Medicine: Safer on Her Side

Doctors and midwives have long known that women nearing the end of pregnancy hate to lie flat on their backs—many complain that it makes them feel weak—but nobody knew why. There is good reason for the phenomenon, Dr. William F. Mengert of Southwestern Medical College reported last week. The heavy-laden uterus can press too hard on the big vessel (vena cava) carrying blood back to the heart, and thus cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure, or shock. Dr. Mengert hopes that his discovery will save such patients from needless operations, because the real remedy is so simple: turn the woman...

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