August 15, 2008

DT Friday Freakout: Put Down That Hot Danish Edition

Whew, never do the Friday Freakout first. Anyway, just in time for your weekend, here's a round-up of alarm[ing/ist] news from the worlds of baby-related science, health and safety:

  • Not sure why this is news now, since the scientifically baseless ban was put in place in 2005, and there are still about 500 samples left, but America's sperm banks are running out of oh-so-desirable, imported Scandinavian sperm. Americans seeking no-strings knockups by tall, blond Danish dudes are being forced to do it the old-fashioned way, via backpacking and hostels. You think I'm kidding. [washpost via radar]

  • I love getting my science news from the Op-Ed section, so much freer use of the term "alarming possibility." Olivia Judson, a "guest columnist" for the NY Times, wrote a snacky little wrap-up of a few studies about rats, junk food, and pregnancy. Ergo, obese pregnant women are pre-disposing their kids to obesity, too. Or, "If this is right, it raises the alarming possibility that the obesity epidemic has a built-in snowball effect." [nyt]

  • Winnie the Pooh beat and robbed two people on a Tokyo street, a situation which is only worth freaking out over if your company has a multi-billion-dollar Pooh merchandise business. Pooh's accomplices, "a mouse and a panther," were apparently unbranded. [yahoo via dt freakout correspondent sara]

  • Motor delays? Flat head? Not enough tummy time. A national survey of pediatric physical therapists by an ambiguously religious non-profit focused on pediatric motor development awareness and advocacy found that all this SIDS baby-on-back talk results in decreased tummy time, which in turn results in pediatric motor developmental delays. Sounds like someone needs to do more awareness and advocacy. [press release from pathwaysawareness.org via marketwatch]

  • If you're reading this, you're probably breastfeeding enough. But don't let that stop you from freaking out. Or press release writers from spinning: New Breastfeeding Study Shows Most Moms Quit Early
    Actually, the new Brigham Young University study [go cougars!] shows that an amazing-to-me 77% of moms in the US start breastfeeding, that college-educated moms are meeting all the target goals for breastfeeding, but only [sic] 36% of moms overall are still nursing at six months. "Results indicate a low prevalence of breastfeeding among children of single mothers, less educated mothers, participants in the Women, Children, and Infants [ed.: aka WIC] program, and those living in nonwestern states and in areas of high newborn risk." WIC is the government's food stamps-for-infant formula program, so no surprise there. [spun in sciencedaily, more findings in the abstract]

  • Bad news for the pregnant survivors of disasters: a survey of "Quebec ice storm babies" found lower IQ's and developmental delays. The study only looked at kids who were already in the womb during the 1998 freezing blackout, though, not those who were conceived in it. [the canadian press]

  • Prebiotics? Oligosaccharides? There are some European studies showing that supplementing infant formula with oligosaccharides, a complex, non-digestable sugar that serves as nutrient to the intestinal flora [love that], may provide protection against infections and allergies during the first six months of life just like--say it together with me now--just like breast milk. And fortunately, formula-grade oligosaccharides are found in abundance on every beach in the world, so there's no reason big pharma even needs to know about this. [kind of boosterish: healthnotes newswire, but here's at least one abstract and some citations]

  • 1 Comment

    re: BYU Breastfeeding study

    It always puzzles me why these sorts of studies insist on separating their participants out by their education levels, marital status, and even socio-economic status, while ignoring the one thing that really counts: their employment status.

    A Stay at home mom, or a mom working a white collar job (even a secretary) is more likely to continue breastfeeding than a woman who is working at a retail, industrial, or manufacturing job simply because its easier for her to do it. Months and months of trying to pump in the rest room, or in your car, or on your mandatory 15 minute break (when you also have to pee and maybe get a snack) takes its toll not only on your desire to BF, but also on your milk supply.

    Want to increase BF in the US? Accept that women work at all sorts of jobs, and mandate that at every single one of them - high end legal office or restaurant or call center or manufacturing plant or Wal-mart must set aside a private, clean space where nursing mothers can pump. Make sure women know their rights with regard to BF - that they are, for example, entitled to additional medical breaks with a doctor's note just to pump, and then in a very public and serious way start fining companies who fail to comply.

    Those 41% of us who stop short of six months (and I do include myself here, although we made it to just days short of six and there were other issues involved) - we want to provide breast milk to our children, we do, but we also need to work to feed our families, and having an employer who fails to understand that makes the whole pumping ordeal more of an ordeal than it already is.

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