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air pollution

Study Finds Air Pollution Can Decrease Chances Of Live Birth After IVF

According to a new study, exposure to air pollution can significantly decrease the likelihood of live birth after IVF treatment. The study’s research has been ongoing to observe the negative health impacts of toxic air on fertility. 

Exposure to pollutants in the air has been previously linked to increased miscarriage rates, preterm births, and the presence of microscopic soot particles in the bloodstream, ovaries, and the placenta, according to reports from The Guardian.

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“We observed that the odds of having a baby after a frozen embryo transfer were more than a third lower for women who were exposed to the highest levels of particulate matter air pollution prior to egg collection, compared with those exposed to the lowest levels,” said Dr Sebastian Leathersich, a fertility specialist and gynecologist from Perth. 

Dr. Leathersich is also set to present the study findings on Monday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting in Amsterdam.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that air pollution is currently one of the leading threats to human health in general, and has caused 6.7 million deaths in 2019. 

“Pollution is harmful to almost all aspects of human health and it’s no surprise to me that reproductive health is also affected,” Leathersich said. 

“I’m hopeful that these findings will help to highlight the urgency of the situation – that climate change poses a serious and immediate threat to human reproductive health, even at so-called safe levels.”

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“These findings [also] suggest that pollution negatively affects the quality of the eggs, not just the early stages of pregnancy, which is a distinction that has not been previously reported,” Leathersich said.

Professor Jonathan Grigg led a group at Queen Mary University of London which uncovered evidence that air pollution particles are found in the placenta.

“This study is biologically plausible since it has recently been discovered that inhaled fossil-fuel particles move out of the lung and lodge in organs around the body. Reproductive health can now be added to expanding list of the adverse effects of fossil fuel-derived particulate matter, and should prompt policymakers to continue to reduce traffic emissions.”

“In the face of a global fertility crisis, a clear picture of the link between environmental factors such as air pollution and fertility health or treatment outcomes could play an important part in tackling falling fertility rates,” said Professor Geeta Nargund, a senior NHS consultant and medical director of abc IVF and Create Fertility.

She also said that “further work would be crucial to better understand the full impact of air pollution, which disproportionately affects those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.”

eggs

Former CDC Director Believes Next Pandemic Will Be Caused By The Bird Flu

Robert Redfield, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), recently stated that the next pandemic could be caused by the bird flu. 

Additionally, the World Health Organization recently announced the first human death from bird flu in Mexico, and the virus itself has been found in cattle across dairy farms in the US, according to reports

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“I really do think it’s very likely that we will, at some time, it’s not a question of if, it’s more of a question of when we will have a bird flu pandemic,” Redfield said to NewsNation last week. 

He also discussed that the mortality rate will likely be much higher in a bird flu pandemic versus what the world experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Covid-19 pandemic had a mortality rate that was 0.6%, and Redfield predicts the mortality “for the bird flu would probably be somewhere between 25 and 50%.”

The Hill reported that by late May, the CDC had found the third case of an individual diagnosed with bird flu within three months. Each case was found in a farmworker, but were unrelated to each other. The main symptoms included a cough and pink eye. 

As of right now, there is no direct evidence that suggests the virus is spreading amongst humans right now. 

Health experts and researchers found that in order for the bird flu to be able to connect to a human receptor, five amino acids have to change their key receptors. If that does occur, the virus would spread like Covid-19 did. 

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“Once the virus gains the ability to attach to the human receptor and then go human to human, that’s when you’re going to have the pandemic,” Redfield said

“I think it’s just a matter of time.”

While Redfield stated that it’s hard to predict how long it would take for the amino acids to change, but the fact that it’s been detected in cattle across the US is concerning. 

The CDC reported that more than 40 herds of cattle have been infected with the virus. They’ve been following wastewater treatment sites to track where the virus is originating from, and said that there’s low risk of the virus spreading throughout the public. 

The cattle infected live in the vicinity of pigs, which could allow the virus to evolve from pigs to humans, however, Redfield stated there’s more of a severe risk that the virus will be grown in a lab and spread that way. 

“I know exactly what amino acids I have to change because in 2012, against my recommendation, the scientists that did these experiments actually published them. So, the recipe for how to make bird flu highly infectious for humans is already out there,” he said.

moderna

Moderna And Merck Say New Experimental Vaccine Is Improving Survival Rates In Patients With Severe Skin Cancer 

Biopharmaceutical company Merck and mRNA vaccine developer Moderna are currently creating a new vaccine to help improve the quality of life and survival rates in individuals dealing with the most deadly form of skin cancer. The vaccine is showing positive results when combined with the therapy treatment known as Keytruda. 

Moderna and Merck will be presenting the current data they’ve collected over the past three years at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago. The newer data showed that around 75% of patients with deadly skin care who took the combination regimen were alive without any signs or symptoms of their cancer returning at the 2.5 year mark. 

