Appalachia Health News

Appalachia Health News' goal is to increase awareness of health issues throughout the region. 

Kara Leigh Lofton

Reporter Kara Leigh Lofton will be covering topics such as women’s health, chronic disease and substance abuse.

Her reports will document the health-related innovation, improvement and success within the Appalachian region.

Follow her on twitter at @KaraLofton and #Appalachiahealth

Appalachia Health News is produced with support from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, CAMC, and WVU Medicine.

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A new study published this month in the journal Obesity has found that mothers who gained more weight during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy than deemed healthy by the Institute of Medicine were 2.5 times more likely to have babies be born large.

Large birth weight, meaning more than 8.5 pounds, is associated with a higher risk of childhood obesity.

Maternal obesity and weight gain in pregnancy have already been strongly linked to the development of overweight and obesity in children, but this is the first study to pinpoint the implications of when weight gain occurs.

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Five states, including West Virginia, have adult obesity rates above 35%, according to the 2016 State of Obesity Report. American’s waistlines have been steadily increasing since data collection began in 1990, but the problem is particularly acute in the Southeast and Midwest.

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Fifty years ago there were around 65 birth facilities in West Virginia. Now, there are only 24, which means pregnant women have to travel farther to give birth and, often, for prenatal care.

 

Take Deana Lucion, for example. Lucion was 20 weeks pregnant when the last remaining obstetrician in McDowell County retired, effectively closing Welch Community Hospital’s birthing services.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, 50 years ago, there were about 65 birth facilities in West Virginia. Now, there are 24, which means increased drive-time for access to care for today’s pregnant mothers. As Kara Lofton reports, closure of these facilities also means decreased access to women’s health services.

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Lung experts at Ohio State University Medical Center are testing whether nicotine can help people with a particular type of chronic inflammatory lung disease called sarcoidosis. If left untreated, sarcoidosis can cause severe lung damage and even death.

It is not completely understood why patients develop the disease, but some experts think it may happen when your immune system responds to a trigger, such as bacteria, viruses, dust, or chemicals.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Liam Rusmisel is a different kid this year. On the first day of kindergarten he walked into the classroom, head held high, according to his teachers. This is no small feat for a kid who had a bit of a rough start to last year.

 

 


West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, a new report spells out just how far Appalachia has fallen behind the rest of the country on key health measures. As The Ohio Valley ReSource's Mary Meehan explains, the gap continues to grow.

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The West Virginia Department of Health and Human resources announced it will use $22 million in settlement monies received from drug distributors to combat the drug epidemic in West Virginia. 

The money came from a suit that found defendant drug companies failed to detect, report and stop the flood of suspicious prescription drug orders into the state. The defendants denied any liability, but the parties agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation.

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President Donald Trump's Commission on the Opioid Crisis recently recommended that the president declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. The commission said that such a declaration could free up money to fight the epidemic.

Back in April, we aired a special report about the opioid epidemic here in Appalachia. So this week, we’re going to revisit that story to remember how some Appalachians became addicted, and what a battle for sobriety can be like.

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In part one of this occasional series, Windows Into Health Care, health reporter Kara Lofton talks with Crittenton Services CEO and President Kathy Szafran on the issue of Trauma and Poverty.

Szafran outlines work Crittenton is doing to provide trauma-informed elementary schools - exploring ways to break the cycle of trauma by working with both kids and their families and provide insight into the effect trauma can have on the developing brain. 

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear the first Window into Your Care -- an occasional series in which health reporter Kara Lofton speaks with people working in some little-known aspects of health care.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


When health care experts talk about the supply of nurses nationwide, they usually warn of a shortfall if more young people don’t go into the profession. But here in West Virginia, “there is a nursing shortage. It’s not coming, it’s here,” said Ron Moore, vice president and chief nursing officer for Charleston Area Medical Center.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, in Hampshire County West Virginia, there is a small mountain ridge called Ice Mountain. Historical records suggest that, years ago, ice could be found here, even in the heat of summer. Inside Appalachia producer Roxy Todd recently visited Ice Mountain to find out if ice could still be spotted, and to check out the rare plant species that have existed here since the last ice age.

Perry Bennett West Virginia Legislative Photography

U.S. Congressman Evan Jenkins visited Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston today to hold a roundtable with local experts about how best to address addiction and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

The roundtable was attended by about 20 health workers and community members, most of whom deal with addiction, including neonatal abstinence syndrome on an almost daily basis.

“The disease, yes disease of addiction is our most challenging public health and safety issue of our time,” Jenkins said during an opening statement.

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A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month found a 264 percent increase in overdose deaths related to synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, tramadol, and Demerol between 2012 and 2015.

Experts think the spike is likely related to illicitly manufactured drugs, particularly fentanyl, which is often cut with heroin or cocaine, rather than pharmaceutically manufactured synthetic opioids. Illegally manufactured fentanyl is often mixed with or sold as heroin. Fentanyl is 50-100 times more potent than morphine.


Benny Becker

Back in March, Inside Appalachia aired a report about a rise in the number of chronic black lung cases. Since then, NPR’s ongoing investigation uncovered an additional 1,000 cases of the worst form of black lung disease in Appalachia. 

https://medicine.hsc.wvu.edu

Charleston Area Medical Center plans to cut 300 positions by the end of 2017. The announcement came in a 7-and-a-half-minute video from CAMC president and CEO Dave Ramsey.

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New research has found that high school athletes who specialize in one sport from an early age are at a much higher risk for injury than those who play more than one sport.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, an environmental group’s new report shows the broad range of contaminants in many drinking water systems in the Ohio Valley. As Nicole Erwin reports, the research highlights the gap between what regulations require and what health advocates recommend for drinking water purity.

Also on today's show, Kara Lofton reports on new research that has found high school athletes who specialize in one sport from an early age are at a much higher risk for injury than those who play more than one sport.

Photo courtesy of WVU

Researchers at WVU are working with 13 other universities to find out how food security and lifestyle choices affect an individual’s health.

WVU assistant professor of nutrition and foods Melissa Marra studied a telenutrition project in Harrison County.  The project assessed the use of telenutrition for weight loss and improved diets from middle- aged to older men, according to a news release from WVU.

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