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Could more nature and less air pollution prevent ADHD? – Powell River Peak

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The less air pollution and more green space a child is exposed to, the less likely they are to develop attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a sweeping Metro Vancouver-wide study has found. 

The pathbreaking research, published in the journal Environment International, followed a cohort of nearly 30,000 children born in 2000 and 2001. 

Tracing a three-year exposure period, researchers from the University of British Columbia analyzed the combined impacts of satellite-measured green space, noise and concentrations of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres (PM 2.5) on the development of ADHD. Seven years after the exposure period, over 1,200 ADHD cases were diagnosed.

Noise was found to have no effect. But lower the amount of green space or increase the levels of air pollution, and the twin effects can heighten the risk of ADHD by up to 62 per cent, found researchers. The result: “children living in greener neighbourhoods with low air pollution had substantially lower risk of ADHD compared to those with higher air pollution and lower green space exposure,” concluded the study.

“I was surprised that we saw this much of a difference,” said Michael Brauer, a co-author on the study and a researcher examining the built environment and human health at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health. 

“Given that there’s not a lot of things about ADHD that we can change at a societal level, it is a pretty big effect.”

PM2.5 is the main constituent of wildfire smoke, something only expected to worsen in the coming decades. Outside of the fire season, Metro Vancouver says it’s also produced through the burning of fossil fuels in everything from transportation, industry and agriculture. It has been considered a carcinogen since 2013. Across the world, the World Health Organization estimates almost 80 per cent of the deaths related to PM2.5 could be avoided if its guidelines were followed. 

Not all air pollutants were correlated with an increased risk of developing ADHD. Nitrogen dioxide — which together with PM 2.5 and ground-level ozone contributes to over 15,000 annual deaths across Canada and 1,900 in B.C. — was not found to be connected with the development of ADHD.

Brauer says the biggest two sources of air pollution driving the variation in Metro Vancouver were traffic and space heating, including wood-burning and natural gas fireplaces, and gas boilers. 

Closer to the coast and at higher elevations, pollution levels tended to be lower due to ocean breezes and the tendency of pollution to settle in low-lying areas. The worst-hit areas tended to be near major traffic arteries, along highways, major truck routes and the region’s ports.  

A neurodevelopmental disorder, ADHD is thought to affect five to 10 per cent of children and adolescents. Throughout a person’s life, it can affect their academic performance and their ability to socialize and work.

As the researchers put it, ADHD has “considerable impacts on individual wellbeing, health care, and the economy.” 

The study is part of a wider attempt to understand the environmental health hazards from air pollution and how green spaces can dampen their impacts. 

In October 2021, another Metro Vancouver-wide study from several of the same UBC researchers concluded living near green spaces improves a children’s chances of hitting key developmental milestones, including emotional maturity, language skills and even general knowledge. 

Living near green spaces, found the 2021 study, could improve childhood development, partly by reducing the negative effects of air and noise pollution — both have been found to increase stress, sleep disturbances and central nervous system damage in children.

The latest round of research adds to a growing body of evidence of the benefits of green space on human health.

In other parts of the world, past research has found that access to green space can promote a huge range of positive health outcomes for all ages, from increased physical activity and social cohesion to reduced cardiovascular disease and dementia rates. Others have found similar benefits when people regularly expose themselves to bodies of water, known by some as “blue space.”

Increased density of trees can also create a buffer for extreme heat and, in the winter, act as a thermal blanket that will reduce heating bills should a deep freeze set in. But how green spaces are distributed across the Metro area can reveal some huge inequalities.

Of the nearly 600 British Columbians who died from extreme temperatures during late June’s heatwave, more were killed in low-income areas, where people lived alone and with little green space. On Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, Canada’s poorest neighbourhood, hospitalizations tripled, with more people admitted to emergency rooms due to heat than anywhere else in the city.

Scientists know how trees protect us from heat. But how more access to green space makes people healthier over the long term is unclear. 

“Instead of saying green is good, we’re providing more concrete pathways,” Ingrid Jarvis told Glacier Media last fall.

At the time, Jarvis said the research shows that everyday “micro-contacts” with nature can positively affect a child’s long-term physical and mental health. 

“This is one more thing,” added Brauer, referring to the group’s latest study. “There’s not a lot known about factors that you can modify. So what we tend to do when kids are diagnosed with ADHD is put them on medication.”

“We could be raising healthier kids.”

Ultimately, their findings have big repercussions for how planners design neighbourhoods in a region expected to add another million people to its population by 2040.

In the past, the group of UBC researchers have sent findings to Metro Vancouver, where it was distributed to all 21 jurisdictions and various committees. 

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Quebec health officials confirm 25 monkeypox cases now in province – Global News

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Quebec public health officials are reporting a total of 25 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province as of Thursday.

