Thursday, December 9, 2010

I am "fit to be tied"... Cell phones harm the unborn? STOP THE BAD REPORTING!!!

The actually said that cellphone use could harm the unborn!!!, which purports to be for smart parents is full of it this time.  The article's title asks,
Is Your Cell Phone Hurting Your Unborn Child?. (As if the writer isn't trying to imply that it does). Anyone who remembers Alicia Silvestone in Clueless circa 1995 can imply my tone here.

Moms-to-be, all over the world just dropped their collective smartphones and recoiled in horror as this article told them that the conference call they just took is about to lead to behavioral problems for, WAIT FOR IT... THEIR UNBORN BABIES!!!!! This is disgusting. This is fear selling at its worst.  AAAAnd this my dears, is BS!

Here's where we find that the whole thing is a red herring, (below the fold, of course),

Researcher Leeka Kheifets says that the association between cell phone use and behavioral problems isn’t all that strong and, because the mothers were self-reporting, the data cannot be considered completely reliable.  However, she and her colleagues speculate that cell phone use might lead mothers to excessively secrete melatonin, which can impact her metabolism and potentially influence the brain development of the fetus.
At this point we must stop to consider that the RESEARCHER said that the association isn't all that strong. End scene. If it's not strong, why are we reporting on it?

Worse than that, they "speculate"s some causal power associated with melatonin.   Nice try. Not buying it. And neither should anyone. What is particularly damaging here is that the authors feed on a mother's rational desire to protect her child to create an irrational fear.

How to spot a study deigned to scare the heck out of you even though the conclusion is weak and/or non-existent:

as in "Is Your Cell Phone Hurting Your Unborn Baby?"
Adrenaline of the 100lb-mom-lifts-bus-off-child variet kicks in. "Yes. Mustn't it? If they are writing about it..."

Be assured the answer is more likely a relationship that is "not all that strong." Let me put it another way, "NO, there is not enough evidence to say anything about it..."
P.S. Don't get me started on the flawed nature of self-reported data...I'm just too tired to go there today.

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