Longevity Institute Blog Dr Edmond Devroey's Blog


Solitary Confinement of Children?

About 25,000 inmates are in solitary confinement in US prisons.
Dr. Stuart Grassian, a Board Certified Psychiatrist, describes how solitary confinement of a prisoner alone in a cell, with minimal environmental and social interaction, causes “severe psychiatric harm subsiding upon termination of the confinement”.
The conclusion of Dr. Grassian is that the restriction of environmental stimulation and social isolation associated with solitary confinement are strikingly toxic to mental functioning: “producing a stuporous condition associated with perceptual and cognitive impairment and affective disturbances”.
Read the full article of Dr. Grassian and a report on solitary confinement by Atul Gawande of the New Yorker

Comments from the Longevity Institute.

If an adult brain is fragile enough to be damaged by solitary confinement, should one not expect an identical or greater damage to the brain of a infant?
But why should the solitary confinement of children be of any concern? That is not conceivable in our society. It would be considered child abuse.
You think so? Think twice.

Solitary confinement of children is common practice;
- We routinely separate newborns from their mother during the night and let them cry endlessly in maternity wards and later at home in their own rooms. In our society we tend to assume that such behavior is normal procedure, ignoring or negating the fact that solitude is frightening for newborns and that exposing them repeatedly to it disturbs their brain development and may have consequences later in life exactly like those for adults*

Much worse is the condition of premature babies.
- Each year in the US, more than half a million premature babies spend their fragile first weeks in the solitary confinement of an incubator rather than in the active and familiar environment of their mothers' womb.
Their condition is much more traumatic than the condition of full term newborns, because where the latter, isolated in the maternity ward and then later in their rooms, may complain of not being with their mother, the formers suffers from no longer being in their mothers.
Not only have they been abruptly and prematurely displaced from their mothers' womb, they are then completely deprived of her voice, her heartbeat, and the sounds of her respiration, bowel and of the family environment. As soon as they have survived the most detrimental and stressful event thus far in their new lives (birth), premature newborns are no longer stimulated and comforted by all the movements and sounds they were used to feel and hear in their mother. Instead, they lay, confused, frightened, alone and motionless in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit incubator full of whistles and blows of machines.

* Intolerance to social interaction, agitation, self-destructive behavior, hyper-response to external stimuli, perceptual distortions, illusions, and hallucinations, panic attacks, difficulties with thinking, concentration and memory, intrusive obsessive thoughts, aggressive ruminations, overt paranoia and problems with impulse control.

Filed under: Childbirth 26 Comments

First and Lasting Impression Starts at Birth.

Although the importance of first impressions is emphasized through our life, it seems that it should begin with the very first moment we are brought into this world.

Sadly this is not the case for most newborns who are filled with fear, pain and confusion from mistreatment by the welcoming delivery room medical staff.

Even more imfortunate is that most people have not been educated in this field to know that this is nothing short of abuse, and rather accept this treatment as normal procedure...

You can improve childbirth

Filed under: Childbirth 98 Comments

Why Do We Suffocate Our Newborns?

In nature no mammal ever obstructed the blood circulation of her newborn.
Why do we, humans, prematurely clamp the umbilical cord of our babies?
Do we know better than Mother nature?

In the womb a baby relies on his placenta for oxygen (and nutrient) supply.

The volume of blood (1) flowing to the placenta in the two umbilical arteries, (2) circulating in the placenta and (3) flowing from the placenta back into the baby represent a sizable part of the babies total blood volume.
After birth, the baby will have to use his lungs for oxygenation, which is to say that he has to switch part of his blood circulation from the placenta to the lungs.
During that switch the placenta gradually empties while the blood vessels of the lungs slowly enlarge as to accept the blood that no longer flows to the placenta.
Meanwhile the newborn starts inhaling very progressively, by little increments, while dribbling some fluid out of his airways and each time expanding his lungs a little more.

The switch is progressive and can take a few minutes to complete. The whole process unfolds naturally and needs NO assistance.

Clamping the umbilical cord BEFORE the end of the switch not only robs the newborn of part of his blood, it also abruptly suppresses his oxygen supply.
To avoid suffocation the newborn has no other resource than to explodes in a brutal respiratory effort. The process is painful and makes the baby cry loudly.

More reasons to improve childbirth

Filed under: Childbirth 309 Comments

Premature Childbirth and Diet

The review article: "The Enigma of Spontaneous Preterm Birth", publishes February 11, 2010 by the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), concludes that inflammation plays a major role in preterm childbirth and suggests researching how (quote) "...host-microbe interactions shape the immune response, possibly increasing or decreasing the likelihood that an inflammatory response will be directed against the fetus..." (end quote).

1 - The inflammation process that plays a major role in preterm childbirth could well be the result of the sugar and essential omega-6 fatty acids excess in our diet.
An Excess of sugar (hyperglycemia) is a potent inflammatory agent and the omega-6 essential fatty acids exaggerate the immune response to inflammation.

2 - The article rightfully states that the medical approach to increased preterm childbirth results in more premature babies staying alive but that preterm childbirth: (quote) "remains costly in terms of both the suffering of infants and their families..." (end quote).


Crying Newborns

Why do many newborn babies cry so loud, expressing anger and fear?

Could it be that they are protesting the way that they are being treated by the reception team?
Can we improve childbirth?

Filed under: Childbirth 249 Comments