Saturday, September 30, 2006

Guest Blogging This Weekend

I'm over at Nashville is Talking today and tomorrow.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Off Topic: Blogger Meet-Up Report, or, I Also Cannot Be Allowed in Public

Last night, in order to demonstrate that I do things aside from blogging and librarianship, I went to Wolfy's for a party of, uh, lots of bloggers. Check out links below for Nashville bloggers on non-health topics.

Kat graciously picked up me and B and drove us to the event, and dropped me off at the Mothership afterward. Big thanks to Kat!

I talked to Amanda about librarianship, although I'm not sure I sold her on it. I had just asked Kat if she would "bring me, like, 100 meatballs." Uh, that was the beverage talking. Kat brought me meatballs, proving again how sweet she is. As Amanda and I talked, I silently wondered if she would notice if I ate them with my hands.

Big Orange Michael was neither as big nor as orange as I had imagined, although he did sport a pen that plays Rocky Top (See it sticking out of the pink shirt from earlier in the day).

I finally met the Knucklehead, and assured him that, should I find that disaster had befallen the Mothership in his absence, I would simply duct tape it and go home. I'm helpful that way.

As for the guest of honor, I met Amanda of Rocketboom fame, and gave the most inarticulate answer possible when asked about my blog. Apparently tiny, blonde, pixie-like girls with a little 'net fame don't inspire me to be an eloquent extemporaneous speaker. Who knew?

I finally met the Kleinheider in person (his germanic people are from Missouri, as are the husband's). I couldn't resist a little ribbing about the "cell phone" incident, which he handled appropriately by asking me, "Do you want to touch it?" Despite this, he's very gracious in person, and subtly and deftly shifted Brittney's drink out of view when the camera pointed her way. I'm still working on whether I have any "conservative views" to tell him about; so far it's a bust, AC.

Some yahoo who had just been introduced to me sarcastically said something along the lines of "Creative name, there" regarding my blog name. Hey, it's about women's health news. For your convenience, here are some alternate options:
  • Blog naming, librarian-style: Leveraging interactive Web 2.0 strategies for distributed subject-specific consumer health information provision
  • Blog naming, blogger-style (now with options): 1)LadyParts Shakedown; 2)Overheard in My Junk; 3) Uteriblog; 4)Random Rhythmic Words with No Relation to the General Theme.

    That is all. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.
  • Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Text of the Pregnant Women Support Act Available

    This bill (HR 6145) was introduced in the House last week, but the text just became available on the Thomas site - read it here. More analysis when I get a chance to wade through this lengthy proposal.

    Sections, giving you a basic idea of what it covers, include:
    (I'll link these up, add tags, etc. later)
  • Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot? -

    This site may well be a joke, but I wanted to point out the strangeness of it. Something to consider when you see ads for clinical trials.
    Update: Now that there is a companion site with videos, it's clear that this is a joke. The M&I site (separate) is currently still as described here, and the lesson about examining the legitimacy of ads for clinical trials stands.

    Browsing through the Nashville Scene last night, I found an ad recruiting men into studies of "Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea," leading to the website [Note: At the time of the original post, this site led here, the "MacInnes and Porritt Institute" site, not to the current site with videos]. This struck me as odd, because in medical terminology, dysmenorrhea very specifically means painful menstruation. The second odd bit is that "cyclical non-uterine dysmenorrhea" does not seem to be a "real" term, and a Google search turned it up solely on the website of the MacInnes and Porritt Institute (the menwithcramps people). The site goes on to call the condition "male menstrual cramps," and the call for study volunteers states:
    Do you experience monthly cramping and pain in the lower abdomen and upper groin?

    Do these cramps interfere with work, sports, parenting, or fun?

    Do you have monthly gas-like pain with no associated "release?"

    You may have Male Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea, or "Male Menstrual Cramps." If so, you may be eligible to participate in a Phase I Clinical Research Study to evaluate new progressive treatments for this disorder. Qualified male volunteers will receive study-related care at no cost. Your identity and information will be held in the strictest confidence whenever possible.*
    Other oddities from the site:
  • "We are very proud and excited to welcome Dr. Gerhardt Fardel as the MacInnes and Porritt "Alice MacInnes Visiting Fellow" for the period beginning August 2006. Fardel's field research seeking alternative methods to the Heimlich Maneuver is now complete and his work is singularly focused on finding a treatment and cure for Cyclical Non-Uterine Dysmenorrhea (CNUD), commonly called Male Menstrual Cramps. Dr. Fardel has conducted an enviable body of research over his distinguished career. He has posed over a thousand new hypotheses and theorems resulting in over 100 clinical studies..."
    Well, a PubMed search for the author Fardel G turned up 10 results, primarily representing an infectious disease researcher working in France; it's not clear that this is the same Fardel.

