If a pregnant woman wears red underwear with a safety pin tucked into it, will it make her newborn child healthier? No self-respecting physician would say so. But the possibility may be worth considering, thanks to a phenomenon scientists call the "Latino health paradox."...
What does this have to do with wearing red underwear when you're pregnant
? Well, during lunar or solar
eclipses, expectant mothers from Mexico (and some other parts of Latin America) frequently wear bright red panties with a safety pin
tucked through them, the result of a tradition dating back to Aztec days
. Seems the Aztecs (or maybe the Mayans, depending on whose research you believe) thought the eclipse
released energy that could cause birth defects. To ward off its power, pregnant women
wouldn't go outside without tying a red string around their waists with an arrowhead attached to it. Eventually, as superstition gave way to comfort, the string and arrowhead evolved into a pair of panties with a safety pin
attached. And wouldn't you know it? Hispanic women
are less likely to have low-birthweight babies than the average American, even though the average American gets much more sustained--and much better quality--medical care during pregnancy.
New Republic 9/5/03