June 6, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: Russian Mice Breast Pump Edition

The Freakout's roundup of overwrought science, safety, and parenting news ruineth your weekend--and it unruineth [?] it with a little dose of Uma:


  • The California Senate passed a ban on BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups this week, one of 55 such state-level legislative proposals across the country at the moment.

  • Surely, the chemical industry blames a unholy alliance between clueless bloggers and science-hating media who keep this phony controversy alive to sell their papers. "I felt literally like I was writing about it [BPA] every day," one greedy web misinformationist told the Christian Science Monitor. Which ceased publishing its print version last year. Also, that blogger switched to a once-a-week BPA freakout roundup months ago. Chemical lobbyists used their comeback of last resort: "Don't call me Shirley." [csm]

  • What's that, National Geographic? A giant Russian dairy extracting human lactoferrin protein from the milk of genetically modified mice to put into baby formula? "To milk mice, the research team had to anaesthetize the rodents and use specially adapted pumps fitted to their tiny teats. If attempted commercially, 'the scale at which this would have to happen would be a logistic and technical nightmare,'" admitted a Danish biogen exec behind the Russian research. Also, the competition. [natgeo via dt reader eric]


  • Finally, hard numbers on exactly how TV rots our babies' brains. A 2-year study by Seattle Children's Hospital found that for each hour the TV was on, kids vocalized less and heard an average of 770 fewer words, a 7% decrease in language use. Or as a top secret Baby Einstein Powerpoint slide somewhere probably calls it "Mommy Me-Time." [press release: seattlechildrens.org via pr; abstract: ama-assn.org]

  • Finally, hard numbers on exactly how TV rots our babies' bodies. A study of commercials on UK and Canadian television found that regulations on kid-targeted ads for junk food would eliminate barely 5% of ads, the equivalent of one measly Tim Hortons donut/month. [press release: eurekalert; article: adc.bmj.com]

  • Lost of surprises in Chicago. A study by pediatric researchers at Northwestern found that in addition to being "surprisingly odor-free," soaking in diluted bleach baths resulted in "Whiter laundry and a surprising new treatment for kids' eczema." [press release: eurekalert; abstract: pediatrics]

  • A momblogger's 13-year study of one dad who cooks dinner, builds furniture and fixes things also finds he does no housework because he "does not clean." Have at it, folks. [schmoozins.com via outraged dt reader roger]

Wow, how has it taken me this long to just start pulling stuff straight from Pediatrics? It's a Freakout Goldmine! Here's just the June 2009 issue:


  • "Longer birth length, higher birth weight, or larger head circumferences within the normal birth size range are associated with higher IQ scores in Asian children." Translation: Singapore will start breeding giant genius babies. [abstract]

  • "Are Starting and Continuing Breastfeeding Related to Educational Background?" Duh, yes. [abstract]

  • "Dying to Play Video Games: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From Electrical Generators Used After Hurricane Ike" Of 13 cases within the first 36 hours, at least five involved kids running video games or TV's, resulting in 54% of the poisonings and one death. [abstract]

  • Unvaccinated kids are at an 11% greater risk of contracting pertussis than vaccinated kids. Herd immunity doesn't help. [abstract]

  • "Caregivers with lower numeracy skills were more likely to provide inappropriate reasons for giving an over-the-counter medication [to infants]." "Inappropriate reasons" here included the presence of babies, teddy bears, droppers, and the word "infant" on the cold medication packaging. Bonus freakout: "only 17%" of caregivers [87% moms recruited in , btw] had >9th-grade numeracy skills. This study/survey sounds a bit odd, frankly. [abstract]

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