Monthly Archives: June 2007

Caffeine and pregnancy

I was recently in a great discussion about caffeine and pregnancy with some mothers, and decided to put all the links I scrounged up for them together in one blog entry. I was not a regular caffeine consumer when I was pregnant with S. I craved coffee the entire pregnancy, however. I worked within a few steps of the cafe’ at the health food store, and I guzzled organic decaf during the pregnancy, only to stop once he was born. Other than one craving for mustard, that was my only food issue with S. I used to joke that he would be a barista or own a coffee farm one day.

I did drink caffeine when I was pregnant with Z, however. I was working full time and commuting almost 2 hours a day at that point. Also, they had coffee pots brewing organic coffee at all times at my workplace. My job consisted of sitting in front of a computer all day (kinda like what I do now, for no money) and that would get boring after a while. Anyway, point is, I did drink coffee occasionally. I drank caffeinated tea every single day, and still do, as anyone who knows me will testify to my omnipresent cuppa.

I followed the recommendations of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who has been lobbying for caffeine labels for years, and kept it under 300 mg a day for the most part. I do agree that the caffeine contents of foods (pdf) should definitely be labeled. (Side comment: Uhhhh, Jolt makes caffeinated gum?)

According to this free journal article entitled Caffeine Consumption During Pregnancy and Fetal Growth (pdf) , there are significant associations between low birth weight (LBW) and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR) and heavy caffeine consumption.

So, consume in moderation.


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Great article on vaccines

I am so happy with this article on vaccine safety and the autism link. One thing that makes me like it so much is that it is from a mainstream site. Also, it is full of good, reasoned, practical considerations, not anger or judgment. I am SO sick of being harassed online by people who compare questioning any vaccines to letting your kids play in traffic. (I don’t talk to anyone “in real life” about vaccines much other than my children’s pediatrician.) I am sure parents who vaccinate are sick of being told they are injecting poisons into their kids. Good discussion is hard to find.

I respect the argument (not found in this article, but a remnant of past discussions I have had online about vaccines) that it is an important public health decision (herd immunity) but I disagree that nonvaccinators are relying on vaccinating friends to keep unvaccinated children safe. Everyone is able to analyze the risks surrounding them and make their choice. Everyone who lives somewhere with extremely low prevalence of a disease (say, smallpox) can decide whether that vaccine is still necessary (no). We all might not come to the same conclusion, but as usual, many people think we should. I would hope that every parent who does decide to vaccinate their children, which is the vast majority of them, still wants these issues to be examined, tested and debated every day. Vigorously. Our children’s health depends on it, and many many more children are exposed to vaccines and what is contained in them than the diseases they are supposed to prevent. They deserve at least as much attention.

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Not so much brave

No big surprise, has a wonderful article about home birth. I really appreciate this one in particular and chose to link to it because it is honest and personal. It explains the way this couple went from thinking home birth was a reckless and selfish fringe political statement to the safest way to have their baby. Also, the article is written with painful honesty, not the holier-than-thou judgment that I honestly think is rare but happens.

Here is a great quote about how hard it is can be to communicate with people who subscribe to the conventional medicalized view of birth:

“While some family and close friends expressed concern and apprehension at our decision, the response of strangers or acquaintances was often neither concerned nor supportive, but some variation of “Oh my gosh, you/she must be brave; I/we could never do that.” This response was maddening because it negated the only important reason for our decision to have a home birth: We had decided that it was the safest approach for Windy and the baby. Our decision had nothing to do with bravely forgoing anesthesia or making a political statement. But it seemed that any response I might make, however polite, appeared to be a critique of the other person’s choice of a hospital birth.”


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Hold the lipstick

Wow, this report says that women who wear makeup every day may be absorbing five pounds of extra chemicals a year, many of which are untested, and some are even undisclosed on the label.


Two questions:

1. Why is it that people say it is the natural health industry that is the only one that is “unregulated”?

2. What the hell is eyelash conditioner?

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Wow, I guess I rock!

RockinI got tagged as a Rockin’ Girl Blogger by my buddy Paige at 42. Cool cool, I must try to actually pass this one along. My nominees are going to be from what I read, which are mostly political and medical blogs. Most of these people don’t know me at all, so let’s see if they care.

1. My new favorite: Our Bodies, Our Blog, the companion blog to the book and website Our Bodies, Ourselves put out by the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective.

2. And old favorite, Rachel at Women’s Health News. The latest entry on the P-Mate was one of the few I have read out loud to my roommate, but I subscribe and read all of her posts.

3. I also love Midwife with a Knife. One day she, the author of The Blog That Ate Manhattan and I are going to open a birth center / bed and breakfast (in my fantasy world).

4. Badbadivy. Love her. Read her at The badbadivy experience, her wonderful new site Home Ec 101 and at Curbly. Yes, she is a busy beaver! And rockin’.

5. I guess for my last one I will nominate a group: Feministing. Definitely a rockin’ site, definitely women oriented.


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Been a posty kind of day

I am doing some research, and came across the classical and modern versions of the Hippocratic oath. The oath is not required for licensure as a physician, but some med schools still use it.

Translation from the Greek by Ludwig Edelstein. From The Hippocratic Oath: Text, Translation, and Interpretation, by Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1943.

Hippocratic Oath — Classical Version

I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfill according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:

To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it – without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.

I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.

I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.

Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.

What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.

If I fulfill this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.

—Wow, I never knew it was so misogynistic!—–

Hippocratic Oath&emdash;Modern Version

Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

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And I thought the cesarean trends in the US were scary

A 15 year old performed a cesarean section in India. Under the supervision of his licensed doctor of a father, who could have performed the operation himself, but chose to have his son show off his talents. And he was so proud, he filmed it and shared the proof. He apparently has been training him for 3 years. Since he was TWELVE.


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