YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS MOMS!
And actually, not just moms, EVERYONE. But particularly moms because the media loves to scare us. They know we are prone to guilt and constantly striving to protect our children from everything, so they know a flashy headline about what we’re doing to screw up our kids is going to get a click from just about everyone of us.
Today I saw a headline that hinted at having the answer to why some kids are shorter than others.
We’re a bunch of shorties in this family. Is there a miracle cure? (They’ve got me…I always wanted to be a basketball star.) I clicked.
What I found in the article was that, according to a study completed by Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, depressed moms are the reason for shorter kids. Specifically, moms who suffered from post-partum depression. The supposition being that the mom’s depression led to decreased quality of care for the child, and that lead to growth issues. At the very end of the article was a mention that the mood of the parents (finally a passive mention of the dad) affects the health of a child.
Now do not get me wrong. I have a degree in human development, I understand that there are instances where a depressed parent can affect the physical, emotional, and cognitive health of his or her child, but I also understand how research is completed and reported. Let’s be accurate and let’s not be alarmist…and let’s stop with the passive aggression.
As I read through several articles regarding the same study I noted that some were summarized more scientifically than others, but all were sensationalized. As a reader, you’re getting a journalist’s retake on what I can almost promise you is highly technical research that is no where near as definitive as the media is making it sound.
Now, interestingly, the articles I read did not supply the ACTUAL study, completed . That’s important for a number of reasons. Please let me break it down for you, as quickly and simply as possible:
Problem: We don’t know what the question was because we don’t have the study. The question and supposed answer drives (influences?) the results.
Ex. Does spaghetti kill? (I think it does.)
Problem: With correlational research we’re looking for trends amongst data to answer our question. Again, often with an answer already in mind. I can find you a study supporting just about any hypothesis you can dream up. It’s all in the methods.
Ex. Research indicates many people do die after eating spaghetti. (10 people died after eating spaghetti…two were hit by buses, three died of complications from the flu, one had a heat stroke, and four had heart attacks within four days of eating spaghetti. Correlation, they all ate spaghetti! Yes, clearly, spaghetti kills.)
Problem: Most good study reports explore the validity of their research. They list possible known and unknown factors AND they frequently list additional research studies that could/should be done to further ensure/explore the validity of the results found in the study. FOR INSTANCE, post partum depression creates shorties. What if the shorties created the post-partum depression? What if children with existing difficulties feeding, or health issues, triggered a sense of helplessness in moms that triggered post-partum depression? Chicken or Egg? Further research is needed.
Also, what was the subject size? (Ten people does not definitive research make.) What was the strength of the correlation? Etc.
Ex. My study was of 300 people who ate at an all-you-can-eat spaghetti restaurant in Maine. The tomatoes used were improperly cooked and contained ecoli, but regardless, my results prove that SPAGHETTI KILLS.
Also, should we get panicked that SPAGHETTI KILLS because research found that 10 out 10,000 people died shortly after eating spaghetti? Probably not. But maybe that’s just me, I need bigger numbers than that to scare me away from spaghetti.
I could go on and on. My point is, the actual study would provide you an opportunity to explore the data. A media sensationalized recount of the study provides you an opportunity to view that online article’s advertising contributors and commercial sponsors (cha-ching cha ching) by luring you in with guilt and fear and not providing you with all the facts.
Oh, by the way, that media sensationalized articles about the mean ol’ depressed moms who screw up their kids did mention 3/4 of the way through the article that if your family is all short…it’s probably just genetic.
Phew. Glad I read that far down before waking up my daughter to apologize for the height deficiencies I caused her as a result of my excessive crying over her digestive complications that caused colic and landed us in the hospital more than once.
I hope this information helps you…just…please…question what you read.