Health

Man charged with 'misleading' woman into taking abortion pill

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(WALTHAM, M.A.) -- A Massachusetts man has been charged with misleading a woman into taking medication to end her pregnancy under the guise that he was giving her iron and vitamin pills, according to officials.

Robert Kawada, 43, and the woman were in a relationship when she became pregnant, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan. Kawada then allegedly secretly gave her a commonly used abortion pill while intending to end her pregnancy, ultimately resulting in her miscarriage, according to a preliminary investigation.

The woman is believed to have been given misoprostol, according to Ryan.

Kawada is charged with poisoning; assault and battery with a dangerous weapon on pregnant person; and assault and battery on a household or family member in connection with misleading a woman who was known to him into taking medication to end her pregnancy, according to the DA.

Kawada was arrested Friday by Watertown police and he will be arraigned in Waltham District Court on Tuesday.

Misoprostol is one of two medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as part of a medication abortion regimen, safe for up to 11 weeks of pregnancy. Misoprostol is prescribed to be taken between 24 to 48 hours after mifepristone.

The investigation into the incident remains ongoing.

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CDC: 1 in 9 US children now have ADHD, with surge in diagnoses since 2016

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(NEW YORK) -- Diagnoses of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have surged in the United States over the last several years, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which examined data from more than 45,000 parent responses to the 2022 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH), found that in 2022, seven million children between ages 3 and 17 had previously been diagnosed with ADHD, an increase of one million from 2016.

This equates to about 1 in 9 U.S. children being diagnosed with ADHD at some point in their lives. Additionally, 10.5% of children, or 6.5 million, were found to have current ADHD in 2022.

Among children with current ADHD, the study found 58.1% had moderate or severe ADHD and 77.9% had at least one co-occurring disorder. Co-occurring disorders included behavioral problems such as anxiety or depression and developmental problems such as a learning disability or a speech delay.

ADHD is a condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness. It begins in childhood and may persist into adulthood.

A child with ADHD may often daydream; forget or lose things; talk too much; squirm or fidget; have difficulty getting along with others; have trouble taking turns; and make careless mistakes, according to the CDC.

There is no one test that can diagnose ADHD. Parents who are concerned their child has ADHD should first speak to a health care provider to discuss if the symptoms fit an ADHD diagnosis, the CDC says. A diagnosis can be made by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, or by a primary care provider, such as a pediatrician.

Despite behavior therapy often recommended alone or as adjunct to medications, only about half of children with current ADHD, 53.6%, had used medication and 44.4% had received behavioral therapy in the last year, according to parent responses.

Nearly one-third of children, 30.1%, did not receive any ADHD-specific treatment, the study found. Additionally older children between ages 12 and 17 were more likely than younger children between ages 6 and 11 to go untreated. Children living in non-English speaking households were also less likely to report receiving treatment.

While lack of access may be a reason for some children not receiving treatment, medication shortages may be another. ADHD medications have been facing yearslong national shortages, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Among them is the ADHD prescription drug Adderall. The shortage began in late 2022 initially due to a delay from a manufacturer. As of early 2024, the shortage is now demand-driven, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

There are a few reasons for why diagnoses might have increased, according to the authors. Firstly, because public awareness of ADHD has changed over time, more children may be getting correctly diagnosed with ADHD. Secondly, there may be less stigma around receiving treatment for ADHD.

Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic may have played a role, with poor mental health during the pandemic possibly exacerbating ADHD symptoms for many children, the authors said.

The authors noted that children with ADHD are more likely to experience poor health outcomes as adults including obesity, chronic illness and accidental injury.

They added that the estimates from the study can be used to help clinicians be on the lookout for ADHD and children not receiving treatment as well as to help "policymakers, government agencies, health care systems, public health practitioners and other partners to plan for the needs of children with ADHD, such as by ensuring access to care and services for ADHD."

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What to know about the blood test to detect colon cancer recommended by an FDA panel

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(WASHINGTON) -- A blood test to screen for colorectal cancer is one step closer to receiving approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

An FDA advisory panel -- the Medical Devices Advisory Committee -- recommended FDA approval of the Shield blood test on Thursday night, finding it to be safe and effective and that the benefits of use outweighed potential risks.

Guardant Health, the company that makes Shield, is seeking FDA premarket approval for the test to screen for colorectal cancer among people aged 45 and older at average risk.

Shield is not the first blood-based screening tool available for colorectal cancer, but it presents another option to screen for a type of cancer that has been affecting a large number of Americans at younger ages than before.

Shield is already commercially available, but Guardant Health says FDA approval would broaden availability and coverage as another screening option.

Here's what you need to know about the tests and how it could help detect colorectal cancer. Guardant Health said it believes the FDA will decide on whether Shield receives premarket approval later in 2024. FDA approval isn't guaranteed. The agency usually agrees with its advisors, but not always.

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. It may be referred to as colon cancer or rectal cancer depending on where the cancer originates.

Colon cancer and rectal cancer are commonly grouped together because they have many similar features, according to the American Cancer Society.

Most colorectal cancers are caused by polyps, which are growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. While most polyps are benign, others will turn into cancer over many years.

Signs and symptoms include a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, blood in stool, abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue and sudden weight loss, the ACS said.

While cancer deaths have declined overall, a report earlier this year from the ACS found a troubling increase in colon cancer in younger adults. Colon cancer is currently the No. 1 cause of death among men younger than age 50, and the No. 2 cause of death among women of the same age group.

How is colon cancer typically screened for?

Colonoscopies remain the gold standard when screening for colorectal cancer. During this procedure, a doctor inserts a colonoscope -- a long, thin and flexible tube with a camera on the end -- through the anus to examine the rectum and colon. Your doctor may biopsy any suspicious-looking tissues or polyps.

