The Skeptical O.B. joins the Science-Based Medicine crew

I’m very pleased to announce that Dr. Amy Tuteur, otherwise known as The Skeptical O.B., has joined Science-Based Medicine. Dr. Tuteur will fill in an area where we are lacking, namely an expert in women’s health and childbirth. For those of you who don’t know Dr. Tuteur, she is an obstetrician-gynecologist. She received her undergraduate degree from Harvard College and her medical degree from Boston University School of Medicine. Dr. Tuteur is a former clinical instructor at Harvard Medical School. Her book, How Your Baby Is Born, an illustrated guide to pregnancy, labor and delivery was published by Ziff-Davis Press in 1994. She runs the website and has her own iPhone app, the Ask Dr. Amy Am I Pregnant Quiz. Dr. Tuteur blogs at The Skeptical OB.

We expect great things from Dr. Tuteur, and hope you will join us in welcoming her to the fold. She will begin tomorrow and will post new material every Thursday. Finally, with the addition of Dr. Tuteur, it should also be noted that, due to the demands of her day job, Dr. Val Jones will decrease her posting frequency from every Thursday to every other Thursday. She will thus not be posting this week, and her next post will be on Thursday, November 12.

Posted in: Science and Medicine

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36 thoughts on “The Skeptical O.B. joins the Science-Based Medicine crew

  1. daedalus2u says:

    This is very good news. There is much woo surrounding birth, and unfortunately it hurts all too many women and their children.

    My mother was an RN, CNM (certified nurse midwife) who delivered babies for Frontier Nursing in the backwoods of Kentucky. Many of the places she went to were only reachable by horseback. She is passed away now, but as far as I can remember, she was completely science based in the way she understood and practiced healthcare.

  2. Ed Whitney says:

    OK, if your patient’s due date is around Dec. 22, and it is very important to the mother that the child should be a Sagittarius rather than a Capricorn, should you induce labor with foot reflexology or with herbs? Would your decision change if it were also important to have Gemini rising?

  3. kill3rTcell says:

    Well, Ed, What personality are the parents going for? Is that really the best decision? It might be more natural to let it happen naturally than to naturally induce an early birth. Natural.

  4. ZenMonkey says:

    Welcome, Dr. Tuteur! I’m very happy at the prospect of more SBM concerning women’s health. Looking forward to her posts.

  5. David Gorski says:

    Heh. I like it…

    But don’t forget the crystals and giving birth in a pyramid–preferably as close to the Winter Solstice as possible. :-)

  6. Robin says:

    Ask her about home births. I dare you! Just kidding, glad to see Dr. Amy here.

  7. Watcher says:

    BU?! I like her already :D

  8. Anthropologist Underground says:

    So glad to see you here Dr. Amy!

  9. Versus says:

    Welcome, Dr. Amy. I hope you will address the chiropractic “Webster Technique,” which claims to turn breech babies.

  10. Oroboros says:


    If you ever find yourself bored and in need of something to write about, I’d like to hear your opinions on the trend of [url=]boys turning into girls[/url].

    I see a special need for science-based medical experts to speak out on issues of sex and gender where the prevailing opinions are that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral.

    Yes I realize I’m throwing you a hot potato and will understand if you don’t try to catch it ;)

  11. storkdok says:

    Yeah! Welcome Amy! So glad you joined! Looking forward to your blogs, as I have greatly enjoyed your Skeptical OB blog!

  12. daedalus2u says:

    Ed, an effect of season of birth on personality is very unlikely to be due to birth date. The neurological structures are already formed. Any seasonal effect on personality is most likely due to date of conception and differential neurodevelopment due to environmental factors.

    In any case, I think the dangers of trying to manipulate the stars are far greater than letting Nature take its course, at least until the baby is at term.

  13. squirrelelite says:

    Besides, due to precession, most people aren’t born under the astrological sign they think they are. Just read Bad Astronomy by Phil Plait.

  14. Chris says:


    Besides, due to precession, most people aren’t born under the astrological sign they think they are.

    Then there are those of us who were born south of the Tropic of Cancer. Those constellations are seen better north of that… so what about those born near the Equator, or even south of the Equator?

  15. Thanks for the warm welcome!

  16. carrie says:

    “You’re saying that gay men who conceive children through surrogacy and raise them without mothers are bad parents? You’re saying lesbians who raise children conceived via sperm donors are bad parents?”

