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Discover Rush Winter 2013


Discover Rush Winter 2013

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									               it’s how medicine should be
                                                 |   winter 2013

                                                                Tissue issue
                                                                         A tissue is a group of similar cells;
                                                                         an organ is a group of similar tissues.
                                                                There are four main types of tissue in the body:
                                                      Connective tissue supports and binds other tissues together within the
                                                       body. Its functions include storing fat, transporting substances, protecting
                                                                    against disease and helping repair tissue damage.
                                                     Epithelial tissues cover body surfaces, line body cavities and are the major
                                                       tissue in glands. They perform a variety of functions that include protec-
                                                              tion, secretion, absorption, filtration and sensory reception.
                                                         Muscle tissues are made up of cells that contract so you can move.
                                                              They are long and slender. There are three types: skeletal,
                                                                                cardiac and smooth.
                                                           Nervous tissue is responsible for many body functions, from
                                                               movement to memory. Nerve cells in the brain, spinal
                                                                     cord and nerves pass information to each
                                                                            other via electrical impulses.
                                                                                                   Easy as 1, 2, 3 ...
                                                                                                    What changes in mucus tell us
                                                                                                    Never mind the yuck factor: Mucus is your
                                                                                                    body’s way of protecting itself. “Mucus
                                                                                                    filters air to keep germs, dust and other par-
                                                                                                    ticles from getting into your lungs,” explains
                                                                                                    Phillip LoSavio, MD, an otolaryngologist at
                                                                                                    Rush University Medical Center. Here are
                                                                                                    three changes to watch for that could signal
                                                                                                    a health problem:

                                                                                                     1      Volume. “Glands in your nose and
                                                                                                            throat constantly make mucus —
                                                                                                                                                     Phillip LoSavio,
                                                                                                                                                     MD, from the Rush
                                                                                                    up to two quarts daily,” LoSavio says.           Comprehensive
                                                                                                    But things like allergies, spicy food and        Asthma, Allergy and

                                                                                                    pregnancy can make your body churn out           Sinus Center, has a
                                                                                                    more. Often, it’s merely annoying. “But an       special interest in
                                                                                                    excess amount that lasts beyond two to           helping patients with

                                                                                                    three weeks should be brought to a doc-          allergies, persistent
                                                                                                    tor’s attention,” he advises.                    sinus infections and
                                                                                                                                                     sleep apnea.

    THE TALES YOUR                                                                                   2      Consistency. When mucus thick-
                                                                                                            ens, you notice it in the back of your throat. “Thick mucus
                                                                                                    can mean you’re not hydrated enough,” LoSavio says. So up your

    TISSUES TELL                                                                                    fluid intake. You can also thin out mucus with a steamy shower or
                                                                                                    an over-the-counter saline nasal spray.

    You can tell a lot about a person’s health by peering into
    a microscope — just ask a pathologist. These experts                                             3      Color. Yellow or green mucus frequently indicates an
                                                                                                            infection, but not necessarily a bacterial one. If you have a
    read tissue to help diagnose (or rule out) diseases, espe-                                      viral infection — for example, a cold — your doctor might suggest
    cially cancer. “It’s fascinating that just by looking at tis-                                   a decongestant to relieve symptoms.
    sues I can help find out what is affecting a patient, and                                         “See your doctor if mucus is accompanied by a large amount
    then try and help,” says Ritu Ghai, MD, a pathologist at                                        of nose bleeding, high fevers, vision changes or severe pain,”
    Rush University Medical Center. Here, she answers a few                                         LoSavio says.
    questions about this pivotal behind-the-scenes work:

    Q: What are you looking for under the                           Ritu Ghai, MD,
                                                                    specializes in
                                                                    examining breast
                                                                                       Q    : Why is knowing where it came from important?
    A: We look to see if cells are abnormal. We know,               tissue.
                                                                                       A: Let’s say a tumor is taken from a lung. But after analyzing it, it looks like a
    from training, what normal organ cells look like. So, in                           pancreatic tumor. That’s an important distinction because treatment is based
    the case of a suspected cancer, we are looking to see if the cells are arranged    on where the tumor originated. You’re not treating lung cancer — you’re
    differently. And if there is a tumor, is the tumor limited to one area?            treating pancreatic cancer that has spread to the lungs.

