Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Of Risk Factors and Imagination

One of the most jarring things about being a parent-to-be is being bombarded with a constant stream of warnings about dangers in the world.

It starts with the list of prohibited foods, drinks, and activities throughout pregnancy. Watch out for the cat litter box! Put down that wine! Don't even think about eating that turkey sandwich. Use that sushi for bait unless you want to maim your child.
Then, it progresses to the perils of gestation and childbirth. Watch out for gestational diabetes! You're gaining too much or not enough weight. You better lay off the tap dancing! Your baby could be born with lobster claws!
After the baby is born, you're not even close to out of the woods. Car trips are deadly, so you need to buy a 12 ton SUV and the best car seat available. You better put your baby to sleep on his back! You need to turn your hot water heater cooler, pad your fireplace, secure your stairs, block your electrical outlets, attach furniture and ovens to the wall. Oh, and you may want to get rid of your cat.

Now I understand one of the reasons why parents are "different" than the childless. It's the constant worries and the resulting logistical difficulties caused by navigating a world full of risks. The idyllic world of my youth suddenly has a big sign on it: "There be dragons. And they like babies."
Another such worry is the ongoing issue with autism. Noone really knows the cause, but the disorder is becoming alarmingly common. Is it vaccines or something else?
There is some new research that is pretty compelling. Television could be a contributing cause of autism and related disorders! Doh! How can we bask in tv's warm glow? Who will raise our children now?

Baby Einstein could not be reached for comment, but I'll definitely think twice before plunking down Baby Sieber in front of the t.v.

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