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How moms and babies rooming together can help combat opioid dependency

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Kobie is having none of it. The baby boy, dressed in a tiny Batman onesie, is squirming and screeching in his playpen —but they’re happy sounds. “It’s not playtime, it’s naptime,” says his mother, Christina Casey.

But she’ll allow this display of defiance from her nine-month-old. 

“He’s amazing,” she said. “He’s developing good. He’s talking like crazy. He says things like mama, bubba, nana.” 

There’s reason for Casey to be grateful.

We first met Casey last January, just after Kobie was born at St. Joseph’s Healthcare in Hamilton. She had left behind a life on the streets that included illicit opioid use and an abusive boyfriend.

“I was probably doing quite a few pills in a day, ’cause you would crush them and sniff them,” she said. “I was doing about maybe 10 a day, or more. I was pretty messed up; I wasn’t myself, that’s for sure.”

To make sure he had the best chance at a healthy life, Kobie spent most of his initial hospital stay alone with his mother, bonding in a room of their own, as part of a so-called rooming-in approach for substance-exposed babies. (Craig Chivers/CBC)

During her pregnancy, Casey was enrolled in a methadone treatment program, which is used to treat opioid dependence and to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Kobie was exposed to the methadone while in his mother’s womb. Within the first few days of his life, the newborn himself was experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

“Kobie had quite a high-pitch cry,” recalls Sarah Simpson, a social worker in the hospital’s women’s and infants’ program. “He was not settling easily at all. His temperature was higher than it should have been. He was quite jittery.

“He had what we call increased tone, which means he was quite tense and he was not feeding well. And I believe that happened for Kobie on Day 2 of life.”

The Canadian Paediatric Society endorsed the practice of rooming in in a guidance paper published in January. (Kas Roussy/CBC)

Kobie had neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). About 1,850 babies in Canada were born with the condition in 2016-2017, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, which represents a jump of 27 per cent over 2012-2013.

Casey said she felt “horrible” about what her newborn went through. “At the same time, there was nothing I could do,” she said.

Avoiding separation

Kobie’s withdrawal symptoms were treated in hospital: He was gradually weaned off the methadone with tiny doses of morphine. Treating one opioid with another sounds counterintuitive, but it is standard practice.

“Morphine is the medication that is the standard for treating any kind of opioid that mom has been taking during the pregnancy. That is the best medication to help baby get opioid out of the system,” said Simpson.

And to make sure he had the best chance at a healthy life, Kobie spent most of his two-week hospital stay alone with his mother, bonding in a room of their own, away from the noises of a busy neonatal intensive care unit.

Kobie was born last January in a Hamilton hospital. (Kas Roussy/CBC)

This so-called rooming-in initiative for substance-exposed infants was pioneered in 2003 at the BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver. It has since spread to more than half of all neonatal units across Canada.

Keeping these newborns with their mothers, as opposed to whisking them away for treatment in the NICU, encourages early bonding and attachment, allowing for breastfeeding and regular skin-to-skin contact.

“There is a fentanyl crisis happening,” said program co-founder Dr. Ron Abrahams. “That really illustrates how important it is to address this crisis — not by separating the mothers and babies, but by supporting them and their journey back into the communities with their babies.”

The rooming-in approach has also caught on in the U.S., he said, a country that, up until a few years ago, would criminalize pregnant women and new mothers for substance abuse, in some cases jailing them.

“We’ve turned that around, so that now mothers and babies are supported in many centres in the States,” said Abrahams.

The Canadian Paediatric Society also endorses the practice; the group released a guidance document earlier this year advising that babies with NAS and their mothers should room together in hospital whenever possible.

Continued support through checkups

A key part of the initiative at St. Joseph’s is the medical checkups; the first comes at two months, followed by appointments at four, six, 12 and 18 months.

Babies born exposed to opioids have a higher risk of developmental delays. So at his two-month checkup, Kobie was put through some simple tasks to check his cognitive and motor skills. He was also weighed and measured. He was right on track.

Now, at nine months, Casey and Kobie have settled into a new apartment; there’s a huge park and a school across the street. Casey said it has been tough having to cut some people out of her life; she has good friends who are still using.

But she’s looking to the future: Her methadone treatment program should be done by the new year. She also wants to finish her high school education.

And while there’s always a risk that babies born with substance exposure, like Kobie, may experience developmental delays as they continue to grow, his mother chooses to focus on the healthy, happy child she has now.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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