Subscribe to The Pulse

Public Health

Program for pregnant women can be a lifesaver

Lakizzy Carson’s first child, a boy, was born several weeks premature, weighing only 1 pound, 5 ounces. He needed hospital care for several weeks after his birth before he was able to go home.

Clayton County

Clayton County

It was not the kind of experience that Carson, of Clayton County, wanted to repeat. When she was pregnant with her second child, in 2012, she enrolled in a local health program intended to reduce premature births and infant mortality.

“I wanted help to guide me,’’ says Carson, now 37. She adds that she has what is known as an “incompetent cervix,” one with a tendency to weakness that can cause or contribute to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy pregnancy.

Public Health officials in the county gave Carson information about nutrition, prenatal care and other resources.

“They gave me a whole lot of attention,” Carson says. “They kept me sane.’’

The second child, Jasmine, was born premature at 36 weeks, but she was able to go home with her mother.

Clayton County has been working on improving its infant mortality statistics for several years, targeting women such as Carson.

And the county, just south of Atlanta, recently received a $3.5 million award over five years from the federal Healthy Start grant program. full story

Measles scare over with no spread

The Georgia measles scare that stemmed from an infected infant arriving here from overseas is apparently at an end, with no further spread of the disease.

DPH-Logo-Center-HeightEarlier this month, state health officials said they identified 35 people – most of them children – as susceptible to getting measles from the infant who was hospitalized in Atlanta for the disease.

The baby arrived at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston with measles in early February. Officials said the child left the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan on a flight and eventually landed in Atlanta.

“There are no known secondary cases of measles connected to the first case of measles in the infant from Kyrgyzstan,’’ Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health, said Friday.

Friday was the last day of the incubation period for potential secondary cases, she said. The incubation period of measles is seven to 21 days.

There are no known new cases of measles in Georgia either, she said. full story

Medical cannabis bill clears House panel

A Georgia House panel passed a medical cannabis bill Monday that its author said could eventually help up to a half-million Georgians.

The revised House Bill 1, sponsored by state Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon), would set up a process whereby patients with one of eight diagnoses, and a recommendation from a doctor, would register for cannabis oil use with the state Department of Public Health.

An individual, or that person’s caregiver, would be issued a registration card from Public Health that would allow them to possess the cannabis oil. (Possession would remain illegal for the general public.)

Miranda Sievert, 20, has seizures from epilepsy.

Miranda Sievert, 20, has seizures from epilepsy.

Peake said with the eight diagnoses – down from 17 in an earlier proposal – as many as 500,000 people in the state could be helped.

The eight diagnoses are cancer, ALS, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, mitochondrial disease, fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s disease.

The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee passed the bill unanimously, after approving an amendment that raised the legal limit of weight of THC in the oil to 5 percent from 3 percent. THC is the ingredient in marijuana that makes a person “high.” full story

Study sees big gains from tobacco tax hike

A financial analysis on raising Georgia’s cigarette tax shows a much higher revenue return than previously estimated.

Cigarette BurningExperts had projected that a proposed $1.25 increase in the state tax on a pack of cigarettes would raise $350 million a year.

But a fiscal note, requested by state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome), estimates that the increase in tax revenue would be $561 million to $585 million in fiscal 2016. The total includes an increase in the tax on smokeless and loose tobacco as well.

The projection, from Georgia State University’s Fiscal Research Center, is based on raising the tax from the current 37 cents per pack – the third-lowest levy in the nation – to $1.60.

The revenue boost would decline slightly on an annual basis through fiscal 2020, when the estimated amount would be $461 million to $554 million.  full story

Bill on ‘biosimilar’ drugs easily clears panel

$1,300 a month.

That’s how much Kerry Tucker spends for the “biologic” medication to treat her arthritis.

Kerry Tucker

Kerry Tucker

“And I have health insurance,’’ she told lawmakers Thursday.

Biologic drugs are specially engineered drugs that have made a major difference in people’s ability to handle their symptoms from arthritis and other diseases. But they also carry a high price tag.

Tucker, an Atlanta resident, came to the state Capitol to testify for a bill that would make it easier for patients like her to get a cheaper medication that’s similar to a biologic drug they are currently taking.

The goal of Senate Bill 51 is to create a state structure for the prescribing of “biosimilar’’ drugs – and could potentially save Georgians money.  full story

  • Sign up for our mailing list.