Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of March 20, 2023


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of March 20, 2023–March 24, 2023.

The New York Times (3/23, Anthes) reports, “The prevalence of autism spectrum disorder” (ASD) in U.S. “children rose between 2018 and 2020, continuing a long-running trend, according to a” CDC study published online March 24 in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The study revealed that “in 2020, an estimated one in 36 eight-year-olds had autism, up from one in 44 in 2018,” with rates appearing to rise faster for Black and Hispanic youngsters than for white children. What’s more, “an accompanying study, also published on” March 24, indicates that “the pandemic may have disrupted or delayed the detection of autism in younger children.” The findings from both studies “are based on data from the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network, which has used health and education records to track autism in communities across the United States since 2000.”

The AP (3/23, Slevin, Bedayn) reports, “To estimate how common autism is, the CDC checks health and school records in 11 states and focuses on eight-year-olds, because most cases are diagnosed by that age.” While “other researchers have their own estimates...experts say the CDC’s estimate is the most rigorous and is considered the gold standard.”

NBC News (3/22, Shabad, Tsirkin) reports, “Children’s medication, antibiotics and treatment for ADHD are among a number of drugs that have been in short supply in recent months – and these shortages of critical medications are only rising, according to a new report” prepared “by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.”

According to the New York Times (3/22, Jewett), the report “found that drug shortages increased by nearly 30% last year compared with 2021, with an average shortage lasting 18 months and some spanning 15 years.”

NBC News (3/21, Bendix) reports a new study has found that “the relative risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer was 20% to 30% higher among women who use or recently used birth control pills with a two-hormone combination, progestogen-only pills or hormonal IUDs compared to women who did not.” The findings were published in PLOS Medicine.

STAT (3/21, Chen, Subscription Publication) reports that an “exception may be for people who already have an elevated risk of breast cancer due to certain pathogenic mutations or a family history of breast cancer.” In “these individuals, a 20% to 30% increase in cancer risk may translate to higher absolute odds of getting breast cancer, although” researchers “cautioned that there’s less research done specifically on groups of women with high-risk mutations and hormonal contraceptives.”

The Washington Post (3/20, Nirappil) reports “a deadly and highly-drug resistant fungus is spreading at ‘an alarming rate’ in long-term care hospitals and other health facilities caring for very sick people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday.” Fungal infections tied to “the yeast strain known as Candida auris tripled nationally from 476 in 2019 to 1,471 in 2021, according to CDC data.” In the same time period, “cases where a person carries the fungus but is not infected nearly quadrupled from 1,077 to 4,040.” Preliminary data suggest “the numbers have continued to rise.” The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The New York Times (3/20, Richtel) reports “the surge represents a ‘dramatic increase’ in caseload and transmission of C. auris, according to” the CDC researchers. The fungus is “in half the 50 states, many with just a handful of cases, but with higher concentrations in California, Nevada, Texas and Florida.”

CNN (3/20, Chavez) reports clinical cases of C. auris “nearly doubled in 2021, according to” the CDC data. Furthermore, there was “a tripling of the number of cases resistant to echinocandins, the first-line treatment for Candida auris infections.”

HealthDay (3/17, Murez) reported, “Just like adults, young children with type 1 diabetes” (T1D) “may get the blood sugar control they need using an ‘artificial pancreas,’” investigators concluded in a 102-child study in which “the Control-IQ artificial pancreas system was tested in...children aged two to six.” The study revealed that children using the artificial pancreas system “approximately three more hours per day in their target blood sugar range compared with those in a control group.” The findings were published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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