Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Placentas, air pollution and four week old babies

Air pollution, placentas  and  four weeks of pregnancy

Air pollution from a wide variety of sources acts metal development causing a wide range of health problems including prematurity, low birth weight babies and developmental delays.  Each year, we spend billions of dollars to care for infants and children impacted by air pollution- while failing to prevent these complications by tending to a cleaner environment.
The fossil fuel industry, including fracking, transport and storage, cause significant damage to newborns.   This is most often in low income communities due to zoning laws that protect higher income babies from an increased level of air pollution.

Researchers have worked hard to determine exactly how and when air pollution impacts the health of babies.   They mostly depend on retrospective studies that look at air pollution on specific days and then look at prematurity, gestational hypertension and other birth defects of pregnant women impacted by the air pollution.  They look at women who live within a mile of fracking as well.

The studies have been completed in many of our fossil fuel extraction sites as well as sites around the world.  Brown University, John Hopkins and Colorado School of Public Health have all found a correlation.

They found a correlation between fossil fuel extraction and its ambient air pollution with prematurity, low birth weigh leading to future disabilities, congenital heart defect, and gestational hypertension.

No one knows exactly how prematurity happens but they suspect that the earliest weeks of pregnancy are some of the riskiest for the unborn baby.  One baby suggested that ambient pollution at just four weeks is the most dangerous.  Many women do not even know they are pregnant yet.

Researchers believe it has something to do with placental implantation being impacted by the chemicals in ambient air pollution.  It also can cause an inflammatory pathway that exists throughout the pregnancy.

This is consistent with researchers who now believe that eclampsia begins in the placenta.

The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with making sure that corporations do not hurt the health of humans and the natural resources that protect their health.   States, county and local governments also are charged with making sure the air and water is clean.  They believe that pollution is a necessary evil for jobs but few acknowledge that the health care an school budgets are greatly impacted by "looking the other way."

A pro-life community assures clean air for all people and most of all - the most vulnerable- the yet to be born and their placenta.

Big business continues to move ahead with pipe lines, fracking and a wide range of storage and transport  mechanism that shed pollutants into the air where an unsuspecting pregnant women is impacted for the rest of their life.

New Republic ( 2/15/2014)

Monday, December 19, 2016

What's a baby sacrifice zone?

I was writing and I thought well, if there are city and country sacrifice zones, then there are also Baby Sacrifice Zones.  There are cities, rural mining areas, whole countries that are sacrificed so that some people can  be wealthier.  The high pollution levels are accepted by the general public because of the jobs or income or products that sacrifice offers.

The problem is that most often the people living in "Baby Sacrifice Zones" may not know the danger to there children and most often don't benefit from the economics of the zone.

A Baby Sacrifice Zone is a place where women are exposed to large quantaties of polluting factors, over time, that impacts the health of their reproductive system, hormones, births and their children.


           You may be asking but how do Baby Sacrifice Zones get created?

That's a great question.  It's different in different parts of the world.  But it goes something like this.  A business enterprise needs raw materials or wants to process them and so he looks for a place to do this.  It may be extraction or processing or making a product.  They know they can not do this in a place where the wealthy live.

So they look for a place they HOPE no one will say anything until its too late.  They work with government to skirt laws and regulations and wham - we have fracking and mining in rural Pennsylvania and oil trains in Eastern Oregon and a pipe line in Standing Rock.

In cities, like mine, the government annexed low income communities of color and then used them for their Baby Sacrifice Zone.   They told them it would mean jobs or city services and then mostly gave them pollution and damaged health.

           Did they know this would cause premature births?

Most likely they did not....BUT THEY DO NOW.

            The research is clear but no one is willing to break up the heavy industrial zoning that causes
BABY SACRIFICE ZONES.   City Planners are holding tight to the idea that all heavy industrial must stay in one place- and that one place is a low income, historical community of immigrants and forced immigrants.

Voting Pro-Life

I originally wrote this before the election when I was hoping people could see that pro-life policies include creating a healthy life for the next generation; that climate justice, healthcare, and good education are all part of a pro-life political platform.  I post this again, on the day the electors meet, with a prayer, that they will vote for the next generation's well-being.

Voting “pro-life”

I listen to a friend say that her parents will vote for Donald Trump because of one issue only – abortion.   They don’t care what else as long as he is anti-abortion.

