by Deborah Franklin
There's headline news for both sides of the gender gap this morning: Pregnant women are four times more likely to need hospitalization for swine flu and aren't getting anti-virals fast enough, according to the CDC. A CDC group is meeting today to recommend whether women who are pregnant should be among the first in line to get the pandemic vaccine. Meanwhile, the FDA warns that many men taking "nutritional supplements" to build muscle are actually gulping down unregulated amounts of hidden steroids that can severely injure the liver and kidneys.
When a pregnant woman develops flu symptoms, many obstetricians are hesitant to prescribe antiviral drugs out of fear of harming the fetus.
But they're making a big mistake, according to the CDC's Denise Jamieson, who studied the cases of 34 pregnant women who got very sick with swine flu between April and mid-June. Six of the previously healthy women died. In her Lancet study making headlines this morning, Jamieson said the world's 3.3 million pregnant women seem to be extra vulnerable to serious complications when infected with the new H1N1 flu, and should get anti-viral drugs within 48 hours of their first symptoms. She told the AP,
"The message is don't delay appropriate treatment because she's pregnant."
A CDC panel meeting today is expected to recommend that pregnant women get top priority in access to a new swine flu vaccine when it becomes available this fall. But the decision is likely to be controversial among some factions clamoring for vaccine, and others who don't want to be immunized.
(More on flu vaccine priorities and body-building supplements after the jump.)
NPR's Richard Knox will have more on that controversy --and on other questions over who should be first in line -- tonight on All Things Considered. The CDC will also be soliciting public input on the vaccine decisions at a series of public meetings this summer.
Meanwhile, on the macho he-man front, the FDA yesterday warned men not to use body-building "nutritional" supplements that contain code words and phrases like "anabolic," "blocks estrogen" and "minimizes gyno."
These substances, claiming to enhance the effects of testosterone or diminish the effects of estrogen for muscle-building purposes, likely contain hidden steroids or steroid-like substances. Some have been found to injure the liver and cause kidney failure, the FDA says.
Because the products are regulated as supplements, not drugs, the FDA has limited authority to recall them, and that's a problem, an anti-doping drug tester for the Olympics, Travis Tygart, tells the New York Times.
"This shows a glaring light on the ineffective regulatory scheme that allows these products to get to the market...The reality is that these products are still out, and consumers who don't hear or read about the warning will continue to use them because it's so hard to recall them."