Monthly Archives: December 2015

Home births are on the rise. But they come with some risks.

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

Expectant mothers in the U.S. remain at a high risk for pregnancy-related death. (iStock)

A hospital birth is slightly safer for the baby than one outside the hospital, but the risks are low. (iStock)

Choosing to have a baby outside a hospital comes with a slight increased risk of death to the baby in the United States but a lower likelihood of a C-section, according to a study of Oregon births published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

But the overall risks to the baby remained small regardless of the birth plan — there were about two deaths per 1,000 births among planned hospital births, vs. four deaths per 1,000 births planned at home or in birthing centers.

“Absolute risk of death is low in all settings — less than half of a percent. … And in terms of that added risk, we see how someone weighs that as a personal choice,” said Jonathan Snowden, an epidemiologist at Oregon Health and Science University who led the study, which examined nearly 80,000 low-risk births in Oregon during 2012 and 2013.

Women who planned to give birth outside of the hospital experienced very different kinds of birth. Far fewer women had their labor induced. A quarter of women who planned hospital births had C-sections that can add serious complications to future pregnancies — five times the rate of C-section among those who planned to give birth outside the hospital. For planned out-of-hospital births, there was an increase in some complications, such as seizures and low Apgar scores (a measure of a newborn’s overall health), but the absolute risk remained low.

Giving birth at home is still a rarity — less than 1 percent of women in the United States gave birth at home in 2012. But home births have been on the rise, and it has been hard to assess …read more


Kids accidentally shot people 5 times a week this year on average

By Christopher Ingraham


On Monday, three days after Christmas, the four-year-old son of an Alaska state trooper had just returned home from sledding. He was playing by himself in the living room. His mom and grandmother were not far away, in the kitchen, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.

But somehow the boy, William Anderson, found a gun belonging to his father. The gun went off and killed William.

This type of thing happens more than it should. At least 265 children under the age of 18 picked up a firearm and accidentally shot themselves or someone else with it in 2015, according to numbers compiled by the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety.

That works out to about five accidental shootings by children each week this year. Of those, 83 ended in death: The underage shooters killed themselves 41 times and other people 42 times. It’s important to note that this tally only includes accidental shootings. It doesn’t include homicides by teens and suicides.

The shootings usually seem to happen when a kid finds an unsecured gun at home, like William did. 148 of the shootings happened at the victim’s house, 31 more happened at a friend’s house, and another 28 happened at the home of a family member.

The shooters tend to be toddlers or young kids firing guns completely on accident or teens playing with guns recklessly, as this chart from Everytown shows.

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Everytown for Gun Safety

It’s unclear whether these numbers are going up or down, because this is the first time these figures have been tallied. “This is the first attempt at making an account at this scale and this degree, and we as an organization started doing it …read more


Why Americans dress so casually

By Roberto A. Ferdman

Imperious fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) dumps her coat on the desk of new assistant Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway). The Devil Wears Prada. Photo credit: Barry Wetcher

Imperious fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) dumps her coat on the desk of new assistant Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) in “The Devil Wears Prada.” (Photo credit: Barry Wetcher)

As you look at that hoodie you got as a Christmas or Hanukkah present, you may wonder why you didn’t get something a little more fancy as a gift. Don’t take it personally. It turns out that Americans are a decidedly casual society when it comes to fashion. In this piece, originally published in September, we examined how that came to be. In this conversation, we explore what happened in America that made us dress so casually.

Look around you, and you’ll likely notice a sea of different outfits. You might see similar articles of clothing — even the same ones — worn by different people, but rarely do you find two pairings of tops, bottoms, shoes, and accessories that are exactly alike.

That wasn’t always the case, said Deirdre Clemente, a historian of 20th century American culture at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, whose research focuses on fashion and clothing. Americans were far more formal, and formulaic dressers, not all that long ago. Men wore suits, almost without fail — not just to work, but also at school. And women, for the most part, wore long dresses.

UNLV Department of History faculty member Deirdre Clemente poses November 20, 2013 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. (Aaron Mayes / UNLV Photo Services) Client: DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY

Deirdre Clemente (Aaron Mayes/UNLV Photo Services)

Clemente has written extensively about the evolution of American dress in the 1900s, a period that, she said, was marked, maybe more than anything else, by a single but powerful trend: As everyday fashion broke from tradition, it shed …read more