Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo-woo in medicine.
Stanislaw Burzynski’s propaganda victory on antineoplastons: The FDA caves (David Gorski)
Cancer patients who believe Burzynski’s “antineoplastons” are their only hope of survival have put pressure on the FDA, and it has agreed to issue compassionate use exemptions within 24 hours if an independent oncologist requests it and administers the treatment. This deflects criticism from the FDA, but it remains to be seen whether any oncologist can be persuaded to administer antineoplastons; and since it would amount to an uncontrolled experiment, it is unlikely to generate any useful data about effectiveness.
Point-of-Care Ultrasound: The Best Thing Since Stethoscopes? (Harriet Hall)
Medical students are being given hand-held ultrasound devices and are being taught to use them as part of the physical exam. They allow doctors to see into the body and learn far more than they can from just listening to sounds with a stethoscope. They have a multitude of uses and are an exciting development in applying technology to patient care – not a Star Trek tricorder yet, but a step in that direction.
More Measles Myths (Steven Novella)
Vaccine myths continue to mislead the public. Recently, it was claimed that 2-5% of children who get the MMR vaccine contract measles from it. The measles in MMR is a live, attenuated strain of virus that can occasionally cause a mild rash but cannot cause full-blown measles. Another persistent myth is that having measles is preferable to vaccines because measles is benign and natural infection builds the immune system.
More questions about acetaminophen: Does it cause ADHD? (Scott Gavura)
A new study found a correlation between acetaminophen in pregnancy and ADHD in children. Results may have been due to unexamined confounders, and the absolute risk was tiny. Acetaminophen remains the drug of choice for pain during pregnancy.
An Update on Water Immersion During Labor and Delivery (Clay Jones)
The practice of labor and delivery while immersed in water is increasingly common. Water immersion may have a small influence on the need for pain medications; but there is no evidence that it improves outcomes for mother or baby. Rare but potentially catastrophic risks have been reported, including torn umbilical cords, infections from inhalation of bacteria-contaminated water, and even deaths.