Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Born in the USA


Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First by Marsden Wagner, M.D., M.S. It’s a little-known fact that the maternal mortality rate in the United States has been rising for the past 25 years, and both our maternal mortality and infant mortality rates are among the worst in the industrialized world. Wagner uses both hard scientific evidence* and lots of personal experience to wade through the tangles of modern obstetrical care. Doctors and scientists are in conflict, he says, because while a scientist must assume that everything is known, a doctor must assume that he or she knows what the problem is and how to treat it in order to get anywhere. A lack of oversight, love of technology, lack of knowledge of normal birth, and a fear of litigation combine to make hospital births downright dangerous for mother and child. ** After documenting these grim facts, Wagner goes on to paint a picture of an ideal maternity system run primarily by midwives, similar to those already existing in other countries, which have been established even without the approval of the obstetrical community. It seems like a long haul, but this book is a good start.

* For those interested in doing their own medical research, Wagner frequently cites the Cochrane Library, http://www.cochrane.org . This is a medical nonprofit working towards evidence-based medical practice. They synthesize and analyze medical studies, providing both their reports and the original studies in their on-line library.

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