New Study on Alcohol Consumption and Heart Disease

Emily Oster

12 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

New Study on Alcohol Consumption and Heart Disease

An excuse for a (very) deep dive on Mendelian randomization

Emily Oster

12 min Read

I spend a lot of time thinking about how difficult it is to understand the relationship between diet and health, and the two examples I come back to frequently are coffee and alcohol. Both of these choices are sometimes linked to worse health and sometimes to better health. One day, coffee helps you live forever; three weeks later, another study says it causes early death. Alcohol consumption is subject to similar fluctuations — a glass of red wine a day is key to heart health; no, actually, any drinking is dangerous.

In both cases (as with much in diet), the underlying problem is that dietary choices are not random, and it’s hard to separate these choices from the other choices or characteristics they typically go along with. As a result, researchers work to use more sophisticated data techniques to answer these questions.

One of these techniques surfaced a couple of weeks ago in the context of alcohol. A new study on alcohol and cardiovascular effects came out in late March that used a technique called Mendelian randomization to try to better isolate causal effects. It got attention, not least because of this exotic empirical strategy, based on genetics.

However, this technique is somewhat confusing and, in my view, poorly understood even by some of the people who use it. So today, I want to do a deep dive. I’ll first try to explain, in a stylized example, how this works (and what the pitfalls might be). I’ll then talk about the particular details of this study.

Yes, this post is a little more technical than usual. The newsletter is called ParentData, after all! Stick with me. It’s interesting, I promise. 

Teaching example overview

Let’s put aside drinking and heart disease and turn to perhaps the most canonical relationship in economics: the relationship between education and wages. If people get more education, do they make more money and, if so, how much? If you think about it for a moment, you can see why it might be difficult to learn the answer to this question just by looking at wages across education groups. There are many other factors (family background, circumstances, ability, patience) that likely contribute to education but also to wages directly.

When researchers study this question, then, they look for strategies to get around these confounding factors. The ideal (from a research standpoint) would be to randomize how much education people get. Since we typically cannot do that for practical or ethical reasons, a common approach is to look for some other external factor that impacts individual education. In a famous example, researchers noted that because of compulsory schooling laws, the quarter of the year that you were born in impacted your educational attainment. They could then use the time of birth as what we call an “instrumental variable” to estimate a (more plausibly) causal impact of education on wages.

Very broadly, the idea in Mendelian randomization (which I will now call “MR” for word count reasons) is to recognize that your genetic code could be used as this instrumental variable.

How might that work in practice?

Quick biology reminder: You have two copies of each of your 23 chromosomes, one inherited from each parent. Each chromosome contains a number of genes, which all together are your genetic code.

Imagine for a moment that we’ve identified a genetic variant (a “SNP”) that strongly predicts college attendance. Let’s imagine it’s on chromosome 3, and we’re going to call this variant “COLLEGE.”* Let’s say your mother has one copy of the COLLEGE variant, on one of her two chromosome 3s.

When you are conceived, you get one copy of each chromosome from your mother and your father. This means you get only one of the chromosome 3 copies from your mother. And — here’s the key — which copy you get is random. As a result, there is a 50% chance you get her COLLEGE variant and a 50% chance you get the other copy, with no variant. (You’ll get your other copy of chromosome 3 from your father; here, I’m going to assume he doesn’t have the COLLEGE variant at all, so you definitely do not get it from him.)

In this scenario, you have a few siblings, and each of them also gets a copy of chromosome 3 from your mother. Some of you get the COLLEGE variant copy, and some get the other one. In expectation, half get each. But we have now generated random variation in the propensity to go to college within your family, based on this genetic lottery. We can potentially use that to estimate the effect of college on wages. Potentially being the key word, as doing so is going to require additional assumptions.

One thing I want to be clear about: The “randomness” in genetic makeup here is necessarily conditional on your parental genes. Genetic variants are not, in general, randomly allocated around the population of the world. Since your parents’ (and other ancestors’!) genes impact their behavior and outcomes, and those behaviors and outcomes can impact you directly, it’s really only among siblings who share both parents that there is a condition of randomness.

Simple approach: The simplest approach to the data here would be to compare wages across children in the same family who got different versions of the COLLEGE variant. What we can say with confidence, comparing siblings within a family, is whether the child who gets the COLLEGE variant of the gene has higher wages.

This impact may be causal, but it is also uninteresting. The question we are interested in is to what extent going to college increases wages. There is a simple way to imagine translating between the two. Specifically:

  • Calculate how much having the COLLEGE variant increases the chance of going to college within a group of siblings.
  • Calculate how much having the COLLEGE variant increases wages within a group of siblings.
  • Divide the second number by the first number. This effectively translates the impact of the COLLEGE gene on wages into an impact of college-going on wages. It re-scales the impact to get what you want.

This is called an IV (instrumental variables) estimator or a Wald estimator. The calculation is straightforward, but interpreting what you get as the causal impact of college-going on wages requires additional assumptions. (Want a more technical explanation of all of the following? Start with this seminal 1996 JASA paper, among the origins of last year’s Nobel Prize in Economics. Or the less technical explainer here.)

What are the assumptions, and how do they work in the genetic case?

