Mom Genes and Other Parent Science

Emily Oster

10 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

Mom Genes and Other Parent Science

An interview with Abigail Tucker

Emily Oster

10 min Read

In my capacity as a parenting author, I am lucky to get to read a lot of parenting books early. It’s a perk! One of the recent ones was Mom Genes by Abigail Tucker. It’s all about the evolutionary science of how being a mother changes our brains. I was lucky that Abigail agreed to do an “interview” with me all about her wonderful book, which you can read below.


Emily:

Abigail, it’s so great to get to “talk” to you about your book!  I’m excited to dive into it (remind me to ask about “mom brain” which people ask me about all the time and is not in any of my books…)  But first: can you tell us in your words who you are, what you do, and what this book is all about? 

Abigail:

Emily! Thank you so much for the chance to chat. I’m a longtime fan and you are responsible for a number of my parenting wins, few and far between though they may be! [Editor note: Yes, I left this in even though it’s self-serving. It’s my newsletter!]

About me: I’m a journalist interested in the biology of domestic life and how we can use scientific insights to understand our closest relationships. My first book, “The Lion in The Living Room”, told the story of how an invasive feline ended up sitting there on your couch as your pet kitty cat.

My new book, Mom Genes, is about the sweeping brain changes that female mammals, from wallabies to blue whales to women, undergo when they become mothers. But it’s also about the hidden forces –your teenage babysitting resume, say, or your childhood memories of your mom, or whether you’ve lived through a terrorist attack or a subprime mortgage crisis, or whether your baby is a boy or a girl —  that help determine how those core changes play out. I’m exploring the universality of the maternal transformation, and also what makes each human mother unique.

Mom Genes Cover. Abigail Tucker
Emily:

Okay, so let’s just start with a bang and do “mom brain”.  I had actually never really looked into this (before reading you!). I just assumed that mom brain is just because I’m “mom tired”.  So, is it real?

Abigail:

Yup, it really is. I’m pleased to report that mom brain is not at all the same thing as suddenly becoming stupid, and there ARE fringe benefits to this new brain. However, moms aren’t crazy to feel like they’ve lost something.

Basically, the minds of new mothers are reshaped by the hormones of pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. The neurochemicals prompt a cascade of genetic changes that lead to new connections between neurons, and ultimately shifts in brain architecture.

Scientists can document some of this on brain scans, but you and I can also recognize signs of brain changes just by chatting with friends. Women transitioning into motherhood are prone to psychological problems – postpartum depression, most famously, but also other mood issues and obsessive compulsive disorder, along with the classic fogginess that we call “mom brain.” These troubles crop up most often right around the time of a woman’s first birth but there may be lifelong mental implications.

The adaptive core of this psychological shift is women’s “sensitization” to baby cues. There’s a rewiring of women’s systems of desire, which makes babies irresistible to us – or at least, a lot less icky than they seemed before. (Even their diapers start to smell
kind of good.) Meanwhile, we also become more aware of certain aspects of the immediate environment, which is helpful in keeping babies safe.

The upside to all this heightened awareness is that new moms are actually pretty skilled at certain tasks – like reading emotions and recognizing and keeping an eye on strangers, especially strange men. (Rat moms are also champs at locating Froot Loops in a maze, but so far I’ve had no luck in this regard, I’m sorry to say.)

The downside for human moms is that, perhaps because we are so obsessed with our newborn here and now, we seem to backslide a bit in other departments. In particular our memories seem to suffer. There is a lot of controversy and scientific back and forth about this issue, and sleep deprivation almost certainly comes into play – it’s something like 700 lost hours per year! But many scientists do think that moms’ verbal recall is an area that takes a cognitive hit.  New moms just aren’t so hot at remembering words.

This may be because we know that the SAT will soon be extinct so our babies won’t have to worry about vocab. Kidding! But honestly, it’s not the best news for writers like you and me, Emily. And I was pregnant when I wrote this book, alas …

Emily:

It is easy to locate Fruit Loops. They are under the cushions, covered in a fine layer of ants. Everyone knows this! 

This is very interesting and, like a lot of the stuff you talk about in the book, it kind of makes sense from an evolutionary perspective.  These kind of questions are what I liked best about the book — thinking about the very long scale of what shapes our choices.  Within this space — what did you find most surprising?

Abigail:

First let me finish laughing about the Froot Loops.  Some other rat mom labs use Charleston Chews, which might be more my vibe. I was addicted to those in the ’80s.

