Category Archives: Women’s Health

CDC warns of the danger of drinking while pregnant


From the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Alcohol and Pregnancy

Why Take the Risk?

An estimated 3.3 million US women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk for exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 10.24.26 AM

The report also found that 3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant as soon as possible do not stop drinking alcohol.

  • Alcohol use during pregnancy, even within the first few weeks and before a woman knows she is pregnant, can cause lasting physical, behavioral, and intellectual disabilities that can last for a child’s lifetime. These disabilities are known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). There is no known safe amount of alcohol – even beer or wine – that is safe for a woman to drink at any stage of pregnancy.
  • About half of all pregnancies in the US are unplanned and, even if planned, most women will not know they are pregnant until they are 4-6 weeks into the pregnancy when they still might be drinking.

Every woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant – and her partner – want a healthy baby. But they may not be aware that drinking alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can cause a range of disabilities for their child.

It is critical for healthcare providers to assess a woman’s drinking habits during routine medical visits; advise her not to drink at all if she is pregnant, trying to get pregnant, sexually active, and not using birth control; and recommend services if she needs help to stop drinking.

For this Vital Signs report, scientists from CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities analyzed data from the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth, which gathers information on family life, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, infertility, use of birth control, and men’s and women’s health.

National estimates of alcohol-exposed pregnancy were calculated among 4,303 non-pregnant, non-sterile women aged 15–44 years.

A woman was considered to be at risk for an alcohol-exposed pregnancy if she was not sterile, her partner was not known to be sterile, and she had vaginal sex with a male, drank any alcohol, and did not use birth control in the past month.

Women can:

  • Talk with their healthcare provider about their plans for pregnancy, their alcohol use, and ways to prevent pregnancy if they are not planning to get pregnant.
  • Stop drinking alcohol if they are trying to get pregnant or could get pregnant.
  • Ask their partner, family, and friends to support their choice not to drink during pregnancy or while trying to get pregnant.
  • Ask their healthcare provider or another trusted individual about resources for help if they cannot stop drinking on their own.

Healthcare providers can:

  • Screen all adult patients for alcohol use at least yearly.
  • Advise women not to drink at all if there is any chance they could be pregnant.
  • Counsel, refer, and follow up with patients who need more help.
  • Use the correct billing codes so that alcohol screening and counseling is reimbursable.

FASDs are completely preventable if a woman does not drink alcohol during pregnancy.

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After Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, low-income women had more babies – LA Times


200px-Flag-map_of_TexasThe state of Texas’ sustained campaign against Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics affiliated with abortion providers appears to have led to an increase in births among low-income women who lost access to affordable and effective birth control, a new study says.

The analysis, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, documents a significant increase in births among women who had previously received birth control at clinics that no longer get state funding.

Source: After Texas stopped funding Planned Parenthood, low-income women had more babies – LA Times


Some states helping college students avoid unplanned pregnancies



JACKSON, Miss. — At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the 11 students in Carol Jussely’s “Essential College Skills” class were talking about sex.

Seven percent of community college dropouts leave because of an unplanned pregnancy

Crammed into school chairs and clustered in groups of three or four, they leaned together to confer and then shouted out answers to trivia questions like, “Fact or fiction: You can’t get pregnant from having sex in a hot tub.”

Mississippi has among the highest teen-pregnancy rates in the country, and the teens most likely to get pregnant are college-age. So in 2014, the state passed a law that requires public colleges like Hinds Community College here to teach students how to avoid unplanned pregnancies. Arkansas passed a similar law last year.

Lawmakers in both conservative, Bible Belt states have fought for years over whether and how high schools should teach students about sex. Yet the new laws, which affect legal adults, were surprisingly uncontroversial.

And amid a national push to increase the share of Americans who have a postsecondary certificate or degree, other states and college systems are paying attention.

Seven percent of community college dropouts leave because of an unplanned pregnancy, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

Like most community colleges, Hinds doesn’t collect data on why students stop showing up for class, and it’s not clear if unplanned pregnancies are widespread or a major risk factor for dropping out.

But young mothers can be found all over Hinds’ six campuses. As students settled into their seats in Jussely’s classroom, a pony-tailed 21-year-old stood up and grimaced. “He’s kicking,” she said apologetically, putting her hand on her belly.

