Women Taking The Pill More Likely to be Treated for Depression

Birth Control Pill Container (The Holy Kale)

Birth Control Pill Container (The Holy Kale)

Do you feel depressed? Are you on The Pill? There might be a correlation.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) followed 1M+ women ages 15-34, with average age of 24. The longitudinal study followed Danish women from 1995 to 2013 who had no prior history of depression. The average time between follow-ups was 6+ years.

Women who were on a combination of oral contraceptives were “23% more likely to be prescribed an antidepressant,” usually within the first six months after beginning the Pill’s regimen. But women on the progestin-only pills (a synthetic form of the progesterone hormone) were “34% more likely to take antidepressants or get a first diagnosis of depression” than women who didn’t take the hormonal contraceptive.

The risk primarily targets teenagers, and the risk inversely correlates with age (i.e. the risk decreases as one gets older).

It’s suggested that higher levels of progesterone may lower mood (which is controlled by estrogen). But researchers noted that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men within their lifetime, so the study’s findings are something to consider. It should be noted that the researchers have called for more follow-up studies to corroborate these findings.

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Which U.S State Has the Highest Maternal Mortality Rate?

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

Pregnant woman (SLO County)

You wouldn’t necessarily guess that *any* state in the U.S. has a high maternal mortality rate (i.e. mothers who die due to pregnancy- and birth-related complications), but one has that dubious honor. And that is the great state of Texas.

In the September issue of medical journal Obstretics and Gynecology, a report found the following:

The maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

Bet you didn’t expect that, right? (I certainly didn’t.) But how bad is it really?

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

Texas is part of the developed world, so the maternal mortality rate surge cannot be explained by “war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval.” So what is it?

In recent years, Texas has severely decreased women’s access to spaces that offer medical services for reproductive health. In 2011, “the Texas state legislature cut $73.6M from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5M.” This measure resulted in 80 clinics closing across the state. Planned Parenthood clinics were also completely eliminated, which cut off access to reproductive health measures for lower-income women especially. Planned Parenthood had previously served 130K+ women across the state.

While Texas restored the family planning budget to its original level in 2013, the damage was already done: Many clinics are still struggling to provide the same level of care and service they provided before the cut. But Texas clinics are now offering free IUDs, so there’s some hope they’ll be flourishing soon.

 

 

 

California Will Now Offer Picking Up a Year’s Worth of Birth Control Pills in One Prescription

Birth control pills (Salon)

Birth control pills (Salon)

Once again, California blazes the way for the rest of the nation. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that states that women will be able to pick up a year’s supply of birth control pills at one time. Before this law passed, pharmacists were only able to dispense birth control in three-month supplies. (And I know I’ve had trouble with even that.)

Worried about if your insurance will cover it? No need: the new law also requires that the new year-at-once be covered in healthcare plans.

The new law goes into Jan. 1, 2017.

Texas Planned Parenthood Will Now Provide Low-Cost IUDs

IUD (NY Mag)

IUD (NY Mag)

It’s one small step forward, but it’s still a step for womankind. Earlier this month, the Greater Texas branch of Planned Parenthood announced that they would now offer intrauterine devices (or, as they’re more commonly known, IUDs) to women who would otherwise be unable to afford them. This benefit is due to a $2M donation from the Boone Family Foundation and the Harold Simmons Foundation, with each foundation donating $1M.

This isn’t the first time a large donation to Planned Parenthood has made more birth control options possible. Colorado also received a donation earmarked for providing free IUDs. The program resulted in a 42% drop in teenage abortions, and 40% drop in overall teen pregnancy rates.

Texas’ program will begin in September. The IUDs will be available on a sliding scale fee-basis for 1K women per year.

 

The Pentagon Will Pay to Freeze Troops’ Sperm and Eggs

Military troops (The Political Insider)

Military troops (The Political Insider)

Family-friendly policies have been proliferating workplace culture within the past year, and now there’s another company to add to that list: the Pentagon.

The Defense Department will a pilot program that allows troops to freeze sperm and eggs in an effort to retain service members. This policy is especially aimed at women: After 10 years of service (which would place a woman in her late 20s, assuming she enlisted when she was 18), women’s retention rate is 30% less than that of men’s. The cost is estimated to be around $150M for five years, or  $30M per year.

The move comes as the Defense Department noted changing policies that allowed for longer maternity leaves and “improved child care.” After creating a plan, the Defense Department will outline a plan, and will evaluate two years after implementation. The Defense Department is following in the footsteps of certain Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, which recently began offering female employees the option of freezing their eggs.

So far, the Defense Department is the only government agency that will allow freezing sperm and eggs within their healthcare policy.

It’ll be interesting to see how the pilot program goes, and how it changes the quality of life for military members.

#ThrowbackThursday: Mark Zuckerberg and Pregnant Priscilla Chan, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, 2015 (Business Insider)

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan Zuckerberg (Business Insider)

On July 31, 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on (where else?) Facebook that he and his wife Priscilla were expecting a baby girl. He also revealed that the couple had weathered three miscarriages in the span of two years.

Zuckerberg rarely posts personal things on his own site, so this was a break from routine for him. The confession earned him praise.

The Zuckerbergs’ daughter Max was born on Dec. 1, 2015.

Zika Virus Linked to Birth Defects

Mosquito (NPR)

Mosquito (NPR)

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) released a travel warning for pregnant women. They’ve issued the warning for 14 countries where the Zika virus has been confirmed to be transmitted.

Transmitted through bites of infected mosquitos, the Zika virus symptoms include fever, rashes and red eyes. It’s also been linked to birth defects.

Brazil was the first country to report birth defects linked to Zika. Specifically, the virus manifests as microcephaly, where newborns will have an unusually small head that leads to abnormal brain development. Over 2.4K cases of newborns affected by Zika were recorded in 2015, up from only 147 cases in 2014. This was a 1,532%+ year-over-year increase.

And the U.S. is no longer exempt from Zika’s reach: A baby with microcephaly was confirmed to have the virus. The baby was born in Hawaii last week.