Yesterday at the chiropractor's (a practice I’m still nervous about but have resorted to in desperation due to some wicked pregnancy sciatica), I picked up a local pregnancy/baby resources newspaper and found this special column:
In the News
1. "Research shows a potential link between a pregnant mother's use of painkillers, and her son being born with undescended testicles:
'Use of mild painkillers such as acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen during pregnancy may partly account for a sharp increase in male reproductive disorders in recent decades, according to a study published Monday.'
The research found that women who took a combination of more than one mild analgesic during pregnancy had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles.
2. Stress during pregnancy may lower a child's IQ as much as 15 points:
'Severe stress during pregnancy can damage a baby's brain and put the child at greater risk of anxiety, depression, and ADHD later on in adolescence, according to British research revealed last week.'
The higher the levels of cortisol—a stress hormone—in the womb, the lower the toddler's "baby IQ" at 18 months, the researchers found."
Having been informed last year by a similarly naturopathic publication that my son was 4x more likely at age 18 to be a criminal due to his having been delivered via forceps, I received this new business of undescended testicles, emotional disorders, and lower IQ with what can only be summed up as “WTF?”
Pregnancy, delivery, and child rearing are stressful enough without media like this making parents worry in vain about things over which they have very little control. If your baby isn’t progressing during delivery, something has to be done (hopefully not forceps but possibly). If you’re in great pain during pregnancy, you might have to take some Tylenol. And if you’re like me and a lot of other women I know, you’re going to feel some additional stress during pregnancy, if only because of changed hormone levels and anxiety over baby’s imminent arrival.
I say lay off the horror stories and scaremongering—especially when you're going to report it as cursorily, in so sensationalist a fashion, and with so little context as the above column does—and focus on information we really need and can actually work on. How to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for birth … how to raise caring, emotionally developed sons … how to build self-esteem in our daughters … how to remain in touch with each other and the world as parents. That’s news we can use.
If I do in fact have to deal with criminal activity, genital abnormality, or cognitive/emotional disorders in my children at some point, I’ll deal with it at that time, and through the appropriate resources and professionals. Until then, I raise my middle finger high and with feeling to irresponsibly alarmist publications that publish columns like the ones refenced in this post.