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U.S. ERs See Doubling of Teen Sexual Abuse Cases

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 4, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Sexually abused youths are turning more often to U.S. emergency departments for help, a new study finds.

Among youths ages 12-17, emergency department admissions for sexual abuse more than doubled from 2010 to 2016, even as rates of sexual abuse showed a decline, researchers found.

Rates in other child age groups remained the same, according to the Saint Louis University study.

“I was surprised,” said study lead author Jesse Helton, an assistant professor of social work in the university’s College for Public Health and Social Justice.

“The thing to know is that sexual abuse rates in general have been dropping for the last 20 years. What we’re seeing here is that more cases are being seen in emergency departments,” Helton said in a university news release.

The analysis of national data showed that 85% of the emergency department admissions for cases of confirmed sexual abuse in this age group involved girls and 15% of the cases involved boys.

The study data couldn’t explain the sharp rise in emergency department admission rates, but the authors suggested several reasons.

They include increased awareness and willingness to report abuse, and better coordination with law enforcement and forensic teams.

“While the data can’t tell us why, we do know that there’s been an increase in coordination between the medical profession, courts and forensic teams. There’s been increased efforts to ensure that rape kits are properly handled. There’s an awareness that in the court system, if evidence is presented, cases can be handled more quickly,” Helton said.

“Changes in health care and child welfare policy also could play a role, if more adolescents are being seen in the ER than before,” he added.

Child advocacy centers have professionals who are trained to interview children and caregivers, but such centers are not available in all areas of the country, so teen victims of sexual abuse may have to rely on emergency rooms for care.

As emergency department use for such cases increases, the question is whether all ERs are well-prepared to handle them and if they’re the best option for care, the researchers noted.

“ER doctors are on the front lines of spotting human trafficking. Are they trained well enough to identify these potential victims? Are they administering the correct type of medical services, such as testing for STIs and mental health care? This study, while not able to draw conclusions about these questions, suggests they are important to ask,” Helton said.

The results were published Nov. 4 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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SOURCE: Saint Louis University, news release, Nov. 4, 2019

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ADHD Rates Doubled Among U.S. Adults Over 10 Years

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — If the latest statistics are any indication, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is no longer an issue for children only.

Over a 10-year period, ADHD rates more than doubled among American adults, new research shows.

However, the rate among children remains much higher than in adults.

“While we can’t pinpoint the source of the increase in ADHD rates in adults, we can surmise that it has to do with growing recognition of ADHD in the adult populations by doctors and service providers, as well as increased public awareness of ADHD overall,” said study co-author Dr. Michael Milham. He is vice president of research at the Child Mind Institute, in New York City.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from more than 5 million Kaiser Permanente Northern California patients, and found that the percentage of adults with a diagnosis of ADHD rose from 0.43% in 2007 to 0.96% in 2016.

White adults showed a larger increase — 0.67% to 1.42% — than those in other racial/ethnic groups.

Adults with other mental health conditions — such as depression, and bipolar, anxiety or eating disorders — were more likely to have ADHD. The researchers also found that adults with ADHD had higher rates of health care use and sexually transmitted infections.

Meanwhile, ADHD diagnoses among children aged 5 to 11 rose from 2.96% in 2007 to 3.74% in 2016, a 26% increase.

The study was published online Nov. 1 in JAMA Network Open.

“More work needs to be done to better understand why rates are higher in white adults, particularly whether there are deficiencies in detection and diagnoses among non-white adults,” Milham said in a journal news release.

“And,” he added, “we must develop more effective diagnostic tools and standards for adults, who, in general, remain more challenging to diagnose than children.”

Study lead author Dr. Winston Chung, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco, noted that people in some cultures are less likely to regard certain behaviors as a disorder or to seek help for them.

“It’s always been just understood that different cultures and races might vary in meaningful ways in how they cope with stress or expressing emotions,” Chung said.

However, “this is something we don’t actually have definitive answers to,” and more research is needed, he added.

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SOURCE:JAMA Network Open, news release, Nov. 1, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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‘Dramatic Increase’ Seen in U.S. Deaths From Heart Failure

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 30, 2019 — Heart failure deaths are reaching epidemic proportions among America’s seniors, a new study finds.

About one in eight deaths from heart disease are from heart failure, and nine out of 10 are among those over 65 years of age, researchers report.

“We are now in the midst of a ‘silver tsunami’ of heart disease and heart failure,” said senior study author Dr. Jamal Rana, chief of cardiology at Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center, in California.

“This will require both innovation in clinical care for our patients and urgent policy initiatives at the health care systems level to be better prepared for its impact,” Rana added in a Kaiser news release.

The report was published online Oct. 30 in JAMA Cardiology.

According to lead author Dr. Stephen Sidney, “The United States is now experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of older people dying from heart disease, and especially heart failure.” Sidney is a senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California division of research.

Heart failure is a chronic, progressive disease where the heart muscle is weakened and can’t pump blood efficiently, which increasingly reduces quality of life as patients decline.

For the study, Sidney and his colleagues used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The investigators found that more than 647,000 Americans died from heart failure in 2017, which was about 51,000 more deaths from heart failure than in 2011.

The rate of deaths due to heart failure increased by 21%. When the researchers added the aging population as a factor, the rate of heart failure deaths jumped to 38%.

Sidney added that since the number of Americans over 65 increased by 10 million between 2011 and 2017, and is expected to grow by another 22 million by 2030, heart failure rates will likely only worsen.

