Monday, August 12, 2013

Garbage in, Garbage out

WSJ article has a lady investigating advice in pregnancy.

and she didn't notice that the "weight" thing was not really about obesity, but started because of the problem of fluid gain: Weight gain from excess fluid/fluid retention is a sign of pre eclampsia.

and a lot of the "coffee" studies compared clean living Mormon women (who don't drink caffiene) with others. The problem? It only takes a few people in the "coffee drinking" folks to  mess up the statistics.

Another problem: Asking someone if they did something after they have problems with a toddler or  newborn (or develop cancer) brings up more positives than if you ask someone without problems. So if you have a premature baby, you start thinking: maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was because I had sex, maybe it was the cocaine. Whereas if you don't have problems, you probably forgot about that orgie you had when you were two months pregnant...

Freakonomics does an analysis of the problem HERE>

there is a rather large body of literature on the topic of birth month and its relationship to later outcomes. Which is why it’s interesting to see a paper (working version here), just published in The Review of Economics and Statistics, which offers a different angle on all this birth-month conversation. The authors are Kasey S. Buckles and Daniel M. Hungerman:
Season of birth is associated with later outcomes; what drives this association remains unclear. We consider a new explanation: variation in maternal characteristics. We document large changes in maternal characteristics for births throughout the year; winter births are disproportionately realized by teenagers and the unmarried. Family background controls explain nearly half of season-of-birth’s relation to adult outcomes. Seasonality in maternal characteristics is driven by women trying to conceive; we find no seasonality among unwanted births. Prior seasonality-in-fertility research focuses on conditions at conception; here, expected conditions at birth drive variation in maternal characteristics, while conditions at conception are unimportant.

Yup. those summer orgies do tend to make one pregnant...


Another junk science that links autism with inducing or "augmenting" labor.

but we often induce labor for overdate (e.g. when the baby might be overdue and the placenta might not be giving the kids enough nutrition) or when the mom needs to deliver early (e.g. diabetes, pre eclampsia).

and the statistical difference is small:

Of approximately 911,000 babies, Gregory and his colleagues were able to match about 678,000 to their education records, which included a note when a child had been diagnosed with autism.

According to findings published in JAMA Pediatrics, 4,285 boys were diagnosed with autism, compared to 1,363 girls.

Of boys diagnosed with autism, about 14 percent were delivered after an induced labor and about 16 percent were delivered after augmentation. In comparison, 13 percent of boys with typical development were born after induction and 14 percent after augmentation.

Among girls, only augmentation was linked to an increased autism risk. About 16 percent of girls with autism were born after augmentation, compared to 14 percent of those with typical development.

one suggested cause of autism is viral infection causing placenta problems with "small for dates" baby, which might be a reason to induce.

And one reason for "augmenting" labor might be a pooped out mom, from health problems....and a lot of times, the same thing that causes the prolonged labor (large baby, exhausted mom) might be affecting the child. So is it the induced labor, or is it because the kid is brain damaged from prolonged labor?

then there is the problem of diagnosis. How many of these "autistic" children were mentally retarded (or whatever the PC term is for low IQ)? I worked for years with the retarded, and now many "autistic" kids look just like those I worked with. Retarded is not PC, but the name "autistic" is, so I am sceptical about the "autism" diagnosis, especially when I see a retarded child with behavior problems whose mom assures me he is not retarded but merely autistic...

one more thing: We are told that autism is common: In the past, one percent or so of children were retarded, and now we are told that one precent or 88 out of a thousand kids have "autistic spectrum disorder".

yet they found only 5500 kids with autism out of 900000 records...
half of what is the usual number who should have been recognized. or maybe not: They could only track half the kids with their school records.

And how many were chromosome problem, fragile x syndrome, or moms took drugs or had virus infections?

and what about privacy issues? To "track" the  kids school records meant they had the name and birth dates of all these kids. And the "note" on the schools records was noted: NOT if the kids actually had the diagnosis, and no note who made the diagnosis...

Snooping into your records.

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