Health Highlights: Aug. 27, 2019
Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Medical Care Deportation Exemption for Migrants Scrapped by Trump Administration
An exemption that allows immigrants to remain in the United States and avoid deportation while they or family members receive life-saving care has been scrapped by the Trump administration.
The policy change was effective Aug. 7, according to a Citizenship and Immigration Services spokeswoman, and letters were issued to affected people, the Associated Press reported.
The decision could force migrants to seek less effective treatment in their homelands, critics say.
"This is a new low," Democratic Sen. Ed Markey said. "Donald Trump is literally deporting kids with cancer."
Honduras native Mariela Sanchez arrived in the U.S. with her family in 2016 and recently applied for the exemption for her 16-year-old son, Jonathan, who has cystic fibrosis, the AP reported.
A denial would amount to a death sentence for her son, said Sanchez, whose family settled in Boston.
"He would be dead,' if the family had remained in Honduras, she told the AP. "I have panic attacks over this every day."
In Boston alone, the Trump administration decision could affect about 20 families with children being treated for cancer, HIV, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy and other serious conditions, according to Anthony Marino, head of immigration legal services at the Irish International Immigrant Center, which represents the families.
"Can anyone imagine the government ordering you to disconnect your child from life-saving care -- to pull them from a hospital bed -- knowing that it will cost them their lives?" Marino told the AP.
The letters sent to applicants for the exemption order them to leave the country within 33 days or face deportation, which could harm their future visa or immigration requests.
DEA to Approve Dozens More Growers for Marijuana Research
The number of marijuana growers allowed to produce the drug for U.S. government approved research will be expanded from one to 34, officials say.
For years, the University of Mississippi has been the only such producer, but researchers said the marijuana from there is not like marijuana available in states where medical and recreational marijuana is legal, the Associated Press reported.
About three years ago, the Drug Enforcement Administration began accepting applications to grow research marijuana, but the agency hasn't acted on them.
Researchers went to court to get the DEA to process the applications. The DEA said Monday it will process 33 applications, the AP reported.
The added sites will provide researchers with a greater variety of marijuana to study, Uttam Dhillon, the DEA's acting administrator, said in a statement.
The DEA also intends to propose new rules for overseeing the program and helping it evaluate applications, the AP reported.
Climate Change Raises Athletes' Risk of Heat Illness
A new study shows why climate change could put outdoor athletes at greater risk for potentially deadly heat illness.
The authors analyzed 239 locations in the United States and found that over the last four decades, 198 cities have had an increase in the number of days a year with a heat index temperature of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more, according to the nonprofit group Climate Central, CNN reported.
The heat index measures how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. The National Weather Services heat index is calculated for shady locations with a slight breeze, and it can feel even hotter if you're in the sun.
Cities with the largest annual increases in days with a heat index temperature of 90 degrees F or hotter include: McAllen, Texas with 31.6 more days per year since 1979; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with 24.2 more; New Orleans, with 23.6 more; Miami, with 23 more; and Savannah, Georgia, with 22.8 more, CNN reported.
Nearly a dozen cities had average increases of at least four "danger" days since 1979. A danger day occurs when the combined heat and humidity makes it feel like 105 degrees F or hotter. Since 1979, McAllen had an increase of 21.9 danger days, Houston had 9.6 more and Pensacola, Florida, had 5.9 days more, according to the study.
On extremely hot and humid days, sweat -- a natural cooling mechanism -- doesn't evaporate, impairing people's ability to cool down. It can also be hard to breathe on such days, CNN reported.
On heat index and danger days, it can be risky to exercise outdoors due to the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. High temperatures have led to the cancellation of a number of sporting events worldwide, including the New York Triathlon in July.
Since 1995, 64 football players in the U.S. have died from heat stroke, and 90% of those deaths occurred during practices. The study says coaches should follow National Athletic Trainers' Association guidelines to protect players while practicing in the heat, including having fluids on hand at all times, encouraging rest breaks and monitoring for signs of heat-related illness, CNN reported.