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Study: Less restrictive reproductive rights reduce birth complications risk by 7%

Oct. 13 (UPI) — Women living in states with less restrictive reproductive rights policies are 7% less likely have low birth weight babies than those living in states with more stringent laws, according to an analysis published Tuesday by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The risk was 8% lower for Black women living in less-restrictive states, the data showed.

“Our study provides evidence that reproductive rights policies play a critical role in advancing maternal and child health equity,” study co-author May Sudhinaraset, of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said in a statement.

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, which effectively legalized abortion, states have had “substantial discretion” in creating policies governing whether Medicaid covers the costs of contraception or reproductive health care.

Some states have taken steps that effectively limit access to abortion services and other reproductive care, Sudhinaraset and her colleagues said.

Black women are more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth than any other race group, experience more maternal health complications than White women and generally have lower quality maternity care, they said.

In addition, women of color are more likely to experience adverse birth outcomes.

Compared to infants of normal weight, low-birth-weight babies face many potential health complications, including infections early in life and long-term problems, such as delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities.

Sudhinaraset and her colleagues analyzed birth record data for the nearly 4 million births that occurred in the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in 2016, comparing reproductive rights policies and adverse birth outcomes in each state.

They also evaluated if the associations were different for women of color and immigrants.

The findings indicate that expanding reproductive rights may reduce the risk of low-birth weight, particularly for U.S.-born Black women, the researchers said.

“Important policy levers can and should be implemented to improve women’s reproductive health overall, including increasing abortion access and mandatory sex education in schools,” Sudhinaraset said.

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LA Could Soon Escape State’s Most Restrictive Shutdown Tier

LOS ANGELES, CA — In a sign of the light at the end of the tunnel, Los Angeles County health officials said the region is on track to emerge from the most restrictive tier of the state’s coronavirus economic-reopening roadmap within the next few weeks.

Angelenos just have a little more work to do to help get the number of new coronavirus cases a little lower, Los Angeles County’s public health director said.

“My hope is that in the next few weeks we get to Tier 2” of the state’s reopening matrix, Barbara Ferrer told the county Board of Supervisors.

It will depend on whether the county can reduce its average rate of new cases per 100,000 residents from 7.6 to below 7. If the county can get there, it can advance out of the restrictive “purple” Tier 1 and into the slightly more liberal “red” Tier 2. As always seems to be the case, there are events and holidays on the horizon that could prove to be hurdles. On Tuesday, the state followed the county’s lead in advising against trick or treating on Halloween this year. Ongoing protests, demonstrations and postseason NBA and MLB gatherings could lead to an uptick in new cases.

Ferrer told the board that reducing the number of new cases will take continued action from residents, some of whom have contributed to recent upticks thanks to large gatherings held in spite of public health orders barring them. She reiterated earlier guidance from health officials suggesting that residents balance their daily risk of exposure by limiting their activities outside the home. She suggested, as an example, that if a person goes to a grocery store during the day, that person should consider staying home for dinner instead of visiting a restaurant that same day.

Large gatherings, however, have continued to vex efforts to control the spread of the virus. Health officials on Monday said the tens of thousands of people who attended a pro-Armenian march in the Mid City area on Sunday may have been exposed to the virus, and should now be avoiding others for the next 14 days and get tested for COVID-19. The same applies to the hundreds of people who flocked to downtown Los Angeles Sunday night to celebrate the Lakers’ NBA championship.

Ferrer also told the board that businesses must continue to adhere to health protocols as they welcome back customers, noting that the county has generally seen good compliance.

On Tuesday, the county reported another 18 coronavirus deaths, while health officials in Long Beach announced three additional fatalities. The new deaths increased the countywide total since the start of the pandemic to 6,793.

The county also announced 790 newly confirmed cases of the virus, while Long Beach added 40 and Pasadena reported three. Those cases lifted the overall cumulative total since the pandemic began to 283,793.

The county Department of Public Health noted that Tuesday’s number of new cases was likely artificially low due to reporting lags from

Santa Clara County Moves To Less Restrictive ‘Orange’ Tier

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA — Santa Clara County advanced to a less-restrictive tier of the state’s coronavirus pandemic reopening system Tuesday, enabling both counties to expand the maximum capacity of activities like indoor dining and open bars outside.

Santa Clara was among two Bay Area counties to receive state approval to lift some restrictions Tuesday. Alameda is the other.

The two counties moved from Tier 2, the red tier, to Tier 3, the orange tier, by reducing their rate of new cases per 100,000 residents per day below four.

They join San Francisco as the only Bay Area counties in Tier 3.

Santa Clara and Alameda counties also had to reduce their respective test positivity rates under 5 percent and their health equity score, which the state introduced last week, under 5.2 percent.

Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody encouraged residents to continue the efforts they’ve taken in recent weeks to reduce the virus’ local spread.

“We ask that everyone continue their efforts to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in our county,” Cody said.

“Everyone must take responsibility for preventing spread so that we don’t move back to more restrictive tiers under the State’s structure.”

Santa Clara County had been in Tier 2 since Sept. 8, allowing the county to resume indoor operations at businesses like gyms, shopping malls, museums, restaurants, zoos and aquariums at limited capacities.

Alameda County had been in the red tier since Sept. 22 and had to wait a minimum of three weeks to move into a less restrictive tier, regardless of whether it met the thresholds for the orange tier for two consecutive weeks before then.

“We’ve chosen an approach that we describe as slow and stringent,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary.

“We wait for the data to come in, we try to understand how changes in the levels of mixing that’s allowable in communities actually translates into transmission before we do more,” Ghaly said.

In many cases, both counties will be able to expand the maximum capacity of indoor businesses from 25 percent to 50 percent or 200 people, whichever is fewer.

Gyms, fitness centers and hotels will also be allowed to reopen indoor pools, while gyms themselves can increase their capacity from 10 percent to 25 percent of their maximum occupancy.

Moving into the orange tier also allows multiple sectors like offices, cardrooms, bowling alleys, climbing walls and gyms, wineries and bars, breweries and distilleries at which food is not served to resume operating inside with caps on capacity.

Alameda County Interim Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss echoed Cody’s warning that local progress in fighting the coronavirus can be easily undone.

“Especially with flu season coming, if we see spikes in COVID-19 cases and a rise in hospitalizations, we will take action to limit the spread and protect public health including resuming restrictions if needed,” Moss said in a statement.

Santa Clara and Alameda counties will now need to remain in the orange