    I’m afraid so. There’s a difference between what adults want and what children need, and children’s needs trump adults’ wants.
    February 23, 2009 11:09 PM

    I admit I was a little sad to read that you would be joining here…

  17. Dacks says:

    Hmmm, you got me digging a little and I found Dr. Tuteur’s column on Salon. Here’s a pretty ideological piece she wrote: The following quotes are from her article and from her responses in the comment section.

    “It is morally imperative for women to recognize that if marriage is unappealing or inconvenient, they shouldn’t be having children.”

    “Hetero is normative. That doesn’t mean the gay is unacceptable, but let’s not get ridiculous.”

    “All children have a mother and father, but in the case of gay couples the biological parent substitutes someone he or she likes better. That may be nice for the biological parent, but it is not fair to the child.”

    “Marriage is a promise to stay together no matter what happens. It is not a promise to stay together in good times, since no one needs to promise to do that. It is a promise to stay together even when things are not working out. Once children are in the marriage, that promise takes on greater moral force.

    I completely understand that staying within a marriage that is a “mistake” might make the parents unhappy. That’s fine; they made the bad choice and they deserve to live with the consequences. Just because they have the power to destroy a child’s life doesn’t mean that they have the right to do so. In fact, they do not have the right to do so; they just do it anyway.”

    Whoa. She wins the politically incorrect Bingo. This may not impugn her science cred, but it does seem relevant.

  18. AlexisT says:

    Is this going to be a retread of the Dr. Amy Open Salon flamewars? I’m not looking forward to it.

  19. Dacks says:

    DrAmy is entirely new to me. Carrie’s quote seemed unusual, so I wanted to find the context. I found in her post on Salon and subsequent comments an attempt to clothe her strong opinions in a facade of objectivity. I’m willing to hear what she has to say about topics related to obstetrics and gynecology, her area of expertise, and I’m hoping that she will confine her posts to these topics.

  20. magra178 says:

    I’m so excited! I’ve been begging for more topics on pregnancy and childbirth!

  21. Peter Lipson says:

    The basic premise of SBM is that on an unbiased pitch, science eventually wins. If one of us writes a controversial piece here (not that this would ever happen) we would fully expect legions of commenters to test the hypothesis rather vigorously.

    The difference between science and ideology is the willingness of scientists to change their hypotheses based on data. We all strive for this, although we don’t always achieve it.

  22. David Gorski says:

    If one of us writes a controversial piece here (not that this would ever happen) we would fully expect legions of commenters to test the hypothesis rather vigorously.

    Or even other SBM bloggers might test it. Not that this has ever happened in the past. Nahhhh. :-)

  23. Oroboros says:

    Woah… OK Hot potato in the air!


    I’m going to throw out a few things, in response to “children’s needs trump adults’ wants” and the subsequent quotes about the necessity of remaining in a marriage for their benefits.

    First, I certainly don’t feel qualified myself to judge what a child’s emotional needs are beyond being loved and respected as an individual. I had a vasectomy in part because I felt I wasn’t ever going to be a good parent to someone and that if I changed my mind and got married some day, we could adopt a child that needed a home. That’s by way of saying that I am a huge fan of personal responsibility even as I’ve been married and divorced.

    So this is an anecdote that probably doesn’t prove a thing but still feels relevant. About 15 years ago I became friends with a man who was divorced from his wife and they had joint custody of a beautiful 3 year old daughter. They’d split up when she was very young. Her brightness, both intelligence and personality, really struck me as unusual. I asked him once “How did you separate when your child was not even a year old? Didn’t you worry about her future?” He responded that they’d discussed it and realized their mistake, but felt that their baby would become a healthier human being if she grew up living in two happy homes instead of one unhappy home.

    As someone who came from a childhood where my parent’s marriage fell apart but was later put back together for our sake, I feel relatively qualified to say that not all parents who stick together for the benefit of their childrens’ future are necessarily doing them a favor. If you can’t live civilly together you create a bad model for your children about what normal adult relationships are like. My parents actually did live pretty civilly most of the time, but I’m not sure their relationship was the healthiest model since it was something of a lie. Their hearts weren’t in it. Maybe it teaches the value that you honor your commitments, but I think the cost in the end is too high in some cases. Anyway, to conclude the anecdote – my friend’s daughter is now a good student studying science in her second year of college and seems very well adjusted. I have heard of his trials raising a teenager, and it seems like he and his ex-wife did an excellent job communicating with each other and her in all the important ways a parent needs to.

