Daily Digest: Minority babies on top, Twin Cities hospitals agree, Coffee drinkers may live longer

Nickalas Tabbert

 Here is your Daily Digest for Thursday, May 17:

Minority babies on top for first time in U.S. history

For the first time ever, most of the nation’s babies are coming from minority groups, according to new census figures.

Population estimates show that 50.4 percent of children less than a year old were Hispanic, black, Asian or other minority members, nearly a full percentage point higher than data taken from the decennial census in April 2010, the Star Tribune said.

The last estimates, which gauge changes since the last census, are a reflection of an immigration wave that began four decades ago, the article said.  The census predicted non-Hispanic whites will be outnumbered in the United States by 2042.

“This is a watershed moment,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at John Hopkins University who specializes in family issues.  “It shows us how multicultural we’ve become.”

Four states – Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas, along with the District of Columbia – now have majority-minority populations, the Washington Post said.

The Hispanic growth rate is being driven more by native births than immigration.  Mexico, the country where many Hispanics have come from, has decreased to the point now where the trend may be reversing, the Post said. 

William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution, said the slowdown in immigration may delay the nation’s transformation to a majority-minority society from 2042 to 2050 or beyond, but not prevent it.

“Eventually, when the economy returns, we’re going to get more immigrants, maybe not from Mexico but from other parts of the world,” he said. 

Frey also said changes to the country may not be as huge as some people think. 

“Immigrants will change our society, but our society will change the immigrants,” he said.

 

Workers from eight Twin Cities hospitals agree on tentative contract

Workers at eight Twin Cities hospitals reached a tentative contract agreement Wednesday, sidestepping a potential strike later this month.

Hospital negotiators and the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Minnesota, which represents 3,500 nursing assistants, technicians and support staff, have been negotiating a contract since January, the Star Tribune said.  The current contract had been extended several times.

Union and hospital workers met all day Wednesday – just one day after 91 percent of union members voted to authorize a strike.

The union represents workers at Bethesda, Fairview Riverside, Fairview Southdale, Methodist, St. John’s, North Memorial and Children’s Hospitals in Minneapolis and Children’s Hospital in St. Paul.

Details about the new contract will not be available until after union members vote next week, according to a union statement.

Wages and benefits played a large role in the conflict, including a proposal by the hospitals that would have increased workers’ out-of-pocket costs for health insurance, according to the union.

Tee McClenty, the union’s chief negotiator said that even though the union did not get everything they wanted, by standing together “we fought back the most outrageous cuts that would have driven the lowest-paid workers in our hospitals into poverty.”

A spokesperson for the hospitals could not be reached for comment.

 

Drinking coffee linked to longer lifespan

Drinking a daily cup of coffee may lower your risk of dying from chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests.

The study showed that overall, coffee drinkers were less likely than their peers to die during the study, and the more coffee they drank, the lower their mortality risk tended to be, the CNN article said.

When researchers broke down the data by specific causes of death, including heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia, stroke and diabetes, the results stayed the same.  Cancer was the only major cause of death not associated with coffee consumption.

“There has been some concern that coffee might increase the risk of death, and this provides some reassurance against that worry,” said Neal D. Freedman, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and an investigator with the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute, in Rockville, Maryland.

Though the study did not say coffee directly lowers the risk of chronic disease, moderate coffee consumption was linked to better survival odds.  Drinking a single cup per day was associated with a six percent lower risk of dying among men and a five percent lower risk among women.

The reductions in risk could have potentially dramatic implications for public health if spread out over the tens of millions of coffee drinkers in the United States, said Susan Fisher, Ph.D., chair of community and preventive medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in Rochester, New York.

“Even a small decrease, when you’re talking about a [behavior] that is so ubiquitous across the human population, could mean many, many lives saved,” Fisher said.