Midwestern Univ in Chicago: putting pregnant Rabbits
on Treadmills

The Experiment
Medical experts agree that moderate exercise is good
for pregnant women
and their babies. This conclusion is based on both
observation and more than 20 years of clinical
studies. O'Hagan of
Midwestern University in Chicago, however, is using
$200,000 in
government funds to investigate questions long settled
by clinical
research. In this case, O'Hagan wants to know how
exercise affects
the flow of blood to the uterus of pregnant women-but
she isn't
examining pregnant women. Instead, O'Hagan is
impregnating 60
rabbits, implanting probes and catheters into them,
and forcing them to
run on a motorized treadmill. At the end of her
experiment, O'Hagan
kills the rabbits, cuts them open, and examines their

Our analysis of O'Hagan's protocol shows that her
experiment is
cruel to animals, wasteful of public funds, flawed in
design, and
irrelevant to women's health, and it should be ended

Read on, and it will become painfully clear that
experiment needs to stop. Then, please take a minute
to find out what
you can do to help end this cruel and wasteful


Animal Suffering

For the 60 rabbits in O'Hagan's experiment, life in
the laboratory
means imprisonment, stress, pain, and death. The
following are examples
of what they endure (all quotations are taken from
O'Hagan's own
experimental protocol):

* Rabbits are "familiarized with the treadmill" to
behavioral compliance." The most common way to train
animals to run
on a treadmill is through electric shock. In fact,
most laboratory
supply companies manufacture their animal treadmills
complete with
electric shock grids.
* "Rabbits are exercised to voluntary fatigue." In
other words,
the rabbits are forced to run until they drop. The
motorized treadmill
continues to run until the rabbits reach double their
normal heart
rate-more than 400 beats per minute.
* Rabbits undergo serious surgery. First, "[t]he
animal is
intubated and placed on mechanical ventilation," and
then O'Hagan
makes a large "abdominal incision" and implants
deep inside the rabbit's body. She also cuts out part
of the
rabbit's reproductive system.
* Rabbits have hardware left sticking out of their
bodies. Wires
are run through the rabbit's flesh and under her skin,
sticking out
from between her shoulders. These wires are contained
in a plastic box
that is stapled to the rabbit's back. All this
hardware stays
attached to each rabbit for at least 48 days-until she
is killed.
* Rabbits undergo surgical procedures without the use
anesthetics. Each time a rabbit is placed on the
treadmill, two
catheters are surgically implanted in her ears-one in
the central ear
artery and one in the central ear vein. Rabbits' ears
are extremely
sensitive and repeated piercings cause lasting pain.
O'Hagan cannot
anesthetize the rabbits because she needs them to run
right after the
* Rabbits are drugged while running. Various drugs are
into the rabbits' ears during exercise. In pilot
studies, the rabbits
were so affected by the drugs that O'Hagan could not
even force them
to run.
* Rabbits are confined to cages. Between experiments,
the rabbits
are stored in the university's animal facility, which
means that they
are caged for the vast majority of their short lives.
* Rabbits are killed before they give birth. On the
28th day of
their 30-day pregnancies, the rabbits are killed and
cut open. Pieces
of their tissue are cut out, and their babies are
taken from their dead


The Money Trail

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
has financed
O'Hagan's experiment from 2004 to 2006 to the tune of
$200,496. But
the money trail doesn't stop there. More than $400,000
of taxpayer
money has gone into O'Hagan's pregnant rabbit studies
in the last

* From 1999 to 2001, the NHLBI gave O'Hagan $100,000
for her
pregnant rabbit research.
* From 1998 to 2000, O'Hagan also received $59,578
from the
American Heart Association for other work with rabbits
on treadmills.
* From 1996 to 1999, the NHLBI gave O'Hagan $101,217
preeclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)
research in
pregnant rabbits. This was a particularly barbaric
study in which metal
pipes were surgically implanted in the rabbits'
skulls, and
injections were made into their brains.


