Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Adar I 5763 - February 5, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Home and Family



Although I anticipated a strong response to my article on Natural Childbirth vs. Epidural Anesthesia, the outpouring of overwhelming support that has reached me, and assumedly, Yated, has suprassed even my greatest expectations. Apparently there are many other Jewish mothers out there who, as myself, have only the happiest of memories of their natural childbirths. Boruch Hashem. Almost without exception, the faxes and phone calls that came in described childbirth in glowing terms, surprisingly void of any mention of pain. Whatever they may have felt at the time, pain for these mothers was not synonymous with birth. Some even laughingly spoke of their `prepared' natural births as having been kef (fun). Ashreichem Yisroel!

Of the few who did report negative birth experiences to me, virtually all attributed their plight to either dictatorial hospital treatment and/or a traumatic sense of helplessness, loss of control and the lack of a familiar support person to give them chizuk and practical assistance. Not to natural childbirth per se.

Fathers and grandfathers also responded. Most of them expressed appreciation and praise to Yated for having provided me with what one renowned talmid chochom, author and public speaker, graciously described as "a platform for publicizing these important findings" (Rabbi Dr. Dov Levine).

But what really took me completely by surprise was the publication of Yated's "Letter From the Editor."

Although my report on the association between epidural fever and brain injury in children was eloquently dismissed as being "hardly as great as described," the groundbreaking research by Dr. Dashe and colleagues has sent shock waves reverberating throughout the medical community -- with many scurrying to disprove it, in vain.

Regardless of what caused it initially, once the mother's `emergency' inflammatory response goes off, scavenger cells within her body set into motion a complicated cascade of biochemical activity. Unfortunately, once activated, killer cells (capable of targeting and breaking through thin-walled blood vessels as they rout out any invading bacteria) are also adept at damaging healthy cells, especially when no invading bacteria are found.

Although the epidural mother, not the baby, seems to be the one who first called for `help' from the immune system, it is the baby's delicate tissues which are a more vulnerable target.

Eventually, when the smoke has settled and the battle to eliminate epidural anesthesia from the labor room has finally been won, your readers will, at least, be able to say, "We saw it first in Yated Ne'eman!"

Respectfully yours,

Esther Marilus


RE: Rousing the Warrior, 14 Shvat

Varda Branfman's article was not without humor. However, I think it should not pass without comment.

She describes her story well and there is no doubt that she suffered from "chronic ulcerative colitis," characterized by acute periods and often followed by periods relatively free of symptoms. Unfortunately, it also carries a risk of complications that can be severe and even fatal when not recognized early... It is therefore important that such patients remain under the supervision of one who is thoroughly familiar with all its variations and ramifications...

I am concerned that the publication of this article might lead a patient who is suffering from this disease to decide to "go it alone." But the treating physician should instill enough confidence so that the patient is at ease with decisions reached. This was obviously lacking in this instance.

Excerpted from a letter by

Eliezer Desser Professor of Medicine Specialist in Internal Diseases Bnei Brak


And another on the subject from a reader who is "afraid that there are some sufferers reading these articles who may have their confidence diminished in the medical profession and not seek the advice they really need. We regard doctors, after all, as messengers from the Great Healer Himself and we are always advised by our Gedolim to seek the best medical advice possible."


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