The truthiness of natural parenting

truthiness

Natural parenting advocates are certain that natural parenting is the best way to raise children despite the complete absence of proof for any of its central claims.

They believe that unmedicated vaginal birth is safer and healthier although there is no evidence to support that claim.

They believe that breastfeeding of term infants confers massive, lifelong benefits despite data that is weak, conflicting and riddled with confounding variables.

They believe that baby wearing improves the mother-infant bond although that premise has never been tested, let alone found to be true.

They believe that vaccines are harmful, cause autism and that a multiplicity of vaccines “overwhelm” the immune system despite masses of data proving the exact opposite.

Why do they hold such strong beliefs in the absence of scientific proof? It’s simple; they are impressed with the “truthiness” of natural parenting.

The comedian Steven Colbert coined the term “truthiness.” According to Wikipedia:

Truthiness is a quality characterizing a “truth” that a person making an argument or assertion claims to know intuitively “from the gut” or because it “feels right” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.

In an out of character interview Colbert explained:

It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that’s not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It’s certainty. People love the President [George W. Bush] because he’s certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don’t seem to exist. It’s the fact that he’s certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?…

Truthiness is ‘What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.’ …

Colbert was talking about politics, but it applies equally to natural parenting. Indeed, the appeal to truthiness is quite explicit in natural parenting. The natural childbirth advocacy advice to trust your “instincts,” is a call to value truthiness above truth. It doesn’t matter what obstetricians say about the dangers of postdates, breech vaginal birth, homebirth, etc; the only thing that matters what you believe the dangers to be.

Why are so many professional natural childbirth advocates either sociologists or anthropologists? Because they, too, value truthiness above truth.

Many dismiss science as a male form of “authoritative knowledge” on the understanding that there are “other ways of knowing” like “intuition.” Many are post modernists who believe that reality is radically subjective, that rationality is unnecessary and that “including the non-rational is sensible midwifery.”

Perhaps nowhere is truthiness more valued than among the vaccine rejectionists. They, too, are quite explicit in their rejection of truth for intuition. Vaccines cause autism because some parents feel that vaccines caused their children’s autism. Never mind that copious scientific evidence has shown that there is no causal connection between vaccines and autism. They embrace modified vaccination schedules because some parents feel that multiple vaccines given together or even separately over time “overwhelm” a child’s immune system. Never mind that anyone with a modicum of knowledge of immunology recognizes this claim as nonsense.

Colbert, in explaining the genesis of truthiness, observed:

We’re not talking about truth, we’re talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist.

The central claims of natural childbirth, lactivism, attachment parenting and vaccine rejection aren’t the truth; they’re the truth that natural parenting advocates want to exist. Those claims may be appealing because they’re truthy, but the reality is that they are not true.

  • Kayleigh Herbertson

    I agree with your points, it’s a shame when women assume that if they had an awesome homebirth/easy breastfeeding experience then it’s an obvious option for everyone. If you don’t get the same experience then you didn’t trust in your instincts enough. Pretty sure that’s not how it works.

  • lucy logan

    “Why are so many professional natural childbirth advocates either sociologists or anthropologists? Because they, too, value truthiness above truth.” this is unfair to these disciplines. i would even venture to say that MOST anthropologists are NOT relativists either in terms of truth or culture. sociologists even less so. that some are is not a reason to paint all of social science in this light.

    • Teleute

      Every single time I point out that an article making outrageous MEDICAL claims has been authored by a sociologist or anthropologist, I am accused of trolling.

      • lucy logan

        listen if you guys keep trashing anthropology im not going to go tweet you whatever lunacy the winguts are planning on presenting at the AAA next week.

        • Teleute

          No, no, no… you misunderstand me. I’m not trashing the disciplines, I’m merely implying that having a degree in sociology or anthropology does not license someone to hand out medical advice.

          For instance, one of my Facebook friends recently commented on an article (which then showed up on my newsfeed) by a doctor who claimed that bed-sharing reduced the risk of SIDS. Nowhere in the article did it state what kind of doctor he was, so I ran a quick Google check and found that he had a Ph.D. in anthropology and taught cultural anthropology at some university.

          A great deal of the “hard medical science” behind attachment parenting is grounded in articles such as this.

          • Young CC Prof

            Excellent point. I’d make just as much fun of a medical doctor writing anthropology papers, this anthropologist is working outside his area of expertise and should not have been published.

          • lucy logan

            sure–agreed on all counts. HOWEVER–you are missing the point that they are largely also terrible anthropologists who vaguely gesture to social theory that 1) they dont understand and 2) is out of date or inapplicable to what they claim to study. Additionally, they dont seem to have much grappled with issues of methodology or the injunction that bears on all anthropologists to reflexively analyze their own role in a given fieldwork situation, and develop both an emic and etic critique of their subject, including themselves. they seem to think anthropology is about writing ill-informed opeds and investigating ‘ways of knowing’ is about asserting the truth of whatever hobbyhorse theyve latched on to. im not one to lambast opinionated or engaged anthropology–quite the contrary–but intellectually vacant bordering on the intentional misrepresentation is a poor reflection of the discipline. sadly i didnt make it to whatever session they must have had because the app was completely terrible and i couldn’t figure out when it was, and was therefore forced to attend panels relevant to my own work.

