The Top Five Dangerously Misinformed Mommy Bloggers

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Congratulations on your new adorable bundle of felonious odors, mysterious noises, green secretions, and is the baby supposed to bend that way? You have a cuddly list of symptoms in the making. But where will you turn in the middle of the night when the baby monitor goes off (or, for the co-sleepers, when you’re kicked in the milk-engorged tit) and your baby is up with a fever? Your parents, who—at best, you feel—were barely able to keep you alive, or, at worst, should still be paying your therapy bill? Not in this wonderful age of information.

So where does a busy working mother turn between her decaf soy latte and pre-natal yoga classes for all the answers to life’s questions? The tribe of the Mommy Bloggers, of course. Presenting themselves as the bastion of helpful mothers next door, elbows deep in the credibility of diaper cream and snotty noses, they seem like a comforting resource to new mothers who just want to know, “how do I not break the baby?” and “which baby bottle will increase little Mason’s chances of getting into Yale?”

(None. Mason is fucked.)

You can get a lot of useful information from your new pack of internet friends with whom you bond over sleepless nights and vomit-stained bibs. But what’s the reputability of the information on a blog? And whose advice should you be staking your child’s health on? Someone whose only vetted qualification, as far as you know, is that they bought a website and they—probably—have a baby?

Lack of credibility abounds on the internet jungle, but take heed not to wander through this tangled mess unarmed. These women are not always out to help you; depending on the blogger, they’re out to make a living, shame you for not keeping up with their arbitrary measure of motherhood, and just plain old spread dangerous misinformation. 

Let’s take a look at five of the most controversial Mommy Bloggers on the internet. In these tribes, mother doesn’t always know best.

(source: imgur)

In No Particular Order…

5. Moms Across America

Zen Honeycutt is the head of Moms Across America. She also wins the award for the name most likely to be mistaken for a dietary supplement. I was first introduced to Honeycutt’s antics on the Dr. Oz show. Even admitting that her evidence is criticized as anecdotal, somehow it made the cut onto national television because remember, the Dr. Oz show is not a medical show. Her knowledge was sourced not from scientific testing, but from something much better than peer review according to the interweb: maternal instinct.

Here’s what she’s known for, and what likely got her booked on the show: her youtube videos and trying to conspiratorially link science bloggers to the Koch Brothers when they disagree with her. Because if you can’t refute them, waving your magic Mommy Wand to cast a spell of Reductio Ad Evilcorporatum works for everything. Easily topping her evil corporation list? Monsanto, producers of evil glyphosate and GMOs, are responsible for ruining, well, virtually everything. They’re causing allergiesautism, and even cancer. Maybe they’re responsible for the New York Yankees and the impending zombie apocalypse.

“The real story is the hold Monsanto has on our media,” Honeycutt claims. If I believed all that, I’d be trying to warn Moms across America too. But I science way harder than Honeycutt.  Let’s start with glyphosate, what it is and what it isn’t. Pesticides are heavily regulated now and formulated to be targeted: i.e. bad for pests, safe for humans. Glyphosate actually replaced more toxic pesticides which nobody ever seems to bring up, because it’s used with certain GMOs and we haven’t taken a science class since the only place we could make out was in the back seat of our father’s Dodge Stratus. Furthermore, comparing their safety data sheets for toxicity, glyphosate’s LD50 supports that it’s less toxic than table salt. And as for that whole messy cancer thing, drawing evidence from fourteen studies, researchers were unable to trigger a case of cancer and concluded: 

“There was no evidence of a carcinogenic effect related to glyphosate treatment. The lack of a plausible mechanism, along with published epidemiology studies, which fail to demonstrate clear, statistically significant, unbiased and non-confounded associations between glyphosate and cancer of any single etiology, and a compelling weight of evidence, support the conclusion that glyphosate does not present concern with respect to carcinogenic potential in humans.”

If Honeycutt and her ilk are so determined to return to organic farming, at one point sulfuric acid, a naturally occurring and hence classifiable as “organic” in pesticide nomenclature, was used as a pesticide before they found it corroded farming equipment. But hey, it was natural. And as for Monsanto controlling everything? It’s not in the top hundred—or the top 300—political donors. 

But this doesn’t stop Honeycutt from some deeply entrenched beliefs in Monsanto’s alleged entanglement with independent scientists. Honeycutt attempted to conduct a study on the all powerful and evil glyphosate in breastmilk using her advanced scientific training of ‘momming on the internet’ (my very kind lawyers want me to point out that, after an exhaustive search, she does not appear to have advanced scientific credentials). She found that there was glyphosate in breast milk because science works through the power of confirmation bias and wishful thinking.

On the other hand, Dr. Shelley McGuire set up a thorough study to test for the same thing and found the exact opposite results. She even tested on women who work in agriculture and personally spray glyphosate and, as is normal in science, had the results verified by an outside lab. They found no glyphosate in the breast milk. Honeycutt’s answer? This had to be Monsanto’s doing. It couldn’t just be that science disagreed with her.

