Flint activist, pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha will visit the college March 25

All College of Public Health students, faculty, and staff are invited to join a college-wide reading of What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha.  It has been selected by the New York Times Book Review as among the ‘100 Notable Books of 2018.’

The book aligns with the University of Iowa’s spring 2019 theme semester, “American Dream.”

Dr. Hanna-Attisha will visit the College of Public Health in March 2019 for several events.

photo of book cover for What the Eyes Don't SeeMonday, March 25

CPH Spotlight Lecture
12:30 pm | Callaghan Auditorium (N110 CPHB)
Lunch will be served at 11:30 am in the CPHB atrium

Public Lecture
7 pm | Callaghan Auditorium (N110 CPHB)
Free and open to the public

Free Books for CPH Students

CPH students will receive a free copy of the book from their department or program — check with your department for details!

Borrow a Book

CPH faculty and staff are invited to borrow a copy of the book from the college for a two-week period. Email cph-communications@uiowa.edu to request a book loan or stop by S173 CPHB to pick up a copy.

About the Book

WHAT THE EYES DON’T SEE  the inspiring story of how Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, alongside a team of researchers, parents, friends, and community leaders, discovered that the children of Flint, Michigan, were being exposed to lead in their tap water—and then battled her own government and a brutal backlash to expose that truth to the world. Paced like a scientific thriller, What the Eyes Don’t See reveals how misguided austerity policies, broken democracy, and callous bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk. And at the center of the story is Dr. Mona herself—an immigrant, doctor, scientist, and mother whose family’s activist roots inspired her pursuit of justice.

What the Eyes Don’t See is a riveting account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope, the story of a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for their—and all of our—children.

About the Author

portrait of Dr. Mona Hanna-AttishMona Hanna-Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP, Hurley Children’s Hospital Pediatric Public Health Initiative, an innovative and model public health program in Flint, Michigan. A pediatrician, scientist, and activist, Dr. Hanna-Attisha has testified twice before the United States Congress, was presented the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America, and named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for her role in uncovering the Flint Water Crisis and leading recovery efforts. She has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, BBC and countless other media outlets championing the cause of children in Flint and beyond. She is
founding donor of the Flint Child Health and Development Fund (flintkids.org).

Dr. Hanna-Attisha received her bachelor’s and Master of Public Health degrees from the University of  Michigan and her medical degree from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine. She completed her residency at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit, where she was chief resident. She is currently an associate professor of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.


Study looks at impact of water, sanitation, and social conditions on birth outcomes in India

photo of a woman collecting water in plastic potsA new study by researchers in the University of Iowa College of Public Health examines the complex relationships between water and sanitation access and social conditions on birth outcomes among women in India.

Globally, preterm birth (PTB) and low infant birth weight (LBW) are leading causes of maternal and child illnesses and death. In low-income countries, the challenges women face to meet their basic water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) needs may be a major contributor to adverse health outcomes.

“Many homes in low-income countries have no private drinking water source. Women and girls are tasked with fetching water from outside the home, which can be physically stressful,” says Kelly Baker, assistant professor of occupational and environmental health, who co-authored the study. “In addition, homes often lack private toilet facilities, meaning women must use shared or public latrines or manage their sanitation needs in open spaces.”

A portrait of Kelly Baker, professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.
Kelly Baker

The lack of water and sanitation in the home forces women to navigate challenging, and sometimes personally threatening, social and environmental public conditions to collect water and to find a safe, private place to defecate, bathe, or manage menstruation, leading to psychosocial stress.

“Determining whether WASH-related stress—both physical and psychosocial—affects birth outcomes for women in low- and middle-income countries is critical for understanding whether the global prevalence of preterm birth and low infant birth weight could be reduced by improving the social and environmental conditions in which pregnant women seek clean water and proper sanitation,” says study co-author William Story, assistant professor of community and behavioral health.

