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Briefs: Moms may be able to have more than ice chips during labor

JUST ICE CHIPS WHILE IN LABOR? a bit too strict

Maternity wards have long forbidden women in labor to eat or drink much more than ice chips. Now a systematic review of existing studies has found no evidence that the restrictions have any benefit for most healthy women and their babies. The prohibitions are meant to reduce the risk of Mendelson's syndrome (named for Dr. Curtis L. Mendelson, the New York obstetrician who first described it in the 1940s), which can occur if the contents of the stomach are drawn into the lungs while the patient is under general anesthesia. But nowadays the use of general anesthesia during labor and delivery is rare. Caesarean sections are generally done using regional anesthesia. Joan Tranmer, an associate professor of nursing at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and an author of the new review, said she had seen all too many women in labor complaining of thirst and dry mouth resort to sucking wet washcloths. "We thought it was time to question this," she said. The review was published last week by the Cochrane Collaboration.

Is drug cost hike anticipatory?

That prescription drugs are getting more expensive is not news. A recent report from the AARP's Public Policy Institute found that prices for brand-name medications most commonly used by Medicare beneficiaries rose an average of 9.3 percent last year. But AARP Bulletin's cover story, "Drug Prices Up, Up, Up," suggests a reason for the bloat: Manufacturers may be hiking prices in anticipation of health care reform legislation that could curb drug costs. The same thing happened in 2003 when the Part D drug benefit was added to Medicare. The drug industry trade group PhRMA disputes the theory and accuses AARP of "trying to muddy the waters for its own political gain."

Quitting after cancer still helps

Smokers may develop a fatalistic attitude and assume there is little they can do to improve their chances of survival after a diagnosis of lung cancer. That would be a mistake, say researchers writing in the British Medical Journal. The study authors, from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, analyzed 10 studies that measured the effects of quitting smoking after a diagnosis of lung cancer. They found that people who are diagnosed at an early stage can double their chances of survival over five years if they stop smoking, compared with people who continue to smoke. An accompanying editorial noted this might not prompt all doctors to promote quitting. Some "think it is inhuman to dwell on the matter — that it adds to feelings of guilt and takes away a lifelong comfort from the dying patient," said the authors of the editorial. The optimal solution, they point out, is persuading people to quit before cancer develops and preventing young people from ever starting.

Times wires

Briefs: Moms may be able to have more than ice chips during labor 01/27/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 27, 2010 5:30pm]

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