It was an active year in the world of health reporting here at The Boston Globe. Our reporters covered everything from health care cost-control in Massachusetts, to the Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act.
The chronological list that follows highlight some of the stories we felt were among the most important we covered in 2012…
CDC estimates 1 in 88 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder
One child out of 88 in the United States is believed to have autism or a related disorder, the Centers for Disease Control said.
The new number means autism is nearly twice as common as officials said it was just five years ago.
New guidelines recommend against PSA screening
A government panel recommended against screening healthy men for prostate cancer with the PSA blood test, concluding that harm from the widely used test outweighed its benefits in all age groups.
This continues to be a hot-button issue as many of those who treat prostate cancer continue to argue that the side effects are worth saving a life.
In June, The Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act. At the time, Boston Globe reporter Tracy Jan wrote:
“The ruling reaffirms the most ambitious and controversial undertaking of Obama’s first term: attempting to guarantee that most of the 45 million Americans without insurance will get better access to medical care.”
Mass. cost-control legislation passes
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick shook hands with House Speaker Robert DeLeo after signing a health care cost containment bill into law.
The first-in-the nation legislation is the second phase of the groundbreaking universal health care law that was signed by Governor Mitt Romney in 2006.
The new law allows health spending to grow no faster than the state’s economy through 2017.
NYC bans large sodas, US revamps school lunch
New York City’s Board of Health passed a rule banning sales of big sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, concession stands, and other eateries.
The regulation puts a 16-ounce size limit on cups and bottles of non-diet soda, sweetened teas, and other sugary beverages.
Meanwhile, the US Agriculture Department’s new school lunch guidelines set limits on calories and salt, and aim to phase in more whole grains.
Meningitis outbreak tied to Framingham pharmacy
Federal regulators confirmed the presence of a fungus in unopened vials of steroids from a Framingham pharmacy at the center of a nationwide meningitis outbreak.
Medical marijuana passes, death with dignity fails
A measure to legalize medical marijuana in Massachusetts won decisive support at the ballot box this fall, while the initiative that would allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with medication prescribed by physicians was narrowly defeated.
Exeter Hospital technician accused of infecting patients
A former medical technician at Exeter Hospital was accused of spreading hepatitis C to dozens of patients nationwide.
David M. Kwiatkowski was indicted in an elaborate scheme to steal powerful painkillers, causing patients to become infected with his strain of the liver-damaging virus.
New Alzheimer’s drug trials begin after two failures
Eli Lilly and Co. will launch another study of its possible Alzheimer’s treatment after the company said in August that it failed to slow memory decline in two late-stage studies of about 1,000 patients each. Early next year, the first study to try to prevent Alzheimer’s will begin.
American Psychiatric Association approves first major revisions to diagnostic manual in 20 years
One of the most notable changes is that the new manual adds the term ‘‘autism spectrum disorder,’’ and that Asperger’s disorder will be dropped and incorporated under that umbrella diagnosis. The new category will include children with severe autism as well as those with milder forms.