What is the global prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder?

An article published by JAMA Pediatrics estimates the global prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) among children and youth.

Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can cause a wide range of adverse health effects. The effects of prenatal alcohol exposure can have lifelong implications so FASD is costly for society. Updated prevalence estimates are needed to prioritize, plan and deliver health care to high-needs populations, such as children and young people with FASD.

Svetlana Popova, Ph.D., of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada, and coauthors conducted a meta-analysis of 24 studies including 1,416 children and youth diagnosed with FASD.

Full story at Science Daily

New vaccine could someday fight the effects of opioid combinations

Substance abuse is a continuing problem in the U.S., particularly with heroin and other opioids, to the point of being an epidemic. Treatments exist, but far too often patients relapse with devastating impacts on themselves and those around them. Now, scientists report that they have made progress toward a vaccine against the effects of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, in combination with heroin.

The researchers are presenting their work today at the 254th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“There is an urgent need to discover effective medications to treat substance use disorders. Increasingly, drug users are turning to opioids and powerful synthetic versions of these drugs that can sometimes be as much as 100 times more potent than heroin,” says Kim D. Janda, Ph.D., who led the research into the vaccines. “Moreover, many patients receiving treatment relapse.”

Full story at Science Daily

Cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum, study shows

The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays — together called “nicotine replacement therapy,” or NRT — came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped smokers quit. But in 1996, at the urging of pharmaceutical companies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allowed those products to be sold over-the-counter.

Now, a new study conducted by scientists at UC San Francisco reports that tobacco companies have known for decades that, without counseling, NRT hardly ever works, and that consumers often use it to complement smoking. This insight from the formerly secret industry documents known as the “Tobacco Papers” reveals why companies that once viewed nicotine patches and gum as a threat to their cigarette sales now embrace them as a business opportunity, the researchers said.

Full story at Science Daily

Starting opioid addiction treatment in the ED is cost-effective

The most cost-effective treatment for people with untreated opioid addiction who visit the emergency department (ED) is buprenorphine, a medication to reduce drug cravings and withdrawal, say Yale researchers. Their study found that among patients who came to the ED, the ED-initiated medication strategy was most likely to be cost-effective compared to referral alone or a brief intervention with facilitated referral, the researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Addiction.

Nationally, only about one in five individuals who needed treatment for opioid addiction received treatment in the past year, and fewer received the most effective treatments, such as buprenorphine. Yet studies have shown that treating individuals with such medications is effective. In an earlier analysis of this study, Yale researchers found that when patients are screened for opioid addiction, receive ED-initiated buprenorphine, and a referral for ongoing treatment, the treatment was more effective than a standard referral or brief intervention with referral.

Full story at Science Daily

Marijuana use amongst youth stable, but substance abuse admissions up

While marijuana use amongst youth remains stable, youth admission to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Miesha Marzell, assistant professor of social work at Binghamton University, along with researchers at The University of Iowa, did a secondary analysis of data collected from every nationally funded substance abuse treatment facility in the United States from 2003-2013. The data covered admissions before and after major marijuana policies were enacted nationwide. The team’s analysis showed that while marijuana use amongst youth has remained relatively unchanged, admissions to substance abuse treatment facilities has increased.

“Teens were being admitted to substance abuse treatment centers across the United States, but they were not necessarily indicating that their marijuana use was at a high-risk,” said Marzell.

Full story at Medical Xpress