A study of German babies showed a higher risk of food allergies and diarrhea for those born by Caesarean section. The healthy, full-term babies were all exclusively breastfed for the first four months, during which time no such effect was seen. However, blood samples taken at 12 months showed that C-section babies were twice as likely as vaginally-delivered babies to have allergies to five common food allergens, including eggs, cow's milk, and soy protein. They were also 46% more likely to suffer from diarrhea during the first year.

These findings are consistent with previous research which demonstrated the importance of intestinal bacteria in the development of a healthy immune system. Babies who experience a normal delivery pick up vaginal, intestinal, and perianal microbes from their mothers. The risk to babies born by C-section includes not only deprivation of normal microbes, but also exposure to the unnatural microbial ecosystem peculiar to a hospital environment.
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, October 21, 2004 at 10:33 am | Edit
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...to make a man. Or at least it improves the odds significantly, according to a study by Dr. Karen Norberg, a clinical associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "When parents were living together before the birth of one child, that child was 14% more likely to be male than when the parents were not living together before the birth," she reported, according to an article in today's Guardian.

Charles Darwin noted similar findings in 1874, giving some credence to the article's statement that this "is certainly not an effect of any bias from parents against daughters." Otherwise one could easily imagine single mothers preferring to raise daughters; not everyone, but enough to skew the statistics. Sex-selective abortion is frowned upon, but that doesn't prevent it. And it can have a huge impact.

Just ask the Chinese.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 20, 2004 at 7:25 am | Edit
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A study of premature infants suggests that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord can reduce the need for blood transfusion in babies who are born too soon. A delay of only 30 seconds to two minutes was sufficient to provide significant benefit.

This news led me to search out a much more exhaustive discussion of umbilical cord issues, covering everything from conditions where immediate separation is necessary, to cord blood collection, to the "lotus birth," in which the placenta stays attached until the cord falls off the baby. Parents, midwives, and a few doctors speak out on issues that I had no idea were issues when I gave birth a quarter of a century ago. The concensus of this group is that delayed cord cutting is beneficial for full term babies (and their mothers) as well. Most of the debate seems to be between cutting the cord after the placenta stops pulsating, and waiting until the placenta is delivered.
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 19, 2004 at 7:35 pm | Edit
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Finally, researchers are beginning to pay serious attention to the frightening rise in allergies and asthma among children. For too long it has seemed to me to be something that was just accepted and dealt with. We can ban peanuts from airplanes and peanut butter from school snacks; we can turn once again to the drug companies in our search for relief for our children's problems; but better than palliative measures would be to discover and eliminate the cause of this scourge.

What has changed for children, that their immune systems are compromised? Why has peanut butter, that staple of childhood, suddenly become deadly? Could it be pollutants in their environment? Side effects of the greatly-increased number of childhood vaccines? The lack, for so many children, of the immune system boost provided by breastfeeding? Hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals unnaturally introduced into our food? The rise of day care and preschool, exposing infants and young children to a barrage of disease germs? Or—the "hygiene hypothesis"—is our children's environment too clean, too sterile, for proper development of their immune systems? (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, October 15, 2004 at 5:44 pm | Edit
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Research by a team of Italian researchers suggests a genetic link between homosexuality and fertility.

A study of 98 homosexual men, 100 heterosexual men, and their relatives (4600 people) indicates that female maternal relatives of homosexual men tend to have more children than female maternal relatives of heterosexual men. This was not true of female paternal relatives.

The lead researcher, Professor Andrea Camperio-Ciani, of Padua University, attributed to his 15-year-old daughter the idea that there is a genetic factor linked to both homosexuality and high birth rates. This, she suggested, could help explain the anti-intuitive persistence of genes, such as the so-called "gay gene" (Xq28) that apparently contribute negatively to the production of offspring. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, October 13, 2004 at 8:23 pm | Edit
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It looks as if this will be the first season in over 10 years that we won't get our flu shots. We started the habit long before flu immunizations were recommended to the general public. One year there was a particularly nasty strain that was sidelining its victims for about two weeks. We looked at our schedules, particularly those of our children, and decided that we didn't want to deal with the consequences of losing that much time. We considered my father—elderly and with respiratory problems, and thus vaccinated—who had been our regular February visitor since we'd moved to Florida. We'd get sick; he'd stay healthy. Seemed like an obvious choice to us. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, October 9, 2004 at 7:30 am | Edit
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While waiting in line at the grocery store today, I picked up a Reader's Digest and read an article about several traditional first aid measures that are no longer approved. Some were ones I've known for a long time, such as putting butter on burns; my mother knew half a century ago that cold water was a much better choice. However, I did not know that hydrogen peroxide is no longer recommended for cleaning wounds. Hydrogen peroxide kills germs, but apparently it also damages healthy cells, and inhibits healing. The proper way to clean a wound? With clean, running water.

Not that I consider Reader's Digest to be the ultimate medical authority, but I wish I could have read that article a year ago, before I had a small, basal cell carcinoma removed from my face. Following the dermatologist's instructions, I cleaned the wound frequently with hydrogen peroxide. It took a long time to heal, and left a nasty scar. Since I normally heal well and quickly, it's hard not to think there's a connection there. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, October 5, 2004 at 6:59 pm | Edit
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When they put the sugar back into baby food, I should have known it was a bad sign.

Progress is often a tidal creek, not a river. Advancement is not inevitable. We gain in one era, or in one area, and lose in another.

The late 1970’s and early 80’s were good years for having babies in America. Women had rediscovered that childbirth is a good thing, a normal function, and were dragging their doctors along with them. Hospitals scrambled to keep up.

We were the rebels, the revolutionaries. The children of the 60’s grown up. Our parents had been cheated by medical and cultural “advancement,” giving birth under anesthesia, flat on their backs on a delivery table, their legs unnaturally elevated. Labor was often artificially induced, and the cesarean section rate was high. Once born, the babies were whisked away to nurseries, tended by professional nurses and fed commercial formula. As soon as possible their diets included solid food—commercial baby food, loaded with sugar and salt to suit the mother’s taste. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, September 19, 2003 at 9:03 am | Edit
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