Monthly Archives: May 2011
Study Shows Functional MRI Images Differ Between Autistic Brain, Typical Brain
”We know now it is possible to objectively differentiate the autistic brain from the typical brain using a functional MRI imaging technique,” says researcher Joy Hirsch, PhD, professor of neuroscience and director of the Functional MRI Research Center at Columbia University Medical Center, New York.
However, the research is in its early stages and needs to be duplicated in larger studies, she tells WebMD. “It’s an important advance, but it’s not there yet,” she says.
An expert who reviewed the findings tells WebMD it’s more likely the scans could be used to monitor therapy for children with autism, rather than help in diagnosing autism.
Autism spectrum disorders are marked by impaired language and repetitive behaviors. They now affect up to one in 110 children, according to the CDC. The study is published online in Radiology.
Functional MRI for Autism Diagnosis: Study Details
Hirsch and her team set out to document language impairment in autistic children by using the scans.
“The idea of the study was to determine if functional imaging, which looks at both structure and function of the brain, could provide a diagnostic indicator of autism,” she says.
Currently, diagnosing autism is done subjectively, Hirsch says. Parents and doctors note that a child misses important developmental milestones in language and other areas.
The researchers looked at 15 typically developing children and 12 children diagnosed with autism who had language impairment.
While the scan was being done, Hirsch says, “we had them listen to narratives that were recorded by their parents.” The scans then measured the brain activity as the children listened to the narratives and encoded speech.
“We hypothesized that the autistic children would encode the language narrative less efficiently than the normal population,” Hirsch tells WebMD.
They focused on two brain regions — the primary auditory cortex, which processes sound information, and an area associated with sentence comprehension, the superior temporal gyrus (STG).
“The two groups did not differ in the response in the primary auditory cortex,” Hirsch says. However, the activation within the STG was greater for the typically developing children than the autistic children.
Eventually, Hirsch says, diagnosing autism may be possible earlier by looking at these language differences using the scans.
“This is a starting point,” she says. Many details are yet to be worked out, including looking at children at various levels of the autism spectrum. “Not all kids with autism have the same degree of language impairment,” she says.
The average age in the two groups compared was about 12, she says. She is not certain how these findings would apply to younger children. Diagnosing autism as early as possible is crucial for early intervention and better outcomes, experts say.
The researchers also looked at another 27 children with autism who had routine MRI scans while they were sedated. Their average age was 8. Using the same scan technique, the researchers identified 26 of the 27 children with autism.
This shows the effect is still present under sedation, strengthening and extending the findings, Hirsh says.
TUESDAY, May 31 — U.S. health officials announced Tuesday that a reduction in premiums and an easing of standards for the federally administered Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will allow more Americans to get health insurance.
Premiums under the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, will drop as much as 40 percent in 18 states. And standards for eligibility will be eased in 23 states and Washington, D.C., said officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“Before the law, too many people were turned away or shut out of the insurance market,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a morning press conference.
“You could be denied coverage if you were a breast cancer survivor or if you had a pre-existing health condition like diabetes or asthma. This forced people to skip care or medication and it has bankrupted way too many families and left people’s health at risk,” she added.
The reduction in premiums will offer real savings for people, Sebelius explained. “For example, consumers in Virginia will save almost $ 1,200 a year thanks to the premium reduction,” she said.
The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was designed to help people with pre-existing health conditions get health insurance until 2014 when insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
In 23 states the federal government administers the program, while the other states use federal funds to operate their own program.
It’s in 18 states where the federal government operates the program that premiums will drop. Decreasing premiums in these states will bring the premiums in line with rates already established in these states, which is mandated by the Affordable Care Act, HHS officials said.
In the remaining states, premiums were already at state levels and will not change.
“We are not just lowering premiums, we are making it easier for people to become eligible for the program,” Sebelius said.
Beginning in July, anyone applying for health insurance coverage only needs to show a letter dated in the last year from a doctor, a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner stating that he or she has a pre-existing condition.
Applicants will no longer need to have a letter from an insurance company denying coverage, Sebelius said.
In February, children under 19 were given this option, which is now being extended to all ages. To take advantage of this program you must be a U.S. citizen and have had no insurance coverage for six months.
Starting this fall, the federal government will begin paying insurance agents and brokers to help enroll people in the program. The goal is to get more eligible people to take advantage of the program.
From November 2010 through March 2011, enrollment in all Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan programs increased 129 percent, with more than 18,000 people now enrolled, officials said.
The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan is a comprehensive health plan that includes primary and specialty care, hospital care, prescription drugs, home health and hospice care, skilled nursing care and preventive health and maternity care.
According to HHS officials, the program limits out-of-pocket costs. Eligibility is not based on income and those who enroll do not pay a higher premium because of a pre-existing medical condition.
