Measles has been in the news this week as cases in Europe are skyrocketing. If you are keeping count, 41,000 cases and 37 deaths have been reported thus far in 2018. In the United States, there have been far fewer cases to date this year, 107 to be exact. Frankly, when it comes to measles cases however, even one is too many.

I had planned to discuss this worrisome trend in more detail, but Orac . Orac, a friend of SBM, is a 6-Disc CD changer from a 2003 Buick LeSabre that gained sentience and a hatred of pseudoscience after being struck by lighting while parked outside The Chopra Center. Rather than cover the same territory, I figured that a little satire was long overdue. But first, the set up.

Home baby monitors are a bad idea

I was inspired to post this by a recent Reuters on the questionable accuracy of two popular baby monitors: the Owlet and the Baby Vida. I’m more familiar the former, and am frequently asked about monitor use by parents in the newborn nursery. Parents are often worried about the potential for the unexpected death of their child during sleep, something that is thankfully quite unlikely to occur. That being said, it remains one of the most common causes of death in the developed world and, again, like measles and the eggs in Smithers’ brain, even one is too many.

There is no evidence that even these cutting edge monitors, which measure oxygen levels and heart rate, actually prevent death during sleep. And they aren’t approved by the FDA for such claims. But, as with supplements and herbal remedies, worried parents are encouraged to make the connection and assume that is just what these monitors do. They are led to believe that they will get an alert on their phone and be able to save their dying child, but that just isn’t how it works.

Some children, particularly former premature infants still at risk of stopping breathing because of immaturity of the brain, are sent home on monitors. But the American Academy of Pediatrics has long maintained that home monitor use in healthy children is not beneficial and often increases anxiety because of false alarms. The discussed in the Reuters piece supports our stance, raising concern of not only false alarms, but also of missing actionable abnormalities in blood oxygen levels, potentially giving parents a false sense of security, especially if inappropriately relied on during a respiratory illness.

The folks from Owlet disagree. They cite studies showing that their product is