Additionally, stool tests can be performed to look for blood not visible to the naked eye, which is possibly a sign of cancer, according to the ACS.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force currently recommends adults aged 45 and older with average risk to be screened for colorectal cancer. This includes a stool test every one to three years or a colonoscopy every 10 years for people that do not have symptoms.

How does Shield work?

Shield detects colorectal cancer by detecting DNA shed by tumors in blood samples. Results takes about two weeks after the samples are received by the laboratory.

In clinical trial data, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Shield was found to have a 83.1% sensitivity rate, meaning 91% of patients with colorectal cancer detected by a colonoscopy tested positive on the Shield blood test. It also had an 89.9% specificity rate, meaning 89.9% of patients without cancer tested negative on the blood test.

During the FDA advisory panel meeting, eight of the FDA independent advisers voted yes and one voted no on safety. On efficacy, six voted yes and three voted no. On benefits outweighing risks, seven voted yes and two voted no.

The company says the blood test will help eliminate barriers linked to current screening methods such as colonoscopies or stool-based tests, which can be time-consuming or difficult to complete. It says the blood test can be performed with any special preparation and as part of a standard doctor's visit.

"The advisory committee's strong support for the approval of Shield reinforces the crucial role that a blood test option can have in improving [colorectal cancer] screening rates for those at average risk," AmirAli Talasaz, co-chief executive officer of Guardant Health, stated in a press release. "Despite the importance of detecting [colorectal cancer] early, there are notable barriers that can deter average-risk Americans from completing existing screening methods."

"Providing people with this blood test alongside other noninvasive stool tests can increase the rate of colorectal screening and potentially reduce preventable [colorectal cancer] deaths," the statement continued.

Are there any drawbacks?

Despite the high overall sensitivity rate, the clinical trial data indicated Shield test may miss one in 10 people who have precancerous lesions and one in 1,000 people with cancerous lesions.

These "false negatives" may result in tests finding no evidence of cancer, but patients actually have pre-cancerous or cancerous lesions.

Data showed Shield also missed about 87% of advanced precancerous lesions, with a specificity rate of just 13.2%. Shield did not detect small lesions of less than 10 millimeters.

While the majority of the panel voted in favor of the test, some FDA advisers voiced concerns about appropriate patient counseling, patient misunderstanding of a "negative test" and packaging and/or labeling language.

ABC News' Youri Benadjaoud contributed to this report.

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CDC preparing for 'possibility of increased risk to human health' from bird flu

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(LANSING, Mich.) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a summary on Friday that it is preparing for the "possibility of increased risk to human health" from bird flu following an outbreak among dairy cows and two confirmed human cases.

However, the federal health agency also said the risk of bird flu, also known as avian influenza, to people in the U.S. is currently low and there is no evidence of person-to person transmission in the U.S.

Federal and state public health officials said in late March they were investigating an illness among primarily older dairy cows in Kansas, New Mexico and Texas and causing symptoms including decreased lactation and low appetite.

The first case was confirmed in a U.S. farm worker in Texas and the second case in a Michigan farm worker who had regular exposure to livestock-infected bird flu.

The CDC said the only symptoms experienced by the two human patients were eye redness. Both have since recovered.

As of May 22, more than 350 people with exposure to dairy cows and/or infected unpasteurized cow's milk have been monitored. The Michigan case was identified through daily monitoring of farm workers, according to the CDC. Farm workers and those working in agriculture are at the highest risk of bird flu.

There is currently no evidence to show that bird flu is spreading from person to person.

"Though currently circulating A (H5N1) viruses do not have the ability to easily spread to and between people, it is possible that influenza A(H5N1) viruses could change in ways that allow them to easily infect people and to efficiently spread between people, potentially causing a pandemic," the CDC wrote in its summary.

As they continue their preparedness efforts, federal health officials have moved forward with filling about 4.8 million doses of bird flu vaccine into vials through their national stockpile in case it becomes necessary, according to Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.

"This step further strengthens our preparedness posture," she said this week.

HHS worked with a manufacturing partner on the process known as "fill and finish" without disrupting ongoing production of the seasonal flu vaccine. The vaccine is "well matched to the currently circulating strain of H5N1," O'Connell said.

The federal government has not signaled a cause for concern at the moment and the CDC says it's important that the flu network remain enhanced throughout the spring and summer, including increasing the number of specimens for further testing, continuing surveillance and encouraging clinicians to consider bird flu when evaluating patients who have conjunctivitis or respiratory illness following an exposure to agriculture or livestock.

Additionally, milk samples have been found with remnants of the virus, but testing determined pasteurization inactivated the virus. Raw milk does not undergo pasteurization, and health officials have long warned against drinking raw milk because it can contain bacteria that can cause illness.

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Most younger women who want kids after breast cancer are successful, research data shows

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(NEW YORK) -- Among younger women with breast cancer, it may be possible for many to have a baby after their diagnosis thanks to advances in breast cancer care, new research suggests.

In a study of about 200 women ages 40 and younger with non-metastatic breast cancer who wanted children, roughly three-quarters were able to become pregnant after diagnosis, and about two-thirds had a baby.

The research will be presented on Monday, June 3, at the 2024 ASCO Annual Conference, a major medical conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. However, it has not yet been peer-reviewed or published as a full manuscript in a journal.

Doctors say this may give hope to the growing number of younger people being diagnosed with breast cancer who want to preserve their fertility.

"This is indeed great news for young breast cancer survivors," Dr. Julie R. Gralow, Chief Medical Officer of ASCO and oncologist who specializes in breast cancer, told ABC News. "Achieving a pregnancy after breast cancer diagnosis is both possible and safe."

For women diagnosed at earlier ages, fertility may be of great concern and importance, but experts point out that in this study, only 16% of women said they desired a baby after their diagnosis.

"I think this may represent the overall reluctance of young women with this diagnosis interrupting their lives at such a young age to pursue pregnancy," Dr. Julia Foldi, assistant professor of medicine in hematology/oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told ABC News.