Statement of Dr. Samuel Jacobs, M.D., evaluating Dr.
O'Hagan's Rabbit Treadmill Study

Statement of Dr. Samuel Jacobs, M.D., evaluating Dr.
O'Hagan's Rabbit Treadmill Study

My name is Dr. Sam Jacobs, and I am a board-certified
obstetrician/gynecologist with 24 years of experience.
I have published
on the issue of exercise in pregnancy and regularly
give clinical
advice on exercise to pregnant women at the
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson
Medical School outpatient clinic. I have reviewed the
protocol for Dr. Kathleen O'Hagan's study "Uterine
Response to Exercise in Pregnancy," and as a medical
doctor I feel
confident in stating that the study is cruel and

Research on exercise and pregnancy prior to the 1980s
was generally
performed on animals, mainly on pregnant ewes.
However, animals react
differently to exercise than humans. Most animals pant
instead of sweat
to get rid of excess body heat. Also, the hemodynamics
are different in
quadrupeds than in humans, who stand upright. Applying
animal research
results to human pregnancy has been very limiting.
It's just not
possible to make straight extrapolations and assume
that what's true
for a pregnant rabbit will be the same for a human

Dr. O'Hagan justifies her work by stating that "for
ethical and
technical reasons, it is difficult to directly
investigate the uterine
blood flow response to exercise in pregnant women"
(NIH Grant
Abstract). But her statement ignores the significant
amount of human
research being done on blood flow in pregnant women. A
review of the
relevant literature clearly shows that uterine blood
flow is regularly
measured in women during clinical studies. In fact,
there are many
studies expressly measuring the effects of exercise on
uterine blood
flow in women. Consequently, I must strongly disagree
with Dr.
O'Hagan-her work with rabbits is far from necessary.

When physicians investigate issues of blood flow, they
use a
noninvasive technology called "Doppler Ultrasound" to
measure the
systolic velocity of blood flow through a targeted
artery. The
technology works by measuring the frequency of sound
waves reflected
off of red blood cells as they flow through the blood
stream. Doppler
is as simple as it is effective. It is completely safe
for pregnant
women and is a powerful diagnostic tool.

Using Doppler has enabled countless investigators to
research the
physiology of exercise in pregnancy in humans,
yielding significantly
more relevant data than [do] animal models. One such
study out of
Ireland was the first to look at the effects of
confirmed strenuous
exercise in an unconditioned population in which the
effect of exercise
intensity has been described in terms of physiologic
measurements on
umbilical and uterine artery velocity waveforms. They
concluded that a
single bout of maximum symptom-limited exercise does
not have immediate
adverse fetal or maternal cardiovascular effects (Am J
Obstet Gynecol

Another study, from Germany (Ertan, Schanz et al.)
used Doppler to
study changes in uteroplacental and fetal circulation
after maternal
exercise in appropriate-for-gestational-age fetuses
(AGA) and
intrauterine-growth-retarded (IUGR) fetuses. They
concluded that
maternal exercise does not significantly alter uterine
and umbilical
perfusion in AGA and IUGR pregnancies, suggesting an
absence of change
in the uterine vascular bed resistance.

R.U. Erkkola, J.P. Pirhonen, and A.K. Kivejarvi looked
at flow velocity
waveforms in uterine and umbilical arteries during
submaximal bicycle
exercise in normal pregnancy [Obstet Gynecol (1992)
This 1992 study used Doppler ultrasound to monitor
blood flow in eight
healthy women exercised at varying work loads (70, 83,
and 92 percent
of maximum heart rate). It was found that although
uterine blood flow
decreased slightly, no change was found in umbilical
blood flow to the

These studies, and others like them, are creating a
base of knowledge
with which physicians can make responsible clinical

Today, with the emphasis on physical fitness and the
awareness of the
benefits of exercise, many women wish to continue or
commence exercise
during pregnancy. It had been originally hypothesized
that the
competing demands of exercise and pregnancy could
result in impaired
blood flow to the placenta and the fetus because of a
redistribution of
blood flow from the pelvic organs to exercising

However, the results of over 20 years of clinic
research with pregnant
women conclusively show that moderate exercise is safe
and beneficial
during pregnancy. Women show little if any change in
uterine blood
flow, and there is no significant change to fetal
blood flow. It is my
professional opinion that animal experiments have
added little, if
anything, to our medical understanding of the needs of
pregnant women
and that Dr. O'Hagan's rabbit experiments will not
advance the
state of obstetric knowledge.

