Review Category : Health

Colorado Marijuana Report Reveals Increase in Hospital Visits After Legalization

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — The number of patients arriving at Colorado hospitals and emergency rooms after marijuana exposure rose significantly after the drug was legalized and made available at retail shops, according to a new report by the Colorado Department of Public Health.

The report details how the drug’s legalization has affected state residents, including rates of usage, crime and effects on public health.

Hospitalizations involving patients with possible marijuana exposures and diagnoses increased from approximately 803 per 100,000 between 2001 and 2009 to 2,413 per 100,000 after marijuana was legalized and sold at retail stores, according to the report, which was unveiled Monday. Recreational marijuana was legalized for sale on Jan. 1, 2014, in Colorado.

Visits to emergency rooms also went up from an average of 739 per 100,000 patients between 2010 and 2013 to 956 per 100,000 after Jan. 1, 2014. The authors used specific billing codes that are used by hospitals to identify cannabis exposure and hallucinogen poising. They clarified that these codes do not prove that cannabis exposure was the main reason a patient was treated at the hospital.

“Use of these codes does not mean that the visit is motivated by marijuana exposure but simply that it is a possibility,” the study authors said.

Dr. Andrew Monte, a toxicologist at the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Colorado, said he’s not surprised to see an increase of hospital and ER visits related to marijuana use.

“When the availability of any drug goes up,” you see more hospital visits, said Monte, who was not involved in the new study. “That goes for a new high blood pressure drug to marijuana.”

Monte, who co-wrote a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on marijuana tourism in February, said there are usually three reasons people come to the ER after using marijuana. He said in his experience, people come in for treatment if they exacerbate underlying symptoms with the drug, for example, irritating their lungs if they have asthma, for cyclic vomiting related to high concentrations of THC ingestion and general intoxication from marijuana.

The smallest group is made up of “people who come in intoxicated,” Monte said. “We only see one or two for marijuana intoxication. I would say disproportionately we see edible agents lead to more intoxication.”

A 2014 opinion co-written by Monte and other physicians at University of Colorado said their most pressing concern after marijuana legalization was in children who accidentally ingested marijuana. The doctors reported they had 14 children admitted for marijuana exposure from September to December 2014. Seven of these children ended up in the intensive care unit with the vast majority being treated after eating edible THC products. Doctors still see children admitted for ingesting edibles, Monte said, but that there has been a public safety push to make parents aware about the dangers of edibles for children.

“The point always needs to be made that there have clearly been positives from marijuana liberalization from a social perspective and medical perspective,” Monte said. “It allows us to examine marijuana use for medical conditions where we couldn’t do that before.”

More study is needed to mitigate the negative effects of the liberalization, Monte said, but health officials have been working to do that since the drug’s legalization.

In addition to the findings on hospital visits, the new report found arrests related to marijuana have gone down about 46 percent before and after legalization. Usage has gone up significantly for adults, especially young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 years old, the report found. About 31 percent of young adults reported using the drug at least once in the last 30 days in 2014 compared to 21 percent in 2006.

Among adolescents, researchers found that about 12.6 percent of those between the ages of 12 and 17 reported using marijuana within the last 30 days in 2014 compared to 10.2 percent in 2009.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Republicans Resist Calls to Approve Zika Funding

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Top Republicans reviewing the Obama administration’s request for $1.9 billion in funding to fight the Zika virus say they need more answers from the administration before signing off on the measure.

“We’re working with them on it to figure out the exact right amount of money, how’s it going to be spent, and I don’t think in the end there’s going to be any opposition to addressing what we think is going to be a fairly significant public health crisis,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

McConnell did not respond when asked if Congress would approve Zika funding before the summer recess in July, but congressional leaders want to move quickly. Zika has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and brains.

“That is why we pushed the money that was already in the pipeline out the door as fast as possible for Zika,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a news conference.

Republicans insist the administration hasn’t answered all their budget questions about how the nearly $2 billion will be spent over the next few years. Democrats say they’ve provided enough information for appropriators to clear additional funding.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, told ABC News that Republicans want to make sure the resources given are used wisely.

“I think that there’s a tendency some times to frankly shoot from the hip on this stuff and I think we understand the importance of responding quickly,” he said.

He also suggested that the administration could move additional existing funds toward the Zika effort more quickly, which top health officials are reluctant to do.

Democrats have continued to apply pressure on Republicans to act on Obama’s request for funding.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, argued that Congress needs to move quickly on Zika funding.