  • "Over his own scientific career, Dr. Gerhardt Fardel has endeavored to avoid the great corrupting influences of fame, choosing to work only on under-reported projects, and managing to never attract financial success or professional notoriety of any kind. This has been his preference."
    Um, okay. This is unusual because most scientists do their work with the intent of eventually having it peer-reviewed and published in order to share their findings. Given that a PubMed search for articles published in the last 1 year (which wouldn't even represent all of the health-related research published in a year) turned up 680,408 results, publishing a couple of papers on your research would hardly automatically make you susceptible to "corrupting influences of fame." The lack of published articles seems to contradict the website's claim that "Gerhardt Fardel is also a scientist of some note in certain scientific circles."

  • Where are they?
    "We're Here to Stay
    The MacInnes and Porritt Institute is housed in a beautiful landmark building just off the main commercial district located near the new downtown research park in a formerly unincorporated development zone. We welcome your visits."
    That's incredibly vague. No other location information is available on the site. A WHOIS search turns up the following information for the domain registration; the PO Box address seems to belong to Network Solutions, providing no additional information about the Institute's location:
    MacInnes and Porritt Institute
    c/o Network Solutions
    P.O. Box 447
    Herndon, VA 20172-0447
    Phone: 570-708-8780

  • You can't actually volunteer for a study:
    According to the site, "As of August 30, 2006, our study has been closed. Participants have been selected from the pool of volunteers." So why are they advertising in a late September issue of The Scene? The lack of solid information about where studies are conducted, who oversees them, and other details (such as contact information) is also troublesome. If any of you have additional information on this, I'd love to hear about it.

    The terminology just bothers me - you can't have "Male Menstrual Cramps," because males don't menstruate. Males can have pelvic pain, but it's misleading to label it menstrual, and I have trouble with anyone who's starting a study from a false premise.

    Questions to ask before consenting to be part of a clinical trial (provided by the FDA):
    * What is the study trying to find out?
    * What kinds of test and exams will I have to take while I'm in the study? How much time do these take? What is involved in each test?
    * How often does the study require me to go to the doctor or clinic?
    * Will I be hospitalized? If so, how often and for how long?
    * What are the costs to me? Will my health insurance pay for it?
    * What follow-up will there be?
    * What will happen at the end of the study?
    * What are my other treatment choices? How do they compare with the treatment being studied?
    * What side effects can I expect from the treatment being tested? How do they compare with side effects of standard treatment?
    * How long will the study last?

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Clinical Trials; Dysmenorrhea; Ethics, Research; Pelvic Pain

  • Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    More Bans on Photography and Videotaping During Labor and Delivery

    Via Kevin, MD, Florida Hospital is banning cameras in its labor and delivery rooms. According to one Hospital representative, "'You don't go into the operating room and take pictures of surgical procedures,' said Pat DuRant, Florida Hospital's assistant vice president of women's and medical-surgical services."

    Except, sometimes you do, such as in this Florida Hospital surgical video, "Advanced Technique for Minimally Invasive Hysterectomy," broadcast and archived via MedlinePlus's selection of surgical procedure videos (which include operative videos provided by numerous hospitals nationwide).

    From the article:
    Others have responded that the decision is based on liability worries, rather than real patient care concerns.
    Representatives of the Central Florida Birth Network, an association of midwives, doulas and birth educators, don't buy arguments that cameras compromise safety by distracting staffers.

    "If as long as they ahead of time say, 'This is your videotaping area; stay over here in this area,' I don't see why there should be a problem with it," said Sonia Eittson, co-chair of the group.
    "Instead of being worried about patient care, they're worried about somebody screwing up and it being caught on film," she said.
    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Delivery Rooms; Motion Pictures OR Photography; Parturition

    100 Best Companies for Working Mothers

    Working Mother has released its annual list of the "family friendliest" companies in America. The methodology for the results indicates that the listed companies were chosen from among those that completed extensive applications, which "includes detailed questions about the workforce, compensation, child-care and flexibility programs, leave policies and more. The application checks the usage, availability and tracking of programs, as well as the accountability of managers who oversee them...Seven areas are measured and scored: workforce profile, compensation, child care, flexibility, time off and leaves, family-friendly programs and company culture."

    The WM site allows you to browse by name, search by state, browse by industry, and other options. However, for an easier to browse version of the complete list, see this compilation in USA Today.

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Job Satisfaction; Parents; Women, Working; Workplace

    [Note to the librarians: MeSH includes a term for working women, but no equivalent term for working men or working parents]

    Tuesday, September 26, 2006

    House Passes Senate's Child Custody Protection Act/Interstate Abortion Bill

    HR 1039 passed in the House today (9/26); the resolution was to consider the Child Custody Protection Act previously passed by the Senate by a vote of 65-54) (S403), "to prohibit taking minors across State lines in circumvention of laws requiring the involvement of parents in abortion decisions." The Senate bill reads, in part, "(1) GENERALLY- Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly transports a minor across a State line, with the intent that such minor obtain an abortion, and thereby in fact abridges the right of a parent under a law requiring parental involvement in a minor's abortion decision, in force in the State where the minor resides, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." The House passed the bill 247-157 [see how your Rep voted].