Causal interpretation: The key assumption here is what is called the exclusion restriction. Intuitively, the exclusion restriction says that in order to interpret our simple estimate as a causal impact, it must be the case that the random variable (in this example, the COLLEGE variant) impacts the outcome (wages) only as a result of its impact on the intermediate behavior (college-going). That is, the COLLEGE gene doesn’t lead to higher wages on its own.

In the case of these genetic analyses, there are several primary ways the exclusion restriction might be violated.

The first problem has a name: pleiotropy. This is the phenomenon whereby a single gene influences multiple traits. For example: imagine that this COLLEGE gene influences college-going but also height. We know that taller people make more money (seriously). In this case, the differences we see in wages within the family might be due to differences in height, not differences in college-going. In this case, it would be a mistake to assign all the impact of the COLLEGE variant as due to the college-going.

A related issue is linkage disequilibrium. Genes that are near each other on a chromosome are more likely to be inherited together. If the COLLEGE gene is right next to a HEIGHT gene, you could get a form of the pleiotropy problem, even if they are distinct genes.

A final issue is that most of the time we have no idea what the gene really does. My hypothetical COLLEGE gene doesn’t, like, fill out the Common App for you. A gene that is predictive of college attendance could be predictive for any number of reasons — because it influences patience, because it influences ability, because it influences the likelihood of being good enough at tennis to play in college. But in some cases, these other factors could also independently predict wages. Again, it would be a mistake, then, to attribute all the effect of the gene to its impact on college-going.

None of this is to say that these analyses cannot be useful, or cannot deliver causal estimates. For example: there are cases (breast cancer, for example) in which we have genes that clearly lead to a dramatically increased risk of cancer. We could use within-family variation in these genes to estimate the impact of getting breast cancer on various outcomes or behaviors.

Even here, though, it wouldn’t necessarily be appropriate to use this to try to (for example) estimate the impact of life expectancy on happiness, even though these genetic variants do impact life expectancy, because they could influence happiness for other reasons too. As in virtually all cases where we use these instrumental variables strategies, it is necessary to think really carefully about what, exactly, is going on.

The literature using these techniques does, in fact, think about these exclusion restrictions. My point is simply that those are hard in some of these settings to get around.

New study: alcohol and heart disease

I dragged us through that long discussion of the logic of MR in order to discuss this new study about the link between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease. In the paper, the authors aim to use the MR approach to generate causal estimates of this relationship. As they note, when you look at a cross section of people, we tend to find that light drinking is associated with better heart health but heavy drinking with worse. These authors are rightly concerned that this result might simply reflect the fact that people who drink lightly tend to be better educated, wealthier, and less likely to smoke than either abstainers or those who drink heavily.

Their proposed solution is to exploit a set of genetic variants that have been associated with alcohol dependence. They use data on individuals that has information on their drinking amounts, heart disease, and these genetic variants. The authors use a form of the analysis described above to estimate a relationship between drinking and heart disease, using the genetic variation as the instrumental variable. Their conclusion is that this approach shows no health advantage to light drinking and a large health risk to heavy drinking — that all drinking is at least slightly bad, and drinking more is worse.

The paper has gotten some significant attention. The New York Times wrote about it, quoting a doctor who said the conclusions of the study “totally changed my life.”

I, however, remain skeptical. The analysis here is subject to a number of the complex concerns raised above. In several cases, the variants the authors explore are associated with outcomes even for non-drinkers. They attempt to exclude these particular variants from their main results, but this raises the general concern that these genes are impacting outcomes for reasons unrelated to drinking (this would violate the exclusion restriction). In a more technical sense, they are focused on instrumenting for both a linear and squared term in the analysis, and it isn’t clear that this will generate causal impacts even putting aside confounding concerns.

The main problem, though, the biggest issue with this paper, is simply that they do not do this analysis within sibling groups. I noted up top the idea that genes are randomly assigned and you could use that randomization for identification — this is true only within families. Genes aren’t randomly allocated around the population overall. However, in this paper the authors do not observe family groups. So rather than compare two siblings who got a different set of genetic endowments at random, they are comparing people whose family genetic makeup is different.

This approach is subject to more basic concerns. The individuals in the study whose genetic makeup is associated with more alcohol consumption are also more likely to have had parents who consumed more alcohol. This could matter for all kinds of reasons having nothing to do with their own consumption. The authors of the paper do not, as far as I can tell, observe anything about family background, parental drinking, or anything else like that.

In the end, then, the Mendelian randomization used in this paper is … not random. Forget about exclusion restrictions or interpretation concerns. This paper falls on a much more basic sword.

To be clear: I am quite sympathetic to the authors’ views that the slight positive effect of moderate alcohol consumption is correlation rather than causation. I felt that way before, and I still do. And there are methodologically stronger papers that use this approach to answer the same question (notably, this one). This particular paper, however, is too problematic to move the needle very much.

This post was a challenge, and I’m grateful for help from Jonathan Roth, Peter Hull, Dan Benjamin, and Penelope Shapiro.


*This is all very hypothetical. Although there are some SNPs associated with education, none of them are strongly associated, and I have no idea if they are on chromosome 3. Also, genetic variants have names like “rs1260326,” not “COLLEGE.”

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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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