“This Congress cannot bury its head in the sand and hope that Zika goes away because it will not,” she said. “We can invest in stopping it, or we can let people in our country become infected and suffer.”

On Monday, more than 40 Senate Democrats signed a letter to McConnell and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran calling for a vote on funding to fight the virus. On Tuesday, House Democratic appropriators tried for the second time to add Obama’s funding request to a spending bill as an amendment, but were blocked by Republicans.

Top House Democrats are planning a news conference tomorrow to call for GOP action on Zika funding.

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Utah Governor Signs Legislation Calling Porn a ‘Public Health Crisis’

Natalie Cass/Getty Images(SALT LAKE CITY) — Utah Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed a resolution Tuesday that declares porn is an “epidemic” that is creating a “public health crisis” in the state.

The resolution, which is reportedly the first in the nation to declare pornography a public health crisis, addresses a broad range of issues that allegedly arise from the adult entertainment industry.

“Due to advances in technology and the universal availability of the Internet, young children are exposed to what used to be referred to as hard core, but is now considered mainstream, pornography at an alarming rate,” the resolution said.

The resolution also states that “pornography normalizes violence and abuse of women and children,” among a long list of other grievances.

Todd Weiler, the Republican senator who sponsored the resolution, told ABC News that the resolution came about after the National Center on Sexual Exploitation held a symposium at the U.S. Capitol in July 2015 entitled “Pornography: a Public Health Crisis. How Porn Fuels Sex Trafficking, Child Exploitation, & Sexual Violence.”

“We now have the social sciences at least to kind of show what is happening and we now have a whole generation who has grow up with some of the most despicable pornographic images on their computers,” Weiler said. “I think most people today know that if they start using something like heroin or meth, they know that they have a risk of becoming addicted to it, but some people don’t know that about pornography.”

Gov. Herbert said in a statement Tuesday that he hopes the legislation will “start an open discussion, bringing its very real dangers to light.”

The governor also signed a bill aimed at combating child pornography. The bill “requires that a computer technician who finds child pornography in the course of the technician’s work shall report the finding to law enforcement.”

Utah may be one of the most conservative states but according to a Harvard Business School report published in 2009, it’s also the No. 1 buyer of porn films.

The Free Speech Coalition, the trade association for the adult entertainment industry, condemned the resolution.

“The Utah bill is an old-fashioned morals bill, not one grounded in science…in fact, actual science shows that viewers of adult entertainment are more likely to hold progressive views on sexuality and women’s rights, to be more educated on sexual health, and access to adult entertainment correlates pretty clearly historically and geographically with declines in sex crime,” the association said in a statement. “No reputable, science-based public health organization has labeled pornography a public health crisis.”

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Laser Pointers a Safety Hazard for Flights but Not for Pilots’ Eyes, Researchers Say

FAA(NEW YORK) — In spite of new high-wattage lasers, pilots are not at risk for permanent eye damage even if they are temporarily “dazzled” by a laser strike, according to an editorial in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Laser strikes against planes have been a growing problem, with 3,894 incidents reported by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2014. However, there is a minimal risk to a pilot’s vision, according to researchers. While they pointed out that there are new lasers available on the market with the potential for causing irreparable eye damage, those only affect people in close proximity.

In the paper, the authors explain that when lasers travel through the atmosphere and the cockpit they tend to “scatter,” which can be distracting, but is not damaging to a pilot’s eyesight.

“In these situations, pilots tend to self focus on a sudden bright light in the cockpit environment and may be dazzled, resulting in an after-image and almost certainly will be distracted,” the authors wrote. “Obviously, if such a distraction occurs at a critical time, such as during landing, the result could be devastating.”

Fortunately for pilots behind a cockpit windshield, the chance of retina damage dissipates at 100 meters.

Previously it was difficult to obtain laser pointers above 1 milliwatt of energy, which cannot hurt the eye, but now laser pointers are commercially available with an output above 1,000 milliwatts of energy, which is enough to cause eye damage.

An estimated 150 children in the U.K. have had their vision affected by these kind of lasers, according to the paper. One case of a pilot having retinal damage due to a laser has been reported, but the paper’s authors said that case was “suspect” because the energy and distance involved in this particular incident indicate the laser could not have caused damage.

“With the exception of this suspect report, there have been no other recorded incidents of permanent damage resulting from directing ‘laser pointers’ at the aircraft,” the authors wrote.

