Diabetic Drivers Often Ignore Blood Sugar Risk

Diabetics often decide to drive even when their blood-sugar levels are so low that they could lose coordination and even black out, a study suggests.

William L. Clarke of the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center in Charlottesville and colleagues studied 65 adult diabetics, who entered data into hand-held computers several times a day for several weeks. They recorded how they felt, what they estimated their blood-sugar level to be and whether they would drive. Then, each diabetic measured his or her blood sugar. A second group of 93 diabetics was enrolled two years later and similarly studied.

Thirty-eight percent of the first group and 18 percent of the second said they would drive when they believed their blood-sugar level to be below 40, slightly above the level at which people begin to black out, the researchers report in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.

Anti-Smoking Efforts Make a Difference

Aggressive anti-smoking campaigns appear to be working in states such as Oregon and California, while smoking rates rose in states with few controls, such as tobacco-producing Kentucky, the federal government said yesterday.

Kentucky had the highest adult smoking rate in the nation in 1997 at 30.8 percent, up from 27.8 percent in 1995, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Utah, which has a large Mormon population, had the lowest adult rate at 13.7 percent and the lowest youth rate at 16.4 percent. Utah has had the lowest rate in each of the last three reports issued by the CDC.

Kentucky's youth smoking rate also is the highest in the country, with 47 percent of students in grades 9-12 saying they had smoked in the previous month.

In states where excise taxes have gone up and anti-smoking campaigns have been implemented, rates have steadily declined. California had the second-lowest adult rate, 18.4 percent, in 1997 after hitting 26 percent in 1984, a drop attributed to the nation's oldest anti-smoking initiative, which began in 1989. Oregon's cigarette consumption rate decreased 11.3 percent between 1996 and 1998 after voters there approved a similar program in 1996. Massachusetts voters approved higher tobacco taxes and an aggressive anti-smoking media campaign in 1993, and the state's consumption rate dropped 20 percent between 1992 and 1996.

Post-Traumatic Stress After Okla. Bombing

A study of survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing found that nearly half developed post-traumatic stress disorder or had other psychiatric illnesses, such as depression or problems with drugs and alcohol.

The study, published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 182 adults who were inside or just outside the federal building when the bomb went off in 1995, killing 168 people and injuring nearly 700.

Forty-five percent of those studied were found to suffer illnesses that included chronic depression and drug and alcohol problems. The biggest single group of survivors--one out of three--had post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition often seen in Vietnam veterans. Its symptoms include flashbacks, angry outbursts, and sleep and concentration problems.

CAPTION: First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks in Los Angeles last October in support of a California initiative to fund anti-smoking programs by raising cigarette taxes. A new study says such programs have cut smoking rates.