Wednesday, August 27, 2008

960 Mothers and Babies Exposed to TB in San Francisco (AKA Another Reason to Avoid Hospital Birth)

960 Mothers and Babies Exposed to TB in San Francisco Hospital

This story represents yet another reason to consider homebirth.

Hospital-acquired infections kill more Americans each year than car accidents, breast cancer and AIDS combined. They are the 4th largest killer in the US, with 1 in 20 hospital patients, or 2 million people per year, acquiring a hospital infection. ( Source: Journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases, Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

Perhaps the most horrifying truth about hospital-acquired infections is their primary cause: lack of handwashing.

It seems unthinkable that physicians wantonly allow the spread of infectious disease by not bothering to wash their hands between patients. Despite all their years of training, all their supposed knowledge on how disease is spread, they cannot be bothered to ensure the safety of their patients by faithfully washing their hands.

Even more concerning is the knowledge that they are not dealing with run-of-the-mill bacteria. Hospitals are breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant strains and other "superbugs", including 25 strains with no known cure.

Hospital-acquired infection is one of the hidden dangers of hospital birth, as the family of Julie LeMoult tragically realized.

Hopefully, the mothers and babies exposed to TB in San Francisco will fare better, although each and every one of those mothers and babies will have to undergo the stress of bloodwork and potential exposure to antibiotics, as their families worry over their health and well-being.

I do hope the hospital has realized that all the friends, siblings, and families of these mothers and babies were also potentially exposed to active TB, which significantly raises the number of people placed at risk.

All in all, a costly mistake in so many ways.

Yet Another Reason to Avoid a Cesarean Section

Cesarean Section Linked to 20% Greater Risk of Type I Diabetes

A new meta-analysis that examined 20 studies with over 1 million infants born vaginally and over 10,000 delivered via c-section found a 20% increase in the incidence of Type I Diabetes in those babies delivered via c-section.

After eliminating confounding factors of gestational age, birth weight, maternal age, birth order, breast-feeding and maternal diabetes, the researchers found that the 20% increase in Type I Diabetes could not be explained by any of these factors.

They theorized that the c-section itself could be to blame:

It is possible that children born by Caesarean section differ from other children with respect to some unknown characteristic which consequently increases their risk of diabetes, but it is also possible that Caesarean section itself is responsible," said author Dr. Chris Cardwell.

The author also stated:

"It's important to stress the reason for this is not understood, although it is possible the Caesarean itself is responsible, perhaps because babies are exposed to bacteria originating from the hospital environment rather than to maternal bacteria."

He offers some sage advice in conclusion:

"Not all women have the choice of whether to have a Caesarean or not, but those who do may wish to take this risk into consideration before choosing to give birth this way."

I have to wonder how prevalent Type I Diabetes will become if the current c-section epidemic isn't remedied. We'll soon have a generation of insulin-dependent mothers who require more high-risk maternity care with increased risk of c-section, having babies with increased risk of developing Type I Diabetes, and so on and so forth.

A scary thought, indeed.

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