    Q: Does it seem to you that pathology is a lot like detective Q: How fast does all of this happen?
    work?                                                                              A: We take care of most tests in our on-site lab, which is faster than send-
    A: Absolutely. With the help of a radiologist’s report and a patient’s clinical    ing them out. Additionally, one of the features of Rush’s new hospital, the
    history, clinicians have a basic understanding of what they’ve come across.        Tower, is our ability to communicate in real time with surgeons. That means a
    But they may not know what kind of tumor it is. Or sometimes if they know          surgeon can send us a specimen from the operating room, and we’re usually
    it’s cancer, they may not know where (in the body) it came from.                   able to send back a diagnosis within 20 minutes.


Back pain can get on your nerves. If you slip a disc or your spinal canal narrows due to arthritis, the
tissues, bones and ligaments in your back can move out of place. And when they do, they can press
against the nerve tissue that runs through your spinal cord and spreads through your back.

WHY IT HURTS                                        doing damage to the nerves, blood vessels
Nerve tissue is made up of two types of             and muscles surrounding these tissues,”
cells — neurons, which transmit electrical          says Richard Fessler, MD, PhD, a neuro-
signals, and glial cells, which are the protec-     surgeon at Rush.
tive, connective part of the tissue. Neurons          The next step for spinal surgery
communicate with the brain by sending and           may be no surgery at all. “I think
receiving impulses that control movement,           future innovations won’t come in
touch, taste and a host of other functions.         technique or technology, but in biol-
When nerve tissues in the back are compro-          ogy,” Fessler says. “Rather than taking
mised, it changes the signals they send. The        out a damaged disc, we will regen-
altered signals — a type of cry for help to         erate the damaged tissues in the
the brain — may trigger the feeling of severe       spine so it is healthy again.”
pain. In a sense, the new signals are the nerve
tissues’ way of asking to be freed so they can      REGROWING NERVE TISSUE
go back to their regular jobs.                      Fessler is already working on
                                                    regenerating nerve tissue for
FREEING THE NERVES                                  patients who have had spinal cord
Doctors have developed several methods              injuries. These injuries can damage
to help relieve the pressure and pain on the        the nerve cells inside the cord so
nerve tissue in the spinal cord. Exercise and       severely that they no longer func-
physical therapy are used to try to move tis-       tion. In some injuries, the nerve
sues, bones and ligaments back into place.          tissue is completely destroyed.
Medications interfere with the pain signals,        Without it, no signals flow
while acupuncture uses needles to redirect          between the spinal cord and
energy and interrupt pain.                          the brain. When it can’t receive
   If these treatments aren’t successful, surgery   a signal to tell it to move, the
is available for some patients. Doctors at Rush     part of the body with damaged
University Medical Center often use minimally       nerve tissue becomes paralyzed.
invasive techniques when they perform these            Doctors have been experiment-
procedures. “These techniques allow us to           ing with ways to regenerate these
free the nerve tissue in the spinal cord without    nerve cells and restore communica-
                                                    tion. “The theory holds that if we
                      Richard Fessler, MD,          transplant a stem cell into the spinal
                      PhD, is a national            cord, the body should induce it
                      authority on minimally        to develop into nerve tissue or
                      invasive spine surgery
                                                    supporting tissues that are
                      and helped develop                                                                   living with pain? rush university
                      many of the techniques        necessary for the function-                  CLICK
                                                    ing of the spinal cord,”                               medical center has your back.
                      currently in use.
                                                    says Fessler.                               sign up for an online seminar at

    Let’s talk tissue. It’s impressive stuff, with a lot of important jobs. It holds you
    together, gives birth to new blood cells and forms the organs that make life
    possible — and that’s just to start. But tissue can change as a result of disease, surgery
    and normal aging. Whatever the reason, changes in tissues alter how you function.