Ok. So many things surprised me about mothers’ evolution. But one thing that continues to fascinate me is how powerful and abrupt the transition into motherhood is. It’s almost like a switch is flipped. A virgin rat (that’s what scientists call non-mothers) will ignore or even kill rat pups. She finds them to be quite repulsive. But a few hours before this rat gives birth, her priorities change. She will start choosing the company of squirmy little rat pups over servings of food and even over hits of cocaine, risking an electric shock to be with them.

In one of my favorite experiments, a scientist rigged up a system where mom rats could press a bar for either food or pups, which rolled down a little chute not unlike a playground slide. One rat mom hit the pup bar 684 times over a few hours! It was a pup avalanche. The scientist got so sick of sticking new babies in the shoot that he basically quit the experiment.

You can see similar behavior in human moms. In brain scans, our reward centers catch fire for our own kids even more than for other babies, and outside the lab, hell and high water can’t keep us from them. We’ve all read stories about moms who have worked themselves to the bone for their children or risked their own lives by fighting off mountain lions with their bare hands or beating back bears with baseball bats.

There’s a catch, though. As strong as the maternal motive is, it is also fragile. Mammalian moms, humans included, have also evolved to be sensitive to environmental cues, especially cues of chronic resource scarcity (as opposed to a more acute threat like a predator.) At the end of the day mothers are built to pass our genes into eternity, not just protect a particular infant. If animal mothers sense there is not enough food around to keep the present crop of babies alive, they will sometimes cut their losses and walk away, and try their luck again when conditions improve.

Happily this threshold is high for human moms, and those of us living in modern America most often have access to enough calories to feed our kids. At the same time, subtle changes in financial resources may be powerful enough to modify our biology. For instance, jumps in unemployment can correspond with higher miscarriage rates, lower birthweight babies and more accidental child injuries.

And it’s not just money. A human mom is constantly being changed by her environment, even potentially by stuff like how much plastic she’s been exposed to in her lifetime, or whether she’s just just had a boy or a girl. That last one is especially interesting to me, since I’ve had both!

Emily:

I’m over here feeling very sorry for the rat mom who now has 684 babies.  Two is my limit.

To slightly widen the aperture: your book weaves your own experiences in with the science, something which I try to do a bit also.  How much of this was really an attempt to understand what was going on with your own parenting experience, and how much was something you wondered about before the kids?  In my case I started writing because of being pregnant, but had thought about a lot of related issues leading up to that. 

Abigail:

I was more or less stunned by my own incompetence when I became a mother. My daughter’s birth didn’t go so well and afterwards I had no clue how to do anything. And my staggering ignorance was coupled with this alien and devastatingly strong desire to do the best I could for my poor kid. The disconnect between my skills and my ambitions was something new for me and something I needed to understand, because I saw friends in similar straits, and some of us ended up going down a pretty bad road emotionally.

I’ve since learned that there are very few constants in human mothering – women employ so many approaches to sleeping, weaning, discipline, baby talk, and everything else. Across the globe there are radical cultural differences in maternal behavior. In parts of Papua New Guinea, toddlers spend a bunch of their time dangling in a netted sack called a bilum that hangs from a mother’s forehead. (You can order one on Etsy, by the way!) In Japan, it’s pretty standard practice to co-sleep with your child into elementary school. Some researchers even think that the temperament of babies varies from country to country.

Anyhow, what I call the maternal instinct is the obsessive desire to help your kid, not some sort of detailed instruction manual that tells a new mom how to act: Nobody has that “automatically,” which is why we need books like yours to help us identify strategies that work in our here and now. It’s also why robotic bassinets are flying off the shelves.

The closest thing that women have to an automatic mothering behavior is something I’d never even heard of after having multiple kids. It’s called left-handed cradling bias. Humans and other mammalian mothers, from flying foxes to walruses, are prone to carry or keep babies on their left. This apparently helps transfer the maximum amount of information about our babies’ state to the right hemisphere of moms’ brains, where our emotions are processed. It also allows infants to view the more expressive side of our own faces. Some scientists even suspect that women who buck the trend and hold babies on the right are more likely to be depressed. (Researchers have used family photo albums to probe this last idea, which is just a theory for now.)

I am a resolute left-holder—I find it weird to even change a diaper if the kid’s head is on my right – but that only gets you so far in twenty-first century America, you know? My gold star has not yet arrived. I still hired a sleep coach. (Winces.) Twice. Heck, there’s a professional lice picker in my iPhone contacts.

