ENDS Update

In 2018, Illinois PTA Convention delegates passed a resolution on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS). The resolution followed years of tracking the data and science surrounding ENDS use by youth, and Illinois PTA continues to keep its members informed about new developments. Once again, e-cigarettes are in the news, with reports of pulmonary illnesses and even deaths, including one here in Illinois.

The investigations into the causes of the illnesses and deaths are ongoing, with THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) vaping juice and vitamin E acetate found in many of those THC cartridges sampled being one early area of focus. However, a recent study in the journal Radiologyindicates that vaping itself can damage lungs.

The study by researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania performed MRI exams on 31 healthy, non-smoking adults between 18 and 35 before and after taking 16 three-second puffs on an e-cigarette containing only “vaping juice,” a mixture of water, glycerol, and propylene glycol, the latter two being used in vaping cartridges to keep additional chemicals such as nicotine or flavorings dissolved in the cartridge.

The results of the study showed that even in non-smoking, first-time vapers with no nicotine in the cartridge, the use of an e-cigarette resulted in poorer circulation, stiffer arteries, and less oxygen in the blood. As the study’s principal investigator, Felix Wehrli, put it, “The results of our study defeat the notion that e-cigarette vaping is harmless.” Although both chemicals used in the study, glycerol and ethylene glycol, are considered safe to eat, they may not be safe to inhale.

Photo © 2016 by Mylesclark96 under Creative Commons license.

News from National Convention—The Opioid Epidemic

One of the workshops at the 2019 National PTA Convention focused on the Opioid Epidemic. Misuse of prescription pain medication is one of the fastest growing health issues in the United States today, and the problem is on the rise at an alarming rate not just among the general population but among youth as well. National PTA has partnered with the AMA Allianceto provide resources for state and local PTAs to spread awareness of this issue among parents.

Every year, there are approximately 50 million surgeries in the United States, 2.5 million of which result in the prescribing of opiate pain medications. In many cases, these prescriptions are for 30 days, even though patients may only need the opiate pain medication for the first few days. The result is a significant number of unused opiates available in homes across the country. 53% of those who abuse prescription opioids get their supply from a family member, and approximately 440,000 people become addicted to opioids each year.

National PTA’s partnership with the AMA Alliance is creating a toolkit of resources for state and local PTAs on the issue. Currently, the toolkit consists of a 12-minute recorded webinarand a co-branded fact sheet. Coming soon to the toolkit on National PTA’s websiteare:

  • Door hangers for an awareness campaign
  • A presentation packet that will include both the recorded webinar mentioned above and the slideshow itself so PTAs can deliver the presentation instead of the recording if they wish to do so
  • Handouts to go along with the presentation/webinar
  • A 5-question survey for presenters to fill out on how a presentation went so National PTA and the AMA Alliance can track how the toolkit is being used

Additional resources on the topic can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)website.

CDC Offers Free Online Concussion Course

Concussions are a serious concern for children’s growing brains, and the risk is not just from playing football or soccer. Illinois PTA has published information on what parents need to know about concussions in the past. A new free online course from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is designed to help parents, coaches, and teachers be prepared to keep kids safe, healthy, and active.

HEADS UP to Youth Sports helps participants learn to:

  • Understand a concussion and the potential consequences of this injury
  • Recognize concussion signs and symptoms and how to respond
  • Learn about steps for returning to activity (play and school) after a concussion
  • Focus on prevention and preparedness to help keep athletes safe season-to-season

Once you complete the online course and quiz, you can print out a certificate, making it easy to show your school or league that you are ready to create a safe environment for kids and ensuring that they don’t return to play too soon.

Summer Food Programs Help Fight Child Hunger

As school lets out for the summer, families’ thoughts turn to vacations, outdoor activities, and picnics, but for some, there is also thoughts of how to feed their family. For those families taking part in the free and reduced lunch program, the end of the school year means the end of the ten meals per week that their child had at school. Summer food programs can help fill that need.

More than 1,000 summer meal sites are available in Illinois this summer, funded through the US Department of Agriculture and administered by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). Some are specific to children signed up for a summer program, while others are open to all children under 18. Despite the large number of participating sites across the state, 33 Illinois counties have no summer meal sites.

Your PTA can help spread the word on summer meal sites by sharing information with families from the Summer Feeding Illinois website. There you will find information videos, resources, and more about the program. Families can also find a summer meals site near them by:

Share these resources with your families. No child should go hungry in Illinois this summer.