A summary of important health news from the past week.
This week, Donald Trump's commission on the opioid crisis called for a tightened system of tracking and accountability. This includes the required training of more doctors who prescribe opioids, policies that allow more emergency responders to administer overdose reversal drugs, and penalties for insurers that dodge covering treatment for addiction. The panel also called for the establishment of drug courts in every federal judicial district in order to prevent sending drug offenders to prison and instead, help them access treatment.
Most of Us Live Paycheck-to-Paycheck. This Is What It Does to Your Health.
Money affects everyone's lives. 78 percent of full time workers in America are living from paycheck-to-paycheck, and 71 percent of Americans are in debt. Although what constitutes a livable wage varies greatly according to where you live, these statistics show just how many people are struggling to make ends meet. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), financial stress is the top cause of stress for Americans. Living with a chronic state of stress from living paycheck-to-paycheck can have negative impacts on both mental and physical health.
U.S. Gets a ‘C’ for its High Preterm Birth Rate
A recent report from the March of Dimes found that 9.8 percent of babies in the United States (380,000 babies each year) are born prematurely. This is the second year in a row that the percentage of premature babies has increased. According to Save the Children, 130 countries have lower preterm birth rates than the US. Babies who are born prematurely are more likely to experience a variety of health problems such as heart defects and brain damage, as well as an increased incidence of chronic disease later in life. Premature babies may also be more likely to have cognitive difficulties and delays.
Patients with sickle cell disease often encounter life-threatening barriers to obtaining proper medical care, particularly as adults. People with sickle cell, who, in the US, are predominantly African American, report longer wait times in emergency rooms and have been found to have a vastly shorter life expectancy. These discrepancies endure despite the availability of effective treatment for sickle cell.
There are health-tracking wearables for babies, too
New health-monitoring technologies for babies are slowly being introduced to the health-technology market. The 'smart pacifier' allows parents to continuously check their children's temperatures via a smartphone app while the 'biometric-tracking onesie' tracks the babies' sleep. While wearable monitors for babies can be useful to moms and dads, it might make some patients more anxious and it is not scientifically proven that infant physiologic monitors save lives. There is potential harm to using solely physiologic monitors for infant health, and these new and upcoming health-monitoring devices should not be replacements for physicians and other medical professionals.
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