Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fatal Car Crashes Involving Pot Use Have Tripled in U.S., Study Finds

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The legalization of marijuana is an idea that is gaining momentum in the United States, but there may be a dark side to pot becoming more commonplace, a new study suggests.

Fatal crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade, fueling some of the overall increase in drugged-driving traffic deaths, researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”

The research team drew its conclusions from crash statistics from six states that routinely perform toxicology tests on drivers involved in fatal car wrecks — California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. The statistics included more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010.

Alcohol contributed to about the same percentage of traffic fatalities throughout the decade, about 40 percent, Li said.

But drugs played an increasingly prevalent role in fatal crashes, the researchers found. Drugged driving accounted for more than 28 percent of traffic deaths in 2010, up from more than 16 percent in 1999.

Marijuana proved to be the main drug involved in the increase, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes compared with 4 percent in 1999.

In an endnote to the study, the researchers pointed to several limitations with the research. One is that marijuana can be detected in the blood up to one week after use. And, therefore, the researchers said, “the prevalence of nonalcohol drugs reported in this study should be interpreted as an indicator of drug use, not necessarily a measurement of drug impairment.”

The study authors also noted that the combined use of alcohol and marijuana dramatically increases a driver’s risk of death.

Courtesy of http://consumer.healthday.com/

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Heat Safety Awareness: Do’s and Don’s to Staying Safe this Summer

BPHC, Friday, May 23, 2014

May 23rd is Heat Safety Awareness Day. As we prepare for a summer that scientists are predicting to be warmer than ever, it is important to know the how to stay safe and healthy through the hot weather. Staying hydrated and in shaded or air conditioned areas whenever possible are vital to staying safe in Boston’s summer months. 

Children and the elderly are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses and injuries, but everyone should remember to limit their activities during very hot weather, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid beverages that contain caffeine or alcohol. 

Heat related illness such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke can be fatal if untreated and need to be taken seriously, particularly for elderly and younger populations. During a heat wave, family, friends and neighbors are also urged to check in frequently with elderly residents who may need assistance during the hot weather. 

When outdoors, limit strenuous activity, wear sunscreen and loose, light-colored clothing, and rest often in cool, shady areas. Additional measures to beat the heat include avoiding cooking, taking cool showers or baths, and staying in air conditioned areas whenever possible.

Click here to read some of the simple Do’s and Dont’s from Boston EMS to staying safe and healthy this summer.

Courtesy of: BPHC Blog

Pediatricians Take on the NRA Over Gun Safety

BY: Brandy Zadrozny, The Daily Beast, 5.15.14

For the past three decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics—some 62,000 members strong—has been an outspoken voice on the issue of gun control, a position that has landed it on the NRA’s (admittedly very long) list of enemies. In 1992, the AAP issued its first policy statement supporting a handgun and assault weapons ban, making it the first public health organization to do so, and it has long recommended that doctors talk about gun safety with parents. Since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, the AAP has stepped up attempts to educate parents about gun safety around children.

But as the fight over gun rights grows ever more virulent at the national level, the AAP and individual doctors have quietly begun to take a softer stance on the issue, turning their focus to peddling realistic policies rather than clinging to a hard-and-fast no-guns line.

On a recent Sunday in April, 70 doctors and scientists associated with the AAP filed into a convention center in Vancouver to discuss firearm injury prevention. Presenters clicked through PowerPoint slides highlighting topics such as risk factors for gun injuries, popular gun-safety myths, and stats on suicide and homicide due to guns in the home. “The issue of guns really follows directly from all the concerns we have about injuries in general. This is one kind of injury that endangers the health and life of kids,” said Dr. Robert Sege, a Boston Medical Center pediatrician, who gave a presentation on how to talk about guns with parents. 

The AAP’s outgoing president, Thomas McInerny—who made the Sandy Hook massacre a call to action for gun safety during his one-year post—sat in the audience. While the AAP has been advocating for an end to gun violence for some 30 years now, the shooting in Newtown shocked the nation and galvanized the AAP’s doctors to redouble their efforts in support of new gun-control measures. Newtown pediatrician Laura Nowacki lost eight of her patients in the massacre at Sandy Hook. “I’ve never spoken to the media until all of this happened. But I really believe I have to stand up. I have to use my voice,” she told the AAP Newsin June. 

Several more Newtown victims were patients of Dr. Richard Auerbach; he’d held two of them in his arms in the delivery room where they were born. Auerbach, along with other pediatricians, wrote to Congress last year in support of an ultimately doomed measure to ban semiautomatic assault weapons brought by Senator Diane Feinstein, a California Democrat.

Courtesy of http://www.thedailybeast.com/

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Leaving Kids Alone in Hot Cars — Know the Risks and Consequences

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Even great parents can forget a child in the back seat, but caregivers who are unaccustomed to transporting children are especially prone to forgetting.

Think about the last time your routine was interrupted. Maybe you forgot something, or were afraid you might forget something. Or maybe you decided to leave your child alone in the car, thinking “I’ll just run into the store for a minute.” In either case, it’s important to know the risks and consequences associated with leaving kids in cars — especially hot cars.

Risks

  • In 10 minutes, a car can heat up 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cracking a window does little to keep the car cool.
  • With temperatures in the 60s, your car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.
  • A child’s body temperature can rise up to five times faster than an adult’s.
  • Heatstroke can happen when the temperature is as low as 57 degrees outside!
  • A child dies when his/her temperature reaches 107.

 Consequences 

  • The heat-related death of a child
  • Misdemeanor with fines as high as $500 — and even imprisonment — in some states
  • Felony, depending on the state, if bodily harm results from leaving kids alone in a hot car
  • Note: The age of children who can be left unattended in a vehicle varies from state to state, as does the duration of time a child can be left alone in a car.

Courtesy of http://www.safercar.gov/parents/heatstroke.htm

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