  • Guest

    Great post…I’m a long time Colbert fan 🙂

  • yentavegan

    Middle class women of privilege are bombarded with contradictory messages about parenting and their role in society.
    We have elevated the role of mothering to be an all consuming activity. lest we shame ourselves in admitting we have squandered the blessings of prosperity.

  • KarenJJ

    Not exactly OT:
    “Parents also have to make sure their own lives are fulfilling. There is no parent more vulnerable to the excesses of overparenting than an unhappy parent. One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/opinion/sunday/raising-successful-children.html?_r=2&adxnnl=1&smid=fb-share&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1382552044-QNNqrJt+FO9ZIOzw6U1d3Q&pagewanted=all&

    Thought this was a great summary of the issue of valuing the ideology of parenting over actually meeting the needs of kids to make mistakes and develop their own identity.

  • Esther
  • Ceridwen

    OT: Came across an ad for this while at the secondhand shop getting baby clothes http://birthingasnatureintended.com/

    This is one I hadn’t encountered before. According to them only 5% of low risk women will experience pain during childbirth!

    • Box of Salt

      Birthing as Nature Intended?

      Quoting the website: “a complete childbirth education program that will prepare expectant parents for the beautiful, calm birth that every expectant mother is entitled to”

      Nature never entitled anyone to anything.

      • Young CC Prof

        Nature entitles you to eventually die. And to TRY to stay alive as long as possible.

  • Alenushka

    Did you see this? http://skepticalob.org/

    • Amy M

      Wow, that’s obnoxious.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        It’s also very likely illegal. There is a fair amount of law now about buying domain names in bad faith and about buying personal names to interfere with that person’s business.

        I’ll forward it to my lawyer.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD

          Here’s the relevant info:

          b. Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith. For the purposes of Paragraph 4(a)(iii), the following circumstances, in particular but without limitation, if found by the Panel to be present, shall be evidence of the registration and use of a domain name in bad faith:

          (ii) you have registered the domain name in order to prevent the owner of the trademark or service mark from reflecting the mark in a corresponding domain name, provided that you have engaged in a pattern of such conduct; or

          (iii) you have registered the domain name primarily for the purpose of disrupting the business of a competitor; or

          (iv) by using the domain name, you have intentionally attempted to attract, for commercial gain, Internet users to your web site or other on-line location, by creating a likelihood of confusion with the complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of your web site or location or of a product or service on your web site or location.

          http://www.icann.org/en/help/dndr/udrp/policy

          • FormerPhysicist

            I’m glad you have a lawyer.

          • auntbea

            Can they claim they bought it as satire? Is that allowed? Like a fair use for domain names?

          • Hey Dr. A, have there been any developments in this?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            My lawyers are working on it. I’ve learned that nothing happens fast in the world of law.

      • Awesomemom

        And they made it horribly ugly. What ever happened to simplicity in design? That whole website is a hot mess. I bet the site owner is all giggling to her NCB friends about how awesome she is and how this is so gonna piss Dr. Amy off.

        • auntbea

          If I were a mother looking for info, and I encountered something with seventeen cryptic buttons linking to random sites, I would not spend much time there.

    • Guesteleh

      It links to the midwife’s personal site with her full name and photo! How fucking stupid are these people? Do they not know about the Gina lawsuit? Do they not know who Amy’s husband is?

    • Zornorph

      What’s funny is one of the links takes you to http://www.indiebirth.com/ – and I kid you not it says, “A birth experience arising from decisions made in alignment with your individual truth. Making and owning your birth decisions based on your own unique needs, desires, knowledge and intuition.” That almost perfectly captures what Dr. Amy is talking about in this post!

      • Young CC Prof

        And is the perfect opposite of skepticism. “Let’s just make shit up and then convince ourselves it’s true later.”

        • KarenJJ

          Tagline ‘redirect your thoughts”. Sounds about right…

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      How did you find it?

      • Alenushka

        I was at a library and I do not have scepticalob bookmarked. I entered it into google or bing and your side came up and the .org one below it as a second result.

    • Esther

      FWIW, looks like they’ve got the .net domain as well.

      • KarenJJ

        Yep. Just tried that myself too.

  • Guesteleh

    Stephen Colbert is hot. Oh wait, was this post about something else?

  • Lisa the Raptor

    If I offend I’m sorry, but there is a reason that sociology and cultural anthropology (not the much more science based forensic anthro) were jokingly called pseudo-sciences by one professor of mine.

    • Lisa the Raptor

      Social “sciences” in general. Not history (my subject), which never claimed to be a science.

      • Sguest

        What about psychology and linguistics though? I think (as a linguist currently pouring over reams and reams of participants performing at ceiling in an executive function task…grrrrrrr) that they’re spanning the social sciences and science.

