Against my better judgement: a week in review

by Matt Cyr on January 31, 2011

I don’t usually like to do Thrive posts that wrap up a previous week’s events, but last week was an interesting and exciting week on Thrive and at Children’s Hospital Boston, so I thought I’d break my own rule just this once (and I reserve the right to break it again!)

The post by Dr. Brian Skotko (shown here with his sisters Kristin and Allison) generated a lot of conversation—and controversy.

The most widely read, shared and commented on post—by far—was Dr. Brian Skotko’s thought-provoking article, “Will babies with Down syndrome slowly disappear?” Dr. Skotko, a clinical genetics fellow in Children’s Down Syndrome Program and the brother of a young woman with Down syndrome, talked about a new study that says mothers-to-be will soon be able to get a simple blood test during the first trimester of pregnancy that will let them know if their baby will have Down syndrome. This caused Dr. Skotko to ask:

What does the future hold for the Down syndrome population? The answer lies nestled in profoundly personal decisions, but still raises an important question, one that will be asked more and more frequently as other forms of prenatal testing come to the market: which forms of human genetic variation are valuable, and which are not?

Dr. Skotko’s post ignited heated and passionate conversation, here on Thrive (with 60 comments and more than 3,000 shares), on Children’s Facebook page (where nearly 450 people have commented) and on private blogs across the web (here, here and here, among others). It even inspired this wonderful photo gallery on a blog called A Perfect Lily.

Dr. Skotko appeared on Radio Boston this morning talking about this topic. Listen to the full conversation.

So what’s your take? What conversations should we in health care and throughout society be having about genetic testing?

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Another Thrive post that inspired some heated debate was Dr. Claire McCarthy’s take on the “Tiger Mother” phenomenon. Here are a few of the comments from Thrive and Facebook:

Withholding hydration and toileting is physical child abuse, pure and simple. Chua is not a tiger mom, she is an abusive parent.

Wait until the “tail wags the tiger” and Little Lulu is in charge of her elderly mother. Perhaps she will withhold food, keep her in the same adult diaper for a day or so and break the things she holds dear.

Do you see Americans learning Chinese in preschool as a standard part of the educational system? Perhaps the emphasis on education and the minimization of other distractions make them excel. For Western cultures to pass judgment on how other cultures choose to raise their children is as offensive as the reverse.

i mean hey she aint beating the kids, and it is her culture, and alot of what shes says proves to be valid

So is author Amy Chua, aka the Tiger Mother, a child abuser or the last bastion of parenting in a world gone soft?

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Last week, we started a new Facebook page for the Thrive blog, and we’ve got a very respectable 281 (intelligent, savvy, charming) fans already! We started the page so we could bring you more pediatric health-related content and hear from more of our readers about the child health issues that are on their minds.

So far we’ve shared several of the posts that have appeared on Thrive recently, as well as an amazing video that shows just how hard it is for kids to resist the temptation of a free marshmallow—even when there’s a second free marshmallow waiting for those who can resist immediate gratification. We shared the video because of an interesting new study, covered in Time magazine that connects a child’s self-control to his or her future success.

Hop over to our new Facebook page to find out if the little boy who touches, smells and puts his lips to the marshmallow can hold himself back long enough to get a second marshmallow for his efforts. While you’re there, fan the page and join the other 281 (witty, brilliant, compelling) people who’ve already done the same.

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The $7 million gift from the New Balance Foundation will help David Ludwig, MD, PhD, study the causes of childhood obesity.

Finally, Children’s got great news last Friday when David Ludwig, MD, PhD, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program, received a $7 million gift from the New Balance Foundation to support his research and clinical work into stopping the swelling tide of childhood obesity.

The gift will establish the New Balance Foundation Center for Childhood Obesity Prevention, Clinical Research and Care, which will help kids reach and maintain a healthy weight and stop the onset of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and other health threats. The center’s primary goal will be to prevent childhood obesity by encouraging healthy food, lifestyle, and exercise habits, and by supporting research-tested, successful weight-loss approaches.

Here, one of Dr. Ludwig’s patients talks about how OWL has helped him lose weight and focus on his health.

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