    (Note to TN readers: Ford didn't vote on this one)
    Also: NYTimes: House passes abortion bill on minors

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Abortion, Induced

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born (New York Times Book Review)

    I haven't read this book yet, but this review of Tina Cassidy's Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born has piqued my interest. The book addresses the history of childbirth practices and attitudes, and arose out of the author's disappointment with her own birth experience. I'm going to try to find a copy, and will post a review when I've read it.

    Also from the New York Times:
    Disparities: Caveat for Doctors on Breast Implant Recipients
    What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?

    One Vaccine, 100 Voices - HPV Vaccines and Screening in the Prevention of Cervical Cancer

    A supplement to the journal Vaccine has been published (free, full-text online), focusing at length on the HPV vaccine and cervical cancer as an "update for paediatricians, gynaecologists, health educators, policy decision makers, industry and major donor institutions worldwide." [see the Elsevier announcement]. The 100 contributers to the supplement include medical and public health professionals from several countries, commenting in six sections: HPV as a Major Public Health Problem; Screening for Cervical Cancer: What Has Been Achieved and What Can Be Achieved; Prophylactic HPV Vaccines; Integrating HPV Vaccines and Screening; Public Health Aspects of HPV Vaccine Introduction; Research Needs and Opportunities in HPV-Based Vaccination and Prevention. The language is rather technical, but the supplement addresses interesting topics such as "psychosocial aspects of vaccine acceptability" (Ch 24), "HPV vaccine use in the developing world" (Ch 15), and "screening for cervical cancer in developing countries" (Ch 7). Other epidemiological, public health, screening, and application issues are also discussed.

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Papillomavirus, Human; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention and control; Vaccines

    Survey For Women with Spinal Cord Injuries and Disorders

    The United Spinal Association is surveying women with spinal cord injuries and disorders. According to the organization, "The purpose of the survey is to determine the specific needs, concerns and interests of women with SCI/SCD as they relate to healthcare and health information, community resources, civil rights and overall quality of life."

    The survey is available at

    The organization also provides a brochure on women's health [PDF], with tips specific to those with spinal cord issues.

    Related health information links from MedlinePlus:
    Spinal Cord Diseases
    Spinal Cord Injuries

    Technorati Tags: ;
    MeSH Tags: Spinal Cord Diseases; Spinal Cord Injuries; Questionnaires

    Sunday, September 24, 2006

    Quick Links

    Interesting items from around the women's health-related portion of the blogosphere:

    Belly Tales has a report of breastfeeding harrassment by employees of a New York City Toys R Us store, and a report that the ACLU has gotten involved. She also discusses the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, and links to an interesting birth story.

    Related links:
    National Advocated for Pregnant Women
    Meconium Happens
    Dispute over breast-feeding - New York Times
    NYCLU press release

    Midwifery Today has The Pink Kit: Essential Preparations for your Birthing Body

    The Well-Timed Period refers you to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals' menstrual suppression tool.

    Friday, September 22, 2006

    All About Women Event This Weekend (Nashville, TN)

    This year's All About Women event kicked off this morning and continues Saturday (9am - 7pm each day) at the Nashville Convention Center. Admission is free, and there will be door prizes, free health screenings, entertainment, and educational offerings. Exhibitors range from the serious to the pampering, including Metro Police's Domestic Violence Division (offering counseling for leaving dangerous relationships), Nashville CARES, Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry (offering oral health screenings), League of Women Voters (register to vote!), Kroger Pharmacy (BP, cholesterol, and blood glucose screening), Domestic Violence Intervention Center, Alive Hospice, as well as Mary Kay, Arbonne, and Avon. There are many others, offering a variety of services, listed here. There is free parking and shuttles to the event at LP Field.

    Oh My, That's Not Supposed to Be There

    Ladies, just because it's there, doesn't mean you should put random stuff in it...
    From ER blogger Movin' Meat:
    "She was brought in from the county jail by correctional officers. They were concerned about her altered mental status, and suspicious of drug use. They had a reason to think she was concealing drugs "on her person."

    Um, does that mean what I think it does?

    Unfortunately, yes, it did. She had been incapable of cooperating with a body cavity search due to her agitation, and in the ED she was thrashing about in four-point restraints and completely incoherent. So the ususal work-up was begun: CT scan of the brain, blood tests, etc. Also, an X-ray of the abdomen to rule out any body packing. This is what we saw:"
    Check out the rest of the post for X-ray image and conclusion.