I came to realize that the keystone of the maternal instinct is not knowing, but rather desiring to know. This motive unites mothers everywhere. And there’s a lot of comfort in that idea.

Emily:

This left-holder thing is so cool.  

And I think you’re right that a lot of parenting/mothering/fathering/etc is really about not knowing and kind of trying to embrace that.  I feel like loss of control, or the acceptance of loss of control, has been such a huge thing for me in being a parent. You have this idea of what your kid is going to be like and then they are … not.  And it can be hard to let go.  Similarly it’s hard to let go of the idea that there is a right way to parent and you have to get it or else you’re bad. This is where the cross cultural stuff really helps. There are many right ways!

Before I let you go off this email chain let me ask what is next for you?  Another book?

Also, I feel I must mention that as you probably know I went to preschool at some point with your husband and I *THINK* you live on my childhood street.  It is a small world. 

Abigail:

Yes! Your mom and Ross’s must have had similar taste in sandboxes! And we adore your childhood street. I can say with some scientific assurance that it’s a great environment in which to mom. (So many spectacular quinoa dishes at the block party, too! Sadly, I brought pigs in a blanket!)

Next up: well, that depends on whether there is summer camp. (Shuts eyes and bows head.) Although we did book a long weekend with equally child-saddled friends at what appears to be a rural Midwestern Christmas tree farm just in case there is nothing else to do. (Note to parents: don’t scour Airbnb in a sleep-deprived state.) But honestly, researching the maternal instinct did involve a certain amount of kid
avoidance, and my fourth child — my pandemic baby — only has a little babyhood left. So I’ve punted the what’s-next question, and temporarily cleared my schedule: Come what may, I’m looking forward to spending the summer with my children.

Emily:

The block party!  Many fun memories of that, although there was no quinoa when I grew up, that’s for sure.  

Your summer sounds lovely, fingers crossed for camp and for some fun even if it doesn’t happen. (I think it will!)  Thanks for doing this, and for this great book. 

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Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

#tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancyhealth #pregnancytips #parentdata #emilyoster

Exciting news! We have new, high-quality data that says it’s safe to take Tylenol during pregnancy and there is no link between Tylenol exposure and neurodevelopmental issues in kids. Comment “Link” for a DM to an article exploring this groundbreaking study.

While doctors have long said Tylenol was safe, confusing studies, panic headlines, and even a lawsuit have continually stoked fears in parents. As a result, many pregnant women have chosen not to take it, even if it would help them.

This is why good data is so important! When we can trust the data, we can trust our choices. And this study shows there is no blame to be placed on pregnant women here. So if you have a migraine or fever, please take your Tylenol.

#tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancyhealth #pregnancytips #parentdata #emilyoster
...

How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months. 

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages. 

#cribsheet #emilyoster #parentdata #languagedevelopment #firstwords

How many words should kids say — and when? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about language development!

For this graph, researchers used a standardized measure of vocabulary size. Parents were given a survey and checked off all the words and sentences they have heard their child say.

They found that the average child—the 50th percentile line—at 24 months has about 300 words. A child at the 10th percentile—near the bottom of the distribution—has only about 50 words. On the other end, a child at the 90th percentile has close to 600 words. One main takeaway from these graphs is the explosion of language after fourteen or sixteen months.

What’s valuable about this data is it can give us something beyond a general guideline about when to consider early intervention, and also provide reassurance that there is a significant range in this distribution at all young ages.

#cribsheet #emilyoster #parentdata #languagedevelopment #firstwords
...

I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit.

I saw this and literally laughed out loud 😂 Thank you @adamgrant for sharing this gem! Someone let me know who originally created this masterpiece so I can give them the proper credit. ...

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata

Perimenopause comes with a whole host of symptoms, like brain fog, low sex drive, poor energy, and loss of muscle mass. These symptoms can be extremely bothersome and hard to treat. Could testosterone help? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about the data on testosterone treatment for women in perimenopause.

#perimenopause #perimenopausehealth #womenshealth #hormoneimbalance #emilyoster #parentdata
...

What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata

What age is best to start swim lessons? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article about water safety for children 💦

Summer is quickly approaching! You might be wondering if it’s the right time to have your kid start swim lessons. The AAP recommends starting between 1 and 4 years old. This is largely based on a randomized trial where young children were put into 8 or 12 weeks of swim lessons. They found that swimming ability and water safety reactions improve in both groups, and more so in the 12 weeks group.

Below this age range though, they are too young to actually learn how to swim. It’s fine to bring your baby into the pool (if you’re holding them) and they might like the water. But starting formal safety-oriented swim lessons before this age isn’t likely to be very helpful.