In the study, women with more financial security were more likely to become pregnant, and fertility preservation, such as egg freezing, nearly tripled the odds of having a baby. The older the patient, the less likelihood of having a baby or getting pregnant.

"While we can't impact the age at diagnosis, we can make sure that all young women diagnosed with breast cancer receive information prior to beginning treatment about options to increase the chance of a future pregnancy, and also have access to those options," Gralow said.

Doctors hope this research helps counsel women who desire pregnancy after their breast cancer diagnosis and highlights the importance of having access to fertility preservation services, which can be costly.

"Timely access to fertility preservation can be very challenging due to lack of available resources and infrastructure, financial barriers, and much more," Dr. Kimia Sorouri, research fellow, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, and one of the study authors told ABC News.

"Ensuring that women have the resources necessary to enable them to benefit from this technology, including insurance coverage for fertility preservation, will go a long way towards ensuring access to care for those women who have yet to complete their reproductive plan," Dr. Sigal Klipstein, InVia Fertility Specialists in Chicago and former chair of the ACOG Committee on Ethics, told ABC News.

Researchers also found several factors that were not associated with fertility outcomes in this study, including having a history of infertility, never giving birth before diagnosis, tumor characteristics, cancer treatment, race, and ethnicity.

"It is particularly impressive data because almost 70% of the women in this study had received chemotherapy, which can reduce fertility," Gralow said.

In this study, the typical age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis was 32 years old, and the average time to pregnancy was 4 years after diagnosis. Most of the women in this study were non-Hispanic white and had their breast cancer diagnosed in earlier stages of the disease.

"This should encourage folks to get their screening done and know that if they are diagnosed earlier on, that's less likely to impact their future fertility goals," Dr. Elizabeth Langen, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, University of Michigan Health System, told ABC News.

In guidance by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, women with average risk are now recommended to start breast cancer screening at age 40.

This finalized guidance, in part, reflects a worrying trend of more women being diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age.

"While this study provides great hope for women with a diagnosis of breast cancer, it is important to be cognizant of the fact that not all women will have success," Klipstein said. "Expeditious counseling, availability of and access to fertility preservation options are the elements that often make the difference between having or not having the family that women desire."

Dr. Jade A Cobern, MD, MPH, a licensed and practicing physician board certified in pediatrics and preventive medicine, is a member of the ABC News Medical Unit. 

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Mask restrictions prompt concern, fear from disabled North Carolina residents

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(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- Disabled North Carolina residents say a mask restriction that is under consideration in the state legislature would make it harder for them to access parts of their communities, pushing them back into isolation.

"This law says to them that you are not welcome in our community and we don't value your presence to accommodate your need to wear a mask," Tara Muller, a policy attorney at Disability Rights North Carolina, told ABC News.

House Bill 237, dubbed the "Unmasking Mobs and Criminals" bill, would repeal a COVID-19 pandemic exception that allowed people to wear a face mask in public. It allows exceptions for holiday costumes, rituals or ceremonies, theatrical productions, gas masks or employment-based usage, but would remove the ability for someone to wear a mask to ensure "the physical health or safety of the wearer or others."

Legislators in the North Carolina General Assembly are currently negotiating whether to move forward with repealing the exception, which has faced opposition in the House but was recently passed by the Senate. Meanwhile, disabled residents and their families are stuck in a waiting game, concerned about what this will mean for their future.

The bill is intended to curb the use of face masks to conceal an alleged criminal's identity.

Supporters have criticized the use of face masks amid ongoing protests against the Israel-Hamas war, since many demonstrators have been seen wearing face coverings: "It's about time that the craziness is at least slowed down, if not literally stopped," said Republican bill sponsor Buck Newton, according to Raleigh news outlet WRAL.

Similar restrictions are being considered in other states, while still others are now enforcing mask-wearing restrictions – including New York, Ohio, Florida, and other states.

However, disability advocates say such restrictions infringe on their ability to protect themselves and others.

North Carolina resident Bryan Dooley, who has cerebral palsy and asthma, told ABC News he didn't leave his house for a year when the pandemic started: "And it's not an exaggeration," he added.

He was worried about the potential for a respiratory infection that could turn into something worse. Patients with asthma and cerebral palsy are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 complications, according to the Mayo Clinic.

As someone with a speech impediment, Dooley said it can be hard for him to speak to others while wearing a mask, so the people around him often wear masks for both his and their protection, because he often cannot.

He said the disabled community isn't asking for much: "They just want to contribute to their community just like anybody else."

Muller's organization has said people have reached out with concerns about being able to go to a public health facility, to work, to a grocery store, or to just walk down the sidewalk and potentially being confronted by law enforcement or others trying to enforce mask-wearing restrictions. The concerns have come from people with a plethora of experiences, including those who are immunocompromised, who are undergoing chemotherapy, have had an organ transplant, and more.

Katy Neas, CEO of the disability advocacy group The Arc of the United States, said that masking remains a serious and important issue for many concerned about their health.

"You wouldn't make a kid who has diabetes eat something that's going to make them sick. You wouldn't make a kid with life-threatening peanut allergies, make them eat peanuts. We've got to recognize that some kids need these protections for their fundamental health," said Neas.

Muller said she feels the ban would be a step backward in making the world a more accessible place for everyone, not just people who are disabled or immunocompromised. For example, millions of Americans continue to feel the impacts of COVID-19 and long COVID. There have been more than 100 million recorded cases of COVID in the U.S., while roughly 63 million adults in the U.S. have or have had long COVID..

"We've made great strides in allowing people with disabilities in their community in ways that were not possible before. Wearing masks is one way that people can feel comfortable accessing their community when otherwise they have not been able to," said Muller.

