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Really?

Really?
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First Published: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 12 52 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 12 52 AM IST
The Claim
Manipulating your neck could lead to a stroke
Manipulating your neck is supposed to relieve pain, not cause it. But years ago neurologists noticed a strange pattern of people suffering strokes shortly after seeing chiropractors, specifically for neck adjustments.
Their hypothesis was that a chiropractic technique called cervical spinal manipulation, involving a forceful twisting of the neck, could damage two major arteries that lead through the neck to the back of the brain. Strokes in people under age 45 are relatively rare, but these cervical arterial dissections are a leading cause for them.
Studies that followed suggested a link. One at Stanford that surveyed 177 neurologists found 55 patients who suffered strokes after seeing chiropractors. Another, published in the journal ‘Neurologist’, said young stroke patients were five times more likely to have had neck adjustments within a week of their strokes than a control group. It estimated an incidence of 1.3 cases for every 100,000 people under 45 receiving neck adjustments.
But other studies have cast doubt. One published this year examined 818 cases of stroke linked to arterial dissections at the back of the neck. Before their strokes, younger patients who saw chiropractors were more likely to have complained beforehand of head and neck pain—symptoms often preceding a stroke—suggesting they had undiagnosed dissections and had sought out chiropractors for relief, not realizing a stroke was imminent.
The Bottom Line
Forceful neck manipulation seems to carry a small risk of arterial tears.
The Claim
Morning sickness means a girl is more likely
Old wives’ tales about predicting a baby’s sex—relying on clues such as the way the woman carries and the fetal heart rate—are usually more fantasy than fact.
But the notion that morning sickness can sometimes indicate a girl is on the way may be an exception. A number of large studies in various countries have examined the claim, and almost all have found it to be true, with caveats. Specifically, studies have found that it applies to women with morning sickness in the first trimester, and with symptoms so severe that it leads to hospitalization, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum.
One of the most recent studies was conducted by epidemiologists at the University of Washington. The scientists compared 2,110 pregnant women who were hospitalized with morning sickness in their first trimester and a control group of 9,783 women who did not get severely ill. They found that the women in the first group were more likely to deliver a girl, and that those who were the sickest—hospitalized for three days or more—had the greatest odds: an increase of 80% compared with the control women.
Other studies in ‘The Lancet’ and the journal ‘Epidemiology’, among others, have repeated the findings. It is thought that certain hormones produced by female foetuses may be the culprit.
The Bottom Line
Severe morning sickness may indicate a higher likelihood that the baby will be a girl.
©2008/THE NEW YORK TIMES
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First Published: Tue, Sep 09 2008. 12 52 AM IST
More Topics: Neck | Pain | Neurologists | Strokes | Business of Life |