Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Wonder

The more I learn, the less I realize I really know. Here are some stories learned on a rainy Wednesday morning...:

Kangaroo Care: A reminder of the value of even the simplest contact between one person and another: the emerging trend to nurture premature babies through the oldest of treatments, skin-to-skin contact.
"Even in educated families, there's a sense of fatalism if a baby is born preterm. There's no expectation they can do anything," Lawn said. "With pretty simple solutions, these deaths could be halved, but it doesn't seem to be a priority."
She points to Malawi, where traditionally new mothers have tied babies to their backs as they go about their day. Today, mothers of preemies are taught to tie them in front, under their clothes, kangaroo care-style, she said.
The skin-to-skin contact keeps the infants' body temperature more stable, a key to survival, and they can nurse at will, promoting weight gain.
The test of faith that comes with the birth of a premature baby is ironically further challenged by the idea of such simple remedies being more effective than our scientifically advanced incubation technology...:

The benefits for all babies on KMC [Kangaroo Mother Care] are that they stabilize faster on skin to skin care than in the incubator (they do not stabilize in the incubator in the first six hours of life)
Then KMC babies have stable oxygen rates and breathing. The heart rate is stable. The temperature is most stable on the mother (in skin to skin care the mothers chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, and the mothers core temperature can drop if her baby has a temperature.) Another of the essential factors of KMC is breastfeeding: breastmilk production is stimulated by skin to skin care so baby gets all the benefits of breastmilk including the correct milk for humans. (Formula is made with cows milk which is designed for baby calves.
The main protein in cows milk, casein, is actually toxic for the human baby’s gut so they get milk allergies on formula.)
The babies can breastfeed more often in KMC. This is necessary for growth as the baby’s stomach capacity at birth is only 5ml. After one week it is 30ml which only lasts for 90 minutes. Babies need to be feeding every one and a half to two hours.The baby smells the breastmilk directly so the rooting instinct clicks in quickly and there are less subsequent problems with breastfeeding.
On the mothers chest the baby also gets gestation- specific breastmilk, if the baby is a premature, the milk content is different. Breasts can even produce different milk specific to the needs of each twin. The breastmilk contains all of the nucleotides necessary for brain growth. The mother’s colostrum carries the antibodies needed to protect the newborn with immunity. In terms of protection, the baby will get antibodies and about a thousand other protective factors from the mother’s milk. There are less long term health problems for babies that have breastfed and had skin to skin contact. In skin to skin care the baby is in a relaxed mode so all of the hormones prepare the gut to absorb food maximally. The babies on KMC can grow at 30g per day which is three times that of an incubator baby. This will mean less time in hospital.
A major difference in skin to skin care is that babies cry less so they have less stress hormones like somatostatin circulating, so there are less brain bleeds which are very common in premature infants.
These benefits to Kangaroo Mother Care, along with many for the mother's health as well, outlined here.

Atheism 3.0 Believes In Religion, Just Not God: Fascinating article in USA Today on a wave of new books written by atheists with a decidedly different point of view than the recent 2.0 trinity of Dawkins Harris and Hitchens. Displaying more integrity than I did back during the days I had strayed from my faith, atheist writers like Bruce Sheiman have the honesty to admit to seeing the great good as well as the misguided bad that has been accomplished in the name of religious faith:
"More than any other institution, religion deserves our appreciation and respect because it has persistently encouraged people to care deeply — for the self, for neighbors, for humanity, and for the natural world — and to strive for the highest ideals humans are able to envision," Sheiman writes.
The Greatest Show On Earth: A double-meaning as far as I'm concerned, when Richard Dawkins sits for an hour-long interview on Hugh Hewitt's radio show, to discuss Dawkins' new book on evolution, The Greatest Show On Earth. From the transcript:
Richard Dawkins: ... What point are you making?
Hugh Hewitt: That complexity in design, and counterintuitive steps, et cetera, don’t disprove the idea of genius at work. Genius at work often works through complexity and through misdirection.
RD: I think that what you’re kind of saying is that God made the world look as though it had evolved in order to test our faith, when it didn’t evolve.
HH: No, not test our faith. I’m saying that the world has been made as it is to allow for faith, because if it was made too easy for the simple-minded, it would simply be routine, and everyone would believe, and then there would be no faith.
RD: That would be a pretty unpleasant sort of God. I think, I would say you’re welcome to believe in a kind of God who would do that, but it’s not the kind of God that would appeal to me.
HH: Well, it’s not about what appeals to us, it’s about what is. And you also write that a beneficent designer might, you’d idealistically think, minimize suffering. But not if the soul was infinite, and suffering was necessary for its wisdom.
Heroes With Both Two And Four Legs: Courtesy of Small And Simple Things, a video on training special dogs for special tasks, trained for special people. And after you watch the video I think you'll agree that they are definitely being trained by special people as well: what a lesson in the sacrificial nature of true love.


truepeers said...

3.0? There have always been atheists, but leaving that aside, is there enough here to declare a new level? Seems to me it's about time the atheists adopted the (generative) anthropological means to explain convincingly why people believe in spirits/gods/God. In short, why is there a "God" concept in the first place? As GA points out, once we do have a convincing hypothesis of how the sacred works to bring a temporary peace to the group, the deferral effect that relies on a thing/sign whose name is, intuitively, the first name of God, we then truly minimize the difference between belief in God the creator and God the created.

Dag said...

Thales didn't bother examining the nature of why his fellows believed in the gods, he looked for other answers to other questions, and I thank the gods for it. Of course, all Thales did was create the first step of what became Western Philosophy, so maybe he should have spent his time discussing the need for gods among the Greeks. Maybe the Spartans would have taken up pacifism.

truepeers said...

So now you're saying there is some kind of fundamental difference between an anthropology of religion that respects the irrational, and philosophy? But if so, is that a difference that could have been made any time before the present? In any case, understanding your own need to be bound is not simply navel gazing but also deepens your understanding of why you have enemies and what makes them tick.

Pacifism, in the West, it seems to me, has belonged relatively more to those who invest much in philosophy as opposed to religion, or anything else. I mean, for every Quaker, I can give you two university-trained conscientious objectors who find war just too "irrational", i think... And besides, Quakers are more philosophers than anything else, no?