Looking beyond the tooth: WVU studies impact of social support on kids’ oral health

Limiting sugary drinks and insisting on regular toothbrushing can prevent tooth decay in kids. Maybe providing their mothers with social support can, too. A study by Daniel McNeil, a WVU School of Dentistry researcher, suggests children may be less likely to have a lot of cavities if their mothers have someone to talk to about their problems.

WVU researchers to spearhead collaborative opioid treatment program in rural counties

West Virginia University’s expertise on combating the opioid epidemic will be utilized in a federally-funded program targeting seven rural West Virginia counties. The project, supported by a $1 million U.S. Department of Health and Human Services award, aims to strengthen opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services in Calhoun, Gilmer, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Jackson and Tyler counties.

WVU researcher studies how nursing homes can accommodate obese residents

West Virginia University researcher Nicholas Castle is part of a team investigating how nursing homes can best meet obese residents’ healthcare needs. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality—a division of the Department of Health and Human Services—has awarded them nearly $2 million for the project.

WVU study links exposure to chemicals found in household items to lower heart disease rates in diabetics

Kim Innes, of the WVU School of Public Health, and her colleagues recently discovered that greater exposure to perfluoroalkyl substances was associated with lower rates of existing coronary heart disease in adults with diabetes. PFAS, considered a public health threat by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are manufactured chemicals that were popularized by various industries in the 1940s because of their ability to repel oil and water.

WVU biostatistician studies link between microbiome and preterm birth

Pregnant African American women are more likely than white women to give birth prematurely, but they’re underrepresented in studies of preterm birth rates. Snehalata Huzurbazar, a biostatistics professor in the West Virginia University School of Public Health, is working to change that.

WVU research suggests conflicting drug laws may keep contaminated needles in circulation, contribute to hepatitis C infections

Acute hepatitis C infections rose 98 percent between 2010 and 2015 nationwide, largely because more people were injecting drugs. Using a new needle for every injection can slow the spread of hepatitis C, but getting those new needles isn’t always as simple as buying glucose-meter lancets at the pharmacy. And safely disposing of old needles presents a whole other set of problems.

Fentanyl deaths up 122 percent in West Virginia, say WVU researchers

West Virginia ranks first for fentanyl-related deaths, but it also leads the nation in a more optimistic way: its medical examiners pinpoint the cause of every drug-related death, and the relevant facts populate a unique statewide database. An interdisciplinary research team—involving the WVU School of Pharmacy, the WVU School of Public Health and the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner—analyzed data and found that fentanyl deaths are up 122 percent in the state.