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

By a margin of 89 to 7, the Republican dominated Senate voted to move forward and develop a bill to avert a government shutdown and fund the Zika crisis. So, yes, they approved a bill to approve a bill. 


Meanwhile the public ought to be aware that money has been taken from other important sources to fight Zika. The Federal Government has taken money away from funds to fight malaria, tuberculosis, ebola, and more recently, and tragically, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and mental health. Some of this money will be going to continue the development of a zika vaccine. 


The CDC ( Centers for Disease Control) has spent another 2.5 million for Zika lab testing. Getting definitive Zika test results can take 4-6 weeks in the current system. 


The news has prominently publicized the well delineated areas in Miami where the Zika virus is active. However many experts believe Zika is active all around the Gulf Coast. Experts including some within the CDC believe other Gulf cities are experiencing Zika outbreaks without realizing it since the testing is taking so long. 


As of several days ago, Puerto Rico has  20,000 documented cases of Zika, including close to 2000 pregnant women. 


In the not surprising department, those with no out of pocket expense for birth control have fewer unplanned pregnancies. 


Also in the interesting but not surprising department, stress may erase the effects of a healthful diet. It also decreases one’s chances of getting pregnant, especially if it occurs near the time of ovulation. 


About 1 in 5 or 20% of all women will suffer from depression and one point or another in their lifetime. That percent is higher in the 40s and 50s. 


Last week I reported on the appalling maternal mortality rates in Texas. The Institute of Heath Metrics and Evaluation has released data indicating that the United States as a whole has suffered the same trend. We are now considered an outlier among rich nations in this regard. Some of this is attributed to obstetric ( pregnancy) complications arising out of increased background rates of obesity and diabetes, whose rates have skyrocketed in this country. 


In the probably good news department, mammograms received by Medicare beneficiaries increased in the first three years after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. It is a bit too early to tell if this will result in a reduction in morbidity or mortality from breast cancer, but I am betting that it will have. 


In the definitely good news department, it has now been established that the incidence HPV related anogenital warts is on the decline due to the HPV vaccine. This is true despite the woefully low utilization of this safe and effective vaccine. The HPV vaccine is meant for young people, both boys and girls from ages 9 to 26. 


In the phenomenal and amazingly good news department, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, and his wife, Pediatrician Dr. Priscilla Chan, have pledged 3 Billion dollars over the next years to essentially cure or manage all disease by the end of the century. If I had not just attended Stanford Medx this last week and been heartened by all the new technologies and methodologies that people all over the world are bringing to bear for these goals, I would have thought their goal unrealistic. But now I believe it is simply a matter of time.. and money. 


Stay tuned next week for more breaking news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.