Felicia M. Nurmsen of the National Organization on Disability knows firsthand the impact of long COVID. After developing asthma, as well as experiencing fatigue and a worsening heart condition from her bout of COVID, she said the shift away from public health and safety has been concerning.

"I still have some of the other health challenges ... there's nothing that says that they'll ever go away," said Nurmsen.

Nurmsen said the pandemic allowed a widespread effort toward accessibility for all, such as wearing a mask for personal and public health, remote-working options, increased home delivery options and more. She notes that many things that make life easier for all – from automatic doors to escalators – are disabled accessibility features.

"When you see someone masked up on the street, when you're going into a store and someone has their mask on, never assume that that person does not have a disability, because you don't know," said Nurmsen. "It should not be an all-or-nothing proposition, because we have to think about the entire population of people."

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Doctors, beauty queen in DC to advocate for CPR training and AEDs in schools

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(WASHINGTON) -- Chloe Burke, a 25-year-old upcoming Miss Texas contestant, will be in Washington D.C. Thursday to lobby for the HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act.

Access to AEDs (or Automated External Defibrillators) is a deeply personal issue to Burke, who suffered a cardiac arrest in 2019 at University of Houston while she was cheerleading at a football game. She remembers completing her stunt, and then collapsing on the ground.

"It was the most helpless I've ever felt in my entire life," said Burke. "Your survival is up to the fate of hoping there's someone around you that knows how to act."

Burke was fortunate. On-field paramedics performed CPR and used an AED to get Burke’s heart pumping normally again.

However, Burke knows that others are not as lucky. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more that 356,000 Americans suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest each year and up to 80% of them die before reaching the hospital.

To improve outcomes for others, Burke is joining the American Heart Association (AHA) and roughly 200 others in an Advocacy Day in D.C. on May 23, 2024. Advocates will meet with lawmakers and staff to discuss the two federal bills that the AHA is supporting.

Rep. Frank Pallone Jr.’s (D-NJ-6) bill, the Cardiomyopathy Health Education, Awareness, Research, and Training in the Schools Act of 2023 or the HEARTS Act (H.R. 6829), encourages research and education around cardiomyopathy. The bill has passed through committee and is awaiting a vote in the House.

Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick’s (D-FL-20) bill, Access to AEDs Act (H.R. 2370), has 110 cosponsors in the House, and is still in committee. An identical bill has been introduced in the Senate (S. 1024). The bill earmarks $25 million to be distributed through grants to schools to provide CPR training and buy AED equipment.

Bystander CPR and AED use can increase survival rates. Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, a cardiologist and past president of the AHA, said that "CPR is effective, but it needs to be done in a very timely fashion."

"The clock here is not even in minutes. It's in seconds," he said.

However, a national poll of more than 1,000 people conducted by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center showed that only 51% of respondents have been trained to perform hands-on CPR in the last two years and feel comfortable administering it.

Burke, the current Ms. Space City said "any amount of time or money or rules or laws is worth teaching people the skills that can save lives."

She hopes that the HEARTS Act and Access to AEDs Act will ultimately create "a future of people who could save lives at any time in any place because [CPR is] a skill they can take with them."

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Why Louisiana is pushing to classify abortion pills in the same category as opioids

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(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- Louisiana is moving closer to classifying the abortion pill regimen -- mifepristone and misoprostol -- as a "controlled dangerous substance," putting them in the same category as opioids and other addictive medications.

If a new bill becomes law, possession of the the medications without valid prescriptions or orders from medical professionals would be punishable by up to five years in prison with an exception for pregnant women in possession of the pills for their own consumption.

A federal case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court also seeks to revoke Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, the first pill taken in a two-drug regimen for a medication abortion. This could restrict nationwide access to the pill. The Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision in the case by the end of June.

The regimen is currently federally approved to end pregnancies up to 11 weeks.

Medication abortion is currently the most common form of abortion in the U.S., according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute. The study found that 63% of abortions in the U.S. that took place in the health care system in 2023 were medication abortions.

Louisiana state House lawmakers debated the proposed law Tuesday before approving it, 64-29, and sending it to the Senate for a vote. The Senate, which is more than 70% Republican, is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday.

It would would then head to Republican Gov. Jeff Landry's desk for final approval before it can become law.

Nearly all abortions have ceased in Louisiana under a strict trigger ban that prohibits the procedure in its entirety and imposes civil and criminal penalties on anyone who violates it.

What's in the bill?

While an amendment to the bill included the provision that would reclassify the abortion pills, the bill itself focused on cracking down on "coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud."

The bill creates a crime of "coerced criminal abortion" -- prohibiting a third party from fraudulently using an abortion-inducing drug to cause or attempt to cause an abortion on an unsuspecting pregnant woman, without their knowledge or consent.

The proposed law was created by a state Sen. Thomas Pressly, whose pregnant sister's husband tried to induce an abortion more than once, ultimately failing to abort the pregnancy, lawmakers said on the floor Tuesday.

"Coerced criminal abortion" would be a crime punishable by five to 10 years in prison and a fine of $10,000 to $75,000, according to the bill.

The punishment is more severe for anyone found guilty of committing the crime on a pregnant woman who is more than three months pregnant. They could face 10 to 20 years in prison and a fine from $50,000 to $100,000, according to the bill.

There is a substantially higher risk to the life of a pregnant mother if the pregnancy is more than three months along, according to the bill.

Violators of the law can still be prosecuted even if the attempted abortion is unsuccessful, the bill said.

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How extreme heat will disproportionately affect disadvantaged communities

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(NEW YORK) -- The health effects from extreme heat will soon take an even bigger toll on disadvantaged communities, according to a new report.

As global temperatures continue to climb, a growing number of people living in disadvantaged communities will be impacted by health-threatening heatwaves, a report released Wednesday by the ICF Climate Center, an environmental solutions firm, found. As many as 54 million people in at-risk communities could be threatened by extreme heatwaves by 2050 under a high-emissions scenario, compared to 500,000 people today, according to the report.

