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Dying to Deliver: The Race to Prevent Sudden Death of New Mothers

May 16, 2018

(ABC News) – Despite advances in technology and medical care, the United States is missing the mark on maternal health during three critical time periods: Pregnancy, during labor and the first year after delivery. While every other developed country has seen a decrease in maternal deaths, the U.S. has spent the last 20 years doing the opposite, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 700 women die each year in the U.S. due to complications from pregnancy or giving birth, according to the CDC, and some 65,000 women nearly die of pregnancy-related severe complications.

The Smithsonian Unveils a Portrait of Henrietta Lacks, the Black Farmer Whose Cells Led to Medical Miracles

May 16, 2018

(CNN) – Her cells are responsible for the polio vaccine, gene mapping and in vitro fertilization to name a few. But for a long time most of the public didn’t know her contribution to modern medicine. Neither did she because her cells were harvested without her consent.  This week, the Smithsonian unveiled a portrait of Henrietta Lacks, the black tobacco farmer who ended up changing the world. Her cells have allowed for advances in cancer treatment, AIDS research, cloning, stem-cell studies and so much more.

FDA Reports Inaccuracy in IQVIA Opioid Sales Data

May 16, 2018

(Reuters) – The U.S. Food & Drug Administration said on Wednesday it found inaccuracies in sales data of opioid drug products provided by IQVIA Holdings Inc, a vendor it contracts. The regulator said IQVIA overestimated past data on prescription opioid fentanyl due to an error in its weight-conversion methods, sending the shares of the company down as much as 10.3 percent to $91.57.

Most Couples Won’t Give Up Spare Embryos for Adoption

May 16, 2018

(Times of Malta) – More than 80 per cent of couples refuse to give up spare embryos for adoption after in vitro fertilisation, says an international study. The studies were mentioned in a paper by the Malta College of Pathologists, which warned that the IVF Bill warranted further discussion by stakeholders. The proposed law has raised eyebrows, as it would allow couples interested in IVF to give their consent to embryo adoption. Same-sex couples would rather opt for a genetically related embryo than accept adopting frozen embryos, the college said.

Having Acupuncture to Increase IVF Chances Might Be Waste of Time, Study Suggests

May 16, 2018

(Australia Broadcasting Co) – Women having acupuncture to increase their chances of having a baby through IVF might be wasting their time, new research has found. A landmark Australian study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found no difference in birth rates in women who had regular acupuncture, compared to those who did not. The study’s lead author, Professor Caroline Smith of Western Sydney University, said acupuncture might help to improve relaxation and reduce stress for women undergoing IVF treatment.

Study: Gender Discrimination Kills 239,000 Girls Under 5 Each Year

May 16, 2018

(UPI) – Gender discrimination in India kills 239,000 girls under the age of five each year, according to a study released Monday. The International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis said the causes of death were mainly due to unwanted child bearing and neglect. Over the past decade, an estimated 2.4 million girls under 5 lost their lives. That number doesn’t include abortions of female fetuses, which has contributed to a gender gap of 63 million more boys than girls in India.

The Core of Compassion in Physician-Assisted Suicide

May 16, 2018

(MD Magazine) – Switzerland has become something of a hub for physician-assisted suicide tourism. According to national statistics, the annual rate has boomed from 297 deaths in 2008 to 965 in 2015 – the most recent year of data available. Forms of the practice have also become legal — and therefore, more common — in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Colombia, and Canada. In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is limited to state-by-state discretion, and the rhetoric surrounding its practicality and morality can burn as bright as any other national debate. Ironically, both sides tend to call for the same thing: humanity.

The Big Ethical Questions for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare

May 16, 2018

(Nuffield Council on Bioethics) – AI in healthcare is developing rapidly, with many applications currently in use or in development in the UK and worldwide. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics examines the current and potential applications of AI in healthcare, and the ethical issues arising from its use, in a new briefing note, Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare and research, published today.

Lawmakers on British Island of Guernsey to Vote on Assisted-Dying Bill

May 16, 2018

(CNN) – A small island 30 miles off the coast of France could soon become the first place in the British Isles to legalize medically assisted suicide. Lawmakers on Guernsey, the second-largest of the Channel Islands, started debating a bill Wednesday that would eventually allow people to legally end their lives.

Early Palliative Care Curbs Costs, Especially for Cancer

May 15, 2018

(Medscape) – A palliative care consultation (PCC) within 3 days of hospital admission can reduce the cost of care. The reduction in cost burden was particularly evident for cancer patients and those with multiple comorbidities, according to a new meta-analysis. The study was published online April 30 in JAMA Internal Medicine. The findings showed that there was a significant cost savings of $3237 for all patients who received an early PCC. The savings in cost were even greater when the analysis was narrowed to cancer patients — there was a significant reduction in cost of $4251 for cancer patients as compared to a reduction of $2105 for those without cancer.

