As many American women reckon with the sudden loss of their constitutional right to abortion, conservatives have floated an alternative they say makes abortion less necessary: safe haven laws. But American women – even in states where in recent years they have had little access to abortion – rarely use safe havens as an option. Northwestern University professor Katie Watson, who teaches law, ethics and humanities to medical students, said the conservative argument that safe havens are an alternative to abortion is disingenuous. “When a person has an abortion, they are saying, ‘I do not want to have a baby.’ And adoption (or using a safe haven) does mean they don’t have to parent the child, but they still had a baby, which was the thing that most people having an abortion did not want to do,” Watson said. Watson further shared that the existence of safe haven laws may not be the only reason why fewer infants are dying by homicide. “Our recognition and treatment of prenatal and perinatal depression is so much better. The awareness that pregnancy can mess with your head and your mental health sometimes may contribute to that lower rate of infantcide.”
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.
Sleep stickers. It’s technology that can detect breathing problems, specifically obstructive sleep apnea. The condition is estimated to affect 30 million people yet 80% are undiagnosed. Local researchers hope to change that statistic without leaving home. A typically sleep study involves electrodes and bulk equipment attached in a lab where patients are monitored overnight. Dr. Steve Xu is an assistant professor at Northwestern and CEO and cofound of Sibel Health. “The ability to sleep comfortably in your natural position we feel is important and really gives us a true sense of how well you are actually sleeping in your home, in your own bed,” he said. “For those that use our system, it’s like wearing two stickers,” he said. “It monitors things like blood oxygenation, but also monitors something called peripheral arterial tonometry. And that signal is very important because it also allows us to determine when you stop breathing at night.” Initially developed for use in the neonatal intensive care unit to monitor babies’ vital signs, Northwestern University researchers grew the system for adults. In a study of 225 participants comparing the system to a standard in-lab evaluation, the stickers had a 90% sensitivity rate.
CDC researchers report that children and teenagers with long COVID have about twice the risk of getting serious outcomes, compared to others without COVID. Heart inflammation; a blood clot in the lung; or a blood clot in the lower leg, thigh, or pelvis were the most common bad outcomes in a new study. “the message that we should take away from this is that we should be very keen on all the methods of prevention for COVID, especially the vaccine” says Stuart Berger, MD, chief of cardiology in the division of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Compared to kids with no history of a COVID-19 diagnosis, the long COVID-19 group was 101% more likely to have a blood clot in the lung, 99% more likely to have heart muscle inflammation, 87% more likely to have a blood clot in a vein, 32% more likely to have acute and unspecified renal failure and 23% were more likely to have type 1 diabetes. Berger continues to express that the long-term effects of long COVID-19 are real, concerning and potentially very serious.
According to a recent study in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, only 2.2% of 2- to 19- year-olds had “optimal” scores on a scoring system that included diet, physical activity and body mass index. And while nearly 57% of 2- to 5-year-olds had high scores, among 11- to 19-year-olds, that fell to 14%. Protecting a child’s heart health can begin with a focus on a mother’s health during or even before pregnancy, said Dr. Amanda Marma Perak, assistant professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Northwestern University and senior author of the Circulation study. She recently helped write an update to the scoring system for heart health now known as Life’s Essential 8. It weighs eight contributors to heart health for children and adults: diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, body weight, blood lipids, blood glucose and blood pressure.
As U.S. monkeypox cases rise, U.S. health agencies in a medical journal article defended their decision to require human trial data to show that SIGA Technologies’ experimental drug TPOXX is safe and effective to treat the virus. In 2018 the FDA approved TPOXX for smallpox in adults and children based on studies of animals infected with monkeypox and rabbitpox, as well as safety in healthy people. NIH is planning a U.S.-based random clinical trial to study TPOXX. On July 21, the CDC and FDA began allowing doctors to prescribe the drug before the trial paperwork is completed, but still requires approval of a hospital’s institutional review board for each dose. “It’s definitely better. It’s still very burdensome,” said Dr. Karen Krueger, assistant professor in infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, who said there is additional paperwork after the patient visit and for several follow-up visits. “It’s doable, but certainly a lot more challenging than how we normally prescribe drugs.” Northwestern has treated at least 20 monkeypox patients with TPOXX and will be one of the sites for the NIH trial.
Men have been drawn to virility enhancement for centuries, either to treat diseases or restore youthful vigor. Today, many have turned to increasing their testosterone levels to give them confidence, fight aging raise physical or mental performance and generally help them feel their best. Typically this starts with testing, then often leads to testosterone replacement therapy through a doctor or specialized “low T” clinic. During the pandemic, however, more men struggling with feelings of malaise have turned to virtual options for testosterone testing and treatment, spurring interest in what was already a $1.7 billion industry. “It’s really never been easier to pursue some of these diagnostic tests and treatments,” said Dr. Joshua Halpern, assistant professor of urology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. But, he added, while online services can increase access to quality care, they also have the potential to harm. Over time, testosterone therapy can suppress a man’s natural ability to produce the hormone and lead to infertility.
Northwestern University scientists have built a super-small robot crab that could one day carry out delicate surgical tasks – entering your body to suture small, ruptured arteries, clear clogged arteries or track down cancerous tumors. Making a flea-sized robot crab is “pretty simple” says bioelectronics engineer John Rogers, PhD, who led the research and is a professor of neurological surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. It will likely take years before robot crabs are helping cardiac surgical teams or suturing organs. However, the work is exciting and impactful. “This is early-stage exploratory work,” Rogers says. “We are trying to introduce ideas as part of a broader community of researchers pursuing micro-robotic technologies, with the hope that over time, these technologies will ultimately lead to practical clinical uses for surgical purposes. It’s very much a starting point.”
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker on Monday declared the monkeypox virus a public health emergency, and declared Illinois a disaster area regarding the disease. As of Monday, a total of 520 monkeypox cases have been reported in Illinois. Kissing, hugging and sexual contact are the most common ways it spreads. “It can also be spread if left on bed sheets, or clothing, or eating utensils – things like that – and then those things are shared with another individual,” said Karen Kreuger, professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She said catching monkeypox in the air – such as by being in big crowds – is less likely, but possible. “The majority of people are able to manage their symptoms at home and kind of just ride through the course,” said Krueger.
Lauren Beach, a research assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said bisexuals face stigma from straight, gay and lesbian people who lack access to a broader “Bi+” community made up of bisexuals and people who experience attraction regardless of gender, also called pansexual. Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine research found bisexual people report higher rates of poor mental health compared to straight, gay and lesbian people. LGBTQ resources, like support groups, are less likely to focus on bisexual needs, according to Beach, and that can further isolate bisexual people.
A growing number of younger American adults are dying of heart failure, with Black Americans being the hardest-hit, a new study finds. Heart failure is a chronic condition in which the heart muscle cannot pump blood as well as it should, leading to symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness and swelling in the legs. The condition is treatable, but it can prove deadly if it progresses to a severe stage. As for the racial disparity, experts called this worrying, but not unexpected. It’s well known that heart failure disproportionately affects Black Americans. “To me, this is alarming. There’s a striking disparity in heart failure death rates,” said Dr. Nilay Shah, assistant professor of cardiology of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In a study Shah and his colleagues published this year, they found that younger Black Americans were at heightened risk of premature heart disease. And the gap seemed to be explained by both clinical factors (like high blood pressure) and social ones – including lower education levels and poverty.