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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ancient methods of getting babies to breathe

If you're like me and love history, you'll love to hear all the interesting old methods that were at one time used to get a baby to take it's first breath. Of course these were all pre-bag-valve masks.

This paragraph is recopied here without permission from "Respiratory Care," December, 2009, Volume 54, number 12, "Manual Resuscitators: Some Inconvenient truths," page 1638:

"The Old Testament appears to describe the successful application of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of a child, some 2,900 years ago (II Kings 4:34). According to O'Donnell and colleagues, the Babylonian Talmud describes a similar event 2,300 years ago: 'One may give a woman (about to give birth) all assistance possible... One may violate tha Sabbath on her account.' What is meant by 'being of assistance'? 'Holding up the young, blowing air into its nostrils, and leading it to its mother's breast, so that it may suck."

That's not so bad, but consider the following:

"In the ensuing centuries, a dizzying array of techniques to aid in resuscitating the newborn have been described. Looking through the 'retro-spectroscope' we can now appreciate that some of these techniques were not particularly efficacious. They included: swinging the infant upside down; squeezing the chest; raising and lowering the arms while an assistant compresses the chest; rhythmic traction of the tongue; tickling the chest, mouth, or throat; yelling; shaking; dilating the rectum with a raven's beak or corn cob; immersion in cold water, sometimes alternating with immersion in hot water; rubbing, slapping, or pinching; electric shocks; nebulized brandy (my personal favorite); a hyperbaric chamber in which pressure was increased 1-3 psi every few minutes, to mimic labor; insufflation of oxygen into the stomach; and, last but not certainly not least, insufflation of tobacco smoke into the rectum."

Interesting hey? I suppose in another 2,500 years people will read about how we gave Ventolin to every patient who has rickets to asthma, and wonder what the hell we were thinking.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Liquor in a nebulizer, huh? WOW. You're totally right, though. My grandkids are going to say to me, "You mean when my mom was little, she had to carry around this thing that squirted out medicine ALL DAY?"