Ontario research shows risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy - CP24 Toronto's Breaking News - Canada News Media
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Ontario research shows risks associated with cannabis exposure during pregnancy – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



Research from three Ontario universities sheds new light on the risks associated with cannabis use during pregnancy, finding the psychoactive component of the drug restricts oxygen and nutrients from crossing through the placenta.

The study from researchers at Queen’s, Western and McMaster universities, published in the journal Scientific Reports on Friday, found exposure to low doses of THC – equivalent to a daily joint – led to lower birth weights and organ sizes in rats.

“With legalization of cannabis in Canada, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about whether it’s safe for use in pregnancy. The reality is that (people think) because cannabis is legal it therefore must be safe, which is not necessarily true,” said Daniel Hardy of Western University in London, Ont., one of the study’s co-authors.

Health Canada has long warned against cannabis use during pregnancy, also noting its effects on brain development and birth weight. But the reasoning behind those negative effects – and a definitive link to THC – were not understood until now, the researchers said.

Hardy noted that some American studies suggest as many as one in five pregnant women are using cannabis to treat things such as anxiety and nausea, believing that because it’s natural, it must be safe.

But he said the new research adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting otherwise, at least when it comes to use during pregnancy.

The researchers found that rats exposed to THC daily gave birth to babies that were eight per cent smaller than usual. Their brains and livers were more than 20 per cent smaller than what’s expected.

Hardy is now studying how the baby rats’ low birth weight affects them going forward.

“Three weeks later for a rat, they do catch up. They catch up in the brain and the liver,” he said. “That may sound good, however larger studies would suggest that this post-natal rapid catch-up growth is actually detrimental long term with respect to brain and metabolic health.”

The researchers noted that there have been other studies suggesting cannabis use during pregnancy leads to low birth weight, but those studies were on humans and may have been complicated by other factors.

“There hasn’t really been a study that looks at the different components of cannabis throughout gestation,” said David Natale of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., another of the study’s co-authors.

The data in human studies is also affected by other factors, such as socioeconomic status and other drug or cigarette use, all of which can affect birth weight, he said.

Studying rats allowed researchers to look at how the THC was affecting the fetuses, rather than just finding a correlation. The animal study also allowed researchers to examine THC specifically, rather than other components of cannabis such as CBD.

The researchers injected the pregnant rats with a small amount of THC every day, starting when the embryo was implanted.

They also studied the effect of THC on human placental cells, finding that it impeded their ability to transport glucose – a vital nutrient for growing fetuses.

“Going forward, we really want to try to figure out if it’s different times during pregnancy, or if it’s throughout pregnancy, and at this point we just don’t know,” Natale said.

He said he hopes to see more research in this vein going forward, given the popularity of cannabis.

“To be able to give clinicians something changeable to say, ‘Ok, listen, here’s a study that’s been done, and these are the results,’ it helps with education,” Natale said. “Because it’s just not out there in the public right now.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2020.

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State News Third confirmed flu-related pediatric death in New York State Anthony Reyes 12:45 – WKBW-TV



NEW YORK (WKBW) — 11-year-old

Luca Calanni of Hamburg,

who was laid to rest Saturday morning, was

one of two flu-related pediatric deaths in New York this flu season

and the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) has confirmed there has now been a third.

The information was disclosed in the NYSDOH Weekly Influenza Surveillance Report, a spokesperson with the NYSDOH confirmed to 7 Eyewitness News the death occurred in Central New York.

Further details could not be released due to patient privacy.

Erie County health officials said in early January normally influenza strain A occurs around this time and influenza strain B occurs around March or April, but

officials were seeing strain B much earlier in the season.

New York State’s online flu tracker

shows the state has had nearly 44,000 cases of the flu reported as of the week ending January 11th.

Oishei Children’s Hospital,

Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital

and the

United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) in Batavia

have all implemented enhanced visitation policies due to the severity of the flu.

Local daycare facilities are also doing what they can to

help prevent the spread of the flu.

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China's new coronavirus has spread to more cities – Quartz



From our Obsession

Even small changes in China have global effects.

Chinese authorities confirmed on Monday (Jan. 20) that an outbreak of a new pneumonia-like illness had spread to two more mainland cities. The number of new infections reported has also sharply jumped in Wuhan, the Chinese city where it was first spotted last month, officials said.

The worrying turn for China’s mysterious new coronavirus comes as the country readies for one of its busiest travel seasons in the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, and as some health experts caution that the actual number of infections could be far higher than what authorities are saying.

South Korea, meanwhile, confirmed its first case on Monday. Officials there said a traveler arriving at Seoul’s Incheon airport, who had been to Wuhan last week, tested positive for the virus and had been treated at a local hospital. This brings the number of countries with confirmed cases to four.

Last week, one case was confirmed in Japan and two in Thailand, all among people who had recently traveled to Wuhan.

Meanwhile, Beijing’s Daxing district announced early Monday that it had confirmed two cases of the new type of coronavirus, a family of infections that cause the common cold but also far more serious illnesses, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

Three people have so far died from illnesses caused by this new virus—all in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

“Two patients have been treated in isolation at designated hospitals. They have no respiratory symptoms and are in stable condition. Our district has carried out medical observations on close contacts, and currently, there are no abnormalities such as fever,” the Beijing district’s health commission said (link in Chinese).

