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The Psychologist 1989, 2, 443.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Editors

The Psychologist

RE: HOMEBIRTH AND I.Q.

Dear Sirs/Mesdames,

I see that my letter on I.Q. gains due to improved obstetric practice (Ray, 1989) has attracted the ire of the homebirth lobby (Elliott, 1989). I was for many years married to a very fine British S.R.N. who very much enjoyed her job as a midwife in Britain of the 1940's and '50's. Homebirth advocates can therefore be assured that I am thoroughly informed of the emotional advantages of the old system. I am, however, too good a psychologist to waste time arguing with emotions. For the benefit of the less committed, however, I might observe that Flynn's (1989) findings do represent just about the last nail in the coffin for the homebirth case:

The medical profession did not wait for survey evidence before they started doing episiotomies on a large scale. It just seemed obvious to them that it was desirable to avoid putting any more pressure on a baby's brain than you had to. Now we see how very beneficial this has indeed been. There are a lot more well-functioning brains about. Correlation (between I.Q. gain and improved obstetric practice) does not, of course, prove causation but that correlation is the end of the story, not the beginning of it. If you do an intervention Y with aim X in view and aim X is subsequently observed to have been achieved, that is what normally counts as good scientific evidence that Y leads to X. The survey evidence is now in. X has been observed. The case against homebirth is now logically (but not perhaps emotionally) compelling.

Yours faithfully,

(Dr) JOHN J. RAY

REFERENCES

Elliott, S. (1989) I.Q. and midwifery practice. The Psychologist 2, 285-286.

Flynn, J.R. (1988) Japanese I.Q. just fades away. The Psychologist 348-350.

Ray, J.J. (1988) IQ gain as an outcome of improved obstetric practice. The Psychologist 1, 498.






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