In the News: Mumps Outbreak Hits Washington State, New Jersey Aims to Lower Infant Mortality, Heavy Snow May Increase Male Heart Attack Risk

Mumps outbreak hits Washington State. The state of Washington has been grappling with a mumps outbreak since October and now, 367 people have been diagnosed or at least suspected of having the illness. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those infected are school-age children. The Washington State Department of Health believes that this outbreak is linked to the decrease in vaccination rates in children over five years old throughout the state. The mumps vaccine is about 88% effective at preventing the infection, which means that some children who received the shot could still get sick. The worrisome part is that mumps can have some serious complications, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the structures surrounding the brain). Read more about the importance of vaccines here. (ABC)

Nobody puts baby in the (cardboard) corner! New program in New Jersey aims to decrease infant mortality. Baby boxes are going out to new families for free in an attempt to educate parents about infant safety. The boxes are made of laminated cardboard and encourage parents to follow the ABCs of sleep (Alone, on their Backs, and . . . well, the C should now stand for Cardboard). While researchers don’t know exactly why, these simple measures could drastically reduce the risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. The box also includes diapers, baby wipes, a onesie, and breastfeeding pads. Watch Dr. Oz’s favorite tips on how to get a baby to sleep here. (NYT)

Heavy snowfall may carry risk for heart attack in men. When weather hits hard like last week’s snowstorm Niko, many can be found outside with a shovel in hand. But a new study from the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests that the winter wonderland could be dangerous for your heart. To investigate, researchers looked at weather patterns over the past 30 years and compared them to hospital records of patients diagnosed with heart attacks. They found that during the extra snow, men are about 16% more likely to go to the hospital for a heart attack and just more than 30% more likely to die from one. Yikes! The authors don’t say exactly why men are at a higher risk, but they advise switching from a snow shovel to a snow blower so that you don’t overdo it out there. Check out Dr. Oz’s favorite tips on staying safe in the snow. (TIME)