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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

The US Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced in March the death of Congressman William Lehman at the age of 91. Congressman Lehman is the reason the Injury Center exists today. As chairman of an appropriations subcommittee, he was responsible for appropriating the initial $10 million awarded to the CDC to establish a new "Center for Injury Control" and support trauma research grants. The CDC established the William Lehman Injury Pioneer Award, and at the center’s 10 year anniversary celebration on Capitol Hill in 2002, Dr Gerberding presented the first William Lehman Injury Pioneer Award to Congressman Lehman. To quote the CDC’s announcement of the Congressman’s passing “Congressman Lehman was an incredible champion for the injury community”.

The Division of Violence Prevention, part of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, has announced the sudden death of Dr Linda E Saltzman. Linda passed away on 8 March 2005. The violence prevention community and those who find themselves affected by violent acts lost a friend and a champion for their safety with Linda’s passing. She brought a wealth of knowledge and a caring heart to her work. Linda began her CDC career in 1984, arriving from Mankato State University. Her work at the CDC focused on prevention of family and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, public health surveillance of violence against women, and violence as it relates to pregnancy and other reproductive health issues. Linda had worked on the development and pilot testing of uniform definitions for intimate partner violence and sexual violence. As a well-recognized expert in violence prevention, Linda provided consultation to federal and state health officials across the US and to researchers and violence practitioners, both nationally and internationally.

Fiona Godlee has been appointed as Editor of the BMJ. A former president of the World Association of Medical Editors, Fiona was Head of BMJ Knowledge. She served for a number of years as Assistant Editor on the BMJ before moving to develop Clinical Evidence in 1997. She left the BMJ Publishing Group in 2000 to work as Editorial Director for BioMedCentral, an open access publisher, and then returned in 2003 as Head of Knowledge. She takes over from Richard Smith who, in September 2004, joined the board of the Public Library of Science, a non-profit organisation of scientists and doctors committed to making the world’s scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource.

RECORD CIVIL PENALTY AGAINST GRACO

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has announced a provisional settlement with one of the nation’s largest children’s product manufacturers for the largest civil penalty levied in CPSC history. CPSC has provisionally imposed a $4 million penalty against Graco Children’s Products Inc for failing to inform the government in a timely manner about more than 12 million products that posed a danger to young children nationwide.

At the same time CPSC and Graco also announced the recall of about 1.2 million toddler beds, sold between February 1994 and March 2001, because a child’s arm or leg can become entrapped in the guard rails or footboard. The company’s failure to report the toddler beds is one of the violations leading to the civil penalty.

Graco acquired the Century brand name in 1998. Between 1991 and 2002, Graco and Century failed to report defects in juvenile products that the Commission said could create substantial product hazards or unreasonable risks of injury or death to young children. According to the CPSC, the company failed to report hundreds of incidents and injuries involving 16 different products. The products, all used by young children, include infant carriers, high chairs, infant swings, strollers, and toddler beds. The injuries ranged from contusions and fractures to strangulation (including some fatalities).

FEWER 16 YEAR OLDS ARE GETTING INVOLVED IN CRASHES

The fatal crash rate for 16 year old drivers declined sharply after states began enacting graduated licensing laws in the 1990s. Fatal crash involvements based on the population of 16 year olds fell 26% during 1993–2003. This is the main finding of a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study. The overall number of 16 year old drivers in fatal crashes decreased from 1084 in 1993 to 938 in 2003, while during the same period there was an 18% increase in the 16 year old population. “This isn’t a study of graduated licensing per se. It’s a look at the status of 16 year olds in states both with and without graduated licensing. Still, this study does reveal some very positive effects of the new licensing systems. The main reason for the decline in the crash rate is that fewer beginning drivers are getting their licenses when they turn 16,” says Susan Ferguson, Institute Senior Vice President for Research. Although the population based ratio of fatal crash involvements declined, the 2003 rate based on the number of licensed drivers did not change compared with the 1993 rate. Seventy three 16 year old drivers per 100 000 license holders were in fatal crashes in 1993, compared with 74 per 100 000 in 2003. Further details of the report can be accessed at http://www.iihs.org/news_releases/2005/pr022405.htm.

HEALTH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY CLOSES

On 1 April the functions of England’s Health Development Agency were transferred to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence. The new organisation has been renamed as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (to be known as NICE). It will be the independent organisation responsible for providing national guidance on the promotion of good health and the prevention and treatment of ill health. The web address for the new organisation is www.nice.org.uk.

SAFETY AGREEMENT BETWEEN US AND EU

In February, the US CPSC and the Directorate General Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission entered into an information sharing agreement. CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton and Director General Robert Madelin from the EC signed letters of commitment to implement mutually agreed guidelines to strengthen communication between both entities, and to improve consumer health and safety protection in the United States and the European Union. The agreement also addresses the need for enhanced regulatory cooperation on consumer product safety issues.

Contributors to these News and Notes include Ian Scott, Joseph Colella, and Barry Pless. Michael Hayes has edited the contributions. Items for future issues, including calendar entries, should be sent to Michael Hayes at the Child Accident Prevention Trust, 22–26 Farringdon Lane, London EC1R 3AJ, UK; fax +44 (0)20 7608 3674; e-mail mhayescapt.org.uk as soon as possible.

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