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Episiotomies: Uses, Guidelines, and Recent Findings

A recent story in HuffPost entitled “Why Are We Still Cutting Women’s Vaginas During Birth?” tells the story of a woman named Rachel who experienced an episiotomy during childbirth (1). An episiotomy is an incision made to the perineum, the area between the vaginal opening and the anus, to aid in delivery (2).  Rachel heard…

The ‘Feres doctrine’ prohibits military personnel from pursuing medical malpractice lawsuits against government practitioners. A proposed amendment could change that.

Rebekah “Moani” Daniel was a labor and delivery nurse at the Naval Hospital Bremerton. When it came time to give birth herself, she arranged to do so at that same military hospital. Shockingly, the 33-year-old servicemember bled to death shortly after delivering her daughter, Victoria.  Her husband, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Walter Daniel, believed…

Obstetric fistulas: millions of women have experienced incontinence, shame, and isolation due to this preventable childbirth injury

Obstetric fistula is a serious health issue that disproportionately affects young women in developing countries. In this piece, we will discuss the medical, social, and emotional consequences of obstetric fistula, as well as what can be done to prevent and treat it. But first, a bit of background information: What is obstetric fistula? An obstetric…

Journalists release shocking rates of childbirth complications in hospitals across the U.S.

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country in the world (1). There are myriad reasons for this devastating fact, one of which is that hospitals across the country can be terribly unprepared for maternal emergencies. In a recent USA Today story, journalists examined billing records from seven million births in…

Researchers identify pregnancy conditions that increase the risk of neonatal hypoxia

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), a type of newborn brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation during or around the time of birth, has been linked to a variety of pregnancy conditions. Inna Skarga-Bandurova and colleagues in the Ukraine recently published a study on risk factors for chronic fetal hypoxia (i.e. long-term oxygen deprivation). They analyzed data from…

Covering the cost of a NICU stay

When a baby requires care after birth, they will be transferred to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or the NICU. Babies may require a NICU stay if they were born prematurely, had problems during delivery, or experienced complications after birth. The cost of a NICU stay depends on a number of factors including duration, treatments,…

Research on babies and children in South Carolina reveals decline in the incidence of cerebral palsy

In Australia and Europe, researchers have been able to use population-based registries to extract data on the incidence of cerebral palsy (CP) over time. However, the U.S. does not have a similar registry, and therefore research on the prevalence of cerebral palsy in American babies and children has produced more nebulous results. This lack of…

Stillbirths and Medical Malpractice: A Legal “Gap”

Introduction Worldwide, there are about 2.6 million stillbirths each year (1), 24,000 of which occur in the U.S. (2). Our rate of stillbirth is higher than that of many other developed nations. For example, it is more than double the rate in Iceland (3). This regional variation in stillbirths demonstrates that many of these deaths…

Study of birth injury cases sheds light on medical errors responsible for cerebral palsy

Cerebral palsy often stems from medical malpractice around the time of birth (making it a birth injury), and many parents choose to sue the doctors or hospitals that are responsible. Information collected from these legal cases could shed light on the types of medical errors most likely to contribute to a cerebral palsy diagnosis; however,…