Some Antibiotics in First Trimester Raise Risk of Major Birth Defects

❝ Several common types of antibiotics were linked both to major congenital and to organ specific malformations in infants when taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, a retrospective Canadian cohort study found.

❝ Exposure to antibiotics, such as clindamycin, doxycycline, quinolones, macrolides and phenoxymethylpenicillin, increased the risk of these birth defects, reported Flory T. Muanda, MD, of the University of Montreal, and colleagues.

However, there was no increased risk of major congenital malformations linked to exposure to amoxicillin, cephalosporins, or nitrofurantoin, the authors wrote in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology…

❝ Researchers examined data from the Quebec pregnancy cohort, an ongoing population-based cohort with data on all pregnancies covered by Quebec Public Prescription Drug Insurance from 1998 to 2008, comprising about 140,000 infants.

Be aware.

❝ They concluded that, despite the small absolute risks associated with these birth defects, “physicians should consider prescribing safer antibiotics for the treatment of maternal infections when possible.”

When Smokers Quit, Their Sinusitis Eventually Goes Away. In About 10 Years.

❝ Smokers with chronic rhinosinusitis who kick the habit should see their condition gradually improve to the level of a nonsmoker, although it may take 10 years, study findings suggest.

❝ Cigarette smoking is a known cause of chronic sinusitis and smoking also makes symptoms worse, so it stands to reason that quitting smoking would be beneficial to people with the condition.

But the newly published, cross-sectional study is actually the first investigation to quantify the severity of symptoms and quality-of-life impact of smoking on chronic rhinosinusitis…said senior author Ahmad Sedaghat, MD, PhD…

❝ In their effort to quantify the impact of smoking and smoking cessation on CRS symptoms, Sedaghat and colleagues utilized the aptly named SNOT questionnaire — a 22-item indicator of sinusitis symptom severity.

Har.

❝ They recruited 103 former smokers with CRS and an equal number of CRS patients with no history of smoking for the study. For the ex-smokers, time since quitting ranged from a few months to more than 50 years…

Outcome measures were compared between cohorts and checked for association with time since smoking cessation for former smokers.

❝ Compared with nonsmokers, former smokers had worse SNOT-22 scores and EQ-5D VAS scores and they also reported using more CRS-related antibiotics and oral corticosteroids in the past year.

Among former smokers, each year since quitting was associated with a statistically significant improvement in SNOT-22 score…

So, if you’re getting all bummed out because your dumb smoking habit is killing you – QUIT. You will feel better over time. Strictly subjective, I can verify that. I quit smoking 59 years ago. Progressive changes in lung function were really apparent the first couple of years – and extended through at least a decade.

Why are these countries obese? Let’s start with walking

❝ A recent study found that more than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese and suffer health problems because of that — but this is nothing new.

There are, however, pockets of the global population who remain somewhat unaware of this public health crisis, despite the growth of waistlines all around them, and this lack of awareness is just one of the underlying problems, according to Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard…

Different countries have different issues,” Hu said. “You need to mobilize (their) whole society to tackle the problem. … it’s not just a medical problem.”

❝ The Pacific Islands, Middle East and Americas lead the way in terms of regions with the greatest obesity rates. In 2014, more than 48% of the population of the Cook Islands was classified as obese. Qatar led the way in the Middle East with 34%, followed closely by the United States at 33%, according to the World Health Organization…

❝ When assigning blame, two factors are common: diet and physical activity, namely poor diets and a lack of physical activity. But a number of smaller factors combine to fill these two large umbrellas, and those need to be understood to truly tackle the problem, Hu believes.

RTFA. Pretty halpful analysis, methods of anlysis that can be appreciated by pretty much anyone.

I’m not making recommendations. I can only speak to what works for me – and it’s exactly what I’ve known all my life. Good nutrition reducing sugars, easily accessible exercise – and for me, tracking meal-by-meal, day-by-day. The health app built into the operating system of Apple iPhones works fine for me. I combine it with a daily calorie tracker that has a ginormous database.

Taking a look, right now, year over year, I’ve averaged 3.1 miles per day walking, 9146 steps per day. That’s every day – averaging in high summer temperatures or the occasional blizzard mid-winter. Not too many of either at our altitude in northern New Mexico. Being an ancient creaky old Leftie is no copout.

I’m happy about weighing what I weighed in 1956 – and aiming for less.

Bite From This Tick Makes You Allergic To Red Meat


Wikimedia Commons

❝ The Lone Star tick is distinct for the star-shaped marking on its back. That, and for the fact that, if it bites you, you might not be able to truly enjoy a hamburger ever again.

This carnivore’s nightmare is caused by a sugar molecule known as Alpha-Gal…When someone is bitten by a Lone Star tick, the body’s immune system has to rewire itself in order to combat this newly introduced molecule…

❝ In other words, your body has to create Alpha-Gal antibodies to fight the molecule. Unfortunately, this same molecule is also highly prevalent in red meat.