Samuel L. Jacobs, M.D.
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Camden, New Jersey


Flaws in the Design of O'Hagan's Experiment

This brief list offers only the most basic reasons why
pregnant rabbits
can't teach us about pregnant women. Included are the
differences between women and rabbits that make
impossible and the facts that invalidate a study on
blood flow and
pregnancy. Any one of these disparities would cast
doubt on the
validity of an experiment. Together, they spell out
the absurdity of
studying human pregnancy by putting rabbits on

* Human gestation lasts for nine months, whereas
rabbit gestation
lasts for only one month.
* Humans typically have one baby at a time, whereas
rabbits carry
litters of many bunnies. (Humans are designed for a
reproduction strategy, bearing a single offspring only
whereas rabbits are designed for quantitative
reproduction, or the
constant bearing of large numbers of offspring.)
* The human fetus attaches to the uterine wall through
a different
kind of placenta than rabbit fetuses, making for
different blood flow
and nutrient transfer (for example, the apposition of
the fetus to the
uterine wall is villous in humans and labyrinthine in
* Humans walk upright and rabbits walk on all fours.
difference in posture affects the forces acting on
blood flow; the
spatial relationship between the fetus and key organs,
such as the
heart; and how the fetus moves during physical
* Large mammals, like humans, dispel heat far less
efficiently than
small animals, like rabbits, because small animals
have a
proportionately greater surface area. This leads to an
array of
differing physiological characteristics; for instance,
humans sweat to
release body heat and rabbits don't. Rabbits insulate
with fur,
dispel heat through their large ears, and burn more
calories through
activity, and their hearts must beat much faster.
* On average, the human heart beats 60 to 80 times in
one minute,
whereas rabbits' hearts beat, on average, more than
200 times each
minute-that's three times faster.
* O'Hagan's confined rabbits receive deficient levels
exercise between their exercise trials. They are
locked in the
university's animal facility and are not allowed free
movement, which
is the equivalent of strapping a woman to a bed for
her nine-month
pregnancy, letting her up only a handful of times to
run on a
* Treadmills are designed to simulate walking. The
steady rotation
of a conveyor belt fits poorly with the way rabbits
hop, making the
exercise trials unnatural.

O'Hagan justifies her study by claiming that it will
help battle
preeclampsia, but the NHLBI Working Groups on Research
on Hypertension
During Pregnancy states, "Animal models are of limited
because of significant differences in placentation
among mammals, as
well as differences in length of gestation and perhaps
even posture
between mammalian models and humans."


A Pattern of Abuse femfatalities.com

O'Hagan has used animals in experiments for more than
15 years. She
has killed pigs, dogs, rabbits, rats, and other
animals. It appears
that O'Hagan didn't start experimenting on animals out
of a passion
for helping people-her American Physiological Society
profile states
that O'Hagan's mother told her in high school, "You
should go
into technology. It's the wave of the future for smart
girls." This
steered her toward the life sciences.

O'Hagan took an animal physiology course during her
second year at
the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester,
Massachusetts, and-having
been interested in exercise and biology in high
school-the class
allowed her to envision a career that would employ her
interests. By
her senior year, O'Hagan had designed and executed her
first animal
experiment, using rats.