More information

For more on heart failure, head to the American Heart Association.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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One Region Is Being Hit Hardest by U.S. Opioid Crisis

By Dennis Thompson        
       HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — More people die from drug overdoses in the northeastern U.S. than other regions, making it a major hotbed of the nation’s opioid epidemic, a new federal report says.

Fueled mainly by fentanyl and heroin, overdose (OD) deaths are soaring in an area that runs east from Minnesota and Illinois and north from West Virginia and Virginia, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

In that area, the fentanyl OD death rate varied from 12.4 to 22.5 deaths for every 100,000 people, government data for 2017 showed.

By comparison, the fentanyl overdose death rate for the Southwest and West Coast of the United States is about 1.5 per 100,000 people.

In much of the country west of the Mississippi, most drug ODs are actually due to methamphetamine.

“We tend to think all the U.S. is the same, and clearly it is not,” said lead researcher Dr. Holly Hedegaard, an NCHS epidemiologist. “There are differences across the country in terms of the drugs that are contributing to overdose deaths.”

For this study, Hedegaard and her colleagues investigated regional differences in drug OD deaths that occurred in 2017 in the United States.

The researchers found that most overdose deaths east of the Mississippi River were linked to the opioid crisis, involving drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and prescription painkillers (for example, OxyContin).

Meth claimed the most lives in the West, however.

“It’s important to recognize those [regionall]differences, particularly when we’re thinking about effective prevention programs,” Hedegaard said. “What might work in one region won’t necessarily work somewhere else.”

Fentanyl was the leading cause of OD deaths nationwide in 2017, accounting for about two out of every five fatal overdoses, the report said.

The New England states were hardest hit, with 22.5 fentanyl OD deaths per 100,000 people, the researchers found.

The Mid-Atlantic states were next worst, with 17.5 deaths per 100,000 people chalked up to fentanyl. These states include West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as the District of Columbia.

Continued

The opioid epidemic is also taking a toll on southern states, where the fentanyl overdose death rate was 9.1 per 100,000 people, according to the report.

Fatal overdoses due to heroin followed roughly the same pattern, concentrated in the Northeast but also occurring at greater frequency in the South.

Pat Aussem is director of clinical content and development at the Center on Addiction, in New York City. She said, “This report highlights the inroads fentanyl has made, particularly east of the Mississippi, contributing to overdose deaths as people using substances either seek or unwittingly consume it in heroin, counterfeit pills or cocaine.”  

Aussem stressed that “education about the risks of fentanyl and the distribution of naloxone [to counter an overdose] beyond people who use opioids is essential.”

On the other hand, methamphetamine claims more lives in the western United States.

The southwestern region of California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii led the nation in meth overdose deaths, with 5.2 for every 100,000 people.

The region encompassing Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and the Dakotas had a meth OD rate of 4.9 per 100,000 people. The Pacific Northwest states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho had a meth death rate of 4.8 per 100,000 people, the findings showed.

“With purity rates upward of 90% and relatively low prices, methamphetamine use —  and in turn, overdose deaths — continues to be prevalent in the West, although it’s making inroads in other areas of the country,” Aussem said.

These overdose numbers closely track drug seizure data kept by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Hedegaard said. This shows that ODs tend to follow the availability of drugs in specific regions, and how supplies move across the country.

“While understanding geographic differences is important, we can’t lose sight that our country has an addiction problem,” Aussem said. “Access to evidence-based, affordable care is essential. We must also catch the problem further upstream, screening people, including our youth, to protect against addiction and loss of life.”

The new study was published Oct. 25 in the CDC’s  National Vital Statistics Reports.

WebMD News from HealthDay

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SOURCES: Holly Hedegaard, M.D., M.S.P.H., epidemiologist, U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md.; Pat Aussem, M.A., M.B.A., director of clinical content and development, Center on Addiction, New York City; Oct. 25, 2019,National Vital Statistics Reports

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Bald Eagles Across U.S. Infected With Newly Identified Virus

TUESDAY, Oct. 22, 2019 — Bald eagles in the United States are facing another challenge: Nearly one-third are infected with a newly identified virus, researchers say.

The virus is called bald eagle hepacivirus (BeHV). The researchers discovered it while trying to determine the cause of Wisconsin River Eagle Syndrome (WRES), a fatal disease seen in bald eagles in the Lower Wisconsin River area.

The scientists said the virus may play a role in the syndrome, which was first described in the 1990s. It causes eagles to stumble and have seizures.

However, BeHV was also found in eagles without symptoms of WRES, so it’s difficult to make a direct connection between the two, according to the authors of the study. The results were published Oct. 18 in the journal Scientific Reports.

“This study has opened our eyes to glaring knowledge gaps about infection in a species of great national importance,” said study leader Tony Goldberg. He’s a professor of pathobiological sciences in the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.

The researchers noted that while it’s most common among eagles in Wisconsin, BeHV infects eagles in other states. The virus is related to the hepatitis C virus that infects people and causes liver damage. Similar effects are seen in some eagles with BeHV.

For the study, the researchers tested 47 eagles from 19 states across the contiguous United States. They found that 32% had BeHV. The virus was found among eagles in seven states, including a few in the Midwest, but also states as far apart as Washington and Florida.

Eagles in Wisconsin were nine times more likely to have BeHV than those in other states. Also, the virus was 14 times more common among eagles in counties surrounding the Lower Wisconsin River than elsewhere, the investigators found.