4. The Paleo Mom

For a truly tribal journey, head over to The Paleo Mom, a blog where the latest trendy diet meets a recently slimmed-down, attractive mother with a badass set of scientific credentials. But pop a Benadryl, because the mountainous haystack of bullshit burying the needle of scientific fact is daunting. I’m clawing my eyeballs out already from the hayfever.

Or maybe it’s from all the times the blog describes her bowel movements, I’m not sure which.

Sarah Ballantyne’s nearly half-a-million followers buy into the credibility of her PhD in biophysics. They follow her claims that “you can put your disease into remission, often permanently” with diet alone. And they believe her when she suggests that a leaky gut and food sensitivities can be at the root of disparate disorders from cardiovascular to auto-immune diseases In the course of adopting the paleo diet to heal her stomach ails, her website claims she’s lost 120 lbs and treated a dozen autoimmune diseases. Beyond weight loss, she espouses paleo as a lifestyle that helps prevent and treat diseases, and she further recommends her self-designed autoimmune protocol.

So where to start wrecking this neanderthalic mishmash of misinformation?

To start: the paleo diet is bullshit on so many levels. The premise alone is bunk. Ballantyne classifies everything from cancer to narcolepsy to schizophrenia as an immune system disorder, citing this Wikipedia article as a scientific source. Is your BS detector going off yet? It should be. Upon examination of the source article, it clarifies that all three of these illnesses have “No (consistent) evidence of association with autoimmunity.” Of the seemingly arbitrary number of disorders Ballantyne chose to pull out of the Wiki article, only six out of the twenty-one listed disorders are classified as autoimmune in nature. If it happens in the brain, it’s probably neurological. How do you even put “schizophrenia” on your website as an autoimmune without somebody telling you that you’re full of shit? 

Whether or not she intended to mislead her readers, both her reading comprehension and her scientific integrity are up for questioning.

So how does she claim you can cure these disorders? By healing your leaky gut, as her advice espouses you will, your body naturally heals myriad health problems. It would help her case if medical science ever agreed that this was a thing, but at this point? Despite having been consistently shot down, the theory of the leaky bowel keeps making the rounds with folks in the miracle cure community. She can’t even keep her BS straight on it; in one article, she blames stress for leaky gut. In another, it’s the standard American diet and those pesky grains.

Furthermore, Ballantyne promotes the fully debunked idea of gluten intolerance, claiming that the only way to test is removing gluten from your diet to see if you arbitrarily feel better.  Nope. I have celiac disease, and this perpetuation of the myth of “gluten intolerance” is why, when I go to a restaurant, the waitstaff looks at me like I’m a fussy asshole following a trendy diet. In real medicine, we have a test for celiac disease—but not for mythical diseases that make your bullshit diet sound like it has any real validity.

I’ll give her this one; at least she took five minutes to advise followers that coffee enemas are not paleo. But canceling that out by endorsing homeopathy? Sugar pills are not fucking paleo.

3. Mamavation

With 122k followers on Facebook, a TED talk under her belt, and a master’s degree, Leah Segedie is the photogenic force of wellness and weight loss behind Mamavation. The Huffington Post has even compared her to Lady Gaga. She sounds delightful, right? Like glitter that won’t wash off after a night of puking peach daquiris.

Because when you google “Mamavation,” what’s one of the subjects that comes up? “Armpit cleanse.” One would have thought that soap and deodorant didn’t require a website, but alas.

Segedie’s facebook page for Mamavation states, “Mamavation is a disease prevention campaign championed by moms for families. We teach moms healthy behaviors that they can share with their families. We believe in the power of social media activism to create positive change for public health.” Off to a good start. Unlike a lot of Mommy Blogs, it’s mainly advice for women—generally focused on weight loss geared towards other mothers.

However. The site staffs a naturopathic physician, which, as respected science writer Dr. David Gorski has explained, means Segedie promotes “a hodge-podge of mostly unscientific treatment modalities based on vitalism and other prescientific notions of disease.” And why does this matter?

A real doctor would have dropped some fucking science on this utterly ridiculous piece about the dangers in bread. Glutens, plural? It’s one protein, singular. This would have taken about four seconds on google. Gluten is bad for the approximate 1% of us with celiac disease and that’s pretty much it. The rest of you should be enjoying—in moderation, as part of a balanced diet—all the baguettes that I haven’t been able to touch for years. But their naturopathic physician is way, way into the gluten-free bullshit, and her paycheck would take a major hit if she accepted the evidence that non-celiac gluten sensitivity isn’t real. Which is to say, I can understand her confusion.

A real doctor would have pointed out that the endless goddamn detoxing for everything was bullshit. The diet detox to lose weight because toxins are making you fat? The work of someone who doesn’t understand laws of thermodynamics and has no idea that organic produce contains pesticides. If you click on the link to her “wellness bundle,” at a 95% discount (an alleged $1,300 value? I’d like to see the itemized invoice on this one), they bring you to an article on combating Lyme disease. Their solution? Buying an expensive—and unproven—detox, as recommended by a charming chiropractor who is not at all qualified to recommend such “cures.”

