Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Vitamin D deficiency -a risk factor for c-sections?

I just yoinked this thought-provoking bit of news from Bellies and Babies: Vitamin D deficiency leads to a fourfold increase in cesarean births.
"Women with a vitamin D deficiency were almost 4 times more likely to have a cesarean than those with [normal] vitamin D levels," says senior study author Anne Merewood, an assistant pediatrics professor at Boston University School of Medicine. "Vitamin D is definitely involved in muscle strength…. contractions of the uterus [which is made of smooth muscle] may not be performing as well as they could be," making it difficult for the woman to help push the baby out herself.
I think it would be a huge mistake to not continue to evaluate labor protocols and policies that work against women, of course, but this may be another big part of the picture, and should be investigated much further. I also had a bit of a gut response to the concept as potentially being yet another mother-blaming strategy, but I do think the information is too important to dismiss.

From everything I have experienced and read, standard obstetric attention to nutrition tends to begin and end with a prescription for prenatal vitamins and perhaps a photocopy of some (possibly questionable) healthy eating guidelines. Folic acid and DHA have gotten more attention in recent years, which is a help, but clearly doesn't go far enough. Midwifery care often pays much more attention to nutrition (though still, one's mileage may vary), looking at each woman's diet in detail and talking about beneficial food sources of nutrients, not just supplements, th0ough there is certainly a place for them in most American diets.

Be sure to check out the full post at Bellies and Babies. She then talks more about the further ramifications of cesarean birth on the baby's health and future - all potentially connected to nutrition.

I'm reminded of a favorite quote from Hippocrates favored by my holistic lactation consultant: "Let food be thy medicine." What will it take for more people to start really taking nutrition seriously?

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