A summary of important health news from the past week.
Drug Shortages Forcing Hard Decisions on Who Gets Treatment
More than 150 drugs commonly used in hospitals across the country are in short supply, although most patients would never know. The shortage is due to numerous issues in manufacturing, production, and business, but it has been an ongoing issue for years that is only getting worse. Physicians are often forced to prioritize patients who receive the treatment, and sometimes give inadequate dosages in order to ration low-supply drugs. The process of making these decisions, and the ethical implications, are not recorded and patients are likely suffering from the choices being made.
A study, released in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics, followed 3,000 children tracking children diagnosed with autism and factors like mother's pre-pregnancy weight and diagnosis of diabetes. The study was conducted between 1998 and 2014, using electronic health records at the Boston Medical Center. One conclusion was that obese women who contracted diabetes while pregnant were about three times as likely to have children with autism. Another was that women who were obese and had diabetes before pregnancy were almost four times as likely. These findings are important, because it can influence policymakers and insurers and they way they allocate money towards treating obesity and diabetes.
Scientists get 'gene editing' go-ahead
The UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has given scientists approval to begin experiments on editing the genome of human embryos. The experminents will take place in the first seven days after fertilization, but it will remain illegal to implant these embryos on women. This research is controversial because many fear the possibility of it leading to the creation of 'designer babies.'
A recent report reviewed more than 1,300 breastfeeding studies, the most extensive review to date on the topic. The extensive benefits of breastfeeding are widely known, yet some still use formula. Implementing universal breastfeeding could save 820,000 babies and 20,000 women on a yearly basis.
The human microbiome has been a large area of study. Studies have shown that babies receive microbes from their mother just after birth. Studies have also shown that babies born naturally have healthier microbes than those born caesarean section. A small study is considering a new approach to allowing babies born via C-section can get natural microbes by using a gauze pad to absorb the microbes in the mother's birth canal before birth.
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