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55.6% of patients had the same results when they just received the Keytruda therapy alone. 

“That benefit was observed across different subgroups of patients, regardless of whether they had tumors with a large number of mutations or whether they had enough of a protein — called PD-L1 — that helps keep the body’s immune responses in check,” wrote Annika Constantino for CNBC

“The data reflects the potential for the shot to help treat a broad range of melanoma patients,” Dr. Kyle Holen, Moderna’s head of development, therapeutics and oncology, said.

Patients who took the vaccine with Keytruda showed an overall survival rate that hit 96% after 2.5 years, those who just took Keytruda had a rate of 90.2%. 

“Patients with severe forms of the cancer, known as melanoma, who received the combination were 49% less likely to die or have their cancer return than those who took Keytruda alone after roughly three years. The combination also slashed the risk of melanoma spreading to other parts of the body, or death, by 62%,” Constantino wrote

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Fatigue, injection site pain, and chills were the most common side effects associated with the vaccine, and the majority of those side effects were mild, according to the data

The vaccine uses the same mRNA technology that Moderna utilized for their Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccine is custom-built utilizing the patient’s tumors after surgical removal. The shot is like many other vaccines in that it works to train the immune system to identify and attack specific mutations within cancer cells. 

“Moderna is excited about working to reduce the time between the initial analysis of a tumor and when a patient gets injected with the shot,” CEO Stephane Bancel said in an interview with CNBC.   

“Moderna also plans to file for accelerated approval with the FDA. The process allows for expedited approvals of drugs for serious conditions that fill an unmet medical need,” Bancel said. 

“Melanoma is responsible for the large majority of skin cancer deaths, and the rate of melanoma has increased rapidly over the past few decades” according to the American Cancer Society.

The organization states “about 100,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in the U.S. this year and nearly 8,000 people are expected to die from the disease.”

vaccine

Scientists Create Vaccine To Potentially Help Protect Us From Future Coronaviruses 

Scientists have now created a vaccine that could potentially protect against a wide range of coronaviruses, including variants that may not even be known yet. 

The shot is currently in its experimental phase and has been tested on mice. This new vaccine shows a change in “proactive vaccinology,” which refers to when vaccines are developed to be ready for manufacturing before potential pandemic outbreaks.

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According to reports from The Guardian, this particular vaccine was developed by attaching harmless proteins from different coronaviruses to minuscule nanoparticles that are injected into the body to prime its defenses to fight the viruses if they were to invade. 

Since this vaccine was developed to train the immune system to target proteins that are shared among many various coronaviruses, the protection it could provide would be vast. 

“We’ve shown that a relatively simple vaccine can still provide a scattershot response across a range of different viruses. It takes us one step forward towards our goal of creating vaccines before a pandemic has even started,”  said Rory Hills, a graduate researcher at the University of Cambridge and first author of the report.

When the vaccines were tested in mice, the vaccine was shown to provide a broad immune response to coronaviruses. The study itself was a collaboration between the universities of Cambridge and Oxford and the California Institute of Technology, and has been published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Hills stated that the universal coronavirus vaccine can be produced in existing medical facilities for “microbial fermentation.” He added that the researchers involved in the recent study are working with industrial partners to scale up the production process.  

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The nanoparticles and viral proteins that are used to produce the vaccine can also each be made in separate facilities at different times. However, medical regulators currently don’t have procedures for proactive vaccinology, and those procedures would have to be developed as the vaccine becomes more available. 

The researchers said that if this vaccine proves to be safe and effective in humans, it could potentially be used as a Covid booster, which would not only protect against Covid-19, but other coronaviruses. 

 “In the event that a coronavirus or other pathogen crosses over you could have pre-existing vaccine stocks ready and a clear plan to quickly scale up production if needed,” Hills said.

“Scientists did a great job in quickly producing an extremely effective Covid vaccine during the last pandemic, but the world still had a massive crisis with a huge number of deaths. We need to work out how we can do even better than that in the future, and a powerful component of that is starting to build the vaccines in advance,” said Professor Mark Howarth, a senior author of the study

Black Women In England Experience More Serious Birth Complications, According To New Data Analysis 

Pregnant Black women in England are six times more likely to suffer from preeclampsia and other serious birth complications when compared to their white counterparts, according to data from the National Health Service.

milk

FDA Says Traces Of Bird Flu Found In 1 In 5 Samples Of Pasteurized Milk 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that 1 in 5 samples of retail milk contains traces of the highly contagious bird flu. They also said that these findings may not be an indicator of an infectious risk to consumers, according to reports from The Hill

The FDA has been publishing updates throughout the week, and just recently shared some of the biggest takeaways from their nationally representative commercial milk sampling study. 

