Thursday, October 16, 2008

Consumer Reports on Birth

I was very excited to read Consumer Reports evaluation of labor practices. I was even more intrigued when I read that most of there recommendations come from the recently released "Evidence-Based Maternity Care: What It Is and What It Can Achieve" which was co-authored by Carol Sakala and Maureen P. Corry of the nonprofit Childbirth Connection. There's a common misconception in our culture that most of our medical practices were extensively tested and proven before they became main-steam maternity care.

The biggest example of this not being true is continuous electronic fetal monitoring in labor. It was thought that the baby's heart rate would show signs of distress so that emergency measures could be taken to improve babies' outcomes in cases such as cerebral palsy. Before any studies were completed, the technology spread to labor wards nationwide. Unfortunately, there has been no significant change in babies' outcomes since continuous EFM became standard for most hospital births. What has significantly changed is the rate of instrumental and surgical interventions in birth due to uncertain EFM readings.

For more examples check out Consumer Reports Maternity Quiz.

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