This Cambridge Nonprofit Is Seeking Every Drug Ever Developed

May 15, 2018

(Boston Globe) – Every other day, it seems, scientists discover wondrous new drugs. But some disorders — including rare pediatric cancers — still draw scant interest from drug makers in search of larger markets, and have no medicines available to counter them. Now, researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have come up with a novel idea to try to change that. The nonprofit biomedical institute is seeking to acquire samples of every drug ever developed to see if they can be used to treat diseases besides those for which they were intended. That means collecting roughly 10,000 to 11,000 compounds discovered since the end of the 19th century. Most never made it to market, often because they weren’t effective or had unexpected side effects.

Drug Companies Bought Doctors Fancy Meals–And Then Those Doctors Prescribed More Opioids

May 15, 2018

(Vox) – Doctors who had just one extra meal paid for by an opioid company were more likely to prescribe opioids than doctors who got fewer free meals, according to a new research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The study, from researchers Scott Hadland, Magdalena Cerdá, Yu Li, Maxwell Krieger, and Brandon Marshall, helps show how shady marketing practices by opioid companies contributed to America’s opioid epidemic, which now kills tens of thousands of people in the US each year.

U.S. Stillbirths, Newborn Deaths Down 11.5% in Study

May 15, 2018

(UPI) – The number of stillbirths and newborn deaths in the United States declined 11.5 percent between 2007 and 2015, according to a study of nearly 35 million births. The study examined trends in U.S. perinatal mortality by linking live birth and infant death data among 34,236,577 live births and 199,838 stillbirths. The findings by leading author Cande Ananth, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center, were published Monday in the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics.

Ethics and Animals

May 15, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The Sema action is part of a series that numbers some six dozen to date and that began, in 1979, with a raid on the New York University Medical Center, in which members of a group known as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) took a cat and two guinea pigs. The trend toward civil disobedience is growing. For example, last April members of animal-rights groups demonstrated at research institutions across the country (and in other countries, including Great Britain and Japan), sometimes blocking entrances to them by forming human chains. In the United States more than 130 activists were arrested, for offenses ranging from blocking a doorway and trespassing to burglary.

At GP-Write, Scientists Take First Steps on Way to Synthetic Human Genome

May 15, 2018

(Chemical & Engineering News) – A year ago, a group of scientists convened in New York City to discuss an audacious plan: construct an entire human genome from scratch. The proposal was billed as a sequel to the Human Genome Project, the nearly $3 billion effort to sequence, or read, a human genome from start to finish for the first time. Now proficient in reading genomes, the scientists wanted to begin writing them. That New York gathering was the second meeting of what has come to be known as Genome Project-write, or GP-write.

This Fertility Doctor Is Pushing the Boundaries of Human Reproduction, with Little Regulation

May 15, 2018

(The Washington Post) – When future historians look back on the 21st century, one of the most iconic photos may be of a smiling, dark-haired man in blue scrubs protectively holding a newborn — the world’s first commercially produced “three-parent” baby. This is John Zhang, the Chinese-born, British-educated founder and medical director of a Manhattan fertility center that is blowing up the way humans reproduce.

Alabama ‘Miracle’ Boy Wakes Before Doctors Pull Plug

May 14, 2018

(BBC) – A 13-year-old boy in the US state of Alabama regained consciousness just after his parents signed the paperwork to donate his organs. Trenton McKinley suffered severe brain trauma when he fell from a car trailer which flipped over and hit his head. Doctors told his parents he would not recover and that his organs were a match for five children who needed transplants. A day before his life support was to end, Trenton showed signs of awareness.

Option for the Strong–Fr Robert Soler

May 14, 2018

(Times of Malta) – The Bill amending the Embryo Protection Act 2012 embodies a philosophy of law that is completely distinct from the philosophy of the original 2012 law. Misleadingly clothed as ‘amendments’ to the 2012 law, the Bill embodies a totally new philosophy. An initial observation is necessary. Sometimes, one may feel in conscience impelled to speak out when an important issue is eminently ethical. When on a given ethical issue a stand is taken, it cannot in fairness be called “meddling in politics”.

The Politics of Assisted Reproduction, Explained

May 14, 2018

(The Washington Post) – This Mother’s Day, many women (and men) around the globe are struggling to have children, turning to a variety of approaches to overcome infertility. Meanwhile, lawmakers, medical professionals and activists have been in a heated public debate about the complex morals and politics of abortion and assisted reproductive technologies, also called ART. Here are five things to know about the politics of such technologies, including how they are viewed and regulated.

Does a Woman’s Desire to Get Pregnant Justify the Risks Involved in a Uterus Transplant?

May 14, 2018

(Scroll.in) – Uterus transplants do not protect vulnerable women from using their bodies as a financial resource. Instead, like surrogacy, the procedure involves commodification – of experience, and of reproductive organs. This particular recipient made a calculated decision in order to have biological children. A hospital committee decided she was an appropriate and worthy candidate based on its inclusion criteria.

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