A Different Conversation

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Texas tries to repair damage it has inflicted on its family planning services


By Wade Goodwyn

For the past five years, the Texas Legislature has done everything in its power to defund Planned Parenthood. But it’s not so easy to target that organization without hurting family planning clinics around the state generally.

The researchers found that two years after the cuts, Texas’ women’s health program managed to serve fewer than half the number of women it had before.

The Legislature’s own researchers predicted that more than 20,000 resulting unplanned births would cost taxpayers more than a quarter of a billion dollars in federal and state Medicaid support.


Everything you need to know about the Planned Parenthood Videos


Logo_plannedparenthoodBy Adam Harris ProPublica, Jan. 27, 2016, 12 p.m.

On Monday, a grand jury indicted David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, a center employee, on felony charges of tampering with government documents and a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.

The charges stem from the investigation surrounding the controversial Planned Parenthood videos that surfaced last summer.

Marjorie Dannensfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, said the videos “caused a watershed moment that we weren’t expecting.”

They also helped set the stage for the latest battle in a decades-long attempt to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds.

According to Daleiden, the goal of the videos was to prove that Planned Parenthood actively sold fetal tissue for profit.

Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit reproductive health organization, immediately pushed back against the videos following their release.

The organization questioned the legality of the tactics used to obtain the videos, which led to a massive lawsuit against Daleiden’s organization.

The videos became a hot-button issue and talking points for many GOP primary candidates 2013 some of whom turned to Facebook and Twitter to vent their frustrations with Planned Parenthood.

Even Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, called the pictures from the videos “disturbing,” although some of the images were later found to be deceptive [see below].

To help sort through the timeline of the controversy surrounding the videos here’s a reading guide: Continue reading


Trying to conceive after a pregnancy loss — NIH


Blue Pregnant BellyFrom the National Institutes of Health

A pregnancy loss, also called miscarriage or spontaneous abortion, is the unexpected loss of a fetus before the 20th week of pregnancy. After such a loss, many doctors recommend that couples wait at least 3 months before conceiving again.

The World Health Organization recommends waiting at least 6 months. However, there’s little evidence to support such delays.

At a Glance

  • Researchers found no evidence to support the idea that couples should wait for 3 months after an uncomplicated early pregnancy loss before trying to conceive.
  • For those who are emotionally ready, the common recommendation to wait at least 3 months after a loss may be too conservative.

A research team led by Dr. Enrique Schisterman at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigated the link between how long couples waited after an early pregnancy loss before trying to conceive again and their success in achieving live births.

The team analyzed data from a trial that took place from 2007 to 2011. The trial’s primary goal was to evaluate the effect of daily low-dose aspirin on reproductive outcomes in women, ages 18 to 40 years, with a history of pregnancy loss.

The participants were followed for up to 6 menstrual cycles and, if they became pregnant, until the outcome of their pregnancy was known. The investigators examined data from more than 1,000 of these women.

Their analysis excluded women with pregnancy complications known to require longer follow-up care. Results were published online on January 7, 2016, in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The researchers found that more than 76% of the women began trying to conceive within 3 months after losing a pregnancy. Compared to those who waited longer, this group was more likely to become pregnant (69% vs. 51%) and to have a pregnancy leading to a live birth (53% vs. 36%).

The investigators didn’t find any difference in the risk of pregnancy complications between the groups.

“Couples often seek counseling on how long they should wait until attempting to conceive again,” Schisterman says. “Our data suggest that women who try for a new pregnancy within 3 months can conceive as quickly, if not quicker, than women who wait for 3 months or more.”

“While our data show no basis for delaying attempts at conception following a pregnancy loss, couples may need time to heal emotionally before they try again,” says first author Dr. Karen Schliep. “For those who are ready, our findings suggest that conventional recommendations for waiting at least 3 months after a loss may be unwarranted.”


A showdown year for reproductive rights

Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

by Nina Martin ProPublica, Jan. 8, 2016, 12:22 p.m.

For advocates of women’s reproductive rights, 2015 was the definition of “annus horribilis:” marked by tough new limits on abortion, a debilitating Planned Parenthood scandal, and a shooting at a Colorado clinic that left three people dead.

For abortion opponents, it was the year when decades of incremental political and legal gains merged into something much bigger. Now 2016 is shaping up to be even more turbulent 2014 perhaps the most momentous year for reproductive issues in a generation.

States enacted 288 new abortion restrictions from 2011 through 2015 2014 nearly as many as were passed in the previous 15 years. 

