Blood Test Can Predict Baby’s Sex at 7 Weeks
A simple blood test can accurately tell women the sex of their baby as early as seven weeks into a pregnancy. The test, which analyzes fetal DNA in the mother’s blood, establishes gender weeks earlier than traditional methods, such as ultrasounds. Unlike chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis, the test is noninvasive and doesn’t carry the risk of miscarriage, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Although it’s been available for years online and at drugstores, the test never caught on in the U.S. due to questionable accuracy. (It’s popular in Europe.) But the new study has quieted those concerns: Researchers found it determined gender correctly 95 percent of the time at seven weeks and 99 percent of the time at 20 weeks. Still, some experts worry the test could be misused, spurring an epidemic of sex-selective abortion. "In an ideal world, if there’s a serious or life-threatening genetic problem with the fetus, I understand people will want to end this pregnancy and try again," Art Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told Time. "But when you’re talking about picking a baby’s sex, doctors shouldn’t offer the test, companies shouldn’t offer it, and we should tell people that’s not a good reason to have an abortion."
Remembering Dr. Bernadine Healy, a Colleague and Friend
Bernadine Healy, M.D., a U.S. News colleague who died of brain cancer on August 6, climbed to the top of some of healthcare’s highest mountains—director of the National Institutes of Health, head of the American Red Cross, and president of the American Heart Association are only three of the many summits she scaled. Even from those heights, she never lost sight of her core belief as a physician and as a person: that medicine is about doctors who see each of their patients as a unique individual, deserving of the best help her profession has to offer.
She lived her life that way, always focused on the value and dignity of each person with whom she crossed paths. She objected to any form of healthcare that herded patients into faceless groups and ignored their individuality and autonomy. And she abhorred the use of data to restrict care when the same data could be used to enhance it. While others might argue that a cancer drug with a modest benefit was not worth its cost, for example, she refused to submit to such cold-hearted thinking.
"Nobody points out that if a cancer drug extends life by an average of four months, that means half the patients taking it have their lives extended by more than four months," Dr. Healy once told U.S. News’s health rankings editor Avery Comarow. "Some of them live another 10 months, a year, more than a year. Are we saying that means nothing?" [Read more: Remembering Dr. Bernadine Healy, a Colleague and Friend.]
Study: More Aggressive Two-Drug Chemo Benefits Older Patients
Elderly lung cancer patients could benefit from an aggressive, two-drug chemotherapy regimen that’s commonly used in younger patients, new research suggests. Older patients typically get single-drug chemotherapy because it’s thought to be more tolerable. But it’s also less effective, according to a study published Tuesday in the Lancet. Researchers found that nearly 45 percent of older patients on two-drug chemo were still alive one year after beginning treatment, compared with about 25 percent of those in the single-chemo group. Though harsher side effects will likely occur—such as weakness and a reduced white blood cell count, which increases the risk of infection—the survival benefits outweigh the risks, the researchers said. "Our study demonstrates clearly that [the two-drug] scheme is feasible in elderly patients," study author Elisabeth Quoix of the University of Strasbourg, which is located in France, told HealthDay.
Popular Health Articles from USNews.com