Dr. Luc Boileau, interim public health director in the province, described it as a “serious outbreak” of the virus. Officials are investigating several more suspected cases.

“We had about 20 to 30 suspected cases under investigation so far,” Boileau said.

The province will also begin administering the Imvamune vaccine to close contacts of confirmed or suspected cases of monkeypox as soon as Friday. A single dose will be provided within four days of exposure to the virus.

Quebec’s Health Ministry said in a statement that a second dose of the vaccine could be administered, but only if the risk of exposure is “still present 28 days later” and “only following a decision by public health authorities.”

READ MORE: Mass vaccinations for monkeypox not needed, WHO official says

Boileau said the majority of confirmed cases in the province are tied mostly to men who have had sexual relations with other men. There has been one case in a person under 18.

Last week, Quebec recorded the first cases of the virus in the country. The first suspected cases were reported on May 12 in Montreal.

Monkeypox is a rare disease that comes from the same family of viruses that causes smallpox, which the World Health Organization declared eradicated around the globe in 1980.

The virus spreads through prolonged closed contact. It can cause fever, headache, muscle aches, exhaustion, swollen lymph nodes and lesions.

— with files from Global News’ Dan Spector and the Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Quebec to start monkeypox vaccination of contacts as officials confirm 25 cases

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MONTREAL — Quebec’s interim public health director says the province could start vaccinating people against monkeypox as soon as Friday.

Dr. Luc Boileau says there are now 25 confirmed cases of the disease in the province and about 30 suspected cases are under investigation.

He says the province has received supplies of smallpox vaccine from the federal government, and it will be administered to people who have been in close contact with confirmed cases of the disease.

Dr. Caroline Quach, the chair of Quebec’s immunization committee, says the vaccine has been shown to prevent monkeypox in animal studies if it is administered within four days of an exposure and can reduce severity if it is administered up to 14 days after an exposure.

She says the disease is transmitted only through prolonged close contact.

Boileau says the majority of cases are in adult men who have been in sexual contact with people who have the disease, and there has been one case in a person under 18.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

 

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Monkeypox Warnings Ignored; Dominant COVID Strain Emerges; Better Paxlovid Access – Medpage Today

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Warning signs of the current monkeypox outbreak may have been ignored. (STAT)

The CDC issued a monkeypox travel alert encouraging “enhanced precautions” after cases were reported in North America, Europe, and Australia.

Roche announced it has developed three PCR test kits to detect the monkeypox virus.

The U.S. has a new dominant COVID-19 strain — BA.2.12.1 — a highly contagious sublineage of the BA.2 omicron subvariant that now accounts for 57.9% of all cases, according to CDC estimates.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, as well as Lt. Gov.Denny Heck, both tested positive for COVID-19, as did U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.). (Seattle Times, The Hill)

As of Thursday at 8:00 a.m. EDT, the unofficial U.S. COVID toll was 83,697,199 cases and 1,004,558 deaths, increases of 218,146 and 913, respectively, compared with this time Wednesday morning.

The Biden Administration, projecting COVID infections will continue to spread during the summer travel season announced additional steps to make nirmatrelvir/ritonavir (Paxlovid) more accessible. (ABC News)

The White House also reported the launch of the first federally-supported test-to-treat COVID site.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other senior leaders of the government are to blame for booze-filled parties that violated the country’s COVID-19 lockdown rules, according to an investigative report. (NPR)

A mouse study suggested that maraviroc (Selzentry), a FDA-approved drug used to treat HIV, may be able to reverse middle-aged memory loss. (Nature)

The University of California system will be paying nearly $700 million to women who said they were sexually abused by a UCLA gynecologist over the course of several decades. (AP)

The parents of a 4-year-old girl spoke out about her mysterious case of pediatric hepatitis that required a liver transplant, one of 180 similar cases under investigation in the U.S. (Today)

Teva Pharmaceuticals has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of one lot of anagrelide capsules, which are used to treat thrombocythemia secondary to myeloproliferative neoplasms, due to dissolution test failure during routine stability testing.

Servier announced the FDA approved ivosidenib (Tibsovo) in combination with azacitidine for certain patients with newly diagnosed IDH1-mutated acute myeloid leukemia.

A report from the American Medical Association shows that payers are not following the prior authorization reforms agreed to in 2018. (Fierce Healthcare)

The mass shooting in Buffalo earlier this month is a reminder that millions of Americans don’t have easy access to grocery stores. (NPR)

COVID-era misinformation is leading a wave of parents to reject ordinary childhood immunizations. (New York Times)

The FDA issued guidance spelling out rules for states that want to import certain prescription drugs from Canada.

  • Mike Bassett is a staff writer focusing on oncology and hematology. He is based in Massachusetts.

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