    Finally, whether we like it or not, the tremendous pressure to conform in our society drives people to deny their true sexual orientation and marry a person of the opposite sex in order to fit in. Eventually they learn that living this lie is destructive and unbearable. I have a cousin who suffered quite a few medical issues including a heart attack before he came out and left his wife. Were those related? I would not be surprised if his denial at least added stress that complicated them. It’s only another anecdote, I know. He seems pretty healthy and young to me.

    So children are born to gay parents, and I would much rather those parents feel free to come out and live as who they really are. Denying yourself and living a life of deception in favor of conformity does your child no good in the end I believe.

    But as I said, I have no children so I really am not that qualified to comment on the parenting. I do have friends raised by parents who came out as gay. By and large they seem happy and healthy.

    I believe as it is studied more boldly we’ll find differences in the children raised by gay men vs children raised by lesbian couples. I have no idea just what those differences will be, but they might just help us all become better parents in the end. I’ve been poking around on this topic. Being politicall

  24. Oroboros says:

    Ignore last sentence and a half. Post was too long already and no important points were lost.

  25. mckenzievmd says:

    Welcome, Dr. Tuteur! I’ve enjoyed following The Skeptical OB, and I look forward to your contributions here.


  26. magra178 says:


    I essentially agreed with you, until I had a child (cliché, I know, but true). it’s completely selfish, but I feel if I wanted out of the marriage, I couldn’t do it because it would mean less time with my daughter, and that’s not something I can fathom currently (she’s only 1, that may change in later years). Although, I have a happy marriage with no future thought of divorce. But should that situation arise, I think I’d try to be reasonable and always do what’s best for my (our) daughter, that if we were fighting, frustrated and generally angry/dysfunctional home life, I would choose to separate to have “two happy homes.” But I would prefer, and try, to live peacefully and happily together, even in a dissolved marriage (if both parties, and children, could handle that), because I would much rather have more time with my child(ren). Just wanted to share a parental view.

  27. teendoc says:

    I’m stunned that Amy will be posting here at SBM. This should be…interesting.

  28. micheleinmichigan says:

    I have to second, this should be interesting, As a parent (in a good marriage) who was a child of a bad, stay-together marriage, I have to say I don’t have much interest in what a OB has to say about marriage and children. Unless she is also a pediatrician or a pediatric therapist. Really all parents get plenty of advise about all the stuff we are doing that will “cripple” our children emotionally or educationally or whatever.

    Now menopause and perimenopause I’m interested in from an OB. Everytime I mention a symptom like hot flashes, sleeplessness or moodiness, I get bombarded by family or friends suggesting supplements, herbs, the pill, anti-depressants, etc.

    A bit of a SBM article in that area would be helpful.

  29. micheleinmichigan says:

    Actually, just read the Salon discussion and I don’t know that I could even trust supplement opinions from someone who would say in response to a commenter pointing out research contrary to her stated belief.

    “We can debate the research findings and they are important, but my argument is primarily a moral argument.”

    Since when should a doctor, writing as a doctor, get to say something (as common as divorce) harms children, purely as a “moral argument”. That doesn’t sound SBM to me. Just another person looking for research to support her “morals”.

  30. Harriet Hall says:

    People who write about science-based medicine are not prohibited from expressing their personal opinions about moral and societal issues. It’s just a matter of making it clear which hat you are wearing at the moment.

  31. Oroboros says:

    There is always a dangerous temptation to look to nature and science for morality. I respect her for making the distinction even as I agree that being a medical expert shouldn’t necessarily give those moral arguments any greater weight. That would be a logical fallacy.

    One can justify almost any kind of morality by looking to nature for examples. I think the Holocaust proved that, which is why I think it is so dangerous to derive our morality directly from nature. Obviously that morality is a collection of mostly subjective human values. We do still need to consider science and reason when forming the morals. Even after years of pondering the matter I still find myself torn between a basic position of moral relativism and the pleasing logic of Kant’s categorical imperative.

  32. Oroboros says:

    Apologies for the double-post, but I just ran across this interesting piece at that is relevant to the discussion of the role of science in public policy.

  33. David Gorski says:

    People who write about science-based medicine are not prohibited from expressing their personal opinions about moral and societal issues. It’s just a matter of making it clear which hat you are wearing at the moment.

    Indeed. Whatever one thinks of Amy’s moral arguments, as long as she is clear about which hat she is wearing, I’m not as disturbed as some here are. Besides, if she goes beyond what the science shows, I am quite sure that our readers will call her out, as they would me or any other SBM blogger.

    Of course, I never go beyond what the science shows. :-)

  34. Plonit says:

    This is an interesting choice, given that Dr Tuteur represents the epitome of authority-based medicine.

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