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F.D.A. Panel Recommends Pulling Preterm Birth Drug From the Market

By Christina Jewett,  The New York Times

There has recently been an urgent case to pull the drug Makena, primarily used to prevent preterm birth, from the market. There was concern that the drug was not actually preventing preterm birth as advertised, and the FDA’s advisory panel voted unanimously to do so. Prior to the advisory committee meeting, the FDA said in a statement that failing to withdraw the drug from the market would be a disservice to patients at risk. However, physicians are now concerned that there is no product on the market that can prevent preterm birth, a condition for which Black women are particularly at risk. Researchers and the agency are now under pressure to bring forth a product that could solc this persistent health inequity.

by Madison Woods

How unhealthy is red meat? And how beneficial is it to eat vegetables? A new rating system could help you cut through the health guidelines

By Aleksandr Aravkin,  Christian Razo, and Jeffrey Stanaway, The Conversation

Researchers have developed a new method for assessing health risks that should allow users to easily assess the validity of health advice. The method is a survey that allows policymakers, healthcare workers, and the general public to assess the strength of a correlation between health risk and its corresponding outcome on a rating system. The stronger the correlation of a health risk (i.e. smoking) is to its corresponding outcome (i.e. lung cancer), the more stars it will have. The rating system allows viewers to visually identify the validity of claims, as well as to identify how harmful or protective a behavior is. In the researchers’ analysis, they concluded that out of the 180 behavior-advice pairs they analyzed, only eight received a top score of five stars, which include smoking and lung cancer, and high systolic blood pressure and ischemic heart disease.  They hope this sends a clear message to the public on guidance surrounding healthy and harmful behaviors. Additionally, they hope to take this rating to a policy level in order to create recommendations that impact human health on a large scale. 

— by Chris Ejike

A New Procedure Could Expand Reproductive Choices for Transgender Women 

By Jacqueline Mroz , The New York Times

Reproductive choice can be a difficult challenge for the roughly one in every 1.6 million people in the United States who identify as transgender, including those who were assigned female at birth. Years of estrogen therapy and testosterone suppression can decrease or shut down sperm production. Yet a novel procedure known as “extended sperm search and micro-freeze” (ESSM) is changing this picture. A transgender woman spoke pseudonymously to the New York Times about her experience with the procedure. After 18 years of estrogen therapy, Claire and her wife had been told there was little known possibility of having a child together. Michael Werner, a private-practice urologist in Manhattan specializing in sexual and reproductive health, used the technique to identify and freeze more than 200 individual viable sperm. The technique, which was developed in 2017 as an assist for men with low sperm counts, claims a 90 percent sperm survival rate through extraction, cryopreservation, and thawing process. ESSM may open new possibilities for fertility treatment of trans individuals, but specialists in the field caution that sperm handled in this way is fragile and resulting pregnancies may be at higher risk of miscarriage. 

— by Gabriella Salazar

Items contributed by: Madison Woods, Chris Ejike, and Gabriella Salazar