December 9, 2008

Timing Baby’s Arrival to Lower Asthma Risk

In the heath section of today's New York Times, there is an article that features studies that suggest how, when and where a baby is born can have an impact on if they are to develop asthma later in life.

Ones study that looked at 95,000 birth and medical records of children in Tennessee found that children born in the fall have a 30 percent higher risk of developing asthma than those born in other seasons.

A Swiss study of about 3,000 children found that of the 12 percent who were diagnosed with asthma by age 8, those delivered by a C-section were 80 percent more likely than the others to develop asthma.

Finally, a study of black families found that babies born in the U.S. were less likely to have asthma than black children who were born outside of the U.S.

December 6, 2008

Dysmenorrhea in Adolescent Girls

This article focuses on Dysmenorrhea (severe menstrual cramps) and in particular, one young woman who suffers from the condition, Monica Patel.

Patel, who is 18, started suffering from the severe cramps and vomiting, starting at age 11. It is not uncommon for women who suffer from dysmenorrhea to also experience dizziness, diarrhea, fainting and vomiting.

After discussing what dysmenorrhea is, the article shifts focus to discuss possible treatment options and the lack of awareness about medication options and the very existence of dysmenorrhea.

Finally, the article mentions that while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like aleve or advil) can help alleviate pain in most cases, when the case is very severe, physicians may prescribe a low-dose oral contraceptive. The controversy of putting young girls on "the Pill" is then discussed.

Read more of the article here:

November 30, 2008

Get a Second Opinion...

In the Newsweek column "Her Body" by Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert, the November 24th article focused on the idea of getting second opinions for various surgical procedures and diagnoses, especially if you're a woman.

The authors stress that women should definitely get second, and even third, opinions for gender-specific issues such as getting a hysterectomy or being diagnosed with gender-specific cancers like breast or gynecological cancers.

The article is very interesting, as it talks about something called "online consultations," and it looks at the overall benefits of getting second opinions, for both the doctor and the patient.

You can read the article here

Worried about Labor Pain? Try Water Aerobics.

From an article from Tuesday's New York Times' Health section, a new study shows that moderate exercise during pregnancy can help to lower a woman's need for epidural pain relief during labor.

The article focuses on the pros and cons for using an epidural during labor. It then goes on to talk about a new, small study published in "Reproductive Health" that shows that women can influence their "risk for needing pain relief long before labor starts." The women who participated in their study were assigned to a group who participated in water aerobics or to a control group who did not do any type of exercise. The women in the group who participated in water aerobics were less likely to ask for an epidural than those in the control group.

The article mentions that there were various limitations to the study, including a small sample size and a seemingly high drop-out rate.

November 22, 2008

Young Women with Cancer

In the December 2008 issue of Women's Health magazine, there is an articel by Abbey Drucker about young women disgnosed with cancer. The article is written as a feature story and the online version of it breaks the article down into mini-profiles.

What I liked about this article are the parts that discuss alternative treatment options and places to find support is diagnosed with cancer. For example, the article lists some online support websites. Also, when the author discusses treatment options, she lists possible risks and benefits for some of the more popular courses of treatment and stresses that because of the young women's age, certain types of therapy normally used may not be their best option.

What I didn't like about this article was the way it profiled the women with some of the less common types of cancer. The first woman was diagnosed with a B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, more commonly found in 67-year-old men and the second with colon cancer. While the article mentioned two women diagnosed with breast cancer, starting the article with very frightening descriptions of these two women's experiences with rare forms of cancer doesn't seem to be the best way to lay out the article. Also, the author doesn't really stress as much as she should how uncommon these two forms of cancer are for young women. Instead, the article talks about these women's experiences started with "common aches and pains and fatigue" that could have been mistaken as being "normal" experiences for athletes or moms but can end up being cancer. I think focusing the article on the women with breast cancer or women with skin cancer may have been more effective. Including the other women's stories is important, but should not be the focus of the article.

November 17, 2008

Gene Test Results may not Provide Relief, Depending on your Family History

A new study found that the gene test commonly performed on relatives of breast cancer patients may not provide someone relief that they will not develop cancer even if that person tests free of the cancer's most common gene mutation.

The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are linked with particularly aggressive hereditary breast cancer and an increased risk of ovarian cancer. However, those gene mutations only account for about 15 percent of all breast cancer cases.

The study found that nearly 1,500 women from 365 breast cancer-prone families who tested negative for the BRCA gene mutations five years later had a fourfold higher risk than the average woman of developing breast cancer.

The study also found that these women didn't have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, like BRCA1- and BRCA2-carriers do.

It was really interesting that the article mentions that the BRCA tests cost about $3,000, and that's with this new evidence that family history may be a much stronger predictor.

