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A real “Era III Emergency Room”

Due to the holiday, I have not had time to compose the usual lengthy and analytic post that readers have come to know and (hopefully) love. However, Dr. Atwood’s Weekly Waluation of the Weasel Words of Woo #6 so perfectly brought a famous (or infamous) parody back from the depths of my memory that I had to go straight to YouTube and find it. I think our readers will appreciate if they haven’t seen it before. The quote that inspired me to resurrect this gem is:

This new era is composed of a blend of the best of what we know of physical, material-based medicine (”Era I”), mind-body medicine (”Era II”), and the caring, compassion, and consciousness that characterize “Era III.” A compelling example is given in the use of all three levels of caring in the “Era III Emergency Room.”He vividly shows us a new kind of emergency department in which an auto crash patient is not only stabilized and sutured but has the suggestion of relaxation imagery along with the lidocaine and nylon. Meanwhile, caring healers take a moment to pray and visualize a positive outcome based on the scientific evidence of the effects of nonlocal mind, employing a network of nonlocal healers as they work.

No, this is the real “Era III Emergency Room”:

The sad thing is, I fear that the above video is not too great an exaggeration of the way medicine is going.I will return next Monday (possibly even sooner) with new material.

Posted in: Humor, Science and Medicine

Leave a Comment (42) ↓

42 thoughts on “A real “Era III Emergency Room”

  1. Fredeliot2 says:

    A few weeks ago I had to take my wife into an ER with acute sciatica. Since morphine was not able to stop the pain, a nurse suggested trying acupuncture. Not only was the nurse a believer in acupuncture but two neurologists were also. This was a hospital in one of the major cities in Connecticut. We chose a diskectomy, which reduced the pain by 90%. Alternative medicine ER is here already. I’ve been telling all the doctors that I can that they should read this blog and Dr. Novella’s Neurologica blog.

  2. DLC says:

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I prefer my medicine to be based on science. Excuse me while I go adjust my humors.
    I think I need more leeches.

  3. Joe says:

    I was expecting the clip to come from the movie “Sleeper” showing the scene where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are mistaken for scientists sent to clone the deceased Leader. The only part of the Leader that remains is his nose. Allen and Keaton eventually dance around the lab, hoping they will convince onlookers that they are actually doing something.

  4. apteryx says:

    Fredeliot2 – There is some evidence that acupuncture can relieve sciatica pain specifically, as well as other types of lower back pain. The folks in the ER began by giving your wife a powerful drug, which would have provided relief to most people. When that didn’t work, they stuck their necks out by suggesting a TCM treatment that has reduced pain for others in the same condition. She didn’t have to try it, but what’s wrong with their suggesting it? I’m glad to hear that she was lucky enough to obtain permanent relief through surgery, but the average patient might like to have other options to try between the single drug dose and the major surgery. I get the impression that some people would not want acupuncture used even if it was 100% certain to help.

  5. Joe says:

    Apteryx, I don’t suppose you will cite that evidence. I am pretty sure it exists only in the minds of sCAM proponents. Such evidence ordinarily consists of anecdotes and fatally flawed “research.”

    If something is 100% certain to help (and is safe), it is ‘medicine’ and willingly used. What is hard to understand about that?

  6. apteryx says:

    No conventional medicine is 100% certain to help either, as seen in Frediolot2′s anecdote; that is an unattainable extreme. I have already explained that I will not waste effort providing literature citations for someone who cannot or will not actually look at and consider them. Others can look it up and draw their own conclusions. No doubt you would find flaws in the studies, including controlled studies, of acupuncture for sciatica, but they do exist, as do numerous people who have reported being helped in clinical rather than research contexts. Apparently, the technique is “willingly used” by those two neurologists who suggested trying acupuncture. They cared more about alleviating pain than about making sure it was alleviated only by mechanisms that they both understood and approved of. What is hard to understand about that?

  7. Harriet Hall says:

    All the evidence for acupuncture is compatible with the hypothesis that it is no more effective than a placebo. These doctors may not have known this. They may not have read “Snake Oil Science.” They may be relying on the positive studies in the literature without putting them into context or realizing their flaws.

    If the doctors did know this, they were essentially recommending a placebo. Placebos DO relieve pain. So there is nothing “wrong” with recommending a trial of acupuncture for its placebo effect. The ethical line is crossed when a doctor misrepresents a placebo as a treatment that has been proven more effective than placebo.

