There is hope in the fight against maternal mortality

There is hope in the fight against maternal mortality

Health economists at Stanford The university is the last to report discouraging data on who most often dies in the United States after giving birth.

The risks are much greater for black people of all income levels and low-income people.

This summer, the CDC said that most pregnancy-related deaths are avoidable.

Decision makers at the federal, state and local levels are wondering how to prevent them:

  • Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are trying to pass the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, POLITICO’s Eleanor Mueller reports. The act, which the House passed 315-101 in May behind a united Democratic caucus and about half of the Republicans, would require employers to accommodate pregnant workers with more frequent bathroom breaks, the ability to carry a bottle of water, and the ability to sit down during a shift.
  • Baltimore managed to send health workers to new mothers’ homes to help them develop safe sleeping habits and parenting skills. The Baltimore Program reduction in black infant mortality by 40% from 2008 to 2019, but some of those gains eroded when in-person outreach came to a halt during the pandemic.
  • This summer, several states took advantage of a provision of the Covid 2021 Economic Relief and Recovery Act to expand Medicaid coverage of postpartum care for low- and lower-middle-income people. Now 26 states and the District of Columbia cover postpartum care up to one year after birth. Seven other states plan to follow suit.

A quarter of pregnancy-related deaths occur on the day of delivery or within a week after, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most (53%) occur within a year of pregnancy.

And, according to the CDC, the leading cause of maternal death is not physical: 23% of pregnancy-related deaths are due to mental health conditions, which include death by suicide and overdose. Depression affects 10 to 20% of pregnant women people.

It’s where we explore the ideas and innovators that are shaping healthcare.

Elon Musk says his brain technology company Neuralink will implant a chip in humans next year. Neuralink’s brain-computer interface aims to give people with Lou Gehrig’s disease and other mobility issues a way to connect to mobile phones and the internet.

But Musk frequently misses these self-imposed deadlines, and the FDA hasn’t given the company the go-ahead to move forward. What do you think? Are brain chips coming to a human body near you?

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Today on our Pulse check podcast, Megan Messerly talks with Megan Wilson about recent attempts by North Carolina and Kansas to expand Medicaid — and how increasing federal incentives and supporters of Medicaid expansion have gradually worn down GOP opposition.

A bipartisan senatorial duo is gearing up for a legislative push on children’s mental health in the new year.

The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions for Children and Families used a Wednesday hearing on the mental health of students transitioning from high school to college to promote the legislation they hope to advance in the new Congress.

Subcommittee Chairman Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said they would push for enactment of:

  • the Pediatric Mental Health Health Care Capacity Act create grant programs to expand the integration of mental health into pediatric care
  • the mental health reform reauthorization act award grants for mental health programs and to promote the integration of mental health services into primary care, education and the criminal justice system

“Timely access to mental health care covered by insurance shouldn’t feel like winning the lottery; it should be the same as getting treatment for any other health condition,” Casey said during the hearing.

Cassidy is expected to upgrade to a ranking member of the full HELP committee in January.

Psychedelic medicine is on the rise, according a report from a psychedelic investment company Psychic capital.

Pharmaceutical companies are testing drugs that produce changes in perception, mood, and thought processes as treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia, drug addiction and palliative care.

While several psychedelic drugs remain in legal limbo, ketamine, a surgical anesthetic, is on the rise.

Psych Capital expects ketamine-assisted therapy to generate $230 million in revenue for 2022. By 2028, it estimates that the ketamine therapy market will exceed $1 billion. Already, 150 clinical trials have examined the use of ketamine in mental health.

In the report, Psych Capital states:

  • the United States could save about $270 billion in mental health costs through psychedelic medicine.
  • FDA approval of MDMA, a mildly psychedelic derivative of amphetamine, for post-traumatic stress disorder, is due in 2023. (The chemical is also found in street drug ecstasy.)
  • psilocybin, a psychedelic found in so-called magic mushrooms, is legal, decriminalized or effectively legalized through lack of enforcement in 27 countries.
  • in the United States, mushrooms are legal in Colorado and Oregon, and several cities have passed laws decriminalizing them. Fifteen other states are considering legalizing the substance.
  • Europe is likely to approve mushrooms for treatment-resistant depression in 2025.

Patent litigation over new psychedelics is coming. While traditional psychedelic drugs are no longer patented, pharmaceutical companies are developing new psychedelics with similar properties so they can be patented.

In some cases, these newer psychedelics have improvements over their ancestors. But they also create an opportunity for companies to charge them more and protect their inventions from competition.

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