CoD Troubles, Preventing Premature Births

Grind for November 11th
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

– Douglas Adams

Fiction vs. Fact

The Headline

Why Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is controversial

The Grind

The 16th Call of Duty (CoD) video game was released this month amid calls to boycott publisher Activision Blizzard.

Blizzard is facing criticism after it suspended a gamer for shouting “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age” during a live-streamed Hearthstone tournament.

Blizzard banned the player for 12 months and revoked his prize money, causing some gamers to cancel pre-orders for the new CoD game.

“Because your company is such a pillar of the gaming industry, your disappointing decision could have a chilling effect on gamers who seek to use their platform to promote human rights and basic freedoms,” wrote a bipartisan group of lawmakers in a letter to Blizzard.

The Details

To make matters worse, the game itself is facing criticism over its allusions to real-world events (including terrorists in London and wars in the Middle East) and its negative portrayal of Russia.

In the game’s “Highway of Death” mission, players must traverse a battered highway while avoiding (or killing) Russian snipers.

Reviewers note similarities between the fictional highway and Highway 80, a real road that links Kuwait and Iraq. Highway 80, which earned the nickname “Highway of Death” at the end of the Gulf war, was used by Iraqi armored forces during the 1990 Invasion of Kuwait and by US/British forces during the initial stages of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

The Highway of Death mission “demonizes Russia,” wrote one reviewer, and pits “bad Russians” against “good Americans.” Overall, the game has received more than 4,000 negative reviews and roughly 1,500 positive reviews.

In its defense, Blizzard released a statement describing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as “a fictional game that has been thoughtfully created to entertain fans and tell a compelling narrative.”

Medical News

The Headline

Analysts cast doubt on Makena, the only drug available to prevent preterm birth

The Grind

An FDA panel of advisers last week recommended the agency pull the drug Makena from the market based on its alleged ineffectiveness.

Makena is a synthetic form of progesterone designed to prevent premature birth.

“It was a really hard vote,” said Dr. Vivian Lewis, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology who leads the 16-person advisory panel. All members agreed the drug lacked proof of effectiveness, but some wanted to leave it on the market until additional studies are completed.

The final vote was 9-7 in favor of removing the drug from the market.

The Details

Makena gained FDA approval in 2011 based on a single study that appeared to link progesterone with a 66% decrease in recurrent preterm birth.

Makena was approved for sale with the understanding that a larger study would be conducted. The second study, published last month, failed to show evidence the drug could reduce the chances of preterm birth.

Even so, some OB-GYNs hope the FDA rejects the advisory board’s recommendation.

“It’s one thing to have concern raised because of conflicting data,” says Dr. Christopher Zahn, Vice President for the practice for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). “But if that particular medication isn’t available, it no longer becomes an option.”

Dr. Zahn insists the second study included too many participants who were at a low risk of preterm delivery and thus failed to show benefits.

The Takeaway

A baby is defined as “premature” if it is born before 37 weeks. Roughly 1 in 10 babies throughout the world are born preterm, and up to 80% of early births are unexpected.

“It’s well known that infants born prematurely have increased risks of poor outcomes – including death – and that the risk decreases as gestational age increases,” notes Dr. Zahn. After birth, premature babies can experience “breathing or respiratory problems, organ dysfunction, difficulty with vision and hearing, and neural developmental delay.”

Moving forward, the ACOG will continue to recommend progesterone supplementation for pregnant women who have experienced preterm delivery during a previous pregnancy.

Did you know… Budweiser beer is named after a town in Czechoslovakia.