What We’re Reading: Revised Opioid Prescribing Rules; 60% Drop in Texas Abortions; COVID-19 Kills Placenta, Causes Stillbirths

CDC releases a draft of updated opioid prescribing rules; abortions in Texas drop 60% in first month of new law as patients travel out of state; COVID-19 infections can kill an unvaccinated mother's placenta.

Loosening of Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

An update has been proposed by the CDC to revise recommendations that opioid pain prescribers should aim for dose thresholds when treating chronic pain, STAT News reports. The newer guidelines recommend against using opioids as first-line or routine therapy for chronic and subacute pain, and suggest doctors utilize alternative interventions like exercise and physical therapy. The rules also recommend clinicians prescribe the lowest dosage to achieve expected effects and no longer include time limits for acute pain prescriptions. Comments are being accepted for the draft through April 11 and the final updates are expected this year.

Drop in Texas Abortions

Within the first month of the enactment of the controversial Texas abortion law—which bans the procedure after around 6 weeks with no exceptions for rape or incest—abortions fell by 60% in the state, new figures show. According to The Associated Press, there were nearly 2200 abortions performed in Texas in September while in August there had been 5400 statewide. Since the passing of the law, patients in Texas have been travelling to neighboring states for the procedure, creating a backlog in those regions. Under the Texas law, a private citizen could collect $10,000 or more if they bring a successful lawsuit against a woman or provider who aided a woman in getting an abortion outside the time window stipulated.

COVID-19 Can Destroy Mothers' Placenta

In pregnant women who contract COVID-19 and are not vaccinated, the virus can lead to stillbirths and attack and destroy the mother’s placenta, according to new research published in Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine.The study’s lead author said he had never seen this level of destruction from an infectious illness before, adding the fetuses died from asphyxiation due to a lack of oxygen, NBC News reports. The researchers investigated 68 perinatal deaths in 12 countries, while all mothers had contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy and were unvaccinated. In some cases, over 90% of the placenta was dead, meaning it could not provide oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby. Pregnancy weakens one’s immune system and makes individuals more susceptible to infection.