ABC aviation expert John Nance said that he knows of no training to help pilots cope with lasers hitting the cockpit.

“During a critical phase of flight or at takeoff, if you have both pilots simultaneously covering their faces and they can’t see the instruments, you’re going to increase [the chance] that they’re going to over-control or under-control the airplane,” said Nance.

He explained that people are unlikely to put pilots in danger by accidentally shining a laser at a plane from the ground, but that it could be a problem if someone intentionally wanted to blind a pilot during a critical part of the flight.

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Stunning Photos Capture Mom’s Reaction to Seeing Her Child Born via Surrogate

Leilani Rogers(AUSTIN, Texas) — For Kim Overton, the journey that joyfully ended with seeing her son, Oliver, being born via surrogate was a long and painful one.

Overton, who was diagnosed as having fibroid tumors in 2005, was able to give birth to her 4-year-old son, Dylan, after a surgery. When she decided she’d like another baby, she thought another surgery would do the trick.

She was wrong.

A second myomectomy — the removal of the fibroids in her uterus — took place, but Overton wasn’t able to have a child. It was then her thoughts turned to surrogacy, she wrote on her blog.

Leilani Rogers

She told ABC News that seeing Oliver, now 4 weeks old, being born was “surreal.” Her surrogate was her cousin’s daughter, Cydnee, who volunteered to carry the baby.

Leilani Rogers

The experience was documented by Leilani Rogers, a birth photographer from Austin, Texas, where Overton and Cydnee live.

Leilani Rogers

“I was panicking, wanted to do skin-to-skin as soon as he was born,” Overton said. “It was all happening so fast. It only took a few minutes for Cydnee to push him out.”

At the time she gave birth to her older son, Overton was a single mom. It was during the surrogacy process she met her now-husband, who himself has a son.

Leilani Rogers

“I had known him for about a month when he asked me if I wanted to have a second child,” Overton said. “I told him that we had just transferred an embryo to my surrogate the day before. He was thrilled.” She said she knew then that he was the one.

Overton wants people to know that just because she did not carry Oliver, she feels the exact same love for him as she does for her other son. “The experience,” she said, “was all positive. There is no negative, There is no deficit.”

Leilani Rogers

Oliver’s birth story is “a beautiful one,” added Overton. “He’ll always know how many people and how much love surrounded him at his birth.”

As for Cydnee, Overton said she holds her “on a pedestal.”

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Mom Finishes Boston Marathon 3 Months After Delivering Third Son

Courtesy Elizabeth Varga(BOSTON) — Elizabeth Varga crossed the Boston Marathon finish line Monday exactly three months and one day after giving birth to her third son.

Right up until she began to run the prestigious race, the 37-year-old from Columbus, Ohio, did not even know if she would be able to cross the finish line.

“People told me not to do it and even at one point I told my friends I wasn’t doing it,” Varga told ABC News. “But I finally said, ‘I don’t even mind if I go to the expo and starting line and just walk five miles and drop out. I’d rather just be there.’”

Varga finished the 26.2 mile race in 4:16:02, according to the marathon’s official results. It was slower than the 3:33:29 she ran to qualify for Boston during a May 2015 marathon.

Just days after that qualifying marathon, Varga, who used IVF to conceive her first two sons, found out she was unexpectedly pregnant.

“We were shocked,” Varga said of herself and her husband, Roland. “I had complicated pregnancies with my previous two so in my head I was doing the calculations.”

“I thought I might deliver two months early again and then it’d be five months before the marathon,” she said. “I’d also been on bed rest so I knew I wouldn’t be able to train during pregnancy.”

Varga, who works full-time as a genetics counselor at a local hospital, was not able to run after the first two months of her pregnancy. She spent three weeks on bed rest before delivering her 8-pound, 6-ounce son, Nathan, on January 17, her 39th week of pregnancy.

Varga wanted to defer her Boston Marathon qualification, but expecting and postpartum moms are not allowed to defer the race.

“I’m glad I did it and I don’t have any regrets but ideally I would have liked to race next year,” she said.

Instead, Varga began to train on outdoor runs with her training buddy, Nathan, in a jogging stroller. If she ran inside on a treadmill, he slept near her.

Varga’s doctor knew both her medical history and her desire to race the Boston Marathon and gave her the okay. Also supporting her was her husband and their two older sons, a 7-year-old and a 4-year-old.

“I started walking within two or three days of giving birth and then my doctor at five weeks postpartum gave me permission to fully run and that’s when I started to ramp it up,” Varga said. “I started training slowly and realized I was more ready than I thought I’d be.”