O'Hagan studied the physiology of exercise as a
graduate and
postgraduate student at Midwestern University. She
combined the study
of exercise with her previous interest in animal
physiology, and her
career work of putting pregnant rabbits on treadmills

The following are just a few of the things O'Hagan has
done to
pregnant animals over the years. They-along with a
vast array of
other painful and debilitating procedures-are outlined
O'Hagan's published papers:

* To inject drugs into rabbits' brains, O'Hagan
23-millimeter-long, 22-gauge stainless-steel pipes
into their heads.
The pipe was secured by three skull-screws and dental
cement, and a
removable cap was placed over the top using bent
paperclips and more
dental cement.
* To manipulate blood pressure, O'Hagan surgically
blocked the
aorta and vena cava of rabbits and controlled the
blockage using
mechanical equipment stored under the rabbit's skin.
This is a
procedure O'Hagan has repeatedly preformed.
* To cause an inflamed throat reaction, O'Hagan blew
smoke into the noses of rabbits for up to two minutes
while they were
giving birth.


Human Studies Offer Real Answers

O'Hagan claims that her work using rabbits is
necessary because
"[f]or ethical and technical reasons, it is difficult
to directly
investigate the uterine blood flow response to
exercise in pregnant
women." But this claim is demonstrably false. A
literature review
using the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) PubMed
confirms that uterine blood flow has been measured in
women during
clinical studies. In fact, many studies specifically
measure the
effects of exercise on uterine blood flow in women; in
other words,
O'Hagan's justification for her rabbit studies is
based on a false

When physicians investigate uterine blood flow in
women, they use a
noninvasive technology called Doppler ultrasound,
which bounces sound
waves off moving blood cells to measure the speed of
blood flow.
Doppler is easy, effective, and completely safe and
painless. There is
no reason for using rabbits in painful experiments.

The results of more than 20 years of clinical studies
of pregnant women
show that moderate exercise is safe and beneficial
during pregnancy.
Women show little if any change in uterine blood flow,
and there is no
significant change to fetal blood flow. Therefore,
even if
O'Hagan's study were applicable to humans-which it is
would only reproduce data already available.

The following is a partial list of studies that
support our findings:

* Kennelly MM, Geary M, McCaffrey N, McLoughlin P,
Staines A,
McKenna P. Exercise-related changes in umbilical and
uterine artery
waveforms as assessed by Doppler ultrasound scans.
American Journal of
Obstetrics and Gynecology 2002 Sep;187(3):661-6. This
study of 22 women
investigates the same topic as O'Hagan and concludes,
"The modest
change in the uterine artery pulsatility index ...
indicate[d] that a
single bout of maximum symptom-limited exercise does
not have immediate
adverse fetal or maternal cardiovascular effects.
* Bonnin P, Bazzi-Grossin C, Ciraru-Vigneron N,
Bailliart O, Kendra
AW, Savin E, Ravina JH, Martineaud JP. Evidence of
fetal cerebral
vasodilatation induced by submaximal maternal dynamic
exercise in human
pregnancy. Journal of Perinatal Medicine
1997;25(1):63-70. This study
of 14 women states, "We conclude that submaximal
maternal exercise at
80 percent of [theoretical maximal heart rate] does
not significantly
alter uterine perfusion," and states that "uterine
indices did not change."
* Erkkola RU, Pirhonen JP, Kivijarvi AK. Flow velocity
waveforms in
uterine and umbilical arteries during submaximal
bicycle exercise in
normal pregnancy. Obstetrics & Gynecology 1992
Apr;79(4):611-5. This
study used Doppler ultrasound in a protocol remarkably
similar to
O'Hagan's rabbit study. Eight healthy pregnant women
exercised at
varying work loads (70, 83, and 92 percent of maximum
heart rate) and
had their blood flow measured. It was found that
although uterine blood
flow decreased slightly, no change was made in
umbilical blood flow to
the fetus.
* Asakura H, Nakai A, Yamaguchi M, Koshino T, Araki T.
Ultrasonographic blood flow velocimetry in maternal
and umbilical
arteries during maternal exercise. Nippon Sanka
Fujinka Gakkai Zasshi
1994 Apr;46(4):308-14.
This Japanese study of 21 women found no significant
change in
uterine blood flow after aerobic dancing at 65 percent
maximal heart
* Steegers EA, Buunk G, Binkhorst RA, Jongsma HW, Wijn
PF, Hein PR.
The influence of maternal exercise on the
uteroplacental vascular bed
resistance and the fetal heart rate during normal
pregnancy. European
Journal of Obstetrics, Gynaecology and Reproductive
Biology 1988
Jan;27(1):21-6. This study of 20 women concluded, "No
change was found in the uterine blood flow velocity
post-exercise, as expressed by the pulsatility index,
absence of change in the uterine vascular bed
* Vaha-Eskeli K, Pirhonen J, Seppanen A, Erkkola R.
Doppler flow
measurement of uterine and umbilical arteries in heat
stress during
late pregnancy. American Journal of Perinatology 1991
This study of 17 women used Doppler to show that
moderate thermal
stress is not dangerous to a healthy fetus.
* Moore DH, Jarrett JC II, Bendick PJ.
Exercise-induced changes in
uterine artery blood flow, as measured by Doppler
ultrasound, in
pregnant subjects. American Journal of Perinatology
1988 Apr;5(2):94-7.
This study concludes, "[N]onexhaustive maternal
exercise does not
compromise uterine artery blood flow in healthy,
low-risk pregnant
* Pijpers L, Wladimiroff JW, McGhie J. Effect of
maternal exercise on maternal and fetal cardiovascular
British Journal of Obstetric and Gynaecology 1984 Nov;
This study of 28 women found: "Mean blood flow
velocity in the fetal
descending aorta as measured by pulsed Doppler
unltrasound and fetal
heart rate did not show any significant changes. These
data indicate
that there are no cardiovascular signs of fetal stress
after moderate short-term maternal exercise."
* Veille JC. Maternal and fetal cardiovascular
response to exercise
during pregnancy. Seminars in Perinatology 1996
Aug;20(4):250-62. This
review confidently states, "With the two-dimensional
echocardiogram and M-mode echocardiogram, one can
study maternal and
fetal cardiovascular physiology during rest and
exercise." The review
concludes that moderate exercise is clearly safe for
healthy women and
concludes, "Further studies are needed to determine if
less active
pregnant subjects, women with chronic hypertensive
disorders, women
with sickle cell anemia, or women with
insulin-dependent diabetes adapt
to exercise as well as their 'normal' counterparts."

