Friday, April 1, 2011

Health Awareness Observances for the Month of April

What are the symptoms of autism? Do you know the best way to protect your infant against vaccine-preventable diseases? How do you prevent meningitis? If you don’t know the answers to these questions and you want to educate yourself about autism, infant immunization, meningitis and other health-related issues, then get ready to celebrate April Health Awareness Month!

The following health observances are recognized for the entire month of April:

Alcohol Awareness Month

According to Psychology Today, “25% of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.” Considering the millions of children that there are in the U.S., that is a tragically high number. Alcohol Awareness Month was created to educate both children and adults about the devastating effects of alcohol. Individuals and organizations can learn how to recognize the signs of alcohol abuse and help people get the treatment they need.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month

The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders estimates that “IBS affects between 25 and 45 million people in the United States” and “worldwide it's estimated that between 1 in 10 and nearly 1 in 4 people (9% to 23% of populations) has IBS.” What exactly is IBS? It’s a disorder that causes abdominal pain and changes in bowel movements. Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month promotes the understanding of IBS, ways to treat it and the raising of money for advancement in IBS research.

Occupational Therapy Month

Did you know that occupational therapy helps people who are suffering from arthritis, diabetes and obesity? Occupational Therapy Month is a celebration to appreciate occupational therapists and assistants. Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. to learn Ten Things You Can Do to Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month.

March for Babies

According to the March of Dimes website, “In the United States, about 12.8 percent of babies (more than half a million a year) are born prematurely. The rate of premature birth has increased by 36 percent since the early 1980s.” March for Babies was created by the March of Dimes to help fund research to prevent premature birth, birth defects and other birth-related conditions associated with newborns.

National Child Abuse Prevention Month

“Over 3 million reports of child abuse are made every year in the United States,” according to, an organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect. National Child Abuse Prevention Month raises awareness about these victims and educates people on strengthening families and communities affected by child abuse.

National Autism Awareness Month

“One percent of the population of children in the U.S. ages 3 to 17 have an autism spectrum disorder,” states the Autism Society. Autism is a developmental disorder in the brain that affects a person’s social and communication skills. It usually appears within the first three years of life, but with early and effective treatment, it can help children successfully integrate into society. National Autism Awareness Month educates the public about autism and promotes fundraising for the Autism Society of America.

Sexually Transmitted Disease Awareness Month

The Centers for Disease Control estimates “there are approximately 19 million new cases of STDs each year in the United States, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.” These sexually transmitted diseases can create long-term health illnesses, and eventually lead to death. STD Awareness Month educates people about ways they can prevent STDs, as well as stresses the importance of talking to a healthcare provider if you have an STD.

National Donate Life Month

National Donate Life Month was created in 2003 by Donate Life America, an organization whose goal is to motivate the American public to become organ, eye and tissue donors. According to its website, “An average of 18 people die each day from the lack of available organs for transplant.” Donate Life America proclaimed April as National Donate Life Month to continue its mission of raising awareness for organ donation in America.

National Facial Protection Month

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that mouth guards can prevent up to 200,000 injuries a year. Although it is mandatory for sports players to wear mouth guards in hockey, football and lacrosse, many people believe that it should be mandatory for all athletes in every sport. National Facial Protection Month is sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Association of Orthodontists and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and it advocates for mouth guard protection and protective facial gear for all sports players.

Foot Health Awareness Month

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, “a 150 pound person walking one mile can exert a force of 63.5 tons on a single foot? That weight can greatly impact a person’s ability to move around. Foot Health Awareness Month encourages people to take care of their feet and ankles so that they can prevent future foot problems from happening.

National Minority Health Month

Did you know that African American men are 80% more likely to have chronic liver disease than white men, or that Asian American women are 2.4 times more likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-Hispanic white women? These are statistics from the Office of Minority Health, an organization established by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. National Minority Health Month educates the public about ways to improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities in America. Visit the National Minority Quality Forum website for more information.

-Trish Smith

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