    Michigan Senate Passes HPV Vaccination Bill

    An update on this previous post - Michigan passed (36-1) the bill requiring girls entering 6th grade to either get the HPV vaccine, or have their parents be informed about the vaccine and opt out.
    (found via the Kaiser Network)

    CDC Recommends Routine HIV Testing

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released "Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings," which includes the following major revisions to previous guidelines:
    For patients in all health-care settings
  • HIV screening is recommended for patients in all health-care settings after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).
  • Persons at high risk for HIV infection should be screened for HIV at least annually.
  • Separate written consent for HIV testing should not be required; general consent for medical care should be considered sufficient to encompass consent for HIV testing.
  • Prevention counseling should not be required with HIV diagnostic testing or as part of HIV screening programs in health-care settings.

    For pregnant women
  • HIV screening should be included in the routine panel of prenatal screening tests for all pregnant women.
  • HIV screening is recommended after the patient is notified that testing will be performed unless the patient declines (opt-out screening).
  • Separate written consent for HIV testing should not be required; general consent for medical care should be considered sufficient to encompass consent for HIV testing.
  • Repeat screening in the third trimester is recommended in certain jurisdictions with elevated rates of HIV infection among pregnant women.
  • These recommendations are not requirements, but are likely to influence healthcare providers. The rationale for the update includes the following points (see the link above for refs):
  • The annual number of AIDS cases and deaths declined substantially after 1994 but stabilized during 1999--2004 (1). However, since 1994, the annual number of cases among blacks, members of other racial/ethnic minority populations, and persons exposed through heterosexual contact has increased.
  • By 2002, an estimated 38%--44% of all adults in the United States had been tested for HIV; 16--22 million persons aged 18--64 years are tested annually for HIV (3). However, at the end of 2003, of the approximately 1.0--1.2 million persons estimated to be living with HIV in the United States, an estimated one quarter (252,000--312,000 persons) were unaware of their infection and therefore unable to benefit from clinical care to reduce morbidity and mortality (4). A number of these persons are likely to have transmitted HIV unknowingly (5).
  • HIV infection is consistent with all generally accepted criteria that justify screening: 1) HIV infection is a serious health disorder that can be diagnosed before symptoms develop; 2) HIV can be detected by reliable, inexpensive, and noninvasive screening tests; 3) infected patients have years of life to gain if treatment is initiated early, before symptoms develop; and 4) the costs of screening are reasonable in relation to the anticipated benefits (30). Among pregnant women, screening has proven substantially more effective than risk-based testing for detecting unsuspected maternal HIV infection and preventing perinatal transmission (31--33).
  • The 2005 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that 47% of high school students reported that they had had sexual intercourse at least once, and 37% of sexually active students had not used a condom during their most recent act of sexual intercourse (76). More than half of all HIV-infected adolescents are estimated not to have been tested and are unaware of their infection (77,78).
  • Recent studies demonstrate that voluntary HIV screening is cost-effective even in health-care settings in which HIV prevalence is low (26,27,86).
  • Perinatal HIV transmission continues to occur, primarily among women who lack prenatal care or who were not offered voluntary HIV counseling and testing during pregnancy. A substantial proportion of the estimated 144--236 perinatal HIV infections in the United States each year can be attributed to the lack of timely HIV testing and treatment of pregnant women (102). Multiple barriers to HIV testing have been identified, including language barriers; late entry into prenatal care; health-care providers' perceptions that their patients are at low risk for HIV; lack of time for counseling and testing, particularly for rapid testing during labor and delivery; and state regulations requiring counseling and separate informed consent (103).
  • Other Resources:
  • U.S. Urges H.I.V. Tests for Adults and Teenagers - New York Times
  • U.S. Recommends Routine Testing For the AIDS Virus
  • CDC Recommends Routine AIDS Screening - NPR's All Things Considered
  • Initial Results From Washington, D.C., HIV Testing Program Show City's HIV Prevalence More Than Twice National Average - Medical News Today (thanks to BeckyJ for this and the previous link) and related, City Tests Reveal Infection Rate Double the U.S. Average, regarding DC's mass testing program
  • HIV Antibody Testing - Lab Tests Online
  • Women and HIV/AIDS - National Women's Health Information Center
  • HIV and AIDS -
  • General HIV/AIDS Information (for patients/general public) - AIDSinfo
  • Thursday, September 21, 2006

    Pregnant Woman Support Act

    Representative Lincoln Davis (D-TN) introduced the Pregnant Woman Support Act in a press conference yesterday. I have not yet found the bill on the THOMAS website, so I'm not sure if is has been formally introduced in the House. I notice that no pro-choice groups are listed as supporting the initiative, so there may be a devil in the details. Davis has earned a 0% score from NARAL Pro-Choice America for his record of opposing choice. However, if this bill really relieves pressures on new and working mothers, that's a good thing. More on this as it becomes available; I'm withholding judgment until I see the text of the bill. Davis's press release, with interesting points highlighted:

    September 20, 2006


    WASHINGTON, D.C.-- U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis introduced the Pregnant Women Support Act during a press conference in Washington. A combination of 14 different policy programs, the proposal aims to reduce the number of abortions in America by 95 percent over the next ten years by helping women make informed decisions, supporting pregnant women, and assisting new parents.

