Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bringing on birth the 30s way 'is safer': Trial finds fewer side effects than with modern practices

A method of inducing labour that dates back to the 1930s has been found to work as well as modern treatments but with fewer side effects.

Researchers tested a mechanical catheter against a hormone gel to determine which was better at starting labour in women whose pregnancies were overdue.

Both were similarly successful in helping women to have natural births rather than surgical deliveries.

But the catheter method led to fewer complications, less distress for the baby and lower infection rates in mothers, says a report published in The Lancet.

Scientists compared the gel, containing prostaglandin E2 – the most widely-used way of bringing on labour – with the Foley catheter – invented in the 1930s by an American surgeon – where a balloon is inserted into the womb and then pumped up with a saline solution to imitate the onset of labour.

The trial was conducted at 12 hospitals in the Netherlands, and involved 824 women, half of whom were induced with the catheter and the rest with the gel.

Caesarean rates were similar in both groups, totalling 23 per cent for the Foley catheter versus 20 per cent for those using the gels.

But using the catheter reduced the number of operative deliveries caused by foetal distress, and led to significantly fewer babies being admitted to the neo-natal ward for special care – just 12 per cent compared with 20 per cent for those using gels.

There were just five cases of infection during labour among women in the Foley catheter group compared with 14 in the gel group.

Kitty Bloemenkamp, from Leiden University, said fewer side effects and less pain suggested ‘Foley catheters would be a woman’s preferential choice of labour induction’.

Patrick O’Brien, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: ‘It’s reassuring that this research shows both methods are equally effective. 'Women shouldn’t think they’re being offered an old-fashioned technique that’s inferior to more modern treatment.’


Obesity police vs. Tony the Tiger

Remember Hoodrat? He was the seven-year old who stole his grandmother's car for a joyride back in 2008. I don't know how many underage kids are stealing cars, but it's doubtful Hoodrat is an isolated case. Should the government step in to regulate automotive advertising to avert copycat offenses?

Of course not. But something similar is being proposed in Washington.

Regulatory agencies have formed a working group on obesity, and are proposing significant changes in how foodstuffs are marketed, targeted, advertised, and sold. The working group is comprised of representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Federal Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Trade Commission.

The interagency request for comments is subtitled "Preliminary Proposed Nutrition Principles to Guide Industry Self-Regulatory Efforts." Their argument goes something like this: "Reduce sugar, salt, and fats in foods marketed to kids or cease marketing to them." In other words, eliminate Tony the Tiger, Ronald McDonald, Toucan Sam, sports figures, and other characters pimping for foods deemed fattening and unhealthy or significantly change your products. Voila! No more fat kids!

Would this mean no more adorable polar bears in Coca-Cola commercials? No more Santa Claus and his sleigh-bells appearing in fast-food and candy ads?

In fact, many of the foods already accepted by the Womens, Infants, and Children program come under fire by the interagency group as too fattening. Oatmeal? Heck, even noted diabetic and kindly grandfather icon Wilford Brimley promotes that stuff.

Could it be that the advertising of food blamed for obesity in Hoodrat's generation is also the same medium responsible for prompting the pudgy young gangsta to swipe his granny's car? If so, shouldn't the advertising of vehicles be closely monitored as well?

To answer that last question - yes, but only monitored by the industry that took it upon itself several years ago to pull a Guy Ritchie-directed commercial that featured youngsters behind the wheel of a high-flying Corvette. It was a cool ad. Cute and expensive, too. But it only aired during the 2005 Super Bowl, and was yanked after viewer complaints convinced GM's marketing gurus the negative fallout was too great to continue airing it.

One wishes a similar campaign had been waged against that creepy Burger King mascot long before the fast-food chain put him out to pasture earlier this year. But, in fact, our nation's fast-food restaurants have been offering healthier menu selections for years.

And yet the forces of government presumably must battle the rising tide of blubber in our school-age children, blaming advertising for promoting unhealthy caloric intake and inactive lifestyles. This begs the question: Do overweight teachers and school administrators also promote obesity by making it appear as normative? What about fat parents? Should government regulators - pardon the pun - weigh-in on these fronts as well?

Where does a well-intentioned government stop its incursions into every nook and cranny of the body politic? Even Gov. Snyder is waging war against obesity.

I'm all for promoting healthy eating and robust living, but perhaps instead of government mandating a choice between substituting ingredients and altering advertising, perhaps they should allow the industry and the broadcasters airing their commercials to resurrect the old Schoolhouse Rock animated shorts. I'm already trying to find a word that rhymes with "orange."


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