Limitations on opioid prescriptions by doctors and insurance companies, such as restricting quantity or requiring a preliminary trial of non-opioid pain medications, can help cut the risks of addiction and overdose. But a recent study of Medicare data found that Medicare plans still allow unrestricted coverage for many opioids; in 2015, a third of the drugs were prescribed without restrictions. Fortunately, says lead author and Yale postdoc Elizabeth Samuels, several states have legislated limitations of their own. The study appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


Depression and alcoholism often occur together. African Americans who have a particular variant of a gene involved in brain development are at risk for developing both major depression and alcoholism. Researchers from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania discovered the variant in an examination of the genomes of more than 7,800 people. The study, led by postdoc Hang Zhou, was published in JAMA Psychiatry


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pediatric (ages zero to four) ER visits rose ten percent between 2005 and 2012, despite stricter safety standards. To find out whether smartphones were a factor, Craig Palsson ’17PhD (then a Yale postdoc) examined national data for nonfatal injuries to children under five. He studied the rates of pediatric ER visits in cities with and without 3G coverage—beginning in 2007, when Apple released the iPhone—and found that hospitals saw increased ER visits for young children after their areas received 3G. The injury patterns, he reported in Science Direct, “support the conclusion that smartphones distract caregivers.”

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