    "By looking into the different reasons that women choose abortions, rather than just politicizing the issue, we have been able to come up with a comprehensive and commonsense initiative that will empower women and encourage them to choose life. I strongly urge my colleagues to adopt this proposal so we can reduce the number of abortions in America by 95 percent in the next ten years."

    One of the 14 proposals calls for expanding coverage to pregnant women and unborn children through Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). One of the key provisions of the proposal calls for banning the discriminatory practice against pregnant women in the health insurance industry by removing pregnancy from all "pre-existing condition" lists in health care.

    Other provisions call for making adoption tax credits permanent, provides grants for low-income parenting college students, fully funding the federal WIC program, increased funding for domestic violence programs, and provides free home visits by registered nurses for new mothers.

    Democrats for Life of America, an organization supporting pro-life elected officials, worked closely with Congressman Davis on this major policy initiative.

    "Congressman Davis's Pregnant Women Support Act is a great bill. It places more emphasis on helping pregnant women during and after pregnancy than any bill we can recall. Davis's bill offers real support and real solutions to help a woman make an informed decision and receive the support she needs to carry her child to term," said Kristen Day, Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America.

    "This initiative provides the kind of support, information, and options that should be readily available to pregnant women in any society that truly believes in the sanctity of life. Congress can and should act immediately to implement this 95-10 initiative," said Davis.

    The legislation was unveiled Wednesday during a news conference in Washington where Davis was joined by Republican lead cosponsor Rep. Chris Smith and Reps. Harold Ford, Jr. [note: Smith was one of the Reps pushing controversial fetal pain legislation], Charlie Melancon, and Dan Lipinski. Other original cosponsors include Reps. Marion Berry, Allen Boyd, Jerry Costello, Mike Fitzpatrick, Tim Holden, Marcy Kaptur, Mark Kennedy, Dale Kildee, Dan Lipinski, Jim Marshall, Mike McIntrye, Alan Mollohan, James Oberstar, Solomon Ortiz, and Colin Peterson. Organizations who have sent statements in support of the bill include the National Association of Evangelicals, Sojourners/Call to Renewal, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans United for Life, Democrats for Life of America, National Council on Adoption, Life Education and Resource Network, Redeem the Vote, CARENET, Tony Campolo, founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, Joe Turnham, Chairman, Alabama Democratic Party, U.S. Senate candidate Bob Casey, and actor, Martin Sheen.


    Wednesday, September 20, 2006

    "EC" Certainly Doesn't Stand for "Easy Contraception"

    One blogger's frustrating tale of being denied emergency contraception (complete with inappropriate questions about her marital status, nurses who don't know the difference between RU-486 and EC, and overall runaround). The blogger is understandably bitter. More on this later if time permits (bring back my stupid laptop, man!).

    (found via Feministing)

    Bleed Like a Pirate Day

    Yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day. In that theme, here's one woman's funny pirate-themed and anti-girly take on the tampon package.

    Monday, September 18, 2006

    Book Review: The Story of Jane

    I just finished The Story of Jane, a history of the "Jane" organization formed by Chicago activist to refer women to trusted underground abortion providers. The group formed in 1969 and worked until the Roe V Wade decision in 1973. Kaplan's work tells the story of the organization's founding, which arose out of a perceived need for women to have more organized and reliable access to trusted abortion providers. The women of Jane began by simply referring women to abortionists and providing abortion counseling services. A few members began observing and assisting with abortions performed by one doctor who regularly served Jane's clients; when it was revealed that the abortionist was not a physician, the women were inspired to learn the procedure themselves and began to offer D&Cs, and later, induced miscarriages.

    Although the organizational history is interesting, the broader picture of illegal abortion in America is likely of greater interest to modern readers. Jane's illegal and controversial actions are grounded in the realities the women of the time faced, and the text paints a picture of these women that challenges stereotypes of the "typical" abortion-seeker. The women Jane served represented a broad swath of society, each woman with her own circumstances and concerns. The text also makes it clear that women will still seek out abortions when it is illegal, but wealthy women have options for safe procedures via travel that are not available to women with more limited means. As such, the text is interesting both as a historical portrait of pre-Roe America, but as a consideration of how women's lives may be affected in a post-Roe nation.

    Kaplan L. The story of Jane: the legendary underground feminist abortion service. New York: Pantheon Books; 1995.

    Update: Check out tons of Jane-related information from the Chicago Women's Liberation Union. This includes articles about the group, original brochures, stories from participants, video, and links to additional sources.

