September 25, 2009

DT Friday Freakout: Snakes Edition

Some reports from the worlds of science and parenting to freak out over this weekend:

  • Some survey found that, because of money worries during the recession, "many women" are delaying pregnancy and skimping on birth control. "Many men" who are seeking to avoid unintended pregnancies during a recession may want to keep that in mind. [reuters]

  • A study of 4,000 Dutch kids found that passing all those germs around in daycare early on doesn't help strengthen the kids' immune systems later; it just gets them sick. [physorg]

  • You know the listeria lurking in your sketchy deli meat? Turns out it's just waiting for a chance to slacken the tension of your cells' plasma membranes so it can spread. [physorg]

  • They probably started out as some dumbass rednecks' pets, but now African Rock Pythons are "Invading Florida." They grow to 20 feet and are known to attack humans, deer, and 'gators, so you'd think it'd go without saying that they "could pose a particular danger for pets and small children." [physorg, originally reported by national geographic, I think]

  • Even though a Danish-Finnish study of endocrine disrupting chemicals in breastmilk links environmental exposure to the incidence of testicular cancer, women are still encouraged to continue breastfeeding, "which has many beneficial effects for the [eventually uni-nutted] child." [physorg]

  • Private umbilical cord blood banking is a statistically useless way to spend $3,600. Of 460,000 units stored in US private banks, 99 have been used for treatment of some kind. And on and on, said the Mass General physician in her study. [physorg]

  • Conveniently, babies learn to crawl right about the same time their brains become able to figure out something is headed straight for them. Get out your bowling ball and try it at home! [physorg]

  • Our Children's Tylenol wasn't listed among the lots recalled because some bacteria was found in some raw materials stash somewhere. Not sure about yours, though. Frankly, with the new ear infection she picked up yesterday, the kid's been pounding Motrin anyway.[]


Re. the delaying pregnancy, in a completely unscientific survey (I asked a nurse) taken at the CT fertility clinic to which I go, I found that despite a lull over the summer, business is now booming. It's possible that much of the clientele there, not including me, has a bit more money than average. Also possible that when you're really, really trying to have a baby, and there is state-mandated fertility insurance coverage for those under 40, you don't worry about the expenses down the road, you just go for it.

And bowling ball - har! If only he was still small enough to try it...

With all the things in all the world that being a dad makes me worry about, I guess I should just be grateful that we don't have African Rock Pythons in London. Yet. Keep up the good work.

Private umbilical cord blood banking is a statistically useless way to spend $3,600.

It's kind of like house insurance, you spend your money and hope that you will never need to call the insurance adjuster. A sort of a lucky charm.

uh, no, unlike umbilical cord blood, there's a whole list of situations--however unlikely--where house insurance might actually be useful. for anyone besides the extremely rare cases of specific diseases and conditions, cord blood treatments don't actually exist.

Greg is right, Ana. Before babymicah's birth we spoke with a family friend who is a nationwide expert on blood banking.

He said he MIGHT consider it for his own family if he knew there was a family history of one of the very few (and extraordinarily rare) diseases/conditions where cord blood can help. But that for anyone without such a family history, it's more or less a scam.

I know a lot of highly educated people who have banked their babies' cord blood. The cord blood banks' marketing materials are very persuasive and we came very close to doing it ourselves. Even our OB wouldn't give us a straight answer on how useful it was.

But if you're planning on having more kids, DON'T bank their cord blood unless you have a family history that warrants it, because the odds are something like 99.9999999999999% that cord blood banking is no more effective in protecting your child than making a burnt offering to the Flying Spaghetti Monster of cash in the amount of the cord blood bank up-front and lifetime maintenance fees.

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