Testing It Up

Missouri Continues to Baffle Law Enforcement by Refusing to Keep Prescription Drug Database

Missouri is the lone state in the country that refuses to keep a database of the drugs that are prescribed to patients, much to the chagrin of the people who are tasked with trying to stop the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the United States.fighting prescription drug abuse

Not having such a database hampers Missouri’s ability to combat prescription drug abuse and also attracts people from neighboring states looking to stockpile pills and bring them home to either abuse or sell to others, according to law enforcement officials, legislators and data compiled by a prescription drug processing firm.

Drug monitoring program procedures and powers vary from one state to another, but they all require doctors, pharmacists or both to enter all prescriptions into a database that can be consulted later to make sure patients do not get excess medication. In some states, checking the database is mandatory.

Missouri has been urged to put a database into effect by Missouri medical associations, members of Congress from neighboring states, the White House and even Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, the St. Louis-based manufacturer of oft-abused prescription painkiller oxycodone.

But attempts to establish one so far have been blocked by a small group of lawmakers led by State Senator Rob Schaaf, a family physician who argues that allowing the government to keep prescription records violates personal privacy.

“There’s some people who say you are causing people to die — but I’m not causing people to die. I’m protecting other people’s liberty,” Schaaf said in a recent interview in his Senate office. “Missouri needs to be the first state to resist, and the other states need to follow suit and protect the liberty of their own citizens.”

Schaaf’s opposition has come under sharp criticism from fellow Republicans, including representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky, one of eight states that borders Missouri.

“It’s very selfish on Missouri’s part to hang their hat on this privacy matter,” Rogers said. “The rest of us suffer.”

July 21, 2014 at 11:29 am Comments (0)

Study Raises Concerns Over Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy

Acetaminophen use during pregnancy may be associated with a higher risk of attention-deficity/hyperactivity disorder and hyperkinetic disorder, a new study has found. pregnancy

The study, done by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in collaboration with the University of Aarhus in Denmark and published in the current online edition of JAMA Pediatrics, used the Danish National Birth Cohort, a nationwide study of pregnancies and children, to examine pregnancy complications and diseases in offspring as a function of factors operating in early life.

The researchers studied 64,322 children and mothers who were enrolled in the Danish cohort from 1996 to 2002 and obtained diagnoses of hyperkinetic disorder among the cohort’s children (at an average age of 11) from the Danish National Hospital Registry or the Danish Psychiatric Central Registry.

The researchers found that children whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy were at a 13% to 37% higher risk of later receiving a hospital diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder, being treated with ADHD medications or having ADHD-like behaviors at age 7. The longer acetaminophen was taken the stronger the associations. The risks for hyperkinetic disorder/ADHD in children were elevated 50% or more when the mothers had used the common painkiller for more than 20 weeks in pregnancy.

“The causes of ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder are not well understood, but both environmental and genetic factors clearly contribute,” said Dr. Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at the Fielding School and one of the senior authors of the paper. “We know there has been a rapid increase in childhood neurodevelopmental disorders, including ADHD, over the past decades, and it’s likely that the rise is not solely attributable to better diagnoses or parental awareness. It’s likely there are environmental components as well.”

ADHD, one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders worldwide, is characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, increased impulsivity, and motivational and emotional dysregulation. Hyperkinetic disorder is a particularly severe form of ADHD.

February 27, 2014 at 7:41 am Comments (0)

Teens with Mental Illness More Likely to Become Pregnant

Young girls with mental illness are much more likely to become teenage mothers than girls without a major mental illness, according to a Canadian study.teenage pregnancy

In the study, published Feb. 10 on the website of the journal Pediatrics, researchers examined live birth rates from 1999 to 2009 in 4.5 million girls ages 15 to 19 in the Canadian province of Ontario. The researchers found young girls with a major mental health illness were three times more likely to become teenage parents. These major mental health disorders included: depression, bipolar disorder and other psychotic disorders.

Birth rates in both girls who had a mental illness and those that didn’t decreased during the 10-year study period, however, the gap between the groups appeared to be increasing slightly. Among girls with a major mental illness, live births decreased by only 14% during the study period, compared with a 22% drop among girls without a major mental illness.

“Although we do know some of the risk factors behind why girls with mental health illness may be at increased risk of becoming pregnant, pregnancy prevention programs in most developed countries have not traditionally considered mental health issues,” Simone Vigod, MD, a psychiatrist at Women’s College Hospital and an adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, said in a news release.

The authors suggest targeted school-based programs are needed along with greater integration of reproductive healthcare into adolescent mental healthcare programs.

