Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology


After a season of crisis with the Zika virus, the director of the CDC, (Centers for Disease Control) Dr. Thomas Frieden, has stated that the Zika virus is not “ controllable with current technologies.”. He has also indicated that he believes Zika "will become endemic in this hemisphere.” He states a Zika vaccine is probably 2-3 years away. 

Delays in public funding to combat the Zika virus in Florida have motivated private and corporate donors to step up. Pfizer, contributed $4.1 million, and Community Health Charities and March of Dimes will contribute and fund raise. 

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) have identified use of long acting lot reversible contraceptive, or LARCs, inserted in the immediate postpartum period as key in curbing unintended pregnancy. Happily, many states are changing Medicaid regulations to cover IUDs inserted immediately after delivery. LARCs are highly effective safe methods of birth control which require little in the way of maintenance or remembering on behalf of the patient. The complication rate is low but not zero. Complications that do exist are well described and manageable.

At my institution, we practice evidence-based medicine. Moreover, Obstetrics and Gynecology is a very highly studied and regulated field. Because of all of this, many of our practices for example on the labor unit our policy driven. For example, we permit and encourage laboring in water because the literature shows that has clear benefits and no known side effects.. Others have also advocated, In the absence of any supporting data, for birth in water as well mistakingly assuming that amniotic fluid is similar to water. Indeed, as regular water is irritating to your respiratory passageways, so it is as well to the respiratory passageways of a newborn. Based on this,we do not endorse water birth. Updated guidelines from ACOG indicate that the first stage of labor may take place in water but when it comes time to push women should get out.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists sponsored a special briefing last week in Washington DC on the subject of us maternal mortality rates. United States overall maternal mortality rates are actually increasing in contradistinction to the rest of the world. They are increasing disproportionately among minority women particularly African American women.

A recent study by Harvard researcher Dr. Julie Silver indicates that female physicians are still chronically underrepresented as healthcare leaders. She indicates that this may contribute to the persistent salary gap that exists between male and female physicians.

While women and men are still not equal in many ways, equality has been gained in one category. The British Medical Journal recently presented research which indicated women are now drinking as much alcohol has men. The differences between men and women in three categories, any alcohol use, problematic alcohol use, and alcohol-related harms, are diminishing.

We have two items in the "We are already knew this” department. First, education and support may help women stick with breast-feeding. This groundbreaking research was supported by your tax dollars through the Department of Health and Human Services Agency for healthcare research and Quality through the US Preventive Services Task Force. Were we unwilling to provide education and support to potentially breast-feeding mothers before the dawn of this research conclusion? I think not.

Secondly, scintillating new conclusions published in the Journal Menopause indicate that women experiencing menopause symptoms may do better in a comfortable workplace. They break this down and indicate that the workplace should be comfortable. Moreover the patient’s boss should be supportive. Another victory for common sense and human decency !

In the possibly actionable department, a new study finds that good pain relief during labor may be associated with lower postpartum depression scores. An observational study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists has found this result after evaluating 201 postpartum women. Studies of this nature are suggestive but not conclusive.

Here are a couple Halloween party food pictures that I promised. Have a happy and safe Halloween.