Health

7 Signs You Should Consider Switching Your Psoriasis Medication

7 Signs You Should Consider Switching Your Psoriasis Medication

Some psoriasis medications, such as steroid creams and retinoids, can cause skin irritation that’s difficult to deal with, according to the Mayo Clinic. While doctors generally recommend that you give these medications some time to take effect, Dr. Bierman says it’s best to immediately talk to your doctor if your skin becomes much worse, like if you develop a distinct skin rash, severe itchiness, or swollen skin. “You might have hypersensitivity to a particular component or ingredient,” she says.Other psoriasis medications can potentially cause diarrhea, Dr. Leger says. If you’re constantly running to the bathroom—and it doesn’t let up—let your doctor know. While it’s entirely possible that your diarrhea could be due to something else, like a stomach bug, it could also be a side effect of your medication.5. You’re planning to become pregnant.Talking to your doctor about having kids might not be one of your first thoughts during your psoriasis appointments. However, some psoriasis medications may increase the risk of fetal birth defects in people who are pregnant, so it’s important to check with your doctor to see if your medication is safe to take if you’re trying to conceive.“You need to talk to your dermatologist about what the right decision is for you,” Dr. Zeichner says. This includes people of all gender identities, because some medications can be found in sperm and cause birth defects when a partner becomes pregnant, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you’re trying to start a family, your doctor can recommend effective medications to treat your psoriasis that are also safe to use while trying to conceive.6. Infusion medication doesn’t work with your schedule.Some biologics are given through an intravenous (IV) infusion, which means you’d need to either go to a medical care center to receive it or pay for a home nurse to come to you and deliver it. That can be tough to make time for if you have a busy schedule. If your circumstances have changed and you’re always rescheduling your infusion visits, then it’s possible your treatment may not align with your lifestyle anymore.Luckily, Dr. Rodney says there are a lot of biologics that come in injectable form, which means you give yourself a shot at home. “There are very effective injectable biologic medications for psoriasis,” she says. “If you’ve been on an infusion regimen, you can definitely switch to an injectable.”7. You’re starting to feel joint pain.About 30% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis at some point, and unfortunately, this can happen at any time, according to the Cleveland Clinic.“Even if your skin psoriasis is well-controlled on your current medication, you may also experience pain and swelling in your joints,” Dr. Rodney says. So, if your wrists start hurting when you do ordinary activities, like making dinner or brushing your hair, or if you start having really severe knee or ankle pain and can’t walk for an unexplained reason, then you should talk to your doctor. Even if you just have minor pain that’s unusual or bothersome, it’s really important to flag that to your doctor because treating psoriatic arthritis early can help prevent long-lasting joint damage.If you do have psoriatic arthritis, which is diagnosed via a physical exam and imaging tests like an MRI, then you may need to switch up your medication. “Some injectable medications are better at treating both skin and joint psoriasis than others,” Dr. Rodney says. Your doctor can read through the research on psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis medications to recommend ones that may work best for you.Overall, it’s important to work closely with your doctor if you feel like your psoriasis treatment just isn’t working for you.It is totally possible to find relief from your symptoms—they’re not something you should just have to put up with because your current medication isn’t cutting it. “I’m always shocked when patients say they have a relative who is suffering from psoriasis,” Dr. Leger says. “We have so many great treatment options available. That should not be the case.”Sources:Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, Topical Treatments for PsoriasisRelated Stories:

