Newborn babies in pain or distress -- such as those who need to
undergo painful medical procedures -- can be made more comfortable by
giving them a sugary solution to drink followed by a pacifier, says a
British Medical Journal study. In
the words of the old song, a spoonful of sugar really does make the
medicine go down.
The real interest of this article, aside from its useful if intuitive
suggestion for concerned parents, lies in the accompanying editorial's
of the enormous difficulty physicians seem to have had in recognizing
and identifying the existence of pain in newborn infants. The
result, our present-day lack of any body of medical research or reliable
data on the proper management of pain in newborns (as editorialist Dr.
Choonara points out, "[w]e still ... do not know what dose of morphine
will provide sufficient analgesia after major surgery in most newborn
infants"), is disturbing, to say the least.
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I generally hate even bringing up this subject because of the type of
e-mail it elicits (I already know, honestly, thanks anyway), but here
goes. Considered supporters of either side in the abortion debate should
consider a serious mutual push for more and better pediatric pain
management research and medical education. It's true that most abortions
are not the casual, brutal acts of butchery that, quite understandably,
are most frequently portrayed by the outraged pro-life movement -- the
serene, nonchalant abortion of a healthy, late-term fetus is a terrible
thing, but, thank God, it's also an exceptionally rare event. The point
here is that a less cavalier and barbaric attitude toward infant pain,
both amongst health care professionals and pervading the conventional
wisdom of our culture, might well help push down the number of abortions
taking place at the (comparatively) "casual" end of the spectrum. And
that's something all of us can support -- isn't it?
Barking good Christmas cards
Petopia.com is featuring Avanti
Press's line of dog-themed holiday cards, which have just made me burst
out laughing at my desk. They come in a dozen different illustrations:
12 Dalmatians drumming, 11 spaniels sleeping, 10 magnificent mutts, nine
poodles prancing, eight Rottweilers ringing, seven Labs a-leaping, six
German shepherds (following the star of Bethlehem), five golden
retrievers (just sitting by the tree looking cute), four beagles
begging, three dachshunds dashing, two terriers toasting, and a
Pomeranian in a pear tree. The "mutts" line could use some work (10
mixes ... um ... marveling, perhaps? Mugging? Milling? Hmmm. I do see
the problem). And the absence from the roster of any Dobermans dozing or
greyhounds grinning is, of course, a glaring flaw. All the same, this
revision is an obvious vast improvement on the original carol.
Check out the cards directly here
if you're just browsing for a giggle. If you're going to shop, though,
you can get $10 off your purchase of at least $10 worth of Petopia.com
products by starting from this page. To
reach the cards, click through to the Petopia main page, click on the
Dogs tab, and scroll down to People Products.
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Millennial blues? Kick back
The Old Farmer's Almanac
provides an oasis of down-home-brewed wisdom where you can hide
comfortably from the technowhirl of the fin de millennium. The
Almanac's Weekly Wisdom column is just as soothing as can be, decorated
with weird little old weather proverbs and recipes for things like maple
syrup cookies. You'll also find a forgotten genre of amusement here
whose pedigree goes a long way further back than the Sony Playstation's.
Take, for instance, Monday's Puzzle of the Day: "My first is company; my
second shuns company; my third assembles company; my whole amuses
company." Answer? "Co-nun-drum." Quaint? Archaic? Absolutely. To enjoy
mental games and riddles like this, people actually used to have to be
clever about language, and to know how to think. That's about as
obsolete as anything I can think of, offhand. There are anagrams and
math riddles and palindromes aplenty in the Puzzles archive. Enjoy them.
E-mail them around, if you like. I'm not being a technophobe here. I
just suffer from a totally unseemly and anachronistic nostalgia for the
kind of parlor games that used to be played at Dickensian Christmas
parties and little Jane Austen gatherings.