Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Morning Drill: August 24, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments for your day.

California lawmakers OK statewide rules on circumcision
A California Senate committee unanimously approved a bill Tuesday to block local jurisdictions from banning male circumcision, a debate that evolved from a divisive ballot measure in San Francisco that would have barred the practice for most boys under age 18.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-0 for the bill by two Democratic lawmakers that would declare that circumcision — surgically removing the foreskin that covers the tip of the penis — has health, cultural and other benefits, and that uniform statewide rules are needed to govern it and a parent's authority over whether their children receive it.

"It's a medical procedure, and it has value," said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, co-author of AB768. Passing the bill, he told the committee, would prevent a statewide patchwork of laws governing circumcision.

Sen. Noreen Evans, the Santa Rosa Democrat who chairs the committee, said she struggled with the decision on whether to circumcise her son. There is a clear need for a statewide standard that would ensure other parents retain the right to make that choice, she said.

The legislation comes against a national backdrop of efforts to limit male circumcision, which critics say is an unnecessary surgery to a healthy and defenseless child that can cause long-lasting sexual and mental health problems.

Supporters of male circumcision include researchers who say it can reduce the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, and many Jews and Muslims, for whom the practice is an important religious ritual.

Local ballot measures on the subject interfere with the practice of medicine, said Ryan Spencer, a spokesman for the California Medical Association.

"The decision to perform male circumcision should be left up to the parents in consultation with their physician, wherever they reside," Spencer testified.
Only 1 in 7 Ob/Gyns Do Abortions, Survey Finds
There may be fewer obstetrician/gynecologists performing abortions than previously estimated, researchers said.

Just 14% of those who responded to a brief survey said they do the procedure, a smaller figure than the 22% measured by another recent survey, Debra Stulberg, MD, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues reported in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

"Access to abortion remains limited by the willingness of physicians to provide abortion services, particularly in rural communities in the South and Midwest," they wrote.

In the U.S., the demand for abortion is high, they said, given that half of pregnancies are unintended, and half of those end in abortion. Yet access remains a challenge for several reasons.

Religious objections may play a role, as may a reduction in training for the procedure in residency programs from the late 1970s through 1996. After that time, abortion training was required for residency.

So to estimate the current prevalence of abortion provision among practicing ob/gyns in the U.S., the researchers conducted a national probability sample mail survey of 1,800 practitioners, with a final sample of 1,031 providers.

Key variables that the researchers asked about included whether respondents had ever encountered patients seeking abortions in their practices, and whether they provided abortion services.

Overall, 97% said they had encountered patients seeking abortions, but only 14.4% said they performed the service.
Chemists Discover Most Naturally Variable Protein in Dental Plaque Bacterium
Two UC San Diego chemists have discovered the most naturally variable protein known to date in a bacterium that is a key player in the formation of dental plaque

The chemists, who announced their discovery in this week's early online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, say they believe the extreme variability of the protein they discovered in the bacterium Treponema denticola evolved to adhere to the hundreds of different kinds of other bacteria that inhabit people's mouths. They call the protein they discovered "Treponema variable protein," or TvpA for short, and estimate that it is a million to a billion times more variable than the proteins that play a primary role in vertebrate immune systems -- the only other known natural system for massive protein variation.

"In Treponema denticola, we found a protein we call TvpA, that varies considerably more than proteins of the immune system and, to our knowledge, this protein is the most variable natural protein described to date," said Partho Ghosh, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UC San Diego who headed the research effort. "We don't know what it does in this bacterium, but our hypothesis is that it enables it to adhere to the biofilm, commonly known as dental plaque, that exists in people's mouths."

Ghosh explained that dental plaque varies from person-to-person in the kinds of bacteria that adhere to the teeth to form this biofilm. Because plaque grows in a sequential way and because T. denticola is one of the last key players in the formation of plaque, Ghosh said the bacterium has no idea what kinds of other bacteria will be present to adhere to.

"We suspect that by varying TvpA, T. denticola is able to find a TvpA variant that is able to adhere to whichever bacterium is already present in the biofilm," Ghosh said.
What You’re Supposed to Do During an Earthquake
When you feel an earthquake hit, your first reaction really isn’t supposed to be tweeting, or calling your friend to find out if she felt it too. (Both seemed to be common reactions to today’s East Coast quake, which had a magnitude of 5.9.)

Instead, as FEMA reminds us — and as you may remember from those grade-school earthquake drills — if you’re inside and things are rocking, you’re supposed to drop to the ground, take cover under something sturdy and (duh) wait until the shaking stops. Don’t run towards the windows or anything else that could break or fall.

Meantime, if you’re outside, you should move away from structures. Contrary to what disaster movies may teach you, FEMA says flying or falling debris are most likely to cause injury, not giant holes opening in the ground. If you’re in a car, stop when it’s safe, in an area where nothing’s likely to fall on you. Stay inside until it’s safe to continue.
Enjoy your morning!

No comments:

Post a Comment