Friday, February 5, 2010
photo by aka Quique
An increase in the number of (unnecessary) Cesareans means more women are dying, unnecessarily. Like so many other facts of modern life (don't get me started), a lot of people would like to see this information suppressed or distorted. But there it is. A striking quote from the study of maternal deaths in California: the current trend represents “the most significant spike in pregnancy-related deaths since the 1930s…it’s more dangerous to give birth in California than it is in Kuwait or Bosnia.” Don't think the problem is just California--they're just the first ones to be honest about it.
So much for the lifesaving benefits of modern medicine, so frequently touted when the safety of homebirth is questioned, as it often is in the media these days.
Kind of makes that live elective C-section on the Today show (the one the doctor characterized as "orderly, routine and scheduled for this timeframe, just the way these are supposed to go...as happens at countless hospitals all over the country,"--indeed) seem a little in poor taste. The doctor in this case notes that the Cesarean was scheduled--mind you, with no "trial of labor" first--"because in both of their families, babies run big and she was past her due date and those are two indications that a cesarean section is a lot safer than having a vaginal delivery."
I'm sorry, what?! With countless increased risks of morbidity and mortality to both mother and baby, there are VERY few situations in which a SCHEDULED ELECTIVE PRIMARY CESAREAN TO A HEALTHY WOMAN CARRYING A HEALTHY FETUS is "a lot safer than a vaginal delivery." As a matter of fact, her own professional organization notes that "the evidence does not support prophylactic [ie scheduled] Cesarean delivery for suspected macrosomia [large baby]," and studies have estimated that it would require over 1,000 such Cesareans to prevent one permanent birth injury (generally the concern over giving birth vaginally to a large baby). Even more sobering, if such a policy of rampant unnecessary Cesareans were enacted, for every 3.2 brachial plexus injuries (the most common birth injury, a kind of nerve damage to the arm) prevented, one maternal death would occur due to the complications of Cesarean. And I don't think there is a professional out there who could give you any kind of support for the statement that going past a woman's due date (or guess date, as it is sometimes known--because the 40-week mark is simply the midpoint in the normal "due month," which encompasses full-term deliveries anywhere from 38 to 42 weeks) is an indication for scheduled Cesarean.
Bad, bad medicine. And women are dying, literally, to bear it out. It makes me want to scream.
Meredith Viera (who gaily tells the woman that SHE had a Cesarean and so knows that she'll be "on her feet in no time") notes toward the end of the show, "They chose the right way to deliver, that’s sure… by c-section."
I'm sure glad I chose the WRONG way to deliver my 10-lb (2-oz) baby--one that isn't contributing to the rising toll of dying mothers.
photo by Vicious Bits
First BPA, and now it gets even better. We'll just call this the winter of our vindication.
As evidenced by our shift to a diet heavy in cream, lard, butter, cheese, half-and-half, and whole milk, we came to disbelieve the association between saturated fat and heart disease awhile ago. Up until now, despite the fact that the science said otherwise, this mentality was considered pretty out-there and fringe-y (mainly because nobody was looking at the science, just parroting what they were paid to say by special-interest groups). Well, this morning at the gym I saw on the news that the mainstream media has finally picked up on the fact that studies have shown that there is NOT a link between saturated fat intake and heart disease. While "scientists" still rush to tell people to "increase their intake of vegetable oils," nonetheless, at least the beginnings of the truth have been sounded.
Food Renegade is one of my favorite health writers, and she explains here and here and here why the "low-fat (especially low saturated fat) = healthy" mantra is a myth. While the media hasn't yet gotten this far, the next step in all this is to understand why high cholesterol doesn't "cause" heart disease--AKA the "lipid hypothesis." You can go here to read one researcher's explanation--that cholesterol IS present in the arteries of people with heart disease, but only in the same way that firefighters tend to be present at fires. As she puts it, it would be ridiculous to blame the firefighters for starting fires simply because they always show up there! Instead, the role of cholesterol in repairing inflammation (caused largely by sugar and free radicals) explains why high levels of lipids are found in those with damaged arteries. It also explains why drugs like statins lower cholesterol, but not mortality. And, it explains why so many people's ancestors, like mine, lived to a ripe old age "despite (as doctors would have us believe) eating eggs every day, spreading lard on their toast, etc etc. In fact, it turns out that those humble, traditional foods are probably the exact reason WHY they lived to a sharp, active old age.
For me, seeing this on TV this morning was especially timely because our hospital's health fair is today and I was planning to pop by after the gym to get my cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar checked. (Being part of a sea of people, with easy access to a number of exit points, is about as close as I like to get to the medical establishment.) I was practically jumping up and down with anticipation to see what the numbers would be, given my switch in the past few years from a lower-fat, vegetarian diet to a traditionally-based one that includes a lot of saturated fat.
Total cholesterol: 162
(Ideal: less than 200)
HDL ("good" cholesterol): 56
(Ideal: greater than 50)
LDL ("bad" cholesterol): 2.9
(Ideal: less than 3.5)
My random blood sugar was 86 (ideal: 70-14), reassuring given that I could be considered at high risk of diabetes based on my chunker of a baby. And finally, I was pleased to see that my blood pressure was normal because it has been elevated in the past (during nursing school, for example) and high blood pressure runs in my family. However, I was not surprised to see that it had normalized, as we have recently become believers in some of John Sarno's theories about psychosomatic links to pain, chronic illness, and hypertension, and feel that exposure to his work has helped us become healthier than ever. As was long the case for the contention that saturated fat does not lead to heart disease, Sarno's work has yet to be accepted by mainstream medicine--but to us, that's just one more reason to give it a closer look.