“Interventions that target and integrate reproductive and mental healthcare for young women are crucial to ensure we are providing the best care possible for adolescent mothers,” Cindy-Lee Dennis, PhD, senior scientist at Women’s College Research Institute and a Canada Research Chair in Perinatal Community Health, said in the news release. “Having these programs and offerings in place will also help reduce teenage pregnancy and improve mother and child health outcomes.”

The study is described as the first to examine trends in fertility rates among girls with mental illness.

February 20, 2014 at 8:10 am Comments (0)

TestCountry Interviews Pharmacist Ross Pelton About his Book “The Pill Problem”

Ross Pelton is a professional pharmacist, health educator, cancer researcher, nutritionist and author. His latest book, The Pill Problem, teaches women how to protect their health from the dangerous side effects of oral contraceptives.stacks_image_135

TestCountry recently sat down with Ross to ask him about his motivation for writing this book and what women can get out of it.

You can read the full TestCountry interview with Ross Pelton here.

 

 

 

 

 

February 6, 2014 at 1:28 pm Comments (0)

Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Taken Off Life Support, Fuels Debates

News wires are burning up with discussions about the case of a pregnant woman whose life support was stopped at the family’s request.

Life-supportParamedic Marlise Munoz was found unconscious inside her house November 26, 2013 and was discovered upon hospital admission to be at the 14 week mark of pregnancy. She was declared brain dead two days after admission, but the condition of the fetus was not yet known. Doctors at the John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas decided to keep her on life-saving measures in accordance with a Texas law that disregards a patient’s request to abstain from life support if she is pregnant.

The patient’s family, including husband Erick Munoz, decided to file charges against the hospital on January 14. The court ruling agreed with the family’s claims, stating that the law does not apply to a patient declared brain-dead.

While the court decision was in favor of the family, there was no gratification or happiness with the ordeal. “This is the decision we sought. There is nothing happy about today. This was a sad situation all the way around,” according to the family’s lawyer Heather King in a news interview.

The deceased woman’s condition was brain-dead, which according to Texas law is part of the definition of death or the “irreversible cessation of the person’s spontaneous respiratory and circulatory functions.”

January 28, 2014 at 9:37 pm Comments (0)

First Trimester of Pregnancy Critical For Child’s Heart Condition

A new study from the UK revealed the significance of the first trimester for a child’s heart health.

women delay pregnancy teenage births dropResearchers from the Erasmus University Medical School investigated the link between fetal development in the first few weeks of pregnancy and the cardiovascular condition of the baby. The study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, said that “impaired first trimester fetal growth is associated with an adverse cardiovascular risk profile in school age children”.

The study involved the close monitoring of almost 2,000 kids whose health conditions were monitored from the time they were still in the womb and continued during the child’s growth after birth. Ultrasound scans during the first 10 to 13 weeks of pregnancy were used to determine the size of the fetus, while health stats related to heart conditions were taken from children when they reached 6 years of age.

The researchers found that the first trimester is a very crucial development stage for the fetus, as it can dictate the outcome of the child’s overall health. “Early fetal life may be a critical period for cardiovascular health in later life,” the researchers declared.

In an interview with BBC, Prof. Vincent Jaddoe, one of the proponents of the study, echoed the conclusion of the study. “These results suggest that the first trimester of pregnancy may be a critical period for development of offspring cardiovascular risk factors in later life… Therefore adverse maternal lifestyle habits influencing early fetal growth may have persistent consequences for their offspring, many decades later,” Jaddoe said.

Earlier studies have shown that exercise for pregnant women may lead to better cardiovascular health for the child.

January 23, 2014 at 10:22 pm Comments (0)

Pregnant Smokers Have Higher Risk of Cleft Lip and Palate in Babies

The condition of cleft palate involves a baby’s underdevelopment, specifically in forming the roof of the mouth, resulting in a gap or opening. Similarly, a cleft lip condition happens when the upper lip has a gap, also due to incomplete formation.

pregnant-woman-smoking-150These health issues were once again brought into the limelight, with the release of the U.S. Surgeon General’s report on 50 years of monitoring the effects of cigarette smoking. The latest report says that pregnant women who smoke heighten the risk of their babies being born with either a cleft lip or cleft palate.

March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization in the U.S. focused on the health of babies and mothers, agreed with the General Surgeon’s report. “We now have confirmation that smoking during pregnancy can damage the health of both mothers and babies,” said March of Dimes chief medical officer Dr. Edward McCabe in a news item.