The fact that BeHV was found in eagles outside of Wisconsin and that none of those eagles had WRES raises a number of questions, the study authors noted.

“Is BeHV the cause of WRES? Or is it more complicated than that?” said Goldberg in a university news release.

The virus and the disease don’t appear to pose a serious threat to the U.S. bald eagle population, according to the researchers.

The bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007 after recovering from a low of 412 nesting pairs in the U.S. mainland. In Wisconsin alone, there are now about 1,700 nesting pairs.

More information

The Audubon Field Guide has more on bald eagles.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: October 2019

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Twins Are Becoming Less Common in U.S., for Good Reasons

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, OCT. 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — No, you’re not seeing double as often these days: After decades of rising, twin births are declining in the United States.

Twin birth rates had been on the rise for 30 years, but dropped 4% between 2014 and 2018, health officials said in a new U.S. government study. That’s the lowest level in more than a decade. In 2018, there were 32.6 twins for every 1,000 U.S. births.

So what’s going on? Experts suspect the decline probably stems from improved techniques for assisted reproduction.

“We know from other sources that there have been improvements in fertility-enhancing therapies, in particular in reproductive technologies,” said Joyce Martin, an epidemiologist for the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With these new methods, fewer women are having more than one embryo implanted, she explained. It used to be that several embryos were implanted, leading to the surge in twins and triplets.

“So you’re seeing the decline among older moms, who are more likely to have these therapies, and among white moms, who are also more likely to have these therapies,” Martin said. She’s the lead author of the study published Oct. 3 in the CDC’s NCHS Data Brief.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of twins born in the United States dropped about 2% a year, the study found. Nearly 124,000 twins were born last year.

Though twin birth rates fell by 10% or more for mothers starting at age 30, the decline was greatest among women 40 and older, and it was only seen in white women, the researchers found. Twin birth rates for black and Hispanic women were unchanged.

Despite these declines, the birth rate for twins is still way above what it was in 1980, when 1 in every 53 births was a twin.

Having twins can be problematic, Martin said. Many are born preterm, so they weigh less.

“Twins are seven times more likely to be born too early and three times more likely to die within the first year of life,” she said.

Continued

Martin predicts the twins’ birth rate will continue to decline as assisted reproductive technologies improve.

For the study, her team used data from the U.S. National Vital Statistics System.

It revealed that twin births nationwide peaked in 2007 at nearly 139,000.

Between 2014 and 2018, the data showed significant declines in twin birth rates in 17 states and significant rises in three: Arizona, Oklahoma and Idaho.

In 2018, twin birth rates ranged from 24.9 per 1,000 in New Mexico to 36.4 in Michigan and Connecticut. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia had twin birth rates of 30 per 1,000 (3%) or more.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, chief medical health officer at the March of Dimes, agreed that better reproductive technology explains the trends.

“Fewer embryos transferred result in fewer multiple births,” he said. “I hope that one of the reasons is that we are getting to the point where a single embryo is transferred.”

Gupta said the decline in multiple births among older women is a positive development. He noted that women in their 30s and 40s are more likely to develop complications during pregnancy such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.

These problems, along with chronic health conditions such as obesity, can increase the risk to both mother and baby, Gupta said. To reduce the chances for a bad outcome, he recommends women should be in their best physical shape before they get pregnant.

Gupta advised women who are considering assisted reproduction to ask their doctor about single embryo implantation and other updated technology to improve their odds for a healthy outcome.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Joyce Martin, M.P.H., epidemiologist, National Center for Health Statistics, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Rahul Gupta, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical health officer, March of Dimes; CDC’sNCHS Data Brief, Oct. 3, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Stress of U.S. Politics Taking Mental, Physical Toll on Americans

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 25, 2019 — U.S. politics has been incredibly divisive in recent years, and will likely only grow worse as President Donald Trump faces possible impeachment over the Ukrainian scandal.

So it’s no wonder the stress of ugly national politics has started to affect the emotional and physical health of some citizens, as a new study suggests.

Nearly two out of every five Americans say politics is stressing them out, and one in five are sleepless or have had friendships damaged over politics, the researchers found.

“A surprisingly large number of American adults perceive their engagement in politics as having negative effects on their social, emotional and even physical health,” said lead researcher Kevin Smith, chair of political science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that the House of Representatives will begin impeachment inquiries, accusing Trump of a “betrayal of his oath of office” in asking Ukraine’s newly elected president to investigate a Democratic rival for the U.S. presidency.

Things only intensified Wednesday when the Trump administration released a memorandum of his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which Trump pressed his counterpart for an investigation of presidential candidate Joe Biden and offered U.S. assistance for such a probe.

The new survey of 800 people nationwide, conducted prior to these latest revelations, indicated that politics are creating a burgeoning public health crisis in the United States, Smith said.

Many report politics stresses them out in several ways

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • More than one in 10 people felt politics had adversely affected their physical health.
  • Nearly one-third said they’d been driven crazy by media outlets that promote views contrary to their personal beliefs.
  • Three in 10 Americans said they’d lost their temper over politics.
  • A quarter of people said that politics has led them to hate some people, and to think seriously about moving away from their community.
  • About 22% said they care too much about who wins and who loses.
  • About 15% said they wish they would have restrained themselves more in political conversations or have posted things online that they later regretted.

