Archive for pregnancy

The FDA Is Afraid Of Home DNA Tests


pregnancy test

One of the largest selling over the counter items to come along in the past ten years is the home pregnancy test. It's simple, safe and for the most part, accurate. Without doubt, there are false negatives and certainly false positives. Regardless of that fact, women who want the test can drop on down to the drug store and pick up a kit. And for many, when they discover that they are with child, they seek immediate medical attention. They leap right into healthy pre-natal care or address the pregnancy in other ways. But the simple point is that the home test started them on a path toward better care and attention.

USA today reports a startling story about another kind of home testing -- done with a simple swab. It's the home DNA test.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is ordering genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits, saying the company has failed to show that the technology is backed by science.

In a warning letter posted online, FDA regulators say the Silicon Valley company is violating federal law because its products claim to identify health risks for more than 250 diseases and health conditions.

23andme test kit

I can't say that I have ever found need for a DNA test. But I'm sure there are many who do -- it's almost a staple test on Jerry Springer, Dr. Drew, Dr. Phil, and Maury Povich. Yet seemingly there's a large number of people who are using these home tests.

 The proliferation of consumer-marketed genetic tests has troubled many public health officials and doctors who worry that the products are built on flimsy science.

So the FDA is claiming that DNA is flimsy science. Tell that to the people in jail or freed from it because of that flimsy science.

Here's where the wheels of doubt and suspicion start working like the cogs at an old steampunk factory. Who's really against this and why?

The FDA warning takes issue with a number of claims the company makes for its saliva-based test kit, particularly calling it a "first step in prevention" against diseases like diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer. Regulators worry that false results from the test could cause patients to receive inadequate or inappropriate medical care.

Let's look at that for a second. You test positive for a possible disease and you're not going to follow up on it? I would think not knowing you had an illness would contribute more to complications and lack of care than knowing. And now with Obamacare and more  people having health coverage, it's as important as ever to have an idea you may be carrying something that can be cured so you'll seek out medical attention.

23andMe says its test can identify women who carry the BRCA gene mutation that significantly increases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer. But a false result could lead women to undergo unnecessary screening, chemotherapy and surgery.

Isn't no result (not being tested) worse than a false result? Early detection is key in curing. This FDA argument is a bogus one at best. What doctor is going to accept a home test result and operate on someone or give them radiation treatments without doing their own followups? If they do, they don't deserve to have a license.

The FDA's concern with 23andMe appears to center on its commercial approach, which sidesteps doctors and health professionals.

The test also claims to predict how patients will respond to popular drugs, including the ubiquitous blood thinner warfarin, which is used to prevent blood clots. The FDA warns that an inaccurate reading there could "have significant unreasonable risk of illness, injury, or death to the patient," if they don't receive the appropriate drug dose.

Once again, it's time to apply some common sense here. Sometimes one doctor prescribes something and another doctor prescribes something else which in combination could cause a conflict. Don't we as patients want to know that so we can contact our physicians and ask.

Center For Disease Control:

In 2011, drug misuse and abuse caused about 2.5 million emergency department (ED) visits. Of these, more than 1.4 million ED visits were related to pharmaceuticals.

An educated and cautious patient is a good thing. Just accepting meds on face value is the real danger. Doctors should welcome this potential heads up. At the very worst, the patient can call the doctor and tell him/her what their home test revealed. Lives could be saved, not lost.

Why doesn't the FDG have the same problem with home pregnancy tests? It seems perhaps the FDA is showing signs of corruption. If they don't get their bribe, their payoff, they don't give their approval. It might be time for an investigation, a home test, on the FDA and see what kind of maladies they're suffering from.


"It is no longer beneficial to watch the news."


facts schmacts smaller

The other day I posted about my Twitter pal Michael Hiltzik's column about why men should pay for #Obamacare pregnancy coverage.

He nailed it, as he is wont to do. The letters below reflect that, but the one that stood out to me was the last one, which pretty much replicates my mantra, only long form.

With that, here are today's Los Angeles Times letters to the editor, because our voices matter:

Re "Why men should pay for coverage of maternity care," Column, Nov. 6

Michael Hiltzik gets it right in explaining why men pay for maternity coverage and women pay for men to have prostate cancer screening and treatment. The point is to make the coverage universal.

Hiltzik also debunks so much media misinformation about those Obamacare horror stories and the lack of responsible research. I applaud him for digging into the real facts behind the Affordable Care Act and specifically Covered California.

My wife and I have researched coverage options for our 23-year-old son and have found that we are very well served here on the West Coast. Thanks to Hiltzik for clearing up some misconceptions.

Robert McMahon

San Diego


In a media environment dominated by misinformation or willful ignorance, Hiltzik's column laying out the true costs behind the Obamacare debate was remarkably clear.

Hiltzik belongs either on the front page of The Times or on a podium in Washington. He follows the long-forgotten maxim of Joe Friday in "Dragnet," who said, "Just the facts, ma'am."

Eric Alter

Woodland Hills


Hiltzik shows how mainstream television news programs have failed the public. His column proves it is no longer beneficial to watch the news.

It takes a real effort these days to find news sources that do anything more than regurgitate talking points and copy other news channels. In the case of Westchester real estate agent Deborah Cavallaro's story on CNBC, it was a lost opportunity to educate viewers who may or may not have also seen the same wrongheaded narrative on Fox News.