The report combines the latest climate projections with the ICF Climate Center's climate risk analytics platform, ClimateSight, to understand how people living in marginalized communities -- ones that have been "overburdened by pollution and underinvestment" -- will be exposed to extreme heat in the coming decades as well as how the increasing temperatures will affect the health of the residents.

The results point to a significant increase in disadvantaged communities' potential exposure to extreme heat as well as a spatial component of these increases in potential exposure, Mason Fried, director of climate science at ICF, told ABC News.

"We're seeing spatially across the contiguous United States both an intensification of exposure in historically hot areas -- those hot areas are only going to get hotter -- and the consequences in those areas," Fried said. "But there's an expansion of exposure into regions that have not experienced very hot temperatures."

The Southeast and Midwest could see 15 to 30 additional energy-impacting heat days, while most of Texas, the central plains, Louisiana and the Florida peninsula are expected to experience 50 or more additional energy-impacting heat days under a moderate emissions scenario, the report found.

Electric grids in the Northeast and New England could be strained under these conditions as well, as grids in those areas were generally not designed to operate in such extreme heat, the authors found.

While historically it was the Southwest and southern Texas that saw disadvantaged communities experiencing at least 24 energy-impacting heat days per year, by 2050 overburdened communities in the South, Midwest and Southwest will be exposed, according to the report.

The findings of the report are "not surprising," given how much research has already been done to show that the most disenfranchised communities around the world will be hardest hit by climate change, Jennifer A. Burney, chair of global climate policy and research at the University of California, San Diego, told ABC News. Burney's own research has looked into the urban heat burden experienced by poorer communities.

Heat illness is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the world, with more than 1,220 people dying from heat-related illnesses every year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The urban heat island effect, urbanized areas that experience higher temperatures than outlying areas due to an abundance of roads and buildings, adds tremendously to the heat burden that people in disadvantaged communities are experiencing, Amy Bailey, director for climate resilience and sustainability at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, told ABC News.

Neighborhoods that had been redlined in the 1930s -- a post-Great Depression practice involving a pattern of lending discrimination -- are among the hottest in major cities, a 2019 paper that studied 108 urban areas nationwide, found.

Solutions such as whitewashing pavement and planting trees are known solutions to mitigating the heat island effect.

The report called for prioritizing planning efforts for populations identified to be at elevated risk and engaging stakeholders and decision-makers within those communities to ensure they have agency in the implementation of programs.

The report and its confluence of key public health, equity and energy resilience data points are important for planners, community-based organizations and health professionals, Bailey said.

Communities will especially need to prioritize measures to make places like libraries and malls established cooling centers by creating a "cooling budget" that could help subsidize businesses as well as offer safe options for residents, Burney said.

Planners will also need to make investments to increase grid resilience and community-level solutions, Bailey said.

"It's our hope that it provides, at first some, some, you know, the data and analytics to help size up and understand the problem," Fried said.

Federal initiatives in recent years have reflected the severity of future heat impacts, according to the report.

Last year, Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool, an interactive map that monitors data points such as income, asthma rates, and wildfire risk with the aim of determining and prioritizing the most disadvantaged communities for funding. However, race and ethnicity are not included as indicators in the tool, but are "included as information only and are not considered as a part of the tool’s methodology," according to the website, a collaboration among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

In July 2023, the Biden Administration also announced several actions to mitigate extreme heat, including the launch of Heat.gov, which provides science-based information to understand and reduce the health risks of extreme heat, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) "Let’s Talk About Heat Challenge," which funded 10 community groups and localities across the country to help protect underserved communities from heat illness.

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STIs, including syphilis, gonorrhea, increasing globally: WHO

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(NEW YORK) -- The number of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) around the world is increasing and is a "major concern" for health officials, according to a new report published Tuesday from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report found four curable STIs -- chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and trichomoniasis -- are responsible for more than 1 million infections daily among adults between ages 15 and 49. Cases of syphilis, in particular, have been rising rapidly.

The number of new syphilis cases among adults between ages 15 and 49 increased from 7.1 million in 2020 to 8 million in 2022, according to the report.

There have also been increases in the rate of congenital syphilis, which occurs when a baby is born with the infection after the mother passed it on during pregnancy. Between 2020 and 2022, the rate per 100,000 live births per year rose from 425 to 523.

The global trends mirror those seen in the United States. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released earlier his year found the total number of syphilis cases increased more than 17% to 207,255 between 2021 and 2022, reaching the greatest number of cases reported since 1950.

The report also found that cases of antibiotic resistant gonorrhea are increasing, which was labeled another "concern." As of 2023, nine countries reported elevated levels -- from 5% to 40% -- of resistance to ceftriaxone, which is considered a last line treatment for gonorrhea.

Data points to a lack of screening for the rise in STIs as well as other issues including a lack access to care. Additionally, disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic likely delayed screening for many.

"The rising incidence of syphilis raises major concerns," WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. "Fortunately, there has been important progress on a number of other fronts including in accelerating access to critical health commodities including diagnostics and treatment."

"We have the tools required to end these epidemics as public health threats by 2030, but we now need to ensure that, in the context of an increasingly complex world, countries do all they can to achieve the ambitious targets they set themselves," the statement continued.

Not all trends showed an upward trajectory, in 2022, the number of people newly infected with HIV globally fell to 1.3 million from 1.5 million, according to the report. However, the WHO notes that certain populations -- men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs; sex workers; transgender people; and those currently in prisons and other closed settings – continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV.

In a press release, the WHO noted there have been gains in expanding STIs, HIV and hepatitis services and several countries have eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and/or syphilis.