These results mirror a 2017 “Stress in America” survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), said Lynn Bufka, the APA’s associate executive director for practice, research and policy.

In that earlier study, she said, two-thirds of Americans said the future of the nation is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, even more so than usual stressors like money or work. More than half said they consider this the lowest point in U.S. history they can remember.

Political stress appears to be taking a greater toll on people from the left side of the political spectrum, potentially tied to the controversial 2016 election cycle and Trump’s confrontational style of governing, Smith said.

However, it is possible that this politically driven stress has been around since before Trump, but no one asked the question, Smith and Bufka said.

“We don’t know what people would have reported with previous presidents,” Bufka said, noting that other researchers have cited former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as “very polarizing presidents themselves.”

“It could be there has been a fair amount of polarization and stress associated with politics that’s been increasing over the past decades, but it’s hard to say,” Bufka said.

Political concerns coming up in therapy sessions

Dr. Michelle Riba, a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, said that anecdotally at least it appears people are coming to therapy more often with political concerns on their mind.

Prior to the Trump administration, patients troubled by current events usually wanted to talk about recent tragic events like the 9/11 attacks or the Columbine shootings, said Riba, a professor of psychology with the University of Michigan.

Now, people tend to bring the day’s political concerns to their therapist’s couch.

“It depends on what’s going on that day, but people are bringing in some of the issues into sessions more than I can remember in a long time,” Riba said.

What can be done? One option is disengaging yourself from politics, but Smith is reluctant to endorse that.

“The people who seem to be least affected by this are the people who are not politically interested or engaged,” Smith said. “As a political scientist, it runs against my grain to even hint that people should back off from civic engagement.”

But a bit of civility might help reduce stress levels related to politics, Smith offered.

“If people were willing to engage in political disagreements a little more civilly, be a little less quick to attribute malevolent intent to people who have different political views from you, I think that would certainly cool the temperature a bit,” Smith said.

Ways to counter stress of highly charged political climates

People driven to distraction by politics can undertake some proven methods of stress relief like exercise, eating right, getting good sleep, and enjoying time with family and friends, Riba suggested.

And if it all gets to be too much, it is OK to take a break from the constant news feed, Bufka added.

“It’s important for individuals to give themselves an opportunity to take a break from social media and the news, from where they’re getting information that they find stressful,” Bufka said. “We live in an era where you can get information all the time, so you have to be fairly intentional to give yourself a space to get away from that.”

In any case, people feeling stressed by politics should absolutely take steps to lower their anxiety, Bufka said.

“Ignoring it is not going to make it better, so being more active and thoughtful about how to manage what is causing us stress will lead us to better health in the long term,” Bufka said.

The new study was published Sept. 25 in the journal PLOS ONE.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about coping with stress.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2019

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Alien enthusiasts descend on Nevada desert near secretive U.S. base

RACHEL, Nev. (Reuters) – Scores of UFO enthusiasts converged on rural Nevada on Thursday for a pilgrimage of sorts to the U.S. installation known as Area 51, long rumored to house government secrets about alien life, as law enforcement officials beefed up security around the military base.

Visitors descended early in the day on the tiny desert town of Rachel, a short distance from the military site, in response to a recent, viral social-media invitation to “storm” Area 51 on Friday, raising concerns by local authorities of unruly crowds overwhelming the community.

Situated about 150 miles (240 km) north of Las Vegas, the remote hamlet of just 50 year-round residents lacks a grocery store or even a gasoline station.

Thursday’s visitors established a small encampment outside Rachel’s only business – the extraterrestrial-themed Little A’Le’Inn motel and restaurant – parking themselves in cars, tents and RVs. Some tourists hung inflatable aliens from their campers.

One couple, Nicholas Bohen and Cayla McVey, both sporting UFO tattoos, traveled to Rachel from the Los Angeles suburb of Fullerton with enough food to last for a week of car-camping.

“It’s evolved into a peaceful gathering, a sharing of life stories,” McVey told Reuters, sizing up the crowd. “I think you are going to get a group of people that are prepared, respectful and they know what they getting themselves into.”

Music was scheduled to begin Thursday night and continue for two more days. It remained unclear if there would be a mass trek to the grounds of Area 51 on Friday.

The military site was shrouded in secrecy for decades, stoking conspiracy theories that it housed the remnants of a flying saucer and the bodies of its alien crew from the crash of an unidentified flying object in Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The U.S. government did not confirm the base existed until 2013, when it released CIA archives saying the site was used to test top-secret spy planes.

Rachel and its surroundings have nevertheless celebrated their place in UFO lore as a tourist draw. A 98-mile (158-km) road running through the area is dubbed the Extraterrestrial Highway, a purported hotbed of UFO sightings.

Dust blows through the desert as an influx of tourists responding to a call to ‘storm’ Area 51, a secretive U.S. military base believed by UFO enthusiasts to hold government secrets about extra-terrestrials, is expected in Rachel, Nevada, U.S. September 19, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

“NO STOPPING IT”

In June, California college student Matty Roberts posted a facetious Facebook invitation exhorting the public at large to run into Area 51 on foot to “see them aliens.”

When more than 1 million people expressed interest, the U.S. Air Force admonished curiosity seekers not to breach the gates at the military base, which it said is still used to test combat aircraft and train personnel.

Roberts then teamed up with Connie West, co-owner of the Little A’Le’Inn, to plan a music festival in Rachel dubbed “Alienstock.”

