The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA


Bonding and Baby Birth Trauma

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

See also:

Subsections on this page:

Ongoing Research


If you had a birth experience that involved humiliation, please contact research Belinda Diamond about her research project, "Humiliation in the Medical Setting and Its Relationship to PTSD".  The e-mail domain is yahoo.com, and her username is diamondbelinda.  Please make sure to put the words "birth trauma" in the subject line.

Achieving respectful care for women and babies [Summary] - Evidence is growing about the disrespect and abuse women can face when accessing maternity care in countries at all levels of development. Such abuse includes physical abuse, humiliation and verbal abuse, unconsented clinical care, lack of confidential care, and abandonment or denial of care.

Podcast and Webinar Resources

This American Life episode 317: Unconditional Love - This episode provides a nice summary of the early research showing that babies need parental affection for healthy development.  They start with Harry Harlow's early experiments with monkeys and then discuss attachment therapy for a Romanian orphan, followed by the story of a family's struggles with their son's autism.

Myrna Martin
is a Pre and Perinatal Therapist; she shares information through  her blog and webinars.


If you have any interest in attachment, bonding, birth trauma or just increased sensitivity to newborns and infants, you'll love the APPPAH conference.  I almost felt more supported here than at a midwifery conference!  These folks REALLY appreciate what midwives and doulas do to help babies. If you've been feeling any kind of burnout, going to an APPPAH conference is a sure-fire cure.

Check their web pages for more information.

Birth's Hidden Legacy (How Surprising Beliefs From Infancy Limit Successful Child and Adult Behavior, Volume 1 by Annie Brook (2014)
Understand puzzling behaviors in a new way! Annie Brook provides an excellent map of how shock and trauma freeze body sensations in experiences related to birth, prenatal, and post-birth events. Birth's Hidden Legacy is a 2 volume set, easy to use, and a great reference tool for therapists, and includes case studies, birth and prenatal theory, body interventions, play therapy tips, and props for therapists.

She supports her readers to understand the psychological components of belief and identity. She includes psychological theories from Jungian and other body-based modalities to support true understanding of somatic interventions.

Birth's Hidden Legacy has simple layout and easy reference and pictures. Learn how prenatal therapy often succeeds where other treatment methods have failed. Annie Brook is committed to helping therapists to be efficient and effective, and how treating at this “precognitive brain state level” can produce superb results.

A Mother's Feelings for Her Infant Are Strengthened by Excellent Breastfeeding Counseling and Continuity of Care
Anette Ekström, PhD, RNM and Eva Nissen, PhD, RNMTD
PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 2 August 2006, pp. e309-e314 (doi:10.1542/peds.2005-2064)

CONCLUSION. . . . guaranteed continuity of care strengthened the maternal relationship with the infant and the feelings for the infant.

The Baby Bond: The New Science Behind What’s Really Important When Caring for Your Baby, by parenting expert and pediatric nutritionist Dr. Linda Folden Palmer, is a breakthrough guide that reveals the many unknown, exclusive benefits of a responsive, nurturing parenting style that begins with this precious connection.

"The extensively documented Baby Matters... could serve as an attachment parenting primer, covering breastfeeding, bonding, and cosleeping. Palmer also pays a lot of attention to food allergies and immunity protection. " --Mothering magazine

Making Childbirth a Normal Process by Dr. Lennart Righard, researcher in Delivery Self Attachment Video.  This article discusses birth from the baby's perspective and focuses on how a return to normal birth can ease the baby's experience.

INFANT-PARENT MENTAL HEALTH PROGRAM - A CEU and Certificate Program at Children's Hospital - Harvard Medical School

Indigo essences from Helios are designed to particularly help children.

Must Read - The Annual New Baby Issue 2004 of Attachment Parenting

This booklet is terrific - it is truly a treasure! : The Annual New Baby Issue 2004 of Attachment Parenting: The Journal of Attachment Parenting

It includes some wonderful articles:

Bonding with Your Newborn by William Sears, MD - This is the best, most accessible summary of attachment and bonding that I've seen.

The Benefits of Co-Sleeping

The Chemistry of Attachment by Linda F. Palmer, DC (reprint)

A New Look at the Safety of Breastfeeding During Pregnancy by Hilary Dervin Flower, MA

What is Attachment Parenting

Wendy Anne McCarty, Ph.D., R.N.,  (Wondrous Beginnings) A Pioneer in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology; she offers some articles for free download.

Midwives are in a unique position to reduce birth trauma and facilitate improved mental health for both the mothers and babies whose births we attend.

I loved reading The Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce. It really helped me to understand how damaging it is to a newborn to be separated from the mother anytime shortly after birth.  [Reaching Beyond Magical Child - six, one-Hour videos, is now available from Touch The Future.]

APPPAH - Association for Pre- & Perinatal Psychology & Health - They've also got their own list of links to related sites, an extensive list of relevant books and videos and a Resource Directory Of Practitioners and Programs.

Ten Moons Rising - Holistic Family Education & Resource Center.  They have an excellent links list.

OBSOLETE - I hope they re-appear!!! - OPPERA - The Oxford Prenatal and Perinatal Education Research and Awareness Trust (was oppera.org.uk)  provides education and skills for parents and professionals who want to help in the development of their children from preconception to the end of the first year of life.  It also provides therapy for those who have suffered the effects of prenatal and /or birth trauma. [This is a British organization.]

Bonding With Baby Before Birth (from WebMD) - Making a connection with your unborn child can strengthen the bond you share, make you feel closer, and enrich you and your baby's lives.  Talk to the baby. Say goodnight before you go to bed, good morning when you wake up, and talk to it throughout the day. . . .

BEPE - Birth and Early Parenting Educators - We are a group of experienced professionals with a common belief that healthy, happy families are the indispensable cornerstone of a healthy, happy society. We support early parenting, conscious bonding, and holistic childbirth through public educational events, private classes and therapeutic services.

Chiropractic Care for Babies and Children - Chiropractors are specialists at helping to correct physical birth trauma.

Long-term effects of pain in infants.  You can also view Related Articles
Porter FL, Grunau RE, Anand KJ
J Dev Behav Pediatr 1999 Aug;20(4):253-61

Pain and stress have been shown to induce significant physiological and behavioral reactions in newborn infants, . . .  There is now evidence that these early events not only induce acute changes, but that permanent structural and functional changes may also result.

Review of Bonding: Recent Observations That Alter Perinatal Care by Kennell and Klaus

Indexed Articles From the Primal Psychotherapy Page

Great set of links about birth-related psychology and emotions

Santa Barbara Graduate Institute - Advanced degrees in Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology & Somatic Psychology

The Infant-Parent Institute

People are starting to pay more attention to the effects of prenatal and birth experiences on the psyche. Here are some of my favorite sites about birth trauma:


It's an oldie but a goodie - Magical Child by Joseph Chilton Pearce is an essential eye-opening book for a conscious, conscientious parent.  The discussion of a child's unfolding as movement of the known into the unknown is the key to avoiding birth trauma for the baby.

Key articles from a collection on Primal Health by Michel Odent:

1. Primal Health Research: A New Era in Health Research

2. Understanding Health: From Fetal Vulnerability to Adult Adaptability

3. Vaccinations: Prevention of Disease Can Be a Cause of Ill Health

4. Is Breast Best? Beyond the Immediate Impassioned Responses

5. The Primal Period of Spiritual Heroes

6. The Long Term Consequences of How We Are Born

7. Gaps in Primal Health Research

8. How Effective is the Accordion Method? Evaluating our Preconceptional Programme

9. The Future of Suicide

10. The Rise of Preconceptual Counseling Vs The Decline of Medicalized Care in Pregnancy

11. Comments on the Concomitant Epidemics of Cesareans and Childhood Asthma

12. After the MMR Fuss: Autism From A Primal Health Research Perspective

13. Is Promoting Breastfeeding as Useless as the Promotion of Love?

14. Mercury Exposure During the Primal Period

15. Womb Ecology

16. Genesis of Sexual Orientation: From Plato to Dorner

17. Eye-to -Eye Contact: From a Primal Health Research Perspective

18. The Hidden Male Postnatal Depression

19. Is Falling in Love Pathological?

20. The Function of Joy in Pregnancy

21. Dispelling the Disempowering Birth Vocabulary

Michel Odent has a new book out, The Scientification of Love.  'The title of this book might have been: "How the capacity to love develops?"'  [Also reviewed and available at Amazon.com.]

It's a rather astounding premise - that cultures specifically interrupt the sensitive bonding period at birth to make it less likely the child will love their mother or nature.

There's an excerpt printed in the most recent Midwifery Today.

Here's the summary:  "In most known societies, until now, it has been an advantage to moderate and control the different aspects of the capacity to love, including love of nature, and to develop the human potential for aggressiveness.  The greater the need to develop aggression and the ability to destroy life, the more intrusive the rituals and cultural beliefs in the period around birth have become.

How Aphrodite, Buddha and Jesus Developed Their Capacity to Love - 3rd September 2002 - In this article, first published in Midwifery Today, Vol 58, 2001, Michel Odent looks at the phenomenon that he describes as the "scientification of love" and explores the question of what determines the capacity to love.

The first hour following birth - 4th September 2002 - In this article, first published in Midwifery Today, Vol 61, 2002, Michel Odent catalogues 12 perspectives on the first hour following birth.

Birth Trauma Bibliography from An annotated bibliography on Development, Behavior, and Psychic Experience in the Prenatal Period and the Consequences for Life History compiled by M. Maiwald - The bibliography contains > 1200 assorted literature references covering prenatal matters including biological, medical and psychological topics which eventually influence later life. An Amazing Site!  [Ed. This title is translated from the German, and I strongly suspect that "Psychic" is meant to be Psychological.]

Keeping the Connection: Preventing Depression, Addiction, and Violence - A book/website in progress by Meryn G. Callander and John W. Travis, MD, MPH

In 1982 - 89 Elena Tonetti was one of the leaders of the "conscious birth" movement in Russia.  She worked closely with Igor Charkovsky, organizing birth camps at the Black Sea where babies were delivered with wild dolphins. Elena is now in the Marin area, offering workshops for birth trauma release.  Birth into Being is available from the dealingwithgravity.com web site.

The core idea is not to create little Mozarts or Einsteins - although results show higher intelligence in stimulated infants-. The video Make Way for Baby! foster the kind of loving environment that makes children feel more secure exploring, learning, and expressing themselves.

Pain Perception Comes Early - Newborns -- even premature infants -- appear to be as sensitive to pain as adults are, and early painful experiences may have long-term effects - [Medscape registration is free.]  Or you can go directly to the full-text article: Procedural Pain in Newborn Infants: The Influence of Intensity and Development by Fran Lang Porter, PhD*, Cynthia M. Wolf, PhD*, and J. Philip Miller, AB

Early Trauma Treatment and Trainings - If you're a parent of an infant who's had a difficult birth, we can work with your baby to release whatever painful experiences he/she had. (This is from Terry Larimore's site - she teaches workshops at the APPPAH conference.)  Her web pages references a terrific paper - The Vulnerable Prenate - by William Emerson, Ph.D.

Evergreen Consultants- website on attachment disorders and therapy.

Epidemiology of Pain in Neonates from Medscape (registration is free) - "Newborn infants . . . are regularly subjected to painful procedures such as heel lancing and other invasive procedures. . . . Many neonates apparently endure unacceptable levels of pain during hospitalisation."

Babies Remember Pain by David B. Chamberlain Ph. D

Babies are Conscious - David Chamberlain, PhD from the Cesarean Voices web site.

Newborn Life: Key Controversies in the Last Decade by David Chamberlain, Ph.D.