To drive rates down, the report outlines some recommendations including accelerating efforts to decriminalizes and destigmatize those affected by STIs and other infections as well as strengthening the focus on primary prevention, diagnosis and treatment to raise awareness of STIs and infections.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New study focuses on what happens if you stay on weight loss drug Wegovy for years

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(NEW YORK) -- Amid the growing popularity of drugs used for weight loss like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro and Zepbound, one question has remained for users, what happens if they were to stay on the drug for years?

Now, a new study released earlier this month by Novo Nordisk, the maker of both Ozempic and Wegovy, is shedding light on what the long-term results look like for people on the weight loss medications.

"This is the longest study we've conducted so far of semaglutide for weight loss," Martin Holst Lange, Novo Nordisk's head of development, told Reuters. "

Both Ozempic and Wegovy are part of a class of drugs called GLP-1 Receptor Agonists that help people produce insulin to lower the amount of sugar in their blood.

The drugs, made from a compound called semaglutide, work by slowing down movement of food through the stomach and curbing appetite, thereby causing weight loss.

The new study, presented this month at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice, Italy, focused solely on Wegovy, an injectable medication that is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for weight loss for people with obesity or who are overweight with a comorbidity like high blood pressure.

Ozempic is approved by the FDA to treat Type 2 diabetes, but some doctors prescribe the medication "off-label" for weight loss.

Here are four questions answered about the study's results, and what they mean for the future of weight loss.

1. Were people able to keep weight off by using Wegovy long-term?
Yes.

The study found that the majority of people on Wegovy lost weight, on average 10% of their body weight, in the first 15 months of using the medication and sustained their weight loss over four years with continued use of the drug.


"We see that once the majority of the weight loss is accrued, you don't go back and start to increase in weight if you stay on the drug," Lange told Reuters.

The results came from a clinical trial of over 17,000 people with preexisting heart disease as Novo Nordisk was testing Wegovy for its heart benefits in people who are overweight and obese.

2. Were there any side effects to using Wegovy long-term?
Around 17% of patients in the four-year timeline withdrew due to a side effect of taking Wegovy, mostly nausea, according to the company.

Among all medications used for weight loss, the most commonly reported side effects are nausea and constipation, but irreversible gallbladder and pancreatic disease is also reported.

Makers of these drugs recommend having a conversation about the side effect profile and personalized risks with a healthcare professional before starting.

3. Why would a person need to stay on a medication after weight loss?
ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton, a board-certified OBGYN and obesity medicine specialist, said that people should remember that obesity is a chronic condition.

"In the majority of cases, people who are on these GLP-1 medications and lose a significant amount of weight, can/will regain some or all of it when they discontinue it," Ashton said. "Why? It's because of the etiology, or what the causes are, of the conditions of overweight and obesity. It's not a temporary situation. It's a chronic condition."

Obesity is a medical condition that affects nearly 42% of people in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Obesity has been associated with conditions like stroke and heart attack, hypertension, breathing difficulties, sleep apnea and an increased risk of early death.

4. What does maintenance look like on medications like Wegovy?
While long-term research has been done on GLP-1 medications and Type 2 diabetes, Ashton said there is still much research to be done on how the medications can be used long-term to help people maintain weight loss.

"What hasn't been even described or reported in the peer-reviewed medical literature is what does maintenance on these medications look like," Ashton said, adding, "That knowledge and awareness has to be there, that if you get to your goal weight, and you completely stop these medications, the vast majority, not all, but the vast majority of people will regain the weight that's lost."

Ashton said patients on a medication like Wegovy should work closely with their doctor determine what is best in their individual situation.

Generally, she said doctors may prescribe a lower dose of the medication to take in the long-term, or reduce the frequency of the dose.

"I think what you'll see is healthcare providers, doctors who are experienced in managing patients on these medications, when they [the patient] get to their goal weight, they'll say, 'Okay, let's drop your dose down first, and then we could try to space out the frequency of your dosing intervals,'" Ashton said. "What I've done, and I've spoken to other doctors in obesity medicine who are doing the exact same thing, is we'll say, 'Okay, instead of taking [an injectable dose] every week, let's try taking it every two weeks.'"

She continued, "Alternating one week on, one week off may be something that we start to see in the future become a more common, more official part of the maintenance regimen."

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Menopause, women's health focus of new book by Dr. Sharon Malone

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(NEW YORK) -- Dr. Sharon Malone, a board-certified OB/GYN, is on a mission to help women understand the importance of critical thinking when it comes to health products. She advises readers to scrutinize everything they consume, even items marketed as 'natural' or 'organic', as she says these terms can often be misleading marketing ploys.

Malone discussed her new book, "Grown Woman Talk: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Healthy," with ABC News, and focused on how women over 40 should take care of themselves and be their best health advocates.

She also tackles vitamins and supplements in her book, stating that most are harmless. Some do nothing, she says, despite their claims, while others are known to interact poorly with certain prescription medications.

Malone also spoke about the importance of a healthy diet consisting of whole foods, whole grains and unprocessed foods.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Former first lady Michelle Obama has called our next guest one of the smartest, funniest and most charismatic women she knows. And now, leading OB-GYN Dr. Sharon Malone is sharing some of her wisdom, experience and humor with readers when it comes to women's health.


Philadelphia still the 6th-biggest U.S. city, but San Antonio catching up, census data shows
Her new book, "Grown Women Talk: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Healthy," gives a practical guide to aging and being a woman who has felt disregarded or disempowered in the health care system. Dr. Malone gives a personal and relatable look into how you can be the best and most important advocate for your health.

And joining us now is none other than Dr. Sharon Malone, chief medical adviser for Alloy Women's Health. Doctor, thank you so much for joining us.

MALONE: Thank you for having me.

ABC NEWS LIVE: OK. So you've been practicing medicine for more than 30 years in our nation's capital. Why did you decide: 'You know what? I'm going to write a book.'