How to Get a COVID Test Shipped to You for Free

How to Get a COVID Test Shipped to You for Free

It’s officially our third pandemic year, omicron cases are surging, and now, it’s almost impossible to get a COVID-19 test. If you’ve tried to stock up on rapid tests in the past couple of weeks, you likely know this first-hand—drugstore stocks of at-home antigen tests (aka rapid tests) are depleted across the country; clinics are drowning in demand, facing record wait-times and regularly running out of test kits; even online orders of rapid tests have become hard to hunt down (and, for many, ultimately unaffordable). The shortage of COVID-19 tests is so bad in some states that Indiana announced earlier this week it would start restricting eligibility for who can take rapid antigen tests. The reasons for the shortage are many—and some are surprisingly simple. “Swabs are a huge bottleneck,” ProPublica’s Lydia DePillis said in a new interview with Slate. “This production should have happened right out of the gate, and instead there was a hope and a prayer that vaccines would make this all sort of unnecessary. We now know how that played out.” A slow regulatory approval process for companies who make rapid tests is also contributing to the shortage in the U.S., per ProPublica, which is clashing with a rising demand for rapid tests as schools and offices attempt to safely re-open. In response to the frustrating shortage, the White House announced on December 21 that it would purchase 500 million test kits and distribute them to Americans for free—a plan that is likely to go into effect in mid-January, according to a new report from the Washington Post published this week. Getting one of the free COVID-19 tests will (hopefully) be far simpler than visiting every CVS and Walgreens within a 50 mile radius hoping to find rapid tests in stock. The Biden Administration’s plan involves simply requesting a rapid test from a website and having it sent to you free of charge, per the Post. To pull it off, the U.S. Postal Service is reportedly negotiating with its major labor unions to keep the supplemental holiday workforce on a little longer, the Post reported. Getting tested for COVID-19 after you’ve been exposed remains an important part of stopping the spread of the virus. But even if you do manage to get your hands on a COVID-19 test, there’s evidence that rapid antigen tests may not be as effective at detecting the omicron variant. “In following the FDA’s long-standing rapid test recommendations, if a person tests negative with an antigen test but is suspected of having COVID-19, such as experiencing symptoms or have a high likelihood of infection due to exposure, follow-up molecular testing is important for determining a COVID-19 infection,” according to the most recent testing guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration. “If a person tests positive with an antigen test, they should self-isolate and seek follow-up care with a health care provider to determine the next steps.”Related:

Short-Term Changes in Your Period After the COVID Vaccine Are Normal, According to a New Study

Short-Term Changes in Your Period After the COVID Vaccine Are Normal, According to a New Study

Since it’s been available, women have been reporting changes in their period after the COVID-19 vaccine. A new study just confirmed at least one of these changes is normal.Anecdotal evidence about changes in menstrual cycles for those who got the COVID-19 vaccine has been piling up on social media since the shot became widely available in 2021. People with periods have been reporting longer periods, missed periods, heavier periods, and even, for some post-menopausal women, the return of a period, per the New York Times. But until now, there’s been a lack of large-scale clinical research examining what happens to your period after the COVID-19 vaccine. A new study published Thursday reports that, confirming at least one post-vaccine period change. Published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the study found that after getting the COVID-19 vaccine, people with periods had a slightly longer menstrual cycle, with periods coming an average of one day later than normal. (The length of the actual period remained the same.) Importantly, the change isn’t harmful, according to health experts, and it isn’t permanent. The study found that the menstrual cycle returned to normal one or two periods after getting the vaccine. This falls in line with existing research on the safety of the vaccine for fertility: The COVID-19 vaccine has been proven to have no negative side effects on fertility or pregnancy. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends all people who are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant get the vaccine. The data on changes in menstrual cycles came from nearly 4,000 women using the Natural Cycles fertility app, about 60% of whom had received the COVID-19 vaccine. That data has one very important drawback, however. As the Times points out, the set of women using the Natural Cycles app isn’t nationally representative—these users tend to be white, educated, thinner than the average American woman, and are not using hormonal contraception, making it difficult to draw generalizable conclusions. Alison Edelman, M.D., a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Oregon Health & Science University and the lead author of the study, also noted that there’s lots of room for individual variation in the data. For example, a large factor influencing the findings was a group of 380 women who experienced a two-day delay in the start of their period, she told the Times. A smaller group of vaccinated women—about 5%, per CNN—experienced cycles eight days longer than normal. (However it’s also worth noting that this number was the same among unvaccinated women in the study.) “Though the cycle length was less than one day different at the population level, for an individual, depending on their perspective and what they’re relying on menses for, that could be a big deal,” she said. “You might be expecting a pregnancy, you might be worrying about a pregnancy, you might be wearing white pants.”The study also doesn’t address reports from post-menopausal women (who aren’t likely to be using the app). Experiencing spotting or bleeding post-menopause can be a cause for concern, whether you’ve received the vaccine or not, and should be evaluated by a doctor. The study is a step in the direction of understanding how the COVID-19 vaccine—and vaccines in general—impact periods. “It validates that there is something real here,” Hugh Taylor, M.D.,  chair of the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told the Times. Adding, “I want to make sure we dissuade people from those untrue myths out there about fertility effects. A cycle or two where periods are thrown off may be annoying, but it’s not going to be harmful in a medical way.”Related:

A Ground Beef Recall Is Affecting Meat in These States

A Ground Beef Recall Is Affecting Meat in These States

New year, new food recall. On January 6, the Food Safety and Inspection Service announced a ground beef recall due to possible E. coli contamination.The recall applies to over 28,000 pounds of ground beef products that originated at the Interstate Meat Dist. Inc. facility in Oregon on December 20 and were then shipped to stores in Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The FSIS initiated the recall after a package of ground beef was purchased and tested positive for E. coli by a third party laboratory. E. coli is not something you want to mess with. Exposure to the bacteria can be deadly, according to the FSIS. For most, it causes dehydration, bloody diarrhea, and cramps for an average of three to four days after exposure. Most people recover fully within a week, but some (most commonly children under five and older adults) can develop kidney failure. If you think you’ve been exposed to the bacteria, contact your doctor immediately. The ground beef recall impacts several well-known brands sold by major supermarkets, including Walmart, Kroger, and Albertson’s. (You can see a full list of the effected products and their labels here.) If you’ve bought ground beef from these brands recently and worried the ground beef in your fridge or freezer might be impacted, check the establishment number. The recalled beef has the number EST. 965 “inside the USDA mark of inspection or printed next to the time stamp and use or freeze by date,” per the FSIS recall statement. If you have any of the recalled beef, throw it out or take it back to the store where you purchased it for a refund, ASAP. And think, if you’ve been looking for a sign to try a plant-based diet, this may be your moment. Related:

The Best N95 Masks—And Where You Can Actually Buy Them

The Best N95 Masks—And Where You Can Actually Buy Them

With COVID-19 cases surging, it may finally be time to opt for the best N95 face mask (or KN95 or KF94) you can find. Some health experts are now saying that because cloth masks are generally made with a looser fit and more breathable materials, these types of face masks are more susceptible to leakage. As a result, cloth masks may not be able to filter smaller particles as effectively as high-filtration face masks, meaning they may not provide adequate protection. To help identify the best face masks for reducing the transmission and contraction of COVID-19, we spoke with health experts about the importance of respirator masks, such as the N95.“Omicron is the most transmissible variant yet,” Leana Wen, M.D., emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, tells SELF. “A simple cloth face covering is not enough in the face of such a highly contagious variant. You can wear a cloth mask on top of a medical-grade surgical mask, but ideally, you wear a N95, KN95, or KF94 face mask of the highest quality.”Wen’s guidance extends to children as well. “Making sure that your child is wearing a high-quality mask at all times, indoors, is very important, too,” Wen previously told CNN. “Everyone should be wearing at least a three-ply surgical mask… an N95 or KN95 is even better.”Let’s be clear: The best type of mask is the one you’ll actually wear. Cloth face masks and surgical masks still provide some protection—so this isn’t an excuse to ditch your mask altogether if you can’t find an N95. But if you are looking for a solid N95 face mask, actually finding one can be tough, especially when there’s a flood of similar-sounding KN95, KF94, cloth, and surgical masks on the market—many of which are fake (in fact, around 60% of KN95s are counterfeit, according to the CDC). Below, we’ve broken down the differences in these high-filtration masks, guidance on how to spot a fake, and rounded up (real) N95, KN95, and KF94 masks in various sizes, styles, and colors available from retailers like Amazon, Honeywell, and Vida.What’s the difference between N95, KN95, and KF94 masks?Regulation: The main difference between N95, KN95, and KF94 masks is where they are regulated. N95 face masks are regulated by the U.S. government and the CDC through the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (or NIOSH). KN95 masks are regulated by the Chinese government, and KF94 masks are regulated by the Korean Ministry of Food and Safety (KFDA).Filtration: According to the CDC, when worn properly fitted to the face, N95 masks are meant to filter out at least 95% of tiny airborne particles. KN95 masks also filter out at least 95% of particles per China’s regulations, but the NIOSH regulations of N95 masks are considered to be stricter. KF94s block at least 94% of particles, according to studies.