Most importantly, no matter how old your kid is or how good of a swimmer they are, adult supervision is always necessary!

#swimlessons #watersafety #kidsswimminglessons #poolsafety #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

 #emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids

Can babies have salt? 🧂 While babies don’t need extra salt beyond what’s in breast milk or formula, the risks of salt toxicity from normal foods are minimal. There are concerns about higher blood pressure in the long term due to a higher salt diet in the first year, but the data on these is not super compelling and the differences are small.

Like with most things, moderation is key! Avoid very salty chips or olives or saltines with your infant. But if you’re doing baby-led weaning, it’s okay for them to share your lightly salted meals. Your baby does not need their own, unsalted, chicken if you’re making yourself a roast. Just skip the super salty stuff.

#emilyoster #parentdata #childnutrition #babynutrition #foodforkids
...

Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata

Is sleep training bad? Comment “Link” for a DM to an article breaking down the data on sleep training 😴

Among parenting topics, sleep training is one of the most divisive. Ultimately, it’s important to know that studies looking at the short- and long-term effects of sleep training show no evidence of harm. The data actually shows it can improve infant sleep and lower parental depression.

Even so, while sleep training can be a great option, it will not be for everyone. Just as people can feel judged for sleep training, they can feel judged for not doing it. Engaging in any parenting behavior because it’s what’s expected of you is not a good idea. You have to do what works best for your family! If that’s sleep training, make a plan and implement it. If not, that’s okay too.

What’s your experience with sleep training? Did you feel judged for your decision to do (or not do) it?

#sleeptraining #newparents #babysleep #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes

Does your kid love to stall right before bedtime? 💤 Tell me more about their tactics in the comments below!

#funnytweets #bedtime #nightimeroutine #parentinghumor #parentingmemes
...

Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices. 

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata

Got a big decision to make? 🤔 Comment “Link” for a DM to read about my easy mantra for making hard choices.

When we face a complicated problem in pregnancy or parenting, and don’t like either option A or B, we often wait around for a secret third option to reveal itself. This magical thinking, as appealing as it is, gets in the way. We need a way to remind ourselves that we need to make an active choice, even if it is hard. The mantra I use for this: “There is no secret option C.”

Having this realization, accepting it, reminding ourselves of it, can help us make the hard decisions and accurately weigh the risks and benefits of our choices.

#parentingquotes #decisionmaking #nosecretoptionc #parentingadvice #emilyoster #parentdata
...

Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster

Excuse the language, but I have such strong feelings about this subject! Sometimes, it feels like there’s no winning as a mother. People pressure you to breastfeed and, in the same breath, shame you for doing it in public. Which is it?!

So yes, they’re being completely unreasonable. You should be able to feed your baby in peace. What are some responses you can give to someone who tells you to cover up? Share in the comments below ⬇️

#breastfeeding #breastfeedinginpublic #breastfeedingmom #motherhood #emilyoster
...

Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there! 

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife

Potty training can feel like a Mount Everest-size challenge, and sadly, our evidence-based guidance is poor. So, I created a survey to collate advice and feedback on success from about 6,000 participants.

How long does potty training take? We found that there is a strong basic pattern here: the later you wait to start, the shorter time it takes to potty train. On average, people who start at under 18 months report it takes them about 12 weeks for their child to be fully trained (using the toilet consistently for both peeing and pooping). For those who start between 3 and 3.5, it’s more like nine days. Keep in mind that for all of these age groups, there is a range of length of time from a few days to over a year. Sometimes parents are told that if you do it right, it only takes a few days. While that is true for some people, it is definitely not the norm.

If you’re in the throes of potty training, hang in there!

#emilyoster #parentdata #pottytraining #pottytrainingtips #toddlerlife
...

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens. 

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children. 

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata

For children or adults with severe food allergies, they can be incredibly scary and restrictive. We may imagine that it’s easy to deal with a peanut allergy by, say, not eating peanut butter sandwiches. But for someone with a severe version of this allergy, they may never be able to go to a restaurant, for fear of a severe reaction to something in the air. Right now, there’s only one approved treatment for severe allergies like this and it’s limited to peanuts.

This is why the new medication Xolair is very exciting. It promises a second possible treatment avenue and one that works for other allergens. A new trail analyzed data from 177 children with severe food allergies. Two-thirds of the treatment group were able to tolerate the specified endpoint, versus just 7% of the placebo group. This is a very large treatment effect, and the authors found similarly large impacts on other allergens.