SHARON MALONE: You know, when I stopped practicing, I did it rather abruptly because, you know, I was part of that great COVID-19 resignation. And I left the end of 2020, and I didn't really feel like I was done. And I wanted to be able to use all of this wisdom, all of this knowledge and expertise and sort of leverage it over many, many, many women as opposed to just one-on-one in my office.


ABC NEWS LIVE: You mentioned your mom. You talk a lot in the book about your upbringing growing up in Alabama, losing your mom to colon cancer early on. And I thought it was really interesting. You talked about the idea of those medical records that die and knowing the family history medically, how important that is. Explain why people need to really talk about that.

MALONE: You know, the thing that we don't talk a lot about is our health, and particularly to our elders. And I think medical history and our family history is so important because it gives us just the signposts. It gives us the warning signs, not necessarily what we will have, but what we may be predisposed to. And that's why I think it's important that everyone know your family history does not destine you to repeat that, but it lets you know what things you need to watch out for.

ABC NEWS LIVE: You talk about vitamins and supplements, and you say most are harmless. Some do nothing, including what they claim. Some vitamins are known to interact poorly with certain prescription meds.

You go on to say you should pay close attention to anything you ingest, including things that are purported to be good for you. Be aware that natural and organic are marketing schemes. You know what else is natural and organic? Bull bleep. And that's where it gets into the real, the real grown woman talk.

But what should we be looking for? What should we know? I think I'm doing something good for my body, but who knows?


MALONE Yeah, I think that you should think of supplements just as that. Nothing substitutes for a healthy diet of whole foods and whole grains and non-processed foods.

So, just understand that the supplement market isn't really regulated the same way as drugs are. So there's really no duty to prove that it's effective. And there's really no duty to prove that what's actually in it actually is in it.

So, you know, I always say buy and beware when it comes to supplements. If you're spending, you know, $100 a month on supplements, you're probably spending a little bit too much on that.

ABC NEWS LIVE: And you talk also about women who are 45, which I'm in that category, should start thinking about menopausal hormone therapy, something that I never thought of.

MALONE: You know, the thing about perimenopause and menopause is that it sneaks up on you way sooner than you think. And I think that a lot of women think that menopause is something that happens to you when you're older.


But know that transition really starts in your early 40s. And for some women, even in their late 30s. And that is really why when I left my practice, I did a lot of menopausal care, and I transitioned to Alloy Women's Health because there are so few doctors out there that really know how to treat and how to counsel women about this very important phase of their lives.

I mean, imagine we're going to spend a third of our lives in menopause. And yet most of us walk into this blindly, and we are not really helped by our doctors, and we're not really talking to each other either.

ABC NEWS LIVE: While this is for all women, you do talk about some of those scary medical issues that often confront Black women. Maternity mortality rate, for example. Quite often we hear the statistics. We know that they're out there. But what should we actually do about it? What can we do?

MALONE: Prevention is a big message in this book. And that's really what I want people to understand, is that this is not something that you should be afraid of or fearful about. There's a lot that we can do. And so whether you enter this story and whether you're 20-something, 30-something or 70-something, as long as you're a grown woman, there's something in this book for you.

And I like to say, if when I was assembling the stories for my book, you know, everyone knows that book: "What to Expect When You're Expecting." Well, my book is what to expect if you expect to live beyond 40.

ABC NEWS LIVE: Oh, that's good. I like that. All right. Not only a D.J. and a doctor and an author. You're all of these things. Thank you, Dr. Malone. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And we want to let our viewers know her book, "Grown Woman Talk: Your Guide to Getting and Staying Healthy" is available now wherever books are sold.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Infant takes first breaths on her own after undergoing rare double lung transplant

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(HOUSTON) -- A 6-month-old girl born with a life-threatening lung disorder is now breathing on her own thanks to a rare double lung transplant.

Kylie Overfield was placed on a ventilator immediately after her birth on Nov. 10, 2023, due to surfactant B deficiency, a rare genetic condition that causes abnormalities in the lining of the lung tissue, making breathing difficult, according to the National Library of Medicine.

The condition, which affects roughly 1 in 1 million newborns globally, can lead to respiratory failure. In Kylie's case, the condition was so severe that doctors feared she wouldn't survive long after her birth, which came on a Friday, according to her mom, Ashley Overfield.

"They didn't think Kylie was going to make it," Overfield, told Good Morning America. "She wouldn't survive the weekend."

Defying the odds, Kylie survived the next three months and, in January, was strong enough to be transferred from the Virginia hospital where she was born to Texas Children's Hospital in Houston.

"I’m telling you, she was feisty," Overfield said of her daughter. "If she was fighting, I was never going to stop fighting."

Overfield was told by doctors that the most effective treatment for Kylie was a double lung transplant, a rare treatment. Only 35 lung transplants have been performed on babies under the age of 1 in the United States over the past decade, according to data from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network.

At Texas Children's Hospital, doctors were prepared to take on Kylie's case, having performed more than 100 pediatric lung transplants since 2014, a total the hospital says is more than any other in the country.

"Specifically in lung transplants, we are one of the busiest pediatric lung transplant centers in the country," Dr. David Moreno-McNeill, a pediatric pulmonologist at Texas Children’s Hospital, told GMA.

After arriving at Texas Children's Hospital in January, Kylie was placed on the waiting list for a bilateral lung transplant on Feb. 16.

Just two months later, doctors found a match for Kylie.

On April 17, Kylie, then just 5 months old, underwent a double transplant procedure, receiving two new lungs.

Following the successful surgery, during which a hole in her heart was also repaired, Kylie was able to breathe on her own for the first time in her life.

"I got my baby, so she has a life now," said Overfield, who relocated to Houston with her husband and their two older children. "She gets a chance."

Overfield said she and her family are especially grateful to the mom of the donor baby, who made the selfless choice of organ donation.

