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Helping heal moms' injuries

I've been pregnant twice, and both times (thanks to a pesky autoimmune disease) meant months of extra ultrasounds and screenings and pre- and post-labor appointments with high-risk physicians and other specialists. I have good insurance and access to doctors at one of the best medical centers in the country (not Stanford, but one just up north), and I recognize just how lucky I am to have received this type of care. I also feel a little guilty about it - especially when reading about women in other parts of the world, whose pregnancy and childbirth stories are, sadly, quite different from mine.

Today's New York Times ran a terribly interesting story about a group of such women: mothers in Tanzania whose prolonged labor leave them with internal wounds that result in incontinence and infection. Relatively uncommon in the west, with its advanced medical care, fistulas impact two million women, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia - and can be treated with a surgical procedure.

Various groups of physicians have traveled to African countries to treat these women; this article discussed the work of a Duke physician, and we've previously reported on Stanford doctors who have worked with fistula patients in Eritrea. Hopefully this piece will draw attention to the issue, and more women can be helped.

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