I have heard this over many election cycles but have wondered what it really means to be “pro-life.”   When Quakers say they are anti- war they talk about “Taking away the causes of war” They consider those attitudes and practices that lead to war.

And so it is with abortion.  What are the attitudes and laws and policies that lead to an always difficult and painful decision?   When you look a, you can see that progressive Democrats do more to take away the need for an abortion and to prevent problems with childbirth and pregnancy.

1.     Countries with socialized medicine have fewer abortions.  Yes, if you want fewer abortions health care for all will lower that rate.  Mothers will be able to proceed with a pregnancy knowing they and their child will have healthcare.
2.     High quality birth control prevents abortion.   A political party that funds birth control and makes it easy to access is a party committed to lowering abortion rates. 
3.     Many countries with lower abortion rates, give mothers longer and better maternity leaves so they can fully recover and care for their baby.  The US maternity leave law does little to encourage mothers to move forward with an unplanned pregnancy.   A pro-life stance includes high quality and supportive maternity leave.
4.     Free education.  Wow. My baby can have the opportunity to go to community college for free.  I may not have much money but I can be assured this baby will have this opportunity. 
5.     Free or low cost daycare.  If you want to lower abortion rates, a political party that supports high quality daycare is a must.   Few families can afford to have one parent stay home for their entire childhood.   Daycare is a pro-life policy. 
6.     In Finland and many other countries, all mothers receive a “Baby box” in which they get everything they need for their baby.   All mothers get this.  There are no baby registrations and showers.  All babies are cared for by a loving community.  
7.     Clean air, clean water, clean soil and clean food.   Climate change and the effect of industrial waste are causing massive birth related health problems.  If a party is pro-life they clean up the rivers, work to stop climate change, demand clean air.   They give a baby a chance at good health, no matter where they live.  
8.     Respect for women and their bodies.    Rape, sexual harassment and abuse all undermine a woman’s confidence and ability to move into mother hood secure that she and her daughters will be care for and supported.   Pro-life means pro respect for women in language and all we do. 
9.     Control of guns so that parents can be assured that there unborn baby will be safe.
10.   That their baby will not grow up to be teased or discriminated against for their religion, skin color or ethnic background or sexual orientation.

So when you vote pro-life I hope you will consider all the many ways that a candidate or a political platform supports a country and a society that makes sure that every baby is planned and cared for.  

Pro-life equals climate justice, universal healthcare, good education, clean water and air, a loving respectful attitude towards women, free birth control.   When looking for pro-life candidates, consider those people who paint a picture of a country or community that supports life in all its many ways.   

In this way we will greatly reduce the need for abortion.  As our level of love and support and respect for women rises, as a society, the need for abortions will decrease. 

Donald Trump, under this definition, is not pro-life.   He does nothing to assure reproductive security.  

Fracking causes premature birth which is one of the greatest causes of the US’s dismal infant mortality rate.  Therefore you cannot be pro-life and continue this practice.   If you frack, you are ultimately causing death and harm to the unborn. 

My plea is that you consider what it really means to be pro-life.   I hope you will join me in re-defining the term pro-life to mean policies that assure each chosen baby a healthy, clean, non-violent place to be born into and thrive. 

My pro-life candidate is Hilary Clinton and all the down stream candidates who support a healthy, equitable, peaceful world.    If we use the needs of the yet to be born as a measure of our vote, you cannot vote for Donald Trump and be pro-life. 

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Premature Birth Link to Air Pollution

Air pollution is often related to fossil fuels.
In my town, city council and city planners allow large double diesel trucks to drive through a small town rather than use the designated highways.  They also pick up all of  Oregon's gasoline and drive it to local gas stations.  This is  the same place as 16 superfund sites and a large tank farm.  Ah yes, there is no real system of maternal health in this small town either.  Its also miles form the nearest hospital and ah yes - the schools are not high performing.

And yes, if we raise the rents perhaps all of this will improve because the new wealthier homeowners won't put up with it.

Where is the 'baby sacrifice zone" in your community?
How will Donald Trump's choices for his cabinet protect babies in the next four years from prematurity related to air

Environmental Justice is Reproductive Justice

Environmental Justice is Reproductive Justice is Racial Justice

The next posts, in my blog, are dedicated to the long term impact of polluting factors on mothers, babies and the long term health of children and our communities.