Many victims don’t realize what’s happened until the next time they eat meat — since the antibodies are most highly activated after the molecule has traveled through their gastrointestinal tract.

“Hours later, patients wake up with hives, shortness of breath, vomiting, and diarrhea,” Stone said. “Some patients have had to be given life support because their blood pressure is so low that they’re in…danger of dying.”

❝ For a lot of people, it takes a few reactions before they realize meat is triggering the outbreaks. After all, they’ve eaten meat their entire lives and been totally fine.

Cases of these kinds of tick bites are on the rise, spreading from the southeastern U.S. all the way up through New York and Minnesota.

As of now, there’s no cure or vaccine.

Ticks are worth avoiding as a general rule, anyway. Lots of bad stuff can get passed along into your circulatory system. And, no, I don’t think it’s a GMO plot by PETA.

Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money

❝ Lingering uncertainty about the fate of the Affordable Care Act has spurred the California legislature to consider adoption of a statewide single-payer health care system.

Sometimes described as Medicare for all, single-payer is a system in which a public agency handles health care financing while the delivery of care remains largely in private hands.

Discussions of the California measure have stalled, however, in the wake of preliminary estimates pegging the cost of the program as greater than the entire state government budget. Similar cost concerns derailed single-payer proposals in Colorado and Vermont.

❝ Voters need to understand that this cost objection is specious. That’s because, as experience in many countries has demonstrated, the total cost of providing health coverage under the single-payer approach is actually substantially lower than under the current system in the United States. It is a bedrock economic principle that if we can find a way to do something more efficiently, it’s possible for everyone to come out ahead.

❝ By analogy, suppose that your state’s government took over road maintenance from the county governments within it, in the process reducing total maintenance costs by 30 percent. Your state taxes would obviously have to go up under this arrangement.

But if roads would be as well maintained as before, would that be a reason to oppose the move? Clearly not, since the resulting cost savings would reduce your county taxes by more than your state taxes went up. Likewise, it makes no sense to oppose single-payer on the grounds that it would require additional tax revenue. In each case, the resulting gains in efficiency would leave you with greater effective purchasing power than before.

❝ Total costs are lower under single-payer systems for several reasons. One is that administrative costs average only about 2 percent of total expenses under a single-payer program like Medicare, less than one-sixth the corresponding percentage for many private insurers. Single-payer systems also spend virtually nothing on competitive advertising, which can account for more than 15 percent of total expenses for private insurers.

The most important source of cost savings under single-payer is that large government entities are able to negotiate much more favorable terms with service providers. In 2012, for example, the average cost of coronary bypass surgery was more than $73,000 in the United States but less than $23,000 in France.

Although Republicans and Conservative Democrats have blocked civilians from the opportunity – so far – the essential benefit that produces lower cost insurance for our military and military veterans is just such negotiations.

Liars lie. That’s what they are paid to do. From Congressional politicians down to their state-level peers, media hacks, foundations chartered by conservative dollar$ – earn a significant chunk of their payola providing lies about the cost of universals insurance, class-conscious education, policing responsive to the needs of citizens instead of gun lobbies. No doubt, anyone thoughtful enough to look at lobbying practices in the United States can add to the list.

Republican healthcare


Click to enlarge

Here’s how Republicans want to “repeal and replace” Obamacare…

❝ Republicans have repeatedly identified what they don’t like about the Affordable Care Act: It doesn’t cover enough people, and the deductibles are too high. They then went ahead and drafted legislation that would cover fewer people and drive deductibles even higher.

Thanks, Vox

California leads the fight to prevent women bleeding to death in childbirth


Kristen Terlizzi

❝ In the US, childbirth has been growing more dangerous recently. Maternal mortality — defined as the death of a mother from pregnancy-related complications while she’s carrying or within 42 days after birth — in the US soared by 27 percent, from 19 per 100,000 to 24 per 100,000, between 2000 and 2014.

That’s more than three times the rate of the United Kingdom, and about eight times the rates of Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden, according to the OECD.

❝ It’s a stunning example of how poorly the American health care system stacks up against its developed peers. More women in labor or brand new mothers die here than in any other high-income country. And the CDC Foundation estimates that 60 percent of these deaths are preventable…

❝ But as the mortality rate has been edging up nationally, California has made remarkable progress in the opposite direction: Fewer and fewer women are dying in childbirth in the state.

So how did California manage to buck the trend? I was curious, particularly as American women’s health is under assault, with the GOP push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act…

RTFA. Long and detailed, Julia Belluz went to California to meet Dr. David Lagrew, an OB-GYN at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County. A founding member of the CMQCC, the California Maternal Care Quality Collective. Dr. Lagrew leads the fight for sensible hemorrhage protocols that save lives – and the fight to end unnecessary C-sections which set the stage for so many deaths-by-hemorrhage in the United States.