BIRTH REVISITED by Stephen Khamsi, Ph.D. - About the value of therapy for birth trauma.

Reactive Attachment Disorder - It's Time To Understand . . . - Attachment Disorder is a condition in which individuals have difficulty forming gloving, lasting, intimate relationships.  The words "attachment" and "bonding" are generally used interchangeably.  Attachment Disorders vary in severity, but the term is usually reserved for individuals who show a nearly complete lack of ability to be genuinely affectionate with others.  They typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn how to trust.

Craniosacral Therapy

Study Bodywork & Craniosacral Therapy With Carol Gray - Carol is also a midwife and teaches craniosacral therapy to midwives.

Registered Craniosacral Therapy Practitioner

CSTA-NA (the Craniosacral Therapy Association of North America) is a non-profit professional organization supporting fluid-tide or biodynamic style craniosacral therapy. They have lots of good resources, including a FAQ page.

AquaCranial(R) Therapy - An Exclusive Ocean Treatment Originated & Developed by Rebecca Goff & the Cetaceans. - what a lovely form of therapy!

These are all the bio-dynamic model of CST. They are a two year study program:

www.castellinotraining.com -- My teacher, Ray Castellino. teaches in Europe as well as in the US

www.michaelsheateaching.com -- teaches in Europe

Colorado School of Energy Studies - www.energyschool.com

www.Upledger.com is class by class. He has classes all over the world. You have to take three levels prior to taking the pediatrics course. The Peds course is not as comprehensive and intensive as the above.

The College of Cranio-Sacral Therapy

Prenatal Emotions

New Study Finds Babies Cry in the Womb – "Even the Bottom Lip Quivers"

See a video of the fetal cry provided by The Age newspaper.

Fetal homologue of infant crying.
Gingras JL, Mitchell EA, Grattan KE.
Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed. 2005 Sep;90(5):F415-8. Epub 2005 Apr 27.

Four behavioural states are recognised in the human fetus and are comparable to those of the neonate: 1F (quiet sleep), 2F (active state), 3F (quiet awake), and 4F (active awake). State 5, or crying, is not considered to have a fetal correlate. In a study assessing the effects of exposure to tobacco and cocaine during pregnancy on fetal response and habituation to vibroacoustic stimulation, what appears to be the fetal homologue of crying was observed. These behaviours were seen on ultrasound, and have been captured on video recordings and include: an initial exhalation movement associated with mouth opening and tongue depression, followed by a series of three augmented breaths, the last breath ending in an inspiratory pause followed by an expiration and settling. This is the first report/video documenting these behaviours and suggests the possibility of a state 5F.

Prenatal Music and Audio Bonding - Womb Song - Lullabyes

Renee Smith's music is a wonderful combination of more traditional lullaby styles with more nurturing lyrics.  My personal favorite is her Angels & Mermaids CD, with her Lullabies For My Little Angels a very close second.  Her Seeds & Songs To Make 'em Grow is a wonderful collection for "older children", i.e. toddlers and pre-schoolers, not to mention their parents!  I don't know what it is about this music, but it always makes me so happy!  Cheaper than therapy and lots more fun.

Free MP3 Lullabies from Andy Peyton [select Lullabies]
These are lovely lullabies you can carry with you to help soothe yourself during pregnancy and to provide a calm atmosphere for breastfeeding and soothing baby.

Ellen Roos - Passion Flower Music - Songs that see and stir, love and forgive, lift, bless and free! Her first album is Lavender and Morning Sun.

Words convey messages. Loveabye Lullabyes messages are intended to tell the child he/she is special, unique, wanted, beautiful, rare, and enormously loved.

Babies Use Their Own Names To Help Learn Language - 4/11/05

A baby's understanding of language may begin with its own name, which a baby uses to break sentences into smaller parts so it can learn other words, according to new research by Texas A&M University psychologist Heather Bortfeld, who studies language development in infants and children.  . . . "Babies appear to use highly familiar words - their names for example - to anchor their early learning of other word forms, and if their name is the first word they recognize, then we're tapping into the process at the earliest stage possible," she explains.

Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music

Importance of Prenatal Sound and Music - from the APPPAH site.

Their past journals have some related articles:

"The Importance of Prenatal Sound and Music" by Giselle E. Whitwell, R.M.T. [As of Spring, 2001, she was teaching a course at the College of Extended Learning, CSU Northridge about "Prenatal Music for the Expectant Couple "]
"Perinatal Stress Reduction, Music and Medical Cost Savings" by Fred J. Schwartz, M.D.
"Singing Lullabies to Unborn Children: Experiences in Village Vilamarxant, Spain" by Rosario N. Rozada Montemurro

Center for Prenatal Music  - Giselle E. Whitwell, Music Therapist and Birth Doula, created the Center for Prenatal and Perinatal Music in order to empower and support women in their intrinsic ability to give birth naturally. This web site has much information on music as a tool for pregnancy bonding and labor support.

A Good Start? A Sound Beginning! and Classical Music and Children

A Sound Beginning - Recordings of human speech and music from both inside and outside the womb. [This site was inaccessible Feb. 2001, but I'm leaving this in here in the hopes that anyone who comes across the site will please let me know where it lives now.  It's a wonderful site!  Thanks.]

The MusicPediatrics Home Page

Dr. Beth's Songs Children Want Their Parents To Hear - Zero to Three

Dr. Beth's Songs Parents Want Their Children to Hear - Three and Up

Any non-morbid non-violent baby lullaby suggestions? 

Oh, goodness, there are some wonderful lullabies, both old and new.

I'm looking in my copy of "Rise Up Singing", and it lists 37 different lullabies.  Some of my favorites are:

Some other favorites are: One of my favorite new ones is:

        Lullabye (Like a Ship)

        Like a ship in the harbour, like a mother & child
        Like a light in the darkness I'll hold you awhile
        We'll rock on the water, I'll cradle you deep
        And hold you while angels sing you to sleep

There are a lot of beautiful new CDs available - look in both the children's section and in the "women's music" section.  One of my favorites is "Shaina Noll - Songs for the Inner Child". It has both "All Through the Night" and "Like a Ship".

There's also a terrific tape (possibly available now as CD) called "A Child's Gift of Lullabyes", which I've seen at children's toy stores and book stores.  One side has nine sung lullabyes, and the other side is the instrumental versions. The tape comes with printed lyrics so you can learn the songs easily.  I love this tape!

Yes, by all means, sing to your babies.  Sing to them before they're born.  Sing with them, even before they're born. Sing to them and dance around.  Singing was one of the most important components of the program in France pioneered by Michel Odent, author of "Birth Reborn".  They held regular group sings for all the families.

Prenatal Communication

I just learned about Haptonomy (the Science of Affectivity) and their process of prenatal and postpartum "accompaniments":

I have found some English-language web pages about Haptonomy:

Information about pre and postnatal haptonomic accompaniment of parents and their child - The ante- and postnatal haptonomic accompaniment promotes the development of affective bonds between the child, the father and the mother. It enables them to have an loving relationship whilst the child is still in his mother's womb.

A Journey to Oms by David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D. - This is probably the best English-language description of Haptonomy, although there may be some loss of meaning in
the cultural translation.

Confirming Affectivity, the Dawn of Human Life - The pre-, peri- and postnatal affective-confirming.  Haptonomic accompaniment of parents and their child.
Neuroendocrinology Letters ISSN 0172–780X
This article gives a short introduction to the science of Haptonomy and more specially to the application of its specific phenomenality of psychotactile affective contact and interaction during prenatal and postnatal life and during childbirth. The neurophysiological implications and the influence of this approach on the pain threshold are briefly mentioned, as well as  psychological influences on the postnatal development of the child. Finally, there is a critical commentary on the use of the ultra-sound scan.

Newborns' Cry Melody Is Shaped by Their Native Language
Mampe B, Friederici AD, Christophe A, Wermke K.
Curr Biol. 2009 Nov 4.

Summary - Human fetuses are able to memorize auditory stimuli from the external world by the last trimester of pregnancy, with a particular sensitivity to melody contour in both music and language [1,2,3]. Newborns prefer their mother's voice over other voices [4,5,6,7,8] and perceive the emotional content of messages conveyed via intonation contours in maternal speech (“motherese”) [9]. Their perceptual preference for the surrounding language [10,11,12] and their ability to distinguish between prosodically different languages [13,14,15] and pitch changes [16] are based on prosodic information, primarily melody. Adult-like processing of pitch intervals allows newborns to appreciate musical melodies and emotional and linguistic prosody [17]. Although prenatal exposure to native-language prosody influences newborns' perception, the surrounding language affects sound production apparently much later [18]. Here, we analyzed the crying patterns of 30 French and 30 German newborns with respect to their melody and intensity contours. The French group preferentially produced cries with a rising melody contour, whereas the German group preferentially produced falling contours. The data show an influence of the surrounding speech prosody on newborns' cry melody, possibly via vocal learning based on biological predispositions.

Praying for Your Unborn Child by Francis and Judith MacNutt

What might happen if expectant mothers and fathers learned to pray for their babies even before birth? Sharing their conviction that 'Jesus really wants to consecrate your child, to fill him with love and bring him into His Father's family,' the MacNutts give examples of the wondrous difference that prayer makes. Also available on audio cassette.

One of my friends related some information from this book, about "rocking the baby" inside the womb.  The instructions are to put hands on either side of the womb and first send your thoughts to the right hand until the baby's head comes and nestles into the hand.  Then send your thoughts to the left hand until the baby's head nestles into the hand.  And so on.  You can use this as a form of prenatal communication and to help position the baby, and apparently their book talks about how you can untangle the cord from around the baby's neck this way.  They say you can also use it to help during the birth to encourage the baby to come out.

DREAMING OF BABY - When it comes to predicting the gender of an unborn baby, mothers just might know best. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University interviewed 104 pregnant women who had chosen not to learn their babies' gender through prenatal testing. The mothers-to-be were asked to foretell whether they were carrying a girl or boy and to describe whether their guess was based on folklore, the way they were carrying the baby, a dream or just a feeling. Of the women who based their forecast on a feeling or dream, 71% were correct, and all the women who cited a dream were right. Researchers concluded that there is much about the maternal-fetal connection to be explored.  [Time Magazine - JUNE 26, 2000 VOL. 155 NO. 26]

The Importance of the Pre-natal Period

Pre-Birth Communication Treasury of Resources

Birth and Bonding International, with information about Opening a Birth and Bonding Center in Your Community

Fetal Psychology by Janet L. Hopson (Source: Psychology Today, Sep/Oct98, Vol. 31 Issue 5, p44, 6p, 4c.)
"Behaviorally speaking, there's little difference between a newborn baby and a 32-week-old fetus."

There's a new book, The Miraculous World of Your Unborn Baby by Nikki Bradford that incorporates prenatal psychological development and bonding as part of "A Week-by-Week Guide to Your Pregnancy".  This is now my current top recommendation about the changes of pregnancy.  Overall, it's outstanding.

 Some particularly interesting points:

I especially love the following paragraph at the end of p. 123:
"But perhaps the best news of all is that birth memories are something all future parents can influence positively, for their own children.  We do not have to repeat the mistakes previous generations have made.  We can, by making the transition of newborns into our world as gentle, loving, and respectful as possible, help ensure that their first -- and lasting -- impressions are good ones."

It's only by contrast with the overall excellence that the following points stand out as questionable:

"If a pregnant animal is subjected to a hostile, competitive, anxiety-producing environment, she will give birth to an infant with an enlarged hindbrain, an enlarged body and musculature, and a reduced forebrain.  The opposite is equally true:  If the mother is in a secure, harmonious, stress-free, nurturing environment during gestation, she will produce an infant with an enlarged forebrain, reduced hindbrain, and a smaller body."  [The Biology of Transcendence by Joseph Chilton Pearce.]

