News in Brief: Week of April 2-6

April 04, 2012 04:45 pm News Staff

This roundup includes the following news briefs:

Levemir Gains Pregnancy Category B Designation

The FDA has approved a pregnancy Category B classification( for insulin detemir (rDNA origin) injection, which is marketed as Levemir, making it the only basal insulin analogue to be so classified. Previously, Levemir carried a pregnancy Category C designation, and neutral protamine Hagedorn (NPH) insulin was considered the therapeutic standard for diabetes care in pregnancy.

The agency based its action on a review of a randomized, controlled trial that compared the safety and efficacy of Levemir with that of NPH insulin in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes. Study findings indicated that patients who used Levemir, a long-acting insulin, achieved similar hemoglobin A1c reduction at gestational week 36 and lower fasting plasma glucose levels at weeks 24 and 36 compared with those using NPH insulin, which is an intermediate-acting insulin. In addition, study researchers found no difference in the safety profiles of the two groups in terms of pregnancy outcomes or health of the fetus and newborn.

Pertussis Reaches Epidemic Levels in Washington State

The Washington State Department of Health announced this week( that pertussis has reached epidemic levels in the state, with 640 cases reported in 23 counties as of March 31. That figure compares with 94 cases reported this time last year and puts the state on track to have the highest number of reported cases in decades.

In the announcement, Secretary of Health Mary Selecky called for the state's teen and adult residents to receive a dose of the tetanus and diphtheria toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (if they have not already done so) to protect very young infants, who cannot be vaccinated against the disease.

According to the announcement, the department is releasing a public service radio announcement this week to reinforce how serious pertussis can be, especially in infants who have not yet been vaccinated or young children who are not yet fully protected by the five-dose childhood series. The spot features Selecky and a Snohomish County woman who talks about losing her newborn daughter to the disease.

New AAFP Catalog Provides Easy Access, One-Stop Shopping

The AAFP has revamped its online catalog to provide one location for members to visit to shop online for Academy products and services.

Items in the catalog include a number of CME courses, such as Board review courses; METRIC (Measuring, Evaluating and Translating Research Into Care) modules; self-study CME courses; and Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics (ALSO) products.

The catalog also includes information on subscriptions to the various AAFP journals and learning resources, practice management tools and resources, patient information and public health materials, resident and student content, and links to the AAFP's line of gifts and apparel.

The online catalog also contains a link to where members can view their open invoices and renewals and a link to shop the AAFP Buyers Guide(, which lists various products and services members may find useful.

Calls to Quitline Soar During CDC Ad Campaign

Calls to the CDC's toll-free (800) QUIT-NOW quitline have more than doubled since the agency launched its Tips from Former Smokers( campaign March 19. The national campaign features the stories of former smokers -- who are coping with smoking-related diseases and disabilities -- in television, radio, print, online, billboard and theater advertisements.

The CDC said in a news release( that in the week preceding the launch of the 12-week campaign, the quitline received 14,437 calls. It received 33,262 calls during the week of March 19 and a record 34,413 calls the following week. The CDC reported it also experienced a threefold increase in visits to its website( that provides free information about quitting smoking.

New Report Points to Vitamin Deficiencies Among Some Americans

Although most Americans seem to have good levels of vitamins A and D and folate in their bodies, some groups are lacking in vitamin D and iron levels, according to the Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition( recently released by the CDC.

The report found that deficiency rates for vitamins and nutrients vary by age, gender, race and ethnicity. For example, non-Hispanic blacks have the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency, followed by Mexican-Americans. The vitamin D deficiency rate for non-Hispanic whites, however, was relatively low at 3 percent.

The report also found that

  • Mexican-American children between the ages of 1 and 5 years, non-Hispanic blacks and Mexican-American women of childbearing age had higher rates of iron deficiencies than other racial and ethnic groups;
  • women between the ages of 20 and 39 had iodine levels barely above iodine insufficiency; and
  • fortification of cereal-grain products with folic acid has played a major role in reducing folate deficiency rates to less than 1 percent during the past several years.