Thanks to Hiltzik for all his columns.

Robin Zur Schmiede

Laguna Beach


Why men should pay for #Obamacare pregnancy coverage


pregnant pause

Here's another good Los Angeles Times Michael Hiltzik column to share with you. That would be the same Michael Hiltzik who knocked it out of the park recently on The Last Word, sharing his wisdom along with a big bucket o' debunkitude of those tired old Obamacare right wing talking points.

Today he's right back into debunking mode, with a healthy dose of scrumptious snark thrown in. This time he takes apart North Carolina GOP Rep. Renee Ellmers and her smug "slam-dunk, let-me-hear-a-rimshot punchline" that "the deep thinkers over at Breitbart" claimed was  Ellmers 'A' game. Her Big Gotcha Moment came when she asked why men should have to pay for maternity coverage in their health insurance plans: "To the best of your knowledge, has a man ever delivered a baby?"

Oh suh-nap! Touché! Oh, the cleverness of Renee!

Except, as Hiltzik points out, it was more like her ignorance about how the plan works. Then he explains why maternity care was written into every Affordable Care Act policy. Here are the essentials, but please hop over to the Times to get the details:

Universal coverage is the only way to make maternity coverage affordable.

Women subsidize men -- for some reason, imposing the cost of prostate cancer screening and treatment on women never seems to be part of the conversation. Childless people subsidize the cost of children's health coverage. Men subsidize women in other particulars, too: breast cancer treatment, for example.

Cross-subsidies like this are an inextricable part of life in a society, and by no means limited to health insurance. The cost of public education is embedded in the state tax rate paid by families with three kids in school as well as those whose kids graduated 20 years ago, or who educated their kids privately, or who never had kids. That's because education is a social good, like health. Everybody pays for highways, even those who don't drive, because one way or another they get the benefit.

That's the most important reason. But there are two more that Hiltzik brings up:

  • Society has a vested interest in healthy babies and mothers. "Pro-lifers" should appreciate that, as well as economists.
  • It takes two to tango. Ellmers' line about no man ever giving birth works two ways. "No baby has ever been born without a man being involved somewhere along the line."


Please follow the link for more.


Video- The Daily Show: On Her Majesty's Secret Cervix - A Royal Son


5 Facts You Didn't Know About Pregnancy & Parenting in the Workplace


pregnancy, parenting in the workplace 2

One of the many perks of writing here at TPC is being privy to information that often gets lost in the blogosphere shuffle or flies under the radar. We get sent all kinds of things that we love sharing with you, items our readers often don't see anywhere else.

Take this new book, Babygate: What You Really Need to Know About Pregnancy and Parenting in the American Workplace, for example:

book babygate

Working women need to know their rights about workplace laws and protections. For example, here are five facts you didn't know about pregnancy and parenting in the American workplace:

1.  If you are diagnosed with a pregnancy-related "disability", you may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation at work under federal law.  Women with "normal" pregnancies are not entitled to the same explicit protections and often find themselves out of luck.

2.  Disability benefits for pregnancy and childbirth do not guarantee job protection -- take the money, but there is no promise you'll have your job back upon your return!

3.  Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most workers can NOT be required to pump breast milk in the bathroom!  Your boss must give you a clean, private space other than a bathroom, where you can pump milk without interruption.

4.  Depending on where you live, you may be entitled to over $1,000 a week in benefits while out of work for maternity leave -- or nothing.

5.  The United States lags behind other countries in just about every category of family-friendly policies; we stand with Swaziland and Papua New Guinea as one of the only countries in the world to not guarantee any form of paid maternity leave.

Sounds like a book worth reading, does it not?

pregnancy, parenting in the workplace


Video- The Daily Show: Sodomy! Zygotes! Welfare!


New Mexico bill would criminalize abortions after rape as "tampering with evidence"


forced birth new cartoon new mexico abortion choice

Another day, another dangerous Republican nutcase. This time it's a female lawmaker in New Mexico who introduced a bill that would legally require rape victims to carry their pregnancies to term. Why? Because she wants the fetus to be used as evidence in a sexual assault trial.

This insane bill will probably not pass since Dems hold the majority in both chambers of the New Mexico state legislature, but the fact that it was even introduced is beyond disturbing. Unfortunately, this kind of extremism is becoming more commonplace (and/or perhaps more widely reported), and is not only appalling, it's downright scary.

So to those of you who need even more proof that there is a War on Women, here it is, perplexingly brought to you by a woman, via HuffPo:

House Bill 206, introduced by state Rep. Cathrynn Brown (R), would charge a rape victim who ended her pregnancy with a third-degree felony for "tampering with evidence."

Pat Davis of ProgressNow New Mexico, a progressive nonprofit organization opposing the bill:

The bill turns victims of rape and incest into felons and forces them to become incubators of evidence for the state,” he said. “According to Republican philosophy, victims who are ‘legitimately raped’ will now have to carry the fetus to term in order to prove their case.

Davis called the bill "blatantly unconstitutional."

When it comes to rape, Republicans have yet to learn to keep their big mouths shut. Their bizarre, backward attitudes have never served them well, as Richard Mourdock, the guy who says rape pregnancies are “intended by God“ and Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin can attest, and have spotlighted their insensitivity and ignorance.

But to try to force birth by criminalizing rape victims is beyond the pale.