Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gobbledy gook from The Let's Pretend Birth Is Safe Conference

The Let's Pretend Birth Is Safe Conference (the Trust Birth Conference) was held last weekend, and contained the gobbledy gook and inanity that was predicted.

Michel Odent, the master of the unsubstantiated vicious swipe, asked the pseudo-profound question "Can Humanity Survive the Safe Cesarean?". Good news! The answer is yes. Not only can humanity survive, but survival and health is increased. Of course, that's not what Odent suggested.

I haven't yet seen the full text of his speech, but he has written about this extensively on his website. It is a paradigmatic pseudoscience exposition: verbose, hyperbolic, filled with unsubstantiated claims, which, in the end, says nothing. No doubt is was greeted rapturously by the conference attendants.

Before analyzing Odent's writing on the topic, it is important to recognize a key point. Odent starts from the acknowledgement that cesarean section is extremely safe. Even he recognizes that there is no denying that fact, regardless of what other homebirth advocates like to pretend. Robbed of the safety argument by reality, Odent has to look for other ways to continue the reflexive condemnation of Cesarean.

Let's go through the article paragraph by paragraph, and I will supply the English to English translation:

Opening paragraph - Lots of words making the unsubstantiated claim that human beings are not "programmed" to think long term. Therefore:
We must urgently train ourselves to think long term. What are the long-term consequences of being caesarean-born? What is the future of a civilization born by caesarean?
Translation - Cesareans are extremely safe. But wait, maybe they are dangerous in the long term.

Lessons from Primal Health research - We have lots of articles in the 'Primal Health Research Data Bank". There's almost no information in the data bank about C-section. Most of the articles are about cesarean and the risk of developing asthma in later life. There is no connection.

Why don't we have more articles? The study of "primal health" is new.

Maybe Cesarean leads to depression in children. There's no evidence of that.

Maybe Cesarean leads to "'impaired capacity to love': juvenile violent criminality, suicides, drug addiction, anorexia nervosa and autism." No, no evidence of that in papers on these topics.

From a cul-de-sac to an avenue - Maybe research into long term effects of Cesarean is politically incorrect. It's hard to do research into long term effects because scientific journals insist that you wait until the long term to determine if there were effects.

Then there is this gem:
90% of the ‘English bulldogs’ are born by scheduled caesarean. In addition, the English bulldog male’s lack of stamina does not allow successful mating, so that artificial insemination is needed. If there is a link between these two facts, we must at least raise questions about the possible particularities of genital sexuality of a human population born by scheduled caesarean.
What's the bottom line? Are there long term effects of Cesarean on "humanity"? It takes Odent 3,436 words including 22 references to give an answer that can be summarized in one word: No!

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