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Scientific “Studies”


*Yes, I know it’s been a long time since I posted, but I’ m not doing a Sorry I Haven’t Posted In So Long I’ve Been Busy Giving Birth Being A Mother So Shut Up post.*

I’d like to share two stories:

1.)  At the ripe old age of 29, I’ve decided to give my fine lines a pre-emptive strike and start a night time regime that includes an intensive moisturiser, possibly one that subtly removes a layer of dead skin so that I maintain my youthful appearance. I still get carded every now and then, so I’m not that worried, but what can I say? I’m a woman and I’m a little vain. So, I was shopping in the pharmacy for a night cream designed for a woman showing “early signs of ageing.” And lo and behold, I found one. I looked at the label carefully. It made a claim with some percentages like “After one application, skin looks fresh and rejuvenated. After four weeks of use, the appearance of fine lines is reduced by 40% *” Or some malarkey. Then I looked at the even finer print: “*From a study of 35 people”. Thirty. Five. People. Who tried the product. No controls. No blinding. Also, how do you reduce the “appearance” of something by a percentage? The jar was only about $15, so I still bought it.

2.) I’m a breastfeeding mother. I love breastfeeding. It took me a while to get the point where I enjoy it, but I do enjoy it greatly and it’s one of the highlights of motherhood for me. I intend to breastfeed for as long as it’s practical. I’m going to aim for about 18-24 months before I wean my son entirely.

Lately, however, I’ve had a drop in supply. In reading up on what to do, various strategies have been suggested to me by breastfeeding sites.

“Feed on demand” – Already doing that, it’s not working.

“Pump every hour” – But then what if he wants to feed right after I’ve pumped?

And then they suggest various herbal galactagogues (stuff that makes you lactate). The main one suggested is fenugreek. Several sites use as “evidence” references to books on herbalism, which merely state that someone else thinks it’s a galactagogue, or references to its use as such, which also means nothing. A few refered to a “recent study” that confirms its effectiveness. I thought that sounded promising, so I had my husband pick some up from a health food store. Then, after a bit more digging, I found the study. 10 people. They recorded their milk volume for a week before taking fenugreek, then a week while taking fenugreek. No blinding. No controls. Self reporting. Short term. That’s not science. If that were turned in as a science fair project in an 8th grade science class, it would get a C. Fortunately, someone saw how pitiful this study was and did another study last year, but still hasn’t published their results.

I wish there were some way of regulating what people can claim as evidence for something’s efficacy. Because this is just silly.

It just feels like they are personally insulting my intelligence, but then I realise that most people think this qualifies as good evidence. Hell, most people think that “Well, my Mom used it and she says it totally works” is good evidence.

So, yeah. I’m a little ranty about it.

One Comment
  1. jan permalink
    16/07/2010 10:34 am

    I had a spell early on of not having much milk, particularly one breast stayed very small. My nurse advised me to pump a little after a feed, so a little more than the baby was taking was used. So I did that and it did work, after a short time I was making more! If you make too much its easy to leak it without pumping vigorously. Eventually I seemed to make the right amount consistantly!
    I fed until he was about 14 months old, but he just did’nt need it around that age so I wasn’t going to keep it going. Good luck!

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