Playing Politics With Zika

Is this any way to fight an epidemic? The Zika virus, which if contracted during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain, has been reported in at least 45 states, including Connecticut. There is no treatment for the infection, neither in patients who are pregnant and those who aren’t—though work continues on a vaccine. Of course, that work could go more quickly if there was adequate funding. Federal officials have known about the seriousness of the Zika virus for more than a year, yet important funding has been tied up in the worst kind of Washington impasse.

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Who’s Guarding Our Reproductive Rights In Hospital Mergers?

Officials at St. Mary’s Hospital and Waterbury Hospital began negotiations in 2011 to merge and join a Texas-owned company. But the state Permanent Commission on the Status of Women—with MergerWatch, a hospital watchdog group—successfully argued against the merger by making the case that since the new hospital would honor Catholic religious directives, a significant portion of patients would be left vulnerable—because God help you if you are a woman and need emergency reproductive services at a Roman Catholic hospital. Medical professionals at Catholic-owned or -sponsored hospitals operate under directives—known officially as the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. These directives come from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and take 43 pages (plus footnotes) to describe what constitutes appropriate Catholic health care.

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Aging Boomers Highlight Need For More Geriatric Specialists

Health experts are struggling to narrow the gaps in Connecticut’s geriatric care to meet the needs of the state’s rapidly aging population. The state needs more professionals to focus on geriatric care while also addressing other ways to meet the increasingly complex care needs of older residents, says the American Geriatric Society (AGS). In Connecticut, only 134 certified geriatricians are currently practicing—caring for a 65-plus population that topped 577,000 in 2015, according to the AGS. And that population will continue to grow, the AGS says, with an elderly population of 956,000 expected by 2030. That’s a 40 percent increase, and will require an estimated 340 geriatric specialists to meet that treatment need.

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Health Conference To Focus On Veterans, Aging And LGBT Issues

Health risks challenging veterans, particularly those who have recently returned home from combat, is one of the topics of an upcoming conference for consumers and health care providers. The conference, “Better Health: It’s Your Health, Take Charge,” will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, June 3, at Foxwoods Resort Casino. CT Partners for Health, a coalition of dozens of stakeholders working to help consumers better understand health care, is organizing the event. Conference breakout sessions will address a wide range of topics, including caring for veterans. That discussion will focus on the health-related challenges veterans face after they return from combat zones.

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What’s Behind Dramatic Increase In Suicides Among Girls?

The incidence of suicide in nearly all age groups has increased by 24 percent since 1999—and by 200 percent among girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Theories behind such astounding unprecedented increases, reported recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vary. Some research says that among older Americans, the recent recession may have played a part, though the correlation is not a simple one. As for why so many more young girls are killing themselves, the answers there, too, are complicated. Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 showed the greatest rise in suicide of any age group since 1999, from 0.5 per 100,000 to 1.5 per 100,000 in 2014, according to last month's CDC report.

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3D Mammography Bill Headed To Governor’s Desk

The Senate voted unanimously Wednesday night to send a bill requiring private insurance companies to cover 3D mammography to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s desk. Sen. Joe Crisco, D-Woodbridge, whose wife is currently going through breast cancer treatments, fought back tears as he talked about how his wife had annual mammograms and checkups every four months, and yet has been fighting breast cancer for two months now. “Chemotherapy treatments, surgery, and now she faces 12 sessions of radiation,” Crisco said. “This new technology is offering new opportunities for physicians to diagnose breast cancer in women and provide life saving treatments earlier than ever.”

To read the full story by Christine Stuart of ctnewsjunkie.com click here.

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FDA Orders Study Of Essure Contraceptive

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday instructed the maker of Essure to conduct further studies on the controversial birth control device, and recommended that a warning be added to the product label. “While the FDA believes Essure remains an appropriate option for the majority of women seeking a permanent form of birth control, some women may be at risk for serious complications,” the agency said in a statement. “These may include persistent pain, perforation of the uterus or fallopian tubes from device migration, abnormal bleeding and allergy or hypersensitivity reactions.”

Essure, approved by the FDA in 2002 for women ages 21 to 45, is a flexible coil that is inserted by doctors into the fallopian tubes. An estimated 750,000 women have received the product, manufactured by Bayer. Essure has been the target of thousands of complaints from women across the country, including in Connecticut.

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Despite Efforts, Black Women Deliver More Preterm Births

Black women in Connecticut remain more likely than white or Hispanic women to deliver preterm babies, despite efforts to reduce the disparity, newly released data show. In 2014, 12 percent of all births by black women in the state were preterm, meaning they occurred before 37 weeks gestation, according to data compiled by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. That compares with 9 percent of all births by white women and 10 percent of all births by Hispanic women that were preterm during the same year. Nationally, the trend was similar with 13 percent of births by black women occurring preterm compared with 9 percent of white women’s births and 9 percent of Hispanic women’s births. In the vast majority of states, black women experience a higher rate of preterm births than whites or Hispanic women, according to the state-by-state comparison of the Kaiser data.

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Mindfulness Moves Into The Mainstream

More Connecticut doctors, therapists and psychologists are turning to the practice of mindfulness to help treat depression, anxiety, chronic pain and even addiction. The practice -- which cultivates an awareness of the present moment and an acceptance of the feelings and emotions that come with it -- has reached the mainstream and is being adopted by new fields. Veterans groups are using mindfulness and yoga as a healing tool. Teachers in some Connecticut elementary schools have incorporated it into their classrooms to help students focus. And universities are offering mindfulness training to help students deal with stress.

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Legislative Proposal Aims To Stem Suicides Of Women Vets

A study showing that women veterans commit suicide at six times the rate of civilian women has prompted U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and colleagues to propose legislation requiring the VA to develop gender-specific suicide prevention programs.

The "Female Veterans Suicide Prevention Act" would expand the Department of Veterans Affairs’ annual evaluation of mental health and suicide-prevention programs to include data specific to female veterans. The act also would require the VA to determine which programs are the most effective for female veterans. “With suicide among women veterans happening at an alarming rate, (the proposed bill) will help save lives by ensuring VA is providing the care, counseling and outreach these veterans need,” Blumenthal said. Co-sponsors include Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

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