Clinical research into exercise and pregnancy has
offered clear answers
for most women and now should address the needs of
special populations,
including women with hypertension disorders.
Unfortunately, by the
NHLBI's own admission, "There are few
trained in rigorous clinical research and even fewer
formal training


How You Can Help

Please write a polite letter to O'Hagan and tell her
what you think
of her rabbit experiment. Tell her that animal
experiments will not
help women make decisions about exercise during
pregnancy. Tell her
that her grant money would be better spent on human
trials or on
addressing diet and other lifestyle factors that could
be corrected
through education and outreach. Ask that she stop her
rabbit study and
return the remaining grant money to the NIH. Finally,
tell O'Hagan
that she needs to use non-animal research methods,
such as Doppler
ultrasound, to study exercise in human pregnancy:

Kathleen O'Hagan, Ph.D.
Department of Physiology
Midwestern University
555 31st St.
Downers Grove, IL 60515

Please write to Elizabeth G. Nabel, director of the
NHLBI, and politely
ask her to rescind the current grant to O'Hagan.
Remind her that the
NHLBI's own Working Group on Hypertension in Pregnancy
"Animal models are of limited benefit because of
differences in placentation among mammals, as well as
differences in
length of gestation and perhaps even posture between
mammalian models
and humans." Point out that human-based research needs
organization's support because, in its own words,
"There are few
obstetrician/gynecologists trained in rigorous
clinical research and
even fewer formal training programs":

Elizabeth G. Nabel, M.D., Director
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
31 Center Dr.
Bldg. 31, Rm. 5A52 MSC 2486
Bethesda, MD 20892-2486
301-402-0818 (fax)

You can also help by writing letters to the editors of
newspapers, such as:

Chicago Tribune
Chicago Sun-Times

For ways to help, visit FemFatalities.com.

Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> 
Get to your groups with one click. Know instantly when new email arrives

What better way to show the world compassion than by being a vegan? 
Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

Reply via email to