These Are the Potential Benefits of Sleeping Naked

These Are the Potential Benefits of Sleeping Naked

Even if you’re a habitual pajama wearer, you’ve probably heard someone swear up and down about the benefits of sleeping naked. It’s freeing, it’s sexy, it’s somehow not as cold as you think it would be, they say. But is it right for you? After all, nighttime nudity seems to be one of those things that people are either totally in favor of or just can’t get behind.For some people, it’s simply a matter of personal preference—they don’t want to overheat in bed, or they like sleeping skin-to-skin with their partner, or maybe they’ve just never found a pair of PJs that is actually all that comfortable.But what about the alleged health benefits of sleeping naked? Some people believe that going commando at bedtime comes with a range of perks—a few of which might surprise you. So can this practice really help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, bring you closer to your partner, or even improve your vaginal health?While there’s not a whole lot of scientific research on the effects of sleeping naked, what you wear—or don’t wear—to bed is only one of many variables that could potentially affect the quantity and quality of your rest. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine1 recommends around seven to nine hours of sleep each night for most adults, though that’s a general number, and getting more or less than that can still be healthy based on various factors. But we do know that quality sleep, overall, is crucial for good health, and consistently not getting enough of it has the potential to impact your physical and mental health in multiple ways, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).With that said, there are lots of ways to optimize your sleep for the best rest possible, and each person will have to experiment with what works for them. What you choose to wear to bed may seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of sleep hygiene, but it’s possible it can play a role for some people. So, here’s everything you need to know about the potential benefits of sleeping naked.Is it healthy to sleep naked?There isn’t much data specifically looking at the health benefits of sleeping naked, but if you find that sleeping in the nude leads to better quality or quantity of sleep for you, then it can absolutely improve your health. Disrupted sleep has been associated with an increased risk of health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression, according to the CDC. So, really, whatever helps you sleep at night (including a lack of clothes) can also help your health.So what about those claims that sleeping sans underwear will help your vaginal health? While it’s true that spending too much time in tight-fitting or restrictive clothes can be a risk factor for yeast infections, there’s no data to show that people who sleep naked get fewer vaginal infections. Again, if it works for you, great! But if you’re prone to yeast infections, keep getting them, and wonder if changing up your sleeping gear could help you out, a good bet would be making sure you’re wearing cotton underwear and checking in with a health care provider to find out what’s going on. If you have an inflammatory skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, it’s possible that sleeping naked can be helpful for your skin, particularly if you have lesions (dry or scaly patches) in areas where your clothes rub. “Sleeping in the nude may give your skin a break, allowing it to breathe and repair while you sleep,” board-certified dermatologist Rhonda Q. Klein, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.D., partner and co-owner at Modern Dermatology PC in Connecticut, tells SELF. Just make sure you clean your sheets with hypoallergenic detergent as often as you would your PJs.Finally, let’s talk relationship health. The sleeping-nude-is-good-for-your-bond claim typically hinges on the role of skin-to-skin touch, which has been shown to increase the release of oxytocin, according to research published in Psychosomatic Medicine2. But every couple is going to have their own comfort levels when it comes to sleeping naked. Maybe it’s what feels most natural to both of you, so there’s no question you’ll sleep naked and cuddle basically all night long. Maybe you get your best rest in loose, comfy PJs, but your partner loves to sleep naked. Maybe you sleep in separate beds so what you each wear to bed has less of a physical impact on the other! When it comes to your relationship, what you wear to bed is just one potential factor that contributes to the strength of your bond.

