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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of March 13, 2023


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of March 13, 2023–March 17, 2023.

USA Today (3/16, Hassanein) reports, “Maternal death rates surged by nearly 40% during the second year of the pandemic, widening disparities as Black women again faced alarmingly high, disproportionate rates, a new federal analysis shows.” In 2021, there were nearly “33 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births—a 38% increase from the year before, according to the report released Thursday” by the NCHS and CDC. The analysis found that “maternal death rates among all racial groups saw statistically significant increases.”

MedPage Today (3/16, Frieden) says “a total of 1,205 women died of maternal causes in 2021, compared with 861 in 2020 and 754 in 2019, according to the report.” The results also showed that rates “grew higher as maternal age rose.”

The AP (3/14, Phillis, Daly) reports, “The Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday proposed the first federal limits on harmful “forever chemicals” in drinking water, a long-awaited protection the agency said will save thousands of lives and prevent serious illnesses, including cancer.”

The New York Times (3/14, Friedman) reports that EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan “said the government intends to require near-zero levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, part of a class of chemicals known as known as PFAS.”

CNN (3/13, LaMotte) reports “sleeping less than six hours the night before you get” a vaccine “may limit your body’s response to the vaccine, reducing protection against the virus or bacteria, according to” Notably, “the impact of poor sleep on immune response to a vaccine was only scientifically relevant in men.” In terms of “why would a man’s immunity be affected when a woman’s was not,” researchers said, “The evidence is that these differences reflect hormonal, genetic and environmental differences, which can change over the lifespan, so these differences may be less prominent among older adults.” The findings were published in Current Biology.

The Washington Post (3/11, Blakemore) reported that in a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, “researchers write that they’ve confirmed links between the genes that predict a woman’s age at first menstruation and menopause, age of first birth and number of live births with their risk of cardiovascular disease, strokes and other heart-related conditions.” The Post added, “Using genetic data from over 100,000 women worldwide, researchers determined that a variety of reproductive factors were associated with higher risk for atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, heart failure and stroke.”

The New York Times (3/16, Zimmer, Jewett, Mandavilli) reports, “A panel of expert advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday endorsed Paxlovid as a treatment for adults with COVID who are at high risk for progression to severe illness.” The endorsement “came after the agency released a new analysis showing that Paxlovid reduced hospitalizations and deaths among both unvaccinated and vaccinated people.” The panel considered the “rebound” of COVID-19 which has been seen in some patients who were treated with Paxlovid and determined that it was not significant.

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