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Fountain in JFK Plaza in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October / creative commons nakashi

New recommendations on mammography screening for breast cancer came out yesterday from the United States Preventative Services Task Force, a complete reversal of their previous recommendations last made in 2002.  The Task Force recommends no longer doing routine mammography screening for breast cancer in women between the ages of 40 and 50 as well as reducing the frequency of screening for women aged 50-74 to once every two years, and not teaching women breast self exams.  This was reported yesterday in the New York Times by reporter Gina Kolata.  While the article is pretty thorough, it misses some of the details underlying the controversy.

During lunch I took the time to read through the recommendation, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, to see for myself what all the hubbub is about.  What I read was disturbing.  The report begins by stating “There is convincing evidence that screening with film mammography reduces breast cancer mortality,” although the greater reduction is seen for women aged 50-74, there is also reduction also seen for women between 40 and 50 years as well.  This to me seems like a benefit to early screening, not a reason to stop. Read the rest of this entry »


As the CDC held its latest weekly H1N1 flu press briefing today (watch the briefing here), public fears continued to abound. Some people worry about getting the flu, or about not being able to get the H1N1 vaccine soon enough due to shortages. Others, unfortunately, are hung up on whether the H1N1 vaccine is safe. They worry more about getting the flu shot than getting the flu. The H1N1 vaccine has been tested for safety! It is made the same way the seasonal flu vaccine is made! If “swine flu” had appeared earlier in the year it might even have been included in the seasonal flu shot! If you are still finding yourself doubting the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, here is yet another rational, reasonable voice from the New York Times to try to convince you, “Fearing a Flu Vaccine, and Wanting More of It.”

DSMThis article entitled “A Powerful Identity, A Vanishing Diagnosis” appeared on the New York Times website last week as one of the most emailed articles.  It does a great job discussing the possibility of eliminating the diagnosis of Asperger’s from the upcoming revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the definitive text that phsychiatrists reference for making diagnosis.  There are many quotes in the article from experts in the field.  Instead, Asperger’s would be part of an all-encompassing diagnosis of “autism spectrum disorder”.  While Asperger’s is thought to be a mild and high-functioning form of autism, autism actually spans a huge range of severity and commonly co-occurs with other conditions such as mental retardation.  Right now, there are clear guidelines that seperate a diagnosis of Asperger’s from someone with high-functioning autism – autistic children show a delay in language before 3 Read the rest of this entry »

In no particular order, here are some wonderfully written, fun, diverse books written by people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome. I’ve read quite a few of them, and plan on reading others:

lookmeintheeyeLook Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison. This is a funny, poignant account of Robison’s experiences growing up with Asperger’s syndrome. Interestly, he is the older brother of the wildly successful author of Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs, who does not have Asperger’s. It’s fascinating to read about both brothers’ completely different and varied experiences in and perception of the same family. I’ve heard Robison speak, and he is a very animated speaker and passionate advocate for those like himself with Asperger’s syndrome. Visit Robison’s blog or website.





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Headlines like this one I saw in a tweet from the BBC news today, “Swine Flu Woman Dies After Birth”, are quite aggravating and misleading.  Especially when, upon actually reading the article, although she may have died of the H1N1 flu, it turns out that they are still waiting to determine the official cause of the women’s death.   There wasn’t much detail in this short article, but briefly, the woman, Susan Ford, got a C-section after being admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and apparently she died a few days later once her symptoms got worse.  It is unclear if she was admitted because her symptoms were quite bad – or she was in labor.  I know that in the media age there is pressure to put stories out quickly – but with tools like twitter it’s dangerous to put misleading and incomplete information out there.  Especially with a tool like twitter where a reader may only see the headline and then not even bother to click to find out if the woman really did die of swine flu.  Read the rest of this entry »

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