Editor's highlightsEditor's highlights first appeared in EJOGRB in January 2001, when Professor Jim Thornton took over as editor-in-chief upon the retirement of Professor Tom Eskes. At that time it was part of a Journal section which included opinion, news and lists of forthcoming conferences. The aim was to create a community of readers who would open the printed issue each month and be presented with a Europe-wide perspective on our specialty. Later, when it became clear that the Internet was a more efficient provider of news and conference listings, Editor's highlights evolved into its present form – a column directing readers towards a selection of papers which the editor found especially interesting.
Editor's highlightsGaucher's disease, named after the French doctor who first described it in 1882, is an autosomal recessive disorder which causes lipid accumulation in leukocytes and organs including liver, spleen and brain. About 1% of people in the USA are carriers and the carrier rate among Ashkenazy Jews is about 9%. Manifestations of the disease, such as anaemia, thrombocytopaenia, organomegaly and bone diseases, can be exacerbated by pregnancy, which may also cause new complications. The management of pregnancy is reviewed on page 3 by Ganovsky-Grisaru and colleagues from Israel and Europe.
Editor's highlightsWe were saddened, as this issue of the Journal was being prepared, to hear of the death of our distinguished Editor Emeritus, Professor TKAB Eskes, on 28th March 2011. Tom Eskes was for many years one of the leaders of our specialty in Europe and his influence on this journal was immense, right from the start. He was present at the meetings which led to the foundation of the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology in 1971. He became the Journal's Chief Editor in 1977 and remained in this post for 24 years.
Editor's highlightsMedical trainees today have limited opportunities to experience medicine in other European countries. Undergraduates are allowed a short time away from their own medical school but they often choose to travel outside Europe and experience a different style of medicine. Europe's centres of excellence, besides their rich historical diversity, have much to teach one another about medical science and clinical practice—as they regularly demonstrate in the EJOGRB. We are pleased to see that trainees in our specialty are maintaining international links through the European Network of Trainees in Obstetrics and Gynecology (ENTOG).
Editor's highlightsThis month, as spring approaches, professional meetings resume. In Spain, the World Congress on Women's Mental Health and the European Congress on Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis take place in Madrid and Valencia respectively. In the USA the Society for Gynecologic Investigation meets in Miami, Florida. In the UK the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths launches its latest report, Saving Mothers’ Lives 2006–2008, with meetings on consecutive days in three British cities and, for the first time, in Dublin.
Editor's highlightsIn October 2010 the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Professor Robert G Edwards for the development of in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a fitting – and some would say long overdue – tribute to a man who has changed the lives of millions of people. What is remarkable about his achievement is not so much that he had to contend with vociferous opposition to the idea of “creating life in a test-tube” but that he succeeded without official support or funding. His original research had been on mice but when he applied to the UK Medical Research Council for long-term support for studies on human reproduction, his request was turned down, partly because infertility had a low priority compared to population control.
Editor's highlightsIn our last issue (December 2010) we published a review of the investigation and management of sexual dysfunction, and we mentioned that patients’ confusion about sex often arises from media misinformation. This month, our first review (page 3) develops this theme with regard to the female orgasm. The author, Vincenzo Puppo of Bologna, Italy, begins with a quote from a 2009 EJOGRB paper: “sexual health is a global issue that is vital to overall well-being” and includes a quote from a 1948 textbook: “Exalting vaginal orgasm while decrying clitoris satisfaction is found to beget much frustration.
Editor's highlightsFemale sexual dysfunction seems to be becoming a subject of controversy. Recently it was described as a “new condition” constructed by pharmaceutical companies trying to create a market for drugs of doubtful effectiveness (BMJ 2010; 341: c5050). An accompanying commentary agreed that doctors often prescribe such medication because they feel their therapeutic options are very limited. The commentary also pointed out, however, that definitions of female sexual dysfunction are being revised and that the best available evidence supports a multidisciplinary or biopsychosocial approach to treatment (BMJ 2010; 314: c5336).
Editor’s highlightsWhen we last wrote about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) we mentioned MDG5, which is about improving maternal health. There are, however, seven other goals with targets just as challenging as the 75% reduction in maternal mortality asked by MDG5. The aim of MDG3 is to “promote gender equality and empower women” and its target is the elimination of gender disparity in all levels of education by 2015. In June of this year, publication of the Millennium Development Goals Report revealed a mixed picture of success and slow progress across the various MDGs.
Editor's highlightsThe specialty of obstetrics and gynaecology is of public interest. Every day newspapers carry articles about women's health, such as stories of a safe delivery in unusual circumstances or a bad experience for which a hospital or doctor is being blamed. In general, obstetricians are wary of talking to the media, but medical journals are less shy. Researchers like it when their papers attract attention and many universities seek publicity for their staff. Some journals issue regular press releases highlighting papers which the editor thinks are interesting.
Editor's highlightsAs the summer fades, and with it the memory of an excellent European performance in football's World Cup, many countries are facing a winter of economic austerity. Our specialty may not be first in line for cuts to funding – governments want people to keep having babies – but we cannot escape some of the effects of budget reductions. These bring risks. Staff in many public services are already thinly spread and overworked. If this process goes too far in the maternity services, it begins to threaten the low maternal and perinatal mortality rates that much of Europe takes for granted.
Editor's highlightsAugust is holiday time in most of Europe, so except for colleagues who take their laptops with them, most readers will be a little late in catching up with this issue of the Journal. Gynaecological urologists may be even later, as the Joint Annual Meeting of the International Continence Society and the International Urogynaecological Association is being held in Toronto on 23–27 August. These two societies hold a joint meeting every five or six years. In 2011 each comes to Europe (one to Glasgow and the other to Lisbon) and in 2012 their venues will be Beijing and Brisbane.
