The Perfect Enemy | News Scan for Jun 13, 2022
July 7, 2022

News Scan for Jun 13, 2022

Childcare-related COVID work disruptions
Pandemic stress and ovulation
Avian flu in US and abroad
More unexplained hepatitis in Europe
Read Time:5 Minute

Childcare-related work disruptions increased by a third during COVID-19

Work disruptions related to a lack of childcare in 2020 increased by one-third relative to before the pandemic—especially for caregivers of children with special healthcare needs, low-income families, and those from racial minority groups, estimates a study published today in JAMA Pediatrics.

University of North Carolina researchers studied the responses of caregivers of 49,546 children aged 5 years and younger to the 2016 to 2020 versions of the National Survey of Children’s Health. The 2020 survey covered July 2020 to January 2021 and asked whether participants had “to quit a job, not take a job, or greatly change [their] job because of problems with child care for this child.”

In 2020, 12.6% of children had a caregiver with a childcare-related job disruption, up from 9.4% in 2019 and 8.9% of those in the pooled 2016 to 2019 sample. Nearly one quarter (24.8%) of children with special healthcare needs had a caregiver who experienced a work disruption due to a lack of childcare, up from 11.1% of caregivers of children without special needs.

After adjustment, children with special healthcare needs were at a 2.7-fold higher risk of a caregiver having work disruptions than children without special needs (adjusted odds ratio [aOR, 2.73). In 2020, all children were at a 1.4-fold higher risk of having a caregiver with a work disruption than in 2019 (aOR, 1.41). The interaction between 2020 and special-needs status didn’t reach significance (aOR, 1.06).

Men had lower chances of experiencing a childcare-related work disruption, while children aged 2 years or younger; Black, Asian, and multiracial children; low-income families; and those without two married parents were at higher risk.

“Parents’ job loss can lead to loss of insurance coverage for their children and may be directly detrimental to children’s health,” the researchers wrote. “Without increased access to childcare, caregivers may struggle to meet the basic human and health care needs of their children.”
Jun 13 JAMA Pediatr research letter

Stress during pandemic may have altered ovulation in women

The stress and disruptions of COVID-19 led to lower progesterone levels in women, altering ovulation in otherwise healthy women, according to research presented yesterday at ENDO 2022, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Atlanta.

The study compared results from the Menstruation Ovulation Study (MOS), which was conducted in a group of 301 women from 2006 through 2008, and MOS2, which studied 112 women during the pandemic. All women in the study were ages 19 to 35 and were not taking any hormonal birth control.

Almost 60% of the MOS2 participants experienced short luteal phases (egg released without enough time from ovulation for pregnancy to occur) or anovulation (no egg released).

“We can infer that the SARS-CoV2 pandemic life disruptions cause silent ovulatory disturbances within mostly regular menstrual cycles—providing a unique experiment of nature,” said Jerilynn C. Prior, MD, professor of endocrinology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, in a press release from the Endocrine Society.

The findings may explain why some women also reported menstrual disturbances following COVID-19 vaccination.

“These silent ovulatory disturbances likely explain why so many women who are not taking hormonal forms of birth control reported having early or unexpected periods in the days following a COVID-19 vaccination,” Prior added.
Jun 12 Endocrine Society
press release

Avian flu outbreaks hit more poultry in US, Bulgaria

Though the pace of highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks has slowed in the United States and abroad, sporadic event in poultry continue to occur, and federal officials reported two events, in Colorado and Washington.

According to updates from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the outbreak in Colorado struck a farm raising layer hens in Weld County that houses 205,000 birds. Weld County is northwest of Denver. Washington’s outbreak involved backyard birds in Snohomish County, north of Seattle.

So far, outbreaks in the United States this year have led to the loss of 39.9 million birds across 36 states.|
USDA APHIS poultry avian flu updates

In global developments, Bulgaria reported a highly pathogenic H5 outbreak, according to a notification from the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH). The event began at a commercial duck farm on Jun 9 in a village in Dobrich region, located in the northeast. The facility houses 3,200 birds.
Jun 10 WOAH report on H5 in Bulgaria

European countries report more unexplained hepatitis cases in kids

Countries in the World Health Organization (WHO) European region have reported 102 more cases of unexplained hepatitis in children from 10 countries, raising the total as of Jun 9 to 402 cases in 20 countries, roughly half of them in the United Kingdom, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the WHO European regional office said in a Jun 10 update.

The majority (77.9%) of cases are in kids ages 5 and younger. Of 250 children with outcome information, 181 recovered and 68 are still receiving medical care. Seventeen kids are known to have received liver transplants, and one died from his or her illness.

The epidemiologic curve shows an increase that began at the end of 2021, rising sharply in the first months of 2022. The rate of new cases appears to have decreased, which the groups said is difficult to interpret.

Of 293 children who received adenovirus testing and had a valid results, 53.9% tested positive. Of 273 who received a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19, 10.6% were positive. SARS-CoV-2 serology results were available for just 47 kids, for whom 63.8% tested positive. And of 94 cases with COVID-19 vaccination information, 85.1% were unvaccinated.

In a related development, the UK Health Security Agency (HSA) said last week that the investigation continues to suggest a strong association with adenovirus and that it expects to publish preliminary findings on Jun 16.
Jun 10 joint ECDC-WHO Europe surveillance update
Jun 9 UK HSA update