How protected is this baby?
News mostly appears to be grim. I love reading news, staying current but sometimes I get jaded. Especially articles that announce results of research studies. The thing is, I often wonder about these results. Just how much information is revealed to the media?

Here are three news stories from this week.


BABIES delivered by caesarean are at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese because they are not exposed to protective bacteria in the mother’s vagina, international research has found.


Studies increasingly show that nutrients, toxins, prenatal or postnatal environmental exposures can suppress or activate a gene. This can affect everything from our emotional wellbeing to our susceptibility to disease. Certain genes, for instance, when switched on can suppress cancer.


CHILDREN are starting kindergarten with the speech skills of three-year-olds – and too much TV and a lack of extended family may be to blame.

Take the first two news stories. Now all four of my children were delivered vaginally. So that’s good right? They were exposed to the protective bacteria. But what if something I ate or didn’t eat, or a toxin I was exposed to during pregnancy switches on or switches off a gene that deals with weight? I don’t know; it’s possible.

It reminds me of an article I read back in 2008.


Women who are stressed about money, relationships and other problems during pregnancy may give birth to babies who are predisposed to allergies and asthma, US researchers said today.

Now I’m not naïve. I did major in journalism at university and know that news generally relies more on the “be alarmed’ and not the ‘be alert’ type of philosophy.

I’m not going to launch into an entire essay on news agenda setting and I’m not about to dissect the above articles to discuss tone, information supplied and language used; and even though I know it, and I recognise it when it happens, I still get bothered by it.

Now wonder we’re the most neurotic generation of parents in recent history.

So let me ask you, is too much news on parenting bad? Is it informative enough?


  • At 2012.03.19 13:11, Debra said:

    Ahhh, a favourite topic of mine!

    I have found that research findings published in the media are often just informtation bites of the entire study, so can be published in the media out of context. I always like to go back to the original researh piece (which can be located via the article) to see the context of the findings being reported. The media often get the full article but only select “interesting” bits to publish.

    As an example, I remember a few years a news article saying that eating grapefruit caused cancer. The actual study reported a slight correlation between eating grapefruit and the incidence of cancer, but by no means suggested that it caused cancer….

    • At 2012.03.19 14:36, TheUrbanMum said:

      Ho hum, ho hum. I am afraid I also feel jaded when reading some of these Research reports. For a variety of reasons I also avoid watching A Current Affair et al – espeially when they headline with …””according to the latest research”…. If I took heed of all the articles written I might just go and dig myself a hole to jump into.
      I ate well, I wasn’t stressed in pregnancy. BUT – I had two elective C-Sections. We have a child with ADHD who has learning difficulties. So strike me down. Except I happen to believe our boys are happy and pretty well adjusted and generally healthy.
      I am acquainted with many people who tick all the research boxes and yet their children are riddled with angst, and unhealthy.
      So the moral – approach information overload with caution, a grain of salt and a modicum of sense.
      Always love your posts. Thank you.x

      • At 2012.03.19 14:40, TheUrbanMum said:

        PS Just added you to my Blog List so my small (yet growing) number of readers can enjoy your Posts too.x

        • At 2012.03.19 20:53, Debbie @ Aspiring Mum said:

          …And today’s headline was about demand feeding creating children with higher intelligence. I don’t think it’s all black and white as the media likes to make it look – there’s always more to the research than they like to put forth. For first-time mothers, I think all that information is completely overwhelming, and probably contributes to a lot of anxiety and guilt. I had 4 c/sections (one emergency, 3 elective out of necessity), I combined demand and scheduled feeding, and I didn’t have a good milk supply, so none of my children were fed breast milk beyond 6 months. According to research, I’m going to have overweight children of average intelligence. I really think these articles need to be read with common sense while taking into account each individual’s situation.

          • At 2012.03.20 11:36, Nathalie said:

            They seem to take the research out of context and publish the part that will cause the biggest wave in motherhood and parenting. If I think back to my mum and dad I’m sure they didn’t base their parenting on the research.

            • At 2012.03.21 13:13, Maria said:

              Hi Nathalie,

              I know and that’s the frustrating part. If I was one of those researchers because there would be so much more information that never makes the light of day. My parents, I think, parented in the way that was acceptable as defined by their social group ie the extended family. For example, there was a clear understanding amongst everyone that the kids could be disciplined by ANY adult family member. There was a bit of a herd mentality but ironically no clear leader setting an agenda.

              Love & stuff
              Mrs M

              • At 2012.03.21 13:19, Maria said:

                Hi Debbie,

                All this research does thwart out instinct, or at least tries to. I had natural births, breastfed all my kids until 12 months (exclusively for the first 6 months) but I’m sure if I fed them a diet of fast food with no exercise they’re going to have some health issues.

                As for the higher intelligence aspect I think it’s flawed. My mother bottle fed me because formula was the rage in the 70’s so according to that research I’m going to be slightly deficient in the intelligence part. However, I did eat a lot of fish so I did get my Omega 3 which is good for intelligence. So have I scrubbed up even?

                Furthermore, let’s take the argument that I am not as smart as I could have been, does that mean my children won’t reach their potential because I didn’t reach mine to pass down through my genes?

                I’m sure researchers have asked these questions, but we just never hear the answers.

                Gah, it’s enough to give me a headache.

                Love & stuff
                Mrs M

                • At 2012.03.21 13:20, Maria said:

                  You are so sweet. 🙂 I’m redesigning my blog so I’ll be sure to add you to mine.

                  Love & stuff
                  Mrs M

                  • At 2012.03.21 13:25, Maria said:

                    You make spades of sense. It’s one thing to alert people of some things so they can do some further reading and research of their own. I’m all for information. But this kind of tsk tsk, finger pointing tone articles sometimes take drive me batty.

                    I was very stressed in my last pregnancy. But my last child is sooo happy. Full of beans and constantly on the go but really happy. Probably happier than any of my other children were at his age. I often joke that maybe the cocktail I drank on the night we conceived had something to do with it 😉

                    Love & stuff
                    Mrs M

                    • At 2012.03.21 13:27, Maria said:

                      Hi Deb,

                      As a researcher yourself would you find it frustrating how the media portrays research findings?

                      I mean, you put in hours of work, a variety of methodologies to collect data, and the media writes up the story as a black and white scenario. These things are rarely black and white; would that be fair to say?

                      Love & stuff
                      Mrs M

                      (Required, will not be published)