And unlike a chiro or a naturopath, a certified M.D. would have put the kibosh on the fearmongering in this Segedie article, which claims that although table salt is killing you, Himalayan salt is a panacea. She cites this article on WebMDas a resource. Showing a blatant disregard for reading source content, the WebMD article actually states that “the findings were not terribly encouraging. We couldn’t demonstrate anything” in terms of treatment efficacy from Himalayan salt lamp style ion therapy. The other websites Segedie links to fail to provide any published studies—just their own brand of pseudoscience word salad touting “mineralization,” “wellness,” and “oxidative stress” as markers for the Himalayan salt’s effectiveness. And outside corroboration? Of course not. There are no linked published studies on the site, and why would there be? Himalayan salt is about 99% identical to that alleged demon killer, table salt.

Still, if you’re looking for a supportive environment to lose weight and want to enroll in one of their boot camps, they appear qualified and they’ve definitely helped people lose weight. But there are also better resources on the internet. The most positive thing I can say about her website is that, as a site geared mainly as advice for women—rather than, say, advice about parenting—they do their readers the favor by not saying a word about vaccines. Unlike…

2. Thinking Moms Revolution

“Safe, non-invasive, therapeutic, total-body detoxification that kids love!” Welcome to Thinking Moms Revolution, a site run by people I’m not entirely sure have ever met a child. Total body detox? Have they ever tried getting a kid to take a bath?

The Thinking Moms Revolution is ostensibly your one-stop shop for autism miracle cures. With 45k followers on their Facebook page, they rely on a network of 24 parents utilizing reputable-sounding screennames like DragonSlayer, Cupcake, and Twonk. Their all-out assault on critical thinking is such a misnomer for their website that you’ll be sure your mouse click was redirected. How bad is it? They’re about a “quantum” short of the most nonsensical rambling I’ve ever read on the internet. Case in point: this article on essential oils.

All homeopaths appear to agree that eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils should not be used with homeopathy as these are thought to antidote at least some of the homeopathic remedies(…) Some people are very sensitive and even avoid walking past a Starbucks for fear of interrupting their homeopathy healing!

So something that doesn’t work makes something that doesn’t work not work even more. Also…Starbucks something. Because, corporation. Got it.

But their vaguely goofy ruckus about homeopathy doesn’t even come close to scariest part of their site: their claims on treating autism with everything from marijuana to CD/MMS leaves one questioning their morality. If you’re not at least somewhat horrified, it’s possibly because you haven’t heard of CD/MMS. It stands for chlorine dioxide/Magical Mineral Solution— better known as bleach—intended to be administered to children via enema. It’s proposed to “heal” autism because, within this alternative health community where autism is viewed as something to recover from, they adhere to the theory that autism is caused by a host of things that don’t include genetics. This list varies, and can include vaccines, undefined toxins, pesticides, GMOs, pollution, yeast, dental fillings, and, of course, parasites—parasites that can ostensibly be treated with bleach. There are two problems with this. One is that, in science, one thing doesn’t generally have 15 possible causes. The flu is caused by a virus. Electricity is caused by the flow of electrons. And in this case, we’ve actually found the one thing that does cause autism: a University of North Carolina researcher actually found the genetic mutation (post-publish edit: linked to about 1000 genes) that causes autism.

So wouldn’t you think this would put an end to the autism miracle cure industry? Of course not. And this leads to the second problem: the autism miracle cures are often downright unintentionally abusive. Parents think they’re removing the “parasitic ropeworms” that are causing the autism with this bleach solution. And, as in so many cases where correlation equals not causation, parents think they’re seeing their children improve from autism, because they see what they’ve been told are “ropeworms” being evacuated in their children’s bowel movements. The reality of the situation is that the lining of their intestines has been stripped away. Any reported improvement in behavior (though it’s questionable if this happens at all) is because the child is now scared to death of their parents and—shockingly—they’re trying to avoid receiving another goddamned bleach enema.

And still, Thinking Moms Revolution describes CD/MMS as a protocol that’s produced good results.

1. Modern Alternative Mama

Just when I think I’ve left the conspiracy theory tribe, I venture here, a dark timeline where Dunning and Kruger seem to have had a baby.

Where do we even start with the most dangerous site for children’s health advice on the internet? I’m going to skip the foreplay. Kate Tietje runs Modern Alternative Mama and she is, quite simply, the most dangerous, ill-informed blogger dispensing misinformation on the internet. The parents who take her advice over the advice of a doctor are putting the lives of their children in danger. I’ve written about her already herehere, and here. She makes me think the Food Babe really isn’t that much of a problem.

I’m sorry, I’m supposed to be the science writer who makes you laugh. Let’s let the good times roll:

There was that time she didn’t bring her child to the doctor for a week when the child had a broken arm, instead opting for a chiropractor who said that there was nothing wrong. It took her a full week to bring the child to a real doctor for a correct diagnosis because she’s so against modern medicine. That Kate, so funny!

She doesn’t want you to stock any real medicines in your medicine cabinet. Not even Epinephrine or Benadryl in case of severe allergic reaction. Instead, she suggests clay to suck out toxins. Oh Kate, you’re hilarious!

