Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

EPA won’t ban pesticide linked to health problems in children

The EPA announced yesterday that it won’t be banning chlorpyrifos, a pesticide known to cause neurological damage in children. Sold under the name Lorsban, the chemical is banned for household use but is still used by farmers. Exposure to the chemical has been linked to lower birth weights and reduced IQ in children. The Obama administration in 2015 began the regulatory process to ban the chemical, but the Trump administration reversed course. The EPA denied a petition by a coalition of environmental groups and seven states, saying there wasn’t enough data to suggest that the amount of pesticide residue in food was unsafe.

Unlicensed health coaches can offer advice in Florida — for free

Can anyone give out health advice?  In Florida, the answer now is “sort of.” A federal judge ruled yesterday that the state can limit who gives out dietary advice only if they charge a fee. The case involved Heather Del Castillo, a health coach who was fined around $750 for practicing without a dietary license and forced to stop providing personal health consultations. Castillo argued that not allowing her to share health and diet advice was an infringement of her free speech rights. The court ruled that although Castillo — and others like her — would be allowed to share dietary information, she could not charge people for her services without a professional license. The libertarian law firm that represented her, the Institute for Justice, said it planned to appeal. 

New Yorkers charged most for prescription drugs 

A new report from the website GoodRx finds that New York is the most expensive city for people buying prescription medications without using insurance or discounts. Here’s more from the report, which assessed what pharmacies charged for the 500 most prescribed medications from April to June 2019:

  • Priciest cities: The average retail price in New York was 16% more than the national average, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles. In contrast, Atlanta was home to the cheapest medications, with prices that were 21% cheaper than the average. 
  • Priciest drugs: Myalept, for treating a rare hormone deficiency, was the most expensive prescription drug, with a list price of nearly $65,000 for a 30-day supply. In the first three months of the year, the drug was roughly $20,000 cheaper. 
  • Most prescribed drugs: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which treat mood and anxiety disorders, are the most prescribed class of drugs in 24 states and Washington, D.C. 

Inside STAT: Role of seizures in Alzheimer’s is gaining overdue attention 

Low-level hyperactivity has been detected in the hippocampus — a brain region critical to memory — of older people with mild cognitive impairment.(DOM SMITH/STAT)

For the longest time, scientists believed that seizures in people with Alzheimer’s disease were just another sign of a deteriorating brain. And they thought seizures happened only in the later stages of the condition. But new research suggests such abnormal electrical activity can occur earlier in the disease process, and that seizures are common in Alzheimer’s patients. In one study, a quarter of patients who were admitted to a hospital following their first seizure went on to develop dementia. These recent findings could help researchers better understand how Alzheimer’s develops and progresses, something that has been notoriously difficult to understand. STAT contributor Lauren Aguirre has more here

Only four states show increases in smoking cessation attempts

New CDC data suggest that attempts at quitting smoking are largely staying flat. Between 2011 and 2017, there were just four states where the prevalence of people trying to quit increased. Such attempts decreased in New York and Tennessee, while they were largely unchanged in the other 44 states. Still, between 60% and 70% of adult smokers in 2017 said they tried quitting. The study did not look at the ways in which people attempted to stop smoking, nor at how often people succeeded. It could take as many as 30 attempts to quit, the authors write, and so more attempts should be encouraged. 

Astronauts less likely to faint on Earth if they exercise in space 

With the 50th anniversary tomorrow of the first moon landing, space is on everyone’s radar, including here at Morning Rounds. One study found that astronauts returning to Earth were less likely to faint if they exercised while in space. We’ve all experienced that sudden dizziness after standing up too quickly, and astronauts are especially prone to that feeling given the difference in gravity back on the ground. A small group of astronauts spent up to two hours everyday during their six-month stay on the International Space Station doing resistance and endurance training. They also received a saline infusion upon landing to prevent dehydration. None of them fainted within the first 24 hours of returning to Earth. The findings could help plan for future human space travel or even help those who have to adjust to being active after a prolonged period of bed rest. 

What to read around the web today

Have a good — and cool — weekend! See you on Monday!


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Friday, July 19, 2019


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