Vital Signs newsletter: Top health stories this week

Maine’s crippling opiate addiction problem fuels passionate beliefs about who’s to blame — overzealous doctors too loose with the prescription pad, addicts consumed with getting their next fix, government officials restricting access to treatment programs. As the debate rages, one innocent group struggles to overcome the hand they’ve been dealt — babies affected by drugs before they’re even born.

For Maine babies exposed to drugs, disadvantages mount after leaving hospital

Other top health stories this week:

Maine Obamacare signups slow but steady, with 20,000 selecting plans

That’s up from 13,704 Mainers at the end of last year, though a drop off from December’s more rapid pace of insurance enrollments through Healthcare.gov.

Controversial study: Mammogram screenings don’t save lives

The research, published Tuesday in the British Medical Journal, is the latest in a series of studies that question the value of annual breast X-rays for pre-menopausal women and whether too many women are being “overdiagnosed” by the popular test.

Lawmakers consider bill to make overdose-stopping drug widely available in Maine

Several lawmakers appeared to be holding back tears during testimony by people who have lost family or friends to heroin overdoses, when they said easy, fast access to the drug could have saved their loved ones’ lives.

From our bloggers

Diane Atwood, Catching Health

When Your Spirits Need Lifting, Turn to Your Friends

Maybe I’m tired of winter. Maybe I’ve got a few too many things on my plate. I turned to some of my friends on Facebook and asked them what they did to get motivated when they were in a funk.

From a doctor saying goodbye

Dr. Erik Steele: After 16 years and 300,000 words, a final farewell

Steele, who has authored a popular health column for the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade, pens a heartfelt farewell to our readers. Now a hospital administrator in Ohio, Steele shares the one thought he wants Mainers to remember, if nothing else he ever wrote.

 

Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.