Our First Bogus Award

Congratulations! The winner of this week’s BOGUS (Bonehead Overblown Groundless Unverified Study) Award is (drum roll please)…

Stressed-Out Moms Carry Babies on the Right

Okay, let’s get a few things straight, right up front. First, carrying your kids “on the right” is not about politics. Second, what mom is not stressed out? Third, how many of you moms read that and immediately started worrying about how you carry your kid? Raise your (left? right?) hands please.

See, this study asked women who were carrying their babies if they were stressed out or not. The study authors then looked at how the women were holding their babies (right side or left). Then–ta-dah–here comes the earth-shaking medical breakthrough—more of those who were stressed out carried their babies on the right. Not all, just a few more. Some of the ones who said they weren’t stressed out also carried their babies on the right. The studies authors conclude that maybe healthcare providers can use this information to…perhaps identify stressed out mothers.

All I can say is that these people must have some good PR staff to get this study plastered all over the news. Why?

This is a small study, not showing a big difference, and even though the study authors said the right-handedness issue wasn’t important, how can it not be when you’re looking at a few people? Second, what’s the point here? Are we trying to find sneaky ways to tell if someone is stressed out? Why not use that age-old method that even the study authors themselves used (here comes a radical concept) and JUST ASK THEM.

This study also left out, after you’ve identified the stressed mom, the all-important issue of THEN WHAT? Are you going to tell these women to rethink the whole pregnancy/birth/child-rearing thing? Are you going to call their husbands and tell them that their wives are stressed out, only to be forced to listen to thousands of male voices, one after the other, shouting over the phone, “No s*#>, Sherlock.” And finally, the only possible effect of spreading this study’s results around in the public news is…to cause even more mothers to be stressed–now about how they hold their babies.

What’s the Doc Gurley conclusion?

1) Somebody’s getting some pretty good career bonus points for this one. Why not me too? So here, in the interest of stamping out disease, mothering stress…well, if nothing else, in the interest of getting national news coverage at the expense of new mothers (as well as more citations in my future tenure applications) read my next post “Doc Gurley’s Subtle Signs of Maternal Stress” to see the secretive, non-verbal clues that I, Dr. Gurley, suggest pediatricians use to assess whether moms are stressed out. All you guys at the Washington Post, New York Times, Yahoo Health News, Noble Prize Committee, feel free to have your people call my people, hmm?

2) Finally, hold your baby however you want. If you’re worried that you might have fallen into the habit of holding your wee one only on your right or left side, swap off sometimes—but do it just for fun. Sometimes it’s good to see the world from a different angle.

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