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Hepatitis Outbreak in Children: What to Know




May 3, 2022 — The worldwide outbreak of acute hepatitis in children totals nearly 200 cases in 16 countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified more than 20 severe cases in the United States, specifically in Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, New York, and North Carolina. In Wisconsin, one infant died of the disease. Of the worldwide cases, 17 have required a liver transplant.

While severe hepatitis with acute liver failure is rare in healthy children and the odds are greatly in your child’s favor should they get hepatitis, your best defense right now against the current, rare cases is information.

Understanding Hepatitis

Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver and can be caused by infection, autoimmune disorders, or medication.

“The condition that comes to mind for most people is hepatitis A, B, or C,” says Michael Klatte, MD, chief of the Division of Infectious Disease at Dayton Children’s Hospital in Ohio. “Those are specific viral infections that can cause hepatitis.”

Cases of hepatitis can have a variety of symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, belly pain, dark urine, yellow discoloration of the skin and/or eyes (jaundice), fever, and fatigue.

“Most of the children in the reported cases presented with gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain,” says Norberto Rodriguez-Baez, MD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and medical director of the hepatology program at Children’s Medical Center in Plano, TX.

“These symptoms were followed by development of jaundice,” he says. “Interestingly, fever was not described as a common symptom in these cases. In addition, all children were previously healthy.”

When children (or adults) come to the doctor with liver injury, hepatologists go to work to find the origin.

The liver specialists will test for infections, as well as genetic and autoimmune diseases, says Ryan Fischer, MD, chief of the Section of Hepatology & Transplantation at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, MO. “We also ask about and send lab work to uncover potential toxins or medications that associate with liver injury. In some cases of severe hepatitis, we never find a cause.”

A Theory

With the current batch of hepatitis cases in children, researchers are working on a theory that the cause is adenovirus, which commonly circulates each spring through fall.

None of the usual viral culprits – hepatitis A, B, C, and E – have been found infecting the children in the current outbreak. Instead, doctors have found one type of adenovirus, type 41, in about half of the worldwide cases.

Adenoviruses spread by respiratory droplets, close personal contact, and via objects people touch, like utensils or furniture. More than 50 types of adenoviruses can infect people. The most common usually cause respiratory illnesses, but some also cause symptoms in the gut, which has been a theme in the cases leading to severe hepatitis.

“The true association between adenovirus infection and the cases of severe acute hepatitis in these children is currently under investigation,” says Rodriguez-Baez of UT Southwestern Medical Center.

There have been case reports previously of adenovirus type 41 causing hepatitis in immunocompromised children, but doctors haven’t seen it cause hepatitis in otherwise healthy children.

As the research continues, scientists are looking at other health issues as possible causes, including prior COVID infection.

In the U.S., none of the affected children had COVID-19 that they know of, says Rodriguez-Baez. Some patients in the U.K. had COVID, “but a true association between the virus and the acute hepatitis have not been established.”

The cases do not appear to be associated with COVID-19 vaccination, he said, since the children had not gotten those vaccines.

What Parents Should Know

Anytime an illness circulates that can lead to severe consequences in children, parents go on high alert.

While testing for some viruses is available, it’s not feasible to do widespread testing whenever a child gets ill. Even now, most doctors are only testing for adenovirus if a child is sick enough to be in the hospital.

“Severe hepatitis leading to liver failure is extremely rare,” says Klatte of Dayton Children’s Hospital. “A diagnosis of adenovirus shouldn’t make you reflexively worry it will lead to this rare complication.”

Treatment for adenovirus-associated hepatitis remains mostly supportive, says Fischer of Children’s Mercy.

“With time and attention to meeting the child’s needs (e.g., intravenous fluids if they’re dehydrated), recovery is common,” he says. “The liver is capable of complete healing, and we would not expect long-term effects after recovery.”

In cases of severe hepatitis, some medications may help, depending on the cause.

If treatment doesn’t help, “there are situations where liver transplant is needed to avoid death,” says Fischer. “Out of 500-600 liver transplants done in children each year in the United States, around 10% are done because of severe hepatitis leading to acute liver failure. We will need to see how these current cases affect those typical numbers. We haven’t seen enough data to know whether those numbers will change.”

“Parents should be aware of the symptoms and contact their primary care provider with questions or concerns,” says Rodriguez-Baez.