    AS WE AGE                                               these tissues get weaker, the joints they support
    Time takes a toll on tissues throughout your body,      do too. “Joint motion becomes more restricted
    but the effects of aging may be especially notable      and joint flexibility decreases,” says Rohini Bhat,
    in your skin, joints and heart.                         MD, an internist at Rush University Medical Center.
            SKIN. Your skin is a collection of tissue. As      Take control: Carrying too many pounds con-
            you age, a number of changes occur:             tributes to the breakdown of joint cartilage in hips
    » Glands produce less oil and sweat.                    and knees. Controlling your weight controls this
    » Skin’s outer layer — the epidermis — gets thin-       risk. And regular exercise strengthens your mus-
       ner and less elastic.                                cles, giving your joints more support.
    » The bond between the epidermis and the layer             Did you know? Smoking makes it harder for
       under it — the dermis — weakens.                     your body to absorb calcium and easier for it to
    » The bottommost layer of skin, which contains          break down estrogen. Calcium and estrogen are
       connective tissue that attaches your dermis to       important for good bone health in both men
       muscles and bone, decreases. Over time, all of       and women.
       these changes can cause the skin to dry out,                 HEART. As we grow older, artery tissue
       bruise, wrinkle and sag.                                     stiffens and becomes less pliable, somewhat
       Take control: Smoking and sun exposure accel-        like a garden hose that gets brittle over time. Stiff
    erate skin aging. Kicking a cigarette habit and         arteries force your heart to pump harder. And
    wearing sunscreen are two of the most important         because the heart is muscle tissue, when it works
    things you can do to protect your skin.                 harder it gets bigger.
       Did you know? Exercise is good for your skin.           As the heart enlarges, its ventricles may not fill
    It increases blood flow and may even strengthen         with blood properly. That makes pressure in the
    your immune system. This can help your skin             heart increase, forcing the organ to work harder
    appear younger.                                         still. “As the muscle overworks, it weakens,” Bhat
            JOINTS. Aches and pains often increase in       says. “This leads to increased risk of heart failure,
            joints as the body grows older. Many times,     arrhythmias, heart attack and sudden cardiac
    that’s due to osteoarthritis, the wearing away of       arrest.” Over time, plaque accumulates in the
    cartilage (connective tissue) that cushions the ends    arteries, too. This can block the flow of blood,
    of bones.                                               raising the risk of heart attack.
       Aging plays a role in cartilage degeneration,
                                                                        is your heart on track for healthy
    though exactly how is unclear. It may be related          CLICK
                                                                        aging? learn more at our free
    to declining hormone levels, a stress response that     culture of a woman’s heart seminar.
    promotes inflammation or a decrease in the num-         register at
    ber of cells that form cartilage.
       One thing that’s clear is that as we age, water        Take control: Smoking and conditions such
    content in the body decreases. As a result, ten-        as high blood pressure and diabetes damage the
    dons (bands of tissue that attach muscle to bone)       inner layer of your blood vessels. The damage
    and ligaments (tissues that bind joints together)       makes plaque more likely to stick to the vessels.
    become stiffer and less able to bear stress. When       Eating well, getting regular exercise and stopping



       smoking help control these conditions.                 talk to your doctor to weigh a variety of factors,
         Did you know? Too much sodium can raise              including your age, when deciding whether to
       blood pressure. But potassium-rich foods can blunt     remove adhesions or turn to assistive reproductive
       sodium’s effects. Good sources include sweet           technology, such as in vitro fertilization.
       potatoes, spinach, bananas and beans.
                                                              WHEN TISSUES GO BAD
       SCAR TISSUE                                            Surgery isn’t the only thing that can affect tissue.
       Scar tissue is a unique type of connective tissue.     Disease can as well. Inflammatory bowel disease
       While it serves a purpose in the healing process,      (IBD) is the overarching term for a number of
       it can occasionally cause problems in the form         conditions that damage the tissues of the gastroin-
       of adhesions. These fibrous bands of tissue com-       testinal tract, causing inflammation, swelling, sores
       monly develop in the abdomen after surgery —           and bleeding. The two most prominent are ulcer-
       sometimes even years later. Adhesions can              ative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
       also result from infection; endometriosis (when           These conditions are typically first diagnosed
       tissue that normally lines the uterus grows to         among people in their midteens to late 20s and
       areas such as the ovaries or the bowel); and           are often similar. But ulcerative colitis affects just
       pelvic inflammatory disease, a complication of         the colon and rectum and tends to be located in
       sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia         one area. Crohn’s, on the other hand, can affect          Whether a woman delivers a baby
       or gonorrhea.                                          any part of the digestive tract from the mouth to
                                                                                                                        vaginally or via surgery, pelvic floor
          Adhesions cause tissues or organs to stick          the anus, and it can cause multiple areas of dis-
       together. Most people have no symptoms, but            ease, with normal tissue in between, says Bruce           disorders such as incontinence may result.
       some people feel pain or tightness. For instance, if   Orkin, MD, a colon and rectal surgeon at Rush.            These occur when muscle tissue weakens
       you have an adhesion on the bladder, you might            Exactly what causes these disorders isn’t known,       around the tube through which urine exits
       feel pain when it fills and expands. “Adhesions        but it’s believed to be an immune system malfunc-
                                                                                                                        the body. If you’re hoping to prevent these
       can cause tension, and tension causes discom-          tion. Typically, your immune system revs up when
       fort,” says Bruce Rosenzweig, MD, a urogynecolo-       you’re dealing with an infection or other threat
                                                                                                                        disorders, there’s at least one strategy
       gist at Rush. In some cases, adhesions go beyond       and then eases off when the threat is over. “In           known to help: “I would recommend pelvic
       pain and cause an obstruction. “If there’s a block-    people with IBD, it seems the down-regulation             floor exercises — before and definitely
       age, surgery becomes necessary,” he says.              doesn’t occur normally,” Orkin says. The immune           after delivery,” Rosenzweig says. These
                                                              system may remain in a heightened state continu-
                                                                                                                        exercises (also known as Kegels) help you
       PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH                               ously or spiral up and down. Treatment for these
       Women may face fertility issues if adhesions           disorders is largely the same, often involving medi-      strengthen pelvic floor muscles and better
       kink fallopian tubes or twist them out of place.       cation and dietary changes. However, sometimes            withstand increases in abdominal pressure.
       Often, surgery to remove adhesions can make            surgery is necessary.
       pregnancy possible. But another sur-
       gery means additional adhesions may                             Bruce Orkin,                                Bruce                           Rohini Bhat, MD,
                                                                       MD, is one of only                          Rosenzweig,                     specializes in primary
       form down the road.
                                                                       a few surgeons                              MD, is an expert                and preventive care
          Because so much has to go right for                          nationwide to                               in obstetrics and               at Earvolino and
       sperm to meet up with an egg and                                operate on both                             gynecology and has              Associates Physicians
       create a baby, you have to take into                            children and adults                         a special research              where she enjoys
       account the risk of forming more adhe-                          for inflammatory                             interest in pelvic              providing a continuum
       sions. If you’re considering becoming                           bowel disease.                              floor dysfunction.               of care to her patients.

       pregnant and have these adhesions,


                                                                                                                                                        CLINICAL TRIALS AT RUSH

                                                                                                                                                    OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA AND INSOMNIA
                                                                                                                                                    TREATMENT The Department of Behavioral
                                                                                                                                                    Sciences is conducting a study to investigate the
                                                                                                                                                    effectiveness of different treatment strategies for
                                                                                                                                                    people who have both obstructive sleep apnea
                                                                                                                                                    and insomnia. These strategies include use of
                                                                                                                                                    a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
                                                                                                                                                    device alone or in combination with a behavioral
                                                                                                                                                    treatment to improve sleep.
                                                                                                                                                       Participants must meet the following criteria:
                                                                                                                                                    • Be at least 18 years old
       Rush allows visiting hours for pets                                                                                                          • Have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
       Pets, with their energy and unconditional love, can light up a room. Hospital rooms, however, have been                                      • Have breathing difficulties during sleep, such
       largely off-limits for these furry friends.                                                                                                     as snoring
          But this past year, Rush became one of a handful of medical centers in the nation to adopt a policy                                          This is a partial list of inclusion and exclusion
       allowing pets to visit patient rooms.                                                                                                        criteria. For more information, contact
          “When you say ‘hospital and dog,’ it doesn’t sound like it fits,” says Diane Gallagher, RN, associate                                                  Megan Crawford, PhD, at
       vice president of nursing operations at Rush. “But this is one more tool we have to help patients get                                                     (312) 942-0549.
       through what may be some of their worst days.”
          Pet visits must adhere to guidelines and be approved in advance by staff and others affected. Patients                                    KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS SHOE STUDY
       can check with their hospital care team for eligibility.                                                                                     The Section of Rheumatology is conducting a
                                                                                                                                                    shoe study to better understand the effects of
       Lifestyle changes trump diets for weight loss                                                                                                footwear-associated forces on the knee joint in
       No carbohydrates? No fat? No dice — at least when it comes to managing your weight.                                                          people with knee osteoarthritis.
         Diets, including those that limit carbohydrates and fat, don’t do much to help people maintain a                                             Participants must meet the following criteria:
       healthy weight and ward off chronic diseases if lifestyle changes aren’t included. That’s according to an                                    • Be at least 35 years old
       editorial published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on Aug. 20.                                                           • Have had knee pain for at least a year
         “The amount of resources that have gone into studying what to eat is incredible,” says Brad                                                • Have osteoarthritis of the knees
       Appelhans, PhD, a clinical psychologist and obesity researcher at the Rush University Prevention Center                                      • Be free of moderate to severe hip or
       and one of the editorial’s authors. “Years of research show that it doesn’t really matter what type of diet                                    ankle pain
       you choose, as long as overall calories are reduced.”                                                                                          This is a partial list of inclusion and exclusion
         People need to make three lifestyle changes in order to shed pounds, according to Appelhans:                                                           criteria. For more information, please
       » Diet. Dietary guidance can help a person manage portions and eat fewer high-calorie foods.                                                             contact Anjali Nair at (312) 563-2968.
       » Exercise. Exercise counseling teaches a person how to work out effectively and safely.
       » Behavior. Behavioral changes include learning how to stay motivated and understanding hunger.
         “Behavioral changes are much more important than the diet you choose,” Appelhans says. “The best
       approach is for physicians to counsel patients to choose a diet plan they find easiest to adhere to in the
       long term.”                                                                                                                                  For other current clinical trials,

    DISCOVER RUSH is published as a service         Chief Executive Officer                          information in DISCOVER RUSH comes
    for the rush community.                         larry J. Goodman, md                            from a wide range of medical experts.
                                                                                                    models may be used in photos and
    rush uniVersitY medicAl center                  For information about DISCOVER RUSH,            illustrations. if you have any questions          rush is a not-for-profit
    1700 w. Van buren st., suite 456                contact erin thorne at     about your health, please contact your            health care, education
    chicago, il 60612-3244                          or (312) 942-3215. For general information      health care provider.                             and research enterprise                                    about rush or for help finding a physician,      © rush university medical center                  comprising rush university
                                                    call (888) 352-RUSH (7874).                     cum29562                                          medical center, rush
                                                                                                                                                      university, rush oak Park
    PleAse note: All physicians featured in this publication are on the medical faculty of rush university medical center. some of the physicians     hospital and rush health.
6   featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of rush university medical center.
| s At u r d AY