On race day, Varga took advantage of the marathon’s accommodations for breastfeeding runners and pumped in the athlete’s village before marathon officials took her pump from the start line to the finish line.

During the race, she says she received tons of support from fellow runners and spectators who saw her shirt adorned with a photo of Nathan and the words, “My 3-month-old is cheering me on today.”

“So many people came up to me and said, ‘Your baby is so cute’ and ‘Go mama’ and even men were saying, ‘Wow. Three months postpartum is so impressive,’” said Varga, who was also cheered on in-person by her husband and Nathan. (Her other sons were at home with their grandmother.)

“The first half I was going fast and I knew I was and told myself it was okay because it was downhill,” she said. “Around mile 16 I just decided to walk if I felt like I needed to walk. It was pretty hot and I wanted to make sure that my nursing wasn’t negatively impacted and I stayed hydrated.”

Varga says every woman has their own journey after childbirth but, for her, she learned something powerful about herself.

“I think the message for me was you really can surprise yourself when you set a goal,” she said. “You can achieve more than you realize.”

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High Tech Bed Designed to Detect Cheating

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — While some mattresses promise you a good night’s sleep, a new, high tech offering claims to be, “The very first mattress that makes your body relax by night, and your mind by day, when you’re not home” — because it can detect cheating.

According to Durmet’s website, the Lover Detection System-enabled Smartress is laden with 24 sensors primed to detect “suspicious bed movement,” and is able to tattle to your smartphone in case you’re not the one shaking things up.

Or, as the creators of the still in-development product put it, “If your partner isn’t faithful, at least your mattress is.”

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Your Body: The Dangers of Sleep Apnea

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

The last thing you want while you’re behind the wheel is a sleepy truck driver on the road. But, researchers estimate, up to one in five truck driver crashes is related to sleepiness.

The most common medical cause for daytime sleepiness is sleep apnea, which occurs when someone occasionally stops breathing while sleeping. It is dangerous — not only to truckers but to many who have the disorder.

So how do you know if you have sleep apnea?

If your bed partner tells you your snoring shakes the house, or if you are told you stop breathing at night, that could be a sign.

If you are overweight or obese and fall asleep during daytime tasks or are always sleepy, or if you are normal weight and have unexplained daytime sleepiness, get a sleep study.

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Surrogate Mom Who Kept Baby with Down Syndrome Says Toddler Is Hitting Milestones

Andrea and Keston Ott-Dahl(ANTIOCH, Calif.) — Andrea Ott-Dahl said she was more than happy to serve as surrogate to her friends who were having trouble getting pregnant, but she and her wife, Keston Ott-Dahl, were unaware that it would change their lives forever.

In January 2013, two months into the pregnancy, doctors told the couple, who live in Antioch, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, that the child, whom they had already named Delaney, would be born with Down syndrome, the couple told ABC News.

“When the doctor came in, the four of us, I would say we were in shock,” said Keston, 50. “We were devastated. Andrea was catatonic. The doctors made it seems like Delaney was going to be blind [and] have autism. They said the fluid build-up on the back of her neck, it would either kill her or there would be a severe deformity that would look like another head. They told us she had a five percent chance of surviving up until birth.”

“They successfully scared those two intended moms into wanting to terminate,” Keston said.

Andrea, 34, said she agreed to serve as surrogate for her two friends — a lesbian couple who had been having trouble getting pregnant for six years. Andrea donated the eggs for the pregnancy, making her the biological mother of Delaney.

“Our hearts went out to these women because we knew the joys of having a family,” said Andrea, who is a mother to five children. “Finally, we got pregnant and everyone was happy, but at the 12-week ultrasound, the doctor noticed the buildup of fluid behind the baby’s neck. He told us this would be Down syndrome, or worse.”

Upon hearing the news of the diagnosis, the baby’s intended mothers decided they no longer wanted Andrea to move forward with the pregnancy, Keston said.

“They said, ‘The decision to terminate is our decision alone,'” Keston recalled. “We decided we loved her [the baby] and that she was ours.”

Andrea and Keston said they made it a point to begin educating themselves on what it meant for a child to have Down syndrome.

“Andrea and I sat for countless hours watching these videos,” Keston said. “We saw kids that are actors, entrepreneurs, they get married … they do things that any kids can do.”

