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Severe black lung disease has been plaguing coal miners in Appalachia, and a study has now blamed silica dust as the reason for the problem. A deepening crisis over baby formula, work to end the Black maternal health crisis, and good news about fixing Achilles tendon damage is also in media reports.

NPR: Study: Severe Black Lung Disease Among Appalachian Coal Miners Linked To Silica

Exposure to a toxic rock dust appears to be “the main driving force” behind a recent epidemic of severe black lung disease among coal miners, according to the findings of a new study. Lawmakers have debated and failed to adequately regulate the dust for decades. The study, which examined the lungs of modern miners and compared them to miners who worked decades ago, provides the first evidence of its kind that silica dust is responsible for the rising tide of advanced disease, including among miners in Appalachia. (Benincasa, 4/13)

In news about maternal and pediatric health care —

ABC News: What Parents Need To Know Amid The National Baby Formula Shortage

As the baby formula shortage continues, experts say parents and caregivers should reach out to pediatricians and seek help from resources like the federal Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program. If a child needs specialized formula, like a hydrolyzed formula for a baby with allergies, they should talk to their child’s pediatrician or care team, like a pediatric dietitian, gastroenterolgist, or nephrologist. (Yu, 4/13)

ABC News: Woman Works To End Black Maternal Health Crisis After Daughter Dies After Giving Birth

When Wanda Irving looks into the eyes of her 5-year-old granddaughter, Soleil, she said she instantly sees her daughter, Shalon Irving, whose death shortly after giving birth to Soleil has since shaped the trajectory of their lives. “She’s got her mom’s eyes and her mom’s smile and her mom’s fearlessness and her mom’s persistence,” Wanda Irving told “Good Morning America” ​​of her granddaughter, whom the family calls Sunny, after her middle name, Sunshine. “She has her mom’s memory, because her mom wouldn’t forget anything.” (Kindlan, 4/14)

KHN: Persistent Problem: High C-Section Rates Plague The South

All along, Julia Maeda knew she wanted to have her baby naturally. For her, that meant in a hospital, vaginally, without an epidural for pain relief. This was her first pregnancy. And although she is a nurse, she was working with cancer patients at the time, not with laboring mothers or babies. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into,” said Maeda, now 32. “I didn’t do much preparation.” (Sauser, 4/14)

Also, some good news for Achilles sufferers —

AP: Heal Thyself: Most Who Tear Achilles Tendon Can Skip Surgery

It’s a weekend warrior’s nightmare. You’re playing hoops in the driveway and go up for a lay-up. You land and hear a pop: you’ve torn your Achilles tendon. Do you have surgery or hope it heals with just a cast and rehab? New research says both options led to similar outcomes about a year later. … In the biggest-ever study investigating which treatment is best, scientists in Norway tracked 526 patients — mostly men with an average age of 39 — who ripped their Achilles tendon. They either had minimally invasive surgery, a standard surgery or non-surgical treatment, a brace to immobilize the affected foot and physical therapy. All patients got rehab therapy and were told to avoid risky activities for six months. (Cheng, 4/13)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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