July 31, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: No Toms, Dustins Or Leos Edition

Have we got a pile of overhyped science and alarming news stories to ruin your parenting weekend!


  • "Does Breastfeeding Cause Autism?" This insane headline is the reason the Freakout was created. It is also practically a quote from the UCSF press release, in which an attention-grabbing neurologist speculates rather wildly about an actually quite narrow 2007 study of PCB exposure on fetal auditory development in rats. A study which makes unsupported assumptions about the levels of PCBs in human breast milk, ignores inconvenient findings on breast milk that contradict it, and which draws unsupported conclusions from previous work. A study which the neurologist self-submitted to the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences, which allows up to four self-submissions/year. Also, you get to pick your own reviewers. This could be science one day but the disingenuous hype around it smells like complete bullshit. [urbanbaby, ucsf, pnas.org, wtf via dt reader cindy]

  • Of course, if breastfeeding did cause autism, it could just mean more LSD for everyone! Because that's one way they treated kids with autism in the 60's. [mindhacks, neurodiversity.com]

  • Does your 2-yo have nightmares about storming the hill at Guadalcanal, but he wasn't even in the room when you watched Thin Red Line? It's not autism, just a past life flashback [soulsurvivor-book.com]

  • Researchers have documented the first cases of HIV transmission to infants via pre-chewed food, but say it's nothing to freak out over. Just maybe ease up on the prechewing when you have bleeding gums, open mouth sores and HIV. [sciencedaily]

  • "According to a new report in Psychological Science, children's temperament may be due in part to a combination of a certain gene and a specific pattern of brain activity." And to think that after that Rorschach testing thing got blown wide open, I worried that psychology wouldn't recover its scientific footing! [sciencedaily]

  • More psychology science! After a study last year showing babies understand Beethoven, BYU psychologists have now proved babies can also understand Beethoven. [sciencedaily]

  • Pregnant women will get Swine Flu vaccines first. Then kids and caregivers. Don't grumble, they're not just the most vulnerable, they're the most communicable. [reuters]

  • Employees at a sperm bank in California spent six months coming up with the names of the two or three celebrities each donor most looks like. Their Look-A-Likes search function went live this week, resulting in a 50% boost in traffic. But just airlines don't show plane crash movies, there are no Rainman look-alikes in the sperm bank. Or Gilbert Grapes. [cryobank via ktla]

  • The kid may have your eyes for now. A paper from a Harvard evolutionary biologist theorizes that genomic imprinting--the influence of each parent's genes on an offspring--may not settle until later in childhood, or even early in puberty. Of course, the paper's published in PNAS, so it could be totally made up, who knows? To be safe, get sperm from a donor who looks vaguely like Adrien Brody. Those eyes ain't goin' anywhere. [sciencedaily]

RECALL FREAKOUTS:

3 Comments

Right you are! There are so many stupid studies out there which will claim just about anything. Part of the outrage is that some of the people who are publishing this rubbish are college educators. A few weeks ago another study claimed that certain boy names predispose kids for criminal activity. (Read my article here: http://gladdads.blogspot.com/2009/07/bad-boy-names-lead-to-bad-men.html) Sometimes you just have to declare BS on a study and go on with your life. Stupid people (even educators) are not worth dwelling on.

Nice work DT. I'm glad to see someone calling BS on this "research."

Hmm, the breastfeeding/autism link "study" may have one upside: it might just immobilize Jenny McCarthy as she tries to decide which to shout the loudest against, breastfeeding or immunizations.

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