For more on the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, visit the HealthCare.gov.
Posted: May 2011
The story of a normal high school kid who gets awesome powers (yes, the same one Michael J. Fox made famous back in 1985), MTV’s ‘Teen Wolf’ (premieres Sun., June 5, after the MTV Movie Awards) amps up the danger, the action and the sexiness for a new generation.
I sat down with the hot-as-they-are-charming cast — including Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed, Colton Haynes, Holland Roden and Tyler Hoechlin — to talk about the new reboot, what to expect from the show and to get a preview of their best howling at the moon.
Follow Maggie on Twitter @TheTVShowGirl
At Least 1 – 1.5 Million Americans are Legal Medical Marijuana Patients
Market for these patients in sixteen states and D.C. estimated at between $ 2 – $ 6 billion annually
MAY 31, 2011 - We don’t know his or her name, but somewhere in one of sixteen states and the District of Columbia is America’s 1,000,000th legal medical marijuana patient. We estimate the United States reached the million-patients mark sometime between the beginning of the year to when Arizona began issuing patient registry identification cards online in April 2011.
Between one to one-and-a-half million people are legally authorized by their state to use marijuana in the United States, according to data compiled by NORML from state medical marijuana registries and patient estimates. Assuming usage of one-half to one gram of cannabis medicine per day per patient and an average retail price of $ 320 per ounce, these legal consumers represent a $ 2.3 to $ 6.2 billion dollar market annually.
Based on state medical marijuana laws, the amounts of cannabis these legal marijuana users are entitled to possess means there is between 566 – 803 million pounds of legal usable cannabis in America. These patients are allowed to cultivate between 17 – 24 million legal cannabis plants. There may possibly be more, as California and New Mexico “limits” may be exceeded with doctor’s permission and some California counties explicitly allow greater amounts, so there may be as much as one billion pounds of state-legal cannabis cultivated in America.
|Active Medical Marijuana State (Total population of sixteen medical marijuana states + D.C. = over 90 million. D.C., Delaware, and New Jersey programs are not yet active.)||# Legal Medical Marijuana Patients (% of state population)|
|California (1996) - No central state registry, 2% – 3% of overall population estimate by Dale Gieringer at California NORML by comparing rates in Colorado & Montana.||~750,000 (2.00%)
|Washington (1998) - No registry, 1% – 1.5% of overall population estimate by Russ Belville at NORML by comparing rates in Oregon & Colorado.||~67,000 (1.00%)
|Oregon (1998) - Centralized state registry data published online.||39,774 (1.04%)|
|Alaska (1998) - No data online, verified by author’s call to Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics.||380 (0.05%)|
|Maine (1999) - Centralized state registry data published online.||796 (0.06%)|
|Nevada (2000) - 2008 figures from ProCon.org, awaiting return call from state for official number.||860 (0.03%)|
|Hawaii (2000) - Estimate from Pam Lichty of Drug Policy Forum of Hawaii; program is run by law enforcement who are reluctant to release data.||~8,000 (0.59%)|
|Colorado (2000) - Centralized state registry data published online.||123,890 (2.46%)|
|Vermont (2004) - No data online, verified by author’s call to Vermont Criminal Information Center.||349 (0.06%)|
|Montana (2004) - Centralized state registry data published online.||30,609 (3.09%)|
|Rhode Island (2006) - Centralized state registry data published online.||3,069 (0.29%)|
|New Mexico (2007) - Centralized state registry data published online.||3,615 (0.18%)|
|Michigan (2008) - Centralized state registry data published online.||75,521 (0.76%)|
|Arizona (2010) - Centralized state registry data published online.||3,696 (0.06%)|
|TOTAL US LEGAL MARIJUANA USERS||~1,100,000 (1.22%)
Yet after fifteen years, one million patients, and half-a-billion pounds of legal marijuana, few if any of the dire predictions by opponents of medical marijuana have come to fruition. Medical marijuana states like Oregon are experiencing their lowest-ever rates of workplace fatalities, injuries, and accidents. States like Colorado are experiencing their lowest rates in three decades of fatal crashes per million miles driven. In medical marijuana states for which we have data (through Michigan in 2008), use by minor teenagers is down in all but Maine and down by at least 10% in states with the greatest proportion of their population using medical cannabis.
|Medical Marijuana State||Age 12-17 Monthly Use When Passed||Age 12-17 Monthly Use in 2008||Highway Fatalities When Passed||Highway Fatalities in 2009||Workplace Injuries / Illness When Passed||Workplace Injuries / Illness in 2009|
|Rhode Island (2006)||9.74%||9.46%||81||83||5.2%||n/a|
|New Mexico (2007)||8.73%||8.19%||413||361||5.0%||4.8%|
Fourteen of the seventeen medical marijuana jurisdictions have mandatory registries while two (California and Colorado) offer optional registries and one (Washington) has no registry system. Estimating California’s patient numbers is hampered by its registry system being on a county-by-county basis. California NORML’s Dale Gieringer estimates between 2% – 3% of the state’s population are holding medical marijuana recommendations – meaning possibly over one million medical marijuana patients in California alone.
