Monday, November 25, 2013

Eating dates to speed up your due date?

When you’re very pregnant, even if you’re a rational scientist-type person, you can sometimes not help but googleing “ways to induce labor”. My google even already autofilled it for me, it must know more than me about myself. And instead of reading scientifically sound pieces about what might determine when the baby comes, I find myself reading about acupuncture, castor oil and all that. But wait a minute, what does it say on the bottom of the page? Something about a recent scientific study showing that eating dates has a favorable effect on labor and delivery? I had to check that out.

The paper is from a group of scientists from Jordan, published in a journal with the astonishing impact factor of 0.55, and looks at two groups of 45 and 69 women. One group of women eats at least 6 pieces of date fruit in the four weeks prior to giving birth, whereas the other group eats none. It’s a prospective study, meaning that the women who eat dates are not assigned to that group, which I think is important to notice. The researchers find that in the date-eating group, the women arrived to the hospital more dilated than the non-date-eating group, had their membranes intact more often, had more spontaneous labor, and the use of Pitocin was lower. Also, the duration of the first stage of labor was shorter, but I wonder if that isn’t just the case because they arrived at the hospital more dilated. I don’t know about Jordan, but I could imagine that the group of women who eat 6 dates each day, is a different group of women to begin with. They might be the women who refuse induction with Pitocin, stay home longer before going to the hospital, refuse to have their membranes artificially ruptured, etc etc. We might just be looking at two different groups of women who happen to be different in their date fruit consumption. The researchers conclude: “that the consumption of date fruit in the last 4 weeks before labour significantly reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labour, and produced a more favourable, but non-significant, delivery outcome. The results warrant a randomised controlled trial.” I totally agree with that final sentence.

And for those of you wondering, I have not been eating any date fruits over the last couple of weeks.

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