In this edition of the journal the focus is on the prenatal and perinatal time frame and health, that is, the relationship of this developmental time frame and medicine. Michel Odent, M.D. begins with current essays from his Primal Health Research Center beginning with his views of the epidemic of Cesarean section and childhood asthma. Written in his typical passionate, yet scholarly style, he carefully takes the reader through evidence for the explosion of childhood asthma with studies from around the world. As always, his work is well grounded in science and with a balanced reporting method.
Three other of Dr. Odent's essays follow: 1) Autism from a Primal Health Research Perspective with a brief review of the genetic contribution but here again, he points to a relationship between perinatal risk factors and this debilitating condition. 2) Is Promoting Breastfeeding as Useless as the Promotion of Love? This article addresses the connections between the behavior and the physiology in birth and lactation. 3) The final essay is entitled, Mercury Exposure during the Primal Period. Here, a brief overview and objective account of what is known about the dangers of this substance are offered and how levels of the mercury reach the unborn, and post-natally through mother's milk.
Dr. Antonio Madrid continues his scientific interest in the area of asthma and attachment in his article entitled: Improving Asthma Symptoms in Children by Repairing the Maternal-Infant Bond. In this study the mothers of their asthmatic children were given brief treatment around their own issues to repair the bond between themselves and their children. The results indicate improvements to the children's asthma symptoms, where again, no intervention to the child was given.
A scholarly essay on, The Effects of Antepartum Bed Rest of the Pregnant Woman and her Family is offered by Holly Ruhlig, R.N., B.S.N. Here the rarely talked about issues of the effects of prescriptive bed rest on the woman and her family (physically, emotionally, financially, socially) are offered. Ms. Ruhlig gives a hopeful view as well, namely, that by being aware of the dilemma that this course of medical treatment requires for high-risk pregnancies, improvements can be made.
Changing the focus back to empiricism, Junko Tsujino, D. Educ. Psych, and Mayumi Oyama Higa, D. Eng. from Japan continue to explore a topic close to the heart of those of us in prenatal and perinatal psychology, that of violence. The focus here is the observation of a mother's violent behavior toward her child (prenatally and in the early years) and behavioral and psychological effects. Additionally, maternal violence was also associated with decreased bonding with the baby during the pregnancy.
And finally, Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona's contribution is a database article that uses mathematical precision to calculate the psychosocial variables and predict spontaneous preterm delivery and low birth weight. His goal in this research was to inform obstetricians by quantifying hard-to-measure variables, such as, assessing maternal comfort, feelings of hopefulness, intimacy of relationship with the baby's father, and alcohol and drug use.
After reading these articles, the personal sense I identified was the familiar feeling of how much work there is left to be done in making the prenatal and perinatal period more recognized as an incredibly important stage in human development. Yet upon further reflection, I notice how these articles add to a growing medical literature in this field. That is, there is a widening curiosity to understand the psychology and physiology of human beings at an ever-earlier time in development. This is a very hopeful sign for the discipline.
Bobbi Jo Lyman, Ph.D.
Santa Barbara Graduate Institute