Answering the question about how geography affects your health

Dr. Joel DavidsonCombining the efforts of primary care, public health and geographers was the focus of a talk by Joel Davidson MD, and Laura Shuh, MPH, at Akron Children’s Hospital’s annual Pediatric Update in April.

They spoke about a research project they’re conducting that aims to answer the question, “How does where you live affect your health?” Sponsored by the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation Research Fund, the project is evaluating blood lead levels in Summit County neighborhoods.

Shuh, a public health doctoral student at Kent State University, showed evidence that crime, poor birth outcomes, infant mortality, accidental injury and suicide are affected by your neighborhood. She illustrated how their team is using Geographic Information System (GIS) to map, model and analyze large quantities of data health practices in Summit County.

With the lead project, GIS is helping them compare reported cases of lead poisoning with geographic maps.

“We are trying to map out neighborhood and county hot spots and hopefully connect these neighborhoods with preventative health resources,” Shuh said.

Dr. Davidson, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Locust Pediatric Care Group, stressed the importance of physicians knowing their community. He recently led a group of his colleagues on a bike trip through Akron in order to do just that.

melo.michelson@gmail.com' About Melonie Michelson

Melonie Michelson is a freelance writer and science educator who spent over 30 years working as a genetic counselor and educator at Akron Children’s Hospital. During that time, she developed and coordinated Akron Children’s fetal treatment center and publications such as Teaching Human Genetics: Resources for Science and Biology. After having a child with a genetic condition, she switched career paths from journalism to medical genetics.

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