Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I read the Guardian yesterday, and it contained some amazing stuff. A brilliant piece by Polly Toynbee on Sex Education, and why it's so important, for example. But there was also a piece called Obesity is an increasing risk in childbirth, report warns at which I snorted.

"Oh look! I said to Tim, "More than half the women who died in childbirth in the UK last year were obese or overweight! Well, 51% were. Well, half. It must have been that, then."

At which point I described a distribution curve in the air explaining why this might be the case.

We had a short argument about statistical validity after that, naturally, which ended up with me saying I probably needed to check the report -- which turns out to actually be called Saving Mothers Lives rather than "Diet or Die, ladies!", as you might have thought from yesterday's article.

Turns out, I wasn't the only one who read the articles and went "uhn", and there's already a brilliant piece out there, because ...

...thankfully, JunkFood science beat me to it. She also came up with a whole bunch of more relevant, striking and newsworthy headlines. Why not lead with:

"Black African women, including asylum seekers and newly arrived refugees, have a mortality rate nearly six times higher than White women,"

"Women with partners who were unemployed, many of whom had features of social exclusion, were up to seven times more likely to die than women with partners who were employed."

Percentages not high enough for you? Let's kick it up a notch:

"More than 80% of the women who died...did not seek care at all, booked late or failed to maintain regular contact with the maternity services, in the main because of fear that their unborn child might be removed at birth."

"Among all of the direct maternal deaths, 64% were among women having received substandard care"

The Guardian's article cruelly picks out a few illustrative examples to show why being morbidly obese and pregnant might be a bad idea (thanks for the heads up) but neglects to mention the woman who was sent home with her severe leg pain and breathlessness attributed to her obesity; and the deaths from FGM complications were quietly dropped as -- what? Too shocking? Not relevant enough?

Perhaps the person who wrote the article hadn't read the report, only an obesity-scare press release from a pressure group. Perhaps they just ran the obesity-scare press release from a pressure group as it arrived.

Either way, I stand by my dismissive hand gesture.


( 13 worms — Feed the birds )
5th Dec, 2007 18:14 (UTC)
I'd have thought the binge drinking would be the largest risk factor. ;-)
6th Dec, 2007 09:23 (UTC)
oooh, I was doing that only last night!
I believe the current government advice in that area is that if they're pregnant, trying to get pregnant or might be pregnant, women should avoid alcohol altogether.

6th Dec, 2007 14:31 (UTC)
Re: oooh, I was doing that only last night!
Pshaw! Government advice - what do they know? ;-)
6th Dec, 2007 14:31 (UTC)
Re: oooh, I was doing that only last night!
That was me.
5th Dec, 2007 18:45 (UTC)
Personally I reckon on pregnancy being the biggest risk. Anyway, aren't all pregnant people fat, pretty much?
6th Dec, 2007 09:39 (UTC)
I remember reading in some stupid magazine that pregnancy was a great opportunity to lose weight, if you were careful.

5th Dec, 2007 18:50 (UTC)
You need sci_media
6th Dec, 2007 09:39 (UTC)
5th Dec, 2007 20:57 (UTC)
I want to say - ooh, good stuff, thanks, but that seems unseemly given the grisly subject matter.

The 50% figure was always a bogus headline, once you calculate the percentage of women in the relevant age range who are overweight, and adjust for the higher maternal mortality and obesity levels in the lower socio-economic groups - not to mention that what constitutes "overweight" in a full term woman is still a moving target - they've moved the ideal levels radically in the last decade or so.
I can't doubt that morbid obesity is always going to be a very bad mix with late pregnancy and labour, especially when you throw Caesareans in, but associating that serious risk in with people with a BMI of 26 is crap.

But having realised that the overweight stuff was dodgy, I didn't realise how much real news they'd missed. I shouldn't be surprised, because I live near a very large, very rough council estate, and there's a lot of deprivation in my area of South London generally. We went to our ante natal classes - no, not the 200 quid NCT ones, the free NHS ones that my midwife gave me the number for - with seven other couples, and every single one of us had degrees. We got together at each other's houses for cheese and wine, and were amused to discover that 4/7 of the men were afficionados of My Bloody Valentine's seminal album Loveless. Now of course that was very nice for us and our charming children, but where the hell were the underclass? And if they were mssing out on the ante-natal classes, what else were they missing out on? Plus of course when we got to hospital....but I'll spare you the rest.
6th Dec, 2007 09:52 (UTC)
My sister's trying for a second child and given what fun she had last time reading stuff like this isn't high on the list of things I want to be doing right now

on the other hand, there was actual news there.

There's possibly some point here about perception of classes/courses -- as punishment/criticism or opportunity/advantage.

Might be worth some thought, as on page 10056 of that website I maintain, I'm selling ante-natal classes to teenage mums in four bullet points or less.

Thanks for the insight.
5th Dec, 2007 21:15 (UTC)
Thank you for that link. As someone who nearly died as a result of infection post-Caesarean (within the 42 days required to make it a 'Maternal death') I am utterly horrified to think that had I done so, someone somewhere would have focused on my weight rather than the circumstances of my infection and the mismanaged treatment of my wound.
6th Dec, 2007 09:56 (UTC)
That's possibly worth sending into the Guardian, as the report found substandard care to be a considerably more significant factor than obesity.
6th Dec, 2007 00:23 (UTC)
Thats what I like from my news - hack news spongers exposed by the presentation of relevant and strong journalism. Well done Jeremy, I thank you.
( 13 worms — Feed the birds )