Monday, April 25, 2011

Statins for pregnant women?

This is a very worrying proposal. Statins have severe side-effects. Damage to the unborn would be a real possibility. And since some of the side-effects are mental, the damage might not be immediately obvious. This could make thalidomide look like a picnic in comparison

Scientists believe that statins, taken by millions of older Britons to reduce their cholesterol levels, can help reduce the severity of pre-eclampsia.

If the world’s first full clinical trial is successful, it could provide the first simple and effective treatment of a complication that affects 70,000 pregnancies a year in Britain, killing up to 10 women and 1,000 unborn babies.

Prof Asif Ahmed, who is leading the study at the University of Edinburgh, said: “If we are successful, and I am very optimistic that we will be, this treatment will transform clinical management of women with pre-eclampsia. “This is the first stage but I am sure that within the next five to seven years, the type of statin used in the trial will be on the prescription pad. “It will be a great breakthrough not only for mothers and babies in our country but also in the developing world where there is a chronic need for cheaper therapies.”

Pre-eclampsia leads to high blood pressure in pregnancy and in severe cases can lead to the woman suffering kidney and liver damage or their unborn baby being stillborn.

About one in 100 expectant mothers in Britain suffers from a particularly dangerous early-onset form, for which the only treatment is delivering their babies prematurely. But research has suggested that two proteins linked to inducing the condition can be controlled through the use of statins.

The new trial, funded by the Medical Research Council, will involve 128 pregnant women who have been diagnosed with early-onset pre-eclampsia. Those given statins will be monitored to see if the drugs lower their levels of one of the proteins, known as soluble flt-1. This would likely make their condition less severe and so reduce the need for their babies to be delivered early.

Despite researchers’ confidence that the trial will lead to a breakthrough in clinical management of pre-eclampsia, they stress that pregnant women should not yet start asking doctors to prescribe them statins.


Easter note: Late dispatch from the Quebec/Vermont border front of the Kinder Egg wars. . .

I am looking this bright Easter morn at a Department of Homeland Security “Custody Receipt for Seized Property and Evidence”. Late last night, crossing the Quebec/Vermont border, my children had two boxes of “Kinder Eggs” (“Est. Dom. Value $7.50″) confiscated by Customs & Border Protection.

Don’t worry, it’s for their own safety. I had no idea that the United States is the only nation on the planet (well, okay, excepting North Korea and Saudi Arabia and one or two others) to ban Kinder Eggs. According to the CBP:

Kinder Chocolate Eggs are hollow milk chocolate eggs about the size of a large hen’s egg usually packaged in a colorful foil wrapper. They are a popular treat and collector’s item during holiday periods in various countries around the world, including those in Europe, South America and even Canada. A toy within the egg is contained in an oval-shaped plastic capsule. The toy requires assembly and each egg contains a different toy. Many of the toys that have been tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in the past were determined to present a choking hazard for young children.

And yet oddly enough generations of European and Latin American children remain unchoked. Gotta love that “even Canada”, by the way: Is that an implied threat that Kinder Egg consumption is incompatible with participation in NORAD or membership of NAFTA?

The Food and Drug Administration has issued an import alert for Kinder Eggs, because they are a confectionery product with a non-nutritive object imbedded in it. As in years past, CBP, the Food and Drug Administration and CPSC work in close collaboration to ensure the safety of imported goods by examining, sampling and testing products that may present such import safety hazards. Last year, CBP officers discovered more than 25,000 of these banned chocolate eggs. More than 2,000 separate seizures were made of this product.

Let’s see – CBP, FDA, CPSC. I’m impressed it takes a mere three agencies from the vast alphabet soup of federal regulation to keep us safe from the menace of confectionery products with non-nutritive embeds.

As Janet Napolitano would say, the system worked. I hope America’s chocolate soldiers are enjoying their seized eggs this Easter.

Bonus prediction: What’s the betting that the first jihadist to weaponize a Kinder Egg makes it on to the plane?

PS My kids asked the CBP seizure squad if they could eat the chocolate in front of the border guards while the border guards held on to the toys to prevent any choking hazard – and then, having safely consumed the chocolate, take the toys home as a separate item. This request was denied. Could have been worse. Could have been a $300 fine, plus a $250 fee for seized-egg storage.

PPS The real choking hazard is the vise-like grip of government.


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