February 6, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: "I Was Devastated." Edition

OK, Science may actually have some preliminary research findings for you to freak out over this weekend:


  • Actually, we've been quietly freaking out over this one for nearly five years, since we first got our place in DC, where the wife was pregnant with the kid--and the DC water system was in the middle of the worst lead contamination scandal in the history of drinking water. We bought a Brita and stuck it out. Now it turns out that yes, in fact the water company, the District, and CDC all had tests showing elevated lead levels in kids in the affected neighborhoods, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what they always claimed. [washingtonpost]
  • It could be worse, I guess. You could be in China, where air and environmental pollution are being blamed for the "soaring" rate of birth defects. [chinadaily.com via dt reader jj daddy-o]
  • Relax! The reason your kid may not actually be allergic is not your obsessive, paranoid hovering! It's that the cheap&easy antibody tests are highly unreliable and give way too many false positives. [nyt]
  • "I was devastated," said the conscientiously crunchy, organic, breastfeeding, cloth-diapering, water activist mom when she found out that her tap water might have perchlorate in it, perhaps runoff from a solid rocket fuel factory somewhere, and that might correlate to behavioral changes and developmental delays someday in her 9mo son. "We can't continue to pander to corporate interests at the expense of our nation's health!" Don't get a simple urine test, sister! It'll just blunt your anti-rocket zeal! Fight the power! [nrdc's blog, onearth.org]
  • Oh no, don't tell me the credential-faking, alien abductee-following, bogus science-promoting quack was right! Scientists from Budapest and Amsterdam have published a study showing that after nine months with their ears pressed against their mothers' beating heart, 2-day-old babies are able to detect changes in a rhythm. Babyplus calls that prenatal learning, and promises to get your kid into Harvard for just $159. [article: newscientist.com; abstract and fulltext both: pnas.org]
  • On a related note, it has been four months since Dorel, Safety 1st, and their publicists began refusing requests to explain why they sell the BabyPlus Prenatal Learning System under their own brand name. This, after it's been documented the whole thing is a 20-year-old, unscientific scam run by a conflict-of-interest-hiding doctor and a lying quack.

1 Comment

I used to live in a Belgian city, Verviers (where the NY writer Luc Sante comes from, actually) where you could literaly see the effects of acid tap water and lead pipes : frail and very pale kids, high level of mental disabilty, etc etc... Verviers had been one of the first Belgian city to have running water installed because of many cholera outbreaks during the 19th century (my great grand father lost his parents during a cholera outbreak and has been raised in an orphenage), but the lead pipes have only been recently replaced, making of Verviers the capital of Saturnisme (I don't know the English word for the lead poisoning). Stick to the Britta. That lead stuff is real and scary.

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