Archive for Friday, February 7, 2003


February 7, 2003


San Francisco

Study: Hormone helps avoid premature births

In a groundbreaking study, researchers said Thursday the hormone progesterone could help prevent premature births in a surprisingly high number of high-risk pregnancies.

Progesterone is naturally produced by the ovaries, and it softens the uterus lining into a spongy bed that holds a fertilized egg. Doctors have prescribed it for years to help infertile and menopausal women, but there had been limited research into its effect on premature births.

The study found weekly injections of the hormone reduced the chance of premature births by 34 percent in 306 high-risk women. All the women previously gave birth prematurely, the single biggest indication of risk.

In 2001, about 476,000 U.S. babies were born prematurely, a 27 percent increase since 1981, according to the March of Dimes.

Washington, D.C.

Some Social Security checks missing names

About 50,000 Social Security checks missing the names of beneficiaries were mailed this week, and banks are being urged to refuse them.

The Treasury Department is mailing replacement checks Saturday.

The problem was caused by a software change. Checks were printed and mailed Monday before the error was caught. About 41,000 checks were mailed from Philadelphia. Another 9,000 were mailed from Kansas City, Mo.

Beneficiaries should call (800) 772-1213 for assistance.

Minneapolis, Minn.

Police need OK before talking with reporters

Mayor R.T. Rybak has ordered police officers to seek permission from City Hall before talking to reporters, prompting the Police Department spokeswoman to resign.

"I'm not gagging the Police Department at all," said Rybak, a former newspaper reporter who had pledged to throw open the doors of City Hall. "I'm saying we will have unified communications in the city."

Washington, D.C.

SEC approves tougher analyst standards

Stock analysts will have to certify that their reports and public comments reflect their true personal views and that they weren't paid by the companies they assessed, under a new rule adopted Thursday by federal regulators.

The Securities and Exchange Commission voted to approve the rule, proposed last year after the collapse of Enron and other big companies that had stock publicly promoted by analysts who harbored doubts about the companies' finances.

The new SEC rule has been criticized by small-investor advocates and some lawmakers as not going far enough.

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