In early September, however, Roberts disassociated himself from the Rachel event, saying it was poorly organized and he feared it could devolve into a public safety crisis. Instead, he helped stage an alternative Alienstock set to take place Thursday night in Las Vegas.

West said the event in Rachel would go on as planned.

About 40 miles (64 km) to the east, the small town of Hiko planned an event called “Storm Area 51 Basecamp” at a gift shop dubbed the Alien Research Center. Organizers promised musicians, artists and “prominent ufologists,” and by Thursday had sold 3,200 tickets, according to Linda Looney, the shop’s manager.

“This whole thing has been a shock to this little community,” she said, adding that organizers had hired 15 security guards and a private ambulance and ordered 80 portable toilets. “It’s going to be really cool. I’m excited.”

The influx of alien hunters prompted Lincoln County, which encompasses both Rachel and Hiko, to draft an emergency declaration that could be invoked to call in help from the state.

The sheriff’s office said visitors should expect “a large presence of law enforcement.” Authorities urged everyone to bring ample supplies of food, water and fuel.

Five sheriff’s patrol cars were posted on Thursday just outside the Area 51 gate, where a handful of people had come to take photos.

Slideshow (18 Images)

Despite a festive, peaceful mood back in town, the official Rachel website was decidedly unwelcoming.

“If any event still happens it is going to be a pretty sad affair with no bands, no food, very little infrastructure and a lot of unhappy campers,” it said.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Rachel, Nev.; Editing by Steve Gorman and Leslie Adler

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Study: More U.S. Teen Girls Are Victims of Suicide

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 13, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The gender gap in teen suicide is smaller than previously estimated, with more girls dying by suicide each year, a new study contends.

Suicide death rates among 10- to 19-year-old girls have been systematically underestimated, while rates among boys have been overestimated, according to the report published Sept. 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Experts have pegged the male-to-female gender gap in suicide among teens at 3-to-1, but it’s really closer to 2-to-1, researchers said.

“The reduced gender gap in suicide is a surprise,” said lead researcher Dr. Bin Yu, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Florida. “It is really important that we not underestimate the risk of suicide among girls.”

The new model found that suicide deaths among U.S. teens have risen continuously during the past decade, and at a more rapid rate than reflected in earlier estimates, researchers said.

Conventional methods of estimating annual suicide death rates are flawed, Yu said, because they don’t take into account the generational risks associated with suicide.

For example, this study showed a decline in suicide risk for millennials born between 1980 and 1995, along with an increase in risk for those born after 1995.

To develop the best possible estimate, Yu and co-author Dr. Xinguang Chen from the UF College of Medicine created a model that combines three factors: a person’s age, the year of their birth, and the year in which they died by suicide.

This new way of estimating suicide rates pegged the death rate among boys at 4.9 per 100,000 in 1999 and 8.7 per 100,000 in 2017. Previous estimates placed boys’ rates at 7.4 in 1999 and 10.7 in 2017.

Using the new model, suicide rates among girls were 1.7 per 100,000 in 1999 and 4.2 in 2017, compared with earlier estimates of 1.6 in 1999 and 3.5 in 2017.

“The persistent suicide increase we see without a tendency to slow down underscores the need for increased effort at all levels for youth suicide prevention, with a further strengthening of suicide prevention interventions aimed at girls,” Yu said.

Continued

The new rate model supports other recent studies that have found an increase in suicide among teens, particularly among girls, said Dr. Igor Galynker, director of the Suicide Research and Prevention Laboratory at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“Not only is the suicide rate increasing in the United States, the increase in suicide rate is increasing,” he said.

The teenage suicide rate rose roughly 3% a year up to 2014, but since then, it has increased by an average 10% a year, said Galynker, who wasn’t part of the new study.

While this new study did not examine possible reasons for the increase, Yu noted that teens born after 1995 have been more heavily exposed to social media and have grown up during the ongoing U.S. opioid epidemic.

Galynker said teens’ screen use and the amount of time they spend with social media have both been linked to increased suicide risk.

“These risks are more pronounced for girls than they are for boys,” he said. “The data shows that girls’ use of social media is more likely to result in interpersonal stress. Compared to boys, girls use social media more frequently, they are more likely to be subjected to cyberbullying, and the cyberbullying is more likely to cause stress and emotional problems in girls than boys. Use of social media is also more likely to result in depression in girls.”

Future research should focus on the methods teens use in suicide attempts, Yu said. That knowledge could help prevent future suicides.

The Nemours Foundation lists these warning signs that a teen might be considering suicide:

  • Loose talk about suicide, death in general, or hints that they might not be around anymore.
  • Expressed feelings of hopelessness or guilt.
  • A sense that they are withdrawing from friends or family.
  • Giving away treasured possessions to siblings or friends.
  • No desire to take part in their favorite activities.
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits.

A parent who thinks their teen is in immediate danger should call 911 or a suicide hotline number, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Bin Yu, M.D., M.P.H., doctoral student, epidemiology, University of Florida, Colleges of Medicine and Public Health and Health Professions, Gainesville; Igor Galynker, M.D., director, Suicide Research and Prevention Laboratory at Mount Sinai, New York City;JAMA Network Open, Sept. 13, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Groupons For Medical Treatment? Welcome To Today’s U.S. Health Care

By Lauren Weber

Friday, September 06, 2019 (Kaiser News) — Emory University medical fellow Dr. Nicole Herbst was shocked when she saw three patients who came in with abnormal results from chest CT scans they had bought on Groupon.