    You get tags when I get my laptop back

    Saturday, September 16, 2006

    von Eschenbach Confirmation Challenged Again

    I previously posted on political delays in the confirmation of a new FDA commissioner. Democrats vowed to hold the confirmation until Plan B emergency contraception was approved for sale over-the-counter, and conservatives wanted the nomination pulled because von Eschenbach was expected to approve OTC access. Now, according to the New York Times, Republican Senator James DeMint (SC) is vowing to block the nomination unless RU-486 is taken off the market. According to DeMint's press secretary: "Senator DeMint believes that a qualified F.D.A. nominee would publicly discourage RU-486’s use and take immediate steps to remove it from the market." The Times article doesn't fully elaborate on the rationale, but DeMint's position statement, "Valuing Life," states his belief that, "The right to life is not something that begins or ends at our time of choosing. Rather, this unalienable right begins at conception and ends at natural death."

    DeMint also introduced a bill (S. 511) on March 3rd to have the FDA suspend approval of the drug. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. It is referred to as "Holly's Law," after a woman who died after taking the drug. Objection to the drug has been framed by Republicans in terms of safety, despite evidence that giving birth is more potentially deadly to women than this drug and that the deaths may have been related to an unapproved method of administration (see previous related post, and DeMint's comments at the bill's introduction).

    It's not as though the FDA has things besides political maneuvering to worry about, like, say, killer spinach.

    (Found via the Kaiser Network)

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Abortion, Induced; Mifepristone; United States Food and Drug Administration

    Light Posting for the Next Week

    The husband is taking the laptop on a trip, work is hectic, and we're about to close on a house. I'll try to update when possible, but posts will be sporadic for at least the next week.

    -Your medical librarian blogger who is one year closer to 30 as of Friday. :)

    Wednesday, September 13, 2006

    Doctors Illegally Obtain IUDs, at Least 850 Women Affected

    (Alternate title: Because if it's going in a uterus, you might as well buy it out of the trunk of a hoopty)*

    According to this LA Times story, "At least 850 women in Southern California are being notified by letter that their physicians are being investigated for allegedly illegally obtaining contraceptives from unlicensed Internet- or Mexico-based vendors, state health officials said." No specific health threat was identified, and a state health official stated for the piece that IUDs do seem to be safe effective in other countries.

    From the article:
  • "Doctors in California are required to buy IUDs from licensed distributors in the U.S."

  • "Authorities ordered the eight physicians identified in the probe to send letters to all women who had received IUDs since Jan. 1, 2005, whether they were being treated in a state-funded program or not. Patients were advised to consult with a physician on whether to leave any unapproved IUD in place. Women who have already had such IUDs removed do not need to take any action."

  • "Officials identified one physician, Dr. Hezekiah Moore of Long Beach, who they alleged has not agreed to notify his patients as directed. Health authorities are seeking to suspend Moore from receiving state money for providing care to the poor under Medi-Cal and the Family PACT program. Because Moore has refused to send the letters, the state will send letters notifying the 52 patients in those programs. Moore said he has been notifying his patients about the issue but objected to the state's request that he send a letter implying that he might have violated state and federal law."

  • "Authorities declined to name the other seven physicians because they remain under investigation. They have offices in Alhambra, Downey, Glendale, Hemet, Los Angeles, Norwalk, Santa Ana and Van Nuys."

    (Found via this Kaiser Network report)

    *No, you really shouldn't.

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Intrauterine Devices
  • Michigan Senator Proposes HPV Vaccine for School Enrollment

    On CNN today (via the AP), the following article appeared: Michigan legislation would require girls to get HPV vaccine. Based on the title and the piece, you might assume that the bill introduced by State Senator Beverly Hammerstrom (R) would require Michigan girls entering 6th grade to receive the vaccine in order to enroll in school. A Family Research Council representative was quoted in response as though it does, saying "We don't feel using school attendance as a form of coercion to get parents to vaccinate their child is appropriate, simply because this disease is not transmitted through casual contact the way other diseases are that are subject to school mandates," (said Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.).

    However, the actual proposed legislation (see Senate Introduced Bill, a PDF) requires just one of the following:
    "Beginning with the 2008 school year, the parent of legal guardian of a female child enrolling in grade 6 for the first time in a public or nonpublic school shall submit to school officials 1 of the following:
    (a) A statement signed by a physician that the child has received the human papillomavirus vaccine.
    (b) A statement signed by the child's parent or guardian to the effect that the parent or legal guardian has received the information on the connection between the human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, as required under section 9250B of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.9205B, and that the parent or legal guardian has elected for the child to not receive the human papillomavirus vaccine."
    After reading the bill, it is clear that parents have a choice to opt out, as long as they are making an informed decision. However, the point that the virus is not transmitted through casual contact so should not be required for school attendance is an interesting one. Michigan requires fairly standard infectious disease immunizations for grade school children, such as the MMR, Hepatitis B, and chicken pox (varicella). However, they also seem to require tetanus vaccination, which is not a contagious disease. Should immunizations be required for agents which are not readily passed among students? Exemptions are already available for religious or medical reasons, and the HPV legislation clearly allows parents to opt out without either of these reasons. What do you think?

