Medical Monday: Breaking News from the World of Obstetrics and Gynecology 

Medical Headlines took a bit of holiday break just like us, so today’s report will be brief. 

The Journal of Pediatrics recently presented research that has shown that many new parents use car seats incorrectly. The most common mistakes are straps too lose and chest clips placed too low. Anyone with doubts can just stop by any labor and delivery or pediatric clinic for an on the spot demonstration of the correct technique. 

In the good idea department, the American Journal of Public Health reports that young pregnant women  might get significant benefits with group prenatal care. The study groups ranged in age between 14-21 and received either traditional prenatal care or group prenatal care. Those receiving care in the group setting were 33 % less likely to have a small for gestational age baby. Personally I think it would be fun to instruct young women in a group setting. 

In the frustrating and dangerous section, Reuters has reported on Canadian study retrospectively comparing 11,000 low risk women who had home birth with 11,000 low risk women with hospital birth. Their endpoints were still birth or death. For these endpoints, there was no significant difference in outcomes, with the incidence at home being 1.5/1000 versus 0.94/1000 in the hospital. There are two glaring problems with drawing a conclusion from this: 

1. The incidence of stillbirth and neonatal death is small in both cases, so comparisons of even large numbers cases are relatively unrevealing.

2. We care about many more outcomes than still birth or neonatal death. For example, we care about near death of the baby or the mother, brain damage, post partum hemorrhage, retained placenta, postpartum infection, and so many more grave life altering things. The truth of the matter is that neonatal and perinatal medicine is so good now that no matter how badly a case is managed, modern medicine can almost always salvage it enough so that it does not qualify as a stillbirth or a neonatal death. Badly managed cases requiring intensive perinatal and or neonatal care that do not result in stillbirth or death are definitely things I should think everyone would want to avoid, but nonetheless are NOT on the radar of this study. For that matter badly managed cases that require intensive perinatal and or neonatal care that do not result in stillbirth or death but that DO result in bad outcomes like brain damage are not also reflected in this study’s conclusions. How helpful is that ? And yet, what is the Reuter’s headline ? “ Home Births May Be Safe For Low Risk Pregnancies “ Really ?

From the “ clues on the trail” department, we have the following two tantalizing tidbits. One, it turns out that there is some sort of association between gum disease and breast cancer. Those with gum disease have a 14% increased risk of the disease. Add smoking and it jumps to 20-30 % and that means smoking ANYTIME in the last 20 years. Yikes ! information like this could ultimately help us understand how breast cancer arises or persists. 

Two, Metformin, a common medication to help with ovulatory dysfunction, polycystic ovary syndrome, carbohydrate intolerance, and diabetes, “can block the release of toxins from the placenta when preeclampsia is present." Wow cool. Now someone smart needs to figure out why.

Ending with heartwarming news, the journal Pediatrics has presented research showing that “ kangaroo care” benefits premature and underweight babies in several measurable ways. Kangaroo care is prolonged skin to skin contact, and it is associated with half the risk of serious infection, 78% lower risk of low core temperature, and 88% lower risk of dangerously low blood sugar. 


So go hug your kid and have a happy new year.