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How Parenting Has Changed in the Past Decade

I remember reading this interesting article at the turn of the millennium, in early 2000. The author basically compared how it was to give birth and have kids in 1900’s and then in 2000’s. In other words, what has changed within 100 years?

A few of the Major Changes in the Last 100 Years

  • Prenatal tests. 100 years of medical advancement brought about tests that can accurately calculate due dates and baby sizes; test that can determine the baby as well as the mother’s health and well-being.
  • Mortality rates. Mortality rates during childbirth were rather right in the 1900s – maternal as well as infant. Back then, maternal mortality rates were expressed in numbers per 1,000 births. In the 2000s, it was expressed in numbers per 100,000. In other words, mortality rates decreased by vaccine one hundred eighty times or 99.4%.
  • Vaccines. Even if the baby and mother survive the delivery and the days afterward, there are the childhood diseases to reckon with, which caused high mortality in the 1st year of a baby’s life. To name a few: small pox, polio, and measles. In the year 2000, vaccination has almost eradicated smallpox and polio. People took vaccines for granted, not knowing what it was like 100 years ago.

Other important developments that 100 years of technology brought about in 2000 was IVF, the epidural, prenatal genetic diagnostics, and in utero microsurgery.

Now, let’s fast forward to January 2010. A decade has passed since 2000. What do we have today that we didn’t have 10 years ago at the turn of the millennium?

Some Changes Made in the Last 10 Years

  • Newborn screening tests. According to a 2007 March of Dimes report, almost 90% of newborns in the US are routinely screened for at least 21 life-threatening disorders. This figure is up from only 38% in 2005. The screening guidelines vary from US state to state. Currently, 1 states plus DC screen for as many as 29 disorders. Some states however require only 10 screening tests.
  • Breast cancer-free babies. Thanks to prenatal genetic diagnostics, the first “breast cancer-gene” baby was born in the UK almost a year ago. More are expected to follow although this practice hasn’t become routine and is not accepted all over the place. 2009 also witnessed the first “egg-screened” baby, using the Array CGH technique.
  • Lab-made sperm. Last year, two teams of scientists claimed to be the first to produce sperms in the lab.
  • Increasing skepticism about childhood vaccines. The last ten years brought about an increasing skepticism of childhood vaccines, mainly due to speculations that vaccines are linked to autism. Because more parents opt out of the immunization process for their kids, more outbreaks of the now-rare but childhood diseases such as pertussis, measles and chicken pox have been reported in recent years. Will the strengthening anti-vaccination movement undo the work done during the last 50 plus years?
  • Smoking bans. Now, I personally think this is one of the greatest developments we have achieved in the last 10 years. In most developed countries, smoking bans are in place so that I don’t dread anymore taking my kids to restaurants, cinemas or any other enclosed spaces where people tend to smoke.
  • Better knowledge about SIDs. We now have a better understanding of SIDs or cot death, including its prevention. Aside from the right sleeping position, we now know that breastfeeding reduces the risk of SIDS but secondhand smoking does.
  • Extra-old moms. Thanks to advancements in reproductive medicine, women as old as 70 were able to deliver during the last couple of years. Although the IVF technique is more than 30 years old, it has been developed and refined over the years with dramatic results.
  • Surrogacy. Although not new, surrogacy only became openly debated recently and even widely accepted in many countries.
  • Celebrity adoptions. Adoption splashed across the headlines during the last decade, mainly due to the likes of Angelina Jolie and Madonna. More celebrities are following suit, adopting children from less developed countries.
  • Social media: Twitter and Facebook. When I delivered 6.5 years ago, people were so impressed that our twins already had their individual email addresses. It wasn’t a big deal for us. We were one of the very first to have our own web domain about 15 years ago. Nowadays, birth announcements are done through websites like Babies Online, Twitter, and Facebook. Then minutes later, the first photos of the newborn are online for the world to see. Or any other social media network that parents are part of. Babies can now have their own PayPal accounts, blogs and avatars.
  • Healthcare. The last 10 years witnessed big reforms in health care systems the world over. The most dramatic health care changes however occurred without a doubt, in the US in 2009.

Can you add anything else to the list above? What do you think would the next ten years bring?


3 Responses to “How Parenting Has Changed in the Past Decade”

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