Here’s Why a Migraine Can Make You Feel Incredibly Nauseous

Here’s Why a Migraine Can Make You Feel Incredibly Nauseous

If you feel a queasy, uneasy sensation in your stomach during a migraine attack, it’s probably not from the late-night takeout you ate. According to a 2017 study in the Journal of Pain Research, nausea occurs in about 58% of people during a migraine episode—and that’s a conservative assessment.1 Data from an older, self-reported survey published in the journal Headache found most people experience vomiting and nausea during an episode, with estimates closer to 70 to 90%, respectively.2For non-migraine folks, those numbers may seem surprising. After all, throbbing head pain and visual disturbances are typically viewed as the telltale signs that a migraine is on the horizon. So, how can symptoms that happen way down in the stomach have anything to do with the above-the-neck signs that most people associate with a migraine? For people living with migraine, nausea is just another piece of this complex puzzle.Fortunately, we have some answers about why you feel nauseous with a migraine, and more importantly, tips on how you can stop the pain and discomfort before it goes too far.What causes migraine with nausea and vomiting?The who and why of migraine attacks are already a bit of a mystery, but symptoms can be Clue level head-scratchers. Even though nausea tops the list of migraine symptoms for many people, why this happens is not clear-cut. The good news is experts have a few theories that shed light on the link between migraine and nausea.Migraine involves certain areas of the brainstem.A migraine commonly includes things like nausea, but sometimes vomiting and diarrhea too. Jack Schim, M.D., F.A.H.S., F.A.A.N., co-director of the Neurology Center of Southern California, tells SELF that experts think at least part of this is due to migraine affecting different brainstem areas involved in autonomic functions—the things your body just does automatically—such as digestion. The idea is that migraine attacks irritate the nerves that activate this system, triggering those not-so-fun symptoms.Migraine decreases serotonin levels.Another theory according to Medhat Mikhael, M.D., pain management specialist and medical director of the non-operative program at the Orange Coast Medical Center’s Spine Health Center, is that migraine decreases serotonin levels in the brain, which is believed to contribute to nausea. Serotonin is generally known as the happy chemical keeping our mood on an even keel (among many other important functions in the body). So, it’s no surprise that a decrease in our feel-good chemicals could have noticeable side effects. Dr. Mikhael also says that a decrease in serotonin can trigger motion sickness, another uneasy feeling.Migraine triggers changes in blood vessels in the brain.It’s thought that migraine attacks change blood vessel diameter in the brain. Typically, the diameter increases in size and tugs on the meninges (shock absorber between your skull and brain), which causes throbbing or pulsating pains. “When these changes affect parts of the brain that regulate nausea and vomiting, you may experience stomach problems,” Clifford Segil, D.O., a neurologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California tells SELF.He says one area of the brain, in particular, is on the shortlist of suspects that may trigger nausea and vomiting in people with migraine. That area is called the rostral dorsal medulla and essentially relays sensory information from the spinal cord to the brain. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, nausea in the prodrome phase of a migraine—basically the opening act—is linked to activity in this part of the brain.3Migraine causes a certain neurotransmitter to be released.Migraine pain is linked to the release of a neurotransmitter—one of your body’s messengers—called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).4 In fact, certain migraine medications act on this very thing to try to stop a migraine attack from occurring in the first place. Dr. Schim says this neurotransmitter is also prevalent in the gut, which could have something to do with that I’m-going-to-hurl feeling when you have a migraine.Types of migraine and headaches that can cause nauseaBy now you’ve probably figured out that migraine attacks are complicated—we don’t yet know exactly what triggers all the symptoms. What we do know is that certain types of migraine are more likely to cause nausea and vomiting. Oh, and to make matters even more confusing, some headaches—that are not migraines—may also make you toss your cookies.