                                  RUSH UPCOMING EVENTS
                     Free clAsses For Your heAlth                        |   winter 2013
F r i d AY

                                                                                                                                               Join Us for Online
                    CLICK      For a complete and up-to-date list of community wellness                                                        Seminars at Rush
                               events at Rush and online health seminars, visit                                                                to make our health informa-
         , where you can also find presentations from                                                           tion more accessible, rush will
                   previous talks.                                                                                                             host online health seminars

                                                                                                                                               throughout the year. these
                   Join Us From Your Computer —                                                                                                seminars will cover issues ranging
t h u r s d AY

                   Online Seminar: Advances in Treatments for Back Pain                                                                        from heart health to spine care
                   wednesday, Jan. 15                                                                                                          and include a variety of sensitive
                   noon to 1 p.m.                                                                                                              topics such as incontinence and
                                                                                                             breast cancer. to view the list of
                   Orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons at Rush pinpoint and treat the                                                        upcoming online seminars or
                   sources of spine, back and neck pain through innovative nonsurgical and                                                     to register for an event, visit
                   surgical treatment options. Join experts from Rush during this online                                             
                   seminar to learn about treatment options for both cervical and lumbar

                   spine issues. To submit questions in advance, post them via Twitter using
                   the #rushhealthchat tag, or email Please visit
w e d n e s d AY

          to register for this seminar.                        Rush Generations presents:
                                                                                                 Older adult and caregiver programs
                   Maybe Baby? Preparing for Pregnancy and
                   What You Need to Know                                                         Unless otherwise stated, the Rush Generations programs below are
                   saturday, Feb. 8                                                              held at Rush University Medical Center, Searle Conference Center, Fifth
                   10 to 11 a.m.                                                                 Floor (Elevator II, Professional Building), 1725 W. Harrison St.
                   Ground Floor Atrium
                   1650 w. harrison st.                                                          Managing the Holiday                      Free Movie Event:
                   tours will be offered before and after the seminar.                           Highs and Lows                            Age of Champions

                   Join experts at Rush to help you plan for a healthy pregnancy and             wednesday, dec. 4                         wednesday, dec. 4
t u e s d AY

                   birth. Presentations will cover fertility issues, healthy pregnancies and     10:30 a.m. to noon                        12:30 to 2 p.m.
                   breastfeeding. Learn about Rush’s new labor and delivery suites and           For most of us, the holiday months        Stay after our lecture for our annual
                   neonatal intensive care unit, in case your baby needs specialized care.       bring about heightened joys and the       holiday movie and popcorn event.
                   You will also have an opportunity to tour the new spaces. Please call         occasional blues — and that can take      We will show the award-winning PBS
                   (888) 352-RUSH (7874) or register online for the seminar and tour.            an emotional toll. Come hear experts      documentary Age of Champions,
                                                                                                 at Rush in mental health and aging        which follows five competitors who
                   Culture of a Woman’s Heart                                                    discuss ways to identify the signs and    sprint, leap and swim for gold at the

                   saturday, Feb. 15                                                             symptoms of depression and manage         National Senior Olympics. You’ll see
                   8 a.m. to noon                                                                stress, and learn the latest tips and     a 100-year-old tennis champion, an
m o n d AY

                   searle conference center                                                      strategies to feel your best this holi-   86-year-old pole vaulter and rough-
                   Professional building, Fifth Floor                                            day season.                               and-tumble basketball grandmothers
                   1725 w. harrison st.                                                                                                    triumph over the limitations of age.
                   You may be aware that heart disease affects women differently than                                                      Please note: Attendance at the movie
                   men, but did you know that your ethnicity can have an impact as well?                                                   requires separate registration.
                   Join experts at Rush for an informative program that will outline your risk
                   factors based on your ethnicity and explain how you can take charge of

                   your heart health. Breakout sessions include African-American, Asian,
                   Caucasian, Latina and Southeast Asian groups.                                   Because space is limited, please call to reserve
s u n d AY

