Saturday, February 25, 2006

Somebody wanted TSS mortality rates

In Comparative Safety - Abortion & Stuff Folks Get Riled About, I noted that TSS is seen in one per 100,000 menstruating women. The mortality rate for TSS is roughly three percent. So the risk of death from TSS associated with tampon use is .03 deaths per 100,000. This is considered significant enough to alert women to the risks of tampon-associated TSS, and significant enough to warrant policing of the feminine tampon industry.

The Centers for Disease Control claim a death rate of 1.2 deaths per 100,000 legal abortions. I would dispute that, because I don't think the CDC makes more than a cursory attempt to identify legal abortion deaths. Nevertheless, it's the only number we have, so we have to use it.

So, by the CDC's estimates, a woman is more likely to die from an abortion than she is to get TSS from using a tampon -- and even if she gets TSS, she has a 97% chance of survival.

Okay, the risk of TSS was higher in 1979, when the use of new materials by some tampon manufacturers led to an epidemic. The number of TSS cases at the peak of the epidemic was perhaps 12 per 100,000 menstruating women. That's still .36 deaths per 100,000 menstruating women, or about 1/3 the CDC's (under)estimated risk of death from abortion. This risk was still much smaller than the risk from abortion, but rightly considered enough of a risk to alert women and hold tampon manufacturers accountable.

Gosh, I wonder why the CDC sees fit to tell tampon manufacturers how to make and market and label their product, and to insist on inserts in the packages to warn women of the risks, but go overboard to assure women that the risker gambit of abortion is perfectly safe.

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