Advances in Fetal Awareness

12-week-old 'walks' in womb - New scans reveal unborns' complex behavior at early stage

Birth Memories

Mind Of Your Newborn Baby by David Chamberlain - Noted psychologist David Chamberlain brings together important strands from 30 years of scientific investigation to present the surprising competence of newborns, including their sensory alertness, engaging qualities of personality, and remarkable skills of communication. In the afterword he explores early memory, infant pain perception, and the life-changing power of early parent-infant bonding. Originally published as Babies Remember Birth.

The Outer Limits of Memory by David B. Chamberlain, Ph.D.

"From physiologists we can learn that during the first hour after birth the levels of noradrenaline (a hormone of the adrenaline family) in the blood of the baby are very high (20-30 fold as compared with later life).  This implies that a special zone of the primitive brain (the 'locus coerulus') which has strong connections with the olfactory bulbs is highly activated.  This explains how noradrenaline facilitates olfactory learning." [from The Scientification of Love by Michel Odent, MD, p. 56]

Your Amazing Newborn

This subsection has been moved into its own section.

Separation of Baby from Mother

See also: Kangaroo Care and Skin-To-Skin Contact

Stress For Newborns Could Weaken Immune System Later In Life

June 21, 2004 - Intense traumatic events, such as maternal separation, occurring early in the life of an infant may weaken its immune system, making it more susceptible to viral infections later in life that could trigger multiple sclerosis, reveals research at Texas A&M University.

There were a number of related articles on this subject.  Here's one, but be sure to check the Related articles.

Alterations in chemokine expression following Theiler's virus infection and restraint stress.
Mi W, Belyavskyi M, Johnson RR, Sieve AN, Storts R, Meagher MW, Welsh CJ.
J Neuroimmunol. 2004 Jun;151(1-2):103-15.

Restraint stress (RS) applied to mice during acute infection with Theiler's virus causes corticosterone-induced immunosuppression. This effect was further investigated by measuring chemokine changes in the spleen and central nervous system (CNS) using an RNase Protection Assay. mRNAs for lymphotactin (Ltn), interferon-induced protein-10 (IP-10), MIP-1 beta, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) and TCA-3 were detected in the spleen at day 2 pi, but not in the brain of CBA mice infected with Theiler's virus. Ltn, IP-10 and RANTES were elevated in both the spleen and the brain at day 7 pi, and were significantly decreased by RS in the brain. RS also resulted in decreased inflammation within the CNS.

Michel Odent on Mother & Baby separation:

Oxytocin is more than just the hormone responsible for uterine contractions. When it is injected into the brain of a mammal, even a male or virgin rat, it induces maternal behavior, i.e., the need to take care of pups. One of the greatest peaks of oxytocin a woman can have in her life is just after childbirth, if the birth has occurred without any intervention. It is also necessary for the "milk ejection reflex." In fact, oxytocin is involved in any episode of sexual life, and both partners release oxytocin during intercourse. It is even involved in any aspect of love and friendship: when we share a meal with companions, we increase our levels of oxytocin.

Morphine-like hormones, commonly called endorphins, also play important roles in the birth process. Up to the birth of the baby, both mother and fetus release their own endorphins, so that during the hour following birth they are still impregnated with opiates. It is well known that opiates induce a state of dependency. When mother and baby haven't yet eliminated their endorphins and are close to each other, the beginning of a deep bond is created. In fact, when sexual partners are close to each other and impregnated with opiates, another kind of bonding may result that follows exactly the same model as the bonding between mother and baby.


It is not only the mother who is releasing hormones during labor and delivery. During the last contractions, the fetus is also releasing a high level of hormones of the adrenaline family. One of the effects of this is that the baby is alert at birth, with eyes wide open and pupils dilated. Mothers are fascinated by the gaze of their newborn babies. It seems that this eye-to-eye contact is an important feature of the beginning of the mother-baby relationship, which probably helps the release of the love hormone, oxytocin. Both mother and baby are in a complex hormonal balance that will not last long and will never happen again. Physiologists today can interpret what ethologists have known for half a century by studying the behavior of animals: where the development of the capacity to love is concerned, there is a critical, sensitive period just after the birth.

From The APPPAH Newsletter - Feb., 1999:

Michel Odent forwards this item of interest:

French legislators proposed a law to protect human and canine populations against aggressive dogs.  One part of the proposal forbids the trade of dogs before the age of 7 weeks.  This is based on the knowledge that early separation from the mother tends to make certain breeds dangerously aggressive.  We hope that this law about Canis Familiaris will inspire questions about the consequences of early separation from the mother in the species Homo Sapiens.

[Early separation of the mother and infant and psychosocial development. I. Theoretical considerations].
[Article in Italian]
Domenici R, Papini MA
Pediatr Med Chir 1988 Sep-Oct;10(5):505-9

Equine Maternal Behavior and its Aberrations has an interesting discussion of the way in which maternal aggression towards intruders in the birth process may inadvertently be re-directed at the newborn.

Birth Bonding as the Foundation for Attachment Parenting

I'm a student teacher and as an assignment I have to write a paper/essay on how the first two years of life affect developmental psychology in the child.  One of the variables to be discussed is attachment parenting.  I'm looking for scientific sites/papers rather than personal anecdotes. 

There's an association devoted to this topic - APPPAH - the Association for Pre- & Perinatal Psychology & Health

Their site also has an extensive bibliography.

Klaus and Klaus have written a terrific new book called Your Amazing Newborn, which contains those great photos of a brand-new baby crawling up the abdomen to find the breasts and attach itself to start suckling.  Their previous book, Bonding: Building the Foundations of Secure Attachment and Independence may be more relevant to your needs, but it doesn't have all the great pictures.

New information confirms what many suspected: mothers carry cells from their babies in their bloodstream many years after birth, and offspring carry cells of their mother as long as 40 years after birth.  According to Dr. J. Lee Nelson, an autoimmune specialist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle, the great majority of women who have had pregnancies - even those ending in miscarriage or abortion - probably carry detectable fetal cells.  Cells from a woman's baby tend to show up in the right kidney and ovary, while cells from the mother's mother tend to show up in bone marrow; cells from both show up in the lung, spleen, gut and liver.  More info at www.scleroderma.org. [News Gazette - Champaign, IL, May 9, 2003]

Birth Trauma From Induction

Dr. William Emerson, Ph.D. In Conversation with Helena McDanile about birth trauma and Anna Maria Pierce, local intuitive healer
[Tuesday May, 12th 2009 from Parents Connect]

Birth Trauma From Cesarean

See also: Microbial Colonization of Newborn Skin and Gut - Cesarean Effects

The Traumatic Hidden Effects of Cesarean with Karen Melton, prenatal therapist - an audio presentation

Mothers who deliver their babies naturally are more responsive to their cries than those who deliver by C-section, finds a study in the October Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (Vol. 49, No. 10). Yale Child Study Center psychiatrist James Swain, MD, PhD, compared fMRI brain scans from mothers two to three weeks after giving birth. He found that when they heard their children's cries, those who delivered vaginally showed greater activity in brain regions that regulate emotion and empathy and contribute to habitual thoughts and behaviors. With the number of C-sections performed hitting record highs, these findings may shed new light on parent-infant attachment and risks for postpartum depression, Swain says.

Cesarean birth tied to increased risk for type 1 diabetes By Cher Thornhill
01 September 2008
Diabetologia 2008; 51: 726-35

MedWire News: Individuals born by Cesarean section are about 20 percent more likely than those delivered by other methods to develop childhood-onset type 1 diabetes, an extensive meta-analysis shows.

The association between cesarean section and type 1 diabetes could not be explained by potential confounders, including gestational age, birth weight, maternal age, birth order, breastfeeding, and maternal diabetes, the researchers report.

Caesarean section is associated with an increased risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of observational studies.
Cardwell CR, Stene LC, Joner G, Cinek O, Svensson J, Goldacre MJ, Parslow RC, Pozzilli P, Brigis G, Stoyanov D, Urbonaite B, Sipeti? S, Schober E, Ionescu-Tirgoviste C, Devoti G, de Beaufort CE, Buschard K, Patterson CC.
Diabetologia. 2008 May;51(5):726-35. Epub 2008 Feb 22.

CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: This analysis demonstrates a 20% increase in the risk of childhood-onset type 1 diabetes after Caesarean section delivery that cannot be explained by known confounders.

Delivery Method Affects Brain Response to Baby’s Cry - NYTimes 9/5/08

Maternal brain response to own baby-cry is affected by cesarean section delivery.
Swain JE, Tasgin E, Mayes LC, Feldman R, Todd Constable R, Leckman JF.
J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2008 Sep 3.

A range of early circumstances surrounding the birth of a child affects peripartum hormones, parental behavior and infant wellbeing. One of these factors, which may lead to postpartum depression, is the mode of delivery: vaginal delivery (VD) or cesarean section delivery (CSD). To test the hypothesis that CSD mothers would be less responsive to own baby-cry stimuli than VD mothers in the immediate postpartum period, we conducted functional magnetic resonance imaging, 2-4 weeks after delivery, of the brains of six mothers who delivered vaginally and six who had an elective CSD. VD mothers' brains were significantly more responsive than CSD mothers' brains to their own baby-cry in the superior and middle temporal gyri, superior frontal gyrus, medial fusiform gyrus, superior parietal lobe, as well as regions of the caudate, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and pons. Also, within preferentially active regions of VD brains, there were correlations across all 12 mothers with out-of-magnet variables. These include correlations between own baby-cry responses in the left and right lenticular nuclei and parental preoccupations (r = .64, p < .05 and .67, p < .05 respectively), as well as in the superior frontal cortex and Beck depression inventory (r = .78, p < .01). First this suggests that VD mothers are more sensitive to own baby-cry than CSD mothers in the early postpartum in sensory processing, empathy, arousal, motivation, reward and habit-regulation circuits. Second, independent of mode of delivery, parental worries and mood are related to specific brain activations in response to own baby-cry.

How Natural Childbirth Can Heal Birth Trauma for Older Siblings

Henry’s Dream - "Henry’s dream is to be born from his Mommy."  Leilah McCracken writes about planning an upcoming birth as a healing and blessing event for her older children, especially Henry, born by Cesarean  - just one of the many excellent articles from her Birth Love Columns in the Online Birth Center News.  [Ed: birthlove.com is not available at this time.]

Somebody asked about "betraying" an older sibling by having a better, less traumatic birth with a subsequent pregnancy.

Before my HBAC, I was afraid of this too.  I was afraid that I'd have even more guilt and negative feelings about my c-secs and the sons' postpartum days than I already did.  What I didn't realize was what a GIFT the HBAC would be to both my sons.  My oldest had such an awful and horrific time adjusting to his baby brother's entrance into this world (awful c-sec, unnecessary NICU 4 day stay, etc.) that it took him 12 mos just to find a new kind of "normal" for himself.

My daughter's birth was relatively quick (boys slept while I labored all night long, left at 7 am, came home for lunch and a new sister!) and it was very healing for everyone.  NO complications, just a peaceful rejoicing at home for the family.

The boys reacted like it was perfectly normal to walk into their living room and see a new baby being weighed and measured!  LOL  After we all got to know one another and sang "happy birthday" (w/ cupcakes!), we all cuddled down together for a long nap in our bed.  What a healing gift.... I knew that my sons felt like it was some sort of re-birth for them, as well.

Victorious Birth After Cesarean Cesarean and Traumatic Birth Support  ~A site for women who want to reclaim their birth and truly heal spiritually and emotionally after a cesarean.

