Pregnant Pause

By Scott LaFee

November 13, 2019 5 min read

The Centers for Disease Control reports that a large number of pregnant women are not getting two critically important vaccines: the Tdap vaccine (to prevent pertussis, also known as whooping cough) and the annual flu shot.

Survey data found that only 55% of pregnant women reported getting a Tdap vaccination and 54% receiving a flu shot last year. Only one-third of women said they got both.

The Tdap vaccine helps protect babies from pertussis, which can be deadly in infants. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to getting the flu. Between 2010 and 2018, according to the CDC, pregnant women comprised 25% to 33% of all flu-related hospitalizations among women of childbearing age.

What's in a Name?

There's a new name for vaping-related illness: EVALI, which stands for "e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury." At last count, at least 1,300 persons across 49 states, Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands had become ill with the still largely mysterious ailment. Twenty-six people have died from it.

Get Me That, Stat!

The birthrate of twins in the United States is declining. From 1980 to 2014, the rate increased slowly, but in the years since, it has declined approximately 1% per year, according to the CDC. Part of the decline may be due to the age of mothers. Twins are less common with older mothers, and more women are having children later in life.


82,000: Estimated number of jobs created by stem cell research launched through California's stem cell agency, the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (57,000 of those jobs in-state)

11: Estimated sales revenue, in billions of dollars, related to stem cell research in California since voters approved CIRM in 2004

Source: CIRM

Doc Talk

Veisalgia: A hangover, from the Norwegian "kveis," meaning uneasiness following debauchery, and the Greek word "algia" for pain.

Mania of the Week

Trichotillomania: Obsessive removal of hair

Best Medicine

An ophthalmologist sent a reminder to a patient that it was time to come in for a routine eye exam. The patient declined, writing back to say she would not be in because she "had a new obstetrician."


"Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel." — American author and salesman Kevin Trudeau. Unfortunately for Trudeau and his customers, the one-time infomercial king promoted unsubstantiated health and diet advice, resulting in multiple lawsuits and prison time.

Perishable Publications

Many, if not most, published research papers have titles that defy comprehension. They use specialized jargon, complex words and opaque phrases like "nonlinear dynamics." Sometimes they don't and they're still hard to figure out. Here's an actual title of actual published research study: "Of Mites and Men."

In 1993, Robert Lopez published a paper in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in which he answered the question "Can ear mites from a cat live in human ears too?"

Lopez used himself as the test subject, transferring multiple mites multiple times from infected cat ears into his own. The answer to his original question: Yes, unfortunately.

Sum Body

The English language is a real body of work. In fact, lots of English words have surprising connections to parts of the body. Here are three examples:

1. Gargoyle: Derived from the Old French word for throat — "gargoule" — which explains why these hideous figures invariably pose with mouth open (often in their capacity as rain gutter statues).

2. Supercilious: An adjective associated with eyebrow-raising haughtiness and condescending behavior. It refers to the supercilium, the region of the forehead containing the eyebrows.

3. Recalcitrant: The modern meaning is obstinate or uncooperative. The adjective derives from "recalcitrate" or "calcitrate," which originally meant to kick out angrily and in that sense derives from "calx," the Latin word for the heel (as in digging in).

Curtain Calls

Paul G. Thomas, the owner of a Connecticut wool mill, died of suffocation in 1987 after falling into a machine that wrapped him in 800 yards of wool.

To find out more about Scott LaFee and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: 1041483 at Pixabay

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