What to know about the negative health effects of separating kids and parents

Medical groups and international advocates have said the policy of separating children from their parents under the “zero tolerance” immigration policy, could do significant harm to both their physical and mental health.

“Separating children from their parents contradicts everything we stand for as pediatricians — protecting and promoting children’s health,” American Academy of Pediatrics President Dr. Colleen A. Kraft said in a statement.

The American Medical Association issued a resolution last week at their annual meeting in Chicago. They cautioned that separating minors from their caregivers “only serves to dramatically exacerbate” the stress that families seeking refuge in the U.S. already experience, adding it can “create a negative health impact that will last an individual’s entire lifespan.”

“It’s inhumane and risks scarring children for the rest of their lives,” AMA Board member Bobby Mukklamala said in their statement.

What exactly are these health effects? Many are related to something called adverse childhood experiences, which includes forcibly separating a child from their caregiver and the effects of the toxic stress this creates for the children.

What are Adverse Childhood Experiences and toxic stress? Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs, are “potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being,” according to the nonprofit group Child Trends, and can be physical or emotional events.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that brain development is usually disrupted first, followed by social, emotional, and cognitive impairment, which affects everything else. Children are then more likely to try “high risk behaviors,” which are associated with early disease, disability and social problems as these children age.

Toxic stress, as defined by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University occurs “when a child experiences strong, frequent, and/or prolonged adversity.”

What are the health effects?

“Early experiences [such as forcible separation] get into our bodies and affect brain, immune, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems. It has a multi-system effect, from disrupting brain architecture, which impacts learning and emotional development, to affecting how well our immune systems fight infections,” Center on the Developing Child Director, Dr. Jack Shonkoff, told ABC News.

Shonkoff adds that there is research suggesting that insulin resistance, atherosclerosis, and the risk of metabolic syndrome go up with prolonged ACEs.

Sensitive and responsive caregiving — both of which are removed in forcible separation of caregiver and child — appear to buffer these effects.

Why does this policy matter to children’s health?

The United Nations Children’s Fund warned of the dangers faced by children who are separated from their parents at the border.

“There is a documented impact of being detained. There is fear and anxiety, and we must not forget that these are children first,” Caryl Stern, CEO of UNICEF USA said in a previous statement. “Parents and caregivers are a steady force in these children’s lives, so when they are effectively ripped from the arms of their protector, of course that is extremely worrisome.”

Stern points to the additional health effects related to releasing these minors to sponsors who may not be suitable caregivers — and the risk of releasing minors into the custody of human traffickers. The Department of Health and Human Services documented the issue and the need for protections of unaccompanied refugee minors in report to the U.S. Senate.

In addition, there are something called ‘push’ factors that have caused migrants to flee their home countries. Ashley Ham Pong, an Associate Attorney at Montagut & Sobral in Washington DC, has worked with detained children for more than three years and now works with both accompanied and unaccompanied children.

“In many cases these migrants are fleeing immense risks in their home countries — for instance gang violence in Central America — is a major push factor which we know affects children’s health,” Ham Pong told ABC News.

What’s the solution?

“We’re also calling on officials to do extensive background checks into the sponsors who may be receiving these children, and to allow for due process,” Stern said.

Her concerns were echoed yesterday in a rare move by the United Nations Refugee Agency, which emphasized the need for family re-unifications.

“There are effective ways to ensure border control without putting families through the lasting psychological trauma of child-parent separation,” UNHCR’s Filippo Grandi said in the statement.

In lieu of additional programs aimed at serving detained and separated children, some experts are pointing to a more obvious solution to prevent the devastating long-term health impacts on these minors.

“We know that the most important predictors of positive outcomes in the face of childhood adverse experiences is a protective adult-caregiver relationship,” Shonkoff said, “The easy answer here is simple: Just don’t separate them, and if they are separated they should be brought back together as soon as possible.”

Amitha Kalaichandran, M.D., MHS, is pediatrics resident at the University of Ottawa who works in the ABC News medical unit.

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Increased stress could lead to immune system disorders, study finds

Stress may not just affect the mind, but may actually affect the physical immune system, a new study found.

Everyone will experience a significant life stressor at some point in their lives, such as the loss of a loved one or exposure to violence. While most people exposed to hardships gradually recover, a significant percentage develop severe psychiatric reactions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress reactions or adjustment disorder.

