Media Coverage

The work done by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty members (and even some students) is regularly highlighted in newspapers, online media outlets and more. Below you’ll find links to articles and videos of Feinberg in the news.

The number of pregnant women with chronic high blood pressure doubled during the past decade and a half, but treatment remains low among them, a new study found. About 3.7% of pregnant women were diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2021, up from 1.8% in 2008, researchers said. However, prescriptions handed out to pregnant women for high blood pressure remained about the same, with only 60% getting drugs that could lower their blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure during pregnancy can cause liver or kidney damage, and can double a woman’s risk of future heart failure and other heart disease, the researchers noted. “Since nearly 1 in 3 individuals with chronic hypertension may face a pregnancy complication, the prevention and control of hypertension should be among the highest priorities for improving maternal health,” said Dr. Sadiya Khan, a professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at Northwestern University who was not involved in the study.

An expanding volume of recent research has indicated that fathers, along with their female partners, can develop postpartum depression. Most experts estimate that around 10% of dads will experience the condition, while about 14% of moms will. Now, a new University of Illinois at Chicago pilot study suggests that men should be routinely screened for PPD. It’s part of a growing push to shift the dialogue surrounding men’s mental health, offering a more robust stream of support for the entire family unit. Until recent decades, PPD was only associated with women, who undergo more clear physical and hormonal changes during the postnatal period. Treatment for the months long depressive episode usually entails counseling or antidepressants. In August, the FDA also approved a first-of-its-kind oral medication to specifically treat PPD. “Many times, fathers are feeling overwhelmed by the new experience,” said Sheehan Fisher, PhD, a psychologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “They’re trying to figure out how to adjust, but they don’t have a blueprint on how to be a father.” Social workers also interviewed the dads, many of whom were young, first-time parents who feared that they lacked proper parenting skills. Most experienced significant lack of sleep and noted severe feelings of fatigue. Several said the demand of providing economic support conflicted with the desire to support the increased needs of the mom and the baby. “They’re really focused on making sure that she’s OK, and therefore they actually tend to neglect their own well-being and their mental health,” Fisher said.

Fathers make a big difference in whether infants are breastfed and are put to sleep safely, according to a study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The study of 250 fathers in Georgia found that among those who wanted their infant to be breastfed, 95% reported their child started breastfeeding and 78% reported breastfeeding at 8 weeks. That’s much higher than among fathers who had no opinion on breastfeeding. In that group, only 69% reported their child was breastfed and 33% reported breastfeeding at 8 weeks. “Our findings underscore that new fathers are a critical audience to promote breastfeeding and safe infant sleep,” lead author John James Parker, MD, an instructor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, said in a Northwestern news release. “Many families do not gain the health benefits from breastfeeding because they are not provided the support to breastfeed successfully. Fathers need to be directly engaged in breastfeeding discussions, and providers need to describe the important role fathers play in breastfeeding success. Additionally, fathers need to receive counseling on all of the safe sleep practices for their infants.”

Experts say it is important to plan for the high temperatures coming to the Chicago area, which are coming right as people might be heading outside for Father’s Day. Doctors say that any time the weather spikes, they are sure to see an uptick in patients at area hospitals. That is why it is essential to plan and be strategic in handling the heat. Over the next few days, the area will see heat indices hit around 100, which means high heat coupled with muggy conditions- a recipe for heat-related health issues. “When you look at humidities that are above 60, that essentially envelops an individual, and it doesn’t allow heat to basically escape into the environment, allow you to cool down, so that humidity is in combination with higher temperatures are when we get concerned in the emergency department, and, quite frankly, across the city and public health officials,” said George Chiampas, DO, an emergency an sports medicine physician with Northwestern Medicine. One way to plan ahead is to make sure to go outside with another person and act immediately if there are signs of heat-related illness, such as confusion, dizziness, or lightheadedness.

When Dr. Mugdha Mokashi was selecting where to complete her residency in obstetrics and gynecology, she was keenly aware of how varying state-by-state abortion laws might affect her ability to learn and practice. “It really mattered to me that I was in a place that I felt like no matter what, I would get the training I wanted to get,” says Mokashi, 27, who is now finishing her second year of OB-GYN residency at Northwestern University. “In every interview, I asked, ‘What is the abortion training like for your trainees? And how do you anticipate it’s going to change if Roe falls?’” Further, Emily Hinchcliff, MD, MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of medicine shared “We are getting far more questions about family planning, training and abortion access from our applicants,” says Hinchcliff, director of the obstetrics and gynecology residency program at McGaw Medical Center. And once OB-GYN residents finish the program, Hinchcliff says most of them go on to practice in abortion-friendly states, especially in the last couple of years.