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Papillomavirus, Human; Uterine Cervical Neoplasms/prevention and control; Vaccines

    Information Being Collected on Plan B Refusals

    The folks at All Girl Army / Scarleteen have posted a practical guide for women in response to the FDA's decision to make Plan B emergency contraception available over-the-counter for women 18 and older. It includes information on where and how the drug will be available (behind the counter with valid ID), cost, and how emergency contraception works. They are also collecting reports of pharmacist/pharmacy refusals to provide OTC or fill prescriptions for Plan B, which they will make available online so women can be aware in advance of where they are unlikely to receive service. Refusal reports can be emailed to planc at heathercorinna dot com. Reports sent to the ACLU will also be forwarded on for this project. Linked from the site is this map of conscience clauses and "must fill" requirements by state in the U.S. (as of 9/6/06).

    Scarleteen is a sex education website that also hosts discussion boards, which are staffed with volunteers who answer sexual health-related questions. All Girl Army is a blogger collection of self-identified feminists ages 10-23 intended to empower young women and girls.

    (Thanks to the seemingly tireless sexual health activist Heather Corinna for the heads up on this)

    Technorati Tags: ; ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Contraception, Postcoital; Levonorgestrel

    The HPV Test - Web Resource

    I recently was informed of the website, The HPV Test. The site provides information about testing for the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus. The website was created by the Digene Corporation, the maker of the HC2 High-Risk HPV DNA Test, which is used to screen for 13 high-risk types of HPV which have been associated with the development of cervical cancer. The test is primarily for women over 30, who are considered to be at greater risk for developing cervical cancer.

    I would generally warn you to be cautious when using websites created by or for drug/biotechnology companies because they have a product to sell, a good general guideline for evaluating health-related websites. However, The HPV Test website appears to provide reliable information on the company's test, and may help more women become aware of this testing option. I was not very familiar with this test until I learned of the website; check it out for yourself and find out more. The site includes FAQs on pap and HPV testing, facts on HPV and cervical cancer, how to get the HPV test, advice on understanding your test results and talking to your partner, news, information for men, and other resources. You can also sign up for email alerts, read survivor stories, and test your own HPV and cervical cancer knowledge.

    Related Links:
  • FDA approves expanded use of HPV test (3/31/03)
  • Information about the test from Lab Tests Online
  • Human Papillomavirus Testing - American Academy of Family Physicians,
  • Thinking about testing for HPV? - American Cancer Society

    (Thanks to Tristan Panasik of DigitalGrit for alerting me to the site)

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: DNA Probes, HPV; HPV DNA Test [keyword]; Papillomavirus, Human
  • Thursday, September 07, 2006

    The Breast Cancer Site Needs Your Help (in just one click a day)

    I received the following email from the folks at The Breast Cancer Site today:

    We need your help. In recent months, we have experienced a drop in the number of clicks on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button, resulting in fewer working poor, homeless and uninsured women receiving the screening they need to detect breast cancer...

    Every click on the pink button sends funding to the National Breast Cancer Foundation to pay for mammograms for women who cannot afford them. The more people who click, the more free mammograms we can fund. Early detection is crucial to surviving breast cancer. The bottom line: We need more clicks.

    Please take a moment to forward the virtual walking shoes below to your friends and family. Ask them to take steps to fight breast cancer by visiting The Breast Cancer Site daily. Please forward this message today.

    We can't do it without you! If you need help remembering your daily click, sign up for our free reminder service to receive a short text email message that includes a convenient link to

    With your help we can help women win the race against breast cancer. Thank you for your support.


    Tim Kunin & Greg Hesterberg
    The Breast Cancer Site
    Now, I don't know how dramatic the "recent months" statement really is. Click stats are available on the site, and do show some decrease. However, I just don't care. I come from non-profit work, and it's hard to keep people engaged. It's one click a day - go click to send funds to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which "uses funds from the site specifically to provide free mammograms to minority, low-income and working-poor women living in inner cities across the United States." I'd like to see some of that money go to women in similar situations in rural areas as well, but I'm clicking anyway.

    Note: affiliated with the site are one-click options related to hunger, child health, literacy, rainforests, and animal rescue.

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Breast Neoplasms/diagnosis; Charities; Mammography

    Wednesday, September 06, 2006

    Our Bodies, Ourselves Launches a Blog

    The women's health education pioneers from Our Bodies, Ourselves have launched a blog, "Our Bodies Our Blog." The organization already has an incredibly useful web presence in the form of an extensive list of health information links by topic. Check out the blog, and spend a little time exploring the rest of the site, which includes book excerpts and other interesting resources.

