Clinical studies for new drugs and vaccines, including the recent trials that led to the approval of COVID-19 vaccines, generally exclude women who are pregnant or lactating. For that reason, little is known about how hormonal changes affect drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics.
Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have a clinical trial underway to evaluate the utility and efficacy of a novel blood test that screens women for ovarian cancer risk. Led by Kevin Elias, MD, of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the trial aims to enroll 500 women who are estimated to be at increased risk of developing the disease due to a family history of cancer or a known mutation in BRCA1, BRCA2 or another gene linked to ovarian cancer.
The disparity in pay between gynecologic surgery and other surgical specialties has been well-established. In a recent commentary, faculty from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Northwestern University describe the history of this issue and other influences that drive what they call “double discrimination” — lower pay in an area of surgery that has the largest proportion of female surgeons and one that serves primarily female patients.
A retrospective study published by JAMA and conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that transferring fresh embryos grown from freshly retrieved donor eggs resulted in a higher live birth rate compared to frozen (cryopreserved and thawed) embryos from freshly retrieved donor eggs.
In order to meet the unique demands and concerns of mothers and families expecting twins, triplets or higher-order multiples, the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) launched the Comprehensive Care Center for Multiples in December. It is the first center of its kind in Massachusetts and one of only a few in the United States.
On October 1, 2020, Nawal M. Nour, MD, MPH, became the chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Upon assuming her role, Dr. Nour became the first African-American department chair at the Brigham, the first department chair of Sudanese descent and the third woman to be named to a chair role. Dr. Nour succeeded Robert L. Barbieri, MD, who served in the role for 27 years and helped establish the department as a world leader in compassionate clinical care, teaching, research, innovation and discovery.
Preeclampsia occurs in up to 7 percent of all pregnancies and is the third-leading cause of maternal mortality around the world. Yet despite how common it is, surprisingly little is known about its underlying causes. This lack of information has made it difficult to develop methods for determining which women are most at risk of developing preeclampsia and to find ways to reduce that risk or effectively treat the condition after it develops.
The COVID-19 pandemic has uniquely affected outpatient prenatal care, which depends on frequent assessment of a pregnant mother and her fetus. At the start of the pandemic, the outpatient prenatal care program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital increased the use of virtual visits, allowing patients to regularly meet with their providers safely.
For women with complex medical needs, contraception throughout childbearing years may be essential for managing their underlying medical conditions and setting the stage for a healthy pregnancy when desired. To provide the needed expertise, the High Risk Contraception Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital works with patients, often in collaboration with disease sub-specialists, to provide individualized contraceptive care within the framework of the underlying condition.