Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Perhaps you are not old enough to remember the "Dragnet" series that ran on radio and television or the movie of the same name with Tom Hanks. But what may be familiar to you is the tag line "just the facts ma'am".

When faced with the facts of childbirth today in the US, this litany of remarkable and regretable stats might make you ill:

1) the US dropped 1 level to #28 in the world for maternal morbidity and mortality.
2) the US cesarean section rate is 31.1%. And based on a study which looked at US birth certificate data, there is a significant number done under the designation of "no indicated risk". Nearly 5% of cesareans in the US are under this category.
3) infant mortality and morbidity in the US is not improving.
4) induction rates are at an all time high, often resulting in premature births.
5) risks of cesareans for both mother and baby are not being explained sufficiently to mother so they can make informed choices.
6) the only countries with higher cesarean section rates are Italy (37%) and South Korea (35%) among industrialied countries.

Has the US become the "McBirth" Society? Are we in such a hurry to live that we fail to value life?

Are we women so "tired of being pregnant" that we would rather visit our premature baby struggling in the NICU than wait a few more days until their lungs mature?

Have we become so complacent with surgery due to all of the television shows talking about plastic surgery that we see cesarean as another elective surgery?

These are tough questions. But then again, these are tough times for babies.
When will we begin to care about them?

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