                                                                                                        your seat. For more details and to register,
                               You can get helpful health information in your                    call (888) 352-RUSH (7874). Free parking in the
                               email inbox each month with our e-newsletter,
                                                                                                          Rush garage is available with validation.
                   Discover Rush Online. sign up today at
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Are You A bodY bAsher?                                                                              chicago, il 60612-3244                                              PAID
                                                                                                                                                                     rush university
                                                                                                                                                                     medical center
If you find fault with your body, you’re not alone. Learn why so many people
are unhappy with their bodies — and get help to accept the way you look,
flaws and all — in the November issue of Discover Rush Online. Sign up for the
newsletter at


         GETTING IN
          Holding your newborn against your bare chest            can also transfer healthy bacteria from mother
          can have effects that extend far beneath the            to infant, strengthening the baby’s immune
          skin’s surface.                                         system.
            “When I had my third child I was able to                 Research shows that when parents have skin-
          hold him much sooner than my first two,” says           to-skin contact with babies born prematurely,
          Carrie Smith, MD, an OB-GYN at Rush University          those babies are able to leave the hospital ear-
          Medical Center, whose older children needed             lier and have fewer health problems.
          medical care right after birth. “And that contact
          helped me feel calmer and more comfortable.”            ONE IMPORTANT HOUR
            Over the years, Smith has delivered a lot of          Another major advantage of skin-to-skin contact
          babies whose moms felt the same way. And                is that it makes breastfeeding easier and more
          a growing body of research suggests that this           likely to work on the first try. “If the baby is
          sense of well-being is only one of the many             placed on the mom’s chest for at least the first
          benefits of skin-to-skin contact.                       hour after birth,” Smith explains, “the baby will
                                                                  naturally find the breast.”
          TISSUES AT WORK                                            Sometimes, she adds, “patients are worried
          The body’s largest organ, skin is primarily made        about it being messy, the baby being wet or there
          up of epithelial and connective tissues. Its func-      being a little bit of blood — but afterward they’re
          tions include protecting                                  usually glad they chose to do it.” At Rush, nurses
          internal organs, keeping out                              dry babies off as they lie on their mothers’ chests
          infection and regulating body                             and then stay in the room to help.
          temperature. Skin-to-skin                                   “A mom will look down and see her baby’s face,
          contact — that is, contact                                and often the baby’s eyes will be open, and she can
          between an adult’s bare chest                             see her baby’s eyes for the first time,” Smith says.
          and an infant wearing only a                              “These moments are really touching, and it’s so
          diaper — can help newborns’                               meaningful to be a part of them.”                        But that’s not the only time it can have ben-
          bodies perform these jobs.                                                                                       efits. Holding a baby skin to skin throughout
             “For example,” Smith           Carrie Smith,          LASTING BENEFITS                                        his or her first few months of life can promote
                                            MD, an OB-GYN at
          says, “the baby being naked                              Of course, if a mother has a cesarean section           stable body temperature, heart rate and blood
                                            Rush, has interests
          against mom’s chest can           in women’s health,     or a baby needs immediate medical attention,            sugar levels, as well as parent-child bonding,
          bring his or her body to the      prenatal care and      skin-to-skin contact isn’t always possible in the       easier breastfeeding and less crying.
          exact right temperature.” It      sexual health.         first hours after birth.                                  “The more contact, the better,” Smith says.

    more online                        MEET CARRIE SMITH, MD — and get to know hundreds of other physicians from rush — using our Find-a-doctor video
                                       feature at

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