Today’s Headlines: Morning-After Pill, Whooping Cough and 23andMe

Morning-after pill may not work for overweight women: A European pill nearly identical to the emergency contraceptive Plan B One-Step may be ineffective in overweight and obese women. Scientists found that the pill started losing effectiveness in women who weighed about 165 pounds, and had an “absence of effectiveness” around 176 pounds. Researchers are not sure why these emergency contraceptives appear to be less effective in heavier women. The European pill, Norlevo, “will come with a new label in 2014, warning that the pill may not be effective for women over a certain weight.” (CNN) 

Whooping cough vaccine may not halt spread of illness: A new government study suggests that while the whooping cough vaccine “may keep people from getting sick, it doesn’t prevent them from spreading whooping cough – also known as pertussis – to others.” Whooping cough may affect people of all ages but is particularly dangerous for children. The study was conducted in baboons, which are “considered the most human-like model for studying whooping cough.” Researchers found that though vaccinated baboons did not exhibit symptoms, they still had high levels of bacteria in their respiratory tracts for five weeks, suggesting that they were contagious. This finding could help explain why pertussis cases have risen in recent years. (NBC News)

FDA Tells 23andMe to Halt Sales of Genetic Test: “The Food and Drug Administration has ordered Google-backed genetic test maker 23andMe to halt sales of its personalized DNA test kits, saying the company has failed to show that the technology is supported by science.” The government organization posted an online warning letter saying that the tests, which supposedly work by using DNA from saliva to tell customers if they are at risk of a wide variety of diseases and health problems, may not be safe or effective. Specifically, the FDA stated that the technology does not appear to have been “analytically or clinically validated” and cautioned that “erroneous results could cause customers to seek unnecessary or ineffective medical care.” (ABC News)