There are some caveats: This treatment won’t work for everyone. (One-third of participants did not respond to it.) Additionally, this treatment is an injection given every two to four weeks, indefinitely. This may make it less palatable to children.

Overall, even with caveats, this is life-changing news for many families!

#xolair #foodallergies #allergies #peanutallergy #emilyoster #parentdata
...

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips

If you have a fever during pregnancy, you should take Tylenol, both because it will make you feel better and because of concerns about fever in pregnancy (although these are also overstated).

The evidence that suggests risks to Tylenol focuses largely on more extensive exposure — say, taking it for more than 28 days during pregnancy. There is no credible evidence, even correlational, to suggest that taking it occasionally for a fever or headache would be an issue.

People take Tylenol for a reason. For many people, the choice may be between debilitating weekly migraines and regular Tylenol usage. The impacts studies suggest are very small. In making this decision, we should weigh the real, known benefit against the suggestion of this possible risk. Perhaps not everyone will come out at the same place on this, but it is crucial we give people the tools to make the choice for themselves.

#emilyoster #parentdata #tylenol #pregnancy #pregnancytips
...

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks

Parenting trends are like Cabbage Patch Kids: they’re usually only popular because a bunch of people are using them! Most of the time, these trends are not based on new scientific research, and even if they are, that new research doesn’t reflect all of what we’ve studied before.

In the future, before hopping onto the latest trend, check the data first. Unlike Cabbage Patch Kids, parenting trends can add a lot of unnecessary stress and challenges to your plate. What’s a recent trend that you’ve been wondering about?

#parentdata #emilyoster #parentingtips #parentingadvice #parentinghacks
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As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData! 

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity

As of this week, 1 million copies of my books have been sold. This feels humbling and, frankly, unbelievable. I’m so thankful to those of you who’ve read and passed along your recommendations of the books.

When I wrote Expecting Better, I had no plan for all of this — I wrote that book because I felt compelled to write it, because it was the book I wanted to read. As I’ve come out with more books, and now ParentData, I am closer to seeing what I hope we can all create. That is: a world where everyone has access to reliable data, based on causal evidence, to make informed, confident decisions that work for their families.

I’m so grateful you’re all here as a part of this, and I want to thank you! If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to sign up for full access to ParentData, this is it. ⭐️ Comment “Link” for a DM with a discount code for 20% off of a new monthly or annual subscription to ParentData!

Thank you again for being the best community of readers and internet-friends on the planet. I am so lucky to have you all here.

#parentdata #emilyoster #expectingbetter #cribsheet #familyfirm #parentingcommunity
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Just eat your Cheerios and move on.

Just eat your Cheerios and move on. ...

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide

The AAP’s guidelines recommend sleeping in the same room as your baby “ideally for the first six months.” However, the risk of SIDS is dramatically lower after four months, and the evidence in favor of the protective effect of room sharing is quite weak (both overall and even more so after four months). There is also growing evidence that infants who sleep in their own room by four months sleep better at four months, better at nine months, and even better at 30 months.

With this in mind, it’s worth asking why this recommendation continues at all — or at least why the AAP doesn’t push it back to four months. They say decreased arousals from sleep are linked to SIDS, which could mean that babies sleeping in their own room is risky. But this link is extremely indirect, and they do not show direct evidence to support it.

According to the data we have, parents should sleep in the same room as a baby for as long as it works for them! Sharing a room with a child may have negative impacts on both child and adult sleep. We should give families more help in navigating these trade-offs and making the decisions that work best for them.

#emilyoster #parentdata #roomsharing #sids #parentingguide
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It was an absolute pleasure to be featured on the @tamronhallshow! We talked about all things data-driven parenting and, in this clip, what I call the plague of secret parenting. To balance having a career and having a family, we can’t hide the fact that we’re parents. If mothers and fathers at the top can speak more openly about child-care obligations, it will help us all set a new precedent.

Watch the full segment at the link in my bio 🔗

#tamronhall #tamronhallshow #emilyoster #parentingsupport #workingparents

It was an absolute pleasure to be featured on the @tamronhallshow! We talked about all things data-driven parenting and, in this clip, what I call the plague of secret parenting. To balance having a career and having a family, we can’t hide the fact that we’re parents. If mothers and fathers at the top can speak more openly about child-care obligations, it will help us all set a new precedent.

Watch the full segment at the link in my bio 🔗

#tamronhall #tamronhallshow #emilyoster #parentingsupport #workingparents
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