Medical Notes this week…

The official death toll in the United States from COVID-19 is around 230,000. But a new study in the journal medRxiv shows that the real number could actually be much higher. Researchers have discovered that for every 100 excess deaths directly attributed to Covid… Another 36 have occurred that were caused more indirectly by the coronavirus. Scientists say other illnesses are made worse by Covid… and by the failure to get care because of Covid fear or job loss. If the researchers’ numbers are right, that would mean more than 300,000 deaths in the U.S. as a result of the pandemic. 

Covid’s effects on virtually every organ of the body have been noted for months… And a new study shows that its effects on the brain can be profound. The study in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology finds that a third of people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 suffer from confusion, delirium or some other altered mental function. Those patients are nearly seven times more likely to die… and if they live to be released from the hospital, less than a third have enough brainpower to handle daily functions of life, like paying bills. 

Scientists are getting closer to a cure for arthritis. A Stanford University Study in the journal Nature Medicine shows that a new experimental technique can regenerate the cartilage that cushions joints. Researchers envision what they call a Jiffy Lube model of cartilage replacement, where people with minor joint problems get a replenishment before it becomes major. It’s worked so far in mice and human tissue samples… human tests are still to come. 

And finally… marijuana use in pregnancy is on the rise… but a new study finds that children born of pot-smoking moms are more likely to have mental health issues. The study in the journal JAMA Psychiatry shows that by age nine to 11, children exposed to pot in the womb are more likely to have problems with depression and anxiety…. impulsivity and an inability to sleep. 

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