        • Lisa the Raptor

          One could likely qualify language. Psychology is a strong part of medicine, but can be pretty objective as well.

    • As someone with a minor in sociology (and a major in political science), both disciplines spent an awful lot of time asking of themselves if they counted as science! Given that control groups are pretty much impossible for political type things, it’s really hard to say yes, but given how much effort is being put into trying to quantify different factors and develop empirical, statistical, falsifiable models of things, it’s really hard to say no also.

      I went to a very quantitative-oriented school, though, and I know there’s a lot of “fluffy” work that focuses on case studies and such at other schools, which is less sciency.

      • Lisa the Raptor

        Again and again we are shown that humans in mass and alone can be very unpredictable. We never saw the fall of the USSR coming or the Tunisian revolution. It seems to me that sciences have to be predictable and provable and human nature can be neither. Not in a way that could be exact or even close.

        • Well, there were actually a few people who did see the fall of the USSR coming. They weren’t really listened to, but the signs were there.

          The Tunisian revolution was a big surprise, for sure. The lack of control groups or counterfactuals makes it very hard to do science.

          • Lisa the Raptor

            BTW, by this comment I in no way meant to demean either or these studies, just say that I don’t think they are true sciences. I find sociological and anthropological studies and experiments to be fascinating and actually in support that humans are “good” creatures that are capable of amazing things (and harm too). Totally legit fields of study, just maybe not as predictable as I like my sciences, which is what makes them interesting.

          • Fair enough! I’m used to people denigrating the political sciences as not “real science” to mean “not hard, not meaningful”, which is clearly not what you meant. I can be a bit oversensitive to that, I know, and I do appreciate the clarification.

            I’m not sure they count as “real science” in the way of predictable and reproducible results either, after all!

  • Dr Kitty

    OT: I love vaccines.
    I do not love emails from the public health agency reminding me of the symptoms of Polio, to send stool samples from all recent immigrants from Syria for Polio testing, and to make sure all Syrian immigrants have DaTP as soon as possible.

    One civil war and illnesses almost eradicated by vaccination can return.
    Which sucks.

    Never mind the Walking Dead inventing a new deadly virus, the ones we already know about would do it.

    • Antigonos CNM

      Polio seems to be making something of a comeback in the region generally. Wild polio virus was detected recently in the water of certain Israeli Beduin villages [Israeli Beduin are pretty much settled, but I suspect there is a certain amount of surreptitious movement in spite of borders] and there has been a well-publicized vaccination campaign, and no actual cases have been reported. But of course, any situation which generates large numbers of refugees is going to assist in disease transmission. There are huge numbers of Syrians in Jordan now, and there is a large cross-border traffic between Jordan and Israel.

  • amazonmom

    oh the truthiness and it’s friend “other ways of knowing”. The woo pushers at work will actually say that us wimmin can’t understand science, electronics, computers, or evidence based medicine and we have other ways of knowing. So I’m not a woman? I assemble computers, read scientific papers during my downtime at work, and don’t buy into natural parenting as a mandatory lifestyle. I also intend to work full time after my leave, I’m the only woman at work with more than 1 child that is going to maintain FTE. This whole paradigm of truthiness is the least feminist thing I’ve experienced in a long time!

    • prolifefeminist

      Amen!! I, too, am sick of this whole “other ways of knowing” is how women think bullshit. So sick of it. I love to build furniture and I do much of the remodeling on our house. I love anything to do with science and I love a good, aggressive debate. I’m a sucker for power tools, and on Sundays during football season you’ll find me yelling at the TV and breaking down plays and talking stats. Yet I hear over and over that those things are “manly.” Why? I do them and I’m a woman, so does that make them womanly? Why does everything have to be given a gender?

      • Box of Salt

        I wonder if the emphasis on “other ways of knowing” is covering up an unwillingness to study enough to learn more difficult material.

      • amazonmom

        My grandfather built homes and things for fun. He was a civil engineer before he became a lawyer and later a judge. I got to be the helper when he built the two story garage/apartment in the backyard of his vacation home property. I’m glad my grandpa thought girls could learn that stuff! My cousin was not nearly as detail oriented as I was so he had to do the cleanups. I got to hand grandpa electrical parts and measure lumber. When I got older he taught me how to properly own and use firearms. (Grandpa was only able to afford his education because of the GI bill. He served on a Navy ship in the Pacific during all of WW II. The ship’s job was to put out fires on ships that were under attack and to pick sailors out of the water before enemy guns picked them off. Veterans Day is to honor brave men like you Grandpa, and my Cousin that later flew Navy jets)

        • prolifefeminist

          Your Grandpa sounds like an amazing man! I’ll bet those are some really happy memories for you.

          Thanks to him and your uncle for their service!

      • KarenJJ

        Yep.

        I was thinking the other day about my childhood. Free to roam about the neighbourhood with the kids down the road and go ‘exploring’ around the streets etc. I also used to navigate for my Dad a lot driving around the new estates where I lived where he would do some tests on building sites.

        How much of the map reading skills and spatial awareness comes from being able to freely explore as kids and how many little girls get that sort of freedom compared to the boys?