Fetal Lacerations from Cesarean

These are studies done on rats, but they address very specific issues about hormones and Cesarean section:

Birth insult increases amphetamine-induced behavioral responses in the adult rat.
El-Khodor BF, Boksa P
Neuroscience 1998 Dec;87(4):893-904

The pattern of behavioral changes observed indicates that, as adults, animals born by Caesarean . . . show heightened behavioral responses to amphetamine, in comparison to vaginally born animals. These findings highlight the sensitivity of dopamine pathways to variations in birth procedure and add experimental support to epidemiological evidence implicating birth complications in the pathophysiology of disorders involving central dopaminergic neurons, such as schizophrenia.

Long-term reciprocal changes in dopamine levels in prefrontal cortex versus nucleus accumbens in rats born by Caesarean section compared to vaginal birth.
El-Khodor BF, Boksa P
Exp Neurol 1997 May;145(1):118-29

Birth Trauma From Anesthesia

Study Links Anesthesia To Learning Disabilities - NPR report by Joseph Shapiro [relevant section is 13:48 into the podcast]

Children who have had multiple surgeries under general anesthesia by the age of 4 may be at a higher risk of developing learning disabilities, according to a new study by scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Robert Wilder, a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist, says his study was motivated by recent research on baby rats and other young animals. Those studies, conducted in the last several years, show that exposure to anesthesia at a very young age can kill off brain cells. But results in rodents don't necessarily translate to humans.

"The initial reaction of the pediatric anesthesia community was, 'This must be wrong, we've been giving anesthetics to kids for years and we don't see a big problem,''' Wilder says. He, too, was skeptical.

. . .
Wilder speculates that anesthesia could cause learning problems in young children because it travels to the brain at a time when the brain is developing rapidly.

"If you're exposed to these drugs at just the right time in your life," he says, "you have a lot more cell death than you otherwise would — and some of that is in the hippocampus, which is part of the brain that is involved in learning new things and it, therefore, does not work as well throughout the rest of your life."

. . .

Wilder's study, and others, have created a sense of urgency to answer questions about the effects of anesthesia on the brain development of infants and young children. Earlier this month, the federal Food and Drug Administration announced a collaboration with Mayo and other clinics to support further research.

Early exposure to anesthesia and learning disabilities in a population-based birth cohort.  [Full text]
Wilder RT, Flick RP, Sprung J, Katusic SK, Barbaresi WJ, Mickelson C, Gleich SJ, Schroeder DR, Weaver AL, Warner DO.
Anesthesiology. 2009 Apr;110(4):796-804.

BACKGROUND: Anesthetic drugs administered to immature animals may cause neurohistopathologic changes and alterations in behavior. The authors studied association between anesthetic exposure before age 4 yr and the development of reading, written language, and math learning disabilities (LD). METHODS: This was a population-based, retrospective birth cohort study. The educational and medical records of all children born to mothers residing in five townships of Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1976 to 1982 and who remained in the community at 5 yr of age were reviewed to identify children with LD. Cox proportional hazards regression was used to calculate hazard ratios for anesthetic exposure as a predictor of LD, adjusting for gestational age at birth, sex, and birth weight. RESULTS: Of the 5,357 children in this cohort, 593 received general anesthesia before age 4 yr. Compared with those not receiving anesthesia (n = 4,764), a single exposure to anesthesia (n = 449) was not associated with an increased risk of LD (hazard ratio = 1.0; 95% confidence interval, 0.79-1.27). However, children receiving two anesthetics (n = 100) or three or more anesthetics (n = 44) were at increased risk for LD (hazard ratio = 1.59; 95% confidence interval, 1.06-2.37, and hazard ratio = 2.60; 95% confidence interval, 1.60-4.24, respectively). The risk for LD increased with longer cumulative duration of anesthesia exposure (expressed as a continuous variable) (P = 0.016). CONCLUSION: Exposure to anesthesia was a significant risk factor for the later development of LD in children receiving multiple, but not single anesthetics. These data cannot reveal whether anesthesia itself may contribute to LD or whether the need for anesthesia is a marker for other unidentified factors that contribute to LD.

As Joe Shapiro comments, "The FDA says that there are "major gaps" in our understanding of the effects of anesthesia in young children.  They've announced a multi-year project to study it. They speculate that anesthesia could cause some learning problems in young children because the anesthesia travels to the brain at a time when the brain is developing rapidly. They don't know for sure that it's the anesthesia that's causing this higher rate of learning disabilities, we don't know for sure that's why they have trouble reading, writing, and doing math, but that's why the FDA has started this research." . . .  "We have, in just the last several years, a lot of animal studies, and now this first study in kids, in humans, that are showing there's a lot we don't know about anesthesia and their effects on children as their brains are developing!"


See also: Epidurals and Autism

Prenatal Inflammation May Increase Autism Risk [1/31/13] - "I think it's also important for clinicians to advise these women to avoid certain sources of infection. For example, hand washing is very important, especially since we're now in the middle of flu season. "Dr. Brown said that past research has also shown that prenatal infections are associated with schizophrenia. The investigators note that these types of infections and immune dysfunction are also "biologically plausible potential causes of autism."  [Ed: Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, but too much makes the baby's head bigger.]

Autism risk spotted at birth in abnormal placentas [4/25/13] - Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine have figured out how to measure an infant's risk of developing autism by looking for abnormalities in his/her placenta at birth, allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment for the developmental disorder. The findings are reported in the April 25 online issue of Biological Psychiatry.

Placental trophoblast inclusions in autism spectrum disorder.
Anderson GM, Jacobs-Stannard A, Chawarska K, Volkmar FR, Kliman HJ.
Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Feb 15;61(4):487-91. Epub 2006 Jun 23.

CONCLUSIONS: Although probably not functionally detrimental or causative, the greater occurrence of placental trophoblast inclusions observed in ASD individuals may reflect altered early developmental processes. Further research is required to replicate the basic finding, to understand the basis for the trophoblastic abnormality, and to determine the utility of the measure in early detection of ASD.

NOTE - a trophoblast inclusion can only be seen with a microscope.  Here's an example.

Non-genetic factors play surprisingly large role in determining autism [Stanford, 7/4/11]

It found that genes account for 38 percent of autism risk, with environmental factors explaining the remaining 62 percent.

Autism Speaks - Committed to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society, and to giving hope to all who deal with the hardships of dealing with autism.

Generation Rescue - AN INTERNATIONAL MOVEMENT OF PARENT-VOLUNTEERS HELPING MORE THAN 10,000 CHILDREN BEGIN BIOMEDICAL TREATMENT. -Our children are experiencing epidemics of ADD/ADHD, Asperger's, PDD-NOS, and Autism. We believe these neurological disorders ("NDs") are environmental illnesses caused by an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria. Proper treatment of our children, known as "biomedical intervention", is leading to recovery for thousands.

Children on the autism disorder spectrum can recover!
Read this inspiring story written by a mom who managed the recovery of her two sons.
And, yes, I'm bragging here, but this amazing mom is also my niece and goddaughter.  Go, Kath!

And, yes, vaccines are mostly safe, but if your child is one of the vulnerable ones, the next vaccination could ruin their health.
It's your responsibility to protect your children by educating yourself about this critical issue.
Don't let your pediatrician cow you into docile acceptance of a potentially damaging vaccination schedule.

Autism and the Homefirst® Medical Practice

The Age of Autism: 'A pretty big secret' By Dan Olmsted UPI Senior Editor

CHICAGO, Dec. 7, 2005 (UPI) -- It's a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill.

But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don't have autism.

Don't Believe the Hype -- There's Much More to Autism Than Genetics from Dr. Mercola

A prospective study of thimerosal-containing Rho(D)-immune globulin administration as a risk factor for autistic disorders
David A. Geier a; Mark R. Geier b
The Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, Volume 20, Issue 5 2007 , pages 385 - 390

Conclusion. The results provide insights into the potential role prenatal mercury exposure may play in some children with ASDs.

Chapter 10 ~ Autism and Pitocin Induction, Operative Delivery and PP Depression by Faith Gibson

Autism Spectrum Disorders is the theme of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, Vol. 161 No. 4, April 2007

As a midwife, I am very interested in issues of autism and birth interventions as possible causes.  There have long been murmurings in the birth community that pitocin induction or augmentation may be a significant factor in autism.  Lewis Mehl-Madrona, MD, has posited a direct causative effect of combined pitocin and anesthetics on the nervous system. Other autism authorities have also posited pitocin as a factor.

I am somewhat stunned that this suite of articles about autism doesn't seem to address the issue of pitocin induction or augmentation as a factor.

In particular, we know that maternal age is associated with pitocin induction, and we know that length of gestation and birth weight are also associated with pitocin induction. Why, then, did these studies fail to investigate the direct relationship between the use of pitocin and autism rather than the less direct age, gestation and birth weight factors?

In my own practice, the only baby that I know to have been diagnosed with autism was also the baby with the longest intrapartum exposure to pitocin, involving an induction attempt that was close to 48 hours.

I am stunned that there was not an in-depth investigation into the possibility of an association between autism and duration and dosage of pitocin.  Researchers need to look at this association so that parents in our community can make a better informed choice about induction, which is often offered as a "risk-free" solution to the dilemma of the uncertainty as to when labor will start.

Two Success Stories in One Family

This book was recommended to me by a mom whose children were both severely affected by Asperger's until they were able to remove the toxins from their children's environments and do some de-toxing:

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders by Kenneth Bock and Cameron Stauth

There is some fascinating research into the relationship between autism and a dysfunction in mirror neurons.  I find myself thinking about the way newborns are programmed to engage in "gazing" behavior about 5-20 minutes after birth, and that this has classically been discussed as "initializing the visual part of the brain".  Many hospitals routinely interfere with this important gazing time even without medical necessity.  It would be tragic if this turned out to be a factor in autism.  Here's a letter on the subject.

MELISA® tests for allergy to metals such as mercury, nickel and titanium, and measures the severity of the reaction

Inside the autistic mind - New research, understanding lifting veil on mysterious condition [CNN 5/7/06]

Knowledge Path: Autism Spectrum Disorders offers a selection of current, high-quality resources about autism spectrum disorders (ASD) identification and intervention - from Maternal-Child Health Library

Autism's Razor: Epidemic's Cause Found By James Ottar Grundvig, Special to The Epoch Times, Sep 30, 2005

Cure Autism Now - A great collection of thoughtful resources about autism.

Impossible Cure: The Promise of Homeopathy by Amy L. Lansky, PhD provides an in-depth and exciting account of the history, philosophy, science, and experience of homeopathic medicine. At the core of Impossible Cure is the amazing story of how the author's son was cured of autism with homeopathy. It also includes dozens of other testimonials of homeopathic cures for a variety of physical, mental, and emotional conditions. Impossible Cure will serve as an invaluable guide to anyone interested in learning more about this intriguing form of health care.

Multiple Causes of Autism Spectrum Disorders by Mark Sircus Ac., OMD of the The International Medical Veritas Association (IMVA)

I'm being driven out says second expert to link autism and jabs by Daniel Foggo [2/10/05]

The child psychologist Lisa Blakemore-Brown believes that her outspokenness has made her enemies in the pharmaceutical business and in the Government. A former government adviser who has controversially linked infant vaccines to autism in children claims she is the victim of a disciplinary action "witch-hunt".

Mercurial Science Slowly Solidifying Slippery Evidence Linking Mercury to Autism - A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio has identified a suspicious link between mercury and autism. Researchers examined individual school districts in Texas and found that those with the highest rates of autism diagnoses also had the highest amounts of mercury pollution in the local environment.