  8. Joe says:

    apteryx wrote “No conventional medicine is 100% certain to help either …”

    I was just responding directly to your straw man. I should have put 100% in quotes to show it came from you.

    apteryx wrote “I will not waste effort providing literature citations for someone who cannot or will not actually look at and consider them.”

    You need only provide a definitive review, or one (or two) papers with leading references. I can find relevant articles, most will be unhelpful. Which article(s) did you find specifically convincing? When you cite a long list of articles, you are asking me to sort through them for you- to see if anything in there is valuable. So, how about it?

    apteryx wrote “No doubt you would find flaws in the studies, including controlled studies, of acupuncture for sciatica, but they do exist …”

    Astrologers exist, it doesn’t make them right.

    apteryx wrote “They cared more about alleviating pain than about making sure it was alleviated only by mechanisms that they both understood and approved of. What is hard to understand about that?”

    It is hard to understand that a health professional, treating someone in pain, would recommend a procedure with no evidentiary basis.

  9. apteryx says:

    Harriet – If acupuncture is “only a placebo,” it is clearly a superior sort of placebo for certain conditions, as reported results are much better than you could expect to get by handing people a sugar pill. If the pain relief from acupuncture were of similar magnitude to the pain relief from a conventional analgesic pill, how could recommending the former be unethical – especially if the latter had already been tried without success? The doctors in this anecdote did not assert that it was proven to be more effective than a placebo – although any such comparative statement would be somewhat misleading, as a patient would interpret “a placebo” to mean “sugar pill,” not “placebo acupuncture,” and that test has never been made. They asserted that it might help, which is true. If patients in a study report a 50% pain decrease, the study’s “flaws” relate to its failure to show that this is somehow all due to placebo effect [even if there was a less effective placebo group!]. There is no plausible way to allege that the stated pain relief was not obtained at all. Recommendation of the method therefore does not indicate a failure to understand the literature; it indicates that the doctor cares more for whether the pain is relieved than how. To me, rejection of a known pain-relieving method seems like dogmatism at the patient’s expense.

  10. Joe says:

    apteryx wrote “If acupuncture is “only a placebo,” it is clearly a superior sort of placebo for certain conditions, as reported results are much better than you could expect to get by handing people a sugar pill. …”

    Great, where are the studies demonstrating that it is clearly superior to placebo, and where is the study that reports a “50% pain decrease”?

    apteryx wrote “To me, rejection of a known pain-relieving method seems like dogmatism at the patient’s expense.”

    You still have not cited a “known pain-relieving” method that is being rejected.

    Lest you think I am being ‘mean’ to you, I think you are giving it your “best effort.” Keep practicing … and cite your sources.

  11. apteryx says:

    I am just writing comments here, not a blog of my own – and I think most regular readers will be not only able to do their own research but aware of why I am not going to do yours for you. (Hint: sly personal remarks still neither motivate me to work nor improve your credibility to others.) Acupuncture relieves back pain better than no treatment – or certain tested conventional treatments. You are free to refuse to use it. Others of us, happily, are free to choose it.

  12. Joe says:

    apteryx wrote ” … ”

    Sorry, i see the error of my ways.

  13. pmoran says:

    Re the sciatica anecdote — since sciatica will mostly settle spontaneously with time, and a major objective of its management is to avoid subjecting patients to invasive procedures unnecessarily, it is very reasonable to ask why acupuncture cannot be offered to consenting patients whose pain is proving difficult to control.

    Doing so does not have to be seen as an endorsement of either Chinese mysticism or the various tentative scientific explanations that have been put forward to explain apparent placebo activity. It could be good, sensible, knowing, ,old-fashioned, medical pragmatism — a preparedness to use any tools that might help achieve the ends desired for and by the patient.

    Some sceptics lament on this blog that nearly everyone else seems blind to the “truth” about alternative methods. So do I, overall, but we are working from very specific personal conceptions of what truths are important, and even those which are “scientific”, without acknowledging that. Some of the doctors we despise for not sharing our views may sense this but, like me, have difficulty in articulating the exact problem, without sounding like an unscientific, New Age jerk.

    The important truth in the present instance might well be that acupuncture helps the neurologists with a common problem. At the very least acupuncture will sometimes buy doctors more time for conservative measures to take effect. It can be confidently predicted to distract some patients temporarily from their pain. On top of that will be placebo reactions that some here may argue are not worth considering, but which can by no means be discounted on the available scientific evidence. Even the often quoted Hrobjartsson study that supposedly refutes the existence of significant placebo effects shows an mean effect size for placebo upon pain that approaches that generally regarded as “moderate”.