        • auntbea

          I roamed around freely, the only girl in a pack of boys. I cannot distinguish right from West.

          • prolifefeminist

            No matter what I do, I have this same stupid problem. I constantly think of left as west and right as east, as if I’m looking at a map. I cannot tell you how many wrong turns I’ve taken thinking I should go left if I want to go west. I seriously don’t know what’s wrong with me sometimes. I actually have a pretty good sense of direction most of the time, but if I think of where I’m going as a map, that damn left-right/east-west thing trips me up. lol

          • auntbea

            I got really thrown off when I moved from the east coast to the west coast. Because East had always mneant “toward the water” and I kept using it thusly. Caused much confusion. Now we’ve moved back though, so it’s okay.

          • KarenJJ

            Same here 🙂 we went the opposite way (West-East- West) and are on a different continent, but had the same issue. I’ve always lived close to the ocean and didn’t realise how much I took my bearings from it.

          • Young CC Prof

            I had issues when I moved to the opposite side of the same metropolitan area. Because now “in” means something else. I’ve managed to reverse my orientation, but I still get screwed up when I visit my parents.

          • Lisa Cybergirl

            All I can say is thank god for my GPS!

        • prolifefeminist

          I think women can be the worst offenders sometimes. I’ve noticed that a lot of the moms in my town with girls my daughter’s age (9) are actively raising their daughters to pursue shopping as a serious hobby, compare clothes and jewelry to each other, and shun sports, science/”brainy” pursuits, and mechanical interests as “guy stuff.” The boys are encouraged to get outside and play games and roam around, while the girls are told they’ll get dirty or mess up their manicure.

          I’ve always raised my daughter with the motto rattling around in my head that a capable girl is an independent girl. It really bugs me to see mothers discouraging independence in their daughters (I mean, come on – how great is it to be a girl who knows enough about cars to not get screwed over by the mechanic? Don’t leave all this stuff up to the boys!). Obviously this isn’t all on moms – dads need to be encouraging this stuff too – but I’m of the opinion that if you’re a woman and gender discrimination bothers you, DO something about it. Start in your own family.

          Please pardon my crankiness. I had to go to the mall today.

          • Antigonos CNM

            When I moved to Israel, my parting gift from my father was a fully-stocked tool chest, and “The Feminist Fix-It Guide”.

          • Amy M

            I don’t have any daughters, but my sons are showing an active interest in science. I am a scientist, so I am running with it. I know its more cool to do this with girls, and I would if I had any, but I like being able to do science with my sons, so I think that is fine too. 🙂 They wanted to do explosions, so I had to explain how we can’t do that, but maybe “50 chemistry experiments from things lying around your house” with the biggest explosion being mentos and coke, is possible.

      • DiomedesV

        I maintain that a good organic chemist makes a good cook.

      • Antigonos CNM

        Sucker for power tools? It’s a family joke that I need to be prevented, by force if necessary, from going anywhere near a Home Depot or other hardware store. I walk right by jewelry and clothing stores.

        • I like shinies quite a lot. I like swords and daggers and jewelry and chainmail. This has been expanded a bit to include dice and computers as well.

          Home Depot was a new experience with new types of shinies. I’ve had to make several trips there (new house), but so far I’ve managed to stick to only the things I need.

          I think I might have been a magpie in a past life.

    • amazonmom

      I only mention my FTE because I am getting harassed by charge nurses that love to tell me “well I LOVED MY CHILDREN and WANTED to be with them” when I say I’m not changing my FTE. I think I’m actually being denied opportunities at work because my boss thinks I’m not committed because of having another child. I might have to start doing something about this and I have to consider whether it is worth the crap I KNOW I will get from my boss if I complain.

      • DiomedesV

        Yeah, I’ve heard that line. It used to infuriate me. Then I compared my life to the women I’ve heard use it. I’m happier.

        • amazonmom

          Yeah, the people who say that to me are usually the ones that got forced into working through divorce or some other horrible thing happening. I don’t mind if they ask me what my plans are, I just don’t want to get roasted for saying I intend to keep working.

      • Leica

        Reminds me, I went back to work when my second was 5 months old, to a new job because we’d moved. One of the ladies from the scheduling office said “Oh, how sad! I didn’t go back to work until mine were over a year old. Of course, I considered myself a mom first – but I guess you consider yourself a nurse first.” (Twitch. Twitch. Walk out of scheduling office before I punch somebody.)

        Now granted, I didn’t go back FT because my husband was getting ready to deploy again and I prefer fewer work hours when I’m solo parenting.

      • Amy M

        NOt like per se, just “I hear you, how frustrating”

    • Young CC Prof

      Makes me glad for my workplace. We’ve got several women with three or four kids, and for the most part folks have been very supportive.

      Getting my boss to do the leave paperwork correctly might be a bit complicated, but that’s not because he’s negative about it, just because everything’s complicated in his world.

