A history of violence and having an impulsive or behavioral disorder were predictors of substance use among youths admitted to a child and adolescent psychiatry inpatient unit, researchers reported. In an assessment of 816 urine toxicology reports, patients were significantly more likely to have positive urine screens if they had a history of violence or impulsive or behavioral disorders, Sean Lynch, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, reported in a poster session at the Neuroscience Education Institute Congress. Read more here.
Impact of the Pandemic
Alongside the many impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on pediatric care, researchers have seen a stark increase in young adults seeking treatment for disordered eating behaviors. From the spring of 2020 — when most Covid-19 restrictions/lockdowns were first put in place — through spring 2021, the number of eating disorder inpatient admissions about doubled. This number rose to its peak in April 2021. Read more here.
For many of us, the pandemic had an impact on our mental health, leaving many stressed and anxious. And now research has shown that stress can also manifest itself as a physical symptom in some cases. Women who experienced "high COVID-19 stress" during the pandemic were twice as likely to suffer with changes in their menstrual cycle than others, a new study has found. Read more here.
Heading into the third winter since COVID-19 emerged in the U.S., public health leaders have an abundance of information about the deadly virus. How it spreads and how to stop it. What they haven’t yet figured out is how to communicate this information effectively. For weeks, public health leaders have been encouraging people to get the latest booster shot. But only a minuscule number of people have heeded the recommendation. Read more here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) chief on Wednesday said a nearly 90% drop in recent COVID-19 deaths globally compared to nine months ago provides “cause for optimism,” but still urged vigilance against the pandemic as variants continue to crop up. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that last week just over 9,400 deaths linked to the coronavirus were reported to the WHO. In February of this year, he said, weekly deaths had topped 75,000 globally. Read more here.
A surge in turnout among people motivated by the erosion of abortion rights carried Democrats to victory in races for governor, Senate, attorney general and state legislatures — defying predictions that the issue had faded for voters in the months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Tuesday’s results likely ensure that millions of people will be able to legally terminate a pregnancy going forward — and bolster progressives’ arguments that reproductive rights is a winning issue that Democrats and their allies should pursue aggressively in the years ahead. Read more here.
Oregon voters will determine Tuesday whether to pass stricter gun laws — the only ballot measure nationwide that addresses gun violence. The gun-control initiative, which critics say is the nation’s “most extreme,” requires people to obtain permits and complete safety training to acquire a firearm. It also bans high-capacity magazines and calls for State Police to create and maintain a searchable database of gun ownership. Read more here.
While there are effective treatments for anxiety, some people don't want to take medicine or see a therapist — or don't respond well to such treatments. Now, there's new evidence supporting another option. For the first time, scientists compared patients who took an intensive eight-week mindfulness meditation program to patients who took escitalopram, the generic name of the widely prescribed and well-studied anxiety drug Lexapro. They found that both interventions worked equally well in reducing debilitating anxiety symptoms. Read more here.
Mindfulness meditation is as effective at reducing anxiety as a commonly prescribed antidepressant, according to a study published in a major journal on Wednesday. The study, led by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center, is the first randomized clinical trial to compare the effectiveness of mindfulness meditation with the antidepressant escitalopram. The results were published in JAMA Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed journal. The adult participants in the mindfulness group practiced 45-minute daily meditations using a few different techniques they learned at weekly classes. They also went on daylong weekend retreats. Read more here.
Federal and State Policy
While inflation and the economy have been foremost on voters' minds across the nation this election cycle, some of the most high-profile health care battles are being decided at the state level on Tuesday. Voters in Michigan, Kentucky, Vermont, California, and Montana are weighing abortion ballot questions that drive home how key reproductive rights battles post-Roe are being waged outside the federal realm. Elsewhere, there are measures dealing with Medicaid expansion, the regulation of the dialysis industry, and even whether access to health care is a legally enforceable right. Read more here.
North Carolina Republican legislative leaders said Wednesday that they’re shuttling the idea of Medicaid expansion to 2023, rather than attempting to negotiate a bill that could be voted on before the General Assembly’s current two-year edition ends in December. By wide bipartisan margins, the House and Senate approved competing bills months ago that were designed to cover hundreds of thousands of additional low-income adults through the government’s health insurance program that mostly serves the poor. Read more here.
South Dakota voters on Tuesday approved a measure to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act. The program, which takes effect in July and is expected to cover more than 40,000 people, passed with about 56 percent support. Read more here.