Parenting is always an experiment so why not collect the data?
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Magic funding wand? Here’s what our parents say they’d like to investigate next

We’ve got over 2000 parents taking part in Parenting Science Gang. So we picked their brains on what else they’d like to research if they had the chance.

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Here and now

Parenting Science Gang is a user-led citizen science project funded by Wellcome. We have been funded for 2 years, which has allowed us to work with parent to research the questions that matter to them.

Things like:

What’s next?

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and our funding runs out early next year. So we asked our members,

“If we could wave a magic funding wand so we could do this again, what would you like to investigate next?”

Here’s what they said.

Breast feeding

  • “How breastfeeding can help with reducing allergies”
  • “I’d love to know if not being breastfed and being weaned onto solids early is the reason there’s lots of people with gut problems these days.
    And I also wonder if the increasing number of teenagers with mental health problems might be because they weren’t breastfed and/or they were sleep trained/CIO.  Obviously these are massive questions with lots and lots of variables, but my instinct tells me there must be a connection.”
  • “I’d like to research the anti-body content of the breast milk we produce for older babies”
  • “Alcohol and breastmilk! Simple measuring of alcohol level in pumped milk. Would be a fun experiment to do too” (this one was very popular!)
  • “If the stem cells in breast milk can be used in research into a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy”
  • “To find an answer to the seemingly-impossible question of how to share, publicise & promote breastmilk & breastfeeding facts so mums can make truly informed choices WITHOUT being accused of shaming, judging or guilt-tripping those who formula-feed”

Eating & Diet

  • “To investigate whether children choose different foods when we give them vitamin supplements”
  • “Or conversely, if we make different choices for them if we know they are having supplements. Or stress less about food groups if we know they’ve had a vitamin jelly that morning. And if that then effects their choices…”
  • “Diet choices… vegan nutrition, supplements, whether supplements show in breastmilk, in children”
  • “If and how eczema, allergies and food or even picky eating could be related”

Neurodiversity

  • “Raising neurodiverse children”
  • “How ND children are portrayed in children’s books”
  • “Alternative ways of using electronic readers [for children with autism]”

Mums with High BMI

  • “Birth pools for high BMI mums”
  • “Birth trauma rates and the causes (ie do high BMI mums experience more trauma, and why)”
  • “The facts behind restrictions for birth choices for high BMI women! And how to combat these restrictions.”

Parenting Approaches

  • “Discipline approachs, about naughty step and discussions and consequnces and time outs”
  • “Bias in adults- whether they treat children differently based on gender vs whether they think they do”

Formula Feeding

  • “The credibility of the health claims of formula companies”
  • “Something on bottle feeding – I’m aware that there are NHS guidelines on how to prepare a bottle of powder formula, but I get the impression many mums don’t follow this advice to the letter. So research addressing what people actually do. But maybe also drafting in food safety researchers as well as infant health people to explore what the level of risk is as well as the risk over time (a newborn is more vulnerable to infection than a 6-month old than a 1-year old)”

Sleep

  • “Bed sharing wake and frequency”
  • “Sleep! What’s normal what’s not, perceptions and misconceptions”

Screen time

  • “computer and tablet use”
  • “Something about screen time”

Other areas

  • “I’d also love to do something on clothes! Let clothes be clothes!”
  • “The psychosocial impact of having a baby/child with reflux. Or investigating the patient journey to get diagnosis, treatment and support to care for a infant/child with reflux. …or same for cmpa.”
  • “Active children and active parents affecting each other and improving health”
  • “Dads and new infant… How does becoming a dad affect men and their moods, whether they are jealous of either the baby or the mother, what could be done to support new dads as most information I see seems to be aimed at mums, but most families’ parents are still made of mother and father (or even 2 fathers in some cases).”
  • “I was reading something the other day about neuroplasticity and how a mother’s brain physically changes after having a baby, it was saying a lot more neuro research is needed in this area to find out more. But maybe a citizen led research could look at capturing how mother’s perceive changes in themselves after having a baby… Wouldn’t it be amazing to create an evidence based fact sheet on the subject, that midwives routinely hand out to expectant mothers, or that are included in the baby boxes etc, as an outcome of a citizen led science project. You could then audit how helpful parents found it 12 months later or something.”

Over to you!

Are you an expert in any of these areas?

Or do you have a magic funding want and want to help parent citizen scientists look into one or more of these areas?

If so, please get in touch – we’d love to talk to you!

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