    • Petanque

      I wish someone would share with me what those “other ways of knowing are” so I could be a proper woman! 😉

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        The key to having other ways of knowing is just to accept that you have them, and once you do, then you know it, and everything you believe can be considered true due to your ability to know in other ways.

        • Petanque

          You’re right, Bofa! The more I believe, the more I can feel the certainty in my womanly knowledge. It’s remarkable!

  • Zornorph

    Who needs science and evidence, when you’ve got ‘mama wisdom’?

    • prolifefeminist

      Yea, because “mama wisdom” can’t ever been proven one way or another so therefore, you’re never wrong. Barf.

      Enter…”things didn’t go wrong because your intuition sucked – things went wrong because…because…because you didn’t TRUST your mama wisdom ENOUGH!!”

      • Zornorph

        I just do what my penis tells me to do. It’s never wrong.

  • Amy M

    But then you get people like that woman we discussed recently who truthily do everything “right” and still get (in their minds) “less than ideal” children. Meaning, the child cries, or misbehaves, or gets sick occasionally or has autism. Its interesting to see that many of the people either blame themselves for still doing something wrong (despite knowing the truth, they didn’t heed it) OR they move the goalposts, and claim new truths that they didn’t know before, a conspiracy, information being hidden by manufacturers or the government or doctors. If only they’d known about the BPA! They’d never have let plastic in the house! It must have been that plastic toy that baby loved so much and always had in his mouth! And they go on a crusade against plastic, so everyone else can learn the truthiness.

    • araikwao

      Yes! I recently saw a Facebook comment by an acquaintance from high school expressing disbelief that her child has been diagnosed with a number of psych disorders, because he was BF for however-many months, co-slept, etc.

      • Anj Fabian

        O shit, they really believe that Doing It Right will protect their child?

        Points for getting the child diagnosed though. At least they don’t have the Our Snowflake Is Perfect syndrome.

    • amazonmom

      I dared microwave my lunch in a plastic container at work. OMG you would have thought I was swigging fifth of vodka for all the crap I got. Yes,I’m pregnant. Yes, I’m microwaving the soup. I live life on the edge.

      • KarenJJ

        I’m wary of the microwave at my office. My manager went through a ‘what happens if you microwave xxx?’ phase.

      • Amy M

        For real? I’ve never even heard that one.

  • Dr Kitty

    Lovely.

    I’m wondering how the antivax lot are taking the new research about eye movements suggesting ASD can be detected much, much younger than previously thought (as in, well before MMR).

    • Amy Tuteur, MD

      I bet they’ll switch to blaming the DPT, since its given at 2 months.

      • Trixie

        Or Hep B at birth

        • Kumquatwriter

          Or those terrible hats.

          • Trixie

            Or the chatting and patting.

          • Amy M

            Or epidurals and pitocin.

          • Pillabi

            You have it all wrong: the real evil is IV during labor!

          • AllieFoyle

            It seems that as the vaccine-autism wave is losing momentum, they’ve been busy setting up pitocin as the new evil villain.

          • Young CC Prof

            Unfortunately, they do have one highly publicized study demonstrating statistical association. However, it’s impossible to control for the confounders, so all that study proves is that difficulties in late pregnancy or during labor are associated with a moderate increase in the risk of autism.

          • araikwao

            Just remind them that college education had a stronger association than the Pitocin!

          • Box of Salt

            “college education had a stronger association”
            Just what we need: more justification for avoiding education in America!
            /sarcasm

          • Kumquatwriter

            I hate to say “good” but at least pitocin refusal doesn’t start oubreaks and potential epidemics…

          • BeatlesFan

            Can I ask about the “patting”? Do they mean they don’t want the baby toweled off, or is the baby just supposed to lie on mom’s chest without anyone, mom included, touching it with their hands?

          • Trixie
        • AllieFoyle

          Don’t forget ultrasounds.

          • Amy M

            I read something online once where the claim was that the baby “heard the ultrasound like a freight train” rushing towards it. Which makes no sense because ultrasonic waves are above the range of human hearing. Maybe a dog can hear them? It’s my understanding that babies and small children can hear sounds in the higher end of the range that adults can no longer hear, but u/s is still far over that. So even if we could hear it, it would sound way higher pitched than a train. Those anti-u/s idiots need to do some basic online research. Seriously. Google U totally sufficient for this type of information.

          • AllieFoyle

            Yeah, people certainly have a lot of imagination when it comes to their various fears and paranoias. One often wishes they also had slightly more humility about what they might not understand fully. It feels as though the internet has turned your average ignorant blowhard (who would have been ignored in the past) into a self-proclaimed expert with a ready made audience and cheering section.

            I try to remember that idea of humility myself. People aren’t generally bad or stupid, but they are fearful and want to make sense of the world so they’ll feel less anxious and uncertain. It’s human. I’ve fallen for stupid things myself. And sometimes that same lack of trust that comes across as paranoia in one situation is actually a useful skepticism in another. It’s hard to tell, especially if you aren’t an expert.

