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Health Highlights: Jan. 30, 2020

Last Updated: January 30, 2020.

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

U.S. Maternal Death Rate Holds Steady

The overall number of U.S. women who die due to pregnancy or childbirth complications has remained steady, but there are some significant race- and age-related disparities, a new U.S. government report shows.

In 2018, 658 women died while pregnant or within 42 days of the end of pregnancy, and there were 17.4 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, new data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show, CNN reported.

However, the rate among black women was 37.1 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is up to three times higher than among white and Hispanic women, according to the CDC's National Vital Statistics Report, released Thursday.

It also said that the maternal death rate among women aged 40 and older was 81.9 deaths per 100,000 live births, which is nearly eight times higher than among women younger than 25, CNN reported.

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Bats Are Thought to Be Coronavirus Source, and Scientists Think They Know Why

Bats' immune systems may protect them from viruses that cause diseases in people, new research suggests.

If suspicions that bats are the source of the coronavirus outbreak in China are true, it would be the latest disease-causing virus to make its way from bats to people.

"We don't know the source yet, but there's pretty strong evidence that this is a bat origin coronavirus," Dr. Peter Daszak told The New York Times.

The president of EcoHealth Alliance has spent 15 years in China studying diseases that jump from animals to people.

The SARS and MERS epidemics were caused by bat coronaviruses, as was a devastating viral epidemic in pigs, according to The Times.

Bats are a natural reservoir for the Marburg, Nipah and Hendra viruses, which have caused human disease and outbreaks, and are believed to be the natural reservoir for the Ebola virus.

Scientists are striving to understand how bats can carry so many viruses and still survive, and evidence suggests that this is possible due to immune system changes triggered by bats' evolutionary adaptations to flight, The Times reported.

Bats can carry many viruses and still ward off illness, perhaps because over time they lost genes responsible for the immune-system response that is a root cause of illness in so many other animals, researchers say.


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