But the study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, asked: Do psychiatric reactions to life stressors result in the physical dysfunction of the immune system?

Autoimmune disorders like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis are conditions where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, incorrectly sensing foreign invaders. The causes of autoimmune diseases are largely unknown, but genetic, infectious and environmental factors are thought to play a role. These immune diseases strike even the young, who haven’t experienced the stressors noted in this study.

To assess whether there was a connection between stressors and these autoimmune disorders, researchers from the University of Iceland looked at the medical records of 100,000 people with stress-related psychiatric disorders between 1981 and 2013 in Sweden and compared them to 120,000 of their siblings and nearly 1.1 million unrelated people who had no stress-related disorders. People with a stress-related psychiatric disorder in the study were, on average, diagnosed at age 41 and 40 percent were male.

Compared to those without stress-related disorders, they were at an increased risk of 41 different autoimmune diseases — and patients with PTSD were at an increased risk of having multiple autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.

The risk for all autoimmune diseases may not be equal: This study found a higher risk for celiac disease and lower for rheumatoid arthritis.

For patients with PTSD, taking antidepressant medications that block serotonin (SSRIs) was associated with a decreased risk of autoimmune disease, which “strengthens the evidence for the potential causal link between stress-related disorder and subsequent autoimmune diseases,” lead author Dr. Huan Song told ABC News.

Previous studies have also shown a link between Vietnam War veterans with PTSD and a higher occurrence of autoimmune diseases. But more research is needed to understand why.

“We need more studies to inform the potential underlying mechanism behind the association,” Song said, “for example exploring potential genetic and early environmental contributors and the effect of alternations in health-related behavior.”

Overall, this study’s findings suggest that stress can impair the body’s immune system, according to the researchers, and further research and in more places could help.

One explanation could be that a major life stressor can cause severe lifestyle changes like less sleep, more smoking and alcohol or substance abuse, less exercise and worse diet. In turn, those may contribute to the development of autoimmune disease.

This study was limited in a few ways. Autoimmune diseases may be underrepresented, because less severe autoimmune conditions managed by primary care doctors were not included in this study. This study was also done in Sweden and may not be applicable to other populations. In addition, it is a study of what researchers observed and they may not have known some of the natural differences that could explain the study findings.

The findings show an association between stressors and the immune system, but not that the psychiatric stressors caused the immune problems.

“The under-diagnosis and under-treatment of these studied stress-related disorders have been an issue discussed for many years,” Song said. “Based on our results, patients suffering from severe emotional reactions after trauma, or other life stressors, should seek medical care to reduce their symptom burden and thereby also potentially reduce their future risk of further health decline.”

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CDC & FDA Say To Throw Out All Honey Smacks Cereal After Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 73 People

Bowl of Cereal

It’s a sad day for cereal lovers around the world as the CDC and FDA have just given a rather stern warning to throw out all boxes of Kellog’s popular Honey Smacks cereal after it was reported that more than 70 people got salmonella from the puffed, sweet cereal. It’s been reported by People, that as of late, the CDC and the FDA have issued a strict warning against eating any of the cereal regardless of the box or the date it was purchased.

This new announcement comes following Kellog’s voluntary announcement nearly one week ago on June 14, where they recalled boxes of the cereal within a certain “best by” date range after it was linked to a salmonella outbreak that left more than 24 people hospitalized.

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Lower costs, fewer benefits in new health insurance option

The Trump administration’s new health insurance option offers lower premiums for small businesses and self-employed people, but the policies are likely to cover fewer benefits.

Another caveat: if healthy people flock to the new plans as expected, premiums will rise for those who need comprehensive coverage.

President Donald Trump and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta rolled out their final blueprint for “association health plans” on Tuesday, with Trump promising a small-business group that “you’re going to save massive amounts of money and have much better health care.”

Democrats decried it as “junk insurance,” and some patient groups warned it could undermine coverage for people in poor health. Republicans and some small-business groups said the administration is providing needed flexibility in the face of rising premiums.

Independent experts said the administration is setting up a parallel insurance market — with different rules — alongside the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era law Trump has been unable to repeal.

Initial estimates by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office forecast modest changes, not a seismic shift.

