March 13, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: Lots More Tears Edition

Yes, in case you're keeping score at home, you've already noticed there was no Friday Freakout last week; because we freakin' went out of town for the weekend. So refreshing. But enough of that, let's get on with the overly alarming reporting of child and parenting-related science, easiest one first, CANCER!:

  • Ingredients in baby bath products cause cancer, say some activists who tested products for the unregulated formaldehyde that everyone's always known was there. [usatoday via dt reader melissa]

  • Bonus alarming quote from Stacy Malkan of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics: "Our intention is not to alarm parents, but to inform parents that products that claim to be gentle and pure are contaminated with carcinogens, which is completely unnecessary."

  • Kids with older dads performed worse on cognitive tests. The results of an Autralian analysis of a giant store of US historical data are "significant" statistically, but "subtle," i.e., so minor you really shouldn't feel bad about not having a kid in your twenties. [bbc via dt reader dt; read the whole paper online at PLoS]

  • While there's a whole sidebar paper on it in PLoS, I wonder if I'm the only one who gets the sense that while dad-related effects are theorized to be genetically based, mom-related effects are theorized to be related to the nurturing/family environment? Just sayin'. [PLoS]
  • Also, whilst they have your attention, the BBC helpfully point out that older fathers are also linked to bipolar disorder, autism, and schizophrenia. Damn you, increasingly mutant sperm! [bbc]

  • It's been in my browser tab all week, but I can't bring myself to read the massive Washington Post article about the dad on trial for forgetting his kid was in the back seat that hot summer day. [washpost]

  • In other unbearable car-related news, an employee at an Arkansas day care center thought that windshield wiper fluid in the fridge was Kool-Aid, and fed it to the kids. There are so many WTF's here, I can't begin to bullet them out. [sfgate via dt reader amy]


DO NOT read the Washington Post story. I have literally not been sleeping well since. It's splendidly written and evisceratingly awful in content. I cried at my desk.

I agree about the post article. Disturbing and troubling and really for no reason (do we really need a PSA about forgetting to drop kids at day care and leaving them to overheat to death in the car?). Just more sensationalism to play on parents already rattled emotions. I wish there was a delete button for my memory of the article ;)

yeah, the WP article was awful. I bawled and was pretty happy my babies were sleeping when I read it.
As for needing the PSA? Yeah, i think it is needed, even as just a "pay attention" thing. Since I started hearing of this happening more, i am totally guilty of glancing in windows of cars to see if there's kids in there. It's heart wrenching

From the article I got to the website, and there I've browsed through most of the stories. It made me realize just how many kids die from the automatic windows crashing the tiny windpipes:(

what, 3/year? I see 1500 fatalities since 2001, and 2% involve window closings. that's 30 in nine years. am I missing some? I'd think the 44% backover fatality rate is more urgent. Window safety standards have already changed, I think.

We had to redesign automatic window switches in one of our classes for my automotive engineering degree (circa 1995) to prevent the possibility of kids getting strangled. At that time most window switches were still rocker switches, though they had for the most part been moved to the center console where they couldn't be activated by a kid climbing through the window. Most of the stuff we came up with (e.g., switches that required pulling to raise the window, load cutouts in the motor circuit), became pretty much standard within a few years.

I know that in a 2004 Toyota, in addition to having pull switches, you can stick your finger in the closing window, and the motor will reverse when it starts to pinch. Doesn't even hurt. I haven't reviewed the data, but I imagine most of the fatalities from windows are on old cars.

I see government is still talking about mandating pull switches, but it's all for show. I can't remember the last new car I saw that didn't already have them. You can't crush all the old cars in the world.

It's just like cribs- the vast majority of fatalities involve old garage sale cribs and instances where people have substituted or omitted hardware. You can't fix that with a law.

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