Health Headlines: A Female Condom that Dissolves in the Body

Plus: A blood test for autism, and more health news.

There is a new female condom that does double-duty, and it’s the first of its kind. The condoms prevent pregnancy and STDs by dissolving inside the body and releasing preventative drugs after use. They are made from a nanofabric fiber, and created through a process called electrospinning, which creates fibers from the liquid inside of an electric field. It could be placed onto existing contraceptives or directly inserted into the body, like a vaginal ring. Last month, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the researchers almost $1 million to pursue the technology. Yes, this is happening. [University of Washington]

Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital developed a new blood test for autism according to a new study they published this week. The test could help diagnose the disorder when children are very young. The study is part of an effort to identify biological hallmarks of autism, a disorder that causes social problems and developmental delays and is now diagnosed in an estimated 1 in 88 children. [Globe]

One in four women suffers from depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue, according to a new report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Researchers interviewed 65,000 Americans ages 12 and up and found that about 23 percent of women experienced a mental illness last year, compared to 15.9 percent of men. [Women’s Health]

The flu season started early this year, and it’s bad. Just in case you haven’t noticed all the coughing and sniffling in your office, or all the empty cubes from people taking sick days, the CDC says that the past two weeks have indicated an early and strong flu season is ahead of us. If you haven’t got your flu shot, we wouldn’t chance it this year. [CDC]