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An 11-Year-Old Assault Victim Was Forced to Have a C-Section in Argentina, Rights Group Says

March 4, 2019

(CNN) – A pregnant 11-year-old girl in Argentina was forced to have a cesarean section after she and her family had been requesting an abortion for weeks, a human rights group said.  Last month, the girl and her mother asked medics in the northern province of Tucumán for an abortion after confirming that she was pregnant, local rights group ANDHES said.  The group said the girl’s pregnancy continued for weeks before local authorities approved the procedure. A judge consulting on the case said this week that the girl could receive an abortion, CNN affiliate TN reported.

Man with Motor Neuron Disease Dies After Removing Mask

March 4, 2019

(BBC) – John King, 77, from Worcestershire, died on Thursday after removing a mask he relied on for air to stay alive. After his diagnosis 18 months ago, the businessman had been fed through a tube and needed constant care. “I think I’m at the right point in my life to make the decision… I have no issue with it at all,” he told the BBC. The method of ending his own life did not constitute assisted suicide, he said. Mr King had been a regular runner and gym user, but before his death required pumped air through a face mask to be able to breathe and said without it he would die quickly.

The Jail Health-Care Crisis

March 1, 2019

(The New Yorker) – Jails have a much higher turnover rate than prisons, where inmates generally serve long sentences. Prison wardens face their own problems, serving populations that suffer from chronic diseases and conditions related to aging, in addition to high rates of addiction and mental illness. Yet the crisis is particularly acute in jails, because large numbers of people booked into custody are in a state of distress or, like Laintz, will suffer withdrawal, which can require close monitoring and specialized treatment that jail wardens are not equipped to provide. Many jails are in rural or poor counties, where administrators complain that they have neither the resources nor the expertise to hire, train, and supervise doctors and nurses in the particular demands that their facilities require.

States Move to Restrict Parents’ Refusal to Vaccinate Their Kids

March 1, 2019

(NPR) – Michelle Mello, a professor of law and health research and policy at Stanford University, says the bar for claiming an exemption from vaccine requirements has been very low in many states. “You can believe that vaccines don’t work or that they are unsafe or they simply fly in the face of your parenting philosophy,” she says. But this winter’s outbreaks of measles across the nation are resulting in challenges to many exemptions: At least eight states, including some that have experienced measles outbreaks this year, want to remove personal exemptions for the measles vaccine. And some states would remove the exemption for all vaccines.

Is DNA Left on Envelopes Fair Game for Testing?

March 1, 2019

(The Atlantic) – In the past year, genealogists have been abuzz about the possibility of getting DNA out of old stamps and envelopes. In addition to MyHeritage, a British company called Living DNA began informally offering the service for $400 to $600 last year, and a small Australian start-up called Totheletter DNA, which specializes in DNA from envelopes and stamps, launched a similarly priced service in July. MyHeritage says its own service should debut later this year. (A spokesperson declined to comment on when Einstein and Churchill’s DNA profiles will be uploaded to the company’s site.)

Philippines to Charge Officials of Sanofi, Government over Dengue Vaccine

March 1, 2019

(Reuters) – The Philippine Department of Justice on Friday said it had found probable cause to indict officials from French drugmaker Sanofi and former and current Philippine health officials over 10 deaths it said were linked to use of a dengue vaccine. It recommended charges be filed in court for multiple counts of reckless imprudence resulting in homicide, due to what it said were procedural lapses and irregularities in implementing a Philippine dengue immunization program using Sanofi’s Dengvaxia.

New Cancer-Causing Toxins Found in Recalled Blood Pressure Pills

March 1, 2019

(Reuters) – U.S. health regulators said on Friday a third cancer-causing toxin was found in some blood pressure pills recalled by India’s Hetero Labs Ltd a day earlier, adding to a global recall of commonly used drugs to treat hypertension. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also looking into whether these types of impurities could be found in other classes of drugs, a spokeswoman for the regulator said.

FDA Warns About Robotic Devices for Mastectomy and Other Cancer Surgeries

March 1, 2019

(CNN) – The US Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to patients and doctors considering the use of robotic surgery for mastectomy and other cancer-related surgeries, saying that robotic surgeries are not approved for the treatment or prevention of cancer.  “We are warning patients and providers that the use of robotically-assisted surgical devices for any cancer-related surgery has not been granted marketing authorization by the agency,” Dr. Terri Cornelison, assistant director for the health of women in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a news release.

Autism’s Common Risk Genes Identified

March 1, 2019

(Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News) – An international research effort headed by scientists from the Danish iPSYCH initiative and the Broad Institute has identified the first common genetic risk factors for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The genome-wide association meta-analysis, involving more than 18,000 individuals with ASD and nearly 30,000 controls, also identified genetic variations between different types of autism. The researchers suggest their findings could ultimately lead to new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

A Newly Discovered Stem Cell That Keeps Bones Growing

March 1, 2019

(Nature) – Round chondrocytes in the resting zone of the growth plate differentiate into flat, proliferating chondrocytes that form columns along the bone’s longitudinal axis. These cells later become hypertrophic chondrocytes that cease to proliferate and are replaced by bone and bone marrow. Consequently, growth-plate chondrocytes need to be replenished continuously and the stem cells that fuel this process have long been sought. Writing in Nature, Newton et al. and, previously, Mizuhashi et al. have identified a type of skeletal stem cell in the resting zone of mouse bones that gives rise to all types of growth-plate chondrocyte, as well as some of the long-lived stem cells of the bone-marrow stroma (non-blood-lineage cells).

