Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fathers at birth 'causes longer labour, mental illness'

I am inclined to think the ob/gyn below has a point. It's risky to rely on clinical experience as evidence but it would be a mistake to disregard it willy nilly. I am inclined to think that it should be up to the woman: The father should be present only if the woman definitely wants that

For those fathers who make it through without fainting, the miracle of childbirth is an unforgettable experience. But their presence could actually be harming the mother and child, a leading obstetrician warned yesterday. Michael Odent claims having a husband or partner in the room at the birth increases the likelihood of a Caesarean section, subsequent marriage break-up and even mental illness. He also believes it makes the labour longer and more painful because the woman is distracted by the father's anxiety.

Delivering children would be much simpler if women were left alone in the care of their midwife, he claims.

'The ideal birth environment involves no men in general,' he said yesterday. 'Having been involved for more than 50 years in childbirths in homes and hospitals in France, England and Africa, the best environment I know for an easy birth is when there is nobody around the woman in labour apart from a silent, low-profile and experienced midwife.

'In this situation, more often than not, the birth is easier and faster than what happens when there are other people around, especially male figures – husbands and doctors.'

More than 90 per cent of births in the UK have a male partner in attendance, studies show.

But Dr Odent claimed that having males present at the birth makes the mother tense, leading her to produce adrenaline. This slows her production of the hormone oxytocin, which is vital for childbirth, thus extending the length of the labour. 'If she can't release oxytocin she can't have effective contractions, and everything becomes more difficult,' said the French doctor, who runs the Primal Health Research childbirth charity in London. 'Labour becomes longer, more painful and more difficult because the hormonal balance in the woman is disturbed by the environment that's not appropriate because of the presence of the man.'

Sexual attraction between a couple can also disappear after the birth and lead to divorce, he says. Some men even end up suffering from a widely unrecognised male equivalent of postnatal depression. The 'masculinisation of the birth environment' has, Dr Odent argues, contributed to the number of women now having Caesarean sections.

He is due to outline his controversial views at the annual conference of the Royal College of Midwives in Manchester next month. But critics say there is little evidence to support his claims. Duncan Fisher, of the fatherhood advice website Dad Info, said: 'I think he's wrong and is not basing his argument on evidence either that it damages men or their relationships with mothers. 'Of course, not all men are nervous and a lot of women would be even more nervous without their partner there. Mothers want them there because it is not home.'

Mary Newburn, of the National Childbirth Trust, said there were now cultural pressures on men to attend the birth of their child. She added: 'There's such a feeling among women that "you got me into this, I have carried the baby for nine months and now I have to go through labour and birth, so the least you can do is be with me, and if you feel a bit squeamish, then tough". 'I wouldn't go as far Dr Odent in saying that men are always unhelpful in labour. But it's not men's right to be there. 'The most important thing is that the woman feels safe, secure and supported, so if she wants to have a woman around instead, that's fine.'


Teen net addicts at risk of mental health problems

Where's his proof? Epidemiology deals in correlations. It proves nothing. This is just an exercise in speculation motivated by the usual academic contempt for ordinary people

OBSESSIVE use of the internet could create a mental-health epidemic, with up to 10 per cent of adolescents at risk, a Sydney academic warns.

World studies have documented dangerous levels of "internet addiction" – computer use that interferes with daily lives – says Lawrence Lam, a behavioural epidemiologist at the University of Sydney and the Children's Hospital at Westmead.

In Greece and the US, studies found 8 per cent of adolescents could be classified as computer addicts. In China, where Dr Lam helped conducted recent research, the level of addictive computer use was 14 per cent. "I would say in Australia we would be following the same trend," he said.

Dr Lam said researchers were yet to agree on whether to label the problem as an addiction or a mental-health problem but it was expected the condition could be added to the next edition of the key reference book for mental-health professionals, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

He said people who played online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft, were especially prone to the condition, which he defined as an “uncontrollable and damaging use of the internet”.

Dr Lam said boys were 50 per cent more likely to be affected than girls. He advised parents to watch for sharp changes in how often or how long children were online.


Screening test ‘doubles the chance of pregnancy for women on IVF’

A genetic-screening test could more than double the chances of pregnancy for women who undergo fertility treatment, a study suggests. The first trial of its kind has found that two out of three women having in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) became pregnant if their embryos were checked for abnormalities before being implanted in the womb, compared with less than a third where the test was not used.

The technique, known as comparative genomic hybridisation (CGH), checks chromosomes in the developing embryo. Only those embryos with the best chance of becoming a healthy baby are used in fertility treatment. The £2,000 test is available in only a handful of private clinics in Britain. Researchers hope that it will become standard practice to help both NHS and paying patients to start a family.

Dagan Wells, a Senior Fellow in Reproductive Genetics at Oxford University who developed CGH, said that babies had now been born among a group of 115 American women whose embryos had been screened. The results will be presented this week at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s annual conference in Atlanta.

The women received IVF treatment at the Colorado Centre for Reproductive Medicine in the US, but cells from the embryos were flown to Dr Wells’s clinic in Oxford for analysis. The results showed that 66 per cent of women fell pregnant if CGH was used to select the best embryos for implantation — more than double the proportion (28 per cent) of women who fell pregnant at the clinic when the test was not used.

Dr Wells described the improvement in pregnancy rates as “astonishing”, and particularly impressive as many of the women were on their “last chance” at conceiving with fertility treatment — they were typically aged 39 with two failed IVF cycles behind them. “We were taken aback by the impact it had on the success rates,” Dr Wells said. “I think it’s at the point now that we can say with great confidence that we are seeing a positive effect of this.”

Up to one in six couples have difficulty conceiving a baby naturally and some 37,000 patients are treated at IVF clinics in Britain each year. During treatment, a woman’s eggs are collected, fertilised in a laboratory with her partner’s or a donor’s sperm and then implanted back into the womb. But many women suffer miscarriages or do not become pregnant at all if the resulting embryos carry an abnormal number of chromosomes. However, until now it has proved difficult to examine all the chromosomes in an embryo, meaning that screening techniques have produced limited success in weeding out those with little chance of leading to a successful pregnancy.

CGH solves the problem by allowing doctors to look at every chromosome in the developing embryo. It could be particularly useful for older women, who are more likely to produce eggs with the abnormalities. It could also be used to maximise the chances of success for younger women and couples paying up to £3,000 for each cycle of IVF treatment, and to check for genetic conditions such as Down’s syndrome.

More than 20 babies have so far been born in the United States as a result of CGH screening, Dr Wells added. Screened embryos so far have a live birth success rate of 80 per cent per cycle of IVF, compared with 60 per cent for women who did not have the test.

Last month fertility specialists in Nottingham used a similar technique — known as “array CGH” — to examine eggs rather than embryos. A couple who had failed with 13 IVF attempts produced a baby.


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