Prenatal Screening Tests for Chromosome Abnormalities

Science has made remarkable advances in prenatal screening, but false positives and false negative results can occur, and there are ethical concerns.Having a baby used to be like opening a surprise package. You didn’t know anything about the baby until it was born. The obstetrician or midwife would announce “It’s a boy” or “It’s a

A Test For Earlier Diagnosis Of Autism? Not Convincing

[Este artículo está disponible en español. La traducción al español apareció por primera vez en la revista Pensar.] Autism is diagnosed on clinical grounds by observing the child’s behavior. There is no blood test or any other objective test to diagnose it. But that hasn’t stopped people from claiming to have found one. Among other

¿Test para un diagnóstico temprano de autismo? No es convincente

[This article is also available in English. Thanks to Pensar for the Spanish translation.] El autismo se diagnostica por motivos clínicos al observar el comportamiento del niño. No existe un análisis de sangre ni ninguna otra prueba objetiva para diagnosticarlo. Pero eso no ha impedido que la gente afirme haber encontrado uno. Entre otros candidatos,

Skin pH: Salesmanship, Not Science

People are being encouraged to worry about the pH of their skin and to try to change it. These concerns and interventions are not supported by scientific evidence. You have probably heard of the alkaline diet. Public knowledge of pH, the scale by which acids and bases are measured, is plagued by misinformation. People who

Everlywell: At-Home Lab Tests That Don’t Make Sense

EverlyWell offers 34 at-home tests for everything from IgG tests for food sensitivities to a Sleep and Stress test. Most of them make no sense and are likely to mislead customers. Here we go again! First I wrote about Theranos, then SmartJane, and now EverlyWell. More companies are jumping on the at-home testing bandwagon; apparently the convenience and

Smart Jane Test of Vaginal Health: Clever Marketing, Questionable Science

Gonorrhea. The SmartJane test is not the way to diagnose this. The uBiome company’s SmartJane test claims to use state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology, machine learning, artificial intelligence, statistical genetics, algorithms, and other proprietary innovations so women can assess their own vaginal health. Customers collect samples with vaginal swabs and mail them in for processing. They

Too Many Tests

Doctors order too many tests. Some are useless, some are harmless (except for the cost), but some can lead to serious bodily harm. Misconceptions about tests Many people, even doctors, tend to think of tests as giving consistent, reliable, yes/no answers. They think a test can make a diagnosis, but that’s not how it works.

Chiropractor Treating Concussions for Earlier Return to Play

A chiropractor is using questionable diagnostic and therapeutic measures to return athletes to play sooner after a concussion. Not a good idea. A science teacher contacted me with concerns about a story he saw on his local TV news. It featured a chiropractor in his area who is treating athletes with concussions. He claims that

An HBO Documentary about the Theranos Fraud Raises Concerns

Elizabeth Holmes founded Theranos to develop a device that could do 200 tests on a single drop of blood in a minute. She lied; it failed; she is being tried for fraud and conspiracy. The HBO documentary The Inventor tells the story but has some flaws. We can learn lessons from what happened. Alex Gibney’s film The Inventor:

Kidney Cancer and Incidentalomas

Kidney cancer diagnoses are increasing but there has been no increase in mortality or rate of metastases. Kidney cancer is most often diagnosed as an incidental finding on a CT scan that was done for unrelated reasons. Treatment may not always be needed. In the February 1, 2019 issue of American Family Physician, there is an

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