Sunday, February 01, 2009

February Health Observances 2009

One of the most charming events of February is Valentine's Day so it’s fitting that heart-related health promotion events are prominantly featured this month. But other causes compete with the heart for our attention, jam-packing our shortest month with a variety of health observances and holidays. Here in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday on February 12th will be a local holiday in some communities, and this is followed closely by our national holiday, Presidents' Day, on February 16th. It's also Black History Month. (My favorite February observance occurs on the 20th, by the way; a milestone birthday this year for one of my favorite men.)

Heart-Related February Observances

  • American Heart Association’s “American Heart Month”. Heart disease is the number 1 killer of men and women in the United States. Stroke is number 3. Focusing some attention on lifestyle and cardiovascular health could add quality years to your life. Take advantage of heart healthy events this month to ensure you’re doing all that you should to prevent a heart attack or stroke.

  • February 6th is National Wear Red Day, a feature of heart month. Americans are encouraged to wear red to show solidarity for women’s heart disease awareness. Associated with this event since 2002 has been a red dress logo and the slogan, “Heart Disease doesn’t care what you wear; it’s the No. 1 killer of women.” Women’s heart health events will be featured on this date with a major women’s heart health fair taking place in Washington, D.C.

  • The week of February 7-14th is Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect in the U.S with an estimated 40,000 babies born with heart problems each year.

  • Valentines Day, February 14th, has also been recognized as National Donor Day since 1998. This is a day for acknowledging those precious and life-saving donations of blood, bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and organs.

  • February is National Marfan Awareness Month. Marfan Syndrome is a genetic disorder of the body's connective tissue. Taller than average height, longer limbs and digits are obvious physical traits. Less obvious are the internal complications of this disease. Weakened connective tissue in the aorta, the artery carrying blood away from the heart, places a Marfan's patient at more than 250 times increased risk of sustaining a life-threatening torn or ruptured aorta. Recognizing the syndrome early and starting appropriate treatment can prevent such complications.

More Health Observances in February

  • School children’s Valentine Day celebrations traditionally feature loads of delicious cookies, cupcakes and candy. But the American Dental Association obviously gave those chocolate delicacies some thought 60 years ago when they designated February as National Children’s Dental Health Month. Click their link to download activity sheets and posters urging teens and children to “power up your smile,” (Posters are also available Spanish.) The centerpiece of dental health month, observed on February 6th this year, is “Give Kids A Smile Day.” With the slogan “more than just a day,” Give Kids A Smile Day was introduced to provide dental health education and care to low-income children who would otherwise do without.

  • Wouldn’t it be great to observe this one all year long? National Wise Health Consumer Month is sponsored by the American Institute for Preventive Medicine. Their mission it is to promote positive health behaviors by developing and distributing effective self-care strategies via wellness programs, publications, and products that aid health promotion and influence behavior change. has a list of ten tips for being a wise health care consumer. I’ll post it separately as this February health observance list is already way too crowded with information!

  • This month is also International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month. Group B Strep is a bacteria that lives naturally in our digestive tract; if strays into the birth canal, the developing baby can be adversely affected. Stillbirth and miscarriage are possible, as are serious developmental handicaps or life-threatening sepsis within the first months of life. Most pregnant women are now screened for Group B Strep between the 35th-37th week of pregancy. If they test positive, they will be treated with IV antibiotics in the hours prior to delivery. The newborn may require antibiotic treatment as well.

  • One week only, February 21 – 28. Since 1987 the National Eating Disorders Association has sponsored National Eating Disorder Awareness Week to inform the public about eating disorders and body image issues in an effort to reduce the stigma associated with eating disorders. This year the organization will host its first annual awareness walk on February 21st in Seattle.

  • February 1-7: National Burn Awareness Week. Downloads are available courtesy of Shriner's Hospital for Children to include fact sheets for parents and burn prevention materials for children. This year the campaign focuses on raising awareness about and preventing gasoline burns. Parents, be advised: children ages 10-14 are the ones most likely to sustain a burn related to improper use of gasoline. Check out their site for more information.

  • February 7th: National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was founded in 2001. Their excellent website explains the NBHAAD mission and provides resources as well as an interactive map to help you locate events in your area.

It's a popular month for observances, I'm sure I must be missing something . . .


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