To the Editor:
In reading the letter by Dr. Lo Cicero (PPPJ 4(3)) we realized that it is as hard to write an article in a foreign language as to make the arguments easy to understand for the readers. We would like to show why the supposed "lack of editorial judgment" is not as appalling as it is claimed by Dr. Lo Cicero.
First we found more than one significant difference in the results, on which we based our interpretation and our discussion. In fact the total duration of movements and the overall amount of state and trait anxiety were significantly different in the experimental and the control groups. Moreover, state anxiety varied reliably before and after ultrasound exposition only in the experimental group.
Second we basically argued that, in absence of sudden traumatic environmental changes, the difference in fetus motility is due to emotional state aroused in the mother by such a threatening stimulus as amniocentesis. No doubt, "confirm" is too strong a word for what we meant to say-i.e., providing some support-and a less definitive expression could have been used. Indeed experimental studies can never confirm hypotheses, regardless of the statistical reliability of their results. This is even more true with clinical research where imposing methodological and ethical obstacles restrict investigation possibilities. However, our results do support the hypothesis that emotional arousal is sufficient to increase fetal motility. We agree with Dr. Lo Cicero that in the absence of statistical differences more caution would have been appropriate in the inferences we drew about the combined-repetitive movements.
Finally our considerations in the discussion touch topics that are related to our research, but which are in no way experimentally tackled by it. In our view, relating results to wider issues, particularly in clinical research, is not only legitimate but also desirable in order to make the experimental findings of theoretical interest. While we agree that our paper could have been somehow more cautious (given the preliminary nature of the findings), we believe that the editorial board has well understood the contribution of our work to the area of pre- and perinatal research.
Thanks for the hospitality in your journal.