‘Flurona’ Reports Are on the Rise. How Worried Should You Be?

‘Flurona’ Reports Are on the Rise. How Worried Should You Be?

Reports of “flurona” have been circulating in recent days. No, it’s not a new COVID-19 variant—flurona is how people are describing the rising number of simultaneous novel coronavirus and influenza virus infections. This week, many outlets covered news of a young pregnant person in Israel testing positive for both the flu and COVID-19, dubbing it the first reported case of flurona. (The patient, who was not vaccinated against either virus, was already in the hospital when they were diagnosed with both viruses and had mild symptoms, The Independent reports.) While the term “flurona” and the coverage of these recent cases is new, these double-infections have been known to happen since the beginning of the pandemic. For instance, we know that there were dual cases of the flu and COVID-19 in China in January 2020 and New York in February 2020, The Atlantic reported in November 2021. So, where is flurona spreading now and how worried should you be? Here’s what to know. Where is flurona spreading right now?In addition to Israel, recently documented cases of flurona have been making headlines in of a number of countries, including Brazil, Hungary, and in U.S. states including California, Texas, and Florida, according to the Washington Post. Much like new variants of the coronavirus, though official detection and case counts tend to lag behind the reality, and there’s no reason to think flurona has only occurred in the particular places it’s been documented. How common is flurona?While flurona is still thought to be relatively rare occurrence, having two simultaneous infections like the flu and COVID is not. “Both are common, so it is not unexpected that some people would be infected at the same time,” Dan Barouch, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, told ABC News. There is research showing that in patients hospitalized with flu-like illnesses, testing positive for two different pathogens is not uncommon. And research published in JAMA in April 2020 found co-infections with other respiratory viruses (like rhinovirus/enterovirus and respiratory syncytial virus) in over 20% of one sample of 116 COVID-19 patients. Currently, we are currently in both flu season and the omicron wave, meaning we may see more cases of these two infections coinciding in one person. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that flu activity and hospitalizations are ticking up in some areas of the country as COVID-19 infections continue to spread. According to the CDC, the low amount of flu activity since the start of the pandemic—due to public health measures like masks and social distancing—means that the population has reduced immunity this year. Combine that with the high transmissibility of omicron, a lack of widely available and highly accurate tests, and reduced levels of transmission-curbing measures compared to last year (including shortened recommended isolation periods and fewer lockdowns), and cases of flurona are inevitable. How risky is flurona?The symptoms of both illnesses are very similar (fever, coughing, headache, congestion, etc.), often indistinguishable. And so far there is not evidence that having flurona results in more severe illness. “It’s obviously not good to be infected with two viruses rather than one, but there’s no clear indication that this is a particularly bad combination,” Jonathan Grein, M.D., director of hospital epidemiology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, told the hospital’s blog. People who are vaccinated against both viruses will be best protected against severe illness. 

