Two weeks worth of news will be covered this week !
Nearly two third of infected Zika patients are women. This has been determined recently in Puerto Rico, but also widely across South and Central America. Experts are not sure about the origins of this number, stating this might be because women are more likely to seek care and be diagnosed.
In the good news department, an experimental vaccine has been shown to protect mice against Zika. This is a promising step, but still many steps from a human vaccine. And in the reminds-me-of-science-fiction department, antibodies from the blood of recently recovered Zika infected mice can be injected into other Zika infected pregnant mice. This causes the levels of Zika virus to drop in the unrecovered mice. This novel treatment is to be tested next on non-human primates.
A Zika “ syndrome” is coming into definition. It has five cardinal features:
- severe microcephaly
- decreased brain tissue with specific pattern of calcium deposits indicating brain damage
- damage to the back of the eyewash a specific pattern of scarring and increased pigment.
- joints with limited range of motion
- too much muscle tone.
The very first baby born in Puerto Rico remains hospitalized. This baby and all other Zika affected babies will be followed until age 3 in a registry called the "Zika Active Pregnancy Surveillance System”.
In non-Zika news, a recent study indicated those who give birth in winter may need extra vitamin D supplementation. Our recent experience substantiates this. We have yet to quantify this, but in our obstetric population, it is not uncommon for us to uncover vitamin D deficiency. Good news: prescription supplementation is easy and works well.
Did you know that long acting reversible contraceptives such as IUDs can be placed immediately post partum ? This is a breastfeeding compatible way of providing women with reliable contraception especially if they are unlikely to follow up at later visits.
Preliminary reports on a herpes vaccine in humans are encouraging. This new vaccines reduces lesions and viral shedding for several months. It consists of three shots three weeks apart.
Rates of preterm birth are increasing in the US. This is especially true among black and native women.
Antenatal steroids for lung maturity were, until recently used only until 34 weeks. Now, they have found to have been useful for late preterm births between 34 and 36 weeks, and even for women undergoing planned C section 37 weeks and later. Steroids reduce the rate of neonatal distress syndrome these babies.
In the we-already-knew-this-department, researcher have now shown that low carb meals reduce insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is bad; it means your cells don’t respond normally to insulin and do not transport sugar from the bloodstream into the cells well a they should. Eating low carb restores the cells responsiveness to insulin.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued revised recommendations for antenatal care. This includes double the number of recommended prenatal visits compared to before. (Surprise ! Prenatal visits help ! )
There is yet more good news. When Kenyan women are provided with HIV self test kits, partner and couple testing increases to more than 90%. As they say, knowledge is power.
Stay tuned for next week, when we will cover more news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and doubtless, reactions to the election from those in health care.