    Those bothered by the ethics of using an unproven or predominantly placebo treatment like acupuncture should also note that Cochrane is less than enthusiastic about the effectiveness of discectomy.

    I am not in this challenging the underlying wisdom of the sceptical position on most matters. It is just that good medicine is very complicated, intensely pragmatic and more to do with getting patients better in the simplest and safest ways possible than it is about satisfying carefully selected ethical and scientific niceties. If that sounds paternal, so be it. It is equally paternal and probably also arguably equally unethical to use matters irrelevant to the individual patient’s welfare to deny them treatments that might help.

    The science will look after itself. I also find it hard to undertand the lack of confidence some have in relation to that.

  14. liesenses says:

    I’m a recent discoverer of this great blog
    and am reading them at my leisure with much enjoyment.

    The only comment I have on treatments like accupuncture and accupressure is that I have used both with success. If I have a headache, I press the eyebrow just above the pupil and the pain disappears. I’ve used many pressure points to relieve pain or upset stomach etc.
    I don’t evangelize my belief in accupressure but certainly share my knowledge with friends who I believe I can help [if at least temporarily]

    On the issue of back pain, I would like to share that I have a neighbor who authored a book called “The Goat Doctor”
    It is an incredible journey of a man who came to this country from I believe Czechoslovakia or Germany. The book describes years of tending to the sick and hurt with his gift of touch healing. [better known today as chiropractic treatment]

    He lived among goats in an old shed with a woman who healed him from TB and raised him in the backwoods of a northern California town. After he became well, the old woman taught him an old healing practice – which was mostly He became proficient in his healing art and for many years, people who learned of him traveled for miles for a chance of a healing treatment.

    Most were poor and left him a chicken or some garden vegetables in payment. Many of the patients had severe back pain for years – Some of the patients who were crippled and wheeled in – 90% of the patients walked out healed..

    Many very wealthy people flew to the area from other parts of the coutnry and offered tons of money for his healing touch but he would only take a maximum of 2.00 per person if they had it. If they didn’t – there was no charge.

    The author designed the book as more of a documentary testimonial of interviews of hundreds of people who knew the Goat Dr. – but a touching story was interwoven about this man and his humble way of life.

    More and more, physicians are acknowledging that healing by human touch has merit. If anything is lacking in modern medicine, it is certainly a “hands off” approach to desperately ill patients. Years ago, when I had surgery, I remember having a nurse give me a back rub with soothing lotion – but in more recent years, I noticed that this comforting and healing luxury has disappeared. How sad- because I believe patients would heal in half the time if comforted by human touch.

    Perhaps one of those ER doctors who offered the accupuncture knew of the Goat Dr. ???
    Who knows…..

  15. liesenses says:

    Whoops~
    Correction:

    My post should say:

    After he became well, the old woman taught him an old healing practice – which was mostly for back pain or disorders of the bones.

  16. Harriet Hall says:

    liesenses,

    You say you are reading this blog and enjoying it, but I can’t help wonder if you are understanding what you read. You ought to have noticed by now that we consider the kind of anecdotes you report meaningless until the beliefs based on them have been subjected to testing by the scientific method. You have not offered us any evidence that your experiences are more than placebo, and your belief that “patients would heal in half the time” is nothing but an unsupported belief. The human touch is indeed comforting, but I don’t know of any objective evidence showing that it improves healing.

    You’re welcome to your beliefs, but this blog is a SCIENCE-based medicine blog.

  17. apteryx says:

    Are you familiar with the objective evidence showing that touch improves health in premature infants?

    Human beings may be meat robots, but we are also social mammals and we ignore that at our peril.

  18. weing says:

    I thought TT was not touching the patient but coming close to touching in order to manipulate these woo “energy fields”. Touch and stimulation by touch as in caressing an infant stimulates receptors and there is no woo involved. You are trying to equate mumbo jumbo with science.

  19. Harriet Hall says:

    Yes, we are social mammals, and infants require human interaction and touch for normal development. That doesn’t imply that touch improves healing, much less that patients would “heal in half the time.”

  20. apteryx says:

    Nope, weing, I was speaking of studies involving infants who were physically touched, NOT who were subjected to TT, and who had dramatic improvements in health, relative to untouched infants, that we would no doubt term “healing” if it were brought about by a prescription drug. Harriet, also, in speaking of “human touch” was not referring to TT. You, weing, are trying to equate any questioning of orthodoxy with faith in nonsense. I have said repeatedly that I do not believe in TT.