She’s written a book on a “practical” guide to children’s health in which she advises you to squirt breastmilk into a child’s nose to help heal a cold. Breastmilk up the nose, that Tietje is such a kidder!

During the measles epidemic, she declared that “Enough Is Enough With Blaming Anti-Vaxxers.” I thought that was genuinely hilarious because guilt is funny. So I responded. Man, bringing back diseases that we thought were wiped out? Tietje is a laugh machine!

Remember when the news broke that there were infants bleeding out because of bloggers saying you don’t need vitamin K shots? Modern alternative mama again. Kate’s just so damn funny I forgot to fucking laugh.

At this point, I’m convinced that if she says the sky is blue, it’s because it’s turned purple. Warn a friend. Warn 20 friends. Their kids deserve better than a broken arm and a breastmilk-clogged nostril.

Mommy Blogs vs. Science Blogs

There’s a reason people start following fearmongering, non-evidence based advice. Desperation. Vulnerability. A willingness to do anything it takes to protect or help children, no matter how atrocious that “anything” may be. After a year of writing about pseudoscience, I’ve observed that people start following advice, ranging from marching against GMOs to bleach enemas, because they think they’re doing what’s absolutely right for their children. Sometimes the false hope of a cure seems better than no cure at all.

Whether the credibility that’s presented to them is from Dr. Mom or Dr. Oz, they’re the hero of their story on a quest for answers. Crusading through the modern jungle of the internet, they’ll find their tribe who can provide some hidden knowledge to help protect them. That quest and hunger for knowledge is admirable. But their methods and acceptance of statements without proof has created an environment rife with dangerous dogma. The blame lies not on the mothers who accept it, but on the blogs chock-full of affiliate links, medical advice, and provisos that say, “This advice is not meant to be taken as medical advice. Now please buy my book of medical advice.”

I have more respect for what mothers do than I can possibly convey. As cute as Buddy the Science Dog is, he’s not my child. And one of the main reasons I’m not a mother is because I’m aware of how much work it is. I’ve seen friends clean diaper explosions and, based on that reason alone, I’m not sure how anybody survives past the age of “it’s time to bring the baby home from the hospital now.” Mommying is some hardcore shit. Literally. Those babies deserve the Mommying from you and the science from scientists.

Learn to recognize reputable proof.

Demand evidence from the bloggers, and learn which members of the tribe are evidence-based.

If you’re looking for medical advice, stick to medical blogs that cite review and meta-analysis, instead of an outlier who happens to fit their worldview.

And as for the Mommy Bloggers? You’re always going to find blogs with an agenda. When you’re at that stage of parenting, the stage where you’re trying to figure out which diapers fit right and wondering if buying a bottle that costs a dollar less means that little Madison Rainbow won’t get into Yale, that’s when you should head over to a Mommy Blogger. But questions about immune systems, medications, and broken arms? Ask the right expert. Because they’re willing to do everything it takes to protect your children. Let them, because no matter which tribe, a mom who knows science knows best.

-SciBabe

 

Addendum: These are the five I chose to write about but there are, admittedly, a lot of other unscientifically based bloggers floating around the internet. If I’d written about all of them in one article, it could have been enough to fill a book. Share your picks (for another post on Mommy Bloggers) in the comments!

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65 Comments

  1. Um, it isn’t a pesticide, it’s a herbicide. You might want to address that, as pesticides are typically against insects.
    Plant pests are treated with herbicides and those usually are targeted as closely as possible to the targeted weeds.
    It’s only in the broadest context that herbicides are referred to pesticides.

    Now, I’ll go back to reading what the idiots have to say. 😉

    • It’s funny when people try to correct me on this.

      Pesticide is the classification given to all chemicals used to kill pests, including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc. All herbicides are pesticides, but not all herbicides are insecticides.

      Funny that I would know this given that I worked in pesticide research.

      • Not always, occasionally, weeds can act as a barrier to insect pests, aphids, etc.
        The trick is to keep the weeds from becoming a pest by interfering with the crop growth.

        In one very specialized application, weeds were extremely beneficial. When I was in the Persian Gulf, I had a garden that had a succulent weed that spread throughout the garden, but didn’t use much soil as its base. That weed protected my garden vegetable garden from the extreme conditions that would have baked the base of the plants, resulting in failure to grow (it happened on cleared soil, but not where shaded by the thick succulent.
        Again, that was a very highly specialized application.
        But, in other instances, in a temperate climate, I’ve used chosen weeds to keep the insects and aphids away from my food plants.

  2. “Congratulations on your new adorable bundle of felonious odors, mysterious noises, green secretions, and…”, at first, I thought you were referring to my morning bathroom experience, then you went with baby. Yeah, close in some ways.
    I’m seeing a doctor about that, but my newly noticed hyperthyroidism takes emphasis over mere new life forms being flushed down the toilet.

