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Morning Rounds

Just 4 in 10 U.S. schools test water for lead, report finds

A new Government Accountability Office report finds that just 43 percent of school districts nationwide tested their school drinking water for lead in 2016 and 2017. Here’s a look at the findings:

  • The findings: Of the schools that did test for lead, 37 percent found elevated levels in drinking water. Another 41 percent didn't run lead tests, and 16 percent responded that they didn't know whether the water had been tested. 

  • The impact: Lead exposure in kids has been linked to a number of health problems, including developmental issues and cognitive effects.

  • The call to action: The GAO laid out seven recommendations to address lead in school drinking water. And six Democrats who requested the study called on the Trump administration to “finalize a stronger Lead and Copper Rule and issue protective guidance requiring lead testing for all public schools.”

FDA aims to make it easier to move drugs over the counter

The FDA just rolled out new draft guidelines intended to make it easier for drug makers to move some prescription medicines over the counter. The agency says drug makers would have to show that consumers can pick the right drug for their condition and use it correctly without a doctor’s supervision. And the FDA says it’s looking at new ways to help consumers navigate that process, including apps that help people pick appropriate medications.

The new guidance comes as pressure mounts on drug makers to move contraception over the counter. Last month, the American Medical Association passed a resolution urging contraceptive makers to submit applications to the FDA to do so. There are still concerns about whether OTC drugs will end up costing some patients more, since they’re often not covered by insurance.

More students join lawsuit over college mental health policies

Three students have joined a lawsuit against Stanford over the school’s alleged response to students who experience a mental health crisis. The lawsuit — filed by the nonprofit legal center Disability Rights Advocates on behalf of a handful of students — alleges that Stanford routinely pressures students who experience a mental health crisis to take a leave of absence and leave university classes and housing. The organization says that’s a violation of disability laws and is seeking to get class-action status in the case.

Inside STAT: The challenge of seeing inside living cells

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think of all the things happening inside your body! (jeff delviscio / stat)

Eric Betzig's newest microscope doesn't look like anything you used in school. The Nobel-prize-winning microscopist has spent his career trying to catch cells in the act of normal life, which is no easy task. Even if a microscope doesn't disturb the peace, Betzig says, "the fact that you ripped the cell out of its normal happy environment means it's unlikely that you're seeing it in its native form." But he's managed to change that by getting closer and closer to spying the undisturbed cell than nearly anyone — and his newest scope can peer into living cells. STAT's Jeffery DelViscio visited Betzig's Virginia lab and produced a captivating new video about his work. Watch here

More women are having heart attacks after birth, study finds

The risk of having a heart attack while pregnant, in labor, or shortly after birth seems to be on the rise, according to a new analysis to be published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Researchers analyzed birth records between 2002 and 2014 and found there were 1,061 heart attacks during labor and delivery and 2,390 in the two-month recovery period after birth. Another 922 women were hospitalized for heart attacks while pregnant. The prevalence rose 25 percent during that period, which the researchers say might be partly due to more women giving birth at later ages, when the risk of heart attack is higher. The death rate due to heart attack stayed stable at 4.5 percent — which the authors say is concerning, given advances in treating and preventing heart attacks.

A new approach could curb inappropriate use of malaria drugs

New research suggests pairing free malaria tests with coupons for treatment could boost the appropriate use of the drugs, which are sometimes used in patients that don’t actually have malaria. Researchers ran a randomized trial in 32 communities in Kenya. In some, local health workers gave free malaria tests to any person with malaria-like symptoms, then offered a treatment discount to those who tested positive. In other communities, health workers stuck to standard health promotion and referrals to care. After a year, more people in the intervention areas had been tested, and treatments were more often used rationally. 

What to read around the web today

  • It's 4 a.m. The baby's coming. The hospital is 100 miles away. New York Times
  • How drugmakers sway the state system meant to protect taxpayers and patients. NPR / Center for Public Integrity
  • When a DNA test shatters your identity. The Atlantic
  • Three years after steep price hike, Martin Shkreli’s drug company is losing money, documents show. STAT Plus
  • Health insurers are vacuuming up data about you — and it could raise your rates. ProPublica

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,

Megan

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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