Chicago, Aug 30 (AP/UNB) — Learning disabilities and other special education needs are common in children born with opioid-related symptoms from their mother's drug use while pregnant, according to the first big U.S. study to examine potential long-term problems in these infants.
About 1 in 7 affected children required special classroom services for problems including developmental delays and speech or language difficulties, compared with about 1 in 10 children not exposed to opioids before birth, the study found.
The study highlights the "absolutely critical" importance of early detection and intervention, before these children reach school age, to give them a better chance of academic success, said Dr. Nathalie Maitre, a developmental specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. "It really confirms what those of us who do neurodevelopment follow-up of these children are seeing."
The study involved about 7,200 children aged 3 to 8 enrolled in Tennessee's Medicaid program. Nearly 2,000 of them were born with what's called newborn abstinence syndrome. It's a collection of symptoms caused by withdrawal from their pregnant mother's use of opioid drugs like prescription painkillers, heroin or fentanyl. The drugs can pass through the placenta into the developing nervous system.
Tremors, hard-to-soothe crying, diarrhea and difficulty feeding and sleeping are among signs that infants are going through withdrawal.
In Tennessee, hard hit by the nation's opioid epidemic, the rate of affected infants soared from less than one per 1,000 hospital births in 1999 to 13 per 1,000 births in 2015.
Whether the study results would apply elsewhere is uncertain but in Tennessee, most children born with withdrawal symptoms are enrolled in that state's Medicaid program. Also in Tennessee, a syndrome diagnosis qualifies kids to receive early intervention services.
Maitre, who wasn't involved in the study, said she suspects the research may underestimate the magnitude of the problem, because it only captures kids who haven't slipped through the cracks.
The only previous comparable study was in Australia, published last year, showing that affected children had worse academic test scores in seventh grade than other kids.
The new study looked at how many kids were referred for possible learning disabilities and received school-based services for related difficulties. It did not examine academic performance.
Results were released Thursday by the journal Pediatrics .
The researchers said taking into account other factors that could affect children's development — including birth weight and mothers' education and tobacco use — didn't change the results.
Study co-author Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University said it makes sense that opioid use in pregnancy could affect children's later development. Some studies have found brain differences in affected children including in a region involved in certain types of learning.
But Dr. Mary-Margaret Fill, the lead author and a researcher with Tennessee's health department, said these children "are definitely not doomed. There are great programs and services that exist to help these children and their families. We just have to make sure they get plugged in."
Kampala, Aug 29 (AP/UNB) — Bobi Wine, the Ugandan pop star who opposes the longtime president and has been charged with treason, has a "kidney problem" that needs urgent medical attention abroad, his lawyer said Wednesday, two days after the singer was freed from detention on crutches.
A medical report confirmed the suspicion of a kidney problem afflicting the singer and parliament member whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, Medard Sseggona told The Associated Press.
Ssentamu, who is being treated at a private facility in the capital, Kampala, also reported that in detention "they squeezed his manhood," he said. "He was suffering pain in the hips."
All efforts were underway to get the papers necessary for Ssentamu to travel abroad for specialized care, the lawyer said.
Ssentamu, through lawyers and colleagues, has alleged severe torture at the hands of security personnel. He has not made any public statement since he was arrested on Aug. 14 in the northwestern town of Arua for his alleged role in an incident in which the presidential motorcade was pelted with stones.
Ssentamu was freed on bail Monday after being charged with treason alongside 32 other suspects. Ssentamu's driver was shot and killed in the aftermath of the incident, allegedly by the security forces. The government says the killing is being investigated.
Ssentamu and others on Thursday will appear before a magistrate who will consider the evidence and decide if the case should go to the High Court for trial.
Since winning a seat in parliament last year Ssentamu has drawn big crowds while campaigning for several opposition candidates who have won election. He is widely seen as a challenge to the long rule of 74-year-old President Yoweri Museveni with his appeal among Uganda's large youth population frustrated by the lack of jobs. His supporters urge him to run for president in 2021.
Like Museveni, Ssentamu was in Arua to campaign in a local election to choose a legislator. The eventual winner, Kassiano Wadri, has also been charged with treason. Wadri was inaugurated on Wednesday.
Two other lawmakers have been similarly charged but are free on bail.
Another lawmaker arrested alongside Ssentamu, Francis Zaake, is hospitalized with injuries his colleagues describe as serious.
The speaker of Uganda's parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has written to Museveni urging the arrest of alleged perpetrators within the security forces.
In the letter she said that Zaake "remains gravely ill" and Ssentamu "has visible signs of torture and beatings." Unless the accused officers are arrested and presented in court, she warned, "it will be very difficult to conduct government business" in parliament.
