Making a Baby the New Way

There is a really outstanding piece I found yesterday about one man's experiences with IVF, fertility clinics and what it means for the guy who has to go through it. Intensely personal and incredibly well written, it's very much worth a read for any father or father-on-deck. Actually, it's worth a read for anyone.

The Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Paul Ford [ via Daring Fireball]

(And once you've read the article, don't miss the cherry on top.)

A Blunt Truth About the Effect of the Wakefield Article on Vaccines and Autism

In a recent Medscape article titled "Autism and the MMR Vaccine, Revisited" (taken from a lecture and reprinted here), Dr. Paul Offit lays down what really matters with Wakefield's fraudulent Lancet publication.

Thousands of parents in England chose to not vaccinate their children. Hundreds were hospitalized and 4 were killed. Three in Ireland and 1 in London died because their parents feared the MMR vaccine more than they feared the measles. You could argue that the Wakefield paper killed 4 children.

My only problem with what Dr. Offit says? He still calls him "Dr. Wakefield." As we all know, he hasn't been a doctor for some time now.

Autism and the MMR Vaccine, Revisited [Reprinted at - Medscape is subscription only.]

New Nintendo 3DS Not Safe For Kids Under Six. Really Nintendo?


Nintendo says their new gaming system the 3DS might hurt the eyes of children under six, but eye doctors are saying that's not necessarily true. Aren't the big bad companies supposed to be putting our kids at risk (for a profit) while doctors are supposed to warn us against this kind of stuff?

It's an interesting swap of expectations, and the subject of my latest post on Man of the House.

New Nintendo 3DS Not Safe For Kids Under Six. Really Nintendo? [Man of the]

Parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should have to pay more.

Refusing to vaccinate a child is dangerous not just for that child but for entire communities. It's precisely this point a colleague of mine was considering when he had the idea that parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids should pay substantially higher health insurance premiums.


Check out this great op-ed piece on (link above).

In 2008, one couple from San Diego who decided not to vaccinate their child for measles ended up exposing 839 people, creating 11 new cases of measles and costing their county and state $124,517 (not including private insurer costs).

Even if you set aside the health risks for everyone that children who aren't vaccinated create, reckless parental decisions have real economic consequences as well.

Thanks Dad - For the 10 Extra Years of Prostate Screenings


I was asked by Man of the House to write a piece in a series they're running called "Thanks Dad." And instead of writing something simple about how awesome my Dad is, I decided to write about something serious he's going through right now.

I'm pretty proud of how it turned out, but I'm more proud of my Dad.

Read Thanks Dad - For the 10 Extra Years of Prostrate Screenings on Man of the

Is that a monitor in your diaper?

RespisenseI can't figure out if this is a good idea, or if it's something created to capitalize on hyper safety-conscious new parents. A South African company has recently developed the RespiSense - a small device that when put in a baby's diaper monitors breathing patterns. Then, if the monitor detects a 15 second pause in breathing, it will vibrate to stimulate the baby back into breathing. The claim is it will help to prevent "cot death" or as we call it, SIDS.

Their web site doesn't have any data on it's efficacy, or even a single testimonial from anyone in the medical field. Apparently they are beginning real testing now, but I'm surprised that they can sell it at all (I guess the rules in South Africa are different than here in the US). It will be interesting to see the results.

RespiSense Buzz for SIDS [ via]

Fun with genetics.

Eye color is one of those things that I never really gave much thought to, until I had a baby. Here's something cool I found that gives the probabilities of what your child's eye color will be. I'm sure a piece of paper and a high school biology text opened to the chapter on genetics could probably help you do the same thing, but now we have the web and Flash applets so why bother?

What Color Eyes Would Your Children Have? (via sarah. word.)

When you're sliding into first...

Yesterday was the first weekday I've missed making a post since I started this blog back in September, and fittingly I have Madame to blame thank for it. Somewhere between NYC and home she passed off her stomach virus to dad, and consequently I spent all of yesterday in the bathroom and on the couch with a low-grade fever. I guess I knew your kids could get you sick, but I never realized they could make you feel as sick as they felt. The second I think I've got this dad stuff down, I realize I'm still such a rookie. Hey, we're lucky we got through nine months before our first family illness, right?