California’s patient population can be estimated from data from other medical marijuana states where patients are required to register, shown in the table below. The top two of these are Colorado and Montana, which, like California, have a well developed network of cannabis clinics and dispensaries, and which report usage rates of 2.5% and 3.0%, respectively. Other states, where medical marijuana is less developed, report lower rates of 1% and less. However, California is likely to be on the high side because it has the oldest and most liberal law in the nation. Significantly, California is the only state that permits marijuana to be used for any condition for which it provides relief – in particular, psychiatric disorders, such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, ADD, anxiety and depression, which account for some 20%-25% of the total patient population. Adjusting for this, usage in California could be as much as 25% to 33% higher than in Colorado and Montana, which would put it well over 3% of the population (1,125,000).
A 2%+ patient population estimate is supported by data from the Oakland Patient ID Center, which has been issuing patient identification cards to its members since 1996. The OPIDC serves patients from all over the state, but especially the greater Oakland-East Bay area of Northern California, where its cards are honored by law enforcement. As of 2010, the OPIDC had issued ID’s to 19,805 members from five East Bay cities (Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Hayward and Richmond), amounting to 2.4% of the local population.Because the cards were issued over a period of 14 years, they include numerous patients who have lapsed, moved, or deceased. On the other hand, they do not include many other local patients who have current recommendations but never registered with the OPIDC.
We have made a similar estimate for Washington State’s patients, who are the only ones in the nation with no registry system in place (Gov. Gregoire recently signed a bill that initiates a voluntary registry). With a law very similar to Oregon’s concerning qualifying conditions, applying Oregon’s 1.04% patient population figure gives us about 69,000 patients in Washington. However, Washington State’s larger urban centers (Seattle and Spokane), combined with a more liberal law than Oregon’s regarding who can sign recommendations (osteopaths, naturopaths, and nurse practitioners can recommend in Washington) and the lack of a state registry’s burden to patient compliance with the program suggests a higher estimate of 1.5% – 2% may be appropriate. Numbers like Colorado’s 2.5% and Montana’s 3% are improbable as Washington lacks the greater patient access to dispensaries seen in those states.
Delaware, New Jersey, and D.C.’s programs are not operational yet, so they are not shown in our data table. Most of the other state’s programs produce reports of patient registry numbers. With Arizona signing up over 3,600 patients since mid-April, when it’s online-only registration went into effect, Arizona is on track to register over 30,000 patients this year.
Quick Facts about Medical Marijuana States:
- The 1.1 – 1.5 million estimated and registered medical marijuana patients in America are legally entitled to cultivate 17 – 24 million cannabis plants and possess 283 – 402 tons of harvested buds.
- The seventeen jurisdictions with medical marijuana encompass over 90 million Americans and 162 votes in the 2012 Electoral College.
- Patients make up over 3% of the population of Montana, almost 2.5% of Colorado, over 2% of California. and over 1% of Oregon, and Washington.
- After Michigan at 0.76% of population, every other medical marijuana state has less than 3 in 1,000 (0.3%) patients in its population.
- California, Colorado, Washington, Michigan, Oregon, and Montana comprise over 98% of the legal medical marijuana patients in America.
- More than 3 out of four (77% – 83%) of all medical marijuana patients live on the West Coast.
- Rhode Island and Vermont, two states where over 10% of the adult population uses marijuana monthly, have patient populations of 0.29% and 0.05%, respectively.
- Monthly teen use of marijuana is down in every medical marijuana state except Maine.
- Annual highway fatalities are down in every medical marijuana state except Rhode Island.
- Incidents of workplace injuries and illnesses are down in every medical marijuana state.
On the GC/MS test, phentermine will not show positive for amphetamines because it isn’t the same chemical make up, only similar. However, I am afraid that if they do a GC/MS for that, they will find THC metabolites.
When they do a GC/MS for confirmation, do they do it for the whole 5 panel or only the substances you initially tested positive for? I have an RX for the phentermine and can show it so I’m not worried about that – plus it was prescribed by a doctor in the same office I will be testing in. I am just afraid about them GC/MS testing for everything, not just the amphetamines. I am afraid I couldn’t pass a GC/MS for THC – unless someone knows some magic trick for that.
Any insight? Will they only GC/MS what I initially test positive for or the whoie 5 panel?