    Let’s see, there is some evidence that *some rare* schizophrenia cases might be immune related and actually responded to steroids. Some rare cases only. The rest have more pedestrian causes or mysterious causes. Brains are complicated.
    There *is* such a thing as a leaky gut, but from common to rare, the causes range from viral pathogens (see norovirus) through bacterial pathogens that produce toxins (see cholera) and an entire spectrum between, with the rare being a tooth pick penetrating the intestine and entering the abdominal cavity. In some areas, various worms can breach the intestine, making it briefly leak.
    The rest of the time, barring surfactants, the intestine doesn’t leak, save through the anus.

    One point I’ll not dwell on, save to say that anyone who suggests I abandon epinephrine and diphenhydramine in my home has a live in dire danger. We both have severe, life threatening allergies. Hence, such a suggestion is an attempt to endanger and likely, end our lives.
    I never responded well to threats on my life and being a retired Special Forces Medic, well, I qualified SF first, then went for nearly two years for highly intensive training.
    If I’m in a good mood, the response will be with a knife. As I’m never in a good mood when under threat for my life, I’ll use my bare hands and turn the speaker into an atom sized singularity – using a Buick.
    Did I mention hyperthyroidism?
    And a sense of dark humor.

    If one is going to speak about causing dire harm, or even harm in general upon others, make it ridiculous and outside of the laws of physics.
    But, there is a side of the disease of hyperthyroidism that is real, for some, a rage when reading, seeing or hearing things objectionable. That triggers an adrenaline surge that I’ve only experienced in hand to hand combat in our wars.
    What I consider, albeit briefly, disgusts me enough to break that “trance”.
    As, that part of me is a part that I thoroughly hate. I want it as retired as I am from the military.
    Off note to self, pick up a laundry basket and dish drainer, as ours is still at our old home, far away from the state we relocated to.

    Welcome to hyperthyroidism. :/
    Yeah, things get muddled. Short attention span that I have to incessantly redirect to my duties at work and feelings of rage that’d end a career.
    Thankfully, doctor and I are working on this and should have a final diagnosis rapidly (Grave’s, Toxic multinodular goiter or rarer diseases. I’m betting on the latter, from my experience and knowledge of pathology) and successful treatment will revive the more pacifist self that I so love.

    Or more simply, life sucks, but it beats the alternative.

    • Anti NMDA receptor encephalitis is an autoimmune disorder that sometimes manifests as psychotic symptoms or schizophrenia. Is this what you are referring to? If so, that’s not a case of schizophrenia being related to an autoimmune disease but rather a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia. It’s a fairly new diagnosis (I believe it’s been around about a decade), which gives rise to the thought that perhaps there are other “physical” disorders being misdiagnosed as mental health illnesses.

      • From one study of 100 patients, “Median age of patients was 23 years (range 5–76 years); 91 were women. All patients presented with psychiatric symptoms or memory problems; 76 had seizures, 88 unresponsiveness (decreased conciousness), 86 dyskinesias, 69 autonomic instability, and 66 hypoventilation.”
        That’s a wee bit more than schizophrenia. Encephalitis may or may not cause schizophrenia, however the symptoms above are the actual symptoms associated with encephalitis caused by anti-NMDA receptor antibodies. Don’t conflate one disorder with the symptom of an acute illness.

        Still, thanks for the subject that missed my earlier attention, I’ll be reading more on this illness.

  3. How did Wellness Mama not make this list? I originally found her when looking for recipes and was floored by her relentless woo and BS. Oh, and “she was recently named by greatist.com as one of the 100 most influential people in health and wellness along with Dr. Oz, Dr. Mercola, Food Babe and Tim Ferriss,” per her website. Gag.

  4. I’m wondering now why various law enforcement agencies haven’t moved against these blogs for promoting what is tantamount to child abuse.

    Texas Child Protective Services may be a flaming train wreck right now due to all of the assorted scandals over the last several years, but this is one time I’d side with them on an issue if they did move against these blogs.

    • I don’t know, Texan CPS had a talk with a mother who was planning a chickenpox party. After their little talk, she canceled the party.
      So, I’d say that they’re not a total train wreck.

    • Not exactly sure why the misguided should be less vilified than the greedy.

      We aren’t judged by our intentions but by our results. Most bad guys THINK they are the good guys, somehow.

      Telling people to give their children, ANY CHILDREN, bleach enemas is criminal. It HAS to be. How can it not be?

  5. My bottle-fed, fully vaccinated, raised-the-old-fashioned-way 13 year-old recently asked me. “Mom, what parenting trends have you ignored?” My answer: “All of them, son, all of them. I took you to the pediatrician, asked God to help me be the best mom I could, then did what my mother did.” My son is in the 98th percentile for height, has no allergies or food sensitivities, rarely gets sick, makes straight As, has impeccable manners, and can sprint like Usain Bolt. I rest my case.

