May 17, 2008

Double Dose: The New Film Genre: Fertility Films; D.C. Sets Up a Place to Pump; The Business of Bacteria; Culture Affects How Teen Girls See Harassment …

When Chick Flicks Get Knocked Up: “Eventually, your female friends — the ones who married late and retained youthful obsessions with Yo La Tengo and graphic art books until forty — may shock you by having children,” writes Alissa Quart at Mother Jones. “This year, at least, they have cinematic alter egos; those millennium Mary Tyler Moores Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt have left their cosmos and canned laughter behind and gotten knocked up onscreen too. In the process, they have created a new genre: The Fertility Film. But are the new fertility film stars actually feminists?” (via Feministing)

Silicone Gel Implants May Lose Approval: From our enlightened neighbor to the north … “Health Canada may have to reverse its controversial 2006 decision to allow women to get silicone gel-filled breast implants if it proceeds with a plan to declare key chemicals found in them to be toxic, experts say,” reports The Ottawa Citizen. (via Beauty and the Breast)

South Carolina Supreme Court Overturns Conviction: “A South Carolina woman convicted of homicide by child abuse after her stillborn baby tested positive for cocaine should get a new trial because of several mistakes her attorneys made, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday,” reports the Associated Press. “Attorneys for Regina McKnight did not introduce the baby’s autopsy report into evidence and failed to rebut the prosecution’s medical expert, the court said in the unanimous decision.”

Prosecutors have 15 days to decide whether to appeal. From the Myrtle Beach Online:

Attorneys for the National Advocates for Pregnant Women and the S.C. Civil Liberties Union became involved in McKnight’s case when she asked for post-conviction relief.

“The groups got involved because there is complete consensus that prosecuting pregnant women is bad for mothers and babies,” said Lynn Paltrow, with the National Advocates for Pregnant Women. “Regina McKnight was convicted on junk science and was not fairly represented at trial.”

A Place to Pump: “Washington area women have hooked up electric or manual versions in parked cars, restrooms, a telephone booth and the basement storage room of the National Zoo visitors center, where a box of panda costumes doubled this spring as a table on which one woman set her pump, bottles and other equipment,” writes Rebecca Adams at the Washington Post.

“Not perhaps what the D.C. Council had in mind when it passed a law in December requiring employers to provide female workers a private, clean space, outside a restroom, to express milk. The Child’s Right to Nurse Act also gives a woman the right to breast-feed, covered or not, in any place, public or private, where she has a right to be.”

Maternal Exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants Linked to Urologic Conditions in Boys: This release from the American Urological Association summarizes studies that confirm existing hypotheses that maternal exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals – including total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs, such as Arochlor) and organochlorinated pesticides (such as dichlorodiphenyl-trichloroethane, or DDT) may contribute to an increased incidences of congenital anomalies.

Mammograms Coupled with Ultrasounds: Deborah Katz of U.S. News & World Report looks at new research on combining mammography and ultrasounds, which may be better for finding cancers in some women, but it also greatly increases the rate of false-positive results. Plus: Check out our analysis on routine mammograms for premenopausal women.

The Business of Bacteria: The L.A. Times reports on the popularity of probioitics, live "friendly" bacteria that is showing up in more foods, like Dannon’s Activia yogurt. “Companies claim that the daily consumption of probiotics can provide consumers with benefits such as a boost to the immune system and relief from intestinal distress — and researchers think that certain probiotic strains hold promise in a number of areas,” writes Brendan Borrell. “But how significant these benefits are is a matter of debate. And it can be tough to decipher which products offer verifiable health claims and which are piggybacking on the hype of the booming industry.

Doctors Start to Say “I’m Sorry” Long Before “See You in Court”: The New York Times reports on a change in hospital policy: full disclosure when a doctor makes a mistake. Kevin Sack writes:

For decades, malpractice lawyers and insurers have counseled doctors and hospitals to “deny and defend.” Many still warn clients that any admission of fault, or even expression of regret, is likely to invite litigation and imperil careers.

But with providers choking on malpractice costs and consumers demanding action against medical errors, a handful of prominent academic medical centers, like Johns Hopkins and Stanford, are trying a disarming approach.

By promptly disclosing medical errors and offering earnest apologies and fair compensation, they hope to restore integrity to dealings with patients, make it easier to learn from mistakes and dilute anger that often fuels lawsuits.

Malpractice lawyers say that what often transforms a reasonable patient into an indignant plaintiff is less an error than its concealment, and the victim’s concern that it will happen again.

Culture Affects How Teen Girls See Harassment: “Teenage girls of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds still experience sexism and sexual harassment – but cultural factors may control whether they perceive sexism as an environmental problem or as evidence of their own shortcomings,” according to this release from the University of Kentucky summarizing a study of 600 girls, ages 12 to 18, in California and Georgia.

Ninety percent of the girls reported experiencing at least one incident of sexual harassment, the researchers from University of Kentucky and University of California Santa Cruz found.

Specifically, 67 percent of girls reported receiving unwanted romantic attention, 62 percent were exposed to demeaning gender-related comments, 58 percent were teased because of their appearance, 52 percent received unwanted physical contact and 25 percent were bullied or threatened with harm by a male. 52 percent of girls also reported receiving discouraging gender-based comments on the math, science and computer abilities, usually from male peers, and 76 percent of girls reported sexist comments on their athletic abilities, again
predominantly from male peers.

The researchers found that girls have different levels of understanding of sexism and sexual harassment, which may affect reporting data. Older girls and those from a lower socioeconomic background reported more sexism than did their peers. Latin and Asian American girls reported less sexual harassment than did girls of other ethnic groups. Girls who had been exposed to feminist ideas, either through the media or an adult such as a mother or teacher, were more likely to identify and report sexist behavior than were girls who had no information about feminism. Girls who reported feeling pressure from their parents to conform to gender stereotypes were also more likely to perceive sexism. Girls who felt atypical for their gender and/or were unhappy with stereotypical gender roles were most likely to report sexism and harassment.

The study appears in the May/June issue of Child Development.


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