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When women are pregnant they take care to eat right and refrain from smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages.  But what to do about prescription drugs is a more complicated topic.

Pamela ScottThere are very few prescription medications that have been specifically approved for use during pregnancy. And yet, doctors in clinical practice must prescribe needed medicines to pregnant women to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or even something as simple as a dental infection.

Indeed, about half of the 6.3 million women who are pregnant every year take at least one medication, and prescription use is on the rise, up by more than 60 percent from 1976 through 2008.

More information is clearly needed. The 21st Century Cures Act, which was enacted in 2016, established a task force to consider what is being done to identify and address gaps in knowledge and research on safe and effective therapies for pregnant and lactating women. Within 18 months after it is established, the task force will develop a report to Congress with specific recommendations for addressing the issues identified. The Office of Women’s Health (OWH) is leading FDA’s activities for the task force. My colleagues at OWH will be working with FDA’s Centers to promote dialogue and research collaboration. We look forward to hearing from our public and private partners at the Task Force’s two-day public meeting, which begins today.

Meanwhile, we are continuing our work to help ensure that doctors and their patients have better drug information. In 2015 we began implementation of new requirements for the pregnancy and lactation subsections of labeling for prescription products. The new requirements provide a framework for clearly communicating information on the benefits and risks of using a drug during pregnancy and lactation and also remove the decades-old pregnancy category letter system that was often confusing and did not accurately or consistently communicate differences in degrees of fetal risk.

FDA is also collaborating on research to fill in the gaps of our knowledge about medication use by pregnant women. OWH leads pregnancy research initiatives that fund studies and workshops to support FDA decision-making. Some of our research is using predictive modeling to try to anticipate how pregnant women might respond to a drug without having to expose them to the drug during a clinical trial. Other projects address emerging issues like Zika while others have examined ongoing issues like food safety in pregnancy. FDA’s Centers are also conducting research to better understand the safety, efficacy and effects of products used during pregnancy. Their research addresses a wide array of topics including vaccine safety, MRI effects, drug toxicity, and tobacco use and its potential impact in pregnancy.

Through the Medication Exposure in Pregnancy Risk Evaluation Program (MEPREP), a multi-site research collaboration between FDA, academia and health insurers, FDA is doing research to learn more about medication effects by linking healthcare records for moms and babies. MEPREP has already conducted a number of projects including an award-winning study of sulfonamide use during pregnancy and the risk of congenital anomalies. MEPREP is currently conducting a 3-year epidemiologic study to evaluate a potential association between neural tube defects and maternal exposure to prescription opioids.

Finally, we are doing what we can to encourage pregnant women to enroll in a pregnancy exposure registry if they take a prescription drug for a medical condition. Enrolling can help improve safety information for medicines used during pregnancy and can be used to update drug labeling. FDA’s pregnancy registry site connects women and health professionals to over 40 registries and provides links to drug information and educational resources on medication use during pregnancy. Studies conducted with the registry data can help to provide information on the effects of prescription drug and vaccine exposures on the health of pregnant women and, after they give birth, of their babies.

Real-World Research and Safety Monitoring

FDA’s pregnancy research assists in the assessment and safety monitoring of the range of products that pregnant women use in their daily lives. Our guidance and policy efforts provide a research framework for industry. And, our pregnancy outreach activities help to raise awareness and disseminate timely safety information. The work that we do with other government and private sector partners leverages existing data and collaborative approaches to address gaps in knowledge about medication use during pregnancy.

Throughout my career at FDA, I have had the chance to collaborate with diverse partners on pregnancy research with MEPREP and later in my role at OWH, and I have seen the positive impact of FDA’s pregnancy initiatives. I look forward to the task force report. But in the interim, I know that OWH will continue to serve as an information source and catalyst for research in support of FDA’s ongoing commitment to providing pregnant women and their healthcare providers with the best possible information to guide their healthcare decisions.

 

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By: Pamela E. Scott, Ph.D. –  Deputy Director and Director of Research and Development, FDA Office of Women’s Health

Child Foot Newborn Babies Baby Baby Feet FeetSeptember is newborn screening
awareness month.

“Newborn screening identifies conditions that can affect a child’s long-term health or survival. Early detection, diagnosis, and intervention can prevent death or disability and enable children to reach their full potential. Each year, millions of babies in the U.S. are routinely screened, using a few drops of blood from the newborn’s heel, for certain genetic, endocrine, and metabolic disorders, and are also tested for hearing loss and critical congenital heart defects (CCHDs) prior to discharge from a hospital or birthing center.”

 
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For more information visit: https://www.cdc.gov/newbornscreening/

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Are you a medical or dental student in your final year of school?

The National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Students to Service Loan Repayment Program (S2S LRP) provides loan repayment to medical (MD and DO) or dental (DDS or DMD) students in their final year of school in return for a commitment to provide primary health care full time for at least 3 years at an approved NHSC site in a Health Professional Shortage Area of greatest need.

Plan Ahead

Create a Federal Student Aid ID before beginning the application process to electronically import your Federal loan information for your application.

Gather documentation you will need to submit with your application. You will need loan information verification, school transcript, verification of good standing, proof of passing Step/Level 1 of USMLE/COMLEX or documentation verifying that you have passed Part I of the National board Dental Examination, as well as letters of recommendation and a CV or resume.

Visit the Health Workforce Connector to explore the many different places that S2S LRP participants can practice after completing their residencies.

Watch this video to learn about the factors used to determine NHSC awards.