The COVID Vaccine Does Not Increase Risk for Preterm Birth

The COVID Vaccine Does Not Increase Risk for Preterm Birth

A new study has further confirmed the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant people. According to research published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on January 4, the COVID-19 vaccine does not increase risk for preterm birth or low-birth rate. In the study, researchers looked at birth outcomes for over 46,000 pregnant people from eight health systems across the U.S. Of those, over 10,000 had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine at some point during their pregnancy—over 90% of which were Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna mRNA vaccines. In comparison to the unvaccinated pregnant people, they found that those who had received the COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant showed no increased risk for preterm birth or low-birth rate (both of which can pose developmental and health risks to the baby). Just 6.6% of babies were born prematurely and 8.2% were considered to have low birth weight, the researchers found—rates that matched the birth outcomes of the unvaccinated people. Getting infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy, on the other hand, does increase the risk of preterm birth, according to the CDC. Pregnant people who get COVID-19 are more likely to deliver before 37 weeks and face a greater risk of stillbirth, as SELF earlier reported. “I can tell you, anecdotally, that in my practice women who are not vaccinated are for sure getting way sicker,” Heather S. Lipkind, M.D., a maternal fetal medicine specialist at Yale University who led the new research, told the New York Times. “We’re seeing pre-term birth in pregnant women who had COVID and loss of pregnancy. It’s very, very tragic.” Existing research backs this up. A large study of over 869,000 pregnant people, including over 18,000 who had COVID-19, found that infected patients were 10 times more likely to die in the hospital. Over 5% were on ventilators during childbirth (compared to 0.9% of COVID-19-free patients) and those with the virus were 40% more likely to have a preterm birth. These outcomes are a key driver behind health officials’ recommendation that pregnant people get vaccinated ASAP. On this note, the findings of the new study also suggest that the trimester in which pregnant people are vaccinated likely doesn’t matter. Researchers found no increased risks among pregnant people regardless of when they were vaccinated during their pregnancy. However, almost all of the vaccinated pregnant people in the study received their shot(s) in the second or third trimester, meaning there wasn’t enough data on first trimester vaccinations for definitive conclusions. The study is one of the first (and largest) to look at birth outcomes for vaccinated pregnant people, but it joins a growing body of research on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine—including that it does not pose an increased risk for miscarriage.  Despite the risks of forgoing the COVID-19 vaccine, many pregnant people remain unvaccinated. The findings of the new study “reinforce the importance of communicating the risks for COVID-19 during pregnancy, the benefits of vaccination, and information on the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy,” the authors wrote. Related:

There’s a Problem With Some At-Home Rapid Tests Detecting Omicron

There’s a Problem With Some At-Home Rapid Tests Detecting Omicron

Some antigen tests, including the rapid COVID-19 test made by the Abbott BinaxNOW and Quidel QuickVue brands, may fail to detect if you have omicron, according to new data released this week. In December, Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that antigen tests (also known as rapid COVID tests, or home COVID tests), may miss omicron infections, as SELF reported. “Some, and many of the commonly used ones, appear to pick up and detect omicron quite well,” Dr. Fauci said at the time. “We’re in the process of doing large screening to determine which of these antigen point-of-care rapid tests still maintain their accuracy of diagnosis.”We now have more real-world data, based on the commonly used Abbott BinaxNOW and Quidel QuickVue antigen tests. According to the new study, these rapid tests may not detect omicron even when you have a high viral load (meaning you’re contagious), according to the New York Times. In the small study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers from the COVID-19 Sports and Society Working Group looked at data from 30 people who worked in a high-risk setting during the December omicron outbreak. They were tested daily, using both rapid COVID-19 tests taken via nasal swab and PCR tests taken via saliva sample. “Most omicron cases were infectious for several days before being detectable by rapid antigen tests,” the authors wrote. Once a person had received a positive PCR test, it took an average of three days for the antigen test to also come back positive. For those of us taking rapid COVID-19 tests at home, that’s three days in which it would be possible to unknowingly spread omicron. In fact, in four cases included in the study, individuals infected other people while their rapid tests came back negative, the Times reports. This doesn’t mean you should stop using home tests. The report comes a week after the Food and Drug Administration released new guidelines on using rapid COVID-19 tests to address concerns that they do not accurately detect omicron. “Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity,” the agency wrote. They added that individuals should still continue to use them—rapid tests may be less likely to pick up early infections, but they can still be a useful tool. “In following the FDA’s long-standing rapid test recommendations, if a person tests negative with an antigen test but is suspected of having COVID-19, such as experiencing symptoms or have a high likelihood of infection due to exposure, follow-up molecular testing is important for determining a COVID-19 infection,” the guidelines state. “If a person tests positive with an antigen test, they should self-isolate and seek follow-up care with a health care provider to determine the next steps.”If you do test positive using an at-home antigen test, health experts stress that you should report your result to your doctor and your local health department, per a report from CNN. Doing so helps health officials maintain accurate case counts. “With all the self-testing going on, we really don’t have a good number of the case counts,” Georges Benjamin, M.D., the executive director of the American Public Health Association said in an interview with CNN. “It is clear we’re underreporting [COVID-19 cases].”Related:

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