  21. Joe says:

    apteryx wrote “Acupuncture relieves back pain better than no treatment – or certain tested conventional treatments. You are free to refuse to use it. Others of us, happily, are free to choose it.”

    Can we expect a proper citation … ?

    apteryx wrote “Nope, weing, I was speaking of studies involving infants who were physically touched …”

    Did I miss something? was “(actual) physical touch” under discussion? “Therapeutic Touch” employs a 2-4″ distance between the quack’s hands and the customer.

  22. weing says:

    apteryx,
    Right. That is what I said. It has nothing to do with therapeutic touch. Touching is absolutely necessary. That being the case, what’s your point? Have you ever heard of ruminants?

  23. weing says:

    To clarify what I said. Touch is absolutely necessary for normal development.

  24. daedalus2u says:

    If physical touch is absolutely necessary for normal development (a conclusion which I think has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt (and which is completely unethical to test)), then that touch causes physiological effects (those physiological effects would be the physiological effects of normal development).

    The confabulation of physical touch with therapeutic touch is precisely the kinds of confusion and sloppy thinking that woo proponents use.

  25. apteryx says:

    Ruminants??

    Daedalus2u – Nobody in this discussion was “confabulating” physical touch with therapeutic touch, until weing misunderstood a couple of messages. Harriet and I had most recently been speaking of physical touch, which has been proven to have substantial benefits – or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the isolation from evolutionarily appropriate touch that has been traditionally imposed upon hospitalized infants inflicts substantial iatrogenic damage.

    Now, obviously touch provides physiological benefits, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t operate through effects on the brain and on emotions. If a person was in a coma or lacking brain function and was not aware of receiving a loving human touch, would it still do so much good? You have a different definition of terms like “placebo effect,” so I’m not sure if we can discuss this issue on common terms, but it’s an interesting question.

  26. daedalus2u says:

    My definition of a placebo is any treatment not mediated through chemical effects (i.e. pharmacology) or physical effects (i.e. surgery). I would define psychotherapy as a “placebo” treatment, and I say that as someone who has been in psychotherapy over 20 years. Psychotherapy has real and measurable physiological effects, but those effects are not mediated through chemistry or physics but via social interactions.

    What is your definition of placebo?

    Perhaps those participating in this discussion have not confabulated “physical touch” with “therapeutic touch” in this discussion although that is not clear from some of the comments. I would consider “physical touch” to be a physical treatment, and “therapeutic touch” to be a placebo. Certainly in the wider woo environment confabulation is the rule rather than the exception.

    If you want to get hypertechnical, psychotherapy could be thought of as “physical” with the “physical” agent being speech. However the “therapeutic agent” is the information content of that speech, the communication that is going on and the therapeutic/social relationship that is being generated. To the extent that physical touch constitutes communication rather than physical stimulation, that makes the effects more difficult to attribute to physical effects (non-placebo) or to communication effects (placebo).

    Virtually all treatments have a placebo component. This is well known and is not controversial. Virtually any treatment can have a placebo component. If a treatment does not have a non-placebo component, then it is “only” a placebo. From the evidence I have seen, it seems that acupuncture is only a placebo.

  27. weing says:

    apteryx,
    Just trying to clarify what you are saying.
    re “isolation from evolutionarily appropriate touch that has been traditionally imposed upon hospitalized infants inflicts substantial iatrogenic damage.”
    You are implying by using the present tense that this is the current practice. It hasn’t been for decades.

  28. apteryx says:

    weing – I don’t hang around here for the purpose of instructing MDs in English grammar, but it seems some of you could use it. I use the present tense in saying “isolation from… touch… inflicts substantial… damage.” This is the correct tense for a statement of fact, as in “Dropping a bowling ball on your foot hurts”; you need not be dropping the ball at the moment you speak. The qualifying phrase “that has been traditionally imposed” is not in the present tense. If one wished to indicate that the practice was still in full force, one would say “that IS traditionally imposed.”

    It has not actually been all that long, at least in some places, since premature infants spent most of their time alone in incubators when they were not undergoing procedures. Some MDs seem to have felt that “protection” and sterility were much more important goals than providing normal human contact. When I see the vituperative responses of some people to the idea that touch is important at all, or their dismissal of its importance on the grounds that its benefits are due to psychological mechanisms, I can imagine MDs of that ilk dragging their feet until a huge amount of evidence had been amassed.

