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Health Highlights: March 26, 2018

Dentists Urged to Reduce Opioid Painkiller Prescribing Lead Levels of Flint's Young Children Reach All-Time Low: Study Bug Spray-Doused Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Indianapolis ABC TV Reporter Reveals HIV-Positive Diagnosis

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Dentists Urged to Reduce Opioid Painkiller Prescribing

A new policy encouraging dentists to reduce their use of potentially addictive opioid painkillers as much as possible was announced Monday by the American Dental Association, which has about 161,000 members.

While dentists write fewer than 7 percent of opioid prescriptions in the U.S., new research reveals an increase in recent years, even though non-opioids such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen have been shown to work just as well for most dental pain and pose less risk than opioids, the Associated Press reported.

Dentists are the leading prescribers of opioids for U.S. teens and the largest increase in dental-related opioid prescriptions between 2010 to 2015 was among patients ages 11-18, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Among dental patients in that age group, opioid prescription rose from nearly 100 to 165 per 1,000 patients. Among all ages, the rate rose from 131 to 147 per 1,000, the AP reported.

The new policy "essentially says eliminate opioids from your arsenal if at all possible," said Dr. Joseph Crowley, president of the American Dental Association.


Lead Levels of Flint's Young Children Reach All-Time Low: Study

Lead levels among young children in Flint, Michigan were at an all-time low in 2016, suggesting that efforts to reduce lead in the city's water system are have an effect.

Researchers analyzed almost 16,000 blood samples from children ages 5 and younger beginning Jan. 1, 2006, and continuing through the city's drinking water crisis until Dec. 31, 2016, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Since changes in April 2014 led to dangerous lead levels in Flint's drinking water, efforts to prevent lead poisoning have included water filters, pipe replacements and a switch in the source of the city's water supply.

During the 11-year study period, the percentage of young children with blood lead levels of 5 micrograms per deciliter -- the level at which intervention is recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- decreased from 11.8 percent to 3.2 percent, the Free Press reported.

The study published Monday in the Journal of Pediatrics also found that the mean amount of lead in young children's blood samples also fell, from 2.33 micrograms per deciliter in 2006 to 1.15 in 2016.

There was an increase in blood lead levels in young children in 2014-2015, at the peak of the water crisis, and an earlier unexplained increase in 2010-2011. But by 2016, levels were lower than at any time in the history of the city, the Free Press reported.

"I think it's fantastic news, actually," lead author Dr. Hernan Gomez, a medical toxicologist and pediatrician at Michigan Medicine, told the Free Press.

"That is a direct result of lead abatement efforts and citizens following warnings to use filters, bottled water and have their water tested and the like," Gomez said.


Bug Spray-Doused Drug Overdoses on the Rise in Indianapolis

There's been a large rise in the number of overdoses with bug spray-doused drugs that turn people into "zombies," Indianapolis officials say.

The concoction is called KD and includes either marijuana, tobacco or the synthetic marijuana called Spice that's laced with heavy-duty bug spray. Users smoke the mixture, CBS News reported.

"We describe it as being like a zombie. They cannot talk to us," Capt. Chris Major of the Indianapolis Fire Department told CBS affiliate WTTV.

"Their movements are slow and lethargic, a lot of drooling and a loss of function. We find them with their clothes off, eating the grass, pulling dirt out of the ground and trying to put it in their mouth," Major said.

"We find people passed out with it still in their hand. That is how fast it has an effect on them," he noted.

Major said that there have been nearly a dozen KD overdose calls in one day, and sometimes responders deal with the same person a number of times a day, CBS News reported.

"They do not know what is in this stuff or who has made it so they are all taking chance, which for some reason they are willing to do because we get the same people using over and over again," Major said.

Officials say they are trying to pinpoint the source of the drug, CBS News reported.


ABC TV Reporter Reveals HIV-Positive Diagnosis

An on-camera reported for a Los Angeles TV station recently revealed he's been HIV-positive for more than a decade.

Karl Schmid, who works for ABC7 in Los Angeles, made the announcement in a Facebook post on Friday, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The 37-year old Australian native who has covered events such as the Academy Awards and Vanity Fair Oscar party said his industry peers urged him to stay quiet about having HIV.

"I work in television. And on the side of the camera where, for better or worse it's considered 'taboo' for people 'like me' to be 'like me,'" Schmid wrote, according to the Reporter.

"For 10 years I've struggled with 'do I or don't I?' For ten years the stigma and industry professionals have said, 'Don't! It'll ruin you.' But here's the thing. I'm me. I'm just like you," Schmid wrote.

He continued: "Labels are things that come and go but your dignity and who you are is what defines you. I know who I am, I know what I stand for and while in the past I may not have always had clarity, I do now. Love me or hate me, that's up to you."

Schmid also had a message for others with HIV. "For anyone who has ever doubted themselves because of those scary three letters and one symbol, let me tell you this, you are somebody who matters."

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