            I don’t think ultrasound causes autism, but the whole idea reminds me of when they used to x-ray people indiscriminately. It used to be commonplace to get an x-ray when you went to the shoe store, but of course, now we know better. The same ultrasound paranoia applied in that situation would actually have been smart, even though it seems ludicrously misinformed to us now.

          • Trixie

            Is it possible some babies don’t like being physically prodded by the actual wand, and sort of just move away? (Depending on how big they are and if there’s room to move much).

          • Kumquatwriter

            I know that mine made the blackest scowls and squirmed away from the ultrasounds – but he may just have been a grumpy fetus. He didn’t really do much smiling until he was about 10 months – very solemn and serious until he could really use words (and he started trying to make words at 6-7 months)

          • Amy M

            Sure, that seems plausible to me. I poked my belly when I was pregnant, just to get a response and they often would kick/push back. Perhaps he was pushing off, and away from my prodding.

          • Box of Salt

            I seem to recall my daughter in utero trying to kick away the monitor during both NSTs and labor.

          • rh1985

            Well, my fetus waved at us I guess she is not scared of ultrasounds, ha!

          • KarenJJ

            That was how the ultrasound lady would wake my baby up/get her to move during an ultrasound – by prodding my belly firmly with the ultrasound wand. Which was tough being pregnant and having a very full bladder…

          • Bombshellrisa

            Mine refuses to move. He simply punches and kicks back. Which the tech found amusing….at first. I didn’t find it funny at all and thought I was going to wet my pants

          • BeatlesFan

            My daughter would move away from the doppler every time they tried to get her heart rate. She moved away most of the times I would poke at her, too, and I’m pretty sure my fingers don’t produce sound waves. Now she’s 8 months old and loves to be tickled- go figure.

      • mollyb

        Or the fact that most of the moms received vaccines themselves as children.

        • Amy M

          Yeah, they’re probably passing it through their breastmilk. Oh not breastfeeding? Then its the BPA in the bottles. Oh there’s no BPA in bottles anymore? Then its the flouride in the water. No flouride in your water? Well…hmmm…Chemtrails! Yeah, that’s the ticket!

          • Young CC Prof

            No, no, you’ve got it all wrong. It’s wifi and other electromagnetic signals. They change cell membrane potential and allow heavy metals to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Just turn off all the electronics in your house for a few months, and, now perfectly isolated from EMF, your child’s autism will clear up.

            (I WISH I was making that up.)

          • Trixie

            I once foolishly debated someone who claimed this about microwaves. I pointed out that microwave radiation from space has been bombarding us every second of every day since the beginning of life on earth, with no apparent ill effect. But microwaved food from your kitchen does something awful to you when you eat it, apparently.

          • araikwao

            Have you seen the FB once about the little girl’s science experiment where the plant receiving microwaved water died? (Although I guess hot water will do that, huh.)

          • Nashira

            Hot water is one of my favorite weed killers. I may or may not screech “You’re meeeeeeltiiiiing” in a high falsetto when pouring it.

          • Kiwi

            Many years ago now my science project was testing some weedkillers/hot water/etc. and hot water was actually the most successful. I even got a prize for it!

          • Trixie

            No, I never saw that. But I just googled it and found the Snopes. I mean, that’s a cute project for a little kid’s science project, I guess. But only if he or she learns from it that it was a crappily designed experiment.

          • araikwao

            Sorry, I wasn’t very clear. My interpretation of that project was that the kid was probably pouring hot water on the plant. Or the story was just made up.

          • Young CC Prof

            Actually, back in elementary school, one of my friends microwaved a philodendron for her science project, sticking the whole plant in, rather than just steaming it. (Yes, it died.)

          • araikwao

            Yup, that’ll do it. What was the experiment designed to show, exactly?!

          • auntbea

            Please don’t get me started on how much I hate school science projects. Something with a real experimental design is going to be too hard for most little kids, and something without is just pointless.

          • amazonmom

            I remember winning the middle school science fair when I was in 6th grade. I was the only kid who made a testable hypothesis, the judges must have been beside themselves after 100 baking soda volcanoes…

          • Trixie

            Well according to snopes, the original email or whatever claimed she also boiled the control water. But whatever. The point is, it’s stupid.

          • Young CC Prof

            Like I try to explain to my students, yes, mice will die if you put them in the microwave, but they also die if you put them in the oven, and for exactly the same reason.

            Anytime I’m teaching exponential functions, we get on to radioactive decay, and the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

          • Box of Salt

            Ah, yes, “the difference between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.”

            I’ve done the math: ultraviolet ionizes. Longer wavelengths do not.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Be careful. Take a block of frozen raspberries in the microwave (frozen in ice) and turn it on. You can get sparks flying.

            That’s ionization in action, caused by microwaves.

          • Young CC Prof

            Sparks in a microwave are ALWAYS awesome. (Except when you accidentally burn down the house.)

          • Box of Salt

            Bofa,

            what compound gets ionized in rapsberries?

            And why wouldn’t you just eat them fresh?

          • KarenJJ

            Well there’s another one to try out in the work microwave.

