Archive for April, 2015

Double Increase in Neonatal Withdrawal Reveals Rising Trend of Prescription Drug Abuse

A new study published in the Journal of Perinatology discovered an alarming increase in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) from 2009 to 2012. Cases of infants born with NAS in the U.S. were roughly 3.4 of 1,000 births in 2009, but increased twofold to 5.8 for every thousand deliveries in 2012.

neonatal abstinence syndrome infant baby childStudy lead author Dr. Stephen Patrick, who works at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, said in a news report that the primary reason behind this trend is the increase in prescription drug abuse. “The rise in neonatal abstinence syndrome mirrors the rise we have seen in opioid pain reliever use across the nation. Our study finds that communities hardest hit by opioid use and their complications, like overdose death, have the highest rates of the NAS,” Patrick said. Meanwhile, senior study author Dr. William Cooper emphasized the impact of NAS in today’s society. “The findings of this study demonstrate that neonatal abstinence syndrome is a growing public health problem in the United States and places a tremendous burden on babies, their families, and the communities in which they live,” Cooper stated.

The country’s east south central section, composed of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, registered the highest rate of NAS at 16.2 births per thousand.

This study further confirms the importance of preventive intervention to address NAS, particularly by focusing on programs against opioid abuse. “Too often in our health system we react to problems instead of forging public health solutions. Imagine if we were able to use the dollars spent to treat NAS on improving public health systems aimed at preventing opioid misuse and improving access to drug treatment for mothers,” Patrick added.

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Another Study Proves That E-Cigarettes Won’t Help You Quit Smoking

If you think that switching to electronic cigarettes can help you quit smoking, think again.

electronic cigaretteA recent study conducted by researchers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine revealed that people who use e-cigarettes had a 49 percent less likelihood to minimize smoking of tobacco products compared to those who never used them. Meanwhile, the likelihood to quit smoking was 59 percent less in those who use electronic cigarettes than people who don’t.

Researchers were into the assumption that e-cigarettes could help kick the habit, but the study results proved otherwise. “Based on the idea that smokers use e-cigarettes to quit smoking, we hypothesized that smokers who used these products would be more successful in quitting… But the research revealed the contrary,” study co-author Wael Al-Delaimy said in a news report. One potential factor behind this occurrence is the presence of nicotine in electronic cigarettes. “One hypothesis is that smokers are receiving an increase in nicotine dose by using e-cigarettes,” Al-Delaimy added.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health, involved monitoring 1,000 smokers in California in one year.

Proponents of the study are hoping that their discoveries can help the U.S. Food and Drug Administration come up with sound guidelines in regulating e-cigarettes, which to this date has not yet been implemented.

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New Designer Drug Flakka Rises To Fame, Has Same Effects As Bath Salts

A synthetic drug that has been existing in the streets of Florida and other U.S. states is now being touted as the next “dangerous drug”.

flakka from DEAAccording to a recent Forbes article, Flakka is a crystalline designer drug that contains a powerful stimulant called alpha-PVP, which is classified as a Schedule 1 drug banned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The effects of this compound are similar to its cathinone cousin MDPV, commonly found in bath salts. Despite the ban on Schedule 1 drugs, alpha-PVP and Flakka are both relatively unknown substances up until the DEA noticed a surge in usage over the years.

According to a news article, there were no reported cases of Flakka usage in 2010, but the number shot up to 85 cases by 2012. In 2014, the DEA has recorded more than 670 cases of Flakka use.

The stimulant compound in Flakka causes users “temporary insanity and violent outbursts,” according to experts interviewed by CBS New York. Dr. Stephen Dewey, who specializes in drug addiction, said that the effects of Flakka to the human body are very dangerous. “It’s crazy because they become so aggressive. They become aggressive and when they think they’re superhuman they act on it,” Dr. Dewey said. “Your body temperature can go up to 105, 106, and that can be lethal. You can die from cardiac arrest, you can die from arrhythmias, you can die from kidney failure.”

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Alcohol Abuse in Adulthood Traced To Binge Drinking in Teenage Years

Teenagers engaged in frequent binge drinking are highly likely to abuse alcohol when they reach adulthood, a study finds.

drinking alcoholThis was revealed by a group of researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine when they investigated the effects of teen binge drinking in the human body. According to a news release, the study involved administering alcohol to rats for two days without any other food except water. The schedule of administration was repeated over a course of 13 days, after which the animals were checked whether they preferred to drink alcohol or water.

Results revealed that the alcohol-receiving rodents exhibited anxiety and preferred alcohol over water. According to the researchers, this abnormal behavior in the test subjects was because of changes in the amygdala, a part of the brain that processes emotions and decision-making. Previous studies have confirmed that alcohol intoxication can cause damage in the said parts of the brain.

Although the study was conducted on lab rats, the same trend might be translated to humans, particularly on how histone proteins and DNA genes are affected by the malfunction of the amygdala. “Genes that lie within DNA that is tightly wrapped around the histones are less active than they are if the DNA is loosely wrapped… The looser the DNA is coiled, the more accessible are the genes to the cellular machinery that makes relevant proteins,” said study lead author Dr. Subhash C. Pandey, who also works as director of the university’s neuroscience alcoholism research center.

Study findings were published in the Neurobiology of Disease journal.

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