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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of Feb. 10, 2020

Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of Feb. 10, 2020 – Feb. 14, 2020.

General anesthesia during C-section tied to higher risk for severe post-partum depression, study indicates

CNN (2/8, Kaur) reported a study published in Anesthesia and Analgesia suggests “women who have general anesthesia during C-sections are significantly more likely to experience severe post-partum depression resulting in hospitalization, suicidal thoughts or self-harm.” The study examined over 400,000 cases of cesarean delivery from 2006 to 2013 and showed 8% received general anesthesia during the procedure. Among those women, 3% “experienced severe postpartum depression that required hospitalization.” Moreover, they “were also 54% more likely to experience postpartum depression and 91% more likely to have thoughts about suicide or self-harm, compared to those who had regional anesthesia such as spinal blocks or epidurals.”

Researchers say genetically higher levels of testosterone have different effects on women and men

Reuters (2/10, Kelland) reports a study published in Nature Medicine indicates that “having genetically higher levels of the sex hormone testosterone increases the risk of developing diabetes and some types of cancer in women, and reduces diabetes risk but raises some cancer risks in men.” The article says that the study is “the largest...to date on links between testosterone and disease,” and the findings underline “the importance of studying men and women separately.”

HealthDay (2/10, Reinberg) reports the “researchers collected genetic data on more than 425,000 men and women listed in the UK Biobank” and “found more than 2,500 genetic variations associated with levels of testosterone and the protein that binds it – sex hormone-binding globulin.” The article adds that “the researchers checked their results with analyses of other relevant studies and used a randomization method to see if associations between testosterone and disease are causal.”

Approximately 20% of patients who have elective surgery using an in-network hospital, physician receive surprise bill, according to study

USA Today (2/11, Lam) reports that “one in five patients may get a surprise medical bill after non-emergency surgeries...according to a new study” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Reuters (2/11, Rapaport) reports, “The study looked at what happened to almost 350,000 patients who had non-emergency surgery between 2012 and 2017 at hospitals and clinics that belonged to their health plan network, using surgeons who accepted their insurance.” Researchers found that “even among those who did their best to go where their insurance was accepted, 21% still got surprised by out-of-network bills.”

Modern Healthcare (2/11, Cohrs, Subscription Publication) reports, “The average amount of a surprise bill was $2,011.” The study indicated that “out-of-network surgical assistants were present in 37% of the balance-billing instances, and associated bills were an average of $3,633.” Modern Healthcare adds, “Anesthesiologists also were involved in 37% of balance-billing situations, and the average surprise bill was $1,219.”

Parents, grandparents may be to blame for accidental prescription medication poisonings of kids under age 5, study indicates

CNN (2/12, Lamotte) reports, “More than half of children under age five poisoned by prescription” medications “ate them after an adult removed the childproof safety packaging,” investigators found after analyzing “the reasons behind 4,496 calls to five poison centers in Arizona, Florida and Georgia over an eight-month period in 2017.” Many of the medications swallowed included “those to treat diabetes or cardiac conditions, which are hazardous to children even in small doses.” In many cases, in order “to remember to take their pills, the adult – often a grandparent – took the meds out of their childproof containers and put them into daily...organizers that are easy to open,” or they “took the” tablets “out and put them on bedside tables or kitchen counters for someone to take later.” The findings (pdf) were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Exposure to high levels of air pollution may make people with rhinitis from colds or allergies feel worse, researchers say

Reuters (2/13, Rapaport) reports, “People who get rhinitis – an inflamed or congested nose – from colds or allergies may feel much worse if they’re exposed to high levels of air pollution,” researchers concluded after examining “data on air pollution exposure and symptom severity for about 1,400 people with rhinitis in 17 European cities.” In particular, “two types of pollutants” were tied to “worse rhinitis symptoms: nitrogen oxide, a byproduct of fossil fuel combustion that contributes to smog; and so-called PM 2.5, a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke.” City-dwellers “with the highest levels of PM 2.5, or fine particulate matter, reported the most severe rhinitis symptoms.” The findings were published online in the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology.

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