Double Dose: Maternal Deaths on the Rise; Surge of Low-Dose Hormones; Demand Not Met for Prenatal Care; and Hot Chicks and Cancer

By Christine Cupaiuolo — September 4, 2007

Most Bizarre Story Angle of the Week: Courtesy of the Boston Globe: “If feminism these days is all about sexiness as power — vanquishing foes with a kiss — then cancer might be the modern girl’s ultimate challenge. Who better to conquer a dread disease than a hot chick with an attitude?”

Maternal Deaths on the Rise: The National Center for Health Statistics last month released a report (PDF) that showed the U.S. maternal mortality rate rose to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2004. The rate was 12 per 100,000 live births in 2003 — the first time the maternal death rate rose above 10 since 1977, reports the AP (via the Washington Post).

Experts point to a jump in Caesarean sections (which now account for 29 percent of all births) and increasing maternal obesity as probable reasons for the increase; some researchers also think a change in how childbirth deaths are reported may play a role.

The Real Nanny Diaries: Heather Hewett, assistant professor of English and coordinator of the women’s studies program at SUNY New Paltz, discusses the novel-turned-film “The Nanny Diaries” and how little it has to with reality — “either with the situation of parents like me, who depend on nannies and babysitters to care for our children, or with the lives of most women who work as caregivers.”

Study Links Non-Stick Chemicals To Low Birth Weight: Babies exposed to chemicals used in non-stick cookware and other consumer products while in their mother’s womb were born at a significantly lower body weight, according to a new study (PDF) published in Environmental Health Perspectives, a publication of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (see press release).

The chemical is perfluorooctanoate (PFOA). Only two studies have been done on the general population thus far, so it’s too soon to say anything definitive, according to the researchers.

Low-Dose Hormones Hit the Shelves: “Patches, pumps, pills, low-dose pills and super-low-dose creams and gels: Ever since the landmark Women’s Health Initiative study found that hormone therapy could be harmful, a dizzying array of new low-dose treatment options have been offered to counter the symptoms of menopause,” reports The New York Times. But the numerous choices have resulted in some confusion for consumer — and doctors. And there’s still some uncertainty about the safety, even in the lower doses.

Flaxseed Shows Potential to Reduce Hot Flashes: A new Mayo Clinic study suggest that dietary therapy using flaxseed can decrease hot flashes in postmenopausal women who do not take estrogen. The findings from the pilot study are published in the summer 2007 issue of the Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology (see press release).

The Reach of “Sicko”: Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll last month to determine the impact of MIchael Moore’s documentary “SIcko.” KFF found that out of a telephone survey of 1,500 adults, only 4 percent said they had seen it, but 46 percent of the respondents said they saw it or heard or read something about it a month after its national release.

Among those familiar with “Sicko,” 45% said they have had a discussion with friends, co-workers, and family about the U.S. health system as a result of the movie; 43% said they were more likely to think there is a need to reform the health system. About equal numbers believe the movie accurately represents problems in the U.S. health system versus overstating them. Still, “Sicko” has not altered what have long been the fundamental factors shaping the public’s views on health care, such as personal health care experiences and proposals from presidential candidates.

Demand Not Met for Prenatal Care: The Washington Post looks at two Virginia counties that are scrambling to provide prenatal care to low-income women. In some cases, the poverty threshold is keeping out women who can’t afford to pay for medical services on their own. Another factor is the high cost of insurance coverage for obstetrics.

“So many are going through pregnancy without care. And the only option is to deliver the baby as an emergency,” said Nora Lobos, a case manager with MotherNet/Healthy Families Loudoun, a nonprofit group that provides support to low-income families in Loudon county.

In Search of Angry White Men: Des Moines Register columnist Rekha Basu wonders why news stories about women bring out the worst in commenters and invites readers to write in (nine pages of responses follow so far):

Start with the bounty of demeaning comments about women that usually follow any story about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. […] But the anti-Clinton tirades are only a small piece of the sexist backlash on the Web. Any story or column about gender inequality or efforts to correct it usually brings on charges of male bashing, or of some hidden Register agenda to promote women at the expense of men. A story about Register publisher Mary Stier leaving to form a media company aimed at women drew postings about a Register feminist bias and even one reference to bra burning.

Stories about women crime victims bring out a rash of victim-blaming comments. A recent piece I wrote about a woman whose deceptive husband has been charged with murder provoked a caustic, “Quick, somebody get this woman sterilized before she reproduces any further.”

One response to “Double Dose: Maternal Deaths on the Rise; Surge of Low-Dose Hormones; Demand Not Met for Prenatal Care; and Hot Chicks and Cancer”

  1. Perhaps we need to look at the way women give birth. I heard back in the day, women gave birth while upright in a birthing chair. Then some wacko king wanted to watch, so that is why women lay down in the west. By being upright and pushing down with gravity it seems more logical.

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