Wednesday 5 April 2006

Time to learn to feel our pain

Early out and doing well
As I have said before, I have always wondered if enough research is being done about how early-term and premature babies grow up and thrive as adults.
I know a few years ago, the BBC showcased a number of babies who were born in 1995 at less than 25 weeks to see how they got on in their tenth year.
The results were almost depressing when it transpired that only one of that group had fully matured to expected development as would be observed in full-term births.
In my case, being born at 26 weeks 40 years ago in the West Midlands, I sometimes consider it a miracle that I not only survived but thrived. In 40 years of study and analysis it is considered that below 24 weeks it is difficult to offer any hope of thriving to births still within the second trimester.
Learning recently that an astigmatic condition could have been corrected in childhood is one of those things, but there is more to life than a lazy eye.
However, this topic reared its head when I commented on the topic of abortion on Naijablog and the writer opined about the feelings of foetuses and their ability to feel pain.
A commenting contributor suggested based on some study highlighted on the BBC web site that foetuses do not feel pain till at least the 29th week of gestation.
Naturally, I rubbished that report, bunkum!, I said; not because I could remember the circumstances and my feelings at birth, but because the medical personnel then took the duty of care to handle me with such fragility as I was transferred from Manor Maternity Home in Walsall to Marston Green Hospital in Birmingham for 2 months of incubation.
Feel my pain
If I had no feelings of pain or emotion at the time of birth, I could as well have been considered dead. Well, that was hardly two days ago.
Then this morning, I heard on the news that scientists now think foetuses can feel pain from about 24 weeks if not earlier. If only they could ask those emerging bundles of joy how they felt.
It might change the whole debate on abortion and the destruction of life in the womb, but that is not crux of my blog today.
Rather, it is about applying better study and research techniques to understanding how we are formed in the womb and why it is that some do come rather early and others very late.
Once again, the unnecessary dilemma might also be the question of passage of time. Does a pre-term baby have a shorter biorhythm cycle that a full term or fuller term baby?
I am still looking for reasons why an occupational therapist suggested I was suffering the classic symptoms of a mid-life crisis at 33. I am way past that now and enjoying the new things I am doing.
I do not know if this area of study is the bailiwick of obstetrics, paediatrics or some other branch of medicine or mechanics, for all I care, the claustrophobia of the womb is hard enough, find out about our pain better before you try those nasty tools on us.
I speak for all of us who came in early for one reason or the other.

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