When abnormal or prolonged, labor may prevent even the normally developed fetus from crossing the final barrier to neonatal life.
But what is the normal pattern of labor? And where do the earliest detectable departures from the norm take place?
These questions are beginning to concern several clinical investigators, including Emanuel A. Friedman, MD, of Chicago. Since 1953, he and coworkers have recorded and analyzed labor's parameters in over 3,000 births.
Only in the occasional situation is knowledge of labor's pattern "more than academic," notes Dr. Friedman. But in the presence of potentially abnormal delivery, the earliest detection of variations gives the obstetrician an incalculable advantage.Special quantitative techniques and instrumentation are employed in the studies conducted at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center. Dr. Friedman, formerly of Columbia, is chairman of the center's department of obstetrics and gynecology.Among the analytical devices used is an eight-channel recorder, mounted