Health

Updates on healthcare, nutrition, and medical research in Louisiana.

Across the country, efforts to make marijuana more accessible have quickly gained traction. Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states, and recreational use is also legal in four states and the District of Columbia.

Science, however, hasn't quite caught up. Largely due to its illegal status, there's been very little research done on marijuana's health effects. And researchers don't fully understand how pot affects the developing teenage brain.

This may explain the why the nation's pediatricians have changed their recommendations on marijuana and children.

When Amy Seitz got pregnant with her second child last year, she knew that being 35 years old meant there was an increased chance of chromosomal disorders like Down syndrome. She wanted to be screened, and she knew just what kind of screening she wanted — a test that's so new, some women and doctors don't quite realize what they've signed up for.

Vapor produced by electronic cigarettes can contain a surprisingly high concentration of formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — researchers reported Wednesday.

The findings, described in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine, intensify concern about the safety of electronic cigarettes, which have become increasingly popular.

For the first time, Baton Rouge General Medical Center is hosting insurance navigators, trained to offer assistance to anyone who wants to buy health care coverage through the federal marketplace, which is now in its second year.


Sculpture in Scrubs

Jan 12, 2015
Sculpture teacher Kim Bernadas works with a plastic surgery student on her clay bust.
Tegan Wendland

Sculpture class on a recent Wednesday night at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts looked a bit like an operating room. The bright white studio was filled with med students in green and blue scrubs.

A new triple degree program launches in the fall at LSU, for students who want to fast-track undergraduate education, medical school and PhD study. 

LSU is partnering with the Health Sciences Center in New Orleans to launch the program. It’s called “Fast Path” because students would receive three degrees  - a bachelor of science, an MD, and a PhD — in one-to-three years less than the traditional path.

A part of a Texas abortion law — one that requires that any clinic performing abortions meet stringent, hospital-like medical standards — is on trial this week in a U.S. appeals court.

The effect of the law has already been dramatic in Texas. Before it passed, a year and a half ago, more than 40 clinics provided abortions in the state. Now there are about 17 such facilities. If this part of the law is reinstated, about 10 facilities would close, leaving vast distances between some residents and the nearest clinic.

It's a new way to do silk screening, that's for sure.

Bangalore-based Achira Labs has figured out a way to hand weave diabetes test strips from silk. That sounds pretty luxurious compared to the standard materials of plastic or paper. But silk turns out to have several advantages in a country like India, where weavers who can work a handloom are abundant and the material is readily available and inexpensive.

A mouse pancreatic islet as seen by light microscopy. Beta cells can be recognized by the green insulin staining.
Chistin Süß, Jakob Suckale, Michele Solimena / Solimena Lab, Med. Fac., University of Technology, Dresden, Germany

When things are working normally, your pancreas produces insulin and releases it to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood.  Pancreatic beta cells are the only cells in the body that make insulin, but in Type 1 diabetes, those beta cells are damaged and destroyed by the immune system. That’s been understood for decades now, but we didn’t understand why the immune system attacks them. That’s the question Dr. Jason Collier, Director of Islet Biology at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, is answering.

You know you’ve been there—churning stomach and pounding head the morning after a party. So what do you do to alleviate the self-inflicted misery of a hangover?


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