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Covid-19 in pregnancy linked to delays in babies reaching milestones



In a small study, babies born to women who caught covid-19 while pregnant had a 6 per cent chance of a developmental delay diagnosis by 1 year of age, compared with a 3 per cent chance among babies whose mothers weren’t infected


9 June 2022

A pregnant person having an ultrasound scan in 2020

Kemal Yildirim/Getty Images

The babies of women who caught covid-19 while they were pregnant during the first year of the pandemic were nearly twice as likely to experience delays in reaching developmental milestones, like babbling and grasping for objects.

The overall risk of developmental delays was still small, though. The babies whose mothers were infected had about a 6 per cent chance of such a diagnosis by the time they were a year old, compared with 3 per cent for those whose mothers didn’t catch covid-19.

“We don’t want to frighten people,” says Roy Perlis at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “The vast majority of babies don’t have any delay.”

Also, the study’s findings are preliminary. Out of the 222 women in the study who tested positive for covid-19 while pregnant, only 14 babies had developmental delays. A larger study could find a larger or smaller effect, says Perlis.

Whether any developmental delays are temporary and the affected children will eventually catch up to their peers is also unknown. “It will be really important to get larger cohorts and longer follow-up,” says Perlis. “The goal of our study was to get a sense if there might be some risk.”

Previous research has found that infections with viruses such as flu during pregnancy are linked with higher rates of autism, as well as brain conditions such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The explanation is unclear, but work in animals suggests an infection raises inflammatory chemicals in the bloodstream, which could affect the developing baby’s brain.

To better understand the potential impact of covid-19 during pregnancy, Perlis’s team compared the records of 7550 women who didn’t test positive for the infection while pregnant with the 222 women who did, all of whom attended six hospitals in Massachusetts for various reasons in 2020.

The team looked at whether any of the babies had been diagnosed with delays in speech and physical development by their family doctors or paediatricians by the time they turned 1.

Once the team adjusted the data to take into account risk factors such as race and whether the babies were born prematurely, the babies of the infected women had a 1.9-fold higher risk of delays. Prematurity is relevant because covid-19 raises the risk of a pregnant person giving birth prematurely and premature babies may be delayed in reaching milestones.

In 2020, the original covid-19 strain that emerged from Wuhan in China was circulating worldwide. The team doesn’t know if being infected by a different variant or being vaccinated against covid-19 would affect the results.

Women who know they caught covid-19 may be more anxious about their baby’s development, which may prompt them to seek medical help if they suspect any delays, says Chris Gale at Imperial College London.

“This study shows the importance of following up babies, but it’s too early to say if there’s definitely an impact,” he says.

Regardless of the results, anyone who is pregnant or planning to conceive should get vaccinated against covid-19, says Gale. “Pregnant women are clearly an at-risk group, for their health and for the health of their babies.”

Journal reference: JAMA Network Open, DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.15787

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China’s failure to vaccinate makes giving up on zero covid a huge risk



Widespread protests against China’s zero-covid policy have led the country to ease some restrictions, but its failure to vaccinate older people means this could lead to millions of deaths


| Analysis

1 December 2022

There have been protests against China’s strict covid-19 restrictions in cities including Beijing and Shanghai


In response to protests in many parts of the country, China is easing some of the draconian measures it imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But the government’s failure to vaccinate the most vulnerable people means that the relaxation of restrictions risks causing a vast number of deaths.

A big wave of infections in the country could lead to between 1.3 million and 2.1 million deaths, according to UK science analytics company Airfinity. …

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How Blacks and Jews can come together again – New York Daily News



We have just finished an election that underscored sharp division in our country. Among those divisions have been race-based attacks on both Blacks and Jews. We have all received an earful of the controversy concerning the ignorant statements made by Kanye West and the misguided social media post of Kyrie Irving. Both are emblematic of what is wrong with the discourse surrounding Blacks and Jews. Both controversies center around a divisive, distorted and flat-out incorrect characterization of history. We believe our nation will be served by setting the record straight and healing those divisions.

One of us, Markus Green, is Black, the other, Victor Schwartz, is Jewish. We have worked together on challenging civil justice problems for over a decade. We devote most of our professional time toward prevention of unjust liability claims. More important than our professional link is our friendship based on unyielding mutual respect. It cannot be broken.

Our experience in life and our study of history strongly suggests that Blacks and Jews in general should foster such feelings. They have had both adversity and success.

Both Blacks and Jews have suffered the ignominy of slavery. For nearly 400 years, millions of Africans were forcibly placed on slave ships and sent to America. The Bible tells us that the Jews were slaves in Egypt for hundreds of years. Each Passover holiday, Jews relive that history and celebrate their liberation. That story was a powerful one for enslaved African-Americans, who sung the spiritual, “Go Down Moses.” Harriet Tubman is said to have used that song to announce her arrival when she helped people escape on the Underground Railroad. Tubman herself is referred to as the “the Moses of her people.”

Blacks and Jews have a shared history of being attacked because they are considered different. For a long time, the United States ignored its founding premise of “Equal Justice for All.” But even after the Civil War ended slavery, for generations, Blacks had essentially no civil rights. Jews can relate to the horrors of post-Civil War Black experience in America. Jews fled other countries to escape death from Nazi concentration camps only to experience continued anti-Semitism in America.

Fortunately, many of these barriers have been overcome. Joint efforts by Blacks and Jews have been part of those accomplishments. Jews were allies with Blacks in the fight for civil rights. Several Jewish people were among the founders of the NAACP and Jewish lawyers helped successfully battle Jim Crow legislation.