At the Supreme Court, justices will decide two cases that could dramatically reshape abortion law and gut what remains of the landmark contraception-coverage mandate in President Obama’s health care reform law.

In Congress and state legislatures, lawmakers are preparing a torrent of bills inspired by videos purporting to show an unsavory trade in fetal body parts for research. Looming over it all is a presidential race filled with GOP anti-abortion hard-liners and a female Democratic frontrunner who’s made defending reproductive rights a cornerstone of her campaign.

“I don’t think we’ve seen a more critical election cycle,” said Daniel Becker, executive director of the national Personhood Alliance, whose Georgia-based group supports Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, among the most outspoken abortion opponents in the GOP field. “Everything is coming to a head.” Continue reading


Infertility treatments not associated with increased risk of developmental delay – study


Infertility treatments do not appear to contribute to developmental delays in children

From the National Institutes of Health

IVF egg thumbNIH researchers find no risk by age 3 from in vitro fertilization, other widespread treatments.

Children conceived via infertility treatments are no more likely to have a developmental delay than children conceived without such treatments, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the New York State Department of Health and other institutions.

The findings, published online in JAMA Pediatrics, may help to allay longstanding concerns that conception after infertility treatment could affect the embryo at a sensitive stage and result in lifelong disability.

The authors found no differences in developmental assessment scores of more than 1,800 children born to women who became pregnant after receiving infertility treatment and those of more than 4,000 children born to women who did not undergo such treatment.

“When we began our study, there was little research on the potential effects of conception via fertility treatments on U.S. children,” said Edwina Yeung, Ph.D., an investigator in the Division of Intramural Population Health Research at NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Our results provide reassurance to the thousands of couples who have relied on these treatments to establish their families.” Continue reading


Groups in Oregon and Washington concerned about Walgreens’ ties to Catholic hospital | KOMO News


walgreens-1403027143Nineteen groups led by the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter Monday to drug store chain Walgreens expressing concerns about the company’s plans for a Catholic hospital to run its in-store health clinics in Washington state and Oregon.

In the letter, the organizations asked if the clinics would allow access to contraception, abortion drugs and prescriptions to help terminally ill patients end their own lives, which is legal in both states.

The groups note that other health organizations have stopped providing abortions after partnering with Providence Health, the Catholic hospital.

Source: Groups concerned about Walgreens’ ties to Catholic hospital | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KOMO News


NIH failing to ensure clinical trials account for different outcomes by sex

An aerial view of the Clinical Center, Building 10, at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md. (Photo by NIH via Flickr)

An aerial view of the Clinical Center, Building 10, at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md. (Photo by NIH via Flickr)

By Julie Rovner

Twenty-two years after Congress ordered the National Institutes of Health to include women in the clinical trials it funds to test medical treatments, women make up more than half the participants in those trials.

It’s because, for example, a drug or dosage appropriate for a man might be less effective or even lead to harm when taken by a woman.

That’s the good news. Unfortunately, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office, NIH can’t tell whether researchers are also examining outcomes by sex to see whether men and women are affected differently by what’s being tested.

That’s important because, for example, a drug or dosage appropriate for a man might be less effective or even lead to harm when taken by a woman.

But NIH does not make available usable information on which studies have separated results by sex and what those results are. NIH “does not maintain, analyze or report summary data to oversee whether analysis of outcomes by sex are planned or conducted,” the report found. Continue reading


For abortion providers, a constant barrage of personalized harassment


Logo_plannedparenthoodby Nina Martin

Since 1993, 11 people have been killed in abortion-related attacks 2014 doctors, clinic staff, and last week, a police officer and two visitors in the line of fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

While the investigation continues into the shooter’s background and motives, David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University, says that stalking and harassment pose a much more common threat to abortion providers and their families.

For their May 2015 book “Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism,” Cohen and co-author Krysten Connon interviewed 87 providers in 34 states 2014 clinic owners, doctors, and other employees.

ProPublica spoke with Cohen about their findings; the interview was edited for clarity and length.

Nina Martin: How did you come to write your book? Continue reading


State AG’s office clears Washington’s Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing | The Seattle Times


Logo_plannedparenthoodAfter allegations that Planned Parenthood has illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue, the state Attorney General’s Office has found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood in Washington state.

Source: State AG’s office clears Washington’s Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing | The Seattle Times