Let's start with some statistics.....

One in ten babies in the United States are born preterm ( before 37 weeks)
It is the highest cause of death in children under the age of five.
The rate is increasing/ not decreasing.
36% of all infant deaths in the United States are caused by preterm births
African American women are 50% more likely to have a preterm baby than a white woman.
In Washington State, preterm births for Native Americans, are 49% higher than for any other ethnic group

The cost of a preterm birth is $26 billion dollars annually with some medical bills being over 2 million dollars for one baby.  This does not include the long term educational needs related to disabilities.

Babies born preterm may experience difficulty breathing, staying warm, feeding and just staying alive.  Later in life, they may experience many other health and developmental challenges.  It is not the way anyone wants a baby to begin life on earth.

The risk factors for preterm birth include many factors and one of them is simply being poor and not white.  Smoking, poor nutrition and lack of access to prenatal care make it worst but even if you do everything "right" being raised with less or being a woman of color puts your baby at a higher risk. For years researchers have looked for why poor women and women of color have more preterm babies.

I am suggesting we look at where they lived.  I am suggesting we look at our cities and where our fossil fuels come from.  I am suggesting we look at our city's "sacrifice zoning plans" for our answer.
I am suggesting that we look where capitalism and the exploitation of colonization took the wealthy for our answers.

 For if you look at the research carefully, it is clear that environmental exposure to poor air quality, fracking, lead in the water and pollutants in soil and paint and food all increase the rates  of preterm birth and pre-eclampsia.

What we also know is that poor women and women of color are far more likely to live in high pollution area or parts of the city dedicated to pollution so that the wealthier people can breathe clean air and have parks and clean water.  These women, in pristine neighbourhoods,  also have fewer birth complications.

So why, if we know that pollution and fracking and pipe lines and superfund sites are causing over one million babies to die each year do we allow these practices to go on?

But it is not just in my city or my country.  The World Health Organisation estimates that 1 million children die from preterm births each year.  They estimate 15 million preterm births, world wide, each year.  The United State is amongst the ten countries with the highest preterm rate.  It sits between Indonesia and Bangladesh.  China and India with the highest rates, also have high levels of air pollution.

Babies are an indicator species.  They and their mother's reproductive system and her placenta are all sensitive to the pollutants in our air and water and soil and pipes and paint.  What we know now, is that the harm done to a woman's reproductive system is generational.  What we know is that the very air your mother breathes can effect the outcome of your birth and your baby.

Getting the tobacco industry to take responsibility for the harm they caused was near to impossible and the fossil fuel industry will be even harder.   First of all. most people like 'sacrifice zones' because it keeps pollution out of their neighbourhoods where they don't have to look at it.   Second everyone loves fossil fuel products and feels like it has to be somewhere.  They are happy their baby is not sick and give themselves credit for doing everything right.  The March of Dimes knows and the CDC knows but it is so huge and so hard to change.

I am a midwife but I believe it "takes a village" to deliver a healthy baby to a healthy mother.  Perhaps you always wanted to be a midwife; that you always wanted to help mothers and babies.  You can be a Climate Justice Midwife and ensure better outcomes for mothers and babies by working to protect our communities form air and water pollution and beginning the long journey to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy.

This is a long, long labor. Just like good midwives, we will have to try many, many things but we will not give up because a healthy baby is always our goal.  When we take midwifery into our hearts, we take in our commitment to love each and every baby as our own.  We stretch our hands across the universe and answer the call to protect and provide for the next generation.  With love in my heart, I ask you to consider this calling and join me as a Climate Justice Midwife.

I now suspect the significant number of women dying of eclampsia in Haiti is related to the environment.  There is good research to support it.  It is perhaps lead in the pipes or house paint or chemicals put in the soil.

Standing Rock
Fossil Fuel poison is a form of genocide.  One you pollute the water and air and soil, it is very difficult to overcome the problems created by it.  It is like small pox on blankets all over again.

Your city
Find out where your fuel and electricity is coming from?  What part of your community is sacrificed for oil exports or for your home energy use.  Where are the babies in your region most likely to be born premature due to exposure to lead or air or water pollution?