Yes, Groupon — the online coupon mecca that also sells discounted fitness classes and foosball tables.  

Similar deals have shown up for various lung, heart and full-body scans across Atlanta, as well as in Oklahoma and California. Groupon also offers discount coupons for expectant parents looking for ultrasounds, sold as “fetal memories.”

The concept of patients using Groupons to get discounted medical care elicited the typical stages of Twitter grief: anger, bargaining and acceptance that this is the medical system today in the United States.

But, ultimately, the use of Groupon and other pricing tools is symptomatic of a health care market where patients desperately want a deal — or at least tools that better nail down their costs before they get care.

“Whether or not a person may philosophically agree that medicine is a business, it is a market,” said Steven Howard, who runs Saint Louis University’s health administration program.

[khn_slabs slabs=”790331″ view=”inline” /]

By offering an upfront cost on a coupon site like Groupon, Howard argued, medical companies are meeting people where they are. It helps drive prices down, he said, all while marketing the medical businesses.

For Paul Ketchel, CEO and founder of MDsave, a site that contracts with providers to offer discount-priced vouchers on bundled medical treatments and services, the use of medical Groupons and his own company’s success speak to the brokenness of the U.S. health care system.

MDsave offers deals at over 250 hospitals across the country, selling vouchers for anything from MRIs to back surgery. It has experienced rapid growth and expansion in the several years since its launch. Ketchel attributes that growth to the general lack of price transparency in the U.S. health care industry amid rising costs to consumers.

“All we are really doing is applying the e-commerce concepts and engineering concepts that have been applied to other industries to health care,” he argued. “We are like transacting with Expedia or Kayak while the rest of the health care industry is working with an old-school travel agent.”

Continued

A Closer Look At The Deal

Crown Valley Imaging in Mission Viejo, Calif., has been selling Groupon deals for services including heart scans and full-body CT scans since February 2017 — despite what Crown Valley’s president, Sami Beydoun, called Groupon’s aggressive financial practices. According to him, Groupon dictates the price for its deals based on the competition in the area — and then takes a substantial cut.

“They take about half. It’s kind of brutal. It’s a tough place to market,” he said. “But the way I look at it is you’re getting decent marketing.”

Groupon-type deals for health care aren’t new. They were more popular in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when Groupon and its then-competitor LivingSocial were at their heights. The industry has since lost some steam. Groupon stock and valuation have tumbled in recent years, even after buying LivingSocial in 2016.

Groupon did not respond to requests for comment on how many medical offerings it has featured or its pricing structure.

“Groupon is pleased any time we can save customers time and money on elective services that are important to their daily lives,” spokesman Nicholas Halliwell wrote in an emailed statement. “Our marketplace of local services brings affordable dental, chiropractic and eye care, among other procedures and treatments, to our more than 46 million customers daily and helps thousands of medical professional[s] advertise and grow their practices.”

Lauren Weber discussed using Groupons for medical treatment on KCBS Radio on Sept. 9.

Can’t see the audio player? Click here to download.

In Atlanta, two imaging centers that each offered discount coupons from Groupon said the deals have driven in new business. Bobbi Henderson, the office manager for Virtual Imaging Inc.’s Perimeter Center, said the group had been running the deal for a heart CT scan, complete with consultation, since 2012. Currently listed at $ 26 — a 96% discount — more than 5,000 of the company’s coupons have been sold, according to the Groupon site.

Continued

Brittany Swanson, who works in the front office at OutPatient Imaging in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta, said she has seen hundreds of customers come through after the center posted Groupons for mammograms, body scans and other screenings around six months ago.

Why did the company choose to make such discounts available?

“Honestly, we saw the other competition had it,” she said.

A lot of the deals offered are for preventive scans, Swanson said, providing patients incentives to come in.

But Dr. Andrew Bierhals, a radiology safety expert at Washington University in St. Louis’ Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, warned that such deals may be leading patients to get unnecessary initial scans — which can lead to unnecessary tests and radiation.

“If you’re going to have any type of medical testing done, I would make sure you discuss with your primary care provider or practitioner,” he cautioned.

Appealing To Those Who Fall Into The Insurance Gap

Because mammograms are typically covered by insurance, Swanson said she believes OutPatient Imaging’s $ 99 Groupon deal is filling a gap for women lacking insurance. The cost of such breast screenings for those who don’t have insurance varies widely but can be up to several hundreds of dollars without a discount.

Groupon has long been used to fill insurance gaps for dental care, Howard said. He himself often bought such deals over the years to get cheaper teeth cleanings when he didn’t have dental insurance.

But advanced medical scans involve a higher level of scrutiny, as Chicagoan Anna Beck learned. In 2015, she and her husband, Miguel Centeno, were told he needed to get a chest CT after a less advanced X-ray at an urgent care center showed something suspicious. Since her husband had just been laid off and did not have insurance, they shopped online for the cheapest price. They ended up driving out to the suburbs to get a CT scan at an imaging center there.

“I knew that CT scans had such a wide range of costs in a hospital setting,” Beck said. “So going in knowing that I could price-check and have some idea of how much I’d be paying and a little more control” was preferable to going to the hospital.

Continued

On the drive back into the city, the center called and told them to go straight to the hospital — the scan had discovered a large mass that turned out to be a germ-cell tumor.

