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Defending life from the moment of conception

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4 January 2005

4 January 2005

4 January 2005 The Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, is today launching a scheme to help women considering abortion.

Cardinal George Pell wants his Centacare programme to provide "life affirming options". The service offers counselling and referrals for accommodation, and is also prepared to help pregnant women's families.

The Australian Catholic bishops hope to extend the scheme, which resembles programmes in New Zealand and Scotland, throughout the country.

[Archdiocese of Sydney, 28 December ] A US survey of mothers of children with Down's syndrome suggests that doctors have a negative attitude to babies with the condition.

Some complained that medics were insensitive in the way in which they told parents about their child's situation.

Doctors suggested to parents that they have their child adopted, and criticised couples who had not had prenatal testing.

There was little said about the positive aspects of having Down's children. Some 1,250 women belonging to Down's support groups in several states completed an 11-page survey form compiled by Harvard, Massachusetts, researchers.

[Medical News Today, 3 January ] Bishop Elio Sgreccia has been promoted from vice-president to president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. The bishop told the media that, on life-related issues: "we cannot count on the laws, which yield to the will of the majority."

[CWN and Lifesite, 3 January ] A birth simulator has been used to discover what could be the best way to deliver babies whose shoulders get stuck in the birth canal.

Scientists at Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, used the device to perform 30 simulated deliveries of children with shoulder dystocia.

They found that the anterior Rubin's manoeuvre, where the baby is turned so that the spine faces the mother's front, needed less force than other techniques.

Shoulder dystocia happens during one birth in 20, and it can lead to damage to the children.

[Medical News Today, 3 January ] An administrator in a nursing home was dismissed because she was pregnant, an employment tribunal in Scotland has found.

The tribunal described the action of the home in North Lanarkshire as "cold and calculated".

It was claimed that Ms Elaine Johnstone's former employer could not afford to pay someone to do her job during her pregnancy.

[Herald, 4 January ] Women with type-one diabetes may reduce the likelihood of infant mortality and prenatal developmental anomalies if they monitor their blood glucose before and during pregnancy, according to Odense University, Denmark. Among the sample of nearly 1,000 women, those who had "serious adverse outcomes" were less likely to check and control their glucose levels.

[Reuters, 31 December ] Vitamin D deficiency among women in Scotland could be the reason for that country having the world's highest incidence of multiple sclerosis.

A neurologist at Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, suggests that expectant mothers should take supplements containing the vitamin to protect their offspring from developing the disease later in life.

Exposure to sunlight seems to be a related factor, according to Oxford University research performed on women in Scotland and Canada.

Women in northern countries such as Greenland and Norway seem to overcome the problem by eating oily fish which contains vitamin D.

[Sunday Times, 2 January ] Multiple sclerosis is thought to be an autoimmune disease, and may be triggered by genetic and/or environmental factors.

A 30-year-old Derbyshire, England, woman gave up smoking after seeing her unborn daughter on a prenatal monitor.

Ms Emma Bamford was three months' pregnant when she had the scan in September 2003. She says she gave up for her daughter's sake. [Derbyshire Evening Telegraph, 3 January ]

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