More young men are taking a medication to prevent hair loss, prompting some concerns that the oral drug has been linked to rare but potentially long-lasting side effects. Part of the rise in prescriptions could be linked to telemedicine companies such as Hims, Keeps and Ro that promote the drug on billboards and online ads, said Maria Colavincenzo, an associate professor of dermatology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, who has been in practice for a decade. “People are interested in treating it a little bit younger than what I saw before,” said Colavincenzo. Doctors say the daily pill is safe, although once someone starts taking it, they’ll need to continue for as long as they want to avoid hair loss. And there’s some controversy about the drug, due to the possibility of impotence that could last even after stopping the medication. Colavincenzo said that some patients whom she’s followed for roughly a decade have had success with the drug, although they can’t always tell whether it’s doing the job. “Certainly the vast majority of my patients have no such side effects and are fine and do pretty well with it,” said Colavincenzo. If men are already dealing with sexual issues, Colavincenzo cautions against using the medication.

Outside advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are meeting on Monday to assess whether Eli Lilly’s (LLY.N), opens new tab experimental Alzheimer’s drug donanemab is safe and effective, ahead of the agency’s decision on approving the drug. The FDA had been expected to rule on the drug earlier this year but then called for an independent advisory panel to weigh in. The regulator is not obligated to follow the recommendations of its outside advisers, but typically does so. “From the beginning, safety has been a concern with these new anti-amyloid monoclonal antibodies,” said Joshua Cahan, from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. With its approval of Leqembi, the FDA issued its strongest “boxed” warning about the risk of potentially dangerous brain swelling and bleeding for the entire class of amyloid-lowering drugs.

Evidence that weight-loss drugs like Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Zepbound can cut heart disease risk, treat sleep apnea and address other health issues may help convince more men to use them. Men prefer to shed extra pounds with diet and exercise changes before reaching for drugs, if they address their weight at all, doctors and three healthcare industry analysts said in interviews. Women are far less hesitant to seek a physician’s help with weight loss and management, they said. The “typical weight management program is female predominant in our clinic. It’s almost two out of three patients are women, and that’s pretty much common across the country,” said Robert Kushner, MD, obesity medicine researcher at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Kushner said in his practice male patients were showing more interest in these medications, both of which are taken as weekly injections, in light of data showing their wider health benefits. Other physicians suggested that some men may be more open to weight-loss drugs based on recommendations from women in their lives taking the medicines.

A closely watched Alzheimer’s drug from Eli Lilly won the backing of federal health advisers on Monday, setting the stage for the treatment’s expected approval for people with mild dementia caused by the brain-robbing disease. Food and Drug Administration advisers voted unanimously that the drug’s ability to slow the disease outweighs its risks, including side effects like brain swelling and bleeding that will have to be monitored. In another key difference, Lilly studied taking patients off its drug when they reached very low levels of amyloid, a sticky brain plaque that’s a contributor to Alzheimer’s. Lilly scientists suggested stopping treatment is a key advantage for its drug, which could reduce side effects and costs. But FDA staff said Lilly provided little data supporting the optimal time to stop or how quickly patients might need to restart treatment. Despite those questions, many panelists thought the possibility of stopping doses held promise. “It’s a huge cost savings for the society, we’re talking about expensive treatment, expensive surveillance,” said Tanya Simuni, MD of Northwestern University. She and other experts said patients would need to be tracked and tested to see how they fare and whether they need to resume treatment.

The safety of sugar substitutes is once again being called into question. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is found in small amounts in fruit and vegetables, and the human body also produces it. As an additive, it looks and tastes like sugar but has 40% fewer calories. It is used, at much higher concentrations than found in nature, in sugar-free gum, candies, toothpaste and baked goods. It can also be found in products labeled “keto-friendly,” particularly in Europe. The same research team found a similar association last year to the popular sugar substitute erythritol. The use of sugar substitutes has increased significantly over the past decade as concerns about rising obesity rates mount. The next question is what causes naturally-occurring xylitol to be elevated in some people and how do you lower it, said Sadiya Khan, MD, MSc, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and a professor of cardiovascular epidemiology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine who was not involved in the new study. Nevertheless, given the totality of the evidence presented in the paper, “it’s probably reasonable to limit intake of artificial sweeteners,” said Khan. “Perhaps the answer isn’t replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners but thinking about more high quality dietary components, like vegetables and fruits, as natural sugars.” Doctors are recommending patients use modest amounts of sugar, honey or fruit to sweeten food.

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