Posts Tagged 'meconium drug testing'

America’s deadliest and fastest-growing drug problem

As we have talked about before, prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic. Whether you are experiencing physical or emotional difficulty, there are pills for everything and more and more people are abusing them. Recently the feds announced new initiatives to address what has been called “America’s deadliest and fastest-growing drug problem.”

According to the CDC, US emergency department visits involving nonmedical use of opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines more than doubled from 2004 to 2008, and most unintentional poisonings in the US are due to drugs, both prescribed and illegal.

This week, the White House released their Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan, targeting four areas of needed improvement: education, monitoring, proper medication disposal, and enforcing elimination of improper prescribing and drug-seeking behavior.

The FDA also took initiative with a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) targeting doctors and patients.

Truly the reoccurring theme with this epidemic is education with the doctors and patients. So get educated about any prescription written for you or a loved one.

Click here for the full article from the San Francisco Chronicle.  


Rub-a-dub-dub, Drugs in your tub?

Are there new drugs in the market posing as bath salts? Yes this is actually true. Ivory Wave is marketed as a bath salt or plant food and is labeled ‘not for human consumption,’ but the substance’s true purpose is no secret online. Ivory Wave is the newest drug on the market – and it’s legal.

Ivory Wave contains two drugs, Lidocaine and Pyrovalerone, one is used by dentists in anesthesia and the other is a hallucinogen. The drug is popular among meth users and is smoked or snorted to produce a high. Law enforces say it started becoming popular in the U.S. when pseudoephedrine (active ingredient in crystal meth) became only available by prescription. Users of this drug feel paranoia, volatile aggression and believe their hallucinogens are real.

Now lawmakers and law enforcers are scrambling to stop the latest drug fad from taking over the US like it did in the UK, prompting the Home Office to ban it.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said he has had deputies injured trying to arrest salt users and also has seen other people seriously injured by the paranoid individuals. “This is one of the worst behavioral drugs I’ve ever seen,” said Johnson. “They are like mad people and they have no control over it. They are seeing things, hearing things and deputies and first-responders end up in the crossfire. Something has to be done to stop this before is spreads.”

One of the most noteworthy stories from the UK was 35-year-old Sarah Forsyth. She did not start taking Ivory Wave to get high, but as a diet supplement. It worked as an appetite suppressant and she dropped 10 dress sizes. She also endured the side effects like paranoia, aggression and was no longer able to sleep. Even after she lost the weight she was unable to quit using and began to hear voices and have vivid paranoid hallucinations. She soon became very ill, fell into a comma and eventually passed away.

To those of you thinking that Ivory Wave was just another bath salt, you now know the truth.

What is Meconium Drug Testing?

We have an acquaintance that is a foster parent to a child whose mother used drugs during her pregnancy.  He has multiple siblings, all in foster care.  The child is now nearly two and under continual medical and therapeutic care for learning disabilities, slow speech development, and gastrointestinal problems, among many others.  These long-term side effects were the consequences of his mother’s drug use during fetal development.

 According to the March of Dimes, nearly 4% of pregnant women use drugs.  Mothers between the ages of 15 – 17 have the highest incidence of drug use during pregnancy (National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA).

 So, how does a health professional know if a newborn has been exposed to drugs in utero?  They will test the first, possibly second, stool of the newborn, called meconium.  Fetuses begin forming waste material in their digestive system between 12 to 16 weeks’ gestation.  They pass the in utero waste either during the delivery process or soon after.  Doctors use meconium as an excellent specimen for drug testing if they suspect the mother may have used illicit substances.  Signs of use that physicians look for include:

  • Premature birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Mother’s past history of use or abuse
  • Small head circumference
  • Newborn signs of withdrawal
  • Stillbirth

 Meconium is an excellent specimen because it retains drug metabolites for up to 5 months, whereas newborn urine drug testing reflects only the last few days prior to excretion.  Unfortunately, drug use during pregnancy can affect the newborn child both short-term and long-term.  The child may exhibit signs of:

  • Drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Behavioral, development and learning disorders
  • Seizures
  • Hyperactivity
  • Birth defects

 What is most critical to caring physicians is getting the test results before the mother leaves the hospital.  Based on the test results, social services intervention may be necessary, and the child may be immediately placed in foster care.  Today, hospitals are releasing new mothers within 24 to 48 hours of delivery.  If test results are not received within this period of time, there is a high likelihood mom and baby will “disappear”, making intervention much more difficult.

Team ExperTox and March for Babies

Team ExperTox participated in the March of Dimes’ March for Babies on April 25 at the University of Houston campus in Houston.  Join us on our walk and learn why support of this cause is so important.

Help me reach my goal!Sponsor Me at March for Babies!

Team ExperTox will be hitting the pavement on April 25, 2010 in support of March of Dimes and March for Babies.  Interested in helping but not interested in walking?  We’ll take on the challenge, you just make a donation! 

Nearly 500,000 babies are born prematurely each year.  Premature infants are more susceptible to medical and development problems, learning disabilities and behavorial issues.  One reason for premature birth is mother’s drug use during pregnancy.  ExperTox works with many hospitals by testing a newborn’s first stool, called meconium, soon after the baby’s birth to determine if drugs were used during the last 20 weeks of gestation.  We perform this test on a STAT basis, knowing the doctors and nurses need the information to determine the best care for the child, both medically as well as socially.

Thanks for your support!

March of Dimes’ Kaleidoscope Conference 2010

ExperTox exhibited at the March of Dimes’ Kaleidoscope Conference in Galveston, Texas last week.  This conference is held annually for perinatal and women’s health care nurses, providing an educational platform to help medical professionals improve the quality of care for pregnant mothers, newborns and women of all ages.

We attended to share how ExperTox also contributes to improved newborn care through our STAT meconium drug testing, as well as breast milk testing for drugs and alcohol.  What we found is that many hospital nurses were unaware meconium drug screens could be completed in only 4 hours after specimen receipt  at our Houston area lab, and confirmations within 24 hours. 

So why is meconium drug testing so important to hospitals?  Meconium will contain traces of drugs that the mother may have ingested during the last 20 weeks of her pregnancy.  This information helps doctors and nurses in many ways, including:

  • Determining if special newborn care may be needed for possible drug withdrawal symptoms
  • Determining if the newborn may suffer from behavioral or development issues, or other medical problems
  • Determining whether or not Child Protective Services should become involved in deciding the future care and support for the baby

 The convention center was filled with many caring and supportive nurses, and we felt good that we are able to provide a service that helps them in their mission for quality patient care.  We want to specifically thank Rachelle Nurse, Director, Center For Women’s Health at The Methodist Hospital for recommending the March of Dimes conference to us.  We also want to thank Lois Tracy, Texas Children’s Hospital and Chairman of the Kaleidoscope Planning Committee, for coordinating this event.

Are you interested in helping March of Dimes?  March for Babies is coming up!  Put on your walking shoes this spring to help fight premature births, a leading cause of newborn death.

Carole Kanusky, Clinical Educator, The Family Place, Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital

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ExperTox® is a recognized forensic toxicology laboratory, combining advanced technology and science with a human heart.

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We focus our personal character on supporting, caring for and understanding what our clients are going through as they contemplate and proceed through the testing process.

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