Health Highlights: Jan. 20, 2017

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Number of U.S. Women Taking Maternity Leave Is Unchanged Over Two Decades

There has been little change over the past two decades in the number of American women who take maternity leave, a new study finds.

Between 1994 and 2015, the average number of women who took maternity leave each month remained at about 273,000, CBS News reported.

Fewer than half of the women who took maternity leave were paid during it, according to the study in the American Journal of Public Health.

It also found that the number of men taking paternity leave rose from about 5,800 a month in 1994 to 22,000 a month in 2015, CBS News reported.

A lack of paid maternity leave may be one reason maternity leave numbers remain stagnant, the study authors said. In 1993, the federal government passed the Family and Medical Leave Act, which provides eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid time off during the first 12 months after birth to care for a newborn.

Since then, three states — California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island — enacted paid family leave legislation, but that didn’t seem enough to budge the numbers, the study found.

Unpaid maternity leave can put families in an economic bind, said Jay Zagorsky, author of the study and research scientist at The Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research.

“Most people live pay check to pay check,” Zagorsky told CBS. “That can be very expensive in the United States to lose pay for a month or two or three, especially at a time after a child is born. Children are not cheap.”


Former President George H.W. Bush’s Health Improving

Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush’s health is improving, a family spokesperson said Thursday.

Bush, 92, has been in intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital with a respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia and underwent a procedure Wednesday to protect and clear his airway, CBS News reported.

Bush’s 91-year-old wife Barbara is also in the hospital with bronchitis, but is not in the ICU.

“They both got a good night’s sleep and are on the upswing,” family spokesperson Jim McGrath told CBS News.


New Global Coalition Will Fight Epidemics

A coalition of private donors, governments and drug companies has raised nearly $500 million to launch a program to fight epidemics before they grow out of control.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations will initially create and stockpile vaccines against three dangerous viruses and support development of new ways to produce large amounts of vaccine when new epidemic threats arise, The New York Times reported.

The coalition includes the Gates Foundation, the governments of Japan and Norway, Britain’s Wellcome Trust, the World Health Organization, and six major vaccine makers. Germany, India and the European Commission are also expected to become involved.

The coalition, which will eventually need billions of dollars to achieve its goals, was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The announcement was welcomed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“I’ve been pushing for a global health emergency fund for years, and half a billion dollars is a good start,” he told The Times.


Three-Parent Baby Born to Infertile Couple

The first baby with DNA from three people to be born to infertile parents was announced by doctors in Ukraine.

The doctors in Kiev fertilized the mother’s egg with her partner’s sperm and then transferred the combined genes into an egg from a donor, BBC News reported.

The baby girl was born on Jan. 5 and has the genetic identify of her parents, as well as a small amount of DNA from the egg donor.

The baby is the second in the world to be born with DNA from three people. Last year, a baby was born in Mexico after being conceived using DNA from three people.

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