The U.S. is not the safest place to give birth: Infant Mortality Rate Increase

After years of steady progress toward improved health in the U.S., there are signs of a downturn that may soon translate into movement in the wrong direction, according to a new report released here at the 132nd annual meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA).

The report, "America's Health State: State Health Rankings," uncovers key troubling trends: one including the first rise in infant mortality rates in four decades. The increase in infant mortality from 6.9 to 7.0 births per 1,000 puts the U.S. 28th internationally in infant mortality, as well as the finding that 14 states have preterm birth rates that exceed 13%.

This increase brings up much speculation and legitimate concern: If the US is so technologically advanced in health care why are we 28th internationally in infant mortality rate? Perhaps it is not technology that allows for safer, less complicated births...

The Rise in Technology

"Birth today has become a technological experience where a natural process has been replaced with artificial procedures and schedules. Without the necessary support during pregnancy, women enter the birth process with fear and are led to rely on drugs instead of their bodies' own natural strengths. These drugs weaken her body's ability to function and lead to even further interventions.

The more interventions used in birth, the greater the risk of injury to both the mother and baby. One such increased intervention is c-sections. During this surgical procedure, most women experience a great tugging sensation as the doctor is pulling on the baby. The struggle and pulling used to extract a baby out from the mother's small incision is often not seen by the parents.

This surgical procedure is becoming more common and therefore more accepted today. Mothers have been erroneously convinced that this procedure could actually be better than a natural process! Unfortunately, they are not aware of the dangers and resulting injuries associated with them.

Medical research on birth trauma tells us that, "Forceful pulling on the baby's neck particularly when combined with stretching of the spine. has been considered the most important cause of infant spinal and brain stem injury."

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed startling data. It reports that difficult labor itself and the method of delivery may lead to brain injuries and deaths in babies."

Is More Medical Providers Always Better?

The United States has significantly greater neonatal intensive care resources per capita, compared with 3 other developed countries, without having consistently better birth weight-specific mortality. Despite low birth weight rates that exceed other countries, the United States has proportionately more providers per low birth weight infant, but offers less extensive preconception and prenatal services. This study questions the effectiveness of the current distribution of US reproductive care resources and its emphasis on neonatal intensive care.

Should obstetricians see women with normal pregnancies?

A multicentre randomised controlled trial of routine antenatal care by general practitioners and midwives in Scotland compared with shared care led by obstetricians. The results concluded with these findings: Routine obstetric visits for women initially at low risk of pregnancy complications offer little or no clinical or consumer benefit.

Natural Birthing

" If left alone in labor, the body of a woman produces most easily the baby that is not interfered with... If left alone, just courage and patience are required." ~ Grantly Dick-Read, Childbirth without Fear: The Principles and Practice of Natural Childbirth

Informed Health Care Choices

Choosing our birth care provider is of utmost importance. As seen in the literature, those trained for crisis care may lead to further intervention and crisis.

"Under no circumstances do the California data for 1989 and 1990 allow the obstetric profession to uphold the claim that for the large majority of low-risk women hospital birth is "safer" with respect to perinatal mortality. Our data also suggest that even for the high-risk levels of our Study Population the natural approach (including transfers) produces the same perinatal mortality outcomes as the obstetric approach."

"Given no differences in perinatal mortality it must be noted that the natural approach shows significant advantages with respect to lower maternity care cost as well as reduced mortality and morbidity from unnecessary cesareans and other obstetric interventions, and significant benefits from avoiding negative long-term consequences from unnecessary obstetric interventions and procedures. These advantages of the natural approach are of such a large order of magnitude as to raise serious doubts concerning the appropriateness of conventional "obstetric" treatment for low-risk childbirth."

Before we decide, we must be informed!

Enhancing your Potential for a Safer, Easier more Natural Birth

Encourage your family members and friends to choose chiropractic care in their pregnancies. Doctors of Chiropractic work to restore a state of balance in the pregnant woman's pelvis creating an environment for a easier birth. Easier births need fewer interventions and are therefore safer for the mother and baby. Visit the ICPA web site to find a Doctor of Chiropractic who works with the special needs of pregnancy:

Night Time Births in the Hospital Show Increase Risks for Neonatal Deaths

The authors of this Swedish study found that infants born at night were 28% more likely to die during the first week of life than infants born during the day.

