ICYMI Health features what we're reading this week.
This week, we sought out simple answers to tough health questions. While such questions require a degree of nuance -- if they didn't, they wouldn't be tough, right? -- consider this an at-a-glance jumping off point to explore the research in more detail.
Read on and tell us in the comments: What did you read and love this week?
Q: How can we reduce the United States' high C-section rate?
A: Give women more time to push.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in March, giving women just one more hour to push during the second stage of labor cut the C-section rate of the 78 first-time moms in the study by half.
While the study was limited to women who'd received epidurals during childbirth, and was admittedly very small, researchers suggested that it offered a critique of our potentially outdated standard for how long doctors should allow women to labor during childbirth.
“The study really showed what we’ve seen in practice for years, which is that there can be benefits to allowing women to labor longer,” Dr. Alexis Gimovsky, study author and fellow in maternal fetal medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Pennsylvania, previous told HuffPost.
The C-section rate in the United States is currently stands at about 30 percent, a good deal higher than the 10 to 15 percent of births that the World Health Organization recommends.
Q: What misconceptions do rich people have about people who are repeatedly evicted?
A: "It’s not bad behavior that’s causing poverty; it’s the other way around."
In his new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond digs deep into the psychological stresses of being poor in the United States -- and even more specifically, what it's like to be housing insecure.
In doing so, Desmond pushes back on the misconception that low-income, insecurely housed people are poor decision-makers, and argues that for Americans on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder, life is driven by poverty, not personal choice.
Among his most poignant examples: Larraine, a woman on public assistance in Milwaukee, who blows her monthly food-stamp allowance on a seafood dinner.
"Consider how much more it would take to bring Larraine up from her state of massive insecurity to something that’s just like, you know, stable poverty," Desmond told Science Of Us. In Larraine's case, he explained, the vast gap between her situation and stability made saving money seem hopeless.
"And so I think that this is a case where it’s not bad behavior that’s causing poverty; it’s the other way around," he said.
MORE: Science Of Us
Q: When will the medically disbarred anti-vaxx conspiracy theorist Andrew Wakefield back down?
A: Not now
UPDATE: Robert De Niro, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, announced Saturday they would no longer screen Andrew Wakefield’s film.
Despite being stripped of his medical license for both misleading and endangering the public with his now-retracted 1998 study, which incorrectly linked childhood vaccines with autism, Andrew Wakefield is premiering a new film about himself at the Tribeca Film Festival in April.
The film's dramatic trailer is a good reason to refresh your memory on Wakefield's misdeeds over the last two decades, especially since the upcoming documentary is likely to drum up lots of attention from the scientific community and its anti-vaccination foes.
Q: Who (or what) should you blame if you can't sleep through the night?
A: Technology (or more specifically, the Industrial Revolution).
According to Roger Ekirch, a historian at Virginia Tech University and author of At Day’s Close: Night In Times Past, the Industrial Revolution and the new technologies it brought might be the catalyst for your inability to catch eight uninterrupted hours of sleep. Our ancestors actually When Ekirch himself noticed when the terms “first sleep” and “second sleep" kept popping up in historical documents he was examining.
“The references were very casual," Ekirch previously told HuffPost. "They were said in such a way as to assume that everyone else knew what they were referring to." After digging in a bit further, Ekirch concluded that our ancestors actually slept in four-hour shifts, which he called “segmented sleep,” waking to work, have sex, meditate and pray in the middle of their sleep shifts.
Unfortunately, electric lighting and strict factory work hours killed segmented sleep for modern-day men and women, but it's a good reminder that the sleep patterns we consider normal and healthy today are actually a relatively recent phenomenon.