Week in Review: Aug. 10

The Week in Review provides an overview of the past week’s top health care content, including industry news and trends, Mayo Clinic and Mayo Medical Laboratories news, and upcoming events.

Industry News

Inducing Labor at 39 Weeks for Healthy Pregnancies May Improve Outcomes for Mothers, Study Suggests

The prevailing wisdom on healthy pregnancies has long been to just wait it out. Only after reaching the full-term 40-week mark will many doctors consider hurrying a birth along with drugs. The thinking is that inducing labor increases the risk of complications, which lead to more Caesarean sections, putting both the baby and the mother at risk. A new study suggests that idea might be wrong. The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, focuses on healthy, first-time mothers. More than 6,000 women in 41 hospitals were enrolled in the study and were randomized into two groups. About half were induced in the 39th week of pregnancy. The others were allowed to let their pregnancies progress beyond that time. Via Washington Post.

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FDA Did Not Intervene to Curb Risky Fentanyl Prescriptions

A fast-acting class of fentanyl drugs approved only for cancer patients with high opioid tolerance has been prescribed frequently to patients with back pain and migraines, putting them at high risk of accidental overdose and death, according to documents collected by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA established a distribution oversight program in 2011 to curb inappropriate use of the dangerous medications, but entrusted enforcement to a group of pharmaceutical companies that make and sell the drugs. Some of the companies have been sued for illegally promoting other uses for the medications and in one case even bribing doctors to prescribe higher doses. Via NY Times.

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Health Department Confirms Measles in Hennepin County Child

The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed a case of measles in a child in Hennepin County. The patient is a five-year-old child who became ill and was hospitalized earlier this month shortly after returning from an international trip to a region where measles is common. The child was not vaccinated. The child was likely infectious from July 30 through August 7, according to health officials, meaning additional cases would likely develop between now and August 28. Health officials are currently notifying people who may have been exposed. Via KMSP-TV.

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GM Cuts Different Type of Health-Care Deal

General Motors Co. GM -0.48% has struck a deal with a Detroit-based hospital system to offer a new coverage option to employees, upending the traditional benefits setup in an attempt to lower costs and improve care. The automaker’s agreement with Henry Ford Health System covers everything from doctor visits to surgical procedures. By signing a contract directly with one health care provider, as other companies have done, GM says it can offer a plan that costs employees less than other options while also promising special customer-service perks and quality standards. GM’s new approach is a departure from the traditional health-benefits arrangement in which companies hire insurers for access to a broader network of health care providers. In those cases, insurers negotiate the prices with hospitals, doctors and other providers, and the employers rarely have access to the terms that govern their medical costs. Via Wall Street Journal.

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Gut Bacteria a Factor in Weight Loss, Study Shows

The diet plateau is a dreaded phenomenon where people trying to lose weight will suddenly and seemingly without reason stop seeing the numbers on the scale drop as consistently as they had previously. While nutritionists will chalk this up to one’s body adjusting to a new weight, with metabolism slowing to accommodate the new reality, new research suggests that bacteria in our guts influences weight loss and gain. In a study by researchers from Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, a small sample of participants were put on a diet regimen, and those who lost 5% of their body weight were also found to have an abundance of a particular bacteria compared to those who were not as successful in their weight loss. Via Washington Post.

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Mayo Clinic News

Researchers Discover Gene Mutations Linked with Aggressive Breast Cancer

People at risk of a tough-to-treat, deadly form of breast cancer may now have a better chance of early diagnosis and protection against relapse. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic identified genetic mutations associated with triple-negative breast cancer, a type that generally requires extensive chemotherapy and and has lower five-year survival rates than other forms of breast cancer, according to the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. "This study is the first to establish which genes are associated with high lifetime risks of triple-negative breast cancer," said lead author and Mayo Clinic geneticist Dr. Fergus Couch. Via NBC News.

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Are Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms Linked to Vitamin D Levels?

New research presented at last week’s 70th American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) Annual Scientific Meeting and Clinical Lab Expo in Chicago suggests that taking in some extra vitamin D could possibly be crucial to alleviating some rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms. While this is the first study to look into how a person’s vitamin D levels could impact the course of a person’s RA treatment, the link between vitamin D and the condition is well known, said Daniel Small, M.D., a rheumatologist at Mayo Clinic. He told Healthline that since vitamin D is “very important” for a person’s immune system, brain, and bones, low levels are usually tied to “a worse prognosis in pretty much all of the diseases that affect these systems.” Via Healthline.

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A New Look at Tobacco Use and Headaches

People with cluster headache who have never been exposed to tobacco may have a different type of headache syndrome than those with cluster headache who have been exposed to tobacco, either through a personal history of smoking or through secondhand smoke. A recent study found that those exposed to tobacco smoke may have a worse headache syndrome, and more headache-related disability than those who were never exposed to tobacco. “The non-exposed subtype appears to have an earlier age of onset, higher rate of familial migraine, and less circadian periodicity and daytime entrainment, suggesting a possible different underlying pathology than in the tobacco-exposed subform,” wrote Todd Rozen, M.D., FAAN, of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Via Neurology Times.

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Four Cases of West Nile Virus Confirmed in Minnesota

Health officials say West Nile virus has been reported in Minnesota. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says there’ve been four confirmed cases of the mosquito-borne disease in the state this year. All four cases were discovered after those affected donated blood and it tested positive for the virus when screened. West Nile virus is the most commonly reported mosquito-borne disease in Minnesota, according to the state’s Department of Health. Most people with the virus show no symptoms or flu-like symptoms. However, the virus can be serious, and even deadly, for elderly people. Via WCCO.

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Mayo Clinic Opens New Building for Cancer, Neurology Patients

Mayo Clinic’s new 190,000-square-foot medical building on its Florida campus opened Monday, August 6, for patients seeking cancer, neurology and neurosurgical care. Named in honor of benefactors Harry T. Mangurian and his wife, Dorothy Mangurian, the Dorothy J. and Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Building is part of a $350 million investment to continue to develop Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus as the premier medical destination in the Southeast. Via Mayo Clinic News Network.

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Gina Chiri-Osmond

Gina Chiri-Osmond is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Medical Laboratories. She manages public relations and media outreach. Gina has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2011. Outside of work, Gina is going for gold in volleyball at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo . . . or at small-town summer festivals.