This year has brought good parenting news from around the world. It was pretty wonderful that the Prince William and Kate Middleton had a healthy baby boy as fans from Britain and around the world eagerly waited for news, and equally as wonderful that Pope Francis spoke out publicly in favor of breastfeeding.
But then there are the parenting news stories you haven’t heard on NPR or read about in the mainstream press — the stories that aren’t sexy enough for ABC News, the stories that journalists and editors are systematically ignoring because they are too challenging or too painful, or because they mean we have to radically shift the way we are treating moms and babies in this country.
The three biggest parenting stories of 2013 that haven’t made the national news:
America’s Maternal Mortality Rates Continue to Rise: It is more dangerous to have a baby in America than in any other country in the developed world.
It is safer to give birth in many countries that we don’t think of as developed, like Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Moreover, America’s health care system has no centralized reporting, which means we are not keeping accurate records of the number of deaths related to childbirth.
In fact, the CDC reports that maternal mortality is grossly underreported.
Elizabeth Curtis, 34, a Grand Haven dentist, died after having a baby in December 2103. Connie Kin, a video blogger, died after delivering her second child by C-section in November 2103. Heather Nichols, 29, died after contracting a hospital-borne flesh-eating bacteria on an episiotomy site in August 2013.
While the media reports on these deaths, journalists continue to ignore the fact that our maternal care system is the worst in the industrialized world and that the deaths are not isolated incidents of “bad luck” but part of a broken system.
Ultrasound Exposure May Trigger Autism: More and more children in America are being diagnosed with autism or other atypical neurology. We have an epidemic of autism among today’s children that is mind boggling.
Any thinking person will realize by now that this is not because of more frequent diagnosis.
One main cause of autism may be in utero exposure to ultrasound.
Despite mounting evidence that this is the case, medical practitioners continue to IGNORE SAFETY GUIDELINES, USE FAULTY ULTRASOUND EQUIPMENT, AND INSIST ON ULTRASOUND WHEN IT IS NOT MEDICALLY NECESSARY.
A scientist researching the connection between ultrasound and autism recently wrote to me: “We had a grant rejected from the NIH. The primary reviewer’s opening comment was that the basic idea that ultrasound was not completely safe was flawed as he/she presumed that otherwise we would be in the midst of an epidemic of patients with neurodevelopmental problems. Yes we are.”
Read my op-ed in the Daily Beast about ultrasound and autism.
America’s Children Are Sick: At least one percent of the children in the U.S. between the ages of 3 and 17 have an autism spectrum disorder.
In addition to autism, we are seeing rises in asthma, food allergies, Type 1 juvenile diabetes, childhood cancers, Crohn’s Disease, celiac disease and other disorders.
Maybe you think autism is not your problem because your child is not on the spectrum. But the rising rates of autism in the United States are everyone’s concern.
May 2014 be the year you stick your neck out. May 2014 be the year you demand improvements. May 2014 be the year things start to change.
Here’s to pregnant women, new parents, bloggers, and the mainstream media being brave enough to start talking about the real issues affecting our children’s health.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and author of The Business of Baby: What Doctors Don’t Tell You, What Corporations Try to Sell You, and How to Put Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Baby BEFORE Their Bottom Line. The Business of Baby is a finalist for a BOOKS FOR A BETTER LIFE AWARD, along with Temple Grandin’s The Autistic Brain, Ann Lamott’s Stitches, and Katy Butler’s Knocking On Heaven’s Door. Winners will be announced at an award ceremony in New York City on March 10, 2014.