One in 10 pregnant women say they’ve had a drink or two

Most of us know drinking and pregnancy do not mix, but a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention release has revealed the prevalence of alcohol consumption among pregnant women, and the results are shocking.

According to the release, One in 10 pregnant women in the United States ages 18 to 44 reported drinking alcohol in the past 30 days, and additionally, one third of those who reported drinking while pregnant said it was in the form of binge drinking (four or more drinks on one occasion).

Although there is a lack of research concerning the effects of low to moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy, the typical recommendation is to abstain from alcohol while expecting.

“We know that alcohol use during pregnancy can cause birth defects and developmental disabilities in babies, as well as an increased risk of other pregnancy problems, such as miscarriage, stillbirth, and prematurity,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. “This is an important reminder that women should not drink any alcohol while pregnant. It’s just not worth the risk.”

Another surprising statistic in the release reveals that among women who reported binge drinking in the past 30 days, pregnant women reported a significantly higher frequency of binge drinking than non-pregnant women.

The exact reason for this disparity is unknown, but a recent Australian study has shown that pregnant women are less likely to drink if their partner or spouse encouraged them to lessen or stop their drinking.

The CDC works to lower the number of expectant mothers drinking by tracking alcohol, screening and brief intervention programs, and education, but for now the numbers are what they are.

“Women who are pregnant or might be pregnant should be aware that there is no known safe level of alcohol that can be consumed at any time during pregnancy. All types of alcohol should be avoided, including red or white wine, beer, and liquor,” said Cheryl Tan, M.P.H., lead author of the study and an epidemiologist in CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities.


First ever “female Viagra” approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after two denials

The FDA has announced the approval of Addyi, dubbed the “female Viagra”, as the first treatment for acquired, generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women.

“[Addyi’s] approval provides women distressed by their low sexual desire with an approved treatment option,” said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) in a release.

The once-a-day pink pill was rejected twice in the past for lack of evidence supporting its benefits, insufficient information on its interaction with other drugs and some of its side effects, but has since been tried in additional clinical trials and will be available soon through certified health care professionals and pharmacies.

Although it is being referred to by many as Viagra for women, the new drug is actually unlike Viagra, and acts as a kind of anti-depressant, effecting dopamine and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters linked to sexual drive) and the actual desire to have sex, rather than increasing blood flow to the genitals.

HSDD is not the result of relationship problems, a co-existing medical or psychiatric condition, or the effects of any medication or substance, but an acquired condition that occurs regardless of the sexual activity and develops in a person who previously had no problems with sexual desire, according to the FDA.

Addyi is being approved with a risk evaluation and mitigation strategy (REMS), which means providers are required to be certified with the REMS program and also counsel patients on the increased risk of hypertension associated with the drug and the dangers of combining Addyi with alcohol.

“The FDA strives to protect and advance the health of women, and we are committed to supporting the development of safe and effective treatments for female sexual dysfunction.” said Woodcock.

The drug was produced by Raleigh, North Carolina based Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which was bought today for $1 billion from Valeant.

Active case of tuberculosis confirmed

The City of El Paso Department of Public Health confirmed in a release today that one of the people tested from Frank Macias Elementary has an active case of tuberculosis.

“In order to protect patient privacy, we are unable to disclose whether this individual is either a staff member or student.” said Rovert Rendez, Public Health Director.

Although there are still four staff members and 12 students who need to be tested, this new case being from the first cohort of people means that there is no need to expand testing at this time, said Rendez.

The Public Health Department emphasizes that young children are not the ones likely to spread TB, but that adults with active TB do pose a threat to others.

If you have questions or concerns, visit and click on the TB investigation section.

International Group B Strep Awareness Month

July is International Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Awareness Month.

GBS is a bacteria carried by about 1 in 4 women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

GBS can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm delivery in pregnant women or pneumonia, sepsis, meningitis, deafness, and developmental disabilities in infants.

One thousand babies in the U.S. less than one week old get early-onset GBS disease each year according to the CDC.

A GBS test is painless, and should be done at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy.

The test should be done for every pregnancy; even if you did not have GBS in your first pregnancy, you may have it in your second or third.

If you receive a test showing positive for GBS, the spread of the bacteria can usually be prevented with intravenous antibiotics at least four days before delivery, so getting the test is very important and can mean the difference between sickness and health for a newborn child.