‘Miraculous’ Stem Cell Therapy Has Sickened People in 5 States

March 1, 2019

(Chicago Tribune) – Over the past year, at least 17 people have been hospitalized after being injected with products made from umbilical cord blood, a little-known but fast-growing segment of the booming stem cell industry, according to state and federal health officials and patient reports. Sold as a miracle cure for a variety of intractable conditions, the injections have sickened people in five states, prompting new warnings from health officials about the risks of unproven stem cell treatments. All but two of the illnesses have been linked to a single company: Liveyon of Yorba Linda, California.

CRISPR Offshoot Still Makes Mistakes Editing DNA, Raising Concerns about Its Medical Use

February 28, 2019

(Science) – Variations of the genome editor CRISPR have wowed biology labs around the world over the past few years because they can precisely change single DNA bases, promising deft repairs for genetic diseases and improvements in crop and livestock genomes. But such “base editors” can have a serious weakness. A pair of studies published online in Science this week shows that one kind of base editor causes many unwanted—and potentially dangerous—“off-target” genetic changes.

Is It Cruel and Unusual to Execute a Man with Dementia?

February 28, 2019

(The Atlantic) – That question—when can the state impose the ultimate penalty on a condemned prisoner who, because of dementia, can’t remember the crime?—is at issue in Madison v. Alabama, which the Court decided, 5–3, on Wednesday. It’s also a taste of the death-penalty jurisprudence of the future. Vernon Madison murdered an Alabama police officer in 1985. After several mistrials on constitutional grounds, he was convicted in 1998 and pursued federal habeas relief until 2015. Meanwhile, Madison’s health collapsed. After a series of strokes, he is now unable to walk, and is also incontinent and legally blind. He cannot recite the alphabet or rephrase a simple sentence. Perhaps most important legally, he can no longer remember the crime he committed.

Big Pharma Is Embracing Open-Access Publishing Like Never Before

February 28, 2019

(Nature) – Scientists who work in the pharmaceutical industry have begun to publish a higher proportion of their papers open access than academics who aren’t in industry, according to an analysis. In a literature analysis, researchers found that the proportion of open-access papers published by 23 large drug companies, such as Pfizer and Roche, almost doubled between 2009 and 2016, and has overtaken the proportion of freely available papers published generally in medicine-related fields. The study was posted to the SocArXiv preprint server on 7 February.

Listening to Older Patients Who Want to Stop Dialysis

February 28, 2019

(STAT News) – Older adults with advanced kidney disease who want to forgo dialysis often encounter similar resistance from physicians, according to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine by Wong and colleagues at the Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, where she’s an investigator. The researchers documented doctors’ reactions by reviewing medical charts of 851 older patients with chronic kidney disease who refused dialysis at the VA health system from 2000 to 2011. In their notes, physicians frequently speculated the patients were incompetent, depressed, suicidal or irrational.

New Study Finds No Link Between Flu Shots and Miscarriage, Allaying Fears

February 28, 2019

(STAT News) – Anew study looking at whether women who are pregnant face an increased risk of a miscarriage if they get a flu shot found no link between the vaccine and pregnancy loss. The reassuring finding contradicts an earlier study by the same researchers that raised questions about the safety of getting a flu shot during pregnancy. An overview of the study findings was presented Wednesday at a meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which guides vaccination policy for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Argentine 11-Year-Old’s C-Section Sparks Abortion Debate

February 28, 2019

(BBC) – News that doctors performed a caesarean section on an 11-year-old rape victim has reignited a debate on Argentina’s abortion rules. The girl became pregnant after being raped by her grandmother’s 65-year-old partner and had requested an abortion. However, her request was delayed by almost five weeks, and some doctors refused to carry out the procedure. Eventually doctors carried out a C-section instead, arguing it would have been too risky to perform the abortion.

Radioactive Cancer Drugs Could Pose Risk to Cremation Workers

February 28, 2019

(Reuters) – Cancer patients often receive radioactive drugs that target tumor cells. A new case report suggests there could be unanticipated fallout if these patients die and their bodies are cremated. After learning that one of their patients had died and been sent off for cremation, Arizona doctors sought to discover whether his radioactive medications might have gotten into the air after being superheated, according to their report in JAMA.

For Future Offspring, Docs Save Eggs from Teen Transitioning Female-to-Male

February 28, 2019

(Medical Xpress) – You’re a 14-year-old transgender boy who has opted to block normal female puberty before it can begin. What happens if you and your parents decide to preserve some of your eggs, in case you want to have children later in life? In this real-life case, doctors were able to retrieve and freeze four viable eggs from the patient, who was born a girl, but identified as male. The findings were published in a report in the Feb. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Anti-Depressants Cause Mainia in 25% of Bipolar Patients, Study Says

February 28, 2019

(UPI) – Drugs designed to calm mental health symptoms could be making them worse, a study says. Nearly a quarter of people with bipolar disorder in Scotland are misprescribed antidepressants, which can bring on mania in people with the condition, a study revealed in the Thursday issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry. Lithium is considered the best treatment for bipolar disorder, but between 2009 and 2016, prescriptions for the drug fell in Scotland.

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