Rachael Blum of Santa Monica, CA, has alerted us to an excellent article in the New England Journal of Medicine concerning the evidence for the role of exercise in pregnancy in helping prevent childhood obesity: http://healthcarereform.nejm.org/?p=3321&query=home. Rachael, our newest DTP family member, has also alerted us to an LA Times article on this subject: LA Times article.
With the recent emphasis on the importance of movement in the fight against childhood obesity, there is recognition that beneficial fetal programming through maternal exercise can make a big contribution to this effort. A combination of proper maternal nutrition and maternal fitness may well prove to be most efficient and potentially effective way to help children develop an appetite for motion!
In the U.S. and most of the developed world, approximately 51% of the population is female. Most females give birth at some point in their lives, although, in any year, only about 2% of the population gives birth.
No one living on earth got here any other way than gestation, so there ought to be some power attached to being part of that 51%. Historically, it might be said that the power has been merely for survival…the good breeders survived long enough to produce heirs and those who lived on knew where the roots and fruit grew.
Only women can make more people with their bodies.
Here are some things to consider:
Women make people
Women’s health and fitness before pregnancy affects whether the pregnancy is healthy
Women’s health and fitness during pregnancy affects her lifetime health and that of her offspring
Maternal survival is important to offspring well-being
Maternal health and fitness affects maternal adaptation and thereby offspring well-being
Thus, is it not a sanguine notion that the health and survival of women is critical to the health of everyone? After all, the health of nations is associated with this slight majority of females, and the wealth of nations is associated with its health.
The good news is that people working from this understanding are making some headway around the globe. Recently, the World Health Organization noted that maternal death among pregnant and birthing women world-wide has been dramatically reduced from the 1980’s to recently. This is very good news!
Here is the interesting footnote: Maternal death in the U.S. has risen 42% in the same period. While the absolute numbers remain small, this is a disturbing picture. What could be causing this?
Time will tell if we can figure it out and fix it. I venture to suggest some directions for consideration:
The elevated cesarean birth rate with its sequellae of cardiovascular and immune system disorders
Why am I hopeful, then? I see among our current educated generation of new moms and moms-to-be a willingness to exert their influence – as breeders – over the health care scene. They want less technological birth. They want support. They want more information. They want to be healthy. These are wonderful things. I salute these young women…they also make my job easier in the process.
In addition, I see among young health care practitioners an understanding of the value of these things. Among practitioners working in public health clinics there is a sense of desperation on the one hand that the poor and indigent have no capacity or will to take care of themselves. On the other hand, the first step is always education and there are a lot of people working on this issue.
Which brings me to the closing point: How do we bring more resources and intelligence to helping women be healthy, prepare for pregnancy, have healthy babies, reduce pregnancy complications, and improve infant and maternal death rates? I, for one, will keep blogging on this issue. You, I hope, will vote for people who understand this issue. The political power and will is in our hands.
51% of us are women…some day 51% of us can set priorities