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Study: 1 in 7 Children of Zika-Infected Moms Have Problems

August 8, 2018

(Associated Press) – One out of every seven babies born to U.S. mothers who were infected with Zika during pregnancy developed some kind of health problem, according to the first long-term look at those children. Tuesday’s study focused on the children of women in Puerto Rico and other territories, where most of the U.S. cases were seen when the disease swept across the Americas more than two years ago. Most people infected with Zika don’t get sick. In others, it can cause a mild illness, with fever, rash and joint pain. But infection during pregnancy can lead to severe brain-related birth defects.

Breathing ‘A Chore’: California Wildfires Threaten the Health of Young and Old

August 8, 2018

(Kaiser Health News) – NASA satellite photos show towers of smoke in California billowing into the atmosphere. Up and down the state, air quality officials have marked huge swaths as red with spots of purple — places where air is unhealthy or very unhealthy to breathe. Smoke and ash can travel dozens or even hundreds of miles. Children, older people and those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma and COPD are particularly at risk of smoke-related health problems. But otherwise-healthy people also may experience short-term breathing problems, eye irritation and coughing.

Campaign on Fistula Brings Renewed Hope for Rural Nigerian Women

August 8, 2018

(Reuters) – For four years, Nigerian mother Mariam Saraki has been unable to hold back urine after a complicated labor led to a vaginal fistula. Ashamed and isolated, it has cost her a husband and a community.  Saraki suffered the fistula, a hole between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum, after spending four days in labor at home trying to deliver her second child before being taken to hospital. She says she washes all the time but it doesn’t help.

Saudi MDs Get Brief Grace Period to Remain in Canada

August 8, 2018

(ABC News) – Canadian health authorities said Wednesday that hundreds of Saudi doctors and residents who make up the largest segment of foreign medical trainees in the country will remain in Canada until the end of the month, giving hospitals a few weeks to cope with the sudden staffing loss caused by a diplomatic spat. The 800 medical trainees are among more than 15,000 Saudis whose government has ordered them to suddenly leave the country due to Canada’s criticism of the ultraconservative kingdom’s arrest of women’s right activists.

Insys to Pay $150 Million to Settle U.S. Opioid Kickback Probe

August 8, 2018

(Reuters) – Insys Therapeutics said on Wednesday it had reached a deal to pay at least $150 million to resolve a U.S. Justice Department investigation into claims that the drugmaker paid doctors kickbacks to prescribe a powerful opioid medication. Insys announced the tentative deal shortly before a former district sales manager pleaded guilty in a federal court in Connecticut to engaging in a scheme to pay medical practitioners kickbacks to prescribe the company’s opioid product Subsys.

Ebola Vaccinations Begin in Congo’s Latest Deadly Outbreak

August 8, 2018

(STAT News) – Ebola vaccinations began Wednesday in Congo’s latest outbreak of the deadly virus that has already claimed at least nine lives. Health officials have warned that containing the outbreak in North Kivu province is complicated by the presence of multiple armed groups vying for mineral-rich land in the northeastern region that borders Uganda and Rwanda.

Tech Companies Use “Persuasive Design” to Get Us Hooked. Psychologists Say It’s Unethical.

August 8, 2018

(Vox) – While defenders of persuasive tech will say it can have positive effects, like training people to take medicine on time or develop weight loss habits, some health professionals believe children’s behaviors are being exploited in the name of the tech world’s profit. On Wednesday, a letter signed by 50 psychologists was sent to the American Psychological Association accusing psychologists working at tech companies of using “hidden manipulation techniques” and asks the APA to take an ethical stand on behalf of kids.

Double Time Limit for Embryo Research, Say Ethics Experts

August 8, 2018

(Science Daily) – In countries which already permit embryo research, there are no “compelling moral arguments” why the time limit for experimentation should not be doubled, say ethics experts. Currently, research on embryos is limited in many countries to a maximum period of 14 days after their fertilisation in the lab. But ethicists Dr John Appleby of Lancaster University with Professor Dr Annelien Bredenoord of University Medical Center Utrecht believe the current limit is “no longer adequate for current scientific developments.”

Inside the Very Big, Very Controversial Business of Dog Cloning

August 8, 2018

(Vanity Fair) – Ethicists from the White House to the Vatican have long debated the morality of cloning. Do we have the right to bioengineer a copy of a living creature, especially given the pain and suffering that the process requires? It can take a dozen or more embryos to produce a single healthy dog. Along the way, the surrogate mothers may be treated with hormones that, over time, can be dangerous, and many of the babies are miscarried, born dead, or deformed. When a dog was first cloned, in 2005—a scientific achievement that Time hailed as one of the breakthrough inventions of the year—it took more than 100 borrowed wombs, and more than 1,000 embryos.

The Pope Changed the Catholic Church’s Position on the Death Penalty. Will the Supreme Court Follow?

August 8, 2018

(TIME) – When Pope Francis changed the Catholic Church’s position on the death penalty from permitting it in very rare circumstances to now deeming it completely “inadmissible” and violative of the “dignity of the person,” it reflected and reinforced a stunning decline of capital punishment worldwide in recent decades. In 1970, fewer than 20 nations were fully abolitionist. Today, more than two-thirds of the world’s roughly 200 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. As a practical matter, executions are confined to a handful of nations. Five countries — China, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan — carried out well over 90% of last year’s executions. The Pope’s emphasis on human dignity underscores the predominant rationale for jettisoning the death penalty: the growing consensus that state killing runs afoul of basic respect for human rights.

