Roundup: CDC Update on Vaping Illnesses; Sugary 'Fruit' Drinks for Kids Unhealthy; and Air Pollution Linked to Miscarriage Risk

CDC: No Single Product or Chemical has been Determined to be Causing Vaping Illnesses, Deaths

No single vaping product or ingredient has been singled out as the cause behind the wave of lung illnesses and deaths tied to e-cigarettes across the nation, a CDC officials testified this week before a Congressional investigators looking into the e-Cig industry.

“No one product, brand, chemical, or additive has been determined to be the cause of these lung injuries,” said Anne Schuchat, M.D., principal deputy director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a prepared statement presented to the U.S. House Appropriations Committee and an Energy and Commerce subcommittee. U.S. lawmakers this week called physicians, parent groups and public health officials to testify about the health hazards of e-cigarettes, or “vaping.”

According to the latest CDC update, there have been 1,479 confirmed cases of lung illnesses across the nation associated with vaping, with 33 deaths in 24 states, including Florida. Many of the illnesses have been linked to vaping cannabis products, though some cases have been tied to the more widely available nicotine e-cigarettes.

The latest national findings, Dr. Schuchat said, suggest products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound of marijuana, are linked to a large percentage of the cases and may play a substantial role in the outbreak. But many of those who have fallen ill have only used nicotine-containing vaping products, she said.

Based on data from 573 patients who provided information on the substances they used in the three months prior to the onset of symptoms, 76 percent reported using products containing THC, the CDC official said.

“Overall, 58 percent reported using nicotine containing products, including 13 percent who reported exclusively using nicotine-containing products,” said Dr. Schuchat. “Based on these findings, we believe THC-containing products may contain chemicals or components that are contributing to this outbreak, and that most of these products appear to be obtained from informal sources like friends and family off the street.”

However, the CDC official added, “because nicotine-containing products have been reported to be used, either alone or in conjunction with THC-containing products, we cannot exclude the possibility that nicotine-containing products may have a role.”

The CDC states that the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping products, is unsafe for people of all ages, including youth and young adults. “The only way to assure that people are not at risk while the investigation continues is to consider refraining from use of all e-cigarette and vaping products,” says the CDC in its last update published yesterday.

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Most Popular ‘Fruit’ Drinks for Kids are Unhealthy, New Report Finds

Sweetened “fruit” drinks and flavored waters that contain added sugars or low-calorie (diet) sweeteners made up most of the sales of drinks targeting children in 2018 — that’s 62 percent of the market, according to a new report.

In sharp contrast, the report found that healthier drinks, such as those containing 100 percent juice, represented just 38 percent of total children’s drink sales that year. The report — Children’s Drink FACTS 2019, from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut — was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Despite a trend to increase advertising for healthier drinks to consumers in general, preschoolers and children continued to see more ads for sweetened children’s drinks than for 100% juice and juice/water blends,” the report said.

Beverage manufacturers, retailers, and media companies should do more to encourage healthier options over sweetened drinks for children, the report concluded.

Two-thirds of the 34 sweetened drinks reviewed in the new report contained no juice. However, images of fruit appeared on 85 percent of the products’ packages.

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High Levels of Pollution Linked to Higher Risk of ‘Silent Miscarriage,’ Study Finds

High levels of air pollution may increase the risk of a “silent miscarriage,” which is when the fetus dies during the first trimester — but the women’s body does not recognize the pregnancy loss and there are no symptoms such as bleeding.

The findings were reported in the journal Nature Sustainability and are based on a large study done in Beijing, the capital of China and a city known for its extremely poor air quality.

Researchers from five Chinese universities analyzed the records of 255,668 women who were pregnant between 2009 and 2017, including almost 17,500 who went though missed or silent miscarriages. They also investigated the women’s exposure to four major air pollutants, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide.

They concluded that increased levels of all four air pollutants were associated with a higher risk of a silent miscarriage, which occure in up to 15 percent of all pregnancies, but are much more common in less developed countries.

While the study did not determine how air pollutants might affect the risk of a silent miscarriage, previous studies have shown a link between air pollution and increased risks of complications during pregnancy.

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