    I'm honored that their second post links to two of my own on barriers to breastfeeding and the Department of Health and Human Services's breastfeeding promotion campaign. Other current posts at OBOB include coverage of the HPV vaccine and new research into risk factors for autism. They also have a blogroll of several other feminist- and health-related blogs worth a look.

    Technorati Tags: ; ;
    MeSH Tags: Women's Health

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Two-Class System for Nursing Mothers

    The New York Times* published an article on Friday, "On the job, nursing mothers find a 2-class system." It addresses nicely some of the concerns raised in response to the breastfeeding campaign that generated controversy earlier this year**. It begins by contrasting corporate and retail Starbucks employees - the corporate mother has access to a lactation room, complete with a comfy recliner, magazines, privacy curtains, and a corporate-issue breast pump, whereas the in-store employee must sequester herself in a customer restroom stall and hope she finishes before her allotted break is over. The point, which the breastfeeding campaigns didn't address, is that working class women are often unable to breastfeed because they have to work but have no ability to pump at their workplace.

    In another anecdote from the piece, one worker reports: "'I feel like I had to choose between feeding my baby the best food and earning a living,' said Jennifer Munoz, a former cashier at Resorts Atlantic City Casino who said she faced obstacles that included irregular breaks and a refrigerator behind a locked door. She said she often dumped her milk into the toilet, knowing that if she did not pump every few hours, her milk supply would soon dwindle." The casino responds that they have policies in place that would have accomodated Munoz. Clearly, there was some disconnect between the existing policy, Munoz, and her employer.

    The article also mentions states' somewhat wishy-washy breastfeeding laws, which often consist of language stating that employers "may provide reasonable accomodations," which is notably different from requiring such accomodations. In addition to workplace barriers, the article suggests that many low-income women cannot afford to purchase a breast pump. A skeptic might suggest that if a woman can't afford a breast pump, she can't afford formula, either. However, if any of you have ever subsisted on a job such as waitressing, you know how it can be easier to purchase a little bit of something that is more expensive in the long run than to lay out a week's pay for one item (if that weren't the case, laundomats and furniture rental stores would hardly exist). Added to the workplace barriers, it's easy to understand how women might make this choice and feel that there is no choice at all.

    The piece offers other anecdotes (alongside statistics that suggest that many women try to breastfeed, but many stop eventually, and 1/3 of those report work problems as the primary reason):

  • Regarding a Red Lobster waitress in Evansville, IL: "According to the complaint Ms. Walker filed with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, the restaurant ignored a note she brought from her nurse explaining her need to pump. The managers cut her hours, assigned her to the worst tables and ridiculed her — for instance, jiggling the restaurant’s milk containers and joking that they were for her. Eventually Ms. Walker’s milk ducts clogged, landing her in the hospital with mastitis." (Red Lobster officials insist that they did provide appropriate support, but declined to provide details due to the confidential settlement)

  • "Shortly after Marlene Warfield, a dental hygienist in Tacoma, Wash., began pumping on the job, she said her boss wore a Halloween costume consisting of a large silver box — his interpretation of a pump, perhaps — with a cutout labeled “insert breast here.” When he instructed Ms. Warfield to leave her pump at home, she said, she quit her job— and consulted the local human rights commission, which found nothing illegal about the dentist’s actions."

    Associate professor of pediatrics Dr. Barbara L. Phillips sums up the dilemma nicely when she "recalled a small furor about whether Jane Swift, the former governor of Massachusetts who gave birth to twins, would breast-feed after returning to work. 'That’s a great thing to do, but she had her own office and could set her own schedule,' Dr. Philipp said. 'The one I want to know about is the lady cleaning her office.'"

    Related: A breastfeeding helpline (both English and Spanish) has been set up at 1-800-994-9662 (9am-6pm EST). According to the website: "The National Women's Health Information Center has La Leche League International trained Breastfeeding Peer Counselors who can help you with common breastfeeding questions on issues ranging from nursing positions to pumping and storage, and provide you with support to make breastfeeding a success. The Helpline is open to nursing mothers as well as their partners, families, prospective parents, health professionals and institutions seeking to better educate new mothers about the benefits of breastfeeding." (not for medical diagnosis)

    *Try BugMeNot if you have trouble accessing the story.
    **The US Department of Health and Human Services is reportedly slated to launch a campaign, "The Business Case for Breastfeeding," that will address some of these issues. Materials from or regarding the program are not yet available. The most recent ad campaign seemed to suggest that women simply didn't know breastfeeding is best, despite statistics indicating that over 70% of women at least attempt to breastfeed. I am glad to hear of this new employer-focused effort, as I believe that workplace barriers are a major reason more women don't breastfeed.

    Technorati Tags:
    MeSH Tags: Breast Feeding