Bedrest is Bunk

August 7, 2018

(The Atlantic) – The practice continues despite a growing body of medical evidence showing that bed rest offers little to no benefit to pregnant mothers or their fetuses. The treatment has not proved effective in treating preeclampsia, preterm birth, low infant birth weight, high blood pressure or a shortened cervix. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a nonprofit organization of women’s health-care physicians, now advises that bed rest “does not appear to improve the rate of preterm birth, and should not be routinely recommended.” The risks, however, have been well documented: Women prescribed bed rest may suffer from bone loss, muscle atrophy, and a wide range of postpartum psychological disorders at higher rates compared to pregnant women who do not go on bed rest.

As Microbiome Testing Firms Proliferate, So Do Questions About Their Claims

August 7, 2018

(STAT News) – There’s no doubt that the microbiome, the community of trillions of bacteria and viruses that live in a person’s body, has a profound impact on human health. But our understanding of the microbiome isn’t advanced enough, nor are the commercial tests precise enough, to guide customized health recommendations, experts told STAT. If it were up to Rob Knight, a microbiome researcher at the University of California, San Diego, consumer microbe diagnostics would be a tool for science and curiosity, not those looking for health advice.

Women More Likely to Survive Heart Attack if Treated by Female Doctor–Study

August 7, 2018

(The Guardian) – Female heart attack patients treated by male doctors have a worse chance of survival than those treated by female doctors, a study suggests. Previous studies based on data from Australia and Sweden have revealed that men and women experience different care if they have a heart attack, while UK research has shown women are more likely to be misdiagnosed. Now researchers say the gender of the doctor might affect female patients’ chances of survival.

Crowdfunding for Unproven Stem Cell Procedures Wastes Money and Spreads Misinformation

August 7, 2018

(STAT News) – Using online platforms such as GoFundMe to solicit donations for health-related needs can help people access legitimate health services and avoid medical debt. But this kind of medical crowdfunding also raises funds for a multitude of scientifically unsupported procedures. We are particularly concerned about crowdfunding campaigns for unproven and unlicensed stem cell interventions, for which there is little or no evidence of safety and effectiveness.

Hospital Admissions for Teenage Girls Who Self-Harm Nearly Double

August 7, 2018

(The Guardian) – The number of girls under the age of 18 being treated in hospital in England after self-harming has nearly doubled compared with 20 years ago, according to NHS figures. The figure reached 13,463 last year against 7,327 in 1997. In comparison, the figure for admissions of boys who self-harmed rose from 2,236 in 1997 to 2,332 in 2017. The number of girls treated for attempting a substance overdose has risen more than tenfold to 2,736 last year from 249 in 1997, while the number of boys treated increased over the past 21 years from 152 to 839 last year.

How Can You Treat Someone Who Doesn’t Accept They Are Ill?

August 7, 2018

(Mosaic) – Unlike in denial, when an individual knows there’s something wrong but insists they’re fine, Babinski believed that his patients weren’t fibbing or confused; they genuinely had no concept that half their body was paralysed. Something in their brains – he couldn’t say what – was damaged. For the next eight decades, anosognosia featured exclusively in the neurology literature, associated with physical conditions. Not until the mid-1990s did a few psychiatrists begin to try and apply the word to their patients, too. The pushback came almost immediately.

Chronic

August 7, 2018

(Aeon) – The predominance of the market in US healthcare has taken plenty of flak for promoting profit over quality, and for crescendoing costs. But there’s a deeper set of issues surrounding how the market influences – or distorts, maybe – the very bedrock of healthcare and medicine. In a system driven primarily by profit, certain diseases or treatments must languish simply because they’re not lucrative. And how can such a system do other than favour revenue over patients?

There’s a Surprisingly Rich Debate About How to Define Death

August 7, 2018

(Vox) – What is death, really?  Turns out there’s no true consensus among doctors, bioethicists, and philosophers. The way death is determined can even change as you cross state lines.  Is it when our brains completely shut down? Is it when parts of our brains stop working? Is it when our hearts or lungs stop working? Is it when we lose the ability to think? The line can be blurry, especially now that we have technology to keep organs functioning. Because of these artificial ways of sustaining life, differentiating death from life sometimes falls outside of the boundaries of science, according to Robert Veatch, professor emeritus of medical ethics at Georgetown University and the senior research scholar at the Kennedy Institute of Ethics.

We Took a Snapshot of the Last Year of People’s Lives–Here’s What We Found

August 7, 2018

(The Conversation) – Given these figures, you may wonder: what is life like at its end? Do people receive the care and support they need? The answer is, not everyone does. My colleague Iain Atherton and I mapped the last year of people’s lives in Scotland using a mixture of census data NHS data, and death records. Here’s what we found out. We looked at all 53,517 people who died in Scotland within a year of the last census in 2011. About one in five were below pension age, half were aged 65-84, and just under a third were 85 or older. Every third person lived alone, and around 40% were widowed.

Genetic Testing Before Embryo Transfer Makes No Difference to Live Birth Rates

August 7, 2018

(News-Medical) – The genetic screening of fertilized eggs for embryo selection in assisted reproduction makes no difference to live birth rates, according to results from the largest published study of its kind. Results from this multi center randomized controlled trial are reported today in the journal Human Reproduction and, say the authors, confirm the “widely accepted” view that preimplantation genetic testing for chromosome abnormality (PGT-A) will not increase live birth rates in IVF.

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