Monday Morning Round-Up #18

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Welcome to Monday Morning Round-Up, featuring what’s new in health and medicine from around the web!

Preterm births in the U.S. rise again, signaling worrisome trend via Stat News

The preterm birth rate in the U.S. has increased for the second consecutive year, according to a new report, and minorities are suffering a disproportionate share of those births. The increases, which follow nearly a decade of declines, raise concerns that gains made in women’s health care are now slipping, experts say.

EpiPen Failures Cited in Seven Deaths This Year, FDA Files Show via Bloomberg

EpiPens, which contain the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline), are used to stave off allergic reactions that can in some cases kill. Failure of EpiPens to deploy correctly have been cited in seven deaths this year through mid-September, according to reports by patients and physicians made to the FDA. The FDA received a total of 228 reports of EpiPen or EpiPen Jr. failures during the same time period. In addition to the deaths, 35 people were hospitalized, according to the reports.

Tapping Into Dementia Patients’ Memories Through Vaudeville via The New York Times

Dapper Dan is the stage name of Dikki Ellis, and Beatrice is the stage name of Ilene Weiss. They work for Vaudeville Visits, a program at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., which is run by Healthy Humor, a national nonprofit that primarily sends clowns to pediatric units in hospitals. The performers can be seen prancing down hospital corridors and in hospital rooms, singing, telling jokes, playing musical instruments, laughing, and connecting with patients, their families and staff members.

Serious Illness in Late Life: The Public’s Views and Experiences via the Kaiser Family Foundation

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation paints a troubling picture of the problems that seniors with serious illness and their caregivers face. For example, the poll found that 56 percent of seniors with serious illness report feeling sad or depressed often, and nearly as many reported feeling lonely or like a burden on others. Also, nearly half said they had a problem understanding their medication instructions or medical care in the past year. That rate was even higher among those with dementia.

The bacteria in your gut could help determine if a cancer therapy will work via Stat News

Why does cancer immunotherapy work for some patients, but not others? Gut biodiversity could play a decisive role, two new studies in Science suggest. A lush microbiome populated with “good bacteria” can boost the power of the treatments, one paper found. On the other hand, certain immunotherapies were less effective in patients who were taking antibiotics that depleted the gut of important flora, according to the second study.

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