South Korea Poses Amendment for Anti-Abortion Law

South Korea Poses Amendment for Anti-Abortion Law

South Korea has fostered an anti-abortion law for 66 years which names abortion a crime with repercussions of heavy fines and women facing up to a year in jail and doctors facing up to two years. Last Thursday, South Korea’s Constitutional Court ruled this law unconstitutional and concluded that Parliament must revise the law by 2020 or else it will become invalid. There are a few exceptions to the law which allow for abortions under the situations of pregnancy from rape or incest, pregnancy which poses great risk to the mother’s health, or pregnancy that will result in a child with a serious deformity. However, a study does prove that since the law has been enacted, there have been huge amounts of illegal abortions—49,7000 abortions took place in 2017 and an estimated 94% of those were performed illegally. There also seems to be a general shift in trends of what South Koreans think of abortion because a poll shows that now...
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Updates on Research With Male Birth Control

Updates on Research With Male Birth Control

     Last week, the drug 11-beta-MNTCD, a male contraceptive pill, was introduced at the Endocrine Society annual meeting. There has been a lot of efforts in both the scientific and medical communities to develop male birth control in recent years. Dr. Christina Wang, associate director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, noted how this new pill works to mimic testosterone’s effects, but does not allow for sperm production in the testicles. Dr. Wang then also predicted that this pill will not actually be able to be sold in the market for another decade due to the need of much more research and specific trials testing the pills effectiveness. In addition to the production of pills, the idea of a contraception through a body gel that men apply to their back and shoulders where it is absorbed by their skin is also being researched and made for trials. The production of the...
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Smoking During Pregnancy is Linked to SUID

Smoking During Pregnancy is Linked to SUID

    “Every cigarette counts,” stated Tatiana Anderson, a neuroscientist at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and a head author of a new study published relating SUID, sudden unexpected infant death, to smoking during pregnancy. The research analyzed more than 20 million births which included 19,000 SUID cases and concluded that one cigarette a day smoked by a pregnant woman can double the risk of SUID for her baby. In the United States, there are approximately 338,000 women each year who self-report they smoke during their pregnancy. The study also found that “if no woman smoked in pregnancy, SUID rates in the United States could be reduced substantially.” Ongoing studies analyzing exactly how SUID and smoking are related are being conducted and one possible theory is that smoking increases serotonin levels in infants during sleep which may affect the ability of the brain stem to regulate the respiratory system and therefore leads to SUID. There is also evidence that cigarette usage...
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Professor Spotlight: Dr. Nunn

Professor Spotlight: Dr. Nunn

Dr. Nunn is a professor of Evolutionary Anthropology and Global Health and is currently teaching the course “Human Health in Evolutionary Perspective” here at Duke. The following is the transcript of an in-person interview conducted with Dr. Nunn. What inspired you to teach “Human Health in Evolutionary Perspective” at Duke? In particular, what long-term perspectives do you hope students will gain from this course? “I came to Duke in 2013 from Harvard where I taught this course and it was called Evolutionary Medicine. I was really excited to teach it there because it was in the General Education Curriculum and a colleague of mine, Peter Ellison, and I developed a course that was aimed at people without any background in evolution or background in pre-med. It was meant to be a course that attracted any student and it was amazing. It allowed me to engage with the material in a more basic level and I came to realize the material is something...
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New Studies Relating to the Grandmother Hypothesis

New Studies Relating to the Grandmother Hypothesis

The “grandmother hypothesis” represents the idea that a grandmother has beneficial effects on the reproductive success of her children and the survival of her grandchildren. Therefore, it is predicted that women who have the genes for living longer would then have grandchildren who also carry these genes. Recently, two more studies that further explore the notion of the grandmother effect were published in Current Biology. The first analyzes data of birth, death, and marriages in certain Catholic parishes from 1608 in an area that is present-day Quebec. The findings point to the fact that families who stayed geographically near their grandmas not only created larger family sizes and shifted child mortality rates, but positively promoted mothers to have children at younger ages. The second study was led by Dr. Chapman of the University of Turku in Finland and analyzed data from pre-industrial Finland. Dr. Chapman concluded that specifically, when a grandma is in her 50-70’s, she is most capable of...
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How Climate Change May Affect the Gender of Newborns