    Anyway, even where the practice is gone, the harm it inflicted in the past exemplifies a problem with modern medicine. Like many “aggressive” interventions (a disproportionate number having to do with reproduction, interestingly), it did not have to prove itself worthy in rigorous studies before it was imposed on patients. It was done because it seemed like a good idea, and then it was perpetuated, refusing to yield to a less dehumanizing practice until that practice had proven itself superior in study after study. One wonders how many other damaging unproven traditional practices are inflicted on patients simply because the guy who dreamed them up had a white coat and an impressive credential.

  29. “The qualifying phrase ‘that has been traditionally imposed’ is not in the present tense. If one wished to indicate that the practice was still in full force, one would say ‘that IS traditionally imposed.’ ”

    Well, not quite. The first quoted phrase is, as you’ve written, not in the present tense. It is, however, in the perfect tense (sometimes called the “present perfect”), implying that the practice has been in force continuously from some time in the past until (and including) now. The phrase “that is traditionally imposed” in this context would be awkward and even contradictory, since “traditionally” implies a substantial period. It is not equivalent to “that is usually imposed” or even to “that is customarily imposed.”

    I write “in this context” because there are others in which the present tense form of the phrase works better than the perfect tense. An example is the anthropological, in which the culture under discussion may not currently exist: “among the Klingons the penalty that is traditionally imposed for the crime of displaying a “Make Love, Not War” bumper sticker is…”

    Try the perfect tense on that and the problem becomes obvious.

    This comment pertains only to grammar. :-)

  30. weing says:

    apteryx,
    As noted above, you used the present perfect AND you mixed tenses by using the present tense “inflicts” in the same sentence. That made it more difficult to understand, hence my request for clarification. Grammar was never my forte.

  31. weing says:

    Yes. it is true that science based medicine changes its practice as new evidence and studies come out. This is why we are making progress and will continue to do so. OTOH, woo medicine has a different approach.

  32. apteryx says:

    There’s nothing wrong with “mixing tenses”; it’s often essential to convey complex concepts. However, I bow to Dr. Atwood’s superior nitpickiness. To me, “has been” does not definitely specify either termination (for which you’d use “was”) or continuation to the present (“is”); I’m happy to accept his interpretation, or at least split the difference and say that I meant “was up until very recently indeed.” Given how many other birth-related interventions are still sometimes practiced despite clear scientific evidence against them, I would bet there are still some neonatologists practicing who feel that premature babies are better off in their nice safe incubators and out of their parents’ grubby hands as much as possible. I don’t think, though, that there would have been any contradiction in saying “is traditionally imposed”; I don’t see a big difference between “tradition” and “custom,” and either could apply to something that’s been – oops! that WAS – done for decades.

  33. apteryx says:

    weing- If you object to the alleged inability of “woo” practitioners to learn and adapt (although anthropological literature indicates otherwise), then you should be pleased to see as many traditional practices as possible subjected to scientific research and the results made available to user communities. Right?

    It’s great that science-based medicine changes over time in response to evidence. My question is: when the American medical establishment doesn’t have solid evidence, how come they always seem to start by taking the most “aggressive” and therefore expensive and damaging approach, and then grudgingly dial it back as its lack of superiority becomes obvious, rather than starting with “Primum non nocere” and adding more drastic interventions as clinical evidence warrants?

  34. weing says:

    I really have not seen any neonatologist practice the way you describe. Do you have any personal examples?

  35. apteryx says:

    I didn’t describe anything, but some years back there was a spate of attention to the fact that premature babies who were given plenty of human contact and touch did a lot better than those who weren’t. If the practice ever since the invention of the incubator had been to encourage regular sessions of holding, massage, etc. for these babies, it would, as someone observed in a comment I can’t now relocate, have been grossly unethical to select a group of babies for deliberate physical isolation just to see what happened. So the scientific studies wouldn’t exist. Nor would there have been media reports touting the advisability of physical contact, if that had been standard practice. Therefore, it’s a logical necessity that the practice used to be other than what it usually is now. (I wonder whether there is currently any correlation between parents’ socioeconomic standing and the amount of quality time they get with infants in intensive care. But that’s just speculation, no evidence.)

