Bits and bytes of local and national health, wellness and scientific news:

Autism Speaks
According to a recent study, the rate of vaccinations among children with health insurance has dropped in recent years, most likely as a result of fears about a link between the vaccines and the astronomical rise in autism rates. (As many as one in every 150 8-year-olds is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.) For the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, rates of immunization dropped from 93.5 percent in 2008 to 90.6 percent in 2009 for children with health insurance; on the other hand, vaccination rates for children with Medicare have actually increased.

Easy Breathing
Ochsner Medical Center, along with 33 other medical institutions nationwide, recently participated in the National Lung Screening Trial sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. According to the results of the trial, screening for lung cancer with low-dose helical CT can help reduce deaths by 20 percent for former and current heavy smokers ages 55-74.

Tulane University School of Medicine recently received a “Helping Hands” grant from the American Psychiatric Foundation to provide free psychiatric screenings for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcoholism and anxiety at different locations around New Orleans.

Hunting Dangers
A recent Ohio State University Study published in American Surgeon reveals that falls from tree stands are a bigger threat to hunters than gun-related injuries. Of the hunting-injury cases studied, 50 percent of injuries were caused by falls, 92 percent of which were from tree stands, while gunshot wounds caused 29 percent of injuries.

November is National Adoption Month, Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, Diabetes Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Healthy Skin Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Prematurity Awareness Month and the month of the Great American Smokeout.