How Climate Change May Affect the Gender of Newborns

Author and founder of the M&K Health Institute in Hyogo, Japan, Dr. Misao Fukuda, led a study with results that stated, “temperature fluctuation may play a role in the recent decrease in the sex ratios of births.” Since the mid-20th century, climate change has been a direct result of human activity and has caused a warming trend of the planet. Extreme weather has a connection to human stress which is likely to impact the birth sex ratio. Climate change very well may affect the number of male newborns; more male newborns are predicted to be born in areas with rising high temperatures. Scientist Steven Orzack of the Fresh Pond Research Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts claims that sex ratio is equal at conception, but there are external factors throughout birth and childhood which cause the ratio to differ. Specifically, senior researcher in the Section of Ecology, Department of Biology at the University of Turku in Finland, Samuli Helle, discovered evidence that...
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Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

Analyzing High Abortion Rates in Pakistan

     The country of Pakistan has one of the highest rates of abortions in the world; it is noted there are 50 abortions for every one thousand women. However, this procedure is “legal only in very limited circumstances” according to the Guttmacher Institute. Pakistan states an abortion can occur if there is a “need” for it such as if a woman’s health is in danger. But, otherwise, the term “need” is very vaguely defined—culturally, abortions are not accepted or promoted in Pakistan. As a deeply conservative and Muslim country, most hospitals and doctors refuse to perform abortions for religious and moral reasons and beliefs. As a result, a huge underground abortion industry thrives. This contributes to the statistic that ⅓ of all women who undergo abortions in Pakistan suffer complications largely because those who are performing the operations are likely not properly qualified. The high amount of abortions comes from the fact that there is a large unmet need...
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World Health Organization Releases New App

World Health Organization Releases New App

The World Health Organization has recently launched its new app entitled “Medical Eligibility Criteria For Contraceptive Use.” The purpose of the app is to allow anyone with a smartphone to be able to access recommendations for the best and proper contraceptive methods according to one's medical conditions. The WHO released the fifth edition of the medical eligibility criteria (MEC) in 2015 as a 276 page document as “part of the process for improving the quality of care in family planning” for “guidance on the safety of various contraceptive methods for use in the context of specific health conditions and characteristics.” The app condenses this information into an easily accessible and user-friendly interface. MED takes into account a woman’s medical condition and history in order to note which contraceptive methods would adversely affect the woman and to note if the condition could interfere by making the contraceptive method less effective. It truly emphasizes safety as a priority to promote female reproductive...
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Ovarian Cancer Needs more Attention and Awareness

Ovarian Cancer Needs more Attention and Awareness

Ovarian cancer is the 7th most common cancer in the world. Nearly 300,000 women are predicted to develop ovarian cancer this year and less than half of these women diagnosed are expected to survive after 5 years. However, there is very little awareness of ovarian cancer and its effects. A survey conducted by the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition gathered information from 1,531 women across 44 countries. The women who participated were from high, middle, and low income countries and were asked to answer online questions about their experiences with ovarian cancer. The study points to the fact that over two thirds of women who participated had never even heard of ovarian cancer or knew nothing about it before they were diagnosed. Additionally, less than half of these women attempted to find care or answers for their symptoms within the first month they appeared, and one in every ten women did not seek medical help for 6 months. This data is important...
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Immigrant Women Facing Maternal Health Struggles

Immigrant Women Facing Maternal Health Struggles

In a recent CNN piece, obstetrician Dr. Cristina Gamboa reveals her insights on trends in regards to her pregnant immigrant patients at the community health center Salud Para La Gente in Watsonville, California. She has noted that patients who are Mexican Immigrants seem to be suffering from increases in stress during their pregnancy. These increases have led to high blood pressure which can be further characterized as the condition preeclampsia. Stress can be a result of a multitude of factors, but Dr. Gamboa analyzes that America’s current political climate could be a root cause. It is considered a crime for someone to enter and stay in the United States without permission. Approximately 25% of unauthorized immigrants reside in California and 26.9% of the population in Watsonville are non-US citizens. Although there are no scientific studies connecting a woman’s immigration status and maternal health, Dr. Gamboa believes research is needed. There is, however, evidence pointing to a lack of general health...
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