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Health Care

Study: Marijuana Increases Risk of Premature Heart Attacks, Small Molecule in Soy Could Mitigate Risk




How does cannabis impact our health? 

Although an old question, the answer is not a simple one. Marijuana is a specific plant with many compounds that differently impact our bodies and minds. What makes things even more complicated is the lack of cannabis research, thanks to the decades-old war on drugs. 

Thankfully, with the ongoing momentum to legalize marijuana, more and more research is being conducted, providing consumers and the canna-curious with various results on the effects of consumption. Some are positive, some are not. 

One of the newest studies, led by researchers at Stanford Medicine revealed that individuals who consume marijuana have a higher risk of heart disease and heart attack. 

According to the study, THC or the psychoactive component of marijuana causes inflammation in endothelial cells that line the interior of blood vessels, reported Stanford Medicine. Furthermore, the compound known to stimulate the often yearned for sensation of being high can lead to atherosclerosis or the buildup of fats in artery walls in laboratory mice. 

Researchers also discovered that a small molecule called genistein, naturally found in soy and fava …

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InMed Pharmaceuticals Is Commercializing the Development of Rare Cannabinoids for the Wellness Market




Upon its acquisition of BayMedica LLC last year, InMed Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq: INM) made the executive decision to forge a new path alongside its traditional domain in pharmaceutical drug development. With the acquisition long since closed, the end results are starting to bear fruit. The company has already launched B2B sales of the rare cannabinoid cannabidivarin (CBDV) in the U.S. health and wellness sector. This is but a preview of additional product launches that will be introduced to market in the coming quarters.

High up on the priority list is tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), a cannabinoid chemical found in cannabis that shares broad similarities in molecular structure to tetrahydrocannabinol THC. Incredibly, the reduction of one sidechain, thereby reducing the molecule by two carbons, producing enough of a differentiated effect that preliminary research suggests that THCV could provide distinctive benefits to consumers—particularly at titrated doses.

According to Jay Denniston, chief scientist at BellRock Brands, THCV is a unique cannabinoid that has potential therapeutic benefits for both appetite control and to provide a focused, energetic sense of euphoria. “At …

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The 7-Hour Itch: 3 Women With Eczema Describe the Ways They Combat Nighttime Flare-Ups




If you have eczema, you know what it’s like – that frustrating struggle to catch some ZZZ’s.

The problem is at once physical and emotional. “When my eczema is flared, nighttime often fills me with anxiety,” says Nicola Johnston, a digital content creator who lives in Carlisle, England, near the border of Scotland. “I have experienced nights in so much pain that I cannot sleep, and I’ve scratched so hard that my sheets were covered in blood. This is why I’ve worked to establish a good evening routine that will allow me to have a comfortable night’s sleep and get the rest that my body needs.”

But that rest can be elusive when you’re tormented by “itching, flaky skin, raised red rashes, cuts, skin tightness,” the symptoms listed by Elise Loubatieres, a London-based editor and beauty influencer. In many patients, eczema is itchiest at night, sometimes due to a lack of time for self-care earlier in the day. Natalie Findley, a holistic chef from Whistler, British Columbia, has had a similar experience. “Nighttime flare-ups taught me that something wasn’t working,” she says. “Not getting enough sleep was not doing me any good.”

If you want to turn down eczema flare-ups, finding out what works best for you calls for trial and error. But it also helps to get advice from people who understand firsthand what you’re going through. Here, three women who’ve been there offer tips on how to prepare for bed, get as comfy as possible, deal with symptoms, and reset your emotions in the morning.

Getting Ready for Bed

When it comes to preparing for bed, Findley favors consistency. “I try to keep my routine the same each night,” she says. Before doing anything, she sets “an intention to sleep better.” From there, Findley likes “to cleanse and moisturize my skin, drink some herbal tea, do some journaling, read, express gratitude, and then I am in bed by 10 p.m.”

An equally firm believer in the step-by-step approach, Johnston focuses first and foremost on comfort. “I start my bedtime routine by having a lukewarm bath to soothe my skin, if my skin is feeling particularly flared,” she says. “I then apply an emollient-based product that is going to lock in moisture and be slowly absorbed through the night. I put on lightweight satin nightwear that keeps me cool. In making up my bed, I personally prefer a silk pillow, as this is gentler on my facial eczema and doesn’t absorb any product I apply to my face like a cotton material would.”