Fortunately, Centeno’s cancer is now in remission, Beck said. But their online shopping cost them more money than if they’d gone straight to the hospital initially. The hospital gave them charity care. And although Beck took along a CD of the scans Centeno had found online, the hospital ended up taking its own scans, as well.

“You’re trying to cut cost by getting a CT out of the hospital,” she said. “But they’re just going to redo it anyway.”

WebMD News from Kaiser Health News

©2013-2018 Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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Diabetes Control Has Stalled Across U.S.

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — U.S. adults with diabetes are no more likely to meet disease control targets than they were in 2005, a new study finds.

Typically, diabetes treatment focuses on controlling blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as not smoking.

For the study, Massachusetts General Hospital researchers analyzed data on diabetes care in the United States from 2005 through 2016. The investigators found that one in four adults with diabetes was not diagnosed, and nearly one in three was not receiving appropriate care for diabetes.

“Fewer than one in four American adults with diagnosed diabetes achieve a controlled level of blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol and do not smoke tobacco,” said study lead author Pooyan Kazemian, of the hospital’s Medical Practice Evaluation Center.

“Our results suggest that, despite major advances in diabetes drug discovery and movement to develop innovative care delivery models over the past two decades, achievement of diabetes care targets has not improved in the United States since 2005,” Kazemian said in a hospital news release.

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. Most have type 2, which is linked to lifestyle.

Certain groups of patients were less likely to achieve diabetes care targets, according to the study.

“Younger age (18-44), female and nonwhite adults with diabetes had lower odds of achieving the composite blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and nonsmoking target,” Kazemian said.

Patients with insurance coverage were most likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes and to have achieved treatment targets, the researchers noted.

According to study senior author Dr. Deborah Wexler, “Barriers accessing health care, including lack of health insurance and high drug costs, remain major factors that have not been adequately addressed on a population level.” Wexler is with the hospital’s diabetes unit and is an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“Treatment advances in diabetes mellitus can meaningfully improve outcomes only if they effectively reach the populations at risk. Our findings suggest this is not the case in the U.S.,” Wexler said.

The findings, she added, indicate an immediate need for better approaches to diabetes care delivery, “including a continued focus on reaching underserved populations with persistent disparities in care.”

The study was published online recently in JAMA Internal Medicine.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, Aug. 12, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Suicide Becoming All Too Common in U.S.

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Sept. 6, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Suicide continues to become more common in the United States, with rural areas hit hardest by this ongoing crisis of despair, a new study reports.

Deprivation, isolation and lack of access to mental health care all appear to be driving the crisis in rural America, said lead researcher Danielle Steelesmith. She’s a postdoctoral fellow at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

“Rural suicide rates are higher than urban rates and tend to be increasing a little more rapidly,” Steelesmith said.

Suicide rates increased 41% between 1999 and 2016, from a median of 15 per 100,000 people to more than 21 per 100,000, county-by-county data show. Median means half had higher rates; half were lower.

Rural folks tend to be at higher risk than city dwellers, the researchers found.

Suicide rates were 22 per 100,000 in rural counties between 2014 and 2016, compared with about 18 per 100,000 in large metropolitan counties, the nationwide data revealed.

To figure out the difference between rural and urban areas, the researchers did a county-by-county analysis of factors that could be driving suicide rates.

“Deprivation” — a cluster of factors that includes low employment, poverty and lack of education — was closely related to increased rural suicide rates, the study authors said.

Steelesmith said poverty could be more entrenched and economic opportunities more limited in rural areas, leaving residents feeling helpless.

Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Dr. J. Michael Bostwick noted that the highest suicide rates found in the study occurred in the Mountain West, Appalachia and the Ozarks.

“The communities that are more likely to be suffering rurally are the ones that are still committed to mining or farming,” Bostwick said. “Information technology, alternative energy and automation may have bypassed rural communities in favor of metropolitan communities.”

Residents of rural America also appear to be more isolated, which increases suicide risk, the researchers noted.

And rural regions tend to have more social fragmentation, with more single-member households, unmarried residents and people drifting in and out of the area, according to the report.

Continued

These regions also have lower levels of social capital, a measure of the interconnectedness of people through churches, groups and organizations, Steelesmith said.

Both social fragmentation and lack of social capital were associated with higher suicide rates, the findings showed.

Rural residents struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts also are less able to get help, either because they aren’t insured or the area lacks mental health professionals.

These people face a “double whammy” of few therapists around, along with a lack of solid suicide-prevention training in the mental health professionals who are available, said Mitch Prinstein, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“If you actually do get lucky enough to get in the office of a trained mental health provider, they aren’t necessarily going to be trained in effective approaches for reducing suicide,” he said. “Right now, mental health treatment is much more available for folks in urban and suburban areas. It’s almost impossible to access in our most rural areas of the country.”

Expanding access to mental health services, possibly through telemedicine, could help reduce suicide rates in rural areas, Steelesmith suggested.

One factor that drove urban suicide rates but not rural was the number of gun shops in an area.

Firearms shops increase access to guns and make suicide more viable to troubled people, Bostwick said.

“Rural areas are saturated with firearms already, so gun shops don’t make a difference,” he said. “But when you open a gun shop in a part of a city that doesn’t have one, access is increased and rates go up.”

Prinstein and Bostwick differ in how they see America’s rising suicide rates.

“We really need to start talking about suicide like the public health crisis that it is, the same way we talk about flu shots in every drug store, and we talk about sexual risk being discussed in every school and community health clinic,” Prinstein said. “When the percentages are this high, this needs to be something that’s part of the public discourse in the same way we talk about sex and drugs.”