For the study, which was published online Oct. 8, 2018, in PLOS ONE, the researchers used data from the India Human Development Survey . The survey asked women about their drinking water source, walking time to that source, time spent fetching water, sanitation (toilet) access, harassment of women and girls, local crime, whether community problems are solved collectively or individually, the amount of conflict within the community, as well as education, household wealth, and other characteristics.

portrait of William Story
William Story

The researchers examined the effect of pre-birth WASH and social conditions on self-reported PTB status and LBW status for 7,926 women who gave birth between 2004/2005 and 2011/2012. Of these women, 14.9 percent experienced premature birth and 15.5 percent delivered a low birth weight baby.

The study found that increased time daily spent fetching household water increased women’s risk of delivering a low birth weight baby. Open defecation and using a shared latrine within a woman’s building or compound were also associated with higher odds of low birth weight and preterm birth, respectively, compared to having a private household toilet.

Harassment of women and girls in the community also was associated with both low birth weight and preterm birth. The data also showed a possible association of local crime with low birth weight.

“This study contributes to the limited evidence related to environmental causes of PTB and LBW by demonstrating that lack of household WASH infrastructure and social factors, like crime and harassment of women and girls, are risk factors for adverse birth outcomes in women in low- and middle-income countries,” the researchers write. “Additionally, the findings suggest that gender norms that sanction harassment of women and girls and place the burden of household water fetching on women are key determinants of vulnerability to PTB and LBW among Indian women.”

Interventions that reduce domestic responsibilities related to water and sanitation and that change social norms related to gender-based harassment may reduce rates of PTB and LBW in India, the authors note.

Additional contributors to the study include Evan Walser-Kuntz and Bridget Zimmerman from the UI Department of Biostatistics. The paper is available online at https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0205345.

The study was funded by a pilot grant from the University of Iowa College of Public Health. Funding for the original IHDS study was provided to the University of Maryland and the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi, by the National Institutes of Health.

Report calls for hog farm moratorium in Iowa

A new report on the rapid expansion of hog farms in Iowa calls for a moratorium on new barns and concludes that the state’s regulatory system is failing to protect the environment and public health for the sake of profit of the politically powerful livestock industry.

“A tipping point has been reached. Rural Iowans have every reason to be concerned,” said the report released by retired University of Iowa professors James Merchant and David Osterberg.

UI-sponsored safe drinking water symposium set for Sept. 21-22

Faucet filling glass of ice with waterAssessing risks and developing strategies to ensure the safety of Iowa’s drinking water will be the focus when leading state and national water quality experts gather at a University of Iowa-sponsored event in Des Moines on September 21-22.

The symposium, “Challenges to Providing Safe Drinking Water in the Midwest,” will be held at Drake University.  The symposium is a collaborative effort, co-sponsored by several Iowa-based institutions and organizations, including a number of centers at the University of Iowa, Drake University, the University of Northern Iowa, the Iowa Association of Water Agencies, and the Central Iowa Drinking Water Commission.

The 1 ½-day event is open to the public. Additional information regarding agenda, registration, hotel, and parking is available at ehsrc.org.  Alternatively, call (319) 335-4756 to speak with an organizer.

This symposium will feature Iowa-based and nationally recognized speakers and discussion panels on a variety of drinking water issues facing Iowa, the Midwest, and the nation.  Some of the topics to be addressed include the Health Impacts of Nitrate in Drinking Water, Drinking Water Treatment Concerns, New and Emerging Drinking Water Threats, and Communicating with the Public on Drinking Water Issues.

Water quality in the State of Iowa has been an increasing public health concern in recent years, primarily due to nitrate levels that exceed U.S. EPA standards.  As this and other contaminants continue to pose public health threats via our waterways and resources, drinking water treatment, contaminant surveillance, and regulation continue to be at the forefront of environmental health concerns in the Midwest.

Dr. Peter Weyer, director of the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) at the University of Iowa, is both a co-organizer and presenter for the symposium, and looks forward to the exchange of information and ideas.

“The symposium will bring together state and national experts on safe drinking water and public health to share with Iowans some of the current and future challenges to our drinking water supplies,” says Weyer. “It will provide an excellent forum for drinking water professionals to share their challenges in managing public drinking water systems.”

University of Iowa sponsors include the Environmental Health Sciences Research Center, the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination, the Public Policy Center, and the Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research. Additional symposium co-sponsors include the Iowa Public Health Association; Iowa League of Cities; and the Iowa Environmental Council.