Posted by on February 7, 2014 - 11:54am

The American College of Emergency Physicians recently found an increase in children requiring medical intervention in states that have decriminalized marijuana. The call rate in theses states have increased by more than 30% per year between 2005 and 2011, while the call rate in non-legal states has not changed. There are currently 18 states and the District of Columbia that have passed legislation allowing medical marijuana, including edible products. George Sam Wang, MD, of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver states that these edible marijuana products may be the culprits to increased exposure in children. He states “kids can’t distinguish between products that contain marijuana and those that don’t,” and since edible marijuana tends to “contain higher concentrations of the active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol,” adverse effects are more likely to result when children ingest these products.

These pediatric exposures lead to medical evaluations, clinical effects, and critical care admissions. Researchers say neurologic effects are most common and therapies usually involve administering intravenous fluids. As states continue to decriminalize marijuana, it’s important to advocate for the safety of children who may unknowingly ingest this drug. Requirements such as child-resistant packaging, warning labels, and public education are needed to help mitigate this crisis and keep young children safe.

Source: Science Daily

Posted by on August 13, 2013 - 10:33am

New research is surfacing that links anesthesia to inhibited cognitive developments in children under four. Significant brain development occurs in young children at this time, and ketamine—a common anesthetic—has been shown to affect the brain’s learning ability. Studies began back in 2003 when Merle Paule, Ph.D., director of the Division of Neurotoxicology at the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research, began observing the effects of ketamine on young rhesus monkeys, since this species closely resembles humans in physiology and behavior. While the ketamine-exposed monkeys performed cognitive experiments less accurately than the control group, the affect of ketamine on human children requires further research.

Interest in this area grew so much that, in 2010, the FDA and the International Anesthesia Research Society founded an initiative called Strategies for Mitigating Anesthesia-Related neuroToxicity in Tots, or “SmartTots” for short.  Director of Anesthesia, Analgesia and Addiction Products at FDA, Bob Rappaport, M.D. said, “Our hope is that research funded through SmartTots will help us design the safest anesthetic regimens possible.” SmartTots continues to advocate for research that can protect the millions of children who receive anesthesia each year.

Supplemental studies are necessary to understand whether all forms of anesthetics elicit similar deficits as ketamine, and, if so, how long these deficits last. Columbia University and the University of Iowa are currently exploring the effects of anesthesia on infant brain development and cognitive and language ability, thanks to the funding from SmartTots.  Until more conclusive data is published, parents are urged to work closely with their child’s clinicians in weighing all options and risks before exposing young children to anesthesia.

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Posted by on December 28, 2012 - 11:01am

I ran across this very powerful article written by Liza Long for Gawker. Liza is a mother. A mother dealing with a child's mental health issues, like many women in this country.

Although I have avoided most coverage of the tragedy in Connecticut, I have spent a great amount of time thinking about the present state of mental health care and access in the United States. This piece addresses both the importance of having access to health care needs, but also the numerous and painful difficulties of a mother dealing with a violent child.

I highly recommend reading not only the article, but some of the 900+ comments. The commentary speaks volumes about the issues mothers deal with and the impact mental health care (and lack thereof) can have on families.