  6. Great work here. Thank you. Moms are not always well-informed, even in this day and age.
    My mother believed that one should treat a burn with butter. When she saw me screaming while the nurses scrubbed off the butter, she learned her lesson. (That was in the days of ether for anesthesia.) And when she used the proprietary gold-mercury mixture called Auralgan for my earaches, she did not know that modern antibiotics worked (this was in 1951 when the old formulation of Auralgan was being marketed). My subsequent childhood hearing loss was ascribed to deliberate inattention. What’s a mother to do?
    She had studied Dr Spock, the pediatrician, not the science fiction character, and other priests of the child-raising movement like Dr Gesell, and fed us all well and we have grown to be happy and successful people. She did not have the benefit of the internet and consulted with MDs and not quacks. Her mistakes were those of simple ignorance and outdated procedures. And bogus advertising, which is where we are today with all these mommy bloggers and pseudo-scientists.
    Thank you, SciBabe, for your work in dispelling ignorance and correcting online smarty-pants.
    GeoBeach.
    Thank you, Sci Babe,

  7. Hi SciBabe

    The link you give to support the assertion that Kate Tietje waited a week before approaching a proper M.D. actually appears suggest the opposite by the end: she might also have seen an M.D. who suggested to wait a few days. If there isn’t another reliable source for that then it might be a good idea to edit that bit and explain why?

    Julie
    Xxx

    PS Before anyone bitches… learning mainly works through through mistakes: getting it wrong, reviewing it, accepting it, and correcting, and learning for next time, adding to the source of knowledge… is what Sciencing is all about!

  8. Just want to point out a factual error. You said a researcher found “the single gene that causes autism.” In fact, as the article you like to there explains there are over a thousand gene mutations found that are linked to autism. The article talks about “a” single gene interaction, not “the”. This is an important distinction, and is being studied rigorously at the moment. They’ve found that different genes linked to autism are found to cause autism in members of the same family, in about half the families studies in the massive POND study, so far.

  9. “the most dangerous, ill-informed blogger dispensing misinformation on the internet…..” WOW at first I was wondering how you could narrow it down to five then saw this statement.

    I thought it can’t be that bad, surely that blogger can’t be so much worse?

    I was mistaken.

    Dear heaven I was so wrong….

    With our son, like so many first time parents we didn’t have a clue but thankfully our maternal childcare nurse who we saw as part of the state provided after birth care was a voice of reason based on both state mandated training and qualification plus years of experience as a nurse. (not that there aren’t nurses who buy into woo, but ours seemed to have seen enough to know that medicine is based on what works, anything that works from ‘alternative’ medicine was long ago incorporated and became medicine).

  10. At the outset I must unequivocally state that I do not condone nor encourage providing cannabis or cannabis products to juveniles. It is illegal, immoral, possibly dangerous, illegal, and an absolute waste of good weed.

    “You said ‘illegal’ twice.”
    “I like ‘illegal.'”

    Having provided this disclaimer, I must admit that if a person has a ten-year-old boy who’s been diagnosed as autistic because the symptoms of autism and the symptoms of being a 10-year-old boy are basically identical, slipping Junior a couple of joints before breakfast has GOT to be preferable to pumping him full of industrial chemicals.

  11. Let’s not forget about the Healthy Home Economist, SciBabe! She’s anti-vax, anti-Vitamin K, and endorsed by Mercola. A trifecta!

    Of course, her lampooning by Samantha Bee on The Daily Show was one of the best things I’ve seen.

    • I was recently discussing that very thing with a pediatrician and we agreed that doctor should evaluate any contraindications before a parent proceeds.
      This is especially true with any infant with difficulties, such as being premature or having respiratory difficulties.
      Blanket statements on either side, without considering medical evaluation aren’t especially valid, although refraining from cosleeping until medically cleared is the most valid, safest path.

  12. I agree with everything said, except, gluten intolerance is actually a disorder.

    Coeliac comes in degrees of severity, not according to me but the American leading experts who treat coeliac disease/gluten intolerance, among other world experts.

    There are people with health problems that are caused by a reaction to gluten that do not meet all the standards required to be diagnosed as a coeliac.

    I will say no more, you sound like a person that will research this and update your knowledge, you can do something as simple as asking the doctors that diagnosed you.

    While since the 1950s the doctors knew about coeliac disease, as of last decade they have sufficient evidence to know that gluten intolerance is an actual condition.

    I’m a coeliac as well, btw, I get the same looks I know how frustrating it can be, but that doesn’t change the fact that your knowledge on inability to digest gluten is dated.

  13. What is up with the bloody comment section, I keep trying to add one and failing?

    While I agree with everything else you said, your knowledge regarding inability to digest gluten is dated.
    Start with something as simple as asking the doctors who diagnose you, they know now that gluten sensitivity is an actual disorder.

    I’m a coeliac as well, btw, I get the same looks…It doesn’t change the fact that gluten sensitivity is an actual health problem, neither do nutters who cut out gluten just for the heck of it.

    Other than that, great post.

    Cheers,

  14. As a mum who is also a blogger, I’m cheering reading this! Aussie mum bloggers are pretty level headed but we have our fair share of woo-pushing mummies. The anti-vaxxers, the paleo types and so on. There is nothing more frustrating and irresponsible than bloggers giving medical and health advice based on flawed ideas or linking to studies which they’ve willfully misinterpreted. Great piece!