Read the article here

November 11, 2008

New Studies Try to Better Understand SIDS

The most recent study, published in the October issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, looked at whether or not having a fan in the room that the baby sleeps in helps reduce the incidence of SIDS. They found that infants with the fan in their room had a 72 percent lower risk of SIDS compared to those infants without the fan. They also found that the fan was most effective for infants in high-risk environments (like sleeping on their stomachs or in overheated rooms)

The other studies looked at how parents and caregivers are implementing existing guidelines for reducing SIDS deaths. One study found that at three months of age, parents were not following some of the recommendations/guidelines for preventing SIDS.

The rest of the article was really interesting, as it focused on other issues concerning SIDS. For example, that some babies are more susceptible to SIDS than others, and other mysteries surrounding SIDS.

You can read the article, published in Newsweek, here.

November 8, 2008

Risks: Extra Pregnancy Weight Tied to Big Baby

This article, from the New York Times focuses on a new study, published in the November issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology that found that women who gain more than 40 lbs during pregnancy are about twice as likely to give birth to a heavy baby as those who gain less.

Women who have "heavy" babies, those weighing more than nine pounds, are at a higher risk for birth complications and those babies are more likely become overweight or obese later in life.

The article also mentions that women with gestational diabetes are more likely to have heavier babies, but points out that this study's findings also applied to women who were not diabetic.

November 3, 2008

Study: Researchers find a Link Between Depression and Premature Deliveries

A new study found that women with symptoms of depression are at an increased risk for premature delivery.

The study tested women at early stages of their pregnancy to look at their levels of depression. They found that women who had higher scores, based on the study's depression scale, were more at risk to deliver prematurely than those with a lower score.

October 28, 2008

Diabetes Is a Risk in Pregnancy That Carries Risks Beyond

This article opens with a story about 55-year-old Elise Bloustein, who at age 38 became pregnant with her first child. She found out that she had gestational diabetes and ever since then, even though she has not yet developed diabetes, has been following a strict diet and has annual physicals to check for any signs of diabetes.

The article goes on to talk about the rise in incidence of gestational diabetes in American women since 1990.

This is an interesting article because it examines the possible causes of the rise in incidence of gestational diabetes (one being the rise in prepregnancy weight among American women), the effects gestational diabetes has on the unborn baby, risk factors for gestational diabetes, etc

October 26, 2008

America's "Top" Doctors for Women

In the November 2008 issue of Women's Health Magazine, they had a long feature article that was like a service-piece listing their "top picks" for the best doctors for women in the following areas:
-Cardiology and Internal Medicine
-Obstetrics & Gynecology
-Orthopedics/sports medicine
-Reproductive Medicine and Infertility

Want to know how the people at Women's Health made their choices? You can see this here

October 19, 2008

True or False? Women are More Fertile After Having a Miscarriage

Apparently, the answer is false.

This week, in "The Claim" column, New York Times' columnist Anahad O'Connor took a look at the claim that after having a miscarriage, a woman is more fertile than before the miscarriage.

"The Bottom Line" stated that there is no evidence that fertility is greater for a woman after a miscarriage

October 15, 2008

The Changing Face of Abortion

This is an interesting article looking at the shift in the demographics of women who are having abortions. The Guttmacher Institute released a study Tuesday that looked at trends since 1974, the year after Roe v. Wade was passed. The study found that abortion rates overall have dropped steadily since 1981 and that the demographics of women having abortions today are older and more likely to be mothers and minorities.

The study also found that while the teen abortion rate (18-19 year-olds) dropped nearly 30 percent, the abortion rate for women ages 20-24 is higher than it was in 1974, however is also declining steadily following a spike in the rates in 1989.

October 14, 2008

If you're a woman, experiencing stress may affect your diagnosis...

New research shows that women are less likely than men to be diagnosed with heart disease when stress is listed as a symptom.

The studies, using multiple case studies of men and women, showed that there was no difference in the advice doctors gave to men and women when the case study in question only involved standard heart symptoms. However, when stress was listed as a symptom, doctors were less likely to suggest physical causes and more likely to suggest psychological causes as the source of their symptoms. There were no changes in assessment when men listed stress as a symptom.

October 12, 2008

Advocacy Group Sues Oklahoma Over Required Ultrasounds for Abortion

The Center for Reproductive Rights, a nonprofit advocacy group that works to defend and protect women's reproductive rights worldwide, is suing the state of Oklahoma over a law that is set to go into effect Nov. 1, which requires women to have an ultrasound and view their unborn fetus before being allowed to have an abortion.

The Center for Reproductive Rights says that the law "intrudes on privacy, endangers health and assaults dignity."

Oklahoma would be the fourth state to adopt such laws if it goes into effect. The other three states with similar laws are Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The story is found here: