Health care spending in the 1990’s

I had always been under the impression that a serious shift towards managed care had really helped to keep health care spending in check during the 90’s.  Thanks to this chart from Austin Carroll, we can see– actually not so much:

Take a look at the green line, and you can conclude that we made some good progress in keeping health care costs down.  But, no, throw in the blue, and what you’ll realize is that our tremendous GDP growth during the 90’s (the era when taxes were at a level that Republicans currently insist will destroy our economy if the Bush tax cuts expire) was so great as to keep health care stable as a GDP percentage, even while it grew quite a bit.   Lesson?  As always, context matters.

Forward to sleep

I’m going to come out of the closet as a parental heretic– we’ve let our babies sleep on their tummies.  Now, there’s some research out that suggests this may very well have done them some long-term good.  From Slate:

The less time infants spend on their stomachs, the slower they generally are to acquire motor skills during their first year, which means the potential delay of simple feats like lifting their heads as well as more-complicated movements like rolling over, crawling, and pulling to stand. Doctors have hesitated to sound the alarm about this, since children usually walk shortly after their first birthdayregardless of how much tummy time they’ve had. But a growing body of evidence now suggests that the timing of the motor-skill milestones that precede walking is crucial and can even factor into long-term health and cognitive ability.

Hooray for the Greene babies (I shudder to think about David’s motor skills had he been a back sleeper).  Anyway, in our experience, babies (like their parents) simply sleep better on their stomachs.  I hate putting a baby on its back in the crib and having it wake right up.  With David and Alex, we actually had doctor’s permission since they had so much acid reflux.  Also, the Greene babies have all had very strong necks (so much so that a nurse in the hospital was recently rather amazed by Sarah’s neck strength).

Obviously, SIDS is a genuine problem, but I’v always wondered how many of these were cases where truly healthy babies stopped breathing simply because they were sleeping on their stomach.  Obviously, you are in much more danger of suffocating in your crib on a pillow, in a crack in the bedding, etc., if you are on your stomach, but if those hazards aren’t there and your neck muscles work well, I have a hard time seeing the inherent danger.  I’ve always felt like doctors just didn’t really trust parents to truly remove all those other dangers.

Anyway, we can now put Sarah down on her stomach (where she sleeps much better) without any parental guilt thanks to a really cool invention.  Kim bought a monitor that has a motion sensor you place under the mattress.  It detects the subtle motion of a breathing baby and alerts you when that motion stops.  Kim actually bought it because she was worried about a big brother accidentally tossing a pillow or blanket on top of a sleeping baby, but now it has given us a license for guilt-free stomach sleeping.  Pretty damn cool.  And wait till you see Sarah’s superior motor skills a few months from now.

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