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Incidence of menstrual toxic shock dramatically decreased in the 1980's; tampon manufacturers, public awareness credited with the decline in reported cases during the last decade since the crisis occurred.

Incidence Of Menstrual Toxic Shock Dramatically Decreased In The 1980's

In a recent report received by INDA, the Federal Center for Disease Control (CDC) has concluded that the incidence of menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome has considerably declined in the past 10 years. The CDC notes that the steady decline in menstrual TSS can be correlated to steps taken by tampon manufacturers to lower the absorbency levels and alter the design of their products.

According to the CDC's report, there were 890 total cases of TSS reported in 1980, but only 61 cases reported in 1989, a 93% decline. Perhaps more importantly, though, in 1980. 38 deaths (approximately 5% of all menstrual cases) were attributed to menstrual TSS, but, since 1987, not a single death has been attributed to this cause.

INDA is encouraged by this dramatic decrease and applauds tampon manufacturers for their contributions to the decline.

Declines Are Real

CDC researchers say that the decade-long decrease in TSS cases is real in the sense that fewer and fewer cases are occurring, rather than fewer and fewer cases being reported.

To confirm this, the CDC conducted a "multistate active surveillance study" in which case-finding efforts were made to pinpoint the occurrence of menstrual and nonmenstrual TSS. Based on this study, the CDC concluded that TSS affected approximately one of every 100,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44 in 1987, a substantial reduction from similar studies conducted in 1980, which found that, on the average, nine of every 100,000 women between the ages of 12 and 45 were affected.

Furthermore, according to the CDC, the proportion of TSS cases associated with menstruation has also decreased considerably. For instance, in 1980 approximately 91% of all cases were associated with menstruation. By 1988, however, menstrual toxic shock accounted for only 55% of all the TSS cases detected by the CDC.

Tampon Manufacturers

Credited With Decrease

According to the CDC, the principal reason for the decreased incidence of menstrual TSS may be the lowered absorbency rates tampon manufacturers have incorporated into their products.

The CDC reports that in 1980, tampon absorbency rates ranged from 10.3-20.5 g and high absorbency products (those with rates above 15.4 g) were used by 42% of all tampon users. After the association between TSS and absorbency was recognized, however, manufacturers lowered the absorbency of tampons so that, by 1983, absorbency rates ranged from 6.13-17.2 g and the proportion of tampon users using very high absorbency tampons had declined to 18%.

By 1986, according to the CDC, only 1% of all tampon users were using very high absorbency tampons.

The CDC's report points out that manufacturers have also changed the composition of tampons since 1980. According to the report, tampons containing polyacrylate were withdrawn from the market in 1985 and products available today utilize cotton and/or rayon instead.

The CDC also notes that manufacturers now use package labels and inserts to describe the early signs and symptoms of TSS and warn consumers about the risks associated with tampon use. Tampon labels also encourage users to select lower absorbency products.

Public Awareness Credited;

FDA Regulations Cited

The CDC also credits increased public awareness for the decline of the incidence of TSS and points out that women today are more likely to seek medical care at the onset. In addition, the CDC notes that increased public awareness may result in fewer women using tampons continuously.

Standardized absorbency labels were also recognized by the CDC for giving tampon users a basis for comparing the absorbency levels of different brands. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued tampon absorbency labeling regulations late last year: those regulations were summarized in the December, 1989 issue of Nonwovens Industry.

All these factors, taken together, have resulted in the 93% decrease in the incidence of menstrual Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Peter Mayberry is the director of government affairs or INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. He works out of the Washington, DC offices of Keller & Heckman, INDA's legal counsel. This Capital comments column appears montly in Nonwovens Industry.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Mayberry, Peter
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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