  15. As a mum who is also a blogger, I’m cheering reading this! Aussie mum bloggers are pretty level headed but we have our fair share of woo-pushing mummies. The anti-vaxxers, the paleo types and so on. There is nothing more frustrating and irresponsible than bloggers giving medical and health advice based on flawed ideas or linking to studies which they’ve willfully misinterpreted. I do write about health stuff- mainly vaccination- and refer to info from every respected health authority in the world, because they know better than I do! Great piece!

  16. Just a minor matter-there is only one gluten as you said but it is comprised of 2 proteins

    Also re autism there are several mutations in several genes that are implicated in autism; the article you referred to just illustrated how one of these mutations could cause autism

    Both very minor that don’t in any way take away from the correctness of your excellent article. It’s sad these sites spread such nonsense but some blame should be ascribed to the mommies themselves who do not understand how to critically evaluate information and rely too much on google. These days everyone has to be a skeptic.

  17. As a teacher, I can tell you, admittedly anecdotally, that the internet info on teaching children behavior can be just as bad. I also see parents that are obsessed with what their children eat but pay little attention to what their children need to learn.

  18. Corporations should be regulated by the government. That includes companies that make GMO products. What many people are actually opposed to is just that unregulated corporate activity. The fact they use bad science to justify their concerns doesn’t change anything.

    The people of Flint Mich. (and many other cities in the US) have discovered what happens when you apply neo-liberal economic principles to our water supply. Let’s not repeat the same mistake with our food.

    • Do you think these companies aren’t regulated? I used to work at a pesticide company, it can take a decade to get a new pesticide to market because of the burden of proof to prove it safe. And that’s a very good thing for consumers. The pesticides today (and the GMOs) are proven safe because of the heavy regulation.

      • Am I blocked from posting? Why?

        “it can take a decade to get a new pesticide to market”

        Good. I would rather we took the time to get it right and not release potentially harmful products rather than rush them to market.

        Corporations *should* be regulated. It should be hard to put products on the market that can potentially cause harm. Automobiles and pesticides *should* have to show they are safe *BEFORE* they are allowed on the market.

        I don’t have a problem with GMOs. What I have a problem with is unregulated industry being allowed to put anything on the market they want with no consideration for externalities. What corporations and their shills in Congress want is unfettered corporate activity. They don’t want the EPA to do a better job, they want to eliminate it.

        Every single GOP candidate for president would totally eliminate the EPA and many other government agencies that protect the public from wanton corporate activity that often has no regard at all for the harm it causes to the public.

        THAT is the sentiment behind people’s opposition to granting large multinational corporations even *more* power to do whatever they want with no consideration of accountability to the public.

        This is a perfectly rational position to have.

        • Wait, so you go back and forth between saying “it should be regulated” and “we have no regulations.”

          You don’t seem to even know what the regulations are. Stop getting your information from memes on the internet that say there are no regulations and look up what the laws are governing the introduction of new pesticides and GMOs. It’s not like I’ve linked to them in multiple blog entries here (oh, wait…).

          Just because you’re scared of a new technology doesn’t mean it’s scary. It means you need to do your damn homework.

          • “Wait, so you go back and forth between saying “it should be regulated” and “we have no regulations.””

            No, I accept that GMOs can be beneficial to the public. I am not afraid of GMOs. I am afraid of allowing corporation to do as they please without any concern for it’s impact on public health.

            We already know that lead in drinking water is unhealthy. We also know how to treat water so that it is safe to drink. Yet all this knowledge didn’t prevent the poisoning of thousands of people in Washington DC, in Flint Mich, and in many many other municipalities around the country.

            It’s the political situation that concerns me, not the science behind GMOs. There are very powerful corporate forces that want to eliminate all regulation, even to eliminate the EPA. So when the topic of GMOs comes up I see that as an opportunity for me to express my concerns.

            I suppose the appropriate response to that is that we are not talking about removing regulations. True, but other people are and those people believe, as a matter of religious faith, that we should eliminate *all* government regulations. Not only that they hold considerable political power. In the context of GMO discussions I just think that should be brought up.

          • Brenda, what you’re speaking of now is more of a political analysis of the defects inherent in libertarianism and that’s a wee bit off topic for this article, isn’t it?
            Or are you saying that Mosanto is equal in influence as BP? Hint, they’re not anywhere near that level of influence.
            GM organisms are well regulated to hell and gone and that isn’t about to change. My only concern with GMO crops is in regards to cross-pollinating with heirloom or even standard non-GMO crops and basic farming separation of crops is effective against that, a practice that’s as old as growing related crops on the same farm.

  19. I was really excited about the PREMISE of ShiftCon, as publicized the first time around–that collectively, we can be a voice for change. The instant I found out Mercola was coming to speak and being treated as credible, I was out. While there are some good partners at ShiftCon (I like Thrive Market quite a bit), celebrating someone who has been chastised by the FDA for making illegal claims about the products he sells by inviting him to give a keynote is just a bad idea.

    More science, please.

