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Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
Part of the reason why I love Downton Abbey is that it’s so real. No, of course there was no real-life Lady Mary, and the Dowager Countess never really asked, “What is a weekend?!” But the show is so well researched that I always feel I’m learning a bit of history while I’m getting my juicy TV fix. (Spoiler Alert! I will be divulging a major plot point, though won’t say which charatcer it affects.) This week’s episode was no exception, bringing maternal health into the spotlight when one of the characters died of eclampsia, a very serious complication of pregnancy that results from untreated preeclampsia.
Curious about what treatments were available for women suffering from preeclampsia in the times of Downton Abbey, I did a quick look into what maternal health practices were like back then. Turns out, preeclampsia wasn’t even a named disorder until 1920–the year this season is set in. Now I totally get why the attending doctor’s diagnosis of eclampsia was challenged on this week’s episode. Before 1920, eclampsia deaths were chalked up to “convulsions” and left at that, and even in 1920, since the identification of the disorder was so new, only the top doctors (like the ones the Crawleys have) were fully aware of it.
Luckily for moms-to-be everywhere, we’ve come a long way medically since the times of Downton Abbey. Although preeclampsia still affects five to eight percent of pregnancies according to the Preeclampsia Foundation–and yes, it still can be fatal–doctors know to screen pregnant women’s blood pressure and urine carefully at every office visit for signs of the disorder. Today, mild preeclampsia diagnosed pre-term can sometimes be held at bay through hospitalized bed rest, although many cases necessitate induced delivery to save the mother’s life.
Do you watch Downton Abbey? Were you as shocked by the eclampsia death as I was?
Image via PBS.
Thursday, September 13th, 2012
Whooping Cough Vaccine Loses Effectiveness too Fast
As the U.S. Faces its biggest whooping cough outbreak in decades, researchers are reporting that its vaccine dramatically weakens when a child gets the last round of shots at age 6. (via Wall Street Journal)
Medical Errors More Common if Children Have Chronic Illness
Research shows that 5% of children who are hospitalized with chronic health problems were affected by a medical error. (via Reuters)
All Large U.S. Cities Now Add Fluoride to Water
Portland, Ore. was the last large U.S. City to add fluoride to its water on Wednesday. Opponents believe public fluoridation is unsafe, but many dental experts say it is useful in fighting cavities. (via NBC News)
Child Survival Rates Making Rapid Progress
The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that child mortality has been brought down from 12 million in 1990 to 6.9 million in 2011. (via Reuters)
Low Doses of Inhaled Drugs Relieve Pain During Labor
Researchers report that low doses of nitrous oxide, also known as “laughing gas” can relieve pain during labor according to a new review of evidence. (via Reuters)
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012
Fertility Drugs More than Double Childhood Cancer Risk, Scientists Say
Children born to women who took fertility drugs are more than twice as likely to develop leukemia, French scientists announced Tuesday.
N.J. Father Catches Teacher Abusing Autistic Son
When Stuart Chaifetz, a father in Cherry Hill, N.J., was told his autistic son was acting uncharacteristically violent at school, he sent him to class wearing a hidden recording device that caught a teacher on tape bullying students.
Report: ‘Octomom’ Home Photos Spark Childhood Services Probe
Photographs leaked to TMZ by the former hairdresser of “Octomom” Nadya Suleman purport to show the mother of 14 and her children living in “squalor.”
How Bullying and Abuse May Age Children Prematurely
A hard life can age you, literally, researchers say. In fact, children who are exposed to violence at a young age show changes in their DNA equivalent to several years of premature aging.
A Child’s Helping Hand on Portions
After being bullied about his weight for years, Marshall Reid, a sixth grader from Sanford, N.C., decided to diet, and chronicled his efforts in a book, “Portion Size Me: a Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthy Family.”
When Water Breaks, Does Labor Need to Be Induced?
Pregnant women have long been told that when their water breaks, they should be ready to deliver the baby within 24 hours to avoid infection. But a small new study suggests labor may not always need to be induced.
Friday, March 9th, 2012
Report: USDA School Lunch Meat Contains “Pink Slime”
McDonald’s and other fast food chains may have gotten rid of “pink slime” from its burgers, but the gooey sounding chemical treatment that removes bacteria from meat is popping up elsewhere: Kids’ school lunches.