Editor's highlightsIn these pages we often comment on global issues of women's health and we have drawn attention to the apparent lack of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5 – a 75% reduction in maternal mortality rates (MMR) by year 2015. Recently new estimates were publicised suggesting that progress is better than expected, but rather than causing widespread pleasure they were criticised for being over-optimistic. A damaging row over figures was avoided, but only just. Although numerical targets are useful for focussing attention it is important to remember that the countries with the greatest problems are those in which the data are least reliable.
Editor's highlightsEach European country has its own professional association of obstetricians and gynaecologists, looking after the interests of women and specialists in that country. Language barriers often make interaction difficult but many of these organisations are becoming more international in outlook. The French College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, for example, recently published one of its guidelines, translated into English, in this Journal and we shall be publishing another one, on stress urinary incontinence, next month.
Editor's HighlightsIn a few days’ time the 21st European Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology will open in Antwerp. We expect it to be a great success and we are particularly pleased by the close co-operation between EBCOG and its affiliated subspecialty societies, whose logos form a colourful footnote to the http://www.ebcog2010.be webpage. In the past the problem for our specialty in Europe has been poor communication between national societies but our future challenge will be to avoid fragmentation into subspecialty groupings.
Editor's highlightsNext month there will be two important European meetings within 100 km of each other. On 5–8 May the EBCOG Congress will be held in Antwerp, Belgium, and we hope that many readers, encouraged by our comments in last month's issue, are planning to attend. Shortly after that, on 19–22 May, the European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health will hold its eleventh Congress in The Hague, The Netherlands. The Congress's theme, Culture, Communication, Contraception, reflects its focus on diversity, and its co-presidents point out that preventive strategies must increasingly “take into account the specific cultural, sub-cultural, economic, ethnic and religious characteristics of subpopulations within the European community.” This is an important message.
Editor's highlightsWith the approach of Easter, it is time for a reminder that March 30 is the deadline for the registration of authors presenting at the European Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in Antwerp, Belgium, at the beginning of May. The congress website, www.ebcog2010.be , gives details of the meeting and includes some fascinating background information. We already knew that Antwerp has beautiful buildings and a rich cultural history but we were unaware that this inland city is Europe's second-largest international shipping port, or that the Flanders Concert and Congress Centre (the venue for the congress) is situated in Antwerp's world-famous zoo.
Editor's highlightsNext month, International Women's Day on 8th March will be an opportunity to raise awareness of women's health issues around the world. The continuing high rate of maternal mortality is one of most pressing of these and it is encouraging to see an international coalition, the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), working hard to draw attention to this preventable cause of death. WRA, launched in 1999 and supported by influential women including Sarah Brown, wife of the UK Prime Minister, has members in 143 countries and national alliances in 15, including Burkina Faso, Nepal and Yemen.
Editor's highlightsIn recent years this Journal has had two Co-Editors-in-Chief, working together in an enjoyable and harmonious relationship. We have divided the work equally and month by month we have alternated in writing the “Editors’ Highlights”. The last article of 2009 was written by Wolfgang Künzel and as usual contained an excellent mixture of clinical wisdom, scientific analysis and a “European View”. What it did not mention was that it would be Wolfgang's last “Editors’ Highlights”, because December 2009 marked his departure from the post of Editor-in-Chief.
Editors’ highlightsThe aim of this Journal is to publish review articles regularly every month and we are happy to continue to do so in the last issue of 2009. The first article deals with the role of myo-inositol in human reproduction and the second is a systematic review of the accuracy of C-reactive protein determination in predicting chorioamnionitis.
Editors’ highlightsWith summer gone and Christmas still to come, November is a month of long dark nights in Europe. These are good for academic work and discussion, and in some countries this is a busy time for local and regional meetings. In London the Academic Association of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AAOG) is about to hold its fourth annual meeting. It evolved from an older organisation, the Association of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, with the purpose of being a voice for academics in our specialty in the British Isles.
Editors’ highlightsIn previous issues we have had the pleasure of offering reviews about a wide variety of subjects and this month we are happy to continue with five reviews ranging from the methodology of systematic reviews to COX-2 expression in ovarian malignancies. On page 121, Knox and colleagues from Birmingham, UK, memorably describe systematic reviews of fetal medicine as “a tool for translation of research findings from a few expert centres to a wider health care specialty”. They identified 84 reviews which met their inclusion criteria – over half being in the field of fetal pathology.
Editors’ highlightsIn January we mentioned that we were looking forward to the 19th FIGO World Congress of Gynecology and Obstetrics in Cape Town, South Africa. Now, with the Congress only a few weeks away, the size of the undertaking is clear. The organisers are expecting more than 6000 delegates and the scientific programme (available at www.figo2009.org.za ) is 86 pages long, with a list of topics ranging from molecular biology to orgasmic dysfunction. Without an early breakthrough in human cloning it will be impossible to attend all the simultaneous sessions.
Editors’ highlightsPostpartum haemorrhage (PPH) causes about 20% of maternal deaths in developing countries but the picture is very different in the developed world. For example, in the “Perinatal Data Base 2004 Hesse” PPH was only 1.1% and material death was not evident. If drugs are available and applied early enough in the postpartum period, and if specific causes of PPH (e.g. retention of placental tissue, coagulation disorders, uterine myomas and others) are managed appropriately, maternal death can be prevented in most cases.
Editors’ highlightsAlthough this issue looks no different from last month's, there has been a major change behind the scenes. Until now the Journal's editorial structure has been based on geography, with Regional Receiving Editors for Mediterranean countries, Scandinavian countries, and so on. This was appropriate for a journal covering a continent which, although small in terms of land mass, has a rich variety of languages, cultures and indeed styles of medical practice. In the past, local contact was essential and new research was presented at regional or national meetings which covered all branches of our specialty.