If a newborn has these symptoms, they may have GBS

  • Fever
  • Difficulty feeding
  • Irritability, or lethargy (limpness or hard to wake up the baby)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blue-ish color to skin

If you would like to help spread awareness for GBS, here are directions on how to make GBP awareness ribbons and here is a useful flyer on how to protect your baby from infection during pregnancy.

New futuristic brain probe can determine the path a mouse walks with the push of a button


my rendition of the actual picture of the device that can be seen here

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, have created a remote-controlled tissue implant that allows for the wireless control of neurons in mice and the opportunity to study the brain’s function in a more natural setting according to a recent National Institutes of Health release.

The device can control brain cells with drugs and light to study the circuits that control disorders like addiciton, depression, stress, and pain.

It has successfully made a mouse walk in circles by injecting a drug that mimics morphine into the region of the brain that controls motivation and addiction and also precisely mapped circuits by injecting viruses that label cells with genetic dyes.

“We used powerful nano-manufacturing strategies to fabricate an implant that lets us penetrate deep inside the brain with minimal damage. Ultra-miniaturized devices like this have tremendous potential for science and medicine.” said John A. Rogers, Ph.D., professor of materials science and engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the NIH release.

It uses a soft material that is one-tenth the diameter of a human hair to simultaneously deliver the drugs and lights, an improvement from the bulky metal tubes, injections, and fiber optic cables previously being used on the mice at the Bruchas lab.

Eat Well! El Paso

Eat Well! El Paso

by Andria Granado

It is impossible to choose healthy food at a restaurant, when it isn’t even on the menu.

The Paso Del Norte Health Foundation (PDNHF), Department of Public Health, and The University of Texas at El Paso have partnered with 18 restaurants so far for “Eat Well! El Paso”, a part of the PDNHF’s Healthy Eating Acting Living (HEAL) initiative that helps local restaurants who volunteer to participate put healthier choices on their menus, especially for children.

“With children, healthy eating helps a lot with growth, of the brain and of the whole body” said Michael Kelly, senior program officer for HEAL, “Obesity is something that has been a problem for a long time in America, and its getting worse, its not getting better.”

The Department of Public Health does a lot of cold-calling, knocking on doors, and talking to owners to educate them about the initiative and have them join, said Joy Leos, health project coordinator at the DPH. Leos said that some El Paoans who have heard about the initiative come to her and ask if she can get the resaurants they frequent involved.

“Its a huge concern and we’re in a crisis right now.” said Leos “, What we need to do is educate parents and try to reach kids at a younger age so they understand healthy versus unhealthy.”

Restaurants like The Pizza Joint, The Healthy Pizza Company, and Los Aguachiles who choose to participate in the program get their menu assessed by a licensed nutritionist.

The nutritionist breaks down their menu’s nutrition facts, then suggests items that can be added and ways existing items can be made healthier without costing the restaurant too much or adding foods that don’t fit the restaurant’s theme.

Leos said that eateries decide to join the intiative after learning that they can contribute to the health of the community without spending tons of money, losing their essence, or losing customers.

“It just takes a little creativity. Thats where the rest of my team comes in to talk to them.” said Leos.

Participating restaurants also get their menu graphically redesigned for free.

The Pizza Joint’s healthy options include gluten-free and vegan pizzas, a wide variety of vegetable toppings, and baked, rather than fried, chicken wings.

“Thats the thing with our healthy options: your not sacrificing anything. You still get the full flavor.” said Vinny Baca, a manager at the North Mesa The Pizza Joint.

Baca said that people who are not vegan come in and order the vegan pizza just because it is lighter than regular pizza and that he has regular customers in children who urge their parents to come back week after week.

An online nutrition course was also developed by a research group at UTEP under Maria Duarte-Gardea Ph.D, for daycares and restaurants as part of the initiative.

The course is free and can be used towards daycare’s continuing education units and elements of the course are being incorporated into the food handlers course at the DPH required for all restaurnat workers.

The class is free online though, and can be taken by  anyone who wants to know more about healthy eating.

The following are links to the full list of restaurants participating in Eat Well! El Paso and the free online nutrition course:

Latest El Paso tuberculosis news


Twenty people tested from the possible tuberculosis exposure at the Dismas Charities halfway house have tested positive for tuberculosis, bringing the toll to 71, including those who tested positive in Clint, according to the El Paso Times. Seven tests are still pending from Frank Macias Elementary, 6 people still need to be tested from the halfway house, and officials are still looking for 36 potentially exposed people, according to the El Paso Times. There is no word yet on whether any of the cases are active.