Smile, baby!

The use of prenatal ultrasounds rose 55 percent for both high-risk and low-risk mothers in Ontario, Canada, between 1996 and 2006, according to a population-based study of nearly 1.4 million women published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal this week.

More than one-third of women delivering “singleton” babies had three or more outpatient ultrasounds during their second and third trimesters. Nearly twenty percent of prospective mothers had more than four ultrasounds in the second and third trimesters.

Two ultrasounds are generally recommended in uncomplicated pregnancies -- one in the first trimester, and another in the second, the report states.

The researchers, from Toronto-area facilities, led by John J. You MD, ventured that their findings are consistent with evidence accumulating in other health fields that "interventions most beneficial to high-risk individuals are frequently directed at low-risk populations."

Reasons for this, in the case of obstetrics, include... "the practice of defensive medicine, the desire to reassure a patient that her pregnancy is progressing normally, patient demand and even the 'entertainment' value of seeing one's fetus."

First baby of 2010?

Who was the first baby to greet the world in 2010? Little Gulrose Abdullah, born to Zahra and Mehboob Abdullah right at midnight on Friday at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio, is certainly a contender for the U.S. title.

In Toronto, Canada, Eva Violante was born to mom Christiane Hachey and dad Alexis Violante at 12:00:01 a.m. at St. Michael's Hospital -- that's one second after midnight.

And let's face it, many more babies were born in the early minutes of the first day of the new decade, perhaps somewhere where no one was paying much attention to the time. Welcome to the world, little ones! May it always be kind to you.

Story lines

See the figure below on the right? It’s called a tangent bundle, which means something to mathematicians. To me, it’s a circle with many tangents, or lines that go off in different directions.

That is how I envision my new blog, Birth Story — a purposeful exploration bristling with side trips. When Birth Story, the book, comes out (sooner rather than later, I hope), I don’t want you, dear reader, to say, “Hey, I already read all this on her blog!” I want you to say, “This is so interesting! I didn’t know any of this!”

So the blog Birth Story will present stories, factoids, hypotheses and other musings that have come out of the research for my book but probably won’t appear in it. They will be interesting (I hope), relevant (more or less) and guaranteed to make us all smarter about the progress medical science has made in making it possible for women to survive difficult births.Tangent bundle

The central topic here at Birth Story is obstetrics, defined as “the art and science of managing pregnancy, labor and puerperium (the time after delivery).” For the most part, I will be investigating the approach Western mainstream medicine takes to birth.

In addition to sharing stories I have come across doing research for my book, I am also looking forward to commenting on current events, reviewing the odd book and responding to readers.

Let the blog begin!

Image by permission