Skeptical Fails and Wins This Week

Hello Skeptifans. With Mother’s Day just passed, there seems to be a lot of health stories about motherhood lately. Here are the Fails and Wins for this week.


Should you trust ‘backed by science’ claims on fitness products?

Backed by science should be a good thing, right? But what if a product is backed by bad science. How can you tell the difference? The Globe and Mail takes on the claims of several fitness products in this Win. Thanks to Lorne for sending this in.

Infants given risky herbal remedies

Erik and Marion sent in this story. A recent US study showed that many infants are receiving herbal supplements and teas from their parents. These supplements can be dangerous since doses are not regulated. They study reported that 9% of infants had been given these types of products for things like colic and fussiness. It shows that we need to get the word out that “natural” doesn’t equal safe.

New moms pop placenta pills

Anna sent in this story. An Ontario doula is offering a service to dry your placenta and turn it into pills that can be consumed as supplements. The claim is that the pills can “boost energy” and improve milk production. Is there any evidence that this works? We don’t know, because the author of this article relied only on anecdotes from the doula selling the pills, and a couple clients. This includes one claim that the pills prevented a mother from hemorrhaging and needing to be hospitalized like she had after her previous child was born. It’s classic, shameless, no-questions-asked woovertising.

Labouring over options for pain relief
Lindsey sent in this story. The article is about natural childbirth vs. pain relief. The whole tone seems to imply that natural is good and empowering, while taking pain relief is somehow missing out on the experience of childbirth. The article even quotes a Dr. Klein who claims that epidurals cause problems that require interventions like forceps removal. A study is mentioned, but no information is given on how the study was conducted and specifically what it showed or how great the risk was. The article smells of woovertising. The majority of it is direct quotes from one doctor who was a speaker at “Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth” conference. There were a couple quotes from another obstetrician, but they did not directly address the claims being made by Klein.

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  • Melany Hamill

    Melany proudly uses the titles of both geek and nerd. As a science-enthusiast and fan of debate, Melany likes to get her facts straight. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Since then her career path has meandered to its current spot as a project manager at a video game studio. Melany lives near beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. She is not seeking treatment for her caffeine addiction.