Medicine: Babies by Vacuum

After English obstetricians developed the forceps for extracting babies in difficult births, a century elapsed before it was generally adopted. Now, a new and supposedly less hazardous method has been devised to ease some slow and possibly dangerous births, but medical controversy in the English-speaking world may delay its widespread use. It consists of pulling the baby out by means of a vacuum-suction cup attached to the top of its skull.

The idea dates back to an English surgeon, James Yonge, who advanced it in 1706. Little was done to put it into practice until after World War II, when sev eral...

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