Hospital cuts C-section rate, leading to healthier babies

June 16 might seem like a great day to give birth, but planning a C-section or being talked into it for convenience (of either the patient or the physician) may be bad for the baby. Tallahassee Memorial Hospital has decreased the number of preterm births—and thus admissions to neonatal intensive care units and infants with health problems—by cutting elective induction and C-sections over the last three years.

The Hospital saw early delivery rates go from 44 percent to less than 37 percent. The statewide rate is 38 percent and has gone up yearly for the last few years; the national rate is 32 percent. The hospital has also reduced first time delivery C-section from 22 to 15 percent—compare to 25 percent for Florida as a whole. A rate under 20 percent is considered good by childbirth advocates.

Many obstetricians think that deliveries in the 37th or 38th weeks are fine since they don’t usually involve serious complications for the infants. They allow both patient and physician more control over their schedules, and inductions can allow physicians to see more patients in a day. But emerging research indicates that any birth before 39 weeks involves potential problems, including respiratory distress. The later the delivery, the fewer admissions of newborns to intensive care, and there is no increase in mortality by waiting until 39 weeks to induce or schedule a C-section.

The Tallahassee Memorial program was brainchild of a neonatologist who saw a relationship between the sick babies he cared for and how many were delivered by elective inductions or C-sections. Now, physicians can’t schedule deliveries before 39 weeks without a medical reason. The hospital also recommends that physicians not induce until a woman’s Bishop’s scale score—related to fetal position and cervical dilation—indicates she’s ready. Noncompliant physicians get reminders, and the hospital has few outliers among their obstetricians.

Check out the following article below for more information:
www.fiercehealthcare.com

Benzocaine a Threat to Babies

Many pain products that are widely used by parents to treat teething babies contain a local anesthetic called benzocaine, which can lead to a fatal condition called methemoglobinemia.  The disorder reduces the amount of oxygen carried through the blood stream and can also cause brain damage and injury to body tissues.  Children under the age of two are the most at risk group.  See the article below for more information on symptoms of methemoglobinemia and other options for treating teething pain: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm306062.htm?source=govdelivery

Traumatic Brain Injuries in Athletes are Indistinguishable to Those in War Veterans

As more studies are done on athletes in high impact sports and war veterans who experience explosions in combat, we are learning that the consequent brain injuries are the same.  Nick Colgin knows that he suffers from depression, headaches, and trouble with daily tasks after living through an explosion when a grenade hit his Humvee in Afghanistan.  Unfortunately, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE, the condition which symptoms include damage to areas of the brain responsible for thinking, judgment, memory, and personality can only be diagnosed after death.  While Colgin suffers from many painful side effects, he is not sure exactly what damage has been done to his brain and if it will ever heal.  See the article and video below for more information: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18563_162-57435890/study-war-vets-athletes-brain-injuries-similar/?tag=cbsnewsMainColumnArea

Check out Jacob Bell’s interview as the first NFL player to quit for fear of long term brain injury: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505270_162-57435281/nfl-veteran-quits-fearing-future-brain-damage/

Abnormal Brain Function in Kids Linked to Pesticide Exposure

A common pesticide used to protect the crops of citrus fruits, apples, soybeans, sweet corn, and peanuts, among others, has been linked to lower IQs and a decline in working memory in children.  The pesticide, chlorpyrifos, which was banned by the EPA for residential use in 2001, affects the cortex in children subject to prenatal exposure.  The cortex is the area of the brain whose functions involve intelligence, personality, and muscle movement.  Check out the article below for more information on symptoms of this pesticide poisoning and more:

http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20120430/prenatal-pesticide-exposure-may-harm-kids-brains

Researchers Exploring the Link Among NFL Concussions, Brain Injury, and Suicide

The latest lawsuit against the NFL by current and former players was filed last Thursday.  The number of players claiming that the NFL hid the dangers of concussions has reached over 1,500.  Junior Seau, a longtime linebacker for the San Diego Chargers, shot himself in the chest last week, and doctors are examining his brain for signs of traumatic brain injury.  The number of retired NFL players who commit suicide is steadily growing.  Doctors and researchers continue to research the link between the number of concussions and high impact hits and the severity of traumatic brain injury in players.  Check out the articles below for more information on the NFL lawsuits and Seau’s death:
http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/04/sport/nfl-seau-autopsy/index.html?hpt=hp_bn1  http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/03/sport/nfl-lawsuit/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

Sports Concussion Research Paves the Way for Better Understanding of Combat TBI

The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center (DVBIC) is using research that began in the 1980s by the University of Virginia to compare sports related head injuries and their post-concussion impact on patients to blast injuries in combat.  Although blast injuries are more complex because their mild to moderate levels have a greater range than grade I and grade II concussions, the DVBIC has recognized the usefulness of this research and has developed a screening technique called MACE (Military Acute Concussion Evaluation) to create safety and return-to-action guidelines.  This information is vital for those who have been subject to traumatic head injuries and suffer from persistent symptoms such as fatigue, depression, irritability, headaches, and problems with attention and memory.  Check out the article below for more information:

http://www.dvbic.org/TBI—The-Military/Sports-vs–Military-Concussions.aspx

FDA Adds and Expands Another Fast-Track Review Process

The FDA implemented a new fast-track program for medical devices called the Innovation Pathway.  The intention is to reduce costs to developers and the time it takes to market devices.  Unfortunately, as we have seen with the 510(k) Approval Process, when devices are approved based on their similarity to an already approved device, not always do these expedited methods of marketing work to the consumer’s and patient’s greater good.  For now let’s keep a watchful eye on all medical devices that are passed through these quick-review processes.  Check out the articles below for more information:  FDA launches Medical Device Innovation Initiative , FDA Expands its Fast-Track Review Program, Innovation Pathway

Autism: The Difference between Boys and Girls

Autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, is more common in boys than girls.  The most recent ratio is 5-to-1 and doctors are now attempting to understand more of how and why this occurs.  It could be true that ASD is just harder to recognize in young girls because girls, in general, have better social skills so the level of impairment that is noticeable may be higher and harder to diagnose.  Check out the article below for more information: http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/04/health/mental-health/autism-sex-differences/index.html?hpt=he_c2

Saints Punished for Bounty System, Other Concerns Linger

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell severely punished the Saints’ coaches that were involved with paying their players to purposely injure other players.  Head Coach Sean Payton is suspended for all of next season and the decision is still pending on how the players involved will be penalized.  More importantly, now Congress is paying more attention than ever to the NFL and the concerns regarding player safety, specifically concussions which may lead to serious brain injury.  Check out the article below for more information:

http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/wireStory/nfl-concerns-affect-decisions-bounty-penalty-15982391

New Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force is teaming up with other American health research groups to set new guidelines for women and the formerly recommended annual Pap smear test. While the new recommended check-ups will occur less frequently, the guidelines aim to prevent late diagnosis of cervical cancer. Check out the article below for other major changes to the guidelines: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/14/health/brawley-cervical-cancer-screenings/index.html?hpt=he_c2