Martin Luther King Jr. recognized the mutual interest of Blacks and Jews.

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“My people were brought to America in chains,” King said in a 1958 speech to the American Jewish Congress. “Your people were driven here to escape the chains fashioned for them in Europe. Our unity is born of our common struggle for centuries, not only to rid ourselves of bondage, but to make oppression of any people by others an impossibility.”

In 1965, the Civil Rights Act outlawed many forms of discrimination in public places and in employment, but racism and anti-Semitism persist. Both Blacks and Jews understand that prohibiting blatant discrimination is only a partial victory. Today, racism toward Blacks and Jews takes place in many more subtle ways.

Blacks and Jews have seen so-called spokespersons utter remarks against each group. But such folks are a minority in a minority. Without a doubt, both of us as lawyers know that legal battles won for Blacks have helped Jews, and legal battles won for Jews have helped Blacks.

Finally, and often overlooked, is the fact that Black and Jewish culture can be a bond between the two groups — one that includes humor, emotion and love of family.

So at a time where many are planting and growing seeds of division, we ask that Black and Jewish leaders, and ordinary men and women in each group, build a united wall of mutual respect. After all, racism and anti-Semitism racism are two ugly cousins. Anti-Semitism is racism and racism is anti-Semitism. Jews and Blacks must be united against hate and bigotry.

Jews and Blacks have far more in common than we will ever have differences. Both have suffered and survived monumental atrocities and the aftershock is still being felt. We both understand survival and perseverance. But most of all, we both understand the power of love in the face of hate. We are one people. Unity, not divisiveness, is our path forward.

Green is vice president and assistant general counsel at Pfizer. Schwartz is a former law professor and law school dean, and current co-chair of the public policy group of the law firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon, L.L.P.

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I have taken a ‘vow of silence’ around my husband – Chicago Tribune



Dear Amy: I have a marriage question.

I have taken a sort of “vow of silence” around my husband of 40 years.

I am not giving him “the silent treatment.” I respond to questions, provide the occasional benign observation, and try to make statements of support.

He finds a way to contradict virtually anything I say.

I could observe trees swaying gently in the wind, say, “It seems breezy today,” and he would reply, “No, it isn’t. The wind velocity must be such and such degrees for it to be breezy.”

I would like to be able to communicate openly about that issue and other issues in our marriage. I’d like to be able to discuss my hopes and dreams.

I’d like to be able to share silly, fun thoughts and creative ideas.

But if I say almost anything, he replies “No, it isn’t…” or, “No, you don’t…” or “That’s not the right way to look at it.”

So, if I brought up my feeling that my husband often contradicts me, he most certainly would reply “No, I don’t!”

I feel that I live in a world of “NOs.”

It would be self-sabotage to leave the marriage after 40 years.

How can I encourage the same care and security internally?

I would like to break my vow of silence, feeling secure that I won’t immediately be contradicted, but I’m at a loss for how to do that.

– Wife With No Words Left

Dear No Words: If your husband’s contradictory reactions are confined mainly to his interactions with you, then it would seem that his entrenched negativity is expressing hostility toward you.

If he tends to be “Mr. No” with everyone, then I’d say his hostility is directed toward himself. He seems quite unhappy.

Avoidance is a natural response to being continuously shut down, and so actually – you are giving him the “silent treatment,” but it is important for you to recognize that you do have a voice and have a right to use it.

I hope you will try to start a conversation about the effect this is having on you. If you use “I” statements, such as, “I feel sad when you respond to me with such negativity,” he can shoot back, “No, you don’t” – which will bring the whole process into the realm of the absurd, and might catch his attention.

There are many books and resources offering ways to communicate better. Therapy could help you two to make great strides. One book you might read is, “Dealing with the Elephant in the Room: Moving from Tough Conversations to Healthy Communication,” by Mike Bechtle (2017, Revell).

Dear Amy: Since my husband retired, he has stopped taking daily showers.

In fact, if he showers once a week, I am lucky.

He walks five miles every day for exercise and perspires a great deal, but he doesn’t change his shirt.

I have tried humor: “Gee, honey, you’re kind of fragrant.”

I’ve also reassured him that washing many shirts is no problem. I have requested directly that he change his shirt, and even handed him a clean shirt.

We live in an open-plan condo, and I’ve taken to burning candles and incense to improve the air.

Can you think of something more effective?

– Distressed Wife

Dear Distressed: Don’t you wonder why your husband has stopped showering? Have you asked him? Ignoring hygiene is sometimes a sign of depression, but he sounds like someone who is trying hard to take good care of himself.

So why is he neglecting his hygiene – a vital component of his own self-care?

When your body and clothing stink so much that your partner is burning incense to try to mitigate the stench, it starts to smell like a deliberate and hostile gesture.

You’ve been responding to your husband as if he is an unpredictable bull, waving clean shirts in his direction. Ole!

Stop hinting around. You have the right to cohabit with someone who demonstrates the willingness to bathe – for your sake, if not for his own.

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You might tell him, “Honey, I’m not merely asking you to shower. I’m telling you that it’s a requirement for us to live together.”

Dear Amy: Thank you for running the letter from “A,” who described her challenges after meeting and getting to know her birth family (she had been adopted).

I’m adopted, too, and this dream of meeting my perfect biological family persisted for me – until I met them.

– Grateful for Adoption

Dear Grateful: Dreams sometimes need to be dashed before they can be fulfilled.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson.

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