Continued

But Bostwick noted that rates are actually relatively low, with 21 suicides for every 100,000 people.

“I don’t mean to minimize the significance of any individual suicide, but it is still a pretty rare event,” he said.

Bostwick added that today’s suicide rates are similar to those in the early 1990s, and appear to be part of an up-and-down cycle taking place in the United States for at least the past century.

The new study was published online Sept. 6 in JAMA Network Open.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Danielle Steelesmith, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., psychiatrist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Sept. 6, 2019,JAMA Network Open, online

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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HPV Vaccination Rate in U.S. Girls Has Stalled

THURSDAY, Aug. 22 — While there’s been a slight uptick in the number of American boys who get the HPV vaccine to help prevent certain cancers, a new study finds there’s been almost no increase for girls.

And overall, too few kids are getting the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine (Gardasil, Cervarix), which can help provide them with a lifetime of protection against cancers of the cervix, genitals, mouth and throat, said researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of 2018, slightly more than half (51%) of American adolescents aged 13 to 17 had received the full series of HPV shots — only a slight rise from the 48.6% rate recorded in 2017, the new study found.

Even then, “the increases [in vaccination] were only observed among males,” noted researchers led by Tanja Walker, of the CDC’s Immunization Services Division.

Because HPV is transmitted sexually, the CDC now recommends that adolescents — girls and boys alike — get vaccinated at age 11 or 12, long before sexual activity typically begins.

So why are so many parents still not getting their kids immunized?

One expert believes the “anti-vaxxer” movement has a lot to do with it.

“This trend reflects a wider social phenomenon of vaccine reluctance, fueled by a powerful ‘anti-vax’ movement that is skeptical of the medical experts and public health officials who try to educate families and promote timely HPV immunization,” said Dr. Michael Grosso. He’s chair of pediatrics at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y. Grosso wasn’t involved in the new study.

He said many widely circulated myths are keeping otherwise highly educated parents from vaccinating kids.

“Some of the tropes are generic to all vaccines — they are ‘unnatural,’ they ‘overwhelm’ the immune system — while others are particular to HPV,” Grosso said. “Perhaps most frequent among these myths is that immunization against a sexually transmitted virus will encourage teen promiscuity.”

None of those tropes are true, he said.

In the new study, Walker’s group looked at 2017-2018 data on nearly 19,000 U.S. adolescents, aged 13 to 17, included in the National Immunization Survey-Teen.

Besides showing little change in HPV vaccine uptake, the data showed that while vaccination rates rose by 4.4 percentage points among boys, they only increased by 0.6 of a percentage point among girls — a negligible amount.

The data also showed that frank doctor-parent discussions on the merits of immunization did a lot to boost child vaccination rates.

For example, if a parent said their doctor had recommended HPV vaccination for their child, nearly 75% did go on to get that child vaccinated, Walker’s team reported. But if no such recommendation was made, vaccination rates dropped to under half (46.7%).

That came as no surprise to Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

“Many patients report that they only heard about the vaccine from television commercials,” she said. “They need to hear about it from their health care providers.”

The study found that physician recommendations were far more common in some states than others. For example, in Massachusetts about 91% of parents said their doctor had advised them to vaccinate their kids, but in Mississippi just 59.5% said their doctor had done so.

Grosso believes the anti-vaxxer movement may again be at least partly to blame.

“One trend we see locally is a kind of reverse causality — [anti-vaxxer] parental attitudes are influencing the doctors, rather than the other way around,” he said. “Where rates of vaccine reluctance are especially high, practitioners become sensitized to the possibility of upsetting their patients. This means that HPV vaccine may go unmentioned, or gets connected with a tepid recommendation.”

The consequences of not getting vaccinated against HPV early in life can be dire, however.

“In the United States, an estimated 34,800 cases of cancer caused by HPV occur each year,” the study authors noted, and 92% could be prevented by vaccines currently available.

The findings were published in the Aug. 23 issue of the CDC journal Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers more about HPV vaccination coverage.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: August 2019

Drugs.com – Daily MedNews

Chinese Blockbuster ‘Ne Zha’ Gets U.S. Release thanks to Well Go

We’ve been covering the phenomenal performance of Chinese animated feature Ne Zha in the country for the past few weeks, and now, we’re happy to report that the movie will be released in the U.S. on August 29 by indie distributor Well Go USA Entertainment. The film will play exclusively in 3D Imax Theaters on that date, and will get a nationwide expansion on Sept. 6. Ne Zha has earned over $ 555 million in China and is the biggest animated release and the fourth biggest theatrical release of all time in that country.

Produced by Beijing Enlight Pictures and written and directed by first-time feature filmmaker Yang Yu (aka Jiao Zi). The pic is described as a fresh take on a well-known work of classical Chinese mythology. It centers on a son of the gods who finds himself a feared outcast because of a divine prophecy that he will bring destruction to the world. He faces a choice between good and evil in order to break with the prophecy and become a hero. The movie has struck a chord with audiences, as it has scored 9.7/10 on the ticketing app Maoyan.

Among Well Go’s other recent releases are Lee Chang-dong’s Burning, Zhang Yimou’s Shadow and Yuen Woo-Ping’s Master Z: The Ip Man Legacy.

Here is the film’s trailer:

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Animation Magazine