Babies need their mothers, science confirms this, but medicine lags behind


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 Some of my readers might be interested in The Atlantic's debate on "alternative medicine." Reading it, what amused me is that opponents of alternative medicine accuse it of not being "evidence-based." Unfortunately our "normal medicine" isn't really evidence-based either. What doctors and hospitals do often seems more about the status quo than science. That explains why my sister (a biologist) and I are not exactly our doctor's favorite patients. We don't accept treatments based on outdated science, particularly when they have harmful side effects.

For example, the idea that GERD is a disease of acid burning the esophagus is several years outdated, but doctors continue to hand out medicine based on that theory (proton-pump inhibitors) like it's Halloween candy, despite a growing body of evidence that it causes immune dysfunction and bacterial overgrowth! 

The list really could go on and on, from unwillingness to adopt life-saving safety practices to the handing out of antibiotics to children for every little thing (even illnesses obviously caused by viruses!) to the use of questionable materials for hip-replacements just because they are "new." 

Another example showed up in my RSS reader today: Keeping Mother and Baby Together – It’s Best for Mother, Baby, and Breastfeeding. I suggest you read that post, as it has great information. Basically, in our species, the time immediately after birth is critical. Direct skin to skin contact between mother and baby is important for establishing breast feeding, bonding, and regulating the baby's physical health. That's how our species evolved, it's the infant's natural ecology. This isn't about just doing what our ancestors did; science has confirmed that these practices have important functions. Despite that, hospitals often fight this practice and a woman who wants to simply do what is appropriate for her as a Homo sapians must exert an effort to convince the hospital staff, find a sympathetic birthing center, or arrange for a home birth. 

Interestingly, NICU's (new born intensive care units) have been the first to adopt this practice. For babies on the edge, everything counts, but it's something all babies deserve.