Ssentamu's arrest sparked protests in Kampala and elsewhere demanding his release, with scores of people detained, and a social media campaign to #FreeBobiWine was launched. Dozens of top international musicians, including Angelique Kidjo and Chris Martin, signed a letter demanding Ssentamu's release.
Museveni, a U.S. regional security ally who took power by force in 1986, has been elected five times. Although he has campaigned on a record of establishing stability, some worry those gains are being eroded the longer he stays in power.
Museveni is now able to seek re-election in 2021 because parliament passed legislation last year removing a clause in the constitution that had prevented anyone over 75 from holding the presidency. Ssentamu publicly opposed that decision.
Museveni recently accused "unprincipled politicians" of luring youth into rioting.
London, Aug 29 (AP/UNB) — The outfits Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wore at their wedding are to go on public display later this year at the ceremony's venue, Windsor Castle.
Royal fashion fans will be able to get a close look at the bride's silk Givenchy wedding dress and 16-foot (5-meter) veil, as well as the diamond-and-platinum tiara loaned to Meghan by Queen Elizabeth II.
There will also be a copy of the frock-coat uniform of the Blues and Royals regiment that Harry wore for the May 19 service, which was watched by millions around the world.
The exhibition "A Royal Wedding: The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex" will be at Windsor Castle from Oct. 26 to Jan. 6, and at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland, from June 14 to Oct. 6, 2019.
Sacaba, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — Julia Flores Colque still sings with joy in her indigenous Quechua tongue and strums the five strings of a tiny Andean guitar known as the charango, despite a recorded age of almost 118 years.
In her long life, she has witnessed two world wars, revolutions in her native Bolivia and the transformation of her rural town of Sacaba from 3,000 people to a bustling city of more than 175,000 in five decades.
Her national identity card says Flores Colque was born on Oct. 26, 1900 in a mining camp in the Bolivian mountains. At 117 and just over 10 months, she would be the oldest woman in the Andean nation and perhaps the oldest living person in the world. But Guinness World Records says it has received no application for her and Flores Colque doesn't seem to care that her record hasn't been confirmed. She hasn't even heard of the reference book.
These days, she enjoys the company of her dogs, cats and rooster. She is lucid and full of life, and she loves a good cake and singing folkloric songs in Quechua to anyone who comes to visit the dirt-floor adobe home she shares with her 65-year-old grandniece.
"If you would have told me you were coming, I'd have remembered all the songs," she said jokingly while playing the diminutive guitar. She then dipped a finger into a cake, and smiled while she licked the frosting.
"She's always been active, easygoing and fun," said the grandniece, Agustina Berna.
Growing up, the now-centenarian herded sheep and llamas in the Bolivian highlands until she moved in her teenage years to a valley, where she began selling fruits and vegetables. The produce became her main source of sustenance, and she still maintains a healthy diet though she does indulge in the occasional cake and glass of soda. She never married and has no children.
The previously world's oldest person, a 117-year-old Japanese woman, died earlier this year. Nabi Tajima was born on Aug. 4, 1900. Her passing apparently leaves Flores Colque as the world's oldest living person.
A Guinness spokeswoman, however, said she wasn't aware of a claim being filed for the Bolivian woman.
Birth certificates did not exist in Bolivia until 1940, and births previously were registered with baptism certificates provided by Roman Catholic priests. Flores Colque's national identity card, however, has been certified by the Bolivian government.
Her longevity is striking in Bolivia, which still has one of South America's highest levels of mortality, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.N.'s regional arm.
The Sacaba mayor's office has named Flores Colque a living heritage. The office and a private foundation have improved her home, building a brick path where she walks, and a shower and toilet with a railing so the centenarian can safely make her way to the bathroom at night.
Sitting in the sun on a rustic bench, she seems eternal or like an ancient statue carved in stone. She is hard of hearing, but she remains sharp and scolds her smallest dog whenever Blanquita tries to venture out into the street.
Just a few years ago, she still walked briskly. But then she fell and hurt her back. The doctor said she would never walk again. She proved the doctor wrong.
Berlin, Aug 28 (AP/UNB) — The German capital is getting its infamous Berlin Wall back — at least for four weeks.
A group of artists said Tuesday they're planning to build a facsimile of the wall around a downtown Berlin block in mid-October.
Visitors of the art installation need to buy "visas" online for 15 euros ($17.50.) When entering the walled area, they'll have to exchange their cell phones for a smart phone which will provide instructions for a tour including documentaries, exhibits and concerts.
The wall will be torn down on Nov. 9 — 29 years after the original Berlin Wall, which divided the city from 1961 to 1989, came down.
The artists are still waiting for the final OK from the city's authorities for their project.