Friday, June 20th, 2014
Pregnant women who are overweight may have an electrical “switch” in their uterine muscle that makes Cesarean section delivery more likely, according to new research published in the journal Nature Communications. The switch is believed to play a role in the progression of labor, and in overweight women is often found to be faulty. More from ScienceDaily:
It’s well known that strong rhythmic contractions of the uterus are needed to allow the baby’s head to dilate the cervix. However little was known about what controls these contractions until now.The groundbreaking research from Monash University, the Royal Women’s Hospital and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, show that a potassium ion channel called hERG in the uterus is responsible.
Acting as a powerful electrical brake, hERG works during pregnancy to suppress contractions and prevent premature labour. However, at the onset of labour a protein acts as a switch to turn hERG off, removing the brake and ensuring that labour can take place.
The team, led by Professor Helena Parkington from the School of Biomedical Sciences at Monash University, found that in overweight women the switch doesn’t work, failing to turn hERG off.
“We’ve known for years that women who are overweight are much more likely to experience complications during pregnancy and labour — but we didn’t know why,” Professor Parkington said.
“Pinpointing the mechanism is a major breakthrough, not only does it ensure a smooth pregnancy, but knowing when contractions kick in at more or less the right time, is crucial to our understanding of the labour process.”
Image: C-section prep, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, May 9th, 2013
The drug Pitocin, which is used to induce labor or keep labor going when it has slowed or stopped, has been found in a new study to have adverse effects on newborn babies. The study, which was presented this week at the Annual Clinical Meeting of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, was the first to report a negative effect of the widely-used drug.
The study was based on data collected from 3,000 women who gave birth between 2009 and 2011. The results showed that women who were given oxytocin (Pitocin is the most common brand name of this type of drug) were more likely to deliver babies who were unexpectedly admitted to the NICU after birth, and that those babies were more likely to remain in the NICU for more than 24 hours. Babies born from Pitocin-augmented labors were also more likely to score less than 7 on the Apgar test, the standard test that evaluates a newborn’s physical condition at one and five minutes after birth based on appearance (skin coloration), pulse (heart rate), grimace response (medically known as “reflex irritability”), activity and muscle tone, and respiration (breathing rate and effort). An Apgar score of 8 or higher is generally regarded as the standard for a baby in good health.
Researchers insist that they are not advocating for Pitocin to be eliminated from the labor room, but instead that the drug should be used only when strongly indicated, not, for example, for an elective labor induction.
“We don’t want to discourage the use of Pitocin, but simply want a more systematic and conscientious approach to the indications for its use,” Dr. Michael S. Tsimis, the study’s primary investigator, said in a statement.
Image: Woman with IV in hospital, via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 16th, 2012
Tara Tan, a manager who was fired from the famous Standard Hotel in the Meatpacking District of New York City, is suing the hotel for abuses including being placed in a hotel room to give birth without a doctor present. From Business Insider:
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Former hotel manager Tara Kimkee Tan, 42, claims in a recent lawsuit that she routinely worked 80 hours a week, was called old and fat, and was discriminated against because she wasn’t white, young, or childless, the New York Daily News reported.
But by far, the most shocking allegation is that when she went into labor at the end of her shift she was shuttled into a guest room to give birth without a doctor present and was then berated for having a baby at the hotel.
“The hotel offered no assistance to (Tan) while in labor, afraid that it would disrupt its Friday night club scene and partying,” she claims in her lawsuit.
Tan was fired from the hotel in August after four years there.
Image: Hotel bed, via Shutterstock
Thursday, August 2nd, 2012
Twin boys were born this past week on the road…two different roads, in fact. ABC News has the amazing story:
Siobhan and Bryan Anderson expected to welcome their twin baby boys next Friday, but Siobhan’s water broke at about 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning — nearly a full week early, Bryan said.
Heeding their doctor’s advice not to rush or panic, they took their time and got into the car at about 7 a.m.
Siobhan said she felt a big contraction, and suddenly felt the baby’s head, a few minutes after they pulled onto Southern State Parkway. She told her husband he was going to have to deliver the twins right there on the side of the road.
“She kept screaming, ‘The babies are coming,’” he said. “I was like, ‘I think we have time to at least get to the hospital.’”
Siobhan told Bryan to pull over near Exit 30, where he called 911….
“They were helping her out of the car and into the stretcher and that’s when Gavin was born,” he said. “Born right there on Southern State Parkway….”
Once Siobhan delivered the first baby, EMTs got her in the ambulance. The plan was to drive to the nearest hospital in time for her second son to be delivered.
Meanwhile, Bryan got back in his car and followed the ambulance, calling his brother-in-law to himself calm down.
“You don’t think at the time that this is the way they used to do it back in the day,” he said, adding that seeing his wife go through a surprise birth without pain medications was “very scary.”
But less than 10 minutes later, the ambulance pulled over on Wantagh State Parkway.
Confused, Bryan said he jumped out of the car. EMTs told him “baby number two” was coming, and let him in the back door of the ambulence.
At 7:46 a.m. Declan was born at 5 pounds, 15 ounces.
Image: Pregnant woman in car, via Shutterstock
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Friday, June 29th, 2012
The live birth of a child is a little bit less of a scientific mystery, thanks to a new video that was taken inside an open MRI machine. From MSNBC.com, which has posted part of the video:
The baby was born in November, 2010 at Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Germany; photos of the MRI images were published earlier, but the video was just published this month in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynocology.
The video shows the final 45 minutes of labor. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is safe for pregnant women and babies; the main hazard was the loud noise the machine makes. Mom wore headphones to protect her hearing, and the baby’s ears were protected by amniotic fluid — they turned the MRI machine off when the baby’s head started to come out.
To this day, many aspects of birth remain a medical mystery — one that researchers are hoping to unravel.
“The main reasons for the research are to answer the question of why a birth may stall and to visually capture the birthing process and any complications,” Dr. Christian Bamberg, who led the research team, told Reuters in 2010. “The images are spectacular. They show which movements the fetus makes in the birth canal, how its bones move and how its head changes shape during birth.”
Mom and baby were healthy, and they both left the hospital two days after the birth.
Image: Newborn baby, via Shutterstock
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