Friday, September 22, 2017

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm here to get you ahead of the day's health news. When you're done with today's newsletter, take our quiz to test your knowledge of the top stories this week. 

The public's current health care agenda


Data from the kaiser family foundation health tracking poll. (Stat)

Graham-Cassidy is still front and center on Capitol Hill, but the Kaiser Family Foundation’s new tracking poll finds that repealing Obamacare isn't what the majority of the public says Congress should be prioritizing. The top item on the public’s agenda: Reauthorizing funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. More than three-quarters of the poll’s participants said re-upping CHIP funding — which is set to expire at the end of the month — is very or extremely important. Stabilizing the ACA markets followed close behind, with 70 percent agreeing that minimizing premium increases and encouraging insurers to join the marketplaces is very or extremely important.

Federal officials force a fitness app to shape up

Federal officials have reached a settlement with an app maker that promised to pay users for meeting their nutrition and fitness goals — and then made off with their money without paying those rewards. The Pact app asked consumers to lay out diet and exercise goals, enter their credit card information, and set an amount of money they'd have to pay if they didn't meet their goals, as an incentive to do so. Those who hit their weekly goals were supposed to pocket some of the money paid by those who didn't — but the Federal Trade Commission says Pact charged users even if they met their goals or cancelled their accounts. The agreement requires the app's makers to pay out more than $940,000 in earned rewards and refunds for improper charges. 

How many women are screened for cervical cancer at clinics funded by Title X?

Of the 3.6 million women who received care in the thousands of clinics funded by the Title X Family Planning program in 2015, more than 743,000 were screened for cervical cancer, according to new data published by the CDC. Cervical cancer screenings in those clinics have actually fallen 30 percentage points between 2005 and 2015. That's likely due in large part to changing guidelines on cervical cancer screening. Newly insured women seeking services elsewhere could also play a role, as could changing contraceptive preferences that require less frequent medical visits. 

The new numbers also give context to how Title X funding — which has come under increased fire in recent months — is used. In April, President Trump rolled back an Obama-era regulation designed to stop states from withholding the grants from organizations that provide abortion services along with Title X services, which include contraception, pregnancy care, and cancer screenings, primarily for low-income individuals. The study found screening disparities among low-income women like those served by the program continue to be a problem. 

Inside STAT: NIH tries to win the trust of communities mistreated in the past

The National Institutes of Health would like six vials of your blood, please, along with a urine sample, access to your electronic health records, and if you don’t mind, your Social Security number, too. The agency is planning to make those big requests of 1 million people as part of the biggest-ever bet on precision medicine, a data-gathering experiment known as “All of Us.” But one of NIH director Francis Collins’s stated goals is a tough sell: Enroll more than half of participants from communities that have been underrepresented in research and mistreated by science in the past. STAT’s Lev Facher has an interesting look at the challenges of enrolling participants in the project — and how the NIH is addressing them. Read here.

Nerf gun fights call for protective eyewear

Doctors are raising a red flag about the potential dangerous of Nerf guns — and not just in kids. In a new case report, doctors say three patients showed up in a hospital on separate occasions with internal bleeding in the eye after being hit by a flying foam dart from the children’s toy. (Only one of those three patients was actually a child.) The doctors say kids should use protective glasses when they’re playing with Nerf guns to prevent eye damage.

An interesting new finding about our extinct relatives


the partial skeleton scientists studied. (Paleoanthropology Group MNCN-CSIC)

A Neandertal skeleton is giving scientists a better picture of how our own biology and development might differ from our extinct cousins. Scientists analyzed an eight-year-old Neandertal’s skeleton — nicknamed El Sidrón J1 — discovered in a Spanish cave by the same name. El Sidrón J1's brain was just 88 percent the size of an average adult Neandertal brain, while youngsters today typically have a brain about 95 percent of the weight of an adult brain by age 8. And El Sidrón J1's spine looked more like the spine of a four- to six-year-old human child, with fewer vertebrae fused than a typical eight-year-old human. The caveat: It's just one sample, so it's hard to draw any sweeping conclusions. 

Why you should like to move it

Your morning walk to the train — or your weekend chores around the house — could help keep you a tad healthier, according to a new study published in the Lancet. Researchers looked at health and physical activity data from more than 130,000 people in low, middle, and high-income nations. They found that hitting the recommended 150 minutes a week of physical activity, no matter the activity, reduced the risk of heart disease by 20 percent, and the benefits seemed to keep climbing with an increasing amount of activity. The study’s authors say that incorporating physical activity into every part of your daily life, like walking to work or taking a lunchtime stroll, can help bump up the benefits of physical activity.

What to read around the web today

  • Women with opioid addiction face daily fear of assault or rape. WBUR
  • Canada has to import most of its bodily fluids. Quartz
  • Study: Flint water killed unborn babies; many moms who drank it couldn't get pregnant. Detroit Free Press

More reads from STAT

The latest from STAT Plus

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend. See you Monday!


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