The southern tech hub of Shenzhen, located a short high-speed train ride from Hong Kong, confirmed that it had one case. Meanwhile, 136 fresh infections were reported over the weekend in Wuhan, bringing the total number of cases China has confirmed to more than 200. A statistical analysis from Imperial College London’s infectious disease research center  estimated on Friday that the number of infections in Wuhan ought to be far higher, in the range of roughly 1,700 cases. The estimate was based on an extrapolation from the presence of international cases.

On Dec. 31, China informed the World Health Organization of a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown cause, later identifying the infection on Jan. 7 as a new type of coronavirus, which typically is transmitted to humans from animals. The Wuhan infections, which include symptoms such as fever and shortness of breath, have been linked to a wholesale seafood market in that city, but some of the confirmed cases involve people who had not visited the market.

The three patients in Beijing and Shenzhen had traveled to Wuhan recently, state-run news agency Xinhua said. The patient in Japan had traveled to Wuhan, where he did not visit any live animal market but did come into close contact with a person with pneumonia. Chinese authorities have not confirmed any cases of human-to-human infection, but the Hong Kong health department noted that ”the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission could not be ruled out.”

Social media users said the developments of recent days were bringing back uneasy memories of the 2003 SARS outbreak, which left more than 8,000 people in the region sick and killed nearly 800, including nearly 270 in Hong Kong. Some also wondered if China had announced the spread of infections to other cities as speedily as it ought to have. “They could not cover this up and now finally decided to announce the cases,” said one user of social media platform Weibo (link in Chinese).

Airports in and beyond the region have begun tracking travelers from China for symptoms and exposure to agricultural markets in Wuhan. Hong Kong has been screening travelers with temperature checks. Thailand, where two cases of coronavirus were reported, is screening arrivals in Bangkok and other popular tourist cities. The US said it will begin screening travelers arriving at New York’s JFK and other key hubs.

Jane Li contributed reporting.

Correction: The analysis from Imperial College London’s MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis was published on Jan. 17, not Jan. 20.

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Victoria family focuses on 'letting go, enjoying time together' after dad gets dementia – Maple Ridge News



When Walter Strauss, a certified accountant — who with his wife, had spent years creating a magazine with over a million subscribers — started to have trouble with numbers his family knew something was wrong.

“Nobody wanted to believe it, but something wasn’t right,” says Strauss’s daughter, Helga. The family ended up moving back to Canada from the Bahamas to be closer to family. It wasn’t until a year later, in 2018, when Strauss received a formal diagnosis after a long process of tests.

That’s how dementia starts to present itself in people says Tara Speirs with the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

“All of us from time to time forget things,” she says, adding it’s more significant forgetfulness that can be indicative of the disease. “[For example] the person who always starts their day by making coffee and wakes up one morning [not knowing] how to work the coffee maker.”

READ ALSO: Video guide on dealing with dementia snags Island Health two awards

Speirs facilitates a fitness and social program for people living with early-stage dementia and their care partners called Minds in Motion, where she met Strauss.

“When I approached Walter about being a spokesperson for the campaign, he thought about it and the first thing he said to me was ‘Can I tell people I don’t want them to tell me to fight it? I just want to be me’,” says Speirs.

It’s one of the biggest messages the Strauss and Speirs want to share with the public during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month — just because you’ve been diagnosed with the disease, doesn’t mean you can no longer live well.

Since Strauss’s diagnosis, he’s developed an interest in music and even takes line dancing classes in addition to the Minds in Motion class. Helga has learned she can’t correct Strauss when he forgets something and says it’s become about “letting go and enjoying their time together.”’

One in four Canadians surveyed say they would feel ashamed or embarrassed if they had dementia, which is what spurred the need for the Alzheimer Society’s new campaign: I live with dementia, let me help you understand.

Speirs explains there are many kinds of dementia, but says the thing they all have in common is the brain cells and neuropathways in people living with the disease, are dying. The cause of dementia is unknown, with only a small portion of the population diagnosed with the genetic disease Alzheimer’s.

READ ALSO: 6 myths people still believe about dementia

According to the Alzheimer Society, more than half a million people in Canada are living with dementia today, with many more family members who provide care affected as well. Research shows that in the next 12 years, nearly a million Canadians will be living with dementia.

One of the biggest factors leading to the stigmatization of dementia, says Speirs, is how isolating it can be once you’ve been diagnosed. For the first half of the Minds in Motion class, a fitness instructor leads participants in 45 minutes of seated exercise, but the last 45 minutes are focused on connection.

Speirs leads the group in conversation focusing on seasonal topics, most recently the theme was what winter and the holidays were like during the participants’ youth. Another favorite is music bingo with songs from the 1950s.

“I’ve been doing this job for four years, and it’s really difficult to see the disease progressing,” says Spiers. “It’s not a nice disease, and it’s a really cruel reality so we just try to maintain quality of life for as long as possible because there is no cure.”

Minds in Motion is run out of six recreation centers across Greater Victoria, for more information on the program visit bit.ly/2FX5QgZ.

The Alzheimer Society also offers many other support services for those living with dementia and their care partners, such as an outreach call system, a first link dementia helpline — which offers services in Cantonese, Punjabi and Mandarin — along with support groups. For more information on the Society visit alzheimer.ca/en/bc .


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