In Case You Missed It

July 23, 2006

The New Yorker ran a story about the mysterious causes for preeclampsia, a disorder that causes high blood pressure and even death in pregnant women, and the scrambling around for a treatment. One doctor in particular, Ananth Karumanchi, a 31-year-old kidney special at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, has been looking for a cure since 2000.

I shared his dismay over this tidbit:

Disorders of pregnancy receive relatively little research funding from the federal government, even though they exact a considerable medical and financial toll. Preeclampsia is among the most common causes of premature birth in the United States, at an average cost of more than fifty thousand dollars per infant, and doctors now believe that women who suffer complications during pregnancy are at risk for medical problems in the future. According to several recent studies, women who have had preeclampsia are twice as likely as other women to experience hypertension, stroke, and other cardiac conditions. As Christopher Redman, an internist at the John Radcliffe Hospital, in Oxford, England, and a leading expert on preeclampsia, put it, pregnancy is “a stress test for life.”

Karumanchi is optimistic though that other researchers share his pressing concern.

Drug-based therapies for preeclampsia may still be years away. But, when I spoke to Karumanchi a few weeks ago, he sounded optimistic. He told me that Scios had recently announced that it could reverse symptoms of preeclampsia in rats by administering its VEGF drug–the first step toward testing it in humans. He also mentioned that several other companies have begun work on a diagnostic test that would allow doctors to measure women’s levels of soluble FLT and PlGF early in pregnancy, and thus to predict whether they are likely to develop preeclampsia. “In the last decade, seven hundred mothers died of preeclampsia in the United States,” Karumanchi said. “I don’t see any more experiments that need to be done. Now is the moment; we’ve got to grab it and run with it. My feeling is that it would be almost a crime not to try it.”

  • Our government pays lip service to the well being of women and children? Nah. Folks who would really disagree are the moms at MomsRising.org, who are passing around a petition to ask the three major television networks to stop reporting on the Mommy Wars, in favor of real news like the fact we are No. 37 in infant mortality, yet the United States spends more on healthcare than any other country on earth. The petition will be delivered to television executives in a media event in New York City this October.

  • Also, in case you haven’t noticed, Barbara Walters has this hilarious fetish for black hair. Check out this video by VH1’s “Best Week Ever,” in which she paws Brandy and then TV correspondent Tanika Ray, asking them if their hair is “real?”

Brandy’s response was funny, too. “It’s not a wig.” Yeah bitch, we don’t all wear a weave.

For the trashy files: Model Niki Taylor has traded in her wild past for a quiet life in the sticks with her 11-year-old twin boys…Then for the really trashy, Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson are getting married.