Family and Society: October 2005 Archives

Marquardt Interview


I may have missed her on the Today Show, but Elizabeth Marquardt gave a great radio interview about her book, Between Two Worlds, earlier this week to a Seattle radio station, and the audio can be found here.

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A 13 year old on divorce

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Sara Butler Nardo of Family Scholars recently blogged an advice columnist's excellent response to a woman thinking about leaving her husband. Now, the same columnist has published a letter from a 13 year old girl whose parents are going through a divorce. It's a very sad but very important perspective.

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Maggie Gallagher joins Conspiracy

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Maggie Gallagher is guest-blogging the case against gay marriage over at The Volokh Conspiracy. If you check it out, do yourself a favor and skip the utterly unenlightening comments.

UPDATE: Here is a link to just Maggie's posts so you don't have to scroll through all the entries by the dozen or so other bloggers a TVC.

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More on AAP and SIDS


Thanks to Brandon for leaving a link in my comment boxes to a press relesase from La Leche League about the new AAP SIDS recommendations.

Here's the link.

Schaumburg, IL (October 2005) La Leche League International (LLLI) is concerned about the October 10, 2005 policy statement on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on SIDS. The recommendations about pacifiers and cosleeping in the statement reflect a lack of basic understanding about breastfeeding management.

Pacifiers, which are recommended in this policy statement, are artificial substitutes for what the breast does naturally. Breastfed babies often nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime. The recommended pacifier usage could cause a reduction in milk supply due to reduced stimulation of the breasts and may affect breastfeeding duration.

LLLI recognizes that safe cosleeping facilitates breastfeeding. One important way cosleeping can help a mother’s milk supply is by encouraging regular and frequent feeding. Well-known research on safe cosleeping practices by Dr. James McKenna, Director of the Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame was disregarded by the task force.

Also, the obvious omission of input by the AAP’s Section on Breastfeeding may account for the fact that breastfeeding management issues were not taken into consideration. Dr. Nancy Wight, President of the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, comments that this statement “represents a truly astounding triumph of ethnocentric assumptions over common sense and medical research.�” Dr. Wight also states, “There are many physician members of the AAP who do not agree with these recommendations.�”

Although the authors do state that breastfeeding is beneficial and should be promoted, their recommendations about pacifier use and cosleeping could have a negative impact on a mother’s efforts to breastfeed. The statement causes confusion for parents and falls seriously short of being a useful and comprehensive policy.

LLLI, a non-profit organization that helps mothers learn about breastfeeding, has an international Professional Advisory Board. The LLLI Center for Breastfeeding Information is one of the world’s largest libraries of information on breastfeeding, human lactation, and related topics. Monthly meetings are offered to pregnant women and nursing mothers and babies to learn about breastfeeding management. To find local groups call 800 LA LECHE or visit

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"She's having a fetus!"

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How therapeutic


The Onion: "Hatred Of Marriage Counselor Brings Couple Together"

Area couple Tom and Becky Witthauser credited the successful resolution of their ongoing marital conflicts to their mutual hatred of their marriage counselor Monday, describing him as the "jag-off whose prissy, ineffectual demeanor brought us closer than we've been in years."


"We spent hours walking beside the lake, or drinking wine and listening to music, holding hands, and complaining about the way Dr. Roger's mouth hangs open, or how he taps his knees every time he gets up out of his chair," Becky said, adding that the mutual sentiments helped the couple realize how much they still enjoyed each other's company and how indispensable they were to each other.

Hat-tip: Family Scholars

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Elizabeth Marquardt was scheduled to be on the Today show discussing her new book, Between Two Worlds between 7 and 8 today. I woke up at 7:30, and turned it on hoping to catch her. Instead I was treated to 15 minutes of a Los Angeles priest abuse piece that featured Bill Donohue of the Catholic League literally screaming about the GOOD PRIESTS WHOSE NAMES ARE BEING DRAGGED THROUGH THE MUD and how we need TO GET THE HOMOSEXUALS OUT OF THERE!

I used to think he was a good man who just got occasionally carried away. Now I just think he's kind of crazy. And good people give this guy lots of money to do this.

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American Academy of Pediatrics picks a fight

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They issued new guidelines for avoiding SIDS that recommends parents not share their bed with infants to decrease the risk for SIDS.

Report from NPR.

I'm sorry, but this stinks. Discouraging a practice widely understood to be good for the child on the basis of vague suggestions that it may increase the risk of SIDS is silly. This from the same people who have had parents flipping over their infants like pancakes from year to year as the "evidence" that certain sleeping positions cause SIDS changes.