Possible link between autistic disorders and the intrapartum use of Pitocin to induce or augment labor  --  recommendation for the use of existing data on babies born at home under the care of midwives as a control group in Autism research

Tinbergen, N., & Tinbergen, A. (1983). Autistic children. London:  Allen and Unwin:  "Mrs. Hattori evaluated the risks of becoming autistic according to the place of birth.  She found that children born in a certain hospital were significantly more at risk of becoming autistic.  In that particular hospital, the routine was to induce labor a week before the expected date of delivery and to use a complex mixture of sedatives, anesthesia agents and analgesics during labor."


Autism "clusters" - environmental cause likely - It's possible that the pitocin/bupivicaine combination at birth sensitizes the child and environmental factors (pesticides, preservatives in vaccines) is an allergic trigger.

SOURCES ON AUTISM AND NEURODEVELOPMENTAL DISORDER from University of California, Davis, Health System

The Elusive Causes of Autism from the March-April, 2000 issue of Mothering Magazine

Max's Story --- A Carcinosin Cure by Amy L. Lansky, PhD - The story of a child's autism reversed with homeopathics.

SUBOPTIMALITY SCORES AND AUTISM - clues to causation in autism-subgroups by Teresa Binstock

Six-year-old TV addicts prefer blank screen to a human face

Children are now so addicted to television that they would prefer to look at a blank screen than a smiling human face, a new study has found.
The results, described by scientists as deeply worrying, appear to show that youngsters are distancing themselves from interaction with real people because of their constant diet of television.
Researchers found that they reacted as enthusiastically to the image of a television as alcoholics do to pictures of drink.
"This study shows in very simple terms that for children of a certain age there is more interest in television than in people."
Other recent studies have linked a growth in autism with the number of hours children spend watching the box.

Hmmmm, I wonder if they're confusing cause and effect.  How do they know that the television watching causes the preference for TV and not the other way around.

My personal theory is that newborns are bonding to the machines in the hospital when they're put under machines during the critical hour immediately after birth, when their bodies are prepared to bond with whatever "face" they encounter.  If the first "face" they're allowed to stare into is the face of technology, then they'll be bonded to machines more than to people.  It's simple biology.

Cerebral Palsy

The case against electronic fetal monitoring by Sara Wickham [9/8/14] - She references a great new article: a freely available article in the Journal of Child Neurology does an absolutely stellar job of bringing together the case against the use of this technology [Ed: fetal monitoring].  The authors begin their paper – Cerebral Palsy Litigation: Change Course or Abandon Ship – by explaining that, in the last half-century, the response to the frequency of litigation and the increasing value of damages relating to birth-related cerebral palsy ‘was abandonment of the venerable ‘‘first do no harm’’ principle, replacing it with the expedient self-serving ethics of ‘‘do whatever is necessary to keep trial lawyers at bay.’’’ (Sartwelle and Johnston 2014)

Cerebral Palsy Litigation: Change Course or Abandon Ship. [full text]
J Child Neurol. 2014 Sep 2. pii: 0883073814543306. [Epub ahead of print]
Sartwelle TP1, Johnston JC2.

The cardinal driver of cerebral palsy litigation is electronic fetal monitoring, which has continued unabated for 40 years. Electronic fetal monitoring, however, is based on 19th-century childbirth myths, a virtually nonexistent scientific foundation, and has a false positive rate exceeding 99%. It has not affected the incidence of cerebral palsy. Electronic fetal monitoring has, however, increased the cesarian section rate, with the expected increase in mortality and morbidity risks to mothers and babies alike. This article explains why electronic fetal monitoring remains endorsed as efficacious in the worlds' labor rooms and courtrooms despite being such a feeble medical modality. It also reviews the reasons professional organizations have failed to condemn the use of electronic fetal monitoring in courtrooms. The failures of tort reform, special cerebral palsy courts, and damage limits to stem the escalating litigation are discussed. Finally, the authors propose using a currently available evidence rule-the Daubert doctrine that excludes "junk science" from the courtroom-as the beginning of the end to cerebral palsy litigation and electronic fetal monitoring's 40-year masquerade as science.

Could the virus from live, attenuated vaccines be shed onto pregnant women and cause cerebral palsy or other developmental problems?  (I know that pregnant women aren't supposed to get FluMist, but what about other members of their family, friends, co-workers, etc.?)

Research is still trying to identify the cause or causes of cerebral palsy, but best thinking right now is that it is probably some kind of viral exposure during gestation, possibly associated with genetic vulnerability:

Antenatal risk factors for cerebral palsy

So, if people who've gotten the FluMist are supposed to avoid immunocompromised people, shouldn't that include fetuses?

Should pregnant women be taking significant additional precautions if people in their community are being vaccinated with FluMist?

Maternal infections associated with increased risk of cerebral palsy [6/13/14] By: NASEEM S. MILLER, Ob.Gyn. News Digital Network - Pregnant women who were hospitalized with diagnosis of chorioamnionitis had a fourfold increase in risk of having a child with cerebral palsy (CP), while genitourinary and respiratory infections increased that risk by twofold, each.

Do Root-Cause Analysis of Neonatal Brain Injuries, ACOG Says [3/28/14] -
We know that neonatal encephalopathy is a brain disorder with a variety of causes," Mary E. D'Alton, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, said in a news release. "Metabolic disorders, inflammations and infections, genetic conditions, and oxygen deprivation to the infant are all potential causes, but we don't know how many cases are preventable. By doing a root-cause analysis, we hope to identify issues that may help prevent some cases of neonatal encephalopathy in the future.

Asphyxial Birth Events Not Main Cause of Cerebral Palsy [9/18/13] - The most common risk factors for cerebral palsy and infant death are birth defects and poor fetal growth.

Antecedents of Cerebral Palsy and Perinatal Death in Term and Late Preterm Singletons.
McIntyre S, Blair E, Badawi N, Keogh J, Nelson KB.

CONCLUSION::  Fetal growth restriction and birth defects recognized by age 6 years were more substantial contributors to cerebral palsy and neonatal death than potentially asphyxial birth events and inflammation. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:: II.

per CDC Website, family members of pregnant women may get Flu Mist.  In addition, pregnant women health care providers may administer Flu Mist to others. [from a national midwifery expert]

But is there any study that shows this or did CDC just proclaim it?

Oh I'm sure they just proclaimed it.  [from the same national midwifery expert]

Cerebral Palsy Linked to Genetic Abnormalities [Medscape, February 22, 2012] - Genetic abnormalities rather than perinatal factors may be the leading cause of cerebral palsy (CP).

Antenatal risk factors for cerebral palsy.
Jacobsson B, Hagberg G.
Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 Jun;18(3):425-36.

Two of every 1000 live-born children develop cerebral palsy (CP). The aetiology of CP is often unclear and because CP is a symptom complex rather than a disease, clinically defined at 4-5 years of age, it is not surprising that there are considerable problems associated with epidemiological studies of its aetiology. The only reason for the CP concept is that it emanates from an insult to a growing, developing brain and a dynamic clinical picture from static pathology. Evidence suggests that 70-80% of CP cases are due to prenatal factors and that birth asphyxia plays a relatively minor role (<10%). Some antenatal risk factors are repeatedly observed to be related to CP: low gestational age, male gender, multiple gestation, intrauterine viral infections and maternal thyroid abnormalities. Recently, intrauterine infection/inflammation with a maternal response (consisting of chorioamnionitis) and a fetal inflammatory response (consisting of funicitis or elevated interleukin-6 in fetal plasma) has been found to be related to white matter injury and CP. Some risk factors are associated with CP at all gestational ages whereas others mostly affect term or preterm infants, e.g. intrauterine growth restriction seems to be a risk factor in term infants. There also seems to be an association between autoimmune and coagulation disorders and CP.

Viral infections linked to cerebral palsy: study

Neurotropic viruses and cerebral palsy: population based case-control study [full text]
BMJ, doi:10.1136/bmj.38668.616806.3A (published 6 January 2006)

Thrombophilia link to cerebral palsy confirmed

Thrombophilia: a risk factor for cerebral palsy?
Yehezkely-Schildkraut V, Kutai M, Hugeirat Y, Levin C, Shalev SA, Mazor G, Koren A.
Isr Med Assoc J. 2005 Dec;7(12):808-11.

RESULTS: We found that 41% of the children with CP and 33% of the controls carry one or more of the studied mutations (P = 0.348). The prevalence of the factor V mutation was 27.9% in CP and 16.4% in controls (P= 0.127). The frequency of the other two genetic factors was even less significant. The FVL mutation was found in 35% of the Arab CP patients (15/42) and in 22% of the controls from the same population (9/40) (P= 0.067). CONCLUSIONS: Each of the genetic factors studied was shown to be related to CP. Despite the high frequency of FVL among the studied patients, we were unable to prove a significant correlation between FVL and CP, mainly because this factor is frequent in the Arab control group. In this population a trend toward significance can be seen (P= 0.067). Larger studies are needed to validate the significance of these results.

Intrapartum Complications Associated With Malformations of Cortical Development [11/08/2005]
"Birth asphyxia can be an early sign of cerebral palsy, the effect of an antenatal anomaly rather than its cause. . . . Patients with cortical malformations frequently present intrapartum complications, which could lead to the misdiagnosis of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy."

This means that many babies who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy after birth actually developed CP before labor started, AND the pre-labor damage may make those babies more susceptible to problems with adequate oxygenation during the additional stresses of labor.

United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) is the leading source of information on cerebral palsy and is a pivotal advocate for the rights of persons with any disability.

Cerebral palsy inflammation link - Inflammation of the placental membranes may increase the risk of cerebral palsy (CP), research suggests. The University of California found that the condition, chorioamnionitis, was four times more common in mothers who gave birth to a child with CP.

It's very sad that there are web sites out there that pretend to be offering helpful information about CP but are really a front for lawyers looking for work.  Any site that says, "Ask the doctor, then ask the lawyer" has a thinly veiled ulterior motive that is an insult to any parent facing the challenges of a child with special needs.

In particular, some of these sites are quick to point out that the use of the electronic fetal heart rate monitor during labor and delivery has not decreased the rate of cerebral palsy, and then they imply that this is because doctors are botching the birth itself, after a normal labor.  These sites fail to discuss that elective c-sections also do not reduce the rate of CP, which shows that most cases are caused by prenatal factors, long before the birth.

Risk Of Cerebral Palsy Increased With Constant Mild Gestational Stress [7/13/07] - Chronic mild stress in pregnant mothers may increase the risk that their offspring will develop cerebral palsy -- a group of neurological disorders marked by physical disability -- according to new research in mice. The results may be the first to demonstrate such effects of stress on animals in the womb.

Chronic mild stress during gestation worsens neonatal brain lesions in mice.
Rangon CM, Fortes S, Lelièvre V, Leroux P, Plaisant F, Joubert C, Lanfumey L, Cohen-Salmon C, Gressens P.
J Neurosci. 2007 Jul 11;27(28):7532-40.

"These findings suggest that stress during gestation, which may mimic low-level stress in human pregnancy, could be a novel risk factor for cerebral palsy."

Thrombophilia linked to cerebral palsy

And finally, the suspicion that thrombophilia could be a cause of cerebral palsy gained support from a case-control study, which found that the risk of the condition was almost doubled in preterm infants homozygous for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase C677T.

"In 1998, it was proposed that both inherited and acquired thrombophilias of the mother and/or the fetus may be responsible for thrombosis in the maternal and/or fetal circulation, resulting in adverse pregnancy outcomes such as cerebral palsy," explain Catherine Gibson (The University of Adelaide, South Australia) and team.

