Sunday, August 6, 2017

What does "defunding" Planned Parenthood really mean?
As many of us are aware, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive and other health care services both nationally and globally. Political stances aside, the majority of us can agree that preventive healthcare is beneficial.  What many people  fail to realize, however, is the fact that approximately 5 million women and men and children rely on Planned Parenthood for most of their health care needs including immunizations, cancer and STD screening, HIV prevention, lactation support and counseling, in addition to family planning. These individuals are often dependent on Medicaid and Title X, created in the 1970's to specifically focus on funding for family planning and preventive care for low income families.

With over 700 clinics across the United States, Planned Parenthood relies on federal funds for 43% of its budget. However, if the American Health Care Act passes, this organization is at risk for losing the funds from Medicaid totaling approximately half a billion dollars. The funds from Title X on the other hand are grants given to states so $60 million dollars may remain based on state jurisdiction. The millions of patients who rely on health care provided by Planned Parenthood may be left to find a community health center to treat them. Unfortunately, these health centers do not have the ability, providers, or resources as of now to absorb all of Planned Parenthood's patients. Access to healthcare, birth control provision, STD checks and other services would significantly decrease, thus impacting the health of a wide array of individuals.

So what can we do?
Write to our senators to preserve Medicaid and Title X and convey why Planned Parenthood is important to you!

Meghana Pisupati
IHS 2018

Thursday, July 20, 2017

You Are What You Eat – Starting at Birth or Even Before!

The human gut microbiome is an area of active research and rapidly expanding knowledge with potentially significant implications for health and disease.  Yet, even though the field is relatively young, it is not without controversy.  Some studies have concluded that the mode of delivery at birth plays an important role in infant microbiome development.1 Infants born vaginally have a gut microbiome that approximates that of their mother’s vaginal and fecal flora.  However, infants who are delivered by cesarean section tend to be colonized with bacteria resembling their mother’s skin flora.  Their intestinal microbiome exhibits less diversity – a finding that may be linked to human diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and obesity.2     

However, a recently published study by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine found no differences in the microbiome of infants at 4 to 6 weeks of age between those delivered by C-section or born vaginally. According to the researchers, one explanation is that the microbiome may actually have been established in utero from the placenta during pregnancy and even undergone some maturation prior to birth. 3,4  

Infants who are breastfed after birth continue to exhibit colonization and maturation of their gut microbiome. According to a recent study from UCLA5, breast milk contributed more than 25% of the bacteria to the infant gut with an additional 10% coming from the areolar skin - findings that were most pronounced during the first month of life.  More importantly, infants who continued to breast feed through 6 months of age after the introduction of solid foods had a lower incidence of obesity and asthma.  Although these findings need to be corroborated, they potentially add to the body of evidence supporting the benefits of breast feeding.


Judith Wolf, MD

          Associate Director, WHEP


  1. Yang I, Corwin EJ, Brennan PA, Jordan S, Murphy JR, Dunlop A. The Infant Microbiome: Implications for Infant Health and Neurocognitive Development. Nursing research. 2016;65(1):76-88. doi:10.1097/NNR.0000000000000133.
  2. Mueller NT, Bakacs E, Combellick J, Grigoryan Z, Dominguez-Bello MG. The infant microbiome development: mom matters. Trends in molecular medicine. 2015;21(2):109-117. doi:10.1016/j.molmed.2014.12.002.
  3. Derrick M Chu et al. Maturation of the infant microbiome community structure and function across multiple body sites and  
    in relation to mode of delivery, Nature Medicine (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nm.4272
  4. K. Aagaard et al. The Placenta Harbors a Unique Microbiome, Science Translational Medicine (2014).
  5. Pia S. Pannaraj, MD, MPH; Fan Li, PhD; Chiara Cerini, MD; et al.   JAMA Pediatr.  2017;171(7):647-654. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.0378

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Attack of Autoimmunity
It has been estimated that approximately 23.5 million Americans currently live with hidden autoimmune diseases according to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) and spend approximately $200 billion on healthcare annually. This daunting number of people live daily with their immune systems attacking their own bodies. Autoimmune diseases essentially occur when the immune system—the line of defense that your body uses to combat viruses, bacteria, and other diseases, fails. This failure comes from our immune cells being unable to distinguish between the self and foreign invaders ultimately causing systemic inflammation.
So why is this important? Because interestingly enough, of the 23.5 million Americans, 75% of those diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women over the age of 50. The reasoning behind this has in the past been attributed to hormonal, genetic and epigenetic susceptibility, or chromosomal differences. These diseases ultimately impact various organ systems such as kidneys, GI tract, skin, etc.
It appears that there are still certain lifestyle choices that one may begin with to prevent the occurrence of autoimmune diseases. These include keeping up with constant check ups for hidden infections and knowing food allergies. Getting tested and making sure to take probiotics and exercise regularly is said to help as well. Moreover, leading a stress-free life is essential for keeping a healthy and functioning immune system. 
Give a shout out to someone you know who is combating these autoimmune diseases and how they are living a complete life for our readers!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Contraception with a Household Cleanser?

While listening to the CBC radio program “Under the Influence” on satellite radio the other day, I was astonished to learn something I never knew about the common household product, Lysol: in the late 1920s it was marketed as a feminine hygiene product!  The disinfectant was promoted as a vaginal douche to kill intimate germs and odors and safeguard “dainty feminine allure.”  Its active ingredient, benzalkonium chloride, is classed as a Category III antiseptic by the FDA and is a known irritant. The formula was even more concentrated back in the ‘20s than it is today, resulting in women becoming poisoned, experiencing severe burns and some even dying. 

It turns out, however, that Lysol ads were not even really about cleanliness; rather “feminine hygiene” was a euphemism for birth control.  At the time, using birth control or even talking about it was taboo. According to the CBC program, this fueled sales of “under the counter” spermicides like Lysol.  In fact, Lysol became the best selling method of contraception during the Great Depression.  

Fortunately, times have changed and so has knowledge and discourse about contraception.  Women today have many more birth control options as well as safer real feminine hygiene products – and that’s the poise that modern medical knowledge gives!

                                                               Judith Wolf, MD           Associate Director, WHEP