Medical and civil rights organizations have come together to oppose the detention of pregnant women by the agency on Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). They have cited harmful effects on the health of these individuals due to lack of access to proper prenatal care and due to the high risk of rape while detained.
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) has been the first Senator to have a baby while in office. Adequate lactation rooms were ensured through a measure by Senator Nancy Pelosi in 2008 so that breastfeeding Senators could comply with breastfeeding recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, the post partum senator may have more difficulty attending votes unless the current rules barring children from the Senate floor are modified.
The Trump administration has added two new exemptions to the individual mandate which is the rule that says people must carry individual health insurance or pay penalties. One is an exemption for those who live in a place with only one ACA (Affordable Care Act) insurance carrier whose coverage includes abortion services. On the basis of paying into a fund whose services include abortion, they can be exempted. I can see why people feel such consumers should not be obligated to use such a plan. I believe, however, that same anti-abortion consumer should be obligated to follow through with their execution of conscience and be required, under pain of penalty to buy private health insurance so that the rest of society does not end up footing the bill for their conscience driven but unfunded health care.
The second exception the the individual mandate is nonsense. It is a “hardship” exemption. Who more than those under hardship need quality health care ? This particular exemption is a recipe for making the poor or those under hardship even poorer. And what does it gain? It gains political brownie points under the guise of freedom, and a better appearing Federal spreadsheet for this administration to tout to the voting taxpayers. We need to do a better job a making it clear to people that they stand to gain much more buying health insurance than they do forgoing it.
Four abortion restricting laws have been passed by the 2017 Arkansas legislators. However, several influential groups have filed amicus briefs at the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis. One is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists pertaining to the criminalization of “D & E”, the procedure dilation and curettage. This procedure is a safe and effective method for abortion, the safest in fact for the second trimester, and is used in many medically indicated cases where the patient’s life is at stake.
The New York Times has reported that Scott Lloyd, the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement keeps a spreadsheet of all detained unaccompanied minors who are pregnant and are requesting abortion. Lloyd has directed that this "captive audience" received non medical “counseling” regarding their requests. Does anyone else view this as a misuse of power ? Does anyone else view this an incursion of a non-medical authority into the realm of medicine and counseling ?
Ever heard of the term “Previvor”? Me neither. Previvors are those that know they carry a genetic mutation for cancer but have not yet developed cancer. Many are people who have discovered their mutation through non- medical genetic screening such as through the popular company “23 and me”. Others are those with family member with cancer who have been advised to do testing. Either way they are in a grey zone, and do not always get the care they need to address their relatively new predicament. Enter Dr. Heather Macdonald, an Obstetrician Gynecologist at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, California. She has created a special tailored program for these patients. It is called the “ Breast and Ovarian Cancer Prevention Program. In it she has outlined the possible ways to address risk, which may range from surgery, to medication to health maintenance strategies.
The nation is finally mobilizing on the issue of maternal morbidity and mortality. Five states were in on the creation of the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM), California, Florida, Illinois ,Michigan, and Oklahoma. Texas, the nation’s worst offender, has now joined. The initial states have since seen significant decreases in maternal morbidity using protocols called “safety bundles”.
Young women still suffer stigma even in the confines of an office visit. New research indicated fully half of teens and young women do not feel comfortable discussing sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Moreover, over a quarter lie to their caregivers about their sexual history. Separate research has shown that that the incidence of STIs is at a many decade high. Nonetheless, 62% of women under 25 do not consider themselves at risk for STIs. Only 40% use condoms. What might be a way to change all this ?
A recent study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology indicates that marijuana does show up in the breastmilk of using mothers. Infants who breastfed exclusively ingested about 2.5 percent of the maternal dose and peaked one hour after smoking. ACOG’s position on marijuana in pregnancy and breastfeeding is as follows:
There are “...concerns regarding impaired neurodevelopment, as well as maternal and fetal exposure to the adverse effects of smoking”.
"There are insufficient data to evaluate the effects of marijuana use on infants during lactation and breastfeeding, and in the absence of such data, marijuana use is discouraged.”
PCO or polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complex medical condition that comprises problems with ovulation, fertility, menstruation and excess male hormones, and problems with acne and unwanted hair growth. It also includes problems with carbohydrate metabolism and may lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. New research also indicates is is associated with a higher prevalence of several psychiatric conditions including depression and anxiety.
Initial testing of a personalized vaccine against recurrent ovarian cancer cells is showing promise. A patient’s own dendrite cells (DC) are treated and given separately or together with other immunotherapy. The DC vaccine induced potent anti tumor T cell responses and was well tolerated, and was associated with a better prognosis. Further clinical testing is planned.
New research in the Journal Menopause has unearthed a connection between the severity of menopausal symptoms and the risk of heart disease. The research found that increased symptoms such as hot flashes were associated with artery stiffness and dysfunction. This research may come to influence the way we think about postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy which reduces both symptoms and arterial dysfunction.
The biggest news of the week may be that alcohol is not as safe as once previously believed. A new international study has shown that even one drink of beer or wine per day can increase the odds of hypertension, stroke and heart disease and significantly shorten life. Numerous national and international recommendations are likely to be changed based on this.
Stay tuned this week for more exciting news from the world of Obstetrics and Gynecology.