The new plans created under the administration’s regulation incorporate the same protections for employees with pre-existing conditions that large-company plans now have, Acosta said.

The Labor Department said association plans could be offered to employers in a city, county, state or a metro area that includes several states. Plans within a particular industry — real estate, for example — can be marketed nationwide. Sole proprietors and their families could join an association plan.

Trump has long asserted that promoting the sale of health insurance across state lines can bring down premiums without sacrificing quality. But many experts aren’t convinced because medical costs vary greatly according to geography.

Currently, plans for small businesses are required to cover the ACA’s 10 categories of “essential” benefits, from prescription drugs to maternity and mental health. Under the new approach, small employers could get coverage that comes with fewer required benefits, said Gary Claxton of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Ultimately, the idea’s success depends on buy-in from plan sponsors, consumers, insurers and state regulators. No major consequences are expected for people covered by large employers.

Acosta cited CBO estimates that predict a modest impact: about 4 million people covered by the plans within five years but only some 400,000 who would have been uninsured. Compare that to the total number of about 160 million covered by job-based insurance.

After Republicans hit a dead end trying to repeal the Obama health law, the Trump administration has pushed regulatory actions to loosen requirements and try to lower premiums for individuals and small businesses.

“They are providing insurance options that have fewer benefits and fewer requirements than ACA-compliant plans,” Claxton said. “That will have a tendency to pull healthier people away because they are more attracted to plans with fewer benefits.”

Another major initiative is expected later this summer when the administration eases rules for short-term health plans lasting less than a full year that could be purchased by individuals. Those plans wouldn’t have to cover people with pre-existing conditions but would offer healthy people much lower premiums.

Critics say the administration’s approach will draw healthy people away from the health law’s insurance markets, raising the cost of coverage, which is subsidized by taxpayers.

About 11 million people are covered by HealthCare.gov and state markets, but the administration’s priority is to try to lower premiums for an additional 7 million or so who buy their coverage directly and don’t get any help from the government.

State insurance regulators have been concerned about association health plans because similar plans in the past had problems with financial solvency and fraud. Administration officials said Tuesday that states and the federal government would share regulatory oversight of the plans, with states retaining their current authority.

The new plans will be phased in, starting in September.

A small business group called Job Creators Network welcomed the Trump administration’s move. President Alfredo Ortiz said it “will create more options, more competition, and lower costs for Main Street small businesses.”

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Drug Companies Paying Doctors To Prescribe Painkillers Could Be Behind America’s Opioid Crisis, Per New Study

Opioid study finds doctors increase prescription when paid by drug companies.

Free meals, payment of travel expenses, and consultation fees are among several incentives that could be partly fueling the nation’s current opioid crisis. A new study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that doctors tend to prescribe more opioid painkillers after receiving payoffs from pharmaceutical companies.

Federal data examined by Dr. Scott Hadland and a team of researchers from the Grayken Center for Addiction in Boston found “opioid-related payments” from drug companies to 25,767 doctors in 2014. According to the Los Angeles Times, these payments totaled over $ 9 million.

Of the $ 9 million, almost $ 2 million was spent on meals. At a median price of $ 13, the drug companies bought 97,000 breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for doctors.

Over 3,100 doctors received speaking fees to the tune of $ 6.2 million. Drug companies also paid $ 730,800 of travel expenses, $ 290,400 for consulting, and $ 79,600 for education to over 5,000 doctors.

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California STD Cases Hit All Time High, Syphilis-Related Stillbirths Highest In Two Decades

california stillbirths are up from syphilis

California is in the midst of a sexually-transmitted disease (STD) epidemic, and it’s so bad that the number of stillbirths due to syphilis has reached a 20-year high, U.S. News & World Report is reporting.

The Golden State has seen a nearly 45 percent increase in three of the most serious STDs — syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea — since five years ago: 300,000 such cases in 2017. Young women have the highest rates of chlamydia, while men have the highest rates of syphilis and gonorrhea.

The good news is that all three of these once-lethal infections can be easily treated, and even cured, with antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). However, for reasons that will be discussed in a few paragraphs, people contracting these infections aren’t getting the right treatment soon enough. Left untreated, chlamydia and gonorrhea can lead to infertility and ectopic pregnancy, while syphilis can lead to blindness or even be fatal.

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Health | The Inquisitr