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Abortion Doesn’t Cause Mental Illness

Here’s yet another study showing that abortion does NOT lead to future psychiatric problems. From The New York Times:

The New England Journal of Medicine has taken on one of the pillar arguments in the abortion debate, asking whether having the procedure increases a woman’s risk of mental-health problems and concluding that it doesn’t. In fact, researchers found, having a baby brings a far higher risk.

The study, by Danish scientists (and financed in part by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, which supports research on abortion rights), is the most extensive of its kind to date. It studied 365,550 Danish women who had an abortion or gave birth for the first time between 1995 and 2007. Of those, 84,620 terminated their pregnancies and 280,930 gave birth.

In the year after an abortion, 15.2 out of 1,000 sought psychiatric help (defined as admission to a hospital or clinic), which was essentially the same as the rate of that group (14.6 per 1,000) in the nine months before the abortion. In contrast, among women who went on to give birth, the rate at which they sought treatment increased to 6.7 per 1,000 after delivery from 3.9 per 1,000 before.

Why do first-time mothers have a lower overall rate of mental illness both before and after pregnancy than those who choose termination? The researchers suggest that those who have abortions are more likely to have emotional problems in the first place. Compared with the group who give birth, those who have abortions are also statistically more likely to be struggling economically, and to have a higher rate of unintended pregnancies.

And why do first-time mothers seem to nearly double their risk in the year after giving birth? That is likely to have something to do with the hormonal changes, decreased sleep, and increased stress of parenting, which women who terminate do not experience.

Can we please talk about something else? Like maybe how to help these young women with the issues and unmet contraceptive needs that led to unplanned pregnancy in the first place?

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

Article Boasts New Birth Center’s “Luxury Hotel” Amenities

Here’s the Minneapolis Star Tribune headline: “Buffalo birthing center has the latest amenities.” An excerpt:

Starting in August, new mothers will have a chance to multi-task in style in Buffalo, Minn.

The local hospital is unveiling its new birth center, where every patient room will be equipped with an iPod docking station, a flat-screen TV and DVD player, a soaking tub, rocking chair and refrigerator — oh, and a place for the baby to sleep, too.

Buffalo Hospital has spent $7.1 million to turn its old labor and delivery unit into a state-of-the-art facility to appeal to a new generation of patients.

At maternity wards around the country, that increasingly means catering to patients and families as if they’re at “a luxury hotel,” as the Buffalo Hospital website puts it.

And some smart readers have reacted. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

“The Thought” Of Your Child Having Diabetes

It wasn’t until yesterday that I thought “The Thought” for the first time.

She had a very wet diaper in the afternoon. And even though she had nursed for a long time and even though she seemed (and is) healthy and very strong, I still thought about taking out my meter and pricking her heel myself. Just thought it for a second.

I didn’t follow through, though. I didn’t let “The Thought” stay for more than a flicker, as I immediately finished changing her diaper and started singing her a song about the power of tiny spoons. (Don’t ask — my songs never make any sense.) I shook “The Thought” off the same way I shake off the thought every time I wonder if my niece or nephew might have dipped into my autoimmune grab bag. I don’t allow my brain to go there. It’s not denial, but feels more like a protective measure taken by my mind, protecting my psyche from letting “The Thought” permeate my daily life. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

New Mothers Who Don’t Follow Breastfeeding Guidelines Cost Us Billions

Poor compliance with breastfeeding recommendations costs the nation at least $13 billion each year, with nearly all of the cost related to infant morbidity and mortality, according to a comprehensive economic analysis.

If 90% of new mothers followed guidelines for six months of exclusive breastfeeding for their children, an estimated 911 deaths would be prevented annually, said authors Melissa Bartick, MD, MSc, of Harvard Medical School, and Arnold Reinhold, MBA, of the Alliance for the Prudent Use of Antibiotics, both in Boston. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

In The News: Boosting Disease Prevention And Unethical TV Doctors

An article in the New York Times this week looks at a raft of new public health initiatives passed by Congress that are aimed at boosting disease prevention. Examples include requiring restaurants with at least 20 locations to include nutrition information on their menus and mandating employers with at least 50 employees to allow new mothers to express breast milk at work. In addition, Medicaid will now cover smoking cessation counseling for pregnant women and Medicare beneficiaries will be eligible for an annual physical. The initiatives are expected to eventually save money by decreasing the country’s chronic disease burden. (New York Times)

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University recently did a study applying physicians’ ethical codes to the conduct of the fictional doctors on “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House, M.D.” Perhaps to no one’s surprise, TV doctors are behaving very badly. As the abstract of the study states, both shows feature “egregious deviations from the norms of professionalism and contain exemplary depictions of professionalism to a much lesser degree.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, Journal of Medical Ethics)

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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