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Breastfeeding Gets Boost From IRS

Women who buy breast pumps and other supplies to assist with breastfeeding will be able to pay for them using pretax dollars in flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts, according to the Internal Revenue Service. Also, if a woman's total medical expenses exceed 7.5% of her adjusted gross income, she can deduct the cost of breast pumps and other lactation supplies as medical expenses, the IRS announced. Officials at the American Academy of Pediatrics praised the decision, saying it would make breastfeeding a “more practical option for new and working mothers.”<

Family Histories Recommended

Ob.gyns. should take a family history of all their patients to determine their risk of inherited diseases, according to a new policy statement from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published in the March issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology (Obstet. Gynecol. 2011;117:747-50). ACOG's Committee on Genetics said that family histories are especially important when screening women who are planning to become pregnant. The preconception period is the ideal time to give women personalized recommendations based on their family histories, the policy states. Physicians should obtain family and medical histories from both the patient and her partner that include ethnic backgrounds, adverse pregnancy outcomes, and any known causes of infertility. Being able to offer genetic counseling and testing before conception gives couples more time and options if they are at risk for heritable disease, according to the ACOG policy. For example, couples may choose not to conceive, use a gamete donor, or obtain preimplantation genetic diagnosis.

Teens Favor Home STD Testing

Internet access to free, confidential, at-home testing for sexually transmitted diseases is the best way to reach young adults, according to infectious disease experts at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The team launched a Web site (

Most Partners Support Abortions

Most women seeking abortions say that their male partners know about it and support their decision, according to research from the Guttmacher Institute. In a survey of more than 4,700 women who obtained abortions in 1998, 82% said that the man who impregnated them knew about the abortion. Married women and women who were living with their male partners were the most likely to report that the men knew about the abortion, compared with women who were divorced or separated from their partners. More than two-thirds of women said that their partners supported having an abortion, and again, that response was higher among married women and women living with their partners. Based on data from the 2008 Abortion Patient Survey, the study will appear in the March issue of Women's Health Issues and is available online at

Senator Prods FDA on Drug Labels

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) is asking the Food and Drug Administration to hurry up and finalize regulations that would change the way drug labels display safety information related to pregnancy and breastfeeding. The FDA issued a proposed rule in 1998 that would have eliminated the current system of using categories A, B, C, D, and X to rate a drug's effects on pregnancy and reproduction. The proposal called for more detailed, narrative descriptions of the drug's effect on fertility, pregnancy, and breastfeeding, but it is still under review by staff in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who oversees the FDA, Sen. Kohl urged the agency to issue a final regulation soon. “Without improved drug labeling, doctors and patients are forced to make treatment decisions with limited information and research,” Sen. Kohl wrote. “Too much time has passed and continued delay in finalizing the proposed rule will only add to unnecessary exposure to ineffective drugs or ineffective dosing of effective drugs, both of which prevent patients from receiving appropriate therapies.”

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