Quickies: More About the Olympics, Microbe Science, and Childbirth in America

  • In Brazil, I was most impressed by feats of strength outside Olympic arenas – “I began to notice that strength in less obvious ways, too: Hotel workers meeting near the beach to give each other back rubs before stooping over to clean tourists’ toilets. Gay couples holding hands on the street, despite an epidemic of anti-gay violence in Brazil. Kids climbing steep cement stairs to their homes past waterfalls of sewage. Fishermen wading in the polluted mud to find crabs, exposing themselves to skin disease and stomach bugs.”
  • How The Microbes Inside Us Went From Enemies To Purported Superhealers – “The way I see it, there are many areas in medicine where the math is simple. Say you have a vitamin deficiency, you add a vitamin and then you’re better. With manipulating the microbiome, it is infinitely more complicated because this is an entire world — a community of hundreds if not thousands of microbes interacting with each other and us, their hosts.”
  • More and more women are now dying in childbirth, but only in America – “Part of the uptick in cardiovascular-related deaths is because more pregnant women in the US have chronic health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, all of which put them at a much greater risk for pregnancy complications.”
  • Sham Poo Washes Out – “A bacterial pill that tried to duplicate the benefits of a fecal transplant has failed a clinical trial. What does that mean for the microbiome field?” (I think the headline writer had a lot of fun with this one.)
  • Why Does NBC’s Al Trautwig Refuse to Call Simone Biles’ Adoptive Parents Her Parents? – “As has been widely documented, Simone’s grandfather Ron Biles and his wife, Nellie Biles, adopted the gymnast and her sister when Simone’s biological mom, who had addiction problems, was deemed unfit. In telling Biles’ story, Trautwig explained that ‘she was raised by her grandfather and his wife, and she calls them Mom and Dad.’ Which is an odd way to phrase things, given that Ron and Nellie are her mom and dad.”

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Mary Brock is a scientist who works on drugs you've hopefully never heard of. She enjoys cooking to Blue Grass music, messing with her cats, and hosting the Boston Skeptics' Book Club. She was born in the South but loves living in New England (despite the lack of chocolate chip pizza). Mary does not use Twitter and don't even try to follow her, because she is always looking over her shoulder.

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1 Comment

  1. August 10, 2016 at 1:31 pm —

    There’s also some Bad Chart Thursday material in that maternal death article.
    For instance, it looks like the maternal death has doubled in the time period under question (7 -9ish moving up to 15 to 17ish).
    But the second chart is titled “fewer women are dying from emergency pregnancy complications” and proceeds to show that the *percentage* has dropped for four types of maternal death.
    However, if it’s true that the *total* number of deaths has doubled from ’87 to ’10, then a *percentage* decrease in embolism-related deaths from 19.7% to 14.9% is actually an increase in the raw rate. More women have a chance of dying of embolisms and the person who made that chart is leading you to believe we’re on the right path to solving that problem.

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