* About a quarter of all first-time births in the US are delivered by cesarean section. A Californian study also discovered that the rate of sections was 24 per cent higher among black women than white. The difference was due to the obstetricians' perceptions and attitudes towards the women and the women's expectations, the report discovered (American Journal of Public Health, 1995; 85: 625-30).
* Canadian health authorities are arguing about whether to continue putting the hormone bovine somatotropin (BST) into milk. The hormone has already been banned in Australia and New Zealand, following reports that it may increase the risk of colon and breast cancer. Countering that are economic arguments: the hormone also increases milk production by 20 per cent.
* A woman died after reacting to two doses of 10 mg oral nifedipine, given after she collapsed, doctors at a Helsinki hospital report. They urge caution in using the drug, especially if it is given as it was in their case with others, including isosorbide dinitrate, and in ethanol, to reduce blood pressure. Despite the fact that she'd reacted badly on the first day, the doctors repeated the exact dosage the second day, after which the woman died (BMJ, July 22, 1995).
* Battle lines are being drawn over the use of grapefruit juice with the transplant drug cyclosporin. Researchers had discovered that 175 to 250 ml of frozen grapefruit juice could increase the blood cyclosporin concentration, but antagonists argue the experiment was unscientific because the juice is not a controlled substance, and so levels of ingredients may vary. They are also concerned that it may impair the kidneys (The Lancet, July 8, 1995).