The Best of 2021
Your favorite posts on pregnancy, parenting, and COVID
For ParentData, 2021 started with COVID and ended with it, too. But along the way, we’ve also covered everything from fitness trackers to sperm counts to sibling conflict (not all in the same post). As the year closes out, I’m happy to share with you the top posts of the past 12 months. Whether you’ve seen them all or find something new to read and share, I think they offer a useful time capsule of where we’ve been.
Rapid tests still work with Omicron, but the very short incubation period for this variant means that it is more likely that symptoms will show up before a rapid test is positive. That’s why it is important to pay attention to both symptoms and test results. “Rapid Test Cheat Sheet” gives you a step-by-step guide.
The anxiety that always accompanies having an infant has been amplified in the past year. People who previously wouldn’t have thought twice about having grandparents or close friends visit their new baby are now wondering if that’s a bad idea. So what is a reasonable amount of exposure to give your baby, to other people and the outside world? Some thoughts are in “What Things Can I Do with My Baby?”
For those in the Omicron stress spiral, “Is It Always Going to Be Like This Now?” has suggestions for learning to live with endemic COVID — which, yes, is what we are going to need to do. Life in 2022 and beyond is going to mean accepting the existence of COVID and taking precautions. But it will also mean arriving at a point where we take a rapid test when we need to, but not let COVID live rent-free in our heads all the time.
Just before Halloween, a new report, covered extensively in the media, recommended against the use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) by pregnant people. Though the paper is in many ways well done, it also has all the problems I spend my life complaining about. Read more in “A Pre-Halloween Scare for Parents.”
A central question in health economics is “How valuable is medical care?” For some types of care, including prenatal, that question is surprisingly complicated. How valuable is the marginal prenatal appointment, the marginal ultrasound? “Does Extra Prenatal Care over 35 Matter?” examines a new study trying to answer these questions.
It is natural for people to enter their first pregnancy with the hope and expectation that things will go smoothly. And often they do! But sometimes they do not. In the aftermath, people may wonder: Will this happen again? Dr. Nathan Fox shares some answers in “I Had a Complicated Pregnancy: Will It Happen Again?”
My inbox blew up in February with subject lines like “Toxic metals in baby food?” “Help! Baby food thing?” “Baby food scare?” after Congress issued a report about high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in many baby foods. “Toxic Baby Metals” explains why not to panic.
When I sat down to write Cribsheet, I had a pretty good sense of the topics that I wanted to cover. Discipline was not among them, since I thought the data wouldn’t be there. But in the end, this proved to be one of the areas where writing the book changed how I parent. In fact, the data on the subject was better than I’d thought. Learn what the evidence-based approaches have in common in “COVID Break-ish: Discipline.”
As I wrote in November amid discussions of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill, paid leave, especially paid maternity leave, should be a policy priority. It benefits infants and parents. When it comes to the ultimate choice of working or not, though, the data suggests that it doesn’t matter much either way for children. “Paid Parental Leave” puts the numbers in context.
That’s all for 2021! See you again in the new year.