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Letter from the editor | 124

Defending the natural birth pattway

There is something frankly frightful in a good part of the discussions that are going on in this country about the best way towards the birth of human babies. I am talking of the strange inversion that the concepts of normal and extraordinary are undergoing in relation to one of the most fantastic physiological processes in which the female body is specialized: childbirth.

As cesarean section became so trivialized, there are those that believe, in particular among the new generations, that alternative surgery is normal for giving birth, while normal birth, by the vaginal route, is these days an excrescence, an irremediable anachronism. A terrible mistake! Normal birth, even when the body spends over 24 hours in a stupendous and insistent work to make it finally happen, is an event that is in the nature of physiology, of the good and healthy functioning of the female organism. Cesarean birth, on the other hand, although we must be fair and take it as fine construction of human technical-scientific competence, perfected step by step since it was tried for the first time over 400 years ago, and, let it be stressed, fundamental since then for saving an incalculable number of lives, is a surgery – with the risks inherent to any surgery, besides other specific ones. Surgery that does indeed have to be carried out in all the situations in which the normal physiological process has no chance of following its course, in favor of the life of women and babies.

The problem is unnecessary cesareans. And this is what the fine cover story of this issue of Pesquisa Fapesp shows with acuteness and in depth, taking as a starting point a study with an important participation of Brazilian researchers, published just now in June, in The Lancet, one of the most important scientific magazines in the area of medicine. The unknown risks of cesareans, the conversion of Brazilian obstetrics to surgical birth and the reasons for it, the alterations to maternal-infant mortality rates caused by the abuse of the non-physiological childbirth, all this and much more is reported in the dense, vigorous and, at the same time, sensitive text by special editor Ricardo Zorzetto. Very much at ease in my female condition, and mother of three children, all born of normal childbirth, I even dare to say that any woman quite aware of the social importance of the affirmative struggles on gender would be pleased to undersign this article, which is a veritable work of public utility.

Going beyond my enthusiasm with the cover story, though, there is much new and stimulating to read in this issue. In technology, for example, it is worthy highlighting the article by assistant editor Dinorah Ereno on the cicatrizing and regenerating effects on damaged tissues from a protein found in the venom of the urutu pit viper. We are, therefore, before the promise of new medicines based on venoms from Brazilian snakes.

And, in humanities, I call attention to the article by editor Carlos Haag about the more sociological analyses of the explosion of violence that affected São Paulo in the middle of the month of May and which had its most dramatic moment in Monday the 15th. It was a crisis of great breadth, as one of its analysts observed, and, for the way it spread terror amongst policemen and other public agents, and for the population in general, has an unprecedented nature.