DISTAVAL (Thalidomide), circa 1960 add slogan:
“This child’s life may depend on the safety of Distaval”
Who says advertising doesn’t tell the truth? Sadly, this slogan was more true than anyone expected at the time. Distaval was a brand name for thalidomide, a drug given in the 50’s to expectant mothers in case of morning sickness or nausea. Thalidamide caused thousands of cases of severe deformity and death. Children were born with serious eye, heart, alimentary canal, urinary tract deformities, as well as blindness and deafness. Fetal limb deformities occurred which caused the baby to be born with stumps or flippers. This sedative-hypnotic-anti nausea medication was commonly prescribed to stressed-out and expectant mothers, and was advertised as “especially suitable for infants” as well.
DDT was sold and used regularly in American households and marketed as safe enough to use around children and babies.
Diethystilbestrol was given routinely to all pregnant women in the 1950’s, as a prophylactic deterrant to miscarriage and pre-term labor. After giving the drug to thousands of women, it was eventually recalled. The reasons given for recall: “clear cell adenocarcinoma (cancer of the cervix and vagina), birth defects, and other developmental abnormalities in children born to women who took the drug while pregnant; increased risk of breast cancer, higher risk of death from breast cancer; risk of cancer in children of mothers taking the drug including raised risk of breast cancer after age 40; increased risk of fertility and pregnancy complications, early menopause, testicular abnormalities; potential risks for third generation children (the grandchildren of women who took the drug) but they are unclear as studies are just beginning.” (http://prescriptiondrugs.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=005528)
Have obstetric care and parenting changed since the 1950’s? Thankfully, yes. Though corporate and pharmaceutical marketing tactics have become more ruthless, and sadly, with many of the very same people and organizations we count on for our safety, in collusion and profiting from sales, or lowering safety standards to protect corporations from law suits and prosecution, rather than protecting the public from injury. I have had clients, or potential clients, get annoyed with me when I suggest they research before just blindly accepting whatever medications and vaccines their medical care givers tell them they “should” get or “need”. Do you need to read the above adds again? These drugs and chemicals are only a few of many that were marketed and sold as safe. Drugs and chemicals with devastating side effects are still routinely recalled, though sadly, only after they have caused horrible side effects and deaths. You are your child’s life long advocate, and part of your new role as a parent is to investigate and research before agreeing to use any product, medical or otherwise, that could potentially harm your baby. My mother watched two of her three daughters go through cancer, and had to ask herself if it was due to the drugs she was given in pregnancy. One of the side effects of diethylstilbestrol, given routinely in the 1950’s to prevent possible preterm labor , is fertility and pregnancy complications in offspring of mothers who took the drug, ( with the possibility that this complication could be passed to third generation female offspring.) Has anyone wondered if this has contributed to infertility issues, and the rise of IVF pregnancies? How about the 4000 fold increase in cases of autism in the last fifty years? Do you know that one drug implicated as a possible cause is turbutyline, given routinely to stop preterm labor? (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22813780) That even Pitocin used for induction of labor has been implicated? (http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20130812/induced-labor-linked-to-raised-risk-of-autism-study-suggests)
How about cytotec, used off label to induce labor. Cytotec caused so many complications and deaths that Serle, the manufacturer of the drug, sent a letter to all US obstetricians stating that due to potentially life threatening side effects, such as tetonic contractions, hyperstimulation of the uterus, uterine rupture, fetal bradycardia, amniotic fluid embolism, death of the mother, and death of the child, they do not recommend the off label use of this drug in women with viable pregnancies. Yet, some doctors still use it today. In fact, ACOG wrote letters to the FDA asking them to ignore Serle’s letter, so they could continue to use this untested, unsafe drug.
How about vaccines offered to mothers during pregnancy? Flu shots still contain thimerasol, mercury. You are told not to consume fish to avoid mercury, why then is it safe to have it injected directly into your body where it will reach your developing baby? TDAP shots, also routinely give to all expectant mothers , are considered a class 3 drug, and have never been tested as safe during pregnancy or in fetus or newborn. You don’t believe me, please do your research, look for the package inserts and other information on the internet.
Do you realize that our female body is the very ground of our child’s being? We are the very soil into which our baby, as a seed, has been implanted to develop and grow. Everything we eat, breathe, put on our skin, every thought we think, emotion we feel, and moment of stress we endure, reaches our baby , either chemically or hormonally, and has a direct effect on the development of his organ systems, brain, nervous system, immune system, temperament, and even his health, not just in childhood, but all the way into adulthood. What we do today, how we care for ourselves during pregnancy will affect the entire life of our child. The way we labor and the type of birth experience we have, either challenging, traumatic, or joyous, gentle and loving, has a bearing on bonding with our baby, our relationship with our partner, the birth and growth of a healthy or unhealthy new family, and the entirerty of our baby’s life. Do you know that all these things combined, our pregnancy, birth and parenting can cause epigenetic changes that affect our very DNA, the DNA of our children, and on into future generations? With so much at stake, is it not of grave importance that we lay aside stressing over ever growing and interminable to-do lists, and take the time to educate and prepare ourselves towards a healthy pregnancy, a loving and gentle birth, and a smooth and supported transition into motherhood and healthy family life?
Have you heard me loud and clear yet? Moms, do your homework! Research, research, research and research some more, and make your own decision, don’t just do what others tell you to do, no matter their importance in your life, or supposed lofty position held.
This also holds true as you learn and begin to develop your own parenting style. It is important that you spend some time thinking and learning about the parenting practices of those who parented you, and your grandparents who parented them. What practices were acceptable then, which have since been discarded and replaced, due to being determined to have been harmful? How different were things historically during your parents and grandparents parenting years, and how might this affect what they learned and practiced in parenting their children, and as you parent yours? How many of us laughingly say, we will never be like our mothers or fathers? Unless you take time to think about these things, you will do exactly what you grew up with, as it is all you had modeled for you, and all you know. I have said before that we are all parents to, and responsible for all children, and how they are raised and parented affects us all. The way we parent our children, has an impact on the type of society we have. Learning now to parent your child gently, lovingly, mindfully,and peacefully, will contribute mightily to the creation of our more environmentally sustainable, socially just, and peaceful world. What type of world do you want to live in, and have your children inherit? It all begins with us and how we parent our children. I know you love your children. Love them enough to take the time to do your homework, read, research, educate yourselves, and make wise decisions about your pregnancy, your birth, and your children’s health and lives.