 

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Valley Healthcare System’s Behavioral Health Director, Dr. Giovanna Guerra participated in a Let’s READ Muscogee event, on behalf of Project Launch. She read a book in Spanish to the Head Start children in Benning Hills, describing the experience as, “enjoyable and fulfilling.”

For more information regarding project launch, please follow this link: http://myccorp.net/web/projectlaunch/

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By Dr. Manny Alvarez Published January 20, 2017 FoxNews.com

Research shows that your teeth can speak volumes about your overall health, so it’s important to be informed when it comes to taking care of your mouth.

Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor for FoxNews.com, recently sat down with Dr. Gerry Curatola, founder of Rejuvenation Dentistry in New York City to debunk some common dental myths that could be hurting your health.

Myth 1: Sugar is the main cause of tooth decay.

We’ve all heard it growing up: Sugar will rot your teeth. But while sugar can lead to cavity formation – as well as a variety of other health maladies – it’s not the real culprit when it comes to tooth decay.

“This is a myth in a sense because sugar, while being ‘the gasoline in the tank’ is not the cause of tooth decay. It’s actually acids from bacteria that have gone to the dark side,” Curatola told FoxNews.com. “We talk about good bugs and bad bugs; bad bugs are actually an unhealthy expression of natural bacteria in the mouth.”

“Bad bugs” are formed when you digest carbohydrates. Refined sugar is an example, but other carbohydrates can include healthy foods like vegetables, fruits and grains. These “bad bugs” produce acid in your mouth that, when combined with saliva, result in plaque formation.

Myth 2: Teeth whitening will damage your enamel.

The key ingredients in over-the-counter whitening products are hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which work as oxidizing agents to remove stains on the surface of the enamel. White strips, trays and pastes meant for at-home use usually contain about 3 to 10 percent of these active ingredients and are generally considered safe. Curatola noted as with everything, moderation is important.

“Really, the safest teeth whitening is done under the supervision of a dentist or a dental hygienist in a dental office … There’s a lot of over-the-counter products that can damage your enamel,” said Curatola. “If the product is too acidic, the product is too strong … Overuse or misuse of these products can cause the enamel to get fragile and even more porous. These are the kinds of things that really need more regulation, and they can be damaging, but teeth whitening by itself is a safe treatment.”

One of the most common side effects of whitening your teeth, whether done in a dentist’s office or at home, is tooth sensitivity. Research out of Ohio State University College of Dentistry has shown that some enamel loss is possible when using bleaching agents, but sometimes, enamel has been found to remineralize itself over time.

Myth 3: Silver fillings don’t need to be replaced.

One of the most hotly debated issues among dentists these days is whether or not old, silver amalgam fillings in the mouths of so many Americans are safe.

“A lot of patients are not even informed that silver-colored fillings are actually 52 percent mercury,” said Curatola. “There’s also research – and it’s proven that mercury leeches out over time from these silver fillings – more if you drink hot liquids and chew things. My opinion is that I don’t think any amount of mercury is good, and especially if [these fillings are] breaking down, they should be replaced.”

Mercury is a powerful neurotoxin that at certain levels has been linked to autoimmune diseases, neurological issues, chronic diseases and even mental disorders. One concern among dental professionals is that people with amalgam fillings who grind their teeth, chew gum and drink hot or carbonated drinks could be exposed to a dangerous level of mercury vapors.

Myth 4: Mouthwash with alcohol is good to use.

The use of mouthwash containing alcohol has been linked with oral cancer since the 1970s. But more recent research has questioned the association, citing that many study participants who frequently use alcohol-containing mouthwash were drinkers and smokers, making it hard to establish a definitive cause-and-effect outcome. But Curatola warns that frequent use of these mouthwashes can lead to other dental problems.

“Mouthwash should not have alcohol,” said Curatola. “Alcohol is dehydrating and denaturing to this natural ecology of the mouth called the oral microbiome.”

Myth 5: Wisdom teeth serve no purpose.

Wisdom teeth are a product of evolution that got their name from the time that they appear in your mouth – usually between the ages of 17 to 25. It is thought that the coarse food our ancestors ate caused the jaw to grow larger and stronger, allowing for more teeth in our mouths. But over time, our jaws began to shrink to make way for our growing brains, leaving many people with overcrowded mouths and painful impactions when their wisdom teeth break through.

“Wisdom teeth are called vestigial organs, like your tonsils and your appendix,” said Curatola. “I don’t think every child should have their wisdom teeth ripped out, but I do believe that we are finding an intraspecies evolution where wisdom teeth are not having room to erupt, and if they are malpositioned, they can cause problems [like] cysts in the jaw, infections and pain.”

If your wisdom teeth are not causing you any problems, you may want to think about leaving them where they are. Research out of Japan shows that the pulp inside your molars contains stem cells similar to those found in bone marrow. Some experts say that banking those stem cells could lead to the ability to regrow teeth in the future.

With Independence Day right around the corner, please review these tips and statistics regarding Firework Safety.

June 20

June 13-19

A cataract is a clouding of the eye’s lens. The cataract can prevent light from properly passing to your retina and your vision may become blurry or dim. The fact sheet below gives more information regarding cataracts.

Please make sure you schedule regular exams with an optometrist to monitor and prevent eye problems.

Call and schedule an appointment with our Vision Department today!

June 10

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), in accordance with the Federally Supported Health Centers Assistance Act, as amended, sections 224(g)-(n) of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, 42 U.S.C. 233(g)-(n), deems Valley Healthcare System, Inc. to be an employee of the PHS which provides liability protection under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)
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