Michelle Whitten, president and CEO of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation, agreed that there is still a stigma attached to people who are diagnosed with the genetic disorder. However, those growing up with Down syndrome can still live successful and fulfilling lives, she said.

“There are people with Down syndrome who are accomplishing these amazing things,” Whitten said. “Just look at TV. You have Lauren Pitter, who is one of the ongoing cast members in Glee; Jamie Brewer, who’s done three seasons of ‘American Horror Story’; Madeline Stuart from Australia is working it all over the world as a fashion model.”

“The majority of people with Down syndrome, unfortunately, were institutionalized in this country — many of them as infants,” Whitten said. “These were by and large inhumane institutions where you were left in a room and didn’t get an education or medical care. I think [the stigma] comes from being afraid of the unknown, but we have more people with Down syndrome on television, in the local communities. My child is 12 and she’s in a typical school. She’s made wonderful friends and she’s a respected part of the community. There are challenges. She had open-heart surgery when she was three months, but there are typical kids who have heart surgery when they are three months old, too.”

On Jan. 20, 2013, Andrea and Keston approached the intended mothers of the child to inform them that they wanted to keep the child as their own.

Keston said the intended mothers briefly threatened a lawsuit for Andrea to terminate the baby, but never pursued.

Lori Meyers, a partner of Meyers & O’Hara LLP who has specialized in surrogacy law for 20 years, said no person can file a lawsuit to terminate a pregnancy.

“There’s not a court of contract in the world or judge that would force a surrogate mom to undergo a termination of a pregnancy simply because of something they sign,” Meyer told ABC News. “There’s no ‘specific performance’ in the law. We’re not going to get a judge to demand an abortion because a woman has control of her own body. There may be financial ramifications because of that decision, but she has the right to control her own body under Roe vs. Wade.”

Despite their conflict, Andrea and Keston said they hold no ill-will toward the intended mothers.

“From their perspective, I have to be kind of sensitive to them,” Andrea said. “When you’re trying to get pregnant for so long, it’s hard to be optimistic and see things with a fresh set of eyes. For Keston and I, this was our first go-around and I think that’s why we were so open to getting that research.”

On July 2, 2013, Delaney Skye was born.

Besides having a heart defect that required a surgical operation, Delaney was born with no other health problems, her mothers said.

Now 2 years old, Delaney is making strides as a toddler.

“Delaney is amazing,” Andrea said. “She’s like any typical 2-year-old. She likes getting into mischief and making messes. She loves to dance, all things Elmo, she loves playing with her siblings.”

Keston added: “She hits every milestone. All this early intervention paid off. Right now, she’s talking in five-word sentences. A lot of the time kids with Down syndrome don’t talk until they’re five, or sometimes they don’t talk at all.”

Delaney’s story has been shared across social media, as well as in a new memoir written by Andrea and Keston titled, “Saving Delaney: From Surrogacy to Family.”

“We just want to show parents out there — you don’t have to lose hope,” Andrea said. “You don’t have to terminate your child. Down syndrome is a label and that’s what society does. It determines what people can and can’t do based on that label.”

Andrea and Keston said they’ve received countless messages from parents of children with Down syndrome who’ve said Delaney’s story has inspired them.

And despite their long journey, the couple said they wouldn’t change a thing.

“Honestly, we hit the lottery with Delaney,” Keston said.

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Study: ‘Jet’ Hand Dryers Act Like Virus Hand Grenades

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology reveals those high-tech jet-air hand-dryers that use a “blade” of high-pressure air to wick hands dry are able to spray viruses as far as 9 feet away from the machine.

At issue is the high-powered motor in the device, in this case the Dyson Air Blade, which not only blows your hands dry, but blows nastiness across the room, scientists confirmed.

By dipping their hands in a harmless virus, the scientists tested the germ-spreading qualities of three drying methods: one, the high-powered jet dryer, the more conventional low-power blower, and finally, paper towels.

Standard dryers, by comparison, could only spread the viruses three feet, and paper towels, just 10 inches from the drying point.

Not surprisingly, Dyson cried foul, notes Popular Science. The company complained the scientists’ hands were deliberately covered in more viruses than would be normally found on the average hand, and that paper towel dispensers might not make viruses airborne, but they are covered with other peoples’ germs.

Furthermore, Dyson claimed the study was funded by the paper towel industry.

For their part, the scientists concluded that, “The choice of hand-drying device should be considered carefully in areas where infection prevention concerns are paramount, such as healthcare settings and the food industry.”

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