FRC Blog

Maternal and Fetal Health Interim Guidance Concerning N1H1 or Swine Flu from the CDC

by Moira Gaul

April 30, 2009

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide guidance and information on background, risks, suggested treatments, and other considerations for pregnant women and N1H1, or Swine Flu. The CDC currently reports, “Pregnant women are also known to be higher risk for seasonal influenza complications and during prior pandemics, and it is reasonable to assume that pregnant women are also at higher risk for swine influenza complications.

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One Hundred Days: Where Does it Come From?

by Robert Morrison

April 30, 2009

napolean.jpg

There’s a lot of media buzz about President Obama’s first “hundred days.” What’s so special about one hundred days? After all, he was elected to a term of four years. One hundred days surely is not very long in comparison to the more than 1,460 days of a Presidential normal term. (Those hardy souls who are already sporting 1.20.13 bumper stickers seem to all their fellow commuters to have jumped the gun.)

The media is also full of stories of how Americans are in love with our “hip” First Family. If Americans are in love with a father-headed, married-with-children model family, that is certainly a very good thing. If the Obamas can make marriage hip, then I’d say hip, hip, hooray.

But that hundred day thing has an odd origin for a free people to celebrate. It comes from the Emperor Napoleon. Talk about hip. Napoleon was the trend-setter and fashion-maker of Europe for fifteen years. The “Empire” style in women’s fine clothing, art, architecture, and home decor was all the rage. Napoleon’s massive Arc de Triomphe in the heart of Paris commemorated all his spectacular military successes-and France did have spectacular military successes guided by the strategic and tactical genius of the young conqueror.

 

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 29, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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Call to NPR in Los Angeles; Customers Misusing Plan B

by Chris Gacek

April 29, 2009

     Last week, the Obama Administration announced that it would not appeal a federal district court’s decision commanding the FDA to begin selling the Plan B contraceptive to 17-year-olds as an over-the-counter product.  Previously, the FDA and drug company set the lower age at 18.   Plan B’s  manufacturer-distributor, Teva, will have to submit an application to FDA which the agency will then approve.

     As we noted last week, the Family Research Council has been concerned that women might use Plan B frequently, repeatedly in the place of standard contraceptives.  The labeling contains no clear warning about such use.  FDA officials have pooh-poohed this argument, but one interesting anecdotal piece of evidence has come in on this topic.

     The changes to Plan B marketing were discussed on “AirTalk,” a public radio program broadcast by KPCC-FM, a station owned by Pasadena City College on April 23rd.  The guest-host was David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times, and he interviewed Dr. Susan Woods, former FDA official and Plan B supporter, and Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.  The show can be heard via this weblink.

     There was one extremely interesting caller who was referred to as “Steve from Diamond Bar.” (Steve start: 22min 05sec; Steve end: 23min 05sec.)  Steve is a co-owner of a pharmacy, and he explained that a few years ago 30-minute consultations were needed before the pharmacists could dispense Plan B over-the-counter in California. 

     Steve had occasion to notice the buying patterns of his customers.  He noted that many purchasers were responsible about using Plan B, but he also described a class of customer who came to the store “on a regular basis” and purchased Plan B “week after week.”  When David Lazarus asked him whether the repeat users “were a majority or minority of users,” Steve responded that they were probably half of the Plan B purchasers.
 
     Even if Steve from Diamond Bar did not remember correctly and inflated his estimate, it is clear that a substantial population of Plan B users were using this drug very frequently - as many have feared.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 27, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

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How Now Gene-Sequenced Cow?

by David Prentice

April 27, 2009

HappyCow2.jpgA six-year effort by an international consortium of researchers has resulted in the genome sequence of the domestic cow. Published in the journal Science, this is the first full genome sequence of any ruminant (4-chambered stomach) species. Using a Hereford cow as the DNA source, they found that the cattle genome contains a minimum of 22,000 genes. The researchers note that the cow genome is more similar to that of humans than to the genomes of mice or rats, but appears to have undergone significant reorganization, perhaps due to domestication. Mooving immediately to milk the sequence information, a second article in the same issue used thousands of variations in the sequence at a single DNA base (called single nucleotide-polymorphisms or SNPs) to characterize the genetic diversity among different cattle breeds. The information offers udderly significant opportunities for cattle breeders to select for features that they want. Dr. Harris A. Lewin of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign notes in an accompanying commentary that “The barnyard door is now open. We can expect that any animal with medically or agriculturally useful traits will be sequenced and resequenced.” Researchers will no doubt be rushing to steak their claims.

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Roll Your Own Blood Vessels

by David Prentice

April 24, 2009

An international team, led by scientists in California, report that they have successfully grown blood vessels for patients on kidney dialysis. Dialysis patients need a vessel, or shunt, to connect them to dialysis machines. Because dialysis is done regularly, an artificial vessel is often used, but these are prone to infection and inflammation. The scientists took a small skin sample from ten high-risk patients and grew sheets of cells in the lab, then rolled these up to form vessels appropriate for the shunt. Five patients had grafts functioning for dialysis 6-20 months after implantation. In the future, custom-produced blood vessels might be produced for patients with circulatory problems in their hearts or legs. Todd McAllister of Cytograft Tissue Engineering, which paid for the study, said “It’s basically a piece of plumbing to bypass blockages.”

Preliminary results on four patients were reported in 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine. This current study following the original patients and other patients is published in The Lancet

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Blogosphere Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

April 24, 2009

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Here’s some of the buzz from the blogosphere today.

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