health news

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

Medical Headlines took a bit of holiday break just like us, so today’s report will be brief. 

The Journal of Pediatrics recently presented research that has shown that many new parents use car seats incorrectly. The most common mistakes are straps too lose and chest clips placed too low. Anyone with doubts can just stop by any labor and delivery or pediatric clinic for an on the spot demonstration of the correct technique. 

In the good idea department, the American Journal of Public Health reports that young pregnant women  might get significant benefits with group prenatal care. The study groups ranged in age between 14-21 and received either traditional prenatal care or group prenatal care. Those receiving care in the group setting were 33 % less likely to have a small for gestational age baby. Personally I think it would be fun to instruct young women in a group setting. 

In the frustrating and dangerous section, Reuters has reported on Canadian study retrospectively comparing 11,000 low risk women who had home birth with 11,000 low risk women with hospital birth. Their endpoints were still birth or death. For these endpoints, there was no significant difference in outcomes, with the incidence at home being 1.5/1000 versus 0.94/1000 in the hospital. There are two glaring problems with drawing a conclusion from this: 

1. The incidence of stillbirth and neonatal death is small in both cases, so comparisons of even large numbers cases are relatively unrevealing.

2. We care about many more outcomes than still birth or neonatal death. For example, we care about near death of the baby or the mother, brain damage, post partum hemorrhage, retained placenta, postpartum infection, and so many more grave life altering things. The truth of the matter is that neonatal and perinatal medicine is so good now that no matter how badly a case is managed, modern medicine can almost always salvage it enough so that it does not qualify as a stillbirth or a neonatal death. Badly managed cases requiring intensive perinatal and or neonatal care that do not result in stillbirth or death are definitely things I should think everyone would want to avoid, but nonetheless are NOT on the radar of this study. For that matter badly managed cases that require intensive perinatal and or neonatal care that do not result in stillbirth or death but that DO result in bad outcomes like brain damage are not also reflected in this study’s conclusions. How helpful is that ? And yet, what is the Reuter’s headline ? “ Home Births May Be Safe For Low Risk Pregnancies “ Really ?

From the “ clues on the trail” department, we have the following two tantalizing tidbits. One, it turns out that there is some sort of association between gum disease and breast cancer. Those with gum disease have a 14% increased risk of the disease. Add smoking and it jumps to 20-30 % and that means smoking ANYTIME in the last 20 years. Yikes ! information like this could ultimately help us understand how breast cancer arises or persists. 

Two, Metformin, a common medication to help with ovulatory dysfunction, polycystic ovary syndrome, carbohydrate intolerance, and diabetes, “can block the release of toxins from the placenta when preeclampsia is present." Wow cool. Now someone smart needs to figure out why.

Ending with heartwarming news, the journal Pediatrics has presented research showing that “ kangaroo care” benefits premature and underweight babies in several measurable ways. Kangaroo care is prolonged skin to skin contact, and it is associated with half the risk of serious infection, 78% lower risk of low core temperature, and 88% lower risk of dangerously low blood sugar. 


So go hug your kid and have a happy new year. 

Medical Monday: ACOG weekly news

Headlines proclaim “ Aggressive Treatment for DCIS May Not Save Lives”.This sounds rather dismal. Reading further, what they should have said is “ Aggressive Treatment for DCIS May Not Be Necessary to Save Lives”, which is good news. DCIS is very early microscopic breast cancer, and as such its concerns everyone. Such an alarming headline got my attention. But once I found out the news was actually good, I was a little dismayed.  There must be a chapter in the Journalism textbook where it says bad news gets more attention than good. I don’t know. Read carefully out there ! 

Just to refresh your memory, ACOG stands for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They send its Fellows, myself included, news updates throughout week. These are articles of pertinence to women’s health. Each Monday, I pick a small sample and present them to you for your consideration. More such articles can be found at 

There is such a thing as “ distracted snacking”. The Journal of Health Psychology reported the results of a small study which indicate that distracted snacking results in greater intake even afterwards. I speculate that it has to do with the fact that distracted snacking results in greater intake that say “ mindful snacking “ ( my term)  causing insulin levels to spike more than they would have, and more hunger to be stimulated later. So be mindful about your snacking and remember to always include some protein. 

The venerable diaphragm has gotten an upgrade. A Seattle based nonprofit has developed a new more contoured model. It’s name is Caya. Go to to learn more. It is not yet available. 

Finally, ACOG has released new guidelines regarding the treatment of morning sickness. First line therapy should be in the form of the class A combination of doxylamine and vitamin B6, commercially available over the counter without a prescription in the US as Diclegis. ( Class A is the safest pregnancy category for a drug. ) This is not to say that we are not still going to need Zofran for certain patients. It will still be considered after Diclegis is deemed insufficient. 

When you read medical related articles in the mainstream press, read very carefully. It is tricky to report accurately if you do not have medical background. For more on that please see our section “ Your internet learning toolbox”. 

Stay tuned for more medical news next week on Medical Monday. 





Medical Monday: ACOG weekly news

I have noticed that this is not the most popular column. I thought hard about reducing to three posts per week, eliminating this one. For now I have decided to keep it since it helps me keep up to the minute on news pertinent to the field of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Please let me know what you think.

The state of Delaware has banned the dispensation of formula from the hospital to new moms in an effort to promote breastfeeding. Some mothers have weighed in with opposition saying that many workplaces stigmatize breastfeeding making formula feeding necessary. Two comments: those little sample from the hospital aren't enough to make or break your formula supply. Buy your own formula if you want to. And, wouldn't it be better to help the whole situation by introducing some sort of " Freedom to Breastfeed" program in the workplace ?

An entirely useless article came out about a number of mortalities among those who experienced complications during Robot surgery. Non medical media didn't bother to compare these numbers with the numbers of mortalities in those with complications from non Robot surgeries. Also, it is unclear whether or not attention was restricted to new resident doctors, of whom a greater percent use the robot, seasoned surgeons, or both. It would obviously make a difference. 

Recent studies indicate breast cancer survival is aided by aromatase inhibitors, as well as good old fashioned bisphosphonates like fosamax. Cheap help ! 

Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of the recent videos discussion the disposition of the products of conception after abortion. Some say the videos are controversial, some say they aren't. The republican House speaker, John Boehner, has stated he wants the " facts first". FYI Planned Parenthood also does routine check-ups, cancer screening and provides birth control at low cost. 

Breast cancer death rates have declined 33.5 %  from 1988 to 2010 !  Good news. I bet it has decreased more since then. 

Finally, 60% of women over 60 are sexually active. Stereotypes be gone ! 

Stay tuned for next week's Medical Monday !