          • Amy M

            Wicked expensive most of the year around here anyway.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I assume it is actually ice crystals. That’s where the sparks are going to come from. Solid state is a different world to me, however.

            You also have to think about the power anisotropy in a microwave. The power rating refers to the whole volume, but it’s not evenly distributed (my old adviser did a test one time – filled the microwave with marshmallows to see where the hot spots were). You get a small ice crystal in a sufficiently hot spot and the heating is so fast that it will cause thermal ionization.

            That’s the best I can come up with. However, an explanation or lack thereof does not change the fact that non-metalic items will discharge in a microwave, showing that ionization CAN happen because of microwaves, despite the fact that it is not ionizing radiation.

          • Certified Hamster Midwife

            Mostly it burns my mouth.

          • AL

            In Granola crunchy Santa Monica cell signals are so awful due to all of this woohoo business. There are not enough towers for how many people due to all the anti cell it will kill you and cause cancer hysteria.

          • Awesomemom

            I met a nutty woman that claimed that the reason her child had a stroke at birth was because she walked under some power lines while pregnant. Now that I know more about home birth I can’t help but wonder if a possible home birth attempt gone wrong was the actual cause.

          • KarenJJ

            And how many people walk under powerlines? I’m a power engineer and waddled into a substation at 8 months pregnant to check something out.

          • Amy M

            I was standing right next to someone who spilled several liters of glacial acetic acid, when I was about 6-7wk pregnant. I joke that that is why I have identical twins. (they cleared the lab, called the hazmat team, another poor guy had to surrender his shoes since he ended up in the puddle, boy was that stinky!)

          • Box of Salt

            To clarify for those who don’t know: glacial acetic acid =

            concentrated vinegar.

          • Amy M

            Ha! I generally assume the regulars here are smarter than me (and there are a lot of scientists here too), and therefore would all know what I was talking about! 🙂

          • amazonmom

            I can’t imagine how stinky that was! Ewwww

          • Mishimoo

            Have you come across the magical anti-EMF cards yet?

        • Young CC Prof

          I have actually seen mothers blame their own vaccines for their children’s problems.

          I also encountered online, and, to my shame, debated with, someone who claimed that vaccinated mothers cannot produce maternal antibodies, only ones who had the disease naturally can pass immunity to their babies. And ONLY through breast milk, antibodies pass perfectly through breast milk, but cannot cross the placenta. (That’s pretty much the opposite of the truth, breast milk antibodies line the gut but aren’t well absorbed into the bloodstream.) Then she started quoting the LLL garbage about mothers producing antibodies to novel infections in the few hours between one feeding and the next.

          How do you even talk to someone so detached from reality, who is 100% convinced that what she’s saying is true?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I have actually seen mothers blame their own vaccines for their children’s problems.

            There is a famous one that does this…Kim Stagliano I think.

            Of course, she has to, because she painted herself into a corner. When her first two children were autistic, she went on a massive campaign blaming vaccines. So with her third, she didn’t do any vaccines.

            And the child turned out autistic, as well.

            Instead of making the logical conclusion, that maybe it’s not about vaccines but has something to do with genes, she went full bore crazy the other direction, and said, no, it must be MY vaccines that caused it! Because, you know, regardless of the evidence, it must be due to vaccines. Otherwise, she would have to admit that her whole anti-vax campaign was wrong, and she couldn’t have that.

            Stagliano is still very vocal, but no one with any sense at all can take her seriously.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I bet they’ll switch to blaming the DPT, since its given at 2 months.

        Oh, they’ve already had to do that, since the MMR claims burst long ago.

        Actually, they had already pretty much done so when they when they went to mercury, as thimerasol has never been in the MMR vaccine.

        I’ve said this before. The initial questioning of a connection between MMR and autism was not all that crazy, considering the apparent association between MMR and the onset of autism symptoms. However, the problem was that, somehow, all the other vaccines got lumped in there as well, for no reason. Why DTAP? There has never been any association between DTAP and the onset of autism, and DTAP is completely inconsistent with the “My kid was fine, got the MMR shot, and BAM, autism” mantra. So the whole basis of the MMR suspicion contradicts a DTAP origin.

        Just because there was a hint of plausability for MMR does not make every other vaccine a candidate.

      • violinwidow

        Most of them believe that EVERY vaccine causes autism.

        • Young CC Prof

          Which is ironic, given that severe febrile illnesses were a major cause of brain damage and developmental disabilities in childhood. (Ever read Summer of the Swans?)

          • KarenJJ

            Severe periodic fever syndromes like Nomid can also cause brain damage if left untreated.

          • Box of Salt

            Rubella.

            Which is the “R” of “MMR”

    • Kate B

      Believe it or not, they’re actually blaming any vaccines the MOTHER might have had during her lifetime.

      • KarenJJ

        Not cool.

      • prolifefeminist

        You’d think that if you’re pulling theories out of your ass and they’re all shit, you’d look somewhere else. But no – these nuts just keep reaching in higher and higher.