  36. Fifi says:

    Actually it was from observing infants separated from their mothers during WWII that questions arose regarding how depriving infants of maternal/loving touch had a negative impact upon their development. Since the 50s experiments regarding touch and the development of infants have been conducted on monkeys. (Harlow’s experiments in the 60s being the most famous.) There’s no need to experiment on human babies and we also have a good idea of how sensory deprivation (and abuse) impact development from treating and studying severely abused children.

    There was a period where bottle feeding and leaving babies to “cry it out” was de rigeur for the middle and upper classes but this had just as much to do with general societal ideas about children as it did medicine (though medicine was right in there, including nurses). Of course, lots of Americans are still really weird about breast feeding – which has more to do with fetishising breasts as being only for male pleasure than it does anything else. This seems to be predominantly an American thing.

    It is a pretty big leap to jump from touch and the development of babies – who are not fully developed and continue to develop outside of the womb like many other mammal babies – and touch being healing to adults. There may be a connection but it’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges to extrapolate from babies to adults.

    It’s also a bit of a strawman to compare past and present when discussing premature babies since premies can now be expected to survive even if not fully developed and at a much earlier age than even 20 years ago. The younger the premie, the more prone to infection and disease and the more necessary it is to ensure a safe environment, to wear gloves when touching them, etc. Medicine now allows babies that wouldn’t naturally survive to survive.

    And, of course, none of this has anything to do with moving “energy” or anything else of that kind. Or with CAM or TT (from what I understand TT doesn’t involve stroking or caressing, or actually touching, the patient). This is all “mainstream” science and research.

  37. apteryx says:

    As far as I can see, any argument or even fact you don’t like might be a “strawman.” In the past, parents were not permitted to spend much time holding or touching premature infants. You seem to be saying that that should be the practice today because the babies being treated are smaller and more fragile (implying an admission that it was wrong in the past?). Weing says that it is now general practice to allow parents to touch such babies, following the studies that have shown improved health. Those are recent studies involving premature infants. Now, if you two disagree about what current practice should be, you can hash it out between you, but I presume that the MD is more likely to know what current practice IS.

  38. daedalus2u says:

    There is actually some quite interesting work on how early social isolation changes the physiology of the brain in social animals. One thing it does is reduce the number of nitric oxide producing neurons the brain has.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0306-4522(00)00190-1

    It isn’t obvious from the abstract, unless you appreciate that:

    Nitric Oxide Synthase and Neuronal NADPH Diaphorase are Identical in Brain and Peripheral Tissues (http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/88/17/7797)

    This actually makes sense (to me). If there is less social stimulation, the brain is (very likely) going to develop on a trajectory where socialization is less important to it. Many of the neural networks that mediate social interactions have a significant NO component, for example maternal bonding is blocked (in ewes) if nitric oxide synthase (NOS) is blocked during a relatively short window after birth of the lamb. If NO is administered and NOS is blocked, bonding does occur. I suspect the coupling of maternal bonding to NO physiology is related to maternal energy status. If energy status is low, so is NO status reducing bonding when a female might not have the metabolic resources to sustain lactation until the infant is weaned.

    In Harlow’s work on the isolated monkeys, they referred to them as “autistic”, and they did have many of the characteristic traits that in humans are associated with autism including rocking, self-injurious behaviors, anxiety, compulsive behaviors and profound vulnerability to bullying by NT monkeys (that is monkeys that are socially reared).

    Some of the later work on socially isolated animals including monkeys but even rodents show improved cognitive abilities (but only in non-social interactions), similar to some of the savant abilities (also only in non-social interactions) sometimes seen in people on the autism spectrum.

    Premature birth is a risk factor for autism and autism-like symptoms, but which is cause and which is effect is not clear (i.e. what “caused” the autism may also cause premature birth).

    Keeping micropremies alive and healthy is extremely challenging and requires the balancing of many factors. Infection control is a major one. With MRSA, there is now extreme danger for premature infants. It is easy for adults to be carriers for things that will kill premature infants quickly. I think it is disingenuous to fault people running NICUs because they didn’t get the balance exactly right the first time it was ever done. You can’t know a practice is the best one until you have evidence that it is better than other practices that are worse.

  39. Fifi says:

    apertryx – Once again, you miss the point and what I’m saying is in no way in conflict with what the doctor says. All I was doing was explaining a bit about the history of premature babies and research into touch, which you’re apparently not up on. The main point is that comparing a baby’s developing nervous and immune system with that of an adult and assuming them (and the influence of touch) to be the same as an adult is to make false assumptions.

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