Study finds increased cannabis use during pregnancy

Cannabis use more than doubled among pregnant women in the United States during the period 2002-2017, according to data collected from 467,100 women aged 12-44 who participated in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and family income, past-month cannabis use, daily/near cannabis use, and number of days of cannabis use all increased among pregnant women. Cannabis use was more common during the first trimester than during the second and third. In addition, cannabis use for medical purposes was relatively rare, but just as frequent among pregnant as non-pregnant women.

Between 2002-2003 and 2016-2017, past-month cannabis use increased from 3.4% to 7.0% among pregnant women overall and from 5.7% to 12.1% during the first trimester. Daily/near daily cannabis use in the past month increased from 0.9% to 3.4% among pregnant women overall, and from 1.8% to 5.3% during the first trimester; from 0.6% to 2.5% during the second trimester; and from 0.5% to 2.5% during the third trimester.Cannabis use during pregnancy has been associated with effects on fetal growth, including low birth weight and length, and these outcomes may be more likely among women who consume marijuana frequently during pregnancy, especially in the first and second trimesters. This study emphasizes the need to screen and intervene for cannabis use among all pregnant women and underscores the need for additional research to assess fetal outcomes related to prenatal cannabis exposure.

Full story at drugabuse.gov

Indoor tanning may be an addiction abetted by both genetic and psychiatric factors

A combination of elevated symptoms of depression along with modifications in a gene responsible for dopamine activity, important to the brain’s pleasure and reward system, appear to influence an addiction to indoor tanning in young, white non-Hispanic women.

That finding comes from a new study, reported by researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and published online June 11 in Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Excess exposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Most UV exposure is from the sun, but exposure from indoor tanning is common in certain people and accounts for 10 percent of skin cancer cases in the U.S. There will be an estimated 96,480 new cases of melanoma in the United States and 7,230 deaths from the disease in 2019.

This study compiled survey responses from 292 non-Hispanic white women in the Washington, D.C. area, 18 to 30 years of age, who used indoor tanning beds, sunlamps, or sun booths. The survey asked questions about values and behaviors that might predispose a person to a tanning addiction, as well as a series of questions to determine if they had symptoms of depression.

Full story at Science Daily

Deaths Due to Alcohol, Drugs and Suicide Have Soared Among Young Adults

Deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide have soared among young adults ages 18 to 34, according to a new analysis.

The number of drug deaths among young adults has risen by 400% in the past two decades, according to the non-profit Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust. These deaths were fueled in large part by the opioid crisis, USA Today reports.

Alcohol-related deaths for young adults rose 68% between 2007 and 2017, while suicide deaths increased 35%. Rates for “deaths of despair” from alcohol, drugs and suicide were higher among young adults than among Baby Boomers and senior citizens.

Full story at drugfree.org

15 Percent of Teens and Young Adults Prescribed Opioids During ER Visit

Almost 15 percent of teens and young adults are prescribed opioids during an emergency room visit, according to a new study.

In contrast, 3 percent of teens and young adults seen in an outpatient clinic receive an opioid prescription, NBC News reports.

“Adolescents and young adults are such a high-risk population for opioid misuse and future addiction,” said study author Joel Hudgins, M.D., of the Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. “We found the rates of opioid prescriptions were pretty high, at 15 percent, which is right in line with adult data.”

Full story at drugfree.org

NIH Solicits Research into Vaccines to Protect against Opioid Use

Opiate and opioid drugs killed 70,000 Americans1 in 2017, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest grim note in a still growing addiction crisis and demanding a wide public health response. In May 2017, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, wrote that it was time for “all scientific hands on deck,” and highlighted the need to invest in new technologies beyond the standard toolset for reversing opioid drug overdoses and treating addiction.2

NIH has now announced new resources for research into one such alternate approach to combatting the opioid epidemic, immunotherapy.

A March 20 solicitation from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases3(NIAID), announced the division’s search for outside researchers interested in developing vaccines to protect against heroin and the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, with goal of awarding multiple groups contracts, according to Kentner Singleton, PhD, program officer in the basic immunology branch of NIAID. He expects to announce the awards by August 2020. “Once we make the awards, we can facilitate collaborations between all the different groups so we can leverage the strength of one group to minimize the weakness of another group, so that we can have a cohesive consortium of investigators all working towards the same goal in unison and in parallel,” he says. “At the end of the day, the goal is to have a product that is brought into clinical trials.”

Full story at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News