Rob at Mirror of Justice has more:

...I guess my subsidiarity-driven skepticism is twofold. First, even though the AAP policy does not amount to legal coercion, the group's stature and the bright-line confidence with which they paint the issue as a non-negotiable element of baby safety may effectively negate the decision-making authority of many parents. Second, while 2000 SIDS deaths a year are a tragedy, I'm not sure the possibility of harm warrants the absolute condemnation of co-sleeping and nursing at bedtime, both of which function as fundamental building blocks of many parent-child relationships. That said, would my opinion change if 10,000 babies died each year from SIDS and the deaths were directly linked to co-sleeping? 50,000 deaths? At what point does the harm warrant AAP's condemnation? At what point would it warrant state intervention?

I don't have easy answers to these questions, but I do know that when groups like AAP pronounce a one-size-fits-all approach to intimate family practices, it's not just a matter of public health; it's also a question of subsidiarity.


UPDATE: has a post about this and some good comments:


Anonymous because I AM a member of the dreaded AAP. (But rest assured, I also am a parent of massive amounts of children and therefore have developed some common sense.)

There was a dramatic decrease in deaths from SIDS when sleeping on backs was recommended. First in Europe (where patients may be more compliant) then in America when the word got out. I do think the no co-bedding recommendation is based on much weaker evidence. The co bedding deaths did have a number who were suffocated by a very asleep parent. Sometimes that parent may be presumed to have been drunk or on drugs. Please do your own careful study before deciding to follow/ignore the recomendations.

The AAP is not perfect (duh). Their policy statements are made by committees. I do not see an evil conspiracy behind this policy. Of course they are sometimes wrong and often misled by many of the same cultural ideas that mislead many Americans.


Since we don't actually know what causes SIDS, is it safe to say that the causal link (as opposed to a statistical correlation) between bed-sleeping and SIDS is unknown? So in effect, what the AAP is recommending is "don't do X, because in our sample more children whose parents did X died from SIDS than children whose parents did not do X"?

That would be a lot different from saying, "don't do X because it CAUSES SIDS." It basically means that we have to trust that the AAP knows exactly what it's doing in terms of what factors it should be controlling for in its study, and what factors it should even be considering in the first place. In a social atmosphere where the incentives are not generally lined up to maximize the well-being of children, this seems to me to significantly decrease the authoritativeness of such a study.

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Comments not to be missed


Brandon left an excellent comment in the Labor Day post I had up a few weeks back, but he put it up after the post fell off the main page, and I want to make sure anybody who read that discussion catches it.

...we were looking through the late Dr. Ratner's old files in the Steubenville library this summer and Katie came across an article that basically said that excluding dads from the delivery room was equivalent in some base psychology to their wifes having an affair, since childbirth is the end result of sex. (Obviously not always, but you can't have childbirth without sex, and before the separation of conception and sex that was brought on by artificial contraception, the ontological reality was better represented by reality). So that would back you up 100% with the intimacy concept. Sex begins the process, childbirth is the next step in the process, and childrearing is the conclusion of the process. Strangely enough, two parents are better than one in all three of these, although society has marginalised the father's role in each of them one by one.

Also, Alicia answered my question from this post about how tastes can pass through to a child in the womb:

The flavor molecules (esters and so on) are small enough to pass into the blood stream, cross the placenta, and be incorporated into the amniotic fluid. Ditto the milk. I am not talking about sweet/salty/bitter etc, but more about the aromatic molecules like the ones that makes garlic garlicky, etc.

I love comments... (hint, hint).

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In utero

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Zenit has a very interesting interview with an Italian neonatologist, on the sensory perceptions of children in the womb.


Toward the 25th week of gestation, the fetus has developed hearing. Within the uterus the mother's voice comes with much greater intensity than another's voice -- or the father's! -- and the fetus gets used to this voice, so much so that several experiments have shown us that the newborn is able to distinguish the mother's voice from that of a strange voice, just as it is able to distinguish the mother's scents.

This will serve to recognize the maternal milk, which has a taste and smell similar to the amniotic fluid which for nine months has soaked its tongue and lips....

Research was published in Pediatrics in 2001 which showed that at the moment of weaning the child prefers tastes that it perceived in the uterus in a certain period, although these tastes were not given to it during lactation. Therefore the fetus has memory.

Can anybody out there explain how a child would perceive the taste of something that comes to him through the umbilical cord? This sounds very interesting, and I can certainly believe that a child can recall those tastes and scents, but how do these tastes go from food that a mother has eaten through the digestive process and down the umbilical cord?

Anyway, more from the interview:

The fetus has a world of sensations, but also of actions. The fetus responds in its own way to external stimuli. It is frightened if it hears noise; it responds to patting.

But it exercises itself for life in the open air: It does breathing exercises constantly, even when immersed in the amniotic fluid, and attempts have been registered to emit sounds visualizing the vocal cords.

It has hiccups and makes faces as though smiling or crying. Its movements respond to phases of calm or movement of the mother, and also of the amount of sugar the mother eats...

[T]he fetus is already a new member of the family and company for the mother even before being born.

Thanks to Brandon for the link.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Family and Society category from October 2005.

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