Since then, several small studies have found a relationship between the two conditions, but the researchers say the present study is the largest to corroborate the hypothesis. However, the fact that these associations were seen largely in preterm infants suggests possible interactions with other factors, such as infections and responses to infection, they note.

Associations between inherited thrombophilias, gestational age, and cerebral palsy.
Gibson CS, MacLennan AH, Hague WM, Haan EA, Priest K, Chan A, Dekker GA; South Australian Cerebral Palsy Research Group.
Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Oct;193(4):1437.

CONCLUSION: MTHFR C677T approximately doubles the risk of CP in preterm infants. A combination of homozygous MTHFR C677T and heterozygous PGM increases the risk of quadriplegia 5-fold at all gestational ages.

Cerebral palsy: what parents and doctors want to know
Peter Rosenbaum, professor of paediatrics.
BMJ 2003;326:970-974 ( 3 May )

This article has many links to international resources.

Cerebral palsy: A look at etiology and new task force conclusions (2003) from OBG Management Online

Only a minor part of cerebral palsy cases begin in labour - Only 10% of cases of CP are associated with events during labor and birth.

Maternal Infection and Cerebral Palsy

WHAT CAUSES CEREBRAL PALSY?  from Cerebral Palsy - A Guide for Care

Causes of cerebral palsy.
Nelson KB, Grether JK
Curr Opin Pediatr 1999 Dec;11(6):487-91

Risk factors for cerebral palsy in term or near-term children include intrauterine exposure to infection or inflammation and disorders of coagulation. Interruption of the oxygen supply during birth contributes approximately 6% of spastic cerebral palsy. Low Apgar score, need for resuscitation, and seizures are nonspecific indicators of neonatal illness that do not identify cause.

Other Physical Trauma to the Baby

See also:  Epidurals And Long-Term Effects/Epidurals And Long-Term Effects

Adjusting the Newborn can be a big help in resolving Birth Injuries to the baby.

www.makinmiracles.com has many articles dealing with the prevention, care of and elimination of birth trauma.

Obstetric complications predict anorexia onset
Source: Archives of General Psychiatry 2006; 63: 82-8

Perinatal factors and the risk of developing anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Favaro A, Tenconi E, Santonastaso P.
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;63(1):82-8.

CONCLUSIONS: A significantly higher risk of eating disorders was found for subjects with specific types of obstetric complications. An impairment in neurodevelopment could be implicated in the pathogenesis of eating disorders.

Pain in the Healthy Full-Term Neonate: Efficacy and Safety of Interventions
 Patricia R. Henry, DNS, RN, CPN; Kate Haubold, BSN Student; Teresa M. Dobrzykowski, DNS, RN, CS, ANP
NBIN 4(2):106-113, 2004. © 2004 W.B. Saunders

Discusses the painful effects of heel sticks and other common newborn procedures.

The National Brachial Plexus/Erb's Palsy  Association, Inc., was created to offer support, information, interaction among families caregivers relating to Brachial Plexus/Erb'sPalsy, a potential side effect of a severe shoulder dystocia.  [10/02 - This association is on the verge of dissolving due to lack of volunteer involvement.  If you can offer assistance, contact Brenda Copeland-Moore, National Brachial Plexus/Erb's Palsy Association, Inc., P.O. Box 23, Larsen, WI 54947, info@nbpepa.org, Fax: 209-644-5813.

WASHINGTON (AP) - For years, doctors operated on premature babies without anesthesia in the belief that even if the infants felt the pain, they would not remember it. New research with rats suggests that the body does remember the pain and is forever changed. A study using newborn rats at the National Institutes of Health found that painful trauma that mimics medical procedures commonly performed on premature infants caused the rats to become much more sensitive to pain as they grew older. The reason is that pain causes the developing nervous system of the very young to grow more nerve cells that carry the sensation of pain to the brain, NIH researcher M. A. Ruda said. "We found that there are more nerve endings that fire and transmit the (pain) information," said Ruda, the first author of a study appearing Friday in the journal Science. "These animals later were more sensitive and had a greater response to pain." Ruda said the study only suggests what may happen in premature infants. "We use anesthesia as well as we can in these babies," Rowe said. A major research effort is under way to find the best way to safely relieve medical procedure pain in the very young, she said. [Details]

Broken Clavicle/Collarbone

When I gave birth, I wanted to use the birth chair at the hospital.  Unfortunately, nobody told me that it could be put back into the lithotomy position, which is exactly what my doc did.  He then proceeded to do a paracervical and then mid-forceps.  His initial tugs broke the suction from the chair, and he left the forceps in while the resuctioned the chair to the floor, then he tugged and tugged until my little one was born.  The next day my ped. doc said, "looks like you had a tough delivery".  I never really though about it but I told him, yea, I guess.  He said that must be why the baby's collar bone was broken.  I talked to my OB later and he said, "Oh, is that what that pop was?  I thought it was your tail bone.

Cord Closure: Can Hasty Clamping Injure the Newborn?
George M. Morley, MB., CH. B
July 1998 * OBG Management

Many neonatal morbidities such as the hyperviscosity syndrome, infant respiratory distress syndrome, anemia, and hypovolemia correlate with early clamping. To avoid injury in all deliveries, especially those of neonates at risk, the cord should not be clamped until placental transfusion is complete.

Specific Neonatal Complications Increase Risk of Schizophrenia in Adulthood [Medscape summary of this article]

Hypoxic-ischemia-related fetal/neonatal complications and risk of schizophrenia and other nonaffective psychoses: a 19-year longitudinal study.
Zornberg GL, Buka SL, Tsuang MT
Am J Psychiatry 2000 Feb;157(2):196-202

Unmedicated Births More Comfortable for Baby

When a baby is born, its head is squeezed so hard its skull bones are forced to overlap. How agonizing must that be! If it hurts that much to have your pelvis pried open a little, how much must it hurt to have your head crushed? A lot. So why shouldn't a caring compassionate mother insist on opiates during labour so that the baby at least gets a little pain relief?

This is a really interesting question, but I think you're coming at it from the wrong angle.  In fact, nature does already provide pain relief for the baby in the form of endorphins, which will also provide pain relief for the mother with good labor support and a relaxed environment. The mother's labor pains raise her levels of endorphins, which then raises the baby's level of endorphins.

If the mother is receiving pain medication so that her own endorphins are lowered, then the baby's endorphins will be lowered, too.  Unfortunately for the baby, if the mother is receiving an epidural, the baby is definitely not getting the same level of pain relief as the mother.  If the mother is receiving narcotics, the baby might have comparable pain relief during labor but then will be at increased risk for respiratory distress at birth from being drugged.  (And, of course, drugs in labor increase the baby's risk of drug addiction as a teenager.)

I've always wondered why labor should be painful for women.  Having labor pains producing maternal endorphins that are passed on to the baby is the best explanation I've ever heard.  When the mother/baby system works as designed the labor "pains" generate endorphins that provide pain relief for both mother and baby while triggering the mother/baby bond at an instinctive level.

I know there's a complex hormonal symphony that is played only once in each person's life - at the moment of birth.  These hormones trigger bonding behaviors in the mother and baby, and it always seems like a shame to interfere with these bonding hormones.

But it had never occurred to me that interfering by giving drugs to the mother might actually cause pain for the baby.

What an intriguing question.

Maternal Endorphin Levels Associated with Baby's Endorphin Levels

Umbilical cord beta-endorphin and early childhood motor development.
Rothenberg SJ, Chicz-DeMet A, Schnaas L, Karchmer S, Salinas V, Guzman LA
Early Hum Dev 1996 Sep 20;46(1-2):83-95

Corticotrophin-releasing hormone and beta-endorphin in labour.
McLean M, Thompson D, Zhang HP, Brinsmead M, Smith R
Eur J Endocrinol 1994 Aug;131(2):167-172

The plasma beta-endorphin level rose with progressive cervical dilatation and fell after epidural anaesthesia. . . . beta-endorphin secretion does rise in response to the stress of labour and is influenced by pain perception.

Plasma levels of beta-endorphin and ACTH during labor and immediate puerperium.
Fajardo MC, Florido J, Villaverde C, Oltras CM, Gonzalez-Ramirez AR, Gonzalez-Gomez F
Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 1994 Jun 15;55(2):105-108

We measured concentrations of beta-endorphin (beta-EP) and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) in maternal peripheral plasma during dilation, the expulsive period and immediate puerperium, and in the umbilical vein. Plasma levels of both peptides increased markedly and were directly correlated during labor, and decreased 24 h after birth; they were no longer correlated during immediate puerperium. In the umbilical vein, beta-EP and ACTH were also directly correlated. Moreover, the concentration of each of the two peptides in maternal plasma during the expulsive period was correlated with the corresponding concentration in umbilical vein. We discuss the importance of placental corticotropin-releasing factor in the regulation of maternal and fetal stress.

Plasma levels of beta-endorphins and ACTH in labor with continuous peridural analgesia
Borgia ML, Piccardo A, Aragona P, Domenici R, Reale G, Altissimi C, Pinto G
Minerva Anestesiol 1996 May;62(5):183-186

In order to investigate whether continuous lumbar epidural analgesia is associated with alterations of plasma levels of
beta-endorphins and ACTH, we have studied a group (A) of patients under epidural analgesia and a matched group of
control (B) at different stages of labour. Plasma levels of beta-endorphins and ACTH in group A did not significantly
change during the labour, while in group B beta-endorphins and ACTH increased in the second stage of labour and
decreased thereafter one hour after delivery. The levels of beta-endorphins and ACTH in umbilical cord mix blood were
elevated in both groups.

Drugs used in Labor Damage Baby

Phenobarbital Linked to Lower IQ

Midwives Support Unmedicated Birth Because It's Better for the Baby

Medical Hazards - Research Warnings from WombSafe

Epidurals Cause Physical Problems for Babies

Birth trauma and obstetric interventions linked to violent suicide

LONDON (Reuters) - A person who starts life with a traumatic and painful birth is more likely to end it with a violent suicide, Swedish researchers said Friday. Their study of adults who committed suicide in Sweden showed how people are born may be linked to how they chose to die. Complications during birth, long labor, a breech position and the use of forceps and suction were associated with an increased risk of violent suicide for adult men. The pain the infant experienced also was an important factor. See

Obstetric care and proneness of offspring to suicide as adults: case-control study. [Medline abstract]
Jacobson B, Bygdeman M
BMJ 1998 Nov 14;317(7169):1346-9

Pain felt by an infant during a difficult birth may increase the risk of violent suicide later in life, especially among men, according to Swedish researchers.

Researchers compared the birth records of 242 people born in seven Stockholm hospitals between 1945 - 1980 who committed suicide by violent means between 1978 - 1995, to those of 403 of their biological siblings born during the same period and at the same group of hospitals.

``Offspring who subsequently committed suicide were subjected to about twice as many interventions at birth than their siblings,'' write researchers Professors Bertil Jacobson and Marc Bygdeman of the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, in the November 14th issue of the British Medical Journal.

The team estimates that, compared with those who had not experienced multiple trauma at birth, men who had experienced such trauma ran an almost 5 times greater risk for violent suicide, and women ran a slightly higher risk.

``We believe that obstetric procedures should be chosen to minimise pain and discomfort to the infant if an increased risk of suicide by violent means is to be avoided,'' the researchers conclude.

But the researchers speculate that the circumstances that give rise to the need for obstetric intervention may cause the increased suicide risk, rather than the intervention itself. ''Perhaps these individuals are at a high risk in some subtle way, for which the need for obstetric intervention is merely a marker,'' write Jacobson and Bygdeman.