Anyway, after 14 hours of sleep everyone (meaning me) is feeling better this morning. At least summer is almost here.

Diarrhea [Wikipedia]

Blame teething.

Um, what did my baby do with my baby? These last few daysMadame has just not been herself, and I'm blaming the new sprout of teeth she's suddenly developed. Her diet and sleep are pretty much the same (even with the daylight savings time change), but for some reason she's generally irritated and very quick to freak out.

The problem is, outside of teething rings, cold spoons and maybe a little baby Tylenol there isn't much I can do. I did a Google news search on "teething" and came up with this "Health Tip" on yesterday, which basically says the same thing. I don't expect there's any magic treatment, but it is kind of frustrating. Any teething tips out there?

Brush that tooth.

InfantgumcleanerLike I mentioned yesterday, my baby's got her first tooth. And as soon as my wife mentioned it to the ladies in her office, they all asked her if we were brushing it yet. Um, brushing it? One tooth? It never occurred to us, but apparently it's something we should be doing. So we went out and bought this Gerber Tooth and Gum Cleanser, which is really just some infant toothpaste and a finger puppet rubber tooth brush/massager.

Is it helping? Who knows? I have a suspicion it's just another thing companies like Gerber sucker parents into doing that our parents never did. Even in Dr. Cohen's book he says you don't need to do any of this, that as long as you aren't giving your baby a bottle in the middle of the night their teeth shouldn't rot. But really, what says "bad parent" more than a child full of rotten teeth? So I guess for the time being it's back to the finger puppet, and I'll let her grandpa teach her how to floss once she's got some adjacent teeth.

Cord cutting clamp.

Umbilical_cordcutterWhile cutting the cord after your baby is born might be a fairly safe procedure for dads here in this country, in developing nations it's not that simple. A San Antonio biotech company has apparently thought this through and created the Joey™ Umbilical Safety System (I guess baby koalas are also called "joeys"). It cuts and clamps the cord in onesanitary procedure, while preventing cross-contamination of potentially infected cord blood. The koala-faced clamp then stays on the child until the stump falls off. It will even leave some extra cord for testing, or if you're Korean maybe for gold plating and hanging on your wall.

While it's depressing to think of HIV positive babies being born and potentially infecting health care workers, in some countries I guess it's more common than we would want to believe. Hopefully this will help. link via Gizmodo.

Take it from me. Shingles sucks.

When I was a little kid (about 8 or 9) I got the chickenpox really bad. Besides the rash I had a digestive system that refused to function and I pretty much lost all muscle control in my legs. In fact it was the first time I can remember thinking that it was possible that I could die. Not that I was going to of course, but it was the first time I ever thought about my mortality. Anyway it sucked, so I can understand why people are making sure their kids are getting the chickenpox vaccination that's now available. I was into it too, until I read this article in the NY Times.

Apparently researchers are worried that by immunizing children to chickenpox, we are increasing the risk of adults contracting shingles. Shingles is basically a reactivation of the chickenpox virus that lies dormant in adults who got chickenpox as children (which is most of us). Adult exposure to children with chickenpox boosts the immunity to the virus that we already have in our bodies, and helps to prevent us from coming down with shingles. But if kids aren't getting chickenpox anymore, adults aren't exposed and therefore might be more likely to come down with shingles.

Big deal you say? It's better to keep a child healthy? I know what you mean, but besides having one of the worse names for a condition ever ("shingles" just sounds nasty), let me tell you from personal experience shingles sucks too. I got a somewhat mild case of it about a year ago (luckily in a pretty discreet place - my lower back) and it hurts. At it's worse it burned like hell, and anything touching it - even my shirt - just irritated it more. It went away eventually, but my doctor told me that in extreme cases a person can develop nerve damage (post herpetic neuralgia) that can last forever. I was confident that wouldn't happen to me, but there was always that worry that it might not go away - which was pretty frightening.

So I'm not sure where I stand on this, or even if there's any point to an opinion. Even a researcher in the article says that it's just a hypothesis now and needs to be looked at more closely. Maybe I'll just get Madame the vaccine but invite any neighborhood kids with chickenpox over instead for a "Let's Boost Dad's Immunity!" party.