Polish Woman Saves Babies with 75 Days in Labor
A Polish woman lay nearly upside down in labor for 75 days to save the lives of her two premature babies after the first of three foetuses growing inside her was born prematurely and died.
Heart Screens for Kids Not Ready for Prime Time
Routinely giving children electrocardiograms could detect some cases of potentially fatal heart problems, but it would also cause many false-alarms along the way, a new study suggests.
Toddler’s Tantrum Gets Family Booted from JetBlue Flight
The subject of “appropriate behavior” for children on airline flights is back in the news again. This time it comes after a Rhode Island family was kicked off a JetBlue flight in the Turks and Caicos when the family’s 2-year-old toddler threw a temper tantrum before takeoff, NBC 10 of Providence reports.
Tea Parties with Dad May Result in Better Grades
Fathers who sip pretend tea, play school alongside stuffed animals or act out storybooks with their toddlers are doing more than establishing their “fun Dad” image. They may be giving kids an academic boost that lasts at least through elementary school, a new study of low-income families suggests.
Teen Sex Ed: Instead of Promoting Promiscuity, It Delays First Sex
On Thursday, the Guttmacher Institute, which conducts reproductive health research, came out with a study that suggests censoring sex ed won’t actually lead to teens safeguarding their virginity until they slip on a wedding ring. But sex ed classes, even the really G-rated ones, get teens to wait longer before they start having sex.
Friday, October 28th, 2011
Unless you have a scheduled C-section or are induced, you have no say over when your new bundle makes its debut, right? Maybe not, suggests a new study at the Yale School of Public Health. After examining U.S. birth stats over an 11-year period, researchers found a 5.3% decrease in spontaneous births on Halloween and a 3.6% increase in spontaneous births on Valentine’s Day. The theory? Cultural connotations surrounding the holidays affect a woman’s desire to deliver and they’re able to will themselves to go—or not go—into labor if they’re due around those days. Now, before you read any further, it should be noted that I’m a person who believes in mind over matter. I’m convinced that I’ve successfully fended off a cold or the flu simply by repeating, “Now’s really not a good time for me.” Is this likely the reason I didn’t get sick? No. And even I’ll admit that I was skeptical when I heard about the study. But might I prefer to have my baby on a day associated with hearts and flowers or not have him on one characterized by witches and ghosts? Sure. And if you end up delivering or not delivering on those holidays, who does it hurt to believe you willed it to be so? In my experience of staving off sickness, it’s a bit of a confidence boost! So, in light of the fact that Halloween is on Monday, I’m willing to get swept up in the supernatural and say, “that’s some powerful thinking, expectant mamas! I’m impressed.”
Friday, February 11th, 2011
Couples may be actively trying for an 11/11/11 due date, but the truth is that the coolest birth date of them all was taken, by none other than my own sweet new daughter Yael, born on New Year’s Day, 1/1/11.
Though she wasn’t due until 1/11/11, an awesome due date in and of itself, Stephanie had been having contractions on and off for a few days in late December. During a quiet New Year’s Eve dinner at home with our 4-year-old Adira and next-door-neighbor Claudia, Stephanie announced that this was It, the real thing, labor. As luck would have it, Claudia had previously agreed to stay with Adira when the time came, so we got our stuff together and headed out.
I’ll say this for a New Year’s Eve labor: the Labor & Delivery floor was quiet, and the nurses were in a festive mood (and wearing goofy New Year’s hats). They confirmed that Stephanie was, indeed, in labor. And things picked up for a while there. Contractions came quicker and were more intense. We were on our way.
Until it seemed like we weren’t. By morning on New Year’s Day, the contractions had all but stopped and we began to think we’d be having a Jan. 2 baby. By evening, we were dejected, exhausted, and wondering who would stay with Adira for that second night. Stephanie’s OB recommended a sedative so she could sleep for a few hours and regain her energy. He even suggested I go home to get some rest myself and sort out the childcare situation. “You have at least two hours, probably three or more,” he assured me. (more…)
Friday, March 19th, 2010
What if labor didn’t have to be so painful? What if it could actually be enjoyable? That’s the message that the authors of Orgasmic Birth (out in June) are trying to spread. Based on the hit documentary with the same name, the book hopes to inspire and empower women to maximize childbirth’s emotional and physical rewards.
What do you think of the orgasmic birthing trend? Yes, yes yes! or noooo way. Vote here!