The researchers call for more study of their findings, and different studies to see if accident proneness is also linked to birth trauma.

Dr. Yeates Conwell, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, New York, called the study ``intriguing.''

``The methodology is good and it makes us want to know more about perinatal trauma and subsequent suicide,'' he said in an interview with Reuters Health. However, psychiatric illness is the most powerful risk factor for suicide, Conwell noted.

``You can't go and fix the birth trauma but you can diagnosis the schizophrenia, depression, substance abuse and other recognizable risk factors for which suicide interventions are available,'' he said.

And an interesting commentary from Michel Odent about rising suicide rates except in the Netherlands, which has a birth climate that embraces the benefits of midwifery.

There were some interesting results - apparently the systemic opiate-based drugs (IV narcotics) reduced the baby's experience of pain as well as the mother's, which doesn't happen with epidurals.  Unfortunately, they also are well known to cause depressed respiration at birth, necessitating more aggressive resuscitative efforts.

Natural childbirth generates endorphins in the mother which pass through to the baby, thereby reducing the baby's experience of pain without causing respiratory distress at birth.  They happen also to be an integral part of the bonding that happens at birth.

The issues of birth imprinting appear to be crucial to the link between neonatal drugs and violence and drugs and violence later in life.  There are some people who feel that babies born into an anxiety-filled, impersonal atmosphere will be imprinted with that as the norm of social interaction.  It should be interesting to see what the research shows as more attention is paid to the baby's experience of birth.

The effects of maternal epidural anesthesia on neonatal behavior during the first month.
Sepkoski CM, Lester BM, Ostheimer GW, Brazelton TB
Dev Med Child Neurol 1992 Dec;34(12):1072-80

The epidural group showed poorer performance on the orientation and motor clusters during the first month of life.

Drugs Used in Labor May Predispose Babies to Future Drug Addiction

Perinatal medication as a potential risk factor for adult drug abuse in a North American cohort.
Nyberg K, Buka SL, Lipsitt LP
Epidemiology 2000 Nov;11(6):715-6

Babies exposed to drugs during labor are 5 times more likely to become drug abusers later in life.

Medical Hazards - Research Warnings from WombSafe

Opiate addiction in adult offspring through possible imprinting after obstetric treatment.
Jacobson B, Nyberg K, Gronbladh L, Eklund G, Bygdeman M, Rydberg U
BMJ 1990 Nov 10;301(6760):1067-70

They looked at the background of 200 opiate addicts born in Stockholm from 1945 to 1966 and took non-addicted siblings as controls.  They found that if the mother had been given certain painkillers during labor, her child was statistically at an increased risk of becoming drug-addicted in adolescence.

I will submit an abstract for the article I mentioned called "Can Drug Addiction Start at Birth?" by Michel Odent from the Primal Health Research Newsletter.

Here is the reference: Odent, Michel, and the Primal Health Research Centre. Can drug addiction start at birth? Primal Health Research, 1993; vol. 1, no. 1: 3-7.

In this article, the author reviews several studies to explore two statements, first that in wealthy countries a majority of children are born with the use of drugs, and second, that in wealthy countries drug addiction is increasing. He reviews two works by B. Jacobson. In one paper, Jacobson studied the birth records of 200 opiate addicts born in Stockholm between 1945 and 1966. The control group consisted only of siblings of drug addicts, also born in Stockholm during the same period. "The main finding is that in the study group a higher proportion of mothers received opiates (morphine or pethidine) or barbiturates, or both, during labor and delivery...The risks increased when the drug had been administered several times." Jacobson wrote an earlier paper that focused on amphetamine addiction. "The main conclusion of this study is that nitrous oxide administration during delivery is an essential risk factor for eventual amphetamine addiction in offspring and that the risks of addiction are proportional to the duration of the nitrous oxide exposure." Jacobson earlier had found (by accident) a relationship between traumatic birth and self-destructive behaviors later in life.

Lee Salk found similar conclusions about adolescent suicides. In his study, "one of the most significant findings is that respiratory distress for more than one hour at birth is a specific risk factor for committing suicide when adolescent... The authors suggest a link between the dramatic increase of suicide rates among teenagers and the fact that more and more infants can survive thanks to modern methods of resuscitation."

Later, Dr. Odent explains more..."The reports about the probable long-term effects of drugs used in the period around birth are not surprising. Brain receptors reorganize themselves during precise stages of development, and in particular in the perinatal period and at puberty. This is probably the case for oxytocin receptors, opiate receptors, insulin receptors, etc. In the scientific context of the 1990s it is increasingly easy to understand that there are no innocent drugs."

Also, the Primal Research Institute in London is coming to some really amazing conclusions on the use of drugs in labor. They have found that women who use drugs in labor have a higher chance of having a teenager who is a drug addict. SAY NO TO DRUGS!!!!

Drugs Used in Labor Suppress Bonding Instincts

Birth drugs 'could prevent bonding' - from the BBC, 3/29/01

This is the study where sheep who were given epidurals rejected their lambs:

Peridural anesthesia disturbs maternal behavior in primiparous and multiparous parturient ewes.
Krehbiel D, Poindron P, Levy F, Prud'Homme MJ
Physiol Behav 1987;40(4):463-72

There are a couple of other animal studies which might be of interest, the first on ducks and the second on rats.

KONRAD LORENZ: Studies in animal and human behaviour. 2 vols: Cambridge University Press. 70-71.  (relates to bonding)

Long-term effects of pregnancy and parturition upon maternal responsiveness in the rat.  [Interrupted birth]
Bridges RS
Physiol Behav 1975 Mar;14(3):245-9

BRIDGES. R S: (interrupted birth). "Partiurition: its role in the long-term retention of maternal behaviour in the rat". Physiol. Below. 1977 18:487-90

Epidurals Cause Problems for Mother-Infant Bonding - Research about the effect of epidurals on mother infant bonding


Sudden release of endorphins prior to birth may have a regulatory effect upon respiration after birth (Moss 1986), and may well be a factor in producing the experience had by the fetus/neonate during a "natural" birth.

The suspicion in some quarters is that this enhanced excitation of the child's circulation, respiration and metabolism during birth helps the child to establish a normal somatic adaptation to its new circumstances, as well as to protect itself from potential hypoxia and hypercapnia during the actual birth (articles by Jones and by Silver and Edwards in Parvez and Parvez 1980).

Effects of Antibiotics on Baby's Health

Baby antibiotics 'link to asthma' - There is mounting evidence of a link between antibiotic use in infancy
and asthma in children, studies suggest.

A Canadian study of 12,082 children suggests those treated with antibiotics under the age of one are twice as likely to develop asthma in childhood.

And researchers writing in US journal Chest found additional courses of antibiotics in the first year of life increased asthma risk still further.

Earlier studies suggested the drugs may affect the way the immune system works.

Colonization of Baby's Skin Flora

This subsection has been moved to its own section - Microbial Colonization of Newborn Skin and Gut

Medical Child Abuse

Unnecessary medical procedures performed upon newborns should be classified as medical child abuse.  These include:

Routine Newborn Treatment as Abuse

Crying in separated and non-separated newborns: sound spectrographic analysis.
Michelsson K, Christensson K, Rothganger H, Winberg J
Acta Paediatr 1996 Apr;85(4):471-5

Babies separated from their mothers during the first 90 minutes following birth cried 10 times more than babies placed in body contact with the mother.

The unknown human infant.
Odent M
J Hum Lact 1990 Mar;6(1):6-8

In this article, Michel Odent observes that many newborns born in less stressful situations do not lose weight initally at birth.  What is it about the standard hospital birth that is causing the stress for the baby . . . the bright lights?  the noise?  separation from mom?  crying from other babies?  It's not clear, but it does seem that our assumptions about what's normal for babies is based on a very abnormal, non-physiological environment totally different from what humans are best suited for.

From: C-upi@clari.net (UPI / LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Science Writer)
Organization: Copyright 1997 by United Press International ** via ClariNet **
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 0:51:43 PST

Infants Don't Get Enough Pain Relief

Doctors say babies can feel as much pain as adults. Yet they don't get the relief they need during such painful procedures as circumcision. A survey of 374 caregivers by researchers at Washington University in St. Louis shows a very low use of pain-relieving drugs and comfort measures, even in the most painful procedures. Fran Porter, lead study author, says, ``We found the caregivers believe more effective pain management should be provided.'' In the survey, 59 percent of the doctors and 64 percent of the nurses said infants feel as much pain as adults. And 27 percent thought the babies feel more pain. The respondents listed circumcision and insertion of a chest tube as among the most painful procedures, while insertion of a feeding tube and airway suctioning were rated as less painful. They noted analgesics and anesthesia are rarely used in the procedures.

My experience as a labor coach in hospitals has led me to consider routine newborn treatment in hospitals as abusive. It seems very funny to me that there is so little research about it, though. Most hospital staff seem like caring people, but I think they just are so understaffed that they don't have the time to provide the kind of care they could be happy about.

I guess we also have some cultural beliefs that babies don't feel pain or don't remember pain, so people don't think so much about the fact that the things that are done to babies might hurt them. It amazes me, though, that people don't understand that the way a baby is treated at birth sets the stage for all the rest of the baby's human interactions.

I don't envy you having to detail how they force crap into the newborn's stomach (even expressly bf ONLY babies) just to stick a tube up the nose and down into the stomach to suction it all out again (along with anything the baby may have been able to nurse, i.e., colostrum) just to make sure there's stomach acid being produced. Sick, sick, sick. And what about the substitution of a bare body under a "hamburger lamp" instead of skin-to-skin with mom? That's after they screw a wire right into the scalp during labor because they're forcing the mother to limit the oxygen to the baby by laying on her back taking drugs. . . Ooooh, I don't like to think of those things.

Babies are born with a very simple bootstrap program. From my perspective as a midwife/labor coach, it looks like this:

The worst problems are all the things that interfere with that first hour of family time, before the baby falls into the post-birth stupor. In my opinion, any procedures that aren't absolutely necessary should be postponed until the family gives cues that they're ready to rest. (Mostly these cues will come from the baby.) In particular, nothing should interfere with the first breastfeeding experience.

I just finished the Nursing Mothers Counsel orientation (which is what they call their 20-hour training course) and learned some very interesting facts. Babies that are breastfed have significantly better childhood health, including a risk of hospitalization for infection that is only 10% of the risk for bottle-fed babies. (I don't know if these statistics are normalized for the decreased likelihood of breastfeeding among high-risk babies.) And the most significant thing a mother can do to increase the likelihood of successful breastfeeding is to have a homebirth. The reasons cited were increased respect for the importance of first-hour interactions, and the repeated home visits at crucial times, such as engorgement.

The things I have seen at other hospitals would make your hair stand on end. I have seen babies literally assaulted by nursery nurses who pushed the dad aside to quickly throw a DeLee down the baby's throat at 15 minutes postpartum (without any indications) just so they could chart that the fluid was clear. Certain hospitals seem to have a 90% rate of need for full resuscitation, but what do you expect from a teaching hospital?

I had a very bad experience at a nice hospital in the redwoods a little farther north. The family declined the Dextrostix heelstick for a beautifully healthy baby born to a mom with negative GTT; their protocols called for it because the baby was large, but there were no real indications. The nursery nurse proceeded to have a temper tantrum, during which she handled the baby so roughly that the head snapped back, like a whiplash. This is the only active abuse I've seen, but I do consider the routine removal of baby from mother to be abusive, and I see it much too often. (Percentage wise, anyway; I haven't actually attended that many hospital births.)

Mostly, I see overworked staff needing to process the baby so they can be ready for the next birth. It's a shame that things aren't set up to allow them to wait as long as necessary for the baby to indicate that the initial bonding time is over.