"I'm so grateful that she chose to donate the organs because she saved my baby and I'm sure other babies," Overfield said. "My heart hurts for her and I think about her every minute of every day."

Currently, over 103,000 people in the U.S. are on the waiting list for a transplant, according to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Major disparities exist in women of color's access to breast cancer care, report finds

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(NEW YORK) -- A major new report shows stark disparities in breast cancer care, with non-white Americans and those without health insurance far less likely to be up to date with recommended screenings.

Women under the age of 65 who do not have health insurance are 50% less likely to be up to date with breast cancer screening, according to the findings of the 2024 AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report 2024, released Wednesday by the American Association for Cancer Research, a nonprofit organization focused on breast cancer research.

The report also found that between 2015-2019 Asian and Pacific Islander women had the highest increase in breast cancer occurrences among all racial and ethnic groups.

Black women are at a 40% higher risk of dying from breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women, even though they are 6% less likely to develop breast cancer, according to the report.

Earlier this month, another organization, the American Cancer Society, launched a study of 100,000 Black women that aims to figure out why Black women are disproportionately impacted by cancer, including breast cancer.

Last year, a study released in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that Black women had the same risk of dying from breast cancer if they were screened starting at age 42 as the general population had with screenings starting at the age of 50.

The recommended age to start breast cancer screenings for most women of average risk is now 40, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which in April released finalized updated guidelines.

The age for routine screening was dropped from 50 to 40 to account for the 2% increase in breast cancer diagnosis rates each year among women in their 40s, according to the USPSTF.

The updated recommendations will not impact insurance coverage, but by law, mammograms should be covered by insurance for all women 40 and older.

The USPSTF recommends that women in their 40s talk to their doctor about their individual risks.

In addition, many doctors recommend that women undergo a breast cancer risk assessment with a doctor by age 25 in order to understand the risk category in which they fall.

Dr. Matthew Schabath, program leader of the Cancer Epidemiology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center and a member of the steering committee for the 2024 AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report, told ABC News that one of the biggest reasons that some women may not be up to date with recommended cancer screenings is lack of access to transportation.

"A common threat among minoritized and underserved populations… is transportation," Schabath said. "Simply being able to travel to a healthcare provider has been a huge barrier… especially in the case of something like mammography, you can move the bar by having mobile mammography, bringing healthcare to the community."

Experts say structural racism and discrimination also contribute to imbalances that drive disparities.

Patient-focused care will be of the utmost importance in addressing cancer screening and follow-up care, Dr. Robert Winn, director of the Virginia Commonwealth University VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center and steering committee chair for the 2024 AACR Cancer Disparities Progress Report, told ABC News. 

"We are aligning with the communities' power to ultimately bring about better health," Winn said.

In the United States, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Each year in the U.S., around 240,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women, and around 42,000 women die from breast cancer, according to the CDC.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Drug overdose deaths fell in 2023, 1st decrease in 5 years: CDC

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(NEW YORK) -- Drug overdose deaths fell in 2023, marking the first decrease in five years, new provisional federal data published Wednesday showed.

An estimated 107,543 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2023, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

This is a 3% decrease from the estimated 111,029 overdose deaths that occurred in 2022 and the first annual decrease in drug overdose deaths since 2018.

Dr. Susan Sherman, a professor in the department of health, behavior and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told ABC News it's "great" to see the numbers trending downward.

"If you think about it, the numbers are so crazy high that we were below 100,000 the last time we had a dip," she said. "It's great that there's a decrease."

The data shows that overdose deaths involving opioids fell from an estimated 84,181 in 2022 to 81,083 in 2023.

While the majority of overdose deaths in 2023 were due to synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, there was a decrease from 2022. An estimated 76,226 deaths were linked to synthetic opioids in 2022 compared to 74,702 deaths in 2023.

Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine and can be deadly even in small doses, according to the CDC. Other drugs may be laced with deadly levels of fentanyl, and a user is not able to see it, taste it, or smell it.

Unless drugs are tested with fentanyl test strips, it is nearly impossible to tell if they have been laced with the synthetic opioid, the CDC said.

Deaths linked to natural or semi-synthetic drugs, such as morphine and codeine, also fell from 12,135 In 2022 to 10,171 in 2023. However, deaths associated with psychostimulants, including methamphetamine, and cocaine increased from 2022 to 2023.

Some states across the U.S. saw decreases with Indiana, Kansas, Maine and Nebraska experiencing declines of 15% or more, the data shows. However, there were increases in others with Alaska, Oregon and Washington seeing an increase of least 27% compared to the same period in 2022.

In Alaska, opioid overdoses have steadily been increasing since at least 2018, according to the state's Department of Public Health. A state report released earlier this year found 2022 to be the deadliest year on record in Alaska for opioid overdoses.

Additionally, earlier this year in Portland, Oregon, government officials declared a 90-day state of emergency to address the city's growing fentanyl crisis. In November 2020, Oregonians voted to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs, but the state reversed course with lawmakers passing a bill earlier this year to recriminalize drug possession.

Some of the progress may be attributed to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving the overdose reversal drug Narcan for over-the-counter use in March 2023, becoming available in September.

Narcan, made by the company Emergent BioSolutions, is given as a nasal spray and the active ingredient in the medication -- naloxone -- can quickly reverse the effect of opioids to restore breathing if someone is experiencing an opioid overdose.

Harm reduction groups and other experts have been pushing for easier access to naloxone as one strategy to help prevent some of the tens of thousands of overdose deaths that occur each year in the U.S.

"Sometimes when things decrease, we think, 'Oh, we're done,'" Sherman said. "I think sometimes people think, 'Job's done.' But of course, the job is not done. I worry people [will] lift their foot off the gas."

Sherman said to keep bringing the number of drug overdose deaths down, it's important to keep scaling up interventions that work including making medications for opioid use disorder and syringe service programs more accessible.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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