According to Dr. McCabe, introduction of cigarette smoke to the mother’s body provides an entry point for harmful chemicals to reach the fetus. Chemicals such as nicotine and carbon monoxide affect the oxygen uptake of the fetus, resulting in abnormalities in growth and development of the child while inside the womb.

McCabe urges mothers to kick the habit while it’s still early. “By quitting smoking before or during pregnancy, a woman will not only improve her own health; she may save her baby from being born too small and with a serious, disfiguring birth defect,” he added.

January 17, 2014 at 4:49 pm Comments (0)

Teenage Pregnancy Rates In Richmond Drop Due To Sex Education

Here’s great news for locals of Richmond, Virginia: the number of cases for teen pregnancy has been slashed almost in half between 2008 and 2012.

teenage pregnancyAccording to the health district of Richmond City, there were 916 cases of teenage births in 2008. this figure has since dwindled to only 497 in 2012. Health Coordinator Gale Grant shared his sentiments on the drop in incidents of early pregnancies. “We’re starting to reach a critical mass of young people and we’re somehow changing the social norm around early sexual activity.”

The health coordinator attributes the improvement to early sex education — students are educated on sex as early as 10 years old. According to Grant via a news release, “It matters greatly who teaches them in these areas. It matters greatly that that person stands before them — and interacts with them and believes in what they’re telling them.”

The city’s health district has also been open and on the offense when it comes to keeping their youngsters sexually healthy. In fact, Richmond teenagers are give opportunities to be tested for HIV and other reproductive health risks through the city’s resource centers.

Part of the sex education of the youth is teaching them basic parenting tips, even though they’re still young. Some of the reported pregnancies may not have had sufficient sex education early on in their lives, but the city is trying to help them get on their feet again. One of the factors that the city health district considers to have lead to high teenage pregnancy rates is poverty. While Richmond numbers have declined in 2012, it’s still considered high compared to neighboring cities such as Henrico (with only 233 cases) and Chesterfield (at only 298 reported incidents).

December 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm Comments (0)

Pregnant Women Advised To Change Lifestyle Choices To Prevent Birthing Complications

If it’s not obvious to or known by most women, wrong lifestyle choices could lead to risks in pregnancy and giving birth.

pregnancy foodThis revelation, although not surprising anymore, was confirmed by a group of international researchers. The group’s study, published in BMJ via Medical News Today, cites a number of lifestyle factors that women should consider changing for the sake of their babies.

Researchers from Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK revealed some of the factors that could prevent risks during pregnancy:

  • Eating fruit seems to be one of the factors that results in a healthy pregnancy. The study found that women who ate more fruit a month before pregnancy had lower risks during labor.
  • Women who continue to work under paid employment 15 weeks into pregnancy were also found to have lower probability of developing complications during childbirth.
  • Keeping healthy blood pressure also helps. For those who are not yet hypertensive, a healthy lifestyle must be maintained: reduce weight, exercise, lower salt intake and alcohol use. The study further deduced that a drop of 5 mm Hg in blood pressure could result in as much as a 3% decrease in pregnancy risks.

The study looked into more than 5,600 pregnancy cases where monitoring was performed at 15-20 weeks of gestation for any signs of birthing risks. Out of the respondents, 61% were found to have healthy and uncomplicated pregnancies. On the other hand, risks that stood out were smaller-sized babies in comparison to their age, high blood pressure during pregnancy, preeclampsia and premature births.

November 24, 2013 at 1:00 am Comments (0)

Steroid Shots For Premature Delivery Linked To Higher Risk Of ADHD

Children born prematurely are given injection shots of glucocorticoids to ensure that their lungs develop properly. These substances have the same function as cortisol, a hormone naturally present in the body.

preterm birthA recent study discovered a link between these steroid injections and a heightened risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as other similar conditions. The research team, led by Alina Rodriguez of the Imperial College London’s School of Public Health, released the results in the journal PLoS One last November 22.

The scope of the study included 222 children who were born prematurely, 37 of which were from mothers who received glucocorticoid shots prior to giving birth.

Rodriguez explained the reason behind the study. “There are a lot of studies that have found links between stress in pregnancy and effects on children’s mental health, especially ADHD, and this might be related to cortisol,” said Rodriguez in a news item. She also shared the team’s insights on the link between ADHD and the steroid shot. “Synthetic glucocorticoids mimic the biological reaction when the mother is stressed, so we wanted to see if babies who were exposed to this treatment are affected similarly in terms of mental health outcomes.”

The study found a link but not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Because the scope was limited to only a few babies, Rodriguez hopes that more studies related to this condition will arise in the future.

November 23, 2013 at 1:00 am Comments (0)

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