“The agency continues to analyze this information; however, the initial results show about 1 in 5 of the retail samples tested are quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR)-positive for [Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza] viral fragments, with a greater proportion of positive results coming from milk in areas with infected herds,” the FDA stated. 

The Administration continued to state that additional testing will be required in order to determine whether or not intact pathogens of the bird flu are present in the milk and if those who consume it would be at risk of infection. 

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“To date, the retail milk studies have shown no results that would change our assessment that the commercial milk supply is safe. The pasteurization process that retail milk undergoes as well as the diverting and destroying of milk from infected cows,” the agency shared.

They also re-emphasized their long-standing warnings against drinking raw milk. Earlier this year, a worker on a dairy farm in Texas became infected with the bird flu after working closely with cows that were later found to be infected with the highly infectious H5N1 strain of the bird flu. 

According to William Schaffner, professor in the division of infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, “pasteurization should kill the virus and people generally shouldn’t be too concerned about buying milk from a grocery store.”

“A bird flu virus can pick up the capacity to spread readily from person to person. This is a rare event, every 15 years or so. There’s no indication that the current bird flu virus has picked this up but it’s out there circulating,” Schaffner told The Hill.

cancer

Cancer Cases Projected To Rise Greatly In The Future 

According to a new report from the American Cancer Society, cancer cases are expected to rise exponentially in the future. In fact, they’ve estimated that by 2050, the number of people with cancer could rise by 77%.

dengue fever

Public Health Emergency Declared In Puerto Rico Over Dengue Fever Outbreak

Puerto Rico’s hot and humid climate makes dengue fever an ongoing risk for its citizens. This year, however, “cases have exceeded historical figures,” according to Puerto Rico Health Secretary Carlos Mellado. 

Mellado has officially called a public health emergency this week as a means of decreasing the current rise in dengue fever cases. The declaration will help guarantee Puerto Rico has access to the resources they need in order to combat the current outbreak. The declaration is currently set to last for 90 days, and will be renewed if necessary. 

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Besides just Puerto Rico, Brazil, Peru, and other Latin American countries have also declared a state of emergency over dengue fever. 

The Puerto Rico Department of Health stated that they first noticed an increase in dengue fever cases at the end of 2023, according to NBC News. By the third week of January, there had been 146 cases reported, and the rates kept increasing. 

As of March 10th, there have been about 550 dengue fever cases reported in Puerto Rico since the beginning of the year. According to the Health Department, most of the cases are in the capital of San Juan. 

62% of patients have been hospitalized, according to reports, and only 29 cases have been considered severe so far. 

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Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne disease in which the most common symptom is fever, as well as serious headaches, nausea, vomiting, rash, and body pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC also stated that most dengue fever patients recover in a week, but severe cases can be life-threatening and require hospitalization, as it can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and death. Individuals who have experienced dengue fever in the past are more likely to develop severe symptoms. 

The CDC, the Puerto Rico Health Department, and other local agencies are working together to implement a dengue fever prevention and control plan. The plan involves eliminating and cleaning up areas of stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. 

The plan also involved urging the public to use mosquito repellents and wire mesh panels to keep mosquitos out of their home. 

In a statement Monday, Mellado said “that all parts of Puerto Rican society must join forces to prevent contagion and the spread of this virus.”

wegovy

US FDA Approves Weight-Loss Drug Wegovy To Be Marketed For Heart Health Benefits 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an application from drugmaker Novo Nordisk that allows the weight loss drug Wegovy to add cardiovascular benefits to the medicine’s label, according to CNN

This marks the first weight-loss drug to be marketed to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart-related deaths in people who are at higher risk for cardiovascular issues and/or events. 

The addition to the label may improve some insurance coverage for Wegovy; the “sister drug” to Ozempic. The drug currently costs around $1,300 per month out of pocket, and many insurers don’t cover weight loss drugs. 

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“The evidence is that they reduce risk and save lives – and so it is indefensible to deny people access, or make it difficult for people to access, medications that will directly improve their health,” Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist and scientist at Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital, said Friday

“The point is that these drugs are not about appearance but about health. By treating obesity, we know we can reduce cardiovascular risk, and that may be only a part of the benefits that accrue.”

The approval occurred after a study involving 17,000 patients. The study, according to reports, showed that the patients who took Wegovy had a 20% lower risk of having a cardiac event than those who took the placebo. 

Wegovy is meant to be used for individuals who are considered to be obese or overweight, meaning they have a body mass index of anything between 27 – 30, as well as have a weight-related health condition such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. 

“Wegovy is now the first weight loss medication to also be approved to help prevent life-threatening cardiovascular events in adults with cardiovascular disease and either obesity or overweight,” Dr. John Sharretts, the FDA’s director of the Division of Diabetes, Lipid Disorders, and Obesity, said in a news release.

