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Be Well

Asthma could delay pregnancy in some women

Some women with asthma may take a longer time to get pregnant, according to a study that furthers evidence that systemic inflammation in the body that is brought on by asthma may affect fertility.

Researchers in Denmark analyzed answers from a questionnaire taken by over 15,000 adult female twins up to age 41. The women were asked about whether they had asthma and their fertility status, including how long it took them to get pregnant and how many children they have. They were then divided into groups depending on whether they had asthma and, for those who had asthma, whether or not they received treatment.

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Among women who had asthma, 27 percent reported difficulty in getting pregnant — defined by a year or longer of trying to conceive — compared with 21 percent of the women without asthma. Women who had untreated asthma were twice as likely to report a delay in conceiving as those who were receiving treatment.

Regardless of how long it took the women to get pregnant, however, women with asthma on average were still able to conceive and give birth to the same number of children as women without asthma.

BOTTOM LINE: Some women with asthma may take longer to get pregnant than women without the condition.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on self-reported information, which is not always accurate. And it didn’t prove that asthma caused the delays in pregnancy.

WHERE TO FIND IT: European Respiratory Journal, Nov. 14

Many lab tests may not be needed, study finds

Commonly performed lab tests, such as simple blood tests, may be unnecessarily ordered in many cases, a review of studies on the subject found.

Over 5 billion laboratory tests are performed each year in the United States, according to the study led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. They analyzed research published on lab testing over the last 15 years, looking at 1.6 million results from 46 of the 50 most commonly ordered lab tests, including a complete blood count, metabolic tests, and the HIV tests. In about 30 percent of the cases, the tests were unnecessarily performed, the researchers concluded.

The authors also found that in nearly 30 percent of cases, additional testing should have been ordered but wasn’t.

The findings suggest that the primary focus of physicians or ordering lab tests should not be on ordering more or less, but on ordering the proper tests when needed, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Many blood tests may be unnecessary, but doctors also often don’t order all the tests that they should.

CAUTIONS: The study was a review of previously published research and did not look at individual patients’ history to explain the reason certain tests may have been ordered.

WHERE TO FIND IT: PLOS ONE, Nov. 15

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