Lessons from a pregnancy and childbirth

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 21 April 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:973
  1. Cathie Sudlow, Wellcome Trust clinician scientist (
  1. division of clinical neurosciences, University of Edinburgh

    My day job is as a neurologist and clinical researcher with a particular interest in stroke. I am also the mother of a healthy daughter, now 2 years old. There was nothing extraordinary about my experience of pregnancy and childbirth. However, the experience illustrated rather well to me three fundamental challenges facing health care and research: inequality in access and resources, the commercialisation of health and disease, and well meaning but misguided attempts to protect participants in medical research that can in fact harm both the participants and the research.

    I received an impressive amount of easily accessible health care during an uncomplicated pregnancy: antenatal checks and classes, postnatal home visits from the midwife and health visitor, and regular drop-in sessions with the health visitor for advice, baby weighing, and socialising. If only we could provide patients who have some of the commonest neurological conditions (strokes, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis) and their carers with this kind of access to advice, information, and …

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