Loubatieres scrupulously preps her skin and takes medication to prevent symptoms later. “I have been prescribed antihistamines to help with the itching,” she explains. “I also make sure that I apply emollients to my skin liberally and frequently in the hour leading up to bedtime.”

Under the Covers

To Findley, the choice of bedding fabric is less important than the way it’s washed. “I don’t use any particular kind of sheets to relieve my eczema, but I use natural and clean laundry detergents.” she says. “Even though many regular products claim to be clean, they use a lot of harmful chemicals and ingredients in detergents that aggravate eczema and your overall health. I use detergents that are hypoallergenic and without any fragrances. My favorite laundry detergent is Tru Earth.” Her bedside companion is also natural and gentle: “If I need some relief, I always use calendula and comfrey-based salve, with some shea butter, to calm the itchiness and dry skin.”

Johnston has an unusual trick for dealing with one of eczema’s side effects – a trick that involves a trip to the nail salon. “A great tip I have found is having acrylic gel manicures,” she notes. “It means that your nail itself becomes thicker and doesn’t break your skin when you’re scratching in the night. This has been a great help with healing my eczema.”

Aware that overheating can bring on eczema, Loubatieres takes a proactive approach. “I try to stay cool using a stand-alone fan, and I also use a handheld fan to pinpoint itchy areas for some relief,” she says. “I ensure that my sheets and sleepwear are either 100% cotton or silk to reduce irritation. I also have eczema gloves and Cosi Care [aka “safe scratchers”], which are itching tools that allow you to satisfy an itch without causing damage.”

When You Can’t Sleep

Whenever she begins to feel itchy, Findley does simple breathing exercises to calm her body. “I close my eyes, breathe in slowly and count to five, and hold for 2 seconds, then breathe out slowly and count to seven. Or I will just breathe in slowly until my chest and belly are full with air, hold for a few seconds, and breathe out slowly all the way. I repeat this multiple times until I’m relaxed. I also imagine myself sinking into my pillow as I breathe out, and it relaxes me and my muscles until I finally fall asleep.”

Johnston tries to nap during the day whenever possible. That way, in the event of a nighttime flare-up, she’s not completely exhausted the next day, And the extra rest is also calming. “By keeping my daytime stress levels to a minimum,” she says, flare-ups become less likely.

As Loubatieres sees it, you’ve lost the battle when you give in to the urge to itch. “At night I tend to get what I call ‘scratch attacks,’ where I uncontrollably and incessantly scratch despite breaking skin and causing myself pain,” she says. “It feels very satisfying in the moment and provides relief from that bone-deep itching sensation. But I try to get up and distract myself in some way. If I stay in bed and don’t keep my hands busy, I’m more likely to indulge in a scratch.” Indeed, taking up a hobby – drawing, knitting, playing guitar, anything that involves using your hands – can be an ideal diversion between a flare-up and the welcome moment when you feel really sleepy.

The Morning After

In the light of day, after successfully dealing with her nighttime flare-ups, Findley developed a fresh philosophy. “I made it a habit to clean up my diet and reduce stress and anxiety with meditation, journaling, and sleep hygiene. To treat the root cause of my issue, I switched to a plant-based diet. I also cut out dairy, as it’s pretty inflammatory. … I drink a lot of water each day. Now my eczema has cleared up! I find that fueling your body with the proper nutrients will support your immune system, therefore improving your eczema.”

Johnston emphasizes the importance of knowing your true self. “Often, it feels like you are your eczema, like it’s a defining characteristic,” she says. “It’s important to learn that your value comes from you and not your skin. I also learned to be kind to my skin. Not looking at it with hatred and resentment, but to see my eczema as a friend that was telling me there is an imbalance somewhere that I need to put right. It’s really important to listen to your body and notice your triggers.”

Whatever strategies you adopt, Loubatieres says, you should treat yourself with compassion. “After a scratch attack, I personally get a huge amount of guilt,” she admits. “I think I’ve caused my skin a lot of harm. However, I have to remind myself that it’s a condition that I cannot control. Skin eventually heals.” Her best advice for getting a good night’s sleep: “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

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