        • Young CC Prof

          To some extent, a common cognitive bias may play into that. The human brain is designed to recognize patterns, to connect cause and effect. It makes us incredibly powerful thinkers and scientists, really. Unfortunately, when things really are random, people have trouble processing it, and tend to flip out, draw irrational conclusions, and resort to incredibly superstitious behavior.

          Autism draws a lot of magical thinking. Cancer is another one. There are some environmental risk factors and some genetic risk factors, but a huge factor determining who gets cancer and who doesn’t is absolute random chance, and a lot of people cannot accept that.

          • prolifefeminist

            I think you’re completely right – most people really can’t accept that bad things happen randomly all the time. People understandably want to control the bad stuff in life and keep it from happening to them, and the searching for patterns and connecting dots that really ought not be connected leads many people to a false sense of control/security. It’s so weird to me though, when that desperate desire to be in control is cloaked with this “la-dee-da I’m a freebirthin’ natural mama in tune with mother earth” persona. The irony is a sight to behold.

      • Bombshellrisa

        I made the mistake of mentioning my flu shot I had at 22 weeks to someone and she said “oh, how unwise!” And then tried to “educate” me about the evils of vaccines. Of course, she knew nothing about the complications that pregnant women can have with the flu. I have my glucose tolerance test at 28 weeks and I am having my Dtap that day. It’s going to make for an interesting Thanksgiving prep with my arm being sore but I can’t imagine going without it and I am glad that it is offered earlier than delivery.

        • Young CC Prof

          50 pregnant women died of H1N1 in 2009 in the US alone. Nope, sorry, NOT taking chances!

          Actually, remind me to remind my pregnant student to get herself and her toddler vaccinated.

          • KarenJJ

            I had the flu while pregnant (just before the H1N1 outbreak) and it was a miserable experience. Too weak to get off the couch, only wanted to drink very cold diluted orange juice and a horrible cough that stretched my already stretched abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles. It went right through my workplace and there were others sicker then me. The next year my company started doing free flu shots. Half my section came down with it and one was off work for two weeks.

            I’ve been getting flu shots every year ever since, including while pregnant (in fact deliberately while pregnant – I wanted my second baby to get some of my antibodies before he was born since he was born at the start of flu season and was going to be formula fed).

      • Mominoma

        I had someone try to tell me that if I’d had any metal fillings, that could’ve caused my son’s autism as well. No straw is too thin to grasp at, it would seem.

        • Young CC Prof

          Once again showing that no bridge is too far to avoid the truth: Genetics and random factors.

    • Courtney84

      So I’m 33 week and just had a tdap. I didn’t need it for myself. I’d just had one 2 yrs ago. However, the Nurse at my OB office said that it’s now recommended that all pregnant women have a tdap between 28 and 37 weeks gestation. I asked what the rational was, and she said it may provide the baby with some protection against pertussis. I had the shot, but I am curious about the details on how the antibodies get to the fetus and why they don’t do a pertussis standalone instead of a tdap.

      • Young CC Prof

        They get to the fetus through the placenta during the last few weeks of pregnancy, just like all maternal antibodies. The maternal antibodies don’t last long, but they do last through the fragile first month of a baby’s life.

        The advantage of the 3rd trimester booster is that the mother’s antibody levels spike, which means the baby gets more of them.

        The reason they don’t to a pertussis standalone is that no one is manufacturing that.

        • rh1985

          Yeah, my OB said it’s typical given at the hospital after delivery, but I am going to request to get mine in the third trim. because it’s the baby’s only chance at the antibodies really since I won’t be breastfeeding. Hoping I can!

          • Young CC Prof

            http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/pertussis/default.htm

            They’ve changed the guidelines within the last couple years.

          • amazonmom

            The employee health dept at work gladly gave me the Tdap at 28 weeks of pregnancy, when I was there to get my PPD read. The nurses looked up the CDC site and were happy that someone wasn’t making up excuses not to get their shots! I got my flu shot a month later.

        • Courtney84

          Thanks. I knew how to find the info myself, BUT I’ve tried to curb my google and pubmed searching these past few weeks. It makes me antsy.

      • Ainsley Nicholson

        I got the dtap in the hospital, right after delivery. I wanted them to give my husband the shot too…heck, I want to surround my baby with a bubble of vaccinated people…but they wouldn’t do it because he was not the patient.

        • Courtney84

          My husband got his while we were still TTC, but recently enough. That he doesn’t need a new one. My mom, who will be staying with us for a few weeks after the baby is born, just had hers about two weeks ago. It’s a bummer that the hospital didnt want to fax your husband. I know at least one of the hospitals in my area offers free tdap to new fathers and visitors who will be staying in the baby’s home.

      • L&DinSoCal

        Courtney, it was probably the a medical assistant at the OB office that gave you (good) information. Medical assistant’s have a couple of semesters of training. Nurses usually have their bachelor’s degree. It’s a small thing, but it in an effort to promote the professionalism of nurses, it matters. Doctors need to stop refering to MA’s as “their nurse”. Very, very few doctors employ nurses in the office setting.

        Having said that, there is not pertussis standalone as far as I am aware.