Gender-affirming drugs for teens are now illegal in Alabama

Alabama is the first state to ban gender-affirming drugs for transgender youth, with a new law targeting those under 19 who seek care. It caused the closure of schools.

AFP: Alabama bans gender-affirming drugs for transgender children

It is now an offense in Alabama to administer or prescribe puberty blockers and gender-confirming hormones to transgender people under the age of 19, as a new law went into effect Sunday without court intervention. Alabama is the first state to enact such a ban on these treatments for transgender youth. A similar measure was blocked in Arkansas to stop the treatment by a federal judge before it could go into effect. A federal judge has yet to rule on a preliminary injunction to prevent Alabama from enforcing the law while the appeal in court moves forward. (Chandler, 5/8)

KHN: Families of transgender children in Texas consider options amid crackdown on care

16-year-old Cameron Wright has always considered himself a “man”. As a young child, Cameron didn’t have the words to explain the disconnect between how he saw himself and how the world saw him. But he knew that although he was born in a girl’s body, he was meant to be a boy. After taking reversible puberty blockers that temporarily halt a teen’s body changes, Cameron thought about whether he wanted to start hormone therapy for the physical transition permanently. The decision was not taken lightly. Cameron said his doctor made him spend nearly a year thinking about the question, working with his therapist, and thinking about the life-altering effects before the doctor thought he was ready to start taking the drugs in 2020. (West, 5/9)

In news from Missouri and Maine about lead levels in drinking water –

Missouri Independent: Lawmakers close to requiring Missouri schools to test and filter water for lead

Missouri lawmakers are preparing to require schools to test and possibly filter their drinking water to prevent lead poisoning, making the state one of the few states that requires officials to meet standards stricter than federal regulations. The state offers grants to schools to pay for water testing, but there is no requirement for the test, and only a few have chosen to do so. And while scientists agree there is no safe level of lead — a dangerous neurotoxin that is particularly harmful to children — federal drinking water regulations allow much higher concentrations of lead before water systems require action. (Kite, 5/6)

AP: District cancels school after high lead levels found

The Mount Blue Regional School District canceled school Friday after test results showed elevated levels of lead in nearly half of drinking fountains and faucets. Tests were completed in the eight schools at the end of March following a new Maine law requiring formulations to be tested in state schools used for drinking water and food preparation. (5/7)

In news about marijuana and other drug use –

Oklahoma: Oklahoma legislature passes bill to make marijuana authority an agency

A bill to make the Medical Marijuana Authority of Oklahoma a stand-alone government agency awaits action from Governor Kevin State. The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday gave final passage of legislation that came as a result of years of discussions about moving OMMA out of the Oklahoma Department of Health. The House of Representatives in recent years has endorsed similar legislation, but it wasn’t until Oklahoma City Republican Senate Pro Tim Greg Treat and House Majority Leader John Echols authored Senate Bill 1543 this year that the idea really took off in the Senate. (Foreman, 5/8)

New York Times: Officials Warn of Fake Adderall Pills After Two College Students Die

Police said two Ohio State University students died of an apparent drug overdose this week as health officials warned that counterfeit Adderall pills could contain the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Police received a 911 call at 10:46 p.m. Wednesday from a woman who reported that her roommate and her roommate’s friends had overdosed in an off-campus apartment, Officer Doran Carrier of the Columbus Police Department said. He said three university students were taken to hospitals. (Sundaram, 5/7)

Kansas City Star: With the fentanyl crisis, schools’ stockpile of drug overdose has increased

The Kearney School District maintains a stockpile of Narcan, the opioid overdose drug. just in case. Last fall, when that stock was running out, district nurse Karen Hughes found a national program that would give it to high schools for free. So she signed up. Just days after receiving the new Narcan, school staff had to use it. on the student. Citing privacy issues, school officials won’t provide many details about what Hughes calls the “incident.” But what happened at Northland School was a “best case scenario,” assistant superintendent Jeff Morrison told The Star. “The student is still alive.” (Gutierrez & Ritter, 5/9)

KHN: The addiction treatment locator contains outdated data and other serious flaws

At a psychiatric hospital in Michigan, Dr. Kara Poland’s patients were handed a paper for follow-up care. The hospital entered local zip codes on a website — operated by the country’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Agency — and printed the resulting list of providers that patients could contact. But Poland said its patients who tried it often hit a wall. They would call a number only to find it was not online, or to know the facility was not accepting new patients, or the doctor had retired or moved. (Patani, 5/9)

In updates from Alaska, Illinois, New York and Kansas City –

Anchorage Daily News: Uptick in Tuberculosis Cases via Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Force In-School Test

Yukon-Coscoquim Health Corp. is dispatching health teams to several villages in Delta YK this month to screen school-aged children for tuberculosis. Case numbers are trending above average this year. The situation has been further complicated by the coronavirus pandemic and the repeal of a state law requiring in-school testing. St Mary’s School principal Theresa Baukan said the community chose to take a school-wide test last month after one student tested positive. Test direction found the second case of tuberculosis. “We would never have known about this positive case if we hadn’t gotten[the test]into school,” Buchan said. (Schving, 5/8)

Chicago Tribune: Tick activity on the rise in Illinois as multiple species converge in state: ‘Every year is a weak year’

One by one, the nymphs climbed onto the researcher’s bright blue shoe, looking like little more than specks of dirt as they searched for another blood meal. Those nymphs, the only little star ticks that tend toward meat, are just one type of potential disease vector in Illinois. Their disturbing rise in Grundy County, which was videotaped last year, was just one of many tick encounters of Holly Totten, whose work required the gathering of thousands of vampires. While most people spend their lives trying to avoid ticks, Totten, the vector ecologist who leads the state’s tick control program with the Illinois Natural History Survey, searches for them, hoping to understand where and what they spread in an effort to limit future damage. (Green, 5/9)

The New York Times: A 25-year-old man is the fourth inmate to die at Rikers this year

A 25-year-old homeless man is believed to have committed suicide at the Rikers Island prison complex in New York City on Saturday night, according to people familiar with the case. The man, Dashawn Carter, was found hanging from a window in his cell at the Anna M Cross Center just two days after he was transferred to Rikers from a state psychiatric hospital, according to a person with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding his death. (It is a redemption, 5/8)

Kansas City Star: Kansas City allergy season gets worse every year, studies show

Have you had more seasonal allergies at any time in recent years? It’s not your imagination: Studies show that pollen counts are increasing and spring has arrived early in Kansas City. Researchers have linked seasons of severe allergies to the climate crisis, in which warmer temperatures can increase pollen in the air and cause the weather to warm up earlier. Here’s what we know about how allergies affect the Kansas City area. Longer and heavier pollen seasons are just one symptom of a rapidly warming climate. Air pollution can also contribute to respiratory illnesses such as asthma and exacerbate people’s reactions to allergens. (Wallington, 5/9)

Kansas City Star: Why Sarah Nauser of KC ALS Fights To Serve And Protect Others

Even as a child, Sarah Nozer’s concept of “no” can rarely slow down. On the contrary, her mother, Jimmy Sanders, said: “It was like saying ‘No,’ you’re going to try harder.” “I always found a way,” said Sarah, beaming, as ever, befitting her nickname, “Smiley.” So the girl who was as sparkling as determination played baseball with the boys about the time she was able to run, which led to her career in softball at Blue Springs High. When she used up another costume, she began volunteering for the Blue Springs Police Department when she was 15 or 16; She started at the Kansas City Police Academy on the first possible date: the day after her twenty-first birthday. (AD, 5/8).

This is part of the KHN Morning Brief, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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