Arsenic in the Baby Food – Time to Panic?

Giving a baby their first bite of real food – it’s an indelible memory. That breathless moment as you wait to see whether it will be swallowed or unceremoniously rejected, the look of astonishment on their little face. For many of us, that first bite was rice cereal – gentle on the stomach, easy to mix with breast milk or formula, safe, trusted, traditional.

Well it turns out we’ve been poisoning our children all along.  Well, at least that’s what a paper appearing in JAMA Pediatrics would have you believe.

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New Drugs Hold Real Promise for Metastatic Melanoma

I’m going to show you a survival curve for metastatic melanoma.

Survival rate in metastatic melanoma

Survival Rate in Metastatic Melanoma

This data was analyzed in 2001, but sadly, even current 5 year-survival for metastatic melanoma sits around 15%. But some new drugs might change this.

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Peanuts, Peanut Avoidance, and the Development of Allergy

I love a nice clinical trial that answers an important question and one of my favorites from the recent past was the “Learning Early About Peanut allergy” or LEAP trial, published in February of 2015 in the New England Journal.  I probably don’t need to reiterate the results of this truly landmark study, but basically, it upended about two decades worth of advice to parents to avoid exposing their infants to food containing potential allergens, such as peanuts.

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Huge Chinese Study Suggests 20% of Heart Disease due to Low Fruit Consumption

A 柚子 a day keeps the doctor away?

Appearing in the New England Journal this week is a juicy study  that suggests that consuming fresh fruit once daily can substantially lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the study suggests that 16% of cardiovascular death can be attributed to low fruit consumption. For those of you keeping score, that’s pretty similar to the 17% of cardiovascular deaths that could be prevented if older people stopped smoking.

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Naltrexone to Prevent Opioid Relapse: A New Weapon in the Fight

There are a few experiences nearly every physician remembers. Delivering that first baby, running that first code, a stranger showing you a rash at a dinner party. Some things are universal. Likewise the first time you injected naloxone into someone suffering from an opioid overdose. For the non-medical folks, naloxone blocks the receptor in the brain that gives opiates their punch. Injecting someone with the stuff essentially puts them into immediate, full-blown withdrawal. It’s lifesaving, but rough. Think that scene from Trainspotting.

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Rosacea linked to Parkinson disease: Is this remotely plausible?

The title of the manuscript is:

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Titles like that remind me of the time I was in South Africa and ran into an evangelical Christian basketball team. I know what both of those things are, but I’d never thought of putting them together. Nevertheless that’s the study that appears in JAMA Neurology. So are we playing epidemiology roulette, or is this a real finding? Should your patients with rosacea be concerned?

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Are IUDs dangerous for teenage girls?

In the past 5 years both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have come out in support of Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) as highly effective options for adolescent girls. LARCs, which include IUDs and implants, are undoubtedly superior to oral contraceptives and condoms when it comes to preventing pregnancy.

Of course IUDs don’t prevent sexually transmitted infections. The question, then, is whether use of IUDs will commensurately decrease condom usage, and, according to an article appearing in JAMA pediatrics, the answer is yes. But as usual, the devil is in the details.

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Handling Missing Data like a Politician

That certain individuals have referred to the current presidential election drama as reminiscent of a middle school student council election does a great disservice to student council elections. But politics is about power, and knowledge is power (or so I’m told) so perhaps that’s why this current crop of wannabe potentates is so obsessed with polls, surveys, and other data.

And that’s the last time I’ll refer to the current political circus during this post. Because all politics is local, and, as a former middle-school class president myself, I have decided to focus this post on a middle-school presidential election.

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Pregnancy, Multiple Sclerosis, and Vitamin D: The Latest Hype

A study appearing in JAMA neurology links better Vitamin D level in pregnant women to a lower risk of multiple sclerosis in their offspring. There are some really impressive features of this study, but there are some equally impressive logical leaps that seem to defy the force of epidemiologic gravity. Let’s give  the study some sunlight.

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Inducing labor at 39 weeks – is picking your kid’s birthday worth it?

Few aspects of modern medicine engender as much controversy as our labor and delivery practices. Rates of early induction of labor vary widely from country to country – even from hospital to hospital. And while some randomized trials have demonstrated that induction of labor prior to 40 weeks gestation might have favorable effects for infants with certain conditions like large-for-gestational age, we really don’t have much data on the effects of induction of labor during a normal pregnancy.

But a study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine attempts to shed light on that issue.

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