shootings that reveals deeper connections to policy, environmental, and socio-cultural factors.