Record Low Fertility Rate Makes Some Experts Worry The Sky Is Falling
When it comes to sustaining a population, there's a fine line between too many and not enough babies. America is edging toward the latter. In other public health news: cancer, freeze-dried placenta pills, treatment-resistant infections and Salvador Dalí.
The Washington Post:
The U.S. Fertility Rate Just Hit A Historic Low. Why Some Demographers Are Freaking Out.
The United States is in the midst of what some worry is a baby crisis. The number of women giving birth has been declining for years and just hit a historic low. If the trend continues — and experts disagree on whether it will — the country could face economic and cultural turmoil. (Cha, 6/30)
Birth Rate Among Teenage Girls Reaches Historic Low, CDC Says
Births to American teens ages 15 to 19 fell 9 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The birth rate in 2016 — 20.3 babies per 1,000 females — marks a decrease of 51 percent from 2007 and 67 percent from 1991. (Gilchrist, 6/30)
Breast Cancer Test May Identify Low-Risk Tumors That Don't Require Treatment
For years, doctors have focused on detecting breast cancer at the earliest possible moment after a tumor develops so treatment can start right away. But more and more studies are showing many small, early tumors don't present a danger. So, when is it safe to remove a tumor but skip additional treatments like tamoxifen, chemotherapy and radiation? (Neel and Neighmond, 6/29)
Where A Doctor Saw A Treatable Cancer, A Patient Saw An Evil Spirit
Thousands of Hmong emigrated from Southeast Asia after the Vietnam War, when the CIA recruited them to fight or spy on the United States’s behalf, only to face harsh repercussions after U.S. forces withdrew. Many Hmong understand physical illness in mystical terms: an evil spirit, or “dab,” can enter the body if a person is badly startled, for instance, or if a baby’s placenta is not properly buried. A dab might depart only if a person takes specific actions, like drinking an herbal remedy while also leaving a cup of the remedy for the dab to drink. The Hmong’s beliefs about medicine and illness, combined with hard-earned suspicions about American institutions, can mix poorly. (Tedeschi, 6/30)
Freeze-Dried Placenta Pills Likely Caused This Newborn's Dangerous Bacterial Infection
In a certain corner of the alternative health movement, fueled by celebrity buzz, it’s become en vogue for new mothers to consume their placentas after giving birth. Companies have sprouted up offering to turn placentas into smoothies, truffles, and freeze-dried pills, claiming that placental eating — practiced by many mammal species — can give recovering moms a boost of vitamins and nutrients, and help prevent postpartum depression. Evidence, however, is lacking that it has any health benefit for human moms or babies. And a new case report reveals that it can be incredibly dangerous. (Caruso, 6/29)
After Decades On The Rise, C. Diff Infections Are Finally Falling
The risk of getting a deadly, treatment-resistant infection in a hospital or nursing home is dropping for the first time in decades, thanks to new guidelines on antibiotic use and stricter cleaning standards in care facilities. (Chen, 6/29)
Has Salvador Dalí's DNA Melted Away?
Even if you didn’t take art history classes in school, you probably know Salvador Dalí’s work. One of the surrealist’s most famous paintings, “The Persistence of Memory,” is the one with the melting clocks. But memory is not the only thing that persists — a woman who has claimed to be Dalí’s daughter for over a decade has not given up. To support her contention, Pilar Abel has had two previous paternity tests performed — one with inconclusive results, another that allegedly never sent her results. Now a Spanish court has granted her request to have Dalí’s body exhumed from a crypt in Catalonia so a third test can be conducted. But Dalí has been dead for nearly 30 years. Can a sample of his DNA still give Abel a definitive answer? (Sheridan, 6/29)