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A summary of important health news from the past week.

BPA linked to asthma in school-age girls, study finds

By: Sandee LaMotte, CNN

In an article from CNN, reporter Sandee LaMotte writes about a recent study that found that Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in plastic bottles, can linings, and toys, is linked to asthma in school-age girls. The study reports that exposure to BPA in the womb by way of the placenta may increase the risk for asthma in school-age girls, but not boys. There may be several reasons for this finding in girls and not boys; BPA is a synthetic estrogen, so this may affect important sex hormones that play a role in fetal development of the longs. Additionally, BPA presence in utero can cause inflammation and poorer immune system function, possibly leading to a higher risk of developing certain diseases. These findings are important because it may provide cause for policy decisions against BPA and it provides important knowledge for pregnant women.’

Black Adult Hospitalizations Reached A Pandemic High During the Omicron Wave, CDC Study Finds

By: By Akilah Johnson, Washington Post

The omicron variant of COVID-19, which peaked in the US in December and January, resulted in the highest hospitalization rates of Black adults so far in the pandemic, according to a new report published by the CDC on Friday, March 8. Black adults were four times as likely to be hospitalized as white adults who tested positive for the virus during this time. Vaccination rates among Black adults were also lower than that of white adults during this time. Only 39.6% of Black adults had received their initial two doses of the vaccine by January 26, compared to 47.3% of white adults.

Why Your Sleep Is Impacted by Electric Lights

By: Tony Hicks, Healthline

A new study, published in the journal PLOS Biology, suggests that electric light impacts the circadian rhythm in people and can disrupt sleep. Light has the ability to impact our daily patterns of sleep and alertness. In order to maintain healthy body rhythms, restful sleep, and daytime alertness, people should try to limit their exposure to bright light at night to promote healthier sleeping and alertness patterns. Researchers say light impacts us through a specialized cell in the eye using a light-sensitive protein called melanopsin. In light of this study, evidence-based recommendations for healthy daytime, evening, and nighttime light exposures were shared by a team of scientists led by researchers from UK’s University of Manchester and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Long Waits for Montana State Hospital Leave Psychiatric Patients in Jail

By: Katheryn Houghton, Kaiser Health News

A recent report from Kaiser Health News highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on psychiatric patients.  In Montana, people experiencing psychiatric issues waited more than one hundred days in county jails before being admitted to the state psychiatric hospital.  Jail staffers are sometimes unable to respond to the needs of these patients, and as a result those already suffering go through long stretches of solitary confinement.  The problem is due to a widespread lack of services in conjunction with pandemic backlog, with the criminal justice system functioning as a “catch basin” for the overflow of mental health patients.  

Items contributed by: Lexi Rosmarin, Gabrielle Stearns, India Stevenson, Annika Urban