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On October 11, 2022, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended, for the first time, that children aged 8 and up should be screened for anxiety. This recommendation comes after the 2018-2019 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) found that 7.8% of children and adolescents aged 3 to 17 years had a current anxiety disorder. 

The new recommendation applies to children who are not already diagnosed with a mental health condition and who don’t have recognized symptoms of anxiety, depression, or suicide. However, the USPSTF concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of screening for anxiety in children 7 years or younger. 

This is a very exciting recommendation since it is important to catch these conditions early because anxiety disorders in childhood and adolescence are associated with an increased likelihood of a future anxiety disorder or depression in adulthood. 

Though not a new recommendation, kids aged 12 and up should also be screened for depression, the task force advised, which is consistent with their findings in 2016. 

Before delving into the implications of USPSTF’s recommendations, it’s worth defining what anxiety is and its prevalence among children. 

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Recent Developments in “Best Before” Food Labeling Practices 

You might be eyeing those strawberries in your refrigerator, but you don’t remember when you bought them. You look at the date on the packaging and notice that it has passed. Are the strawberries still safe to eat? You hate to waste what appears to be good food, but you also do not want you or your family to get sick. 

Like many people, you might be confused by the different “best before” or “use by” dates on many food items. Out of concern for your health, you might have thrown out food prematurely because of what looks like an “expiration” date. Unfortunately, misconceptions about these labels and fears of eating unhealthy foods contribute to U.S. households wasting an estimated 20% of their food each year. 

The Source of Confusion 

In the 1970s, food manufacturers began adding date labels to their products. While no regulations exist for these labels on most perishable foods, U.S. law requires that baby formula have “use by” dates. 

In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began an initiative to cut down on food waste. The primary problem stemmed from consumers throwing away food that was still safe because, according to the date labeling, such food appeared to “expire.” To help curb the waste, the FDA recommended that manufacturers use “best if used by” to indicate freshness and to label perishable foods with “use by” labeling. 

Research suggests that the wording of these labels makes a difference in how well consumers understand their meanings and how much food they unnecessarily throw out. Cornell University led a study finding that people interpret phrases like “use by” to relate solely to safety. In contrast, they view “best by” or “best if used by” as indicators of an item’s quality or freshness. According to the researchers, people are less likely to throw away food with “best by” labeling than “use by” terms. 

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BA.5 COVID-19 Variant: What We Know

BA.5 is currently the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know about this latest COVID variant and how to best stay protected. 

What Is the BA.5 COVID Variant? 

BA.5 is one of the newest sub-variants of the COVID-19 Omicron virus. It made up 85.5% of all COVID cases in the U.S. between July 24 and July 30, reports the CDC. At present, the three most common variants of Omicron are BA.2, BA.4, and BA.5. 

How Is BA.5 Different From Other Strains of COVID? 

The BA.5 variant currently represents the highest number of COVID cases, and therefore may be more contagious than other strains of this disease. It also appears to “evade protection from vaccines and previous infections more easily” than previous variants, according to a report from NBC News.

David Montefiori, a professor at the Human Vaccine Institute at Duke University Medical Center, says BA.5 is approximately three times less sensitive to neutralizing antibodies from COVID vaccines than the original version of Omicron. It is also four times more resistant to antibodies from COVID vaccines than BA.2, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature. 

In June, the U.K. reported that the majority of people who were testing positive for COVID were experiencing symptoms including fever, abdominal pain, sore throat, and muscle aches. BA.5 and BA.4 accounted for the majority of new COVID cases in the U.K. during that time. 

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