+

Concerned about the number of babies born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, the Centers for Disease Control has made quite the recommendation.

Health officials at the government agency on Feb. 2, 2016, suggested that all women of child-bearing age who are sexually active and not using birth control should ... wait for it ... avoid drinking alcohol altogether.


No birth control, no more Wine Wednesdays for you, says the CDC. Photo by iStock.

The CDC provided a handy infographic for health care providers, wherein they suggest that "[p]roviders can help women avoid drinking too much, including avoiding alcohol during pregnancy, in 5 steps."

Seems legit. But then step #3 is a little disconcerting (emphasis added):

"Advise a woman to stop drinking if she is trying to get pregnant or not using birth control with sex."

Hmmmm.

Yep, you read that correctly. If you're a woman who's having sex, who's capable of reproducing, and who's not using contraception, the CDC suggests your health care provider advise you to quit drinking alcohol completely.

At first, I thought maybe they just weren't being very clear. Maybe they were talking about women who are trying to become pregnant AND not using contraception. But, alas, no.

“Alcohol can permanently harm a developing baby before a woman knows she is pregnant,” principal deputy director of the CDC Anne Schuchat said, according to USA Today. “About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking."

She continued, "The risk is real. Why take the chance?”

Let's break this down.

Late in 2015, the American Academy of Pediatrics took the definitive stance that absolutely no amount of alcohol during pregnancy is safe for a developing fetus.

For years, there's been a lot of debate about how much, if any, alcohol an expectant mother can consume before she should worry that her baby could be born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

The CDC says FASD affects up to 1 in 20 U.S. schoolchildren and can result in many physical issues, such as: "low birth weight and growth; problems with heart, kidneys, and other organs; and damage to parts of the brain." Those problems can cause behavioral and intellectual disabilities, which in turn can cause problems with "school and social skills; living independently; mental health; substance use; keeping a job; and trouble with the law."

Photo by iStock.

FASD is a serious condition, no question.

While some are still skeptical that even small amounts of alcohol are dangerous, the AAP published a clinical report in the November issue of Pediatrics, and the abstract contained the group's clear-cut stance:

"During pregnancy:
— no amount of alcohol intake should be considered safe;
— there is no safe trimester to drink alcohol;
— all forms of alcohol, such as beer, wine, and liquor, pose similar risk; and
— binge drinking poses dose-related risk to the developing fetus."




According to the CDC, planned pregnancies apparently make up half of all pregnancies each year in the U.S. So based on that info from the AAP, the CDC's recommendation that women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant abstain from alcohol is logical. They included women trying to become pregnant because, according to health officials, even planned pregnancies often remain unknown until a woman is four to six weeks along.

But the way the CDC wants to address potential FASD in the other half of pregnancies — the unintended ones —is where things veer off course.

To be fair, step #2 on the info graphic for health care providers instructs them to:

"Recommend birth control if a woman is having sex (if appropriate), not planning to get pregnant, and is drinking alcohol."

But for health officials to jump from that to step #3, which is essentially saying "no more alcohol for you, the end!" is a just a tiiiiiiny bit paternalistic.


No, CDC. No. GIF via "The Matrix."

And it's problematic.

First, it's still difficult for some women to access birth control. What if instead of telling women to use birth control or give up alcohol forever — or at least until menopause — the government made absolutely certain that all women have easy, free access to birth control?

Second, why are we not more concerned with the fact that half of women who become pregnant each year do so unintentionally? That seems like the actual problem that needs addressing, not that women are going around being adults and having a glass of wine or a few cocktails in the course of, you know, living their lives.

Third, where's the recommendation and handy infographic for men about their contribution to unintended pregnancies (and potential FASD in the babies that result from those unintended pregnancies)? After all, if men were using condoms correctly 100% of the time they engaged in sex, that should reduce the number of unintended pregnancies drastically, thereby reducing the instances of FASD. Women who are not using birth control while consuming alcohol would be far more unlikely to become pregnant in the first place if their partners were using condoms.

I'd venture to guess that most people care about healthy babies.

But in the course of trying to protect potential future babies that don't yet exist, the CDC missed an opportunity to address the real problems: Women need easy, affordable (or free) access to birth control, men need to take responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and, again, why don't we care more about the number of unintended pregnancies that occur each year in the first place? The bottom line: Telling adult women they shouldn't drink alcohol isn't a solution to any of these problems.

Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
Keep ReadingShow less
All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

via Dion Merrick / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.09.21


At 1:30 am on Monday morning an AMBER Alert went out in southern Louisiana about a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia. It was believed she had been kidnapped and driven away in a 2012 silver Nissan Altima.

A few hours later at 7 am, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste, were on their daily route when they noticed a vehicle that fit the description in the alert.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

Keep ReadingShow less