The authors add that nighttime birth was associated with an increased risk of intrapartum death, suggesting that nighttime factors may only affect early infant care, and not the deliveries themselves.

Although the reasons behind the increased mortality risk for nighttime births are unclear, lead author Dr. Olof Stephansson, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and colleagues note that previous research has suggested that increased fatigue among hospital staff may affect care.

Stephansson O, Dickman PW, Johansson AL, Kieler H, Cnattingius S   Time of birth and risk of intrapartum and early neonatal death   Epidemiology 2003 (Mar);   14 (2):   218-222

Women shun products with chemical linked to birth defects

Moser, 26, thinks her perfume may have something to do with the difficulty her 5-year-old daughter has in talking. And with her erratic spinning around the room. And with all the other symptoms that doctors suspect might indicate autism. But, then again, she wonders if her daughter's problems might be linked to nail polish, which Moser now uses only sparingly. Or her hand lotion. Or her other makeup, all of which is gathering dust on her bathroom shelf.

"I have cut down almost completely on makeup, much as I hate to say it, because I have a lot of imperfections on my face," said Moser, a lawyer who lives in Ohio and is the mother of two children. "But I am afraid it's going to do something to me or the kids."

Sally Jacobs   Scent of trouble surrounds cosmetics: Women shun products with chemical linked to birth defects   Boston Globe 10/16/2002

C-Section Tied to Risk of Allergies

Researchers recently unearthed another reason for parents to choose natural childbirth over elective Caesarean section (C-section): allergy prevention.  It seems that C-section delivery may predispose an infant to atopic disease, according to a paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology in Orlando, Florida.

Investigators in Finland analyzed umbilical cord blood from 16 infants delivered via elective C-section and 12 infants delivered vaginally. The study found that cord blood from babies delivered via C-section contained one-third the number of IgA antibodies, compared with controls. In addition, cord blood from infants delivered via C-section had less interleukin 6 and 12. Experts speculate that stress from C-section delivery initiates biochemical changes that make infants more susceptible to allergy. However, the study's authors stress that more research is necessary before a clear link may be established. Specifically, they note that studies involving older children are needed.

Sütas Y.  The role of mode of delivery in atopy: elective caesarean section delivery impairs the capacity to generate IgA and IL 12   American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, 551h Annual Meeting March 15,1999.

Premature Infants Delayed From IV Fluids

The New England Journal of Medicine recently reported that there may be unsafe levels of aluminum in the intravenous fluids used for infants born prematurely.  The study showed lower developmental test scores in infants using the standard IV fluid as compared to the group using IV fluid where most of the aluminum was taken out. They are unsure at this time how the aluminum gets into the solution.

Bishop NJ, Morley R, Day JP, Lucas A   Aluminum neurotoxicity in preterm infants receiving intravenous-feeding solutions N Engl J Med 1997 (May 29);   336 (22):   1557-1561

Birth Trauma
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care For A Nine-Year-Old Male With Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Depression, Asthma, Insomnia, and Headaches: A Case Report The onset of symptoms soon after the boy's delivery; the immediate reduction in symptoms correlating with the initiation of care; and the complete absence of symptoms within six weeks of care; suggest a link between the patient's traumatic birth, the upper cervical subluxation, and his neurological conditions. Further investigation into upper cervical trauma as a contributing factor to Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, depression, insomnia, headaches, and asthma should be pursued. JVSR July 12, 2003, pp. 1-11

Breastfeeding Reduces Child's Risk Of Cancer

The May issue of Parenting magazine reports that breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast cancer not only in the breatfeeding mother, but also in the child.  The Study showed a 25% reduction of breast cancer in women who were breastfed as infants.

Circumcision Doesn't Reduce Infection Rates

The April issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that circumcised men have a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases.  The study was conducted at the University of Chicago on over 1,300 men.  The most notable was found with chlamydia.  There were 26 cases of this disease and all of them were circumcised.

More on Birthing:

Visit our research section on birth trauma
Visit our section on Natural Birthing
Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy for Safer, Easier Births
The Importance of a Non-Invasive Birth
Birth - What are the Philosophical Options?
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