I've been reading more about birth trauma on the Web. There's some stuff from the APPPAH, I think. It's something like the Association for Pre- and Peri-natal Psychology and Health. They teach that any distress during the early alert phase can have lifelong effects on the baby's emotional health and sensitivity to pain.

My original appreciation for homebirth was seeing how much easier it was for the mothers. But my real zeal didn't bloom until I began to appreciate how much less traumatic it was for the babies.

Homebirth has the luxury of dealing primarily with babies that are in great shape and need absolutely no resuscitation. (This is partly because the shaky situations have to transport, and partly because the overall calm contributes to robust babies.) Some midwives use bulb suction routinely, but it's rarely necessary. So, once the baby's been born, dried off and left on mom's belly with good breathing established, anything else seems like unnecessary interference that could have lifelong, negative repercussions. After the baby's initial, lusty cry, I can't recall ever hearing a baby born OOH crying during the immediate postpartum. However, at the hospital, they seem to cry a lot.

Do you happen to have a reference to a paper written from an L&D or nursery nurse perspective that recommends taking cues from the family? Around here, the only way for parents to avoid rather unpleasant treatment of the newborn appears to be to take their own advocate in with them, and this is expensive, and most families don't realize they'll need this until it's too late. If they could hand the nurses a copy of such a paper, it might improve things.

Birth plans are generally disregarded by the hospital staff. Everyone brings them in, and nobody reads them.

So the babies are removed from their moms shortly after births, tubes are stuck down their throats, they're stuck and jabbed, and scrubbed. Then, when they're returned to their mother, they seem no longer interested in breastfeeding. Big problems.

I think as birth planning becomes more mainstream nurses will accept that things can be done differently with the same degree of safety as before.

More research, for medical skeptics, supporting newborn care that is not necessary would be helpful in changing attitudes. I have been a nurse for 25 years and things that were taught as absolutes and were put in to everyday practice are now obsolete and even dangerous i.e. routine foley care, extended periods of bedrest... (I was a med-surg nurse for 15 years).

Yes, I agree infants are mishandled and it is frightening. What is most scary are the people that do this don't even think they are.

With birth planning the couple can dictate ahead of time what is acceptable and what is not. It will be helpful to have a person present that can be the couples liaison, to ensure the birth plan is adhered to-like when the mothers decision making skills may be impaired due to discomfort. The birth plans do state for the most part that the couple will consent to medical intervention in medical emergencies.

I think since as medical people we see an overwhelming number of obstetrical emergencies, it is easy to get panic stricken. Our population for the most part is adolescent, drug using etc. and at least a few times a day we are dealing with prematurity, respiratory distress and it may be hard for some of us to relax. But, a healthy newborn is sooo different and needs to be treated as such.

In normal situations there are a lot of nurses where I work that do the same things I do. Our education now is geared to the LDRP concept and since the family is not going to change hands, unless it is shift change, the process can be quite leisurely. The assignment is supposed to be one on one. Now if it is busy, I just give the parents more responsibility.

Birth Trauma and SIDS

SIDS, Wives Tales, Ignorance, Prejudices & Downright Slander. By: Jeanne Ohm, D.C. - An article about the correlation between birth trauma, spinal cord hemorrhage, and SIDS.

Signs of Birth Trauma in Children

Perinatal Factors Linked to Anorexia Nervosa

Very preterm birth, birth trauma, and the risk of anorexia nervosa among girls.
Cnattingius S, Hultman CM, Dahl M, Sparen P
Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999 Jul;56(7):634-8

Translating Newborn by Sonia Shah - You know your baby’s trying to tell you something, but what is it?

My 18 month old daughter was watching "Little Bear" on Nick Jr this week. This is about the mildest cartoon one could imagine. Nothing exciting ever really happens, so I was very surprised to hear her crying horrified tears. She was on the couch with no toys, just watching TV. On the screen, Little Bear and two of his friends were pulling a hibernating groundhog out of its hole in the middle of winter. It seems they wanted to see when Spring was coming, so they were looking for his shadow. The scene that disturbed her was the forcible tugging of the groundhog out of the hole. I just hugged her and apologized for her birth. This was a prime example of how I will never know precisely how much the c/s affected her.

Am I nuts to make a connection between these two events? Am I just so obsessed with birth that I assume everything is connected to it?

One of the birth trauma websites had a story about a toddler who remembered details of their birth, but I couldn't find it.

By the way, I think it's a mistake to use the concept of "birth trauma" to make women feel bad about the circumstances of their baby's birth. However, it can help provide perspective on your baby's individual needs and what you can do to help them grow up to be the happiest, healthiest person possible.

I do not doubt that your daughter of 18 mo. can have a traumatic memory of the events of her birth, as evidenced by her reaction to the story on "Little Bear." How like our culture to try to rush a natural cycle (the coming of Spring). How very sad.

My five-year old daughter and I were watching the news this spring. There was a scene of a hospital OR with the surgical team in scrubs, and Debby said to me "I don't like that kind of doctor."

I was immediately alert to the strong possibility (or probability) that she remembers her c/s birth. In her young life, that is the ONLY time she has ever come into contact with "that kind" of doctor.

I also have a friend (whom I formerly viewed as a "radical" homebirther) who was born by c/s (before it was so common) and who says she remembers her own birth and being pulled out of the womb. She also remembers the aftereffects of this birth on her mother as she was growing up. These are the factors which prompted her to educate herself and prepare for a homebirth ten years ago, with her only child.

Said friend also tried to open my eyes before Debby's birth, but her information (strong warnings and book recommendation for Silent Knife) fell on my deaf ears.

I am now forever changed, thank God, regarding the subject of birth, and favor homebirth whenever possible.

As I have recently written, my sister-in law just had a baby (at the hospital) Interestingly, my 15 month old son became immediately clingy and demanded that I hold him the entire time we were visiting SIL and new baby in the hospital. As well, my other sister-in law has a 24 month old born c/section who is normally gregarious and happy, upon entering the hospital room to visit the new baby he became very frightened and burst into tears. Both our babies have visited the hospital for other reasons on numerous occasions and have never reacted in this manner. (I dare share this only here for fear my family really will begin to think I'm crazy! LOL)

My first boy was 10 lb. 4 oz. and they stuck his heel so many times for so many hours and observed him away from me for so long. This was after a lousy prep and lousy cesarean delivery. You bring up a good point: if it was that traumatic for me to see him go through this, think how it must have truly affected him too.

He is much more clingy and less trusting than his brother whose birth was calm and relaxed. This second boy is so trusting, easily giving and generous and loving and a big hugger.

My boy was perfectly healthy and so was I. Never diabetes in either of us, as I knew but they could not accept. Had I been informed about birthing my babies, I would not have allowed the protocol they put him through.

I got my hospital records yesterday. They wanted to charge me $50 to copy them, if anyone can believe that, but I managed to get them through our midwife. It was very upsetting to read them, to say the least. When I had my c-section, my daughter's heart rate was dropping down to 40, and taking a long time coming up. The midwife told me that she would have died if not for the section. I actually understand that point, that the section at that time MAY have been necessary BECAUSE OF THE INTERVENTIONS THAT THEY DID. The interference in my natural birthing process caused my daughter to go into distress, for example AROM. That is what bothers me the most. If the midwife and doctors hadn't been so grossly interventive because of their timetables, I would have been able to birth her, and she wouldn't have ended up in the NICU.

I didn't remember signing a consent form, but there it was with my shaky signature scrawled across the page. When you are at 9cms after 22 hours of labour and they are saying that your baby is going to die, you'd sign your soul over, wouldn't you? It was just so sad, I hadn't remembered even being told what would happen to me but I gave them permission when I was barely coherent.

My daughter's notes from the NICU were even more upsetting, because she was in the hospital for 7 days, yet on day 3 the doctor noted that she was clinically well. In fact, her fever at birth was gone at 5 minutes after birth, and they were keeping her for prophylactic antibiotics only. And still they threatened me with the Children's Aid if i discharged us AMA, saying she could die. THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH HER, and I knew that the first time I held her.

How can I ever trust a doctor or a midwife again?

Newborn Abuse in Retaliation for Declining a Procedure

The only time I have seen a newborn procedure declined, the nurse then proceeded to handle the baby so roughly as to constitute abuse. This was even with the father and several onlookers present. I wish we had still had the video camera running.

After the abusive treatment of the newborn, the dad picked the baby up to take her out of the nursery, and the nurse then reported the baby as having been stolen, which caused the expected fracas. The family were all subsequently treated as some kind of weird people who wouldn't go along with the hospital, with nurses making snide remarks.

Some of the things the nursery nurse said made it clear that she had rarely, if ever, been challenged on any point of newborn procedure.

I have heard other stories of punitive treatment of families who don't accept all offered treatment.

In particular, our local big medical center is reputed to call Child Protective Services for families that refuse recommended treatment, whether it's a full septic workup (including spinal tap), or routine hepatitis B vaccine.

I would recommend that anyone planning to decline standard newborn treatment discuss this with their pediatrician beforehand and have a signed letter in the chart to this effect. This way, the hospital can feel that they can pass the responsibility on to the pediatrician, and you're less likely to be visited by Child Protective Services.

Fetal Cells Found in Maternal Organs

This subsection has been moved to its own section - Fetal Cells Found in Maternal Organs

Maternal Birth Trauma Affects Baby in Later Life

Study: Mom's Blues Can Hinder Child
AP Education Writer, Sept. 7, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Mothers who suffer from depression need to seek help because their blues could affect their children's development, researchers for the government say.

``Women need to know if they feel depressed, it's not only about them,'' said Sarah Friedman, who coordinated the study for the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. ``It's also going to affect their children.''

Children do worse on developmental tests if their mothers are depressed, but a mother's depression does less damage if the family is well off financially, said the study, released Friday.

Researchers studied 1,200 families to see if a mother's depression hindered her children's learning ability in the crucial first three years of life.

They questioned mothers beginning at their children's births and visited their homes to watch mother-child interaction. When the children were 3, their readiness for school _ things such as counting and knowing colors and shapes _ was tested.

Mothers who were chronically depressed were more likely to have children who scored lower on the tests, the eight-year study concluded. The results will be published in the September issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.

Depressed women who had higher incomes and other advantages such as higher education were more sensitive to their children's needs, and their depression had lesser effect on their children.

``Money seems to be a key issue,'' said one of the researchers, University of North Carolina child development specialist Martha Cox. ``It could be a case of women in positions of seeking better outside child care, or giving themselves more breaks, or buying more services.''

``These women have more options or more things to turn to, to keep their depression from affecting their relationship with the child,'' Cox said.

Reseachers recruited families from Arkansas, California, Kansas, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Washington and Wisconsin.

A mother's depression is problematical because of the theory that depressed moms won't interact with their children. Researchers said maternal blues may have the worst effect on the youngest babies, who depend more on their mothers.

The study showed that if mothers were particularly sensitive to their babies, regardless of depression, the children developed better.

``Exploration and play are such an important way that children learn in the early years,'' Cox explained. ``Having a mother that can facilitate that exploration and play is important to the children's development.''

The children in the study now are in the third grade and will be followed at least through the sixth grade.

Fourteen percent of the families were headed by single mothers, but interactions with fathers and other adults were not measured.

The study also may have underestimated depression's impact because teen-age mothers, disabled children or substance abusers were not studied, and the poorest families dropped out of the project.

Physical and emotional birth traumas can interfere with a mother's ability to provide as much love and care for her baby as she would like. These can have life-long effects on the baby.

The Critical Importance of a Child's First Years: a Baby Speaks

Cuddled Babies Protected From Stress


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