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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of Feb. 5, 2024


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of  Feb. 5, 2024–Feb. 9, 2024.

MedPage Today (2/8, Kahn) reports, “The CDC has published its first comprehensive laboratory recommendations for syphilis testing.” The new guidance includes “approaches for laboratory-based tests, point-of-care tests, sample processing, and how laboratories should report test results to clinicians and health departments.” They are intended “primarily for clinical laboratory or disease control personnel, but also for clinicians to understand how to collect and process specimens, interpret test results, and counsel and treat patients, according to CDC researchers.”

CNN (2/7, McPhillips) reports, “More children die from guns than anything else in the United States, but relatively little funding is available to study how to prevent these tragedies.” Between “2008 to 2017, about $12 million in federal research awards were granted to study pediatric firearm mortality each year—about $600 per life lost, according to a study published in Health Affairs.” However, “motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death among children at the time, received about $26,000 of research funding per death, while funding to study pediatric cancer, the third leading cause of death, topped $195,000 per death.”

USA Today (2/6, Cuevas) reports that phthalates, “chemicals commonly used for plastic in food containers, lotion and other products, are linked to tens of thousands of preterm births in the U.S. each year, according to a new study.” The research, published in Lancet Planetary Health, indicates that “those babies’ medical bills over their lifetimes cost billions.”

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CNN (2/5, Cheng) reports, “Two new studies showed a significant reduction in blood pressure in adults who underwent certain weight-loss treatments.” In one study, published in Hypertension, investigators “found that the drug tirzepatide—sold under the brand names Zepbound for obesity and Mounjaro for diabetes—significantly lowered the blood pressure of adults with overweight or obesity who took it for nine months.” In the other study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, investigators “found that adults who had high blood pressure and obesity who underwent bariatric surgery had lower body mass index and were on fewer blood pressure medications after five years than those who used only the medications."

CNN (2/2, Christensen) reported, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing that it will label nine of the thousands of PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ as hazardous.” PFAS “are considered a ‘forever chemical’ because it takes a long time to break down in the environment and in the human body.” They are “found in hundreds of household items and in drinking water systems and are thought to be in the blood of 98% of the human population.” The EPA “said it’s proposing to change the definition of hazardous waste in regard to cleanups at permitted hazardous waste facilities.” On Wednesday, the “agency signed a proposal to change Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulations” that would “add some of the most common PFAS compounds, their salts, and structural isomers to a list of ‘hazardous constituents.’” For years, “studies have shown that these chemicals are much more hazardous to human health than scientists initially thought and are dangerous at levels thousands of times lower than previously believed.”

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