Chickenpox Vaccine Cuts Deaths but Raises Questions on Shingles
[NY Times]

Mapping high school relations.

AdolescentromanticnetworkHere's something to scare the crap out of a dad on a Monday morning. Researchers from Ohio State University mapped out the "romantic" and sexual relationships between students at an average (and anonymous) high school. They expected to find a core group of students who were sexually and romantically active, but instead they found out that, well, almost everyone was. The article is actually quite interesting, trying to explain among other things that one humongous chain where more than 52 percent of the students were inter-connected.

I'm really starting to see the appeal of home schooling.

Researchers Map the Sexual Network of an Entire School [OSU Research News]
The Structure of Romantic and Sexual Relations at "Jefferson High School" [link to the full page chart]

via Boing Boing

Oh. That's why I'm turning into a fatty.

Sleep deprived parents like myself who could stand to loose a few pounds just got one more excuse. Apparently researchers at the University of Chicago have found that chronic sleep loss may actually increase your appetite. So if  "I just don't have enough time to exercise," or "It's not my fault if I unwittingly tried to keep up with my pregnant wife's increased caloric intake" don't quite have the same punch that they used to, now you can really blame the baby.

Sleep Loss May Rev Up Appetite - Reuters

(Disclosure: I'm not really sleep deprived - Madame has been sleeping through the night for months now - I'm just lazy.)

Voices in your head? Thank your dad.

As if I don’t already have enough to worry/feel guilty about – now I might really be to blame if my kid turns out crazy. Apparently Swedish researchers have found that dads over 30 pass on a greater risk of schizophrenia to their children due to mutations in their sperm. But wait, it gets better. The research also found that the link was stronger if there was no family history of schizophrenia. So if you and your family are basically sane, but you decided to wait until you were a little more “stable” to have kids, then all you were really doing is giving more time for your sperm to mutate. Oh, and the risk increases by 50% every extra 10 years you wait, so if you’re thinking about kids, get to work.

Older Dads May Increase Schizophrenia Risk
Older father schizophrenia link BBC.
(I don't feel like an "older father.")

Flu shot drama.

I’m sure wherever you are, people are freaking out about the flu shot. Thanks to Daddy Types I realized the other day that this is the first time I’ve ever been recommended for a flu shot (Madame is just under 3 months old now). I’ve never gotten one before and I was kind of interested to get one, but now I don’t think it’s going to happen. I called around my area today looking for info and I got a whole mix of responses. Some pharmacies said they have no plans to give them out, some said they would be giving them out but they didn’t know who would qualify or how many they would have, and one pharmacy said they would have a nurse decide what the 300 most serious cases were and give them to those people. Everywhere though said to come early. As one guy put it, “It will be a mob scene.”

Is this worth it? Sure, the CDC suggests it and it is for the sake of my child, but there really aren’t a lot of doses out there and aren’t there a lot more fragile people who could use it? Not to mention if I show up at a drug store with over 500 elderly people looking for one of 300 shots, I think they might just gang up and beat me down – no matter what the CDC says. So for what it’s worth I’ve decided to talk it over with Madame’s pediatrician, which is probably the best course of action. He’ll know what to do (and hopefully know how to avoid that beating).

Also, good NY Times article about what a mess all this is.

It should warn about the rash.

PegperegoMy wife and I recently noticed that our daughter was developing a very strange rash on the outside of her right arm, around the elbow. Her other arm was fine, as was the rest of her body. It didn’t look very bad, it wasn’t spreading, and she wasn’t otherwise sick (no fever or sluggishness) so we decided to keep an eye on it.

I was trying to figure out what could be causing it, when then the other day I brought her back into the house from the car and I noticed something. Her right arm was tucked into the car seat, right where the geniuses at Peg Perego decided to stitch in a warning label (see picture above). The label is made of some kind of synthetic, non-breathable material (not the same material as the rest of the seat). We live in the desert and she can get sweaty in her car seat, and I’m now convinced that this warning label was causing it. I took it off and her arm is already looking much better. Hey, I’m all for warning people that they should be facing their child to the rear, but put it someplace else. And if you’ve got the Primo Viaggio, be warned.