  20. Hah.. keep it blonde! A friend posted on FB today about a book, the “No-Cry Sleep Solution” by Dr Sears. I spent 2 years waking up every hour with our first. We used that baby monitor. NEVER AGAIN. Our second? We gave her about 10 minutes of crying to see if she’d go back to sleep..which she did. The BEST use of the baby monitor? When the youngest was 4, and the oldest was 6 or 7? and I was out working in the garden, and they were “supposed” to be napping.. I could hear them! I said “keep away from mommy blogs, etc…think WWGD? “what would grandma do?” but in my case, “what would great-grandma do?” . Grandma told us to stop running through the house. We didn’t listen…so Great-grandma, stuck out her cane as we came thundering through. We stopped running. So much advice, so many ways to try to make parents feel bad how they raise their kids. My parents were depression kids, they did not read Dr Spock to raise my sister or me. I have come to love reading Free Range Kids blog, by Lenore Skenazy, as she brings common sense back into raising kids. Yeah, I know this is late, after you wrote it.

  21. Heh, you missed the eerie silence as the kids are up to no good.
    Whenever it got quiet while they were playing, it was time to see what type of destruction they were up to.
    Of course, children being children, the same holds with the grandkids. 🙂

  22. I’m from Europe and stumbled upon your blog. America seems to have a ‘lets let it be used on the public until it’s proven unsafe’ attitude to GMOs, Pharmaceuticals, pesticides and many other things. Where as Europe has a ‘lets not let it be used on the public until its’ proven safe’ attitude. There are so many pharmaceuticals, GMOs, Pesticides and many more things that are banned in Europe because their safety is not adequately proven in the long term but they are allowed in America. I can only think that it is Americas greed that is the cause of this, your regulatory board seem to be thick with corruption and CEOs with contradictory interests. You have the one of the lowest infant mortality rates, lowest education rates and lowest life expectancies in the developed world.

  23. Actually, infant mortality in the US is embarrassingly high, the other factors play in as well, lifestyle choices due to lousy education and a lack of access to quality health care play a fair part as well.
    As for GMO foods, Europe accepted them until popular hysteria against them caused the governments to not support them.
    Now, do enlighten us as to what corruption you are speaking of, as bold claims should have supporting evidence produced to support them.

  24. Wow, a digital Gish Gallop.

    You chose not to address the article, which was about unscientific and dishonest/deluded bloggers. Instead you make sweeping and unsupported claims about corruption and greed in some unspecified ‘regulatory board’.
    Here’s a tip. If you’re going to criticise an entire nation, marshall a few facts together.

    Anyway, America gave you The Paleo Mum. You gave us Andrew Wakefield. Let’s call it even.

  25. Just started reading your stuff, thanks to a good friend. I made the mistake of reading Mrs. Tatje’s article about Vitamin K injections, and the “dangerous” amount of aluminum in the shot. So I read the package picture on her site and did some math, which I confess is not my strong suit. Apparently, it’s not hers either. I’m not sure I feel safe in a world where she’s considered a voice of reason by so many parents.

  26. I’ve just completed a post grad qualitative research project. On the paleo diet and its effect on rheumatoid arthritis. There are hundreds of anecdotal reports of reversal of symptoms of auto-immune disease using a version of paleo- auto-immune paleo promoted by Sarah Ballantyne. It is unfortunate that clinical research has not yet tested this diet for auto-immune diseases such as RA. I interviewed 10 people who have clinically diagnosed RA, and have been on a paleo diet for more than 6 months. All these people put there reduction in symptoms and clinically measured reduction in markers to the paleo diet. Each found trigger foods as a result of using this protocol as an elimination and re-introduction diet. As part of my research I reviewed over 50 peer reviewed clinical papers on dietary intervention studies for RA. After the interviews and the reviews my conclusion is that there is evidence that dietary exclusions do make a difference for RA. However more clinical research is needed to actually test the paleo diet, to see if it backs up multiple anecdotal reports. In the meantime I am one post grad educated nutritionist who will not be dissing the paleo diet. This is because my own research points to significant benefit for some.

  27. Agreed registered Dietitian is protected and nutritionist can mean anything from a weekend course to PhD in nutrition science. In New Zealand we also have Registered Nutritionist which is a protected title through the NZ Nutrition Society. I am in the process to become a registered Nutritionist, much like a dietician following post grad. I studied at Massey University and we took the exact same papers/ sat in the same classes together, as the dietetics post grad, in fact Nutrition science students do more science papers. In NZ Registered Nutritionist is protected and on a par with Registered Dietician.

  28. I would also add that the research project was supervised by a registered dietician PhD and a registered Nutritionist PhD, it passed ethics approval and all the appropriate quality controls for a post grad research project, and was described by my supervisors as a very nice piece of research.

  29. I guess I could also point out that with 8 post grad nutrition science papers (First year masters) I’ve probably more qualified in nutrition science than you. I recommend you do a little more research on the theory of ancestral / pre-agricultural dietary philosophies

  30. Does that also include how wonderful worms and other parasites are for our health?
    Or how food poisoning helps keep paleo types healthy or something?

  31. You forgot Wellness Mama (a bunch of anti-scientific, religious horsesh&t) and Mommypotamus, which is full of woo like “adrenal fatigue.”

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