Remember the novel Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley? You have to be pretty bright to create a concept that’s selling centuries later. Well, oddly enough her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), may have been even brighter. If you want to know more about her colourful life look at the Wiki link below.* Suffice to say she was a pioneering and accomplished writer, best known today for her Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). She did one for men too. After a madcap early life as a single mother dodging the guillotine in the French Revolution, she settled down and found true happiness when she married the philosopher William Godwin, father of her second daughter, Mary.
Happy ever after? Afraid not. As Mary the elder gave birth, her placenta ruptured and septicaemia (sepsis) soon set in. There were no antibiotics in those days, and she died. It was a fairly common fate for women in the eighteenth century, always had been, and always would be, until the advent of modern antibiotics. Men can get it too, so we include a list of the more or less famous who have gone this painful and unpleasant way.*
Sepsis* is what happens when you get an infection, and your immune system overreacts, causing an inflammation throughout the body. Obviously the best way to avoid it is not to get the infection, But if you do, try not to be: over 75; under 1; diabetic; have a weak immune system; get pneumonia, an abdominal infection or live in a world without effective antibiotics or vaccines. These last two are the biggest risk factors, so next time someone tries to spiel you with some anti vaccine propaganda, just remind them of Mary Wollstonecraft. As for antibiotics, there is a real danger they won’t be with us much longer, and the fate awaiting millions of mothers is grim.
Howver, someone is really trying to help. That someone is Professor Garner and the Charity Antibiotics Research UK http://www.antibioticresearch.org.uk. We beg you to visit their site, and donate if you can. Women around the world will thank you for it.
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