Taking aim

❝ Rebecca Cunningham of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor became acquainted with guns at a tender age: When she was 5 years old, her mother kicked out her violent husband, who had beaten her and threatened to kill her. And she bought a gun.

❝ Today, Cunningham, who once watched her mother tuck that pistol in her purse as she headed to the shooting range, is directing the largest gun research grant that the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded in at least 30 years. With $4.9 million from NIH’s child health institute and a team of 27 researchers at 12 institutions, she is on a mission to jump-start gun injury research on a population as vulnerable as she once was: U.S. children and teenagers, for whom guns are the second-leading cause of death.

As a hunter [in younger years] and gun owner with ethical concerns, I have to endorse this sort of research. The cynic in me still says cowardly politicians have no interest in the popular will of Americans vis-a-vis guns and gun control – but, it’s always worth extending our knowledge and continuing the fight.

Huge number of migrant kids held in Trump Jails


Mike Blake/Reuters

❝ Even though hundreds of children separated from their families after crossing the border have been released under court order, the overall number of detained migrant children has exploded to the highest ever recorded — a significant counternarrative to the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce the number of undocumented families coming to the United States.

Population levels at federally contracted shelters for migrant children have quietly shot up more than fivefold since last summer, according to data obtained by The New York Times, reaching a total of 12,800 this month. There were 2,400 such children in custody in May 2017.

❝ The huge increases, which have placed the federal shelter system near capacity, are due not to an influx of children entering the country, but a reduction in the number being released to live with families and other sponsors…

Or – perish the thought – returned to their own families.

What about apps in Google’s Play Store that track children?

Thousands of apps may be tracking the online activity of children in ways that violate US privacy laws, according to a recent survey of Android apps available on the Google Play store.

Using an “automatic evaluation of the privacy behaviors of Android apps,” a team of university researchers and computer scientists concluded that of 5,855 apps in the Play Store’s Designed for Families program, 28 percent “accessed sensitive data protected by Android permissions” and 73 percent of the applications “transmitted sensitive data over the internet.” Though the survey noted that simply collecting that information did not necessarily violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law limiting data collection on children under 13, “none of these apps attained verifiable parental consent” as required under the law since their automated tool was able to activate them.

Among the most concerning findings was that approximately 256 apps collected geolocation data, 107 shared the device owner’s email address, and 10 shared phone numbers.

1,100 shared persistent identifiers, which can be used for behavioral advertising techniques that are banned for use on children by COPPA. 2,281 transmitted Android Advertising IDs…in a method that could “completely negate” AAID privacy protections. That means those apps appear to be in violation of Google policy.

Do no harm, eh?

Another anti-vaccine excuse fades away

Children and adults with egg allergies do not need to avoid flu shots or take special precautions, and healthcare providers need not ask if patients are allergic to eggs before giving a flu shot, allergy experts said.

Updated practice guidelines from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) state that people with egg allergies should receive an annual flu shot and that no special precautions are required…

A joint ACAAI and AAAAI task force reviewed findings from recent studies involving thousands of patients with egg allergies, and those studies uniformly showed egg allergic patients to have a similar risk for flu shot reactions as people without egg allergies…

The studies showed no benefit to taking special precautions, such as pre-vaccine skin testing or stepwise challenge, in egg allergic children and adults, and John Kelso of the Scripps Clinic in San Diego said the risks associated with not being vaccinated are now clear.

“There are hundreds of thousands of influenza hospitalizations in the U.S. each year, and tens of thousands of deaths,” he said. “There has been a growing recognition that not vaccinating poses a special risk. The vast majority of egg allergies are in young children and young children are more susceptible to flu.”

You can say “amen” to another copout. If only it was that easy to rid public health questions of superstition and ignorance.