The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (SMFM) recently convened a special session to summarize our current knowledge about the Zika virus. Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists are also known as Perinatologists. They are essentially Ob Gyns who drop Gyn and take a couple additional years of training in Ultrasound and high risk pregnancy management. They also tend to comprise the research side of Obstetrics. They may or may not continue to deliver babies. They, together with general Obstetricians have been the group of health care providers most affected by the Zika epidemic. As such, the group as convened a special session to review CDC (Centers for Disease Control) recommendations pertaining to the Zika virus. Together with the CDC director, they have emphasized the the concern over Zika is ongoing. Pregnant or potentially pregnant women are encouraged to stay away from places where Zika is spreading. They have cautioned that the worst is not over.
Meanwhile, insights are being gained into the pathogenesis of the Zika related disease process. (Pathogenesis means the particular way something causes disease.) In looking at the Zika virus genome and several important proteins produced by the virus, researchers from the University of Maryland have obtained what they classify as “ really valuable clues for future research”.
President Obama meets with Congressional Democrats this week to devise a strategy to save the ACA (Affordable Care Act). Meanwhile some commentators have noted that even repealing the ACA will not make it possible to roll back all of the changes the ACA has wrought. Americans have become accustomed to a new standard in the expansion of health care coverage. Meanwhile, the incoming Republican administration has seemingly settled on a repeal and replace strategy. The health coverage of 20 million Americans is at stake. This December, 8.8 million people enrolled in the Federal Exchange. This is more than the 8.6 million of last year. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and others have come forward with a recommendation that there should be a replacement plan in place before repeal. Yet ate last week, Republican leaders including the House Speaker Paul Ryan as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have asserted that a quick repeal and replacement "within this year" is needed. Senator McConnell classifies the ACA as a “ failed, partisan experiment”.
A new analysis presented by CNN Money indicates that repeal of the ACA will cost the Federal Government $350 billion dollars over the next ten years. In comparison, the ACA was crafted to be budget neutral.
ACOG and the AMA (American Medical Association) concur that oral contraceptives are appropriate for over the counter use. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is in the beginning steps of this regulatory process.
There are many patients who have trouble attaining a healthy weight, even some who exercise regularly and eat appropriately. A new study has focused on this group and found some good news. These “non responders” benefit from rotating their exercise routines. Truthfully, I have heard this from many trainers.
Also in the good news department: a 25 percent decline in cancer death rates since 1991. This is a fresh statistic from the American Cancer Society. They attribute this decline to reductions in smoking, as well as early detection, and better treatment.
Finally, in the easy and lifesaving department, peanuts are now recommended for the very young. The National Institute of Allergy and Infections Disease has issued new guidelines recommending that parents introduce peanuts into their child’s diet early (before 6 months !) and often. This is to prevent the development of peanut allergy in the future. This recombination is a “ significant departure from the past”. These new guidelines could dramatically reduce the prevalence of this deadly allergy.
Stay tuned for more news from the exciting world of Obstetrics and Gynecology, next week on Medical Monday.