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“This patient population has a higher risk of cardiovascular death, heart attack and stroke. Providing a treatment option that is proven to lower this cardiovascular risk is a major advance for public health.”

The trial performed prior to this classification was done with patients with cardiovascular disease. They’ve either previously had a heart attack, stroke, or symptoms of peripheral artery disease: which is when one has clogged arteries in their arms or legs. 

Wegovy, however, has and is in a shortage currently, and drugmakers are struggling to keep up with the demand. Novo Nordisk released a statement last month that stated it would be gradually increasing the supply over this course of this year.

“The shortages are really, really bad right now,” Dr. Jody Dushay, an endocrinologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said Friday. 

“[I hoped] the expanded approval would improve insurance coverage, particularly as generic weight-loss drug alternatives can carry heart risks, but if insurance comes on board with this indication, [I have] no idea how manufacturing will ever catch up,” she said. 

Dushay added, “this might also help prioritize use of [the drugs] among those with highest-risk obesity, those who also have cardiovascular disease.”

measles

Ten Cases of Measles Confirmed in Florida Elementary School Outbreak

On Tuesday, the Broward County schools superintendent announced that seven children at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston, Florida, have tested positive for measles. According to the Florida Department of Health, ten cases have been reported statewide.

Lawmakers and health officials are urging parents and state officials nationwide to take extra precautions to safeguard their children.

In a letter last week, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said the health department is “deferring to parents or guardians to make decisions about school attendance.” The letter also stated that “up to 90% of individuals without immunity will contract measles if exposed.” However, “Individuals with a history of prior infection or vaccination who have received the full series of the Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) immunization are 98% protected and are unlikely to contract measles.”

“Because your child may have already been exposed, you should watch your child for signs and symptoms of the disease, including a rash that often develops on the face and neck before spreading to the rest of the body. Other symptoms include high fever, which can reach 105°F, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. All children presenting with symptoms of illness should not attend school until symptoms have fully subsided without medication.”

According to the most recent data from the Florida Department of Health, nine out of the state’s measles cases have been reported in Broward County, and all of those cases have involved children. Two of the children are younger than four years old.

The Florida Department of Health released a memo to healthcare workers, reminding them to report any suspected cases.

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The World Health Organization (WHO) lists measles as one of the world’s most contagious diseases, which spreads through respiratory droplets. The virus remains active and infectious in the air and surfaces for up to two hours.

“Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus. It spreads easily when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes. It can cause severe disease, complications, and even death. Measles can affect anyone but is most common in children. Measles infects the respiratory tract and then spreads throughout the body. Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose and a rash all over the body.”

Its complications include blindness, encephalitis (an infection causing brain swelling), severe diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia. “Measles itself also weakens the immune system and can make the body ‘forget’ how to protect itself against infections, leaving children extremely vulnerable.”

The organization also recommends that all children get the measles, mumps, and rubella MMR vaccine. Due to widespread vaccination efforts, the United States had eliminated measles in 2000. It is unclear what the vaccination status was for the children under four.

US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, who represents the city of Weston, urged Florida Surgeon General Ladapo to declare a public health emergency and make it a requirement that unvaccinated children stay home during the outbreak.

In contrast to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, Ladapo’s advisory suggests that parents of unvaccinated children make their own decisions about whether or not to send them to school. The CDC advises unvaccinated individuals to remain home for at least 21 days after exposure, around the time it takes for symptoms to manifest.

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In addition to demanding that DeSantis do more to protect Floridians, Wasserman Schultz demanded that Ladapo resign or be fired.

“I would have thought he would have stepped in here or made sure there was some communication to ensure that irresponsible guidance isn’t issued by his surgeon general. And the fact that he hasn’t taken action to roll that back is representative of Ron DeSantis’s disinterest in keeping the public’s health safe.”

On Monday, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) Chief Medical Officer Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, issued a statement responding to the outbreaks.

“Measles can be particularly serious for children and potentially deadly. At least 1 in 5 unvaccinated people in the United States who contract measles is hospitalized. Nearly 1 out of 20 children develop pneumonia, the most frequent cause of measles-related death in young children. Approximately 1 child out of every 1,000 with measles will suffer brain injury, potentially causing convulsions, deafness, or intellectual disability. For unvaccinated babies who contract measles, 1 in 600 can develop a fatal neurological complication.

Measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, but is still the most easily transmitted human virus presently in circulation. Thankfully, by following established public health principles, Americans can make informed decisions, prevent outbreaks, and protect our communities.

Vaccination is the best and safest way to protect children. Two doses of measles vaccine are more than 97% effective in preventing the disease entirely, and vaccinated people may continue to engage in routine activities even if they are exposed to someone with the disease.”

A total of 58 cases were reported last year, and 35 measles cases have already been reported in several states this year. With just 91.7% of Florida’s kindergartners vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella, the state is falling short of the national 95% vaccination rate target.