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Monday, October 26, 2015

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Welcome to the week, and welcome to your Morning Rounds, where I give you a quick rundown of what's driving science and medicine news today. 

Inside Stat: Pediatricians come down hard on e-cigs

Electronic cigarettes are increasingly popular with kids  and this morning, the American Academy of Pediatrics is urging the government to crack down, starting with a ban on e-cig sales to people under 21. The call to action in Pediatrics comes as the FDA is weighing new regulations on the $1.5 billion-a-year e-cig industry. Docs worry that the nicotine in the products — which come in flavors like gummy bear and cotton candy — could be addictive and harmful to young brains. In 2014, more than 13 percent of high schoolers in the US said they’d used e-cigs in the past month, compared to just 1.5 percent in 2011, according to the CDC.

But not everyone’s on board with the proposed restrictions. An executive from the Smoke-Free Alternative Trade Association told Stat reporter Leah Samuel: “Vaporizers do not present the same risks as cigarette smoke. Why try to tax these products at the same rate as something that could kill you?” Get the full debate here.

Run-ins with police send thousands of kids to the ER each year

Thousands of youth end up in the emergency room each year after contact with police officers, a new study finds. Researchers pored over the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample and found more than 15,000 emergency room visits between 2008 and 2010 were tied to injuries to children after interventions by law enforcement. The most common interaction: a blow or manhandling, which means no weapon was involved in the contact between police and a child. Most of the injured children were boys; most were also between 15 and 17 years old, according to the research by Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

Conflicts arise when surgeons are booked in two ORs at the same time

There’s a practice in medicine called concurrent surgery, which basically means a surgeon is double-booked, managing two operations at the same time. It's allowed in some hospitals, restricted in others, and banned completely in some. At the heart of the practice is a big question: Is it safe or ethical for surgeons to be at the helm of two simultaneous surgeries, when in some cases their patients don't even know it's happening? Read more from a blockbuster investigation into overlapping surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital from our colleagues at the Boston Globe. And watch a short documentary here

Watch a man-made artery get 3D printed

 

Is this a peek into the future of 3D printing? Use of the technology is limited when it comes to printing anatomical structures like a femur or a heart, because the biological hydrogels needed to make body parts often bend or break under their own weight. But now, scientists have printed soft, 3D structures like this artery in a gelatin-based bath that can hold the shape of the structures so they don't collapse. The work is described in the new Science Advances

Elizabeth Holmes to take the stage after roller coaster week for Theranos

Tonight, beleaguered Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes sits down for a fireside chat at Cleveland Clinic’s Medical Innovation Summit. A conference organizer tells me she expects Holmes to address allegations that the company's proprietary technology — which claims to only need a few drops of blood to run a battery of tests — isn't all it's cracked up to be. The Cleveland Clinic in March announced a "strategic alliance" with Theranos to phase in the company's technology and jointly conduct research. Stay tuned to Twitter tonight with #MIS2015 to see what Holmes says in the conference keynote. 

Holmes made a splash yesterday on the cover of the New York Times Style Magazine in her signature black turtleneck. The online version of the cover story — which said "it's hard to overestimate the potential benefit of what Elizabeth Holmes has developed" — ran before a Wall Street Journal investigation cast serious doubt on the company. Holmes made the magazine’s list of “The Greats” alongside the likes of Rihanna, Steve McQueen, and Quentin Tarantino. Wouldn't you love to be at that dinner party?

Ben Carson compares having an abortion to owning a slave

The latest controversy-sparking statement from a presidential candidate: Dr. Ben Carson’s comparison of women who get abortions to slave owners on yesterday’s Meet the Press. “During slavery, a lot of slave owners thought they had the right to do whatever they wanted to that slave, anything that they chose. And what if the abolitionists had said, ‘I don’t believe in slavery but you guys do whatever you want?'” Carson asked. He also said he’d love to see Roe v. Wade overturned with no rape or incest exception, but thinks “there’s room to discuss” possible options when a pregnancy threatens the health or life of an expectant mother. 

Carson's other health policy views made waves last week when he said he’d love to give both Medicare and Medicaid the axe. As Politico reported, Carson said he'd replace Medicare with personal health savings accounts funded by $2,000 a year in government contributions.

Big-time biotech pioneer Robert Langer meets the Queen

MIT engineer, inventor and biotech legend Robert Langer is no stranger to meeting people in high places, but today, he’ll be shaking hands with someone even he’s wowed by: the Queen of England. “That’s like, a very special person,” Langer told Stat reporter Drew Joseph. Langer, along with his wife and kids, will meet Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, where he will receive the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. “Hopefully I’ll do OK,” Langer said. For more news from the hub of biotech innovation, check out Joseph's Kendall Squared column every Thursday.

The devastating ripple effect of a cancer diagnosis

A cancer diagnosis hits individuals and families hard; now, a new analysis from researchers in Wisconsin seeks to quantify the economic hit above and beyond the medical bills. Here’s what they found:

  • A cancer patient’s annual earnings drop by nearly 40 percent in the first two years after the diagnosis.
  • Family income also drops, by 20 percent, after diagnosis. But it bounces back within four years, on average.
  • Interestingly, the losses were seen most in male cancer patients; women who were diagnosed with cancer didn’t see big changes in income or work life.

What to read around the web today

  • The Potomac Lice Lady is a sought-after nitpicker. Washington Post
  • This guy failed a paternity test because he absorbed his twin's DNA in the womb. Buzzfeed
  • Should you freeze your eggs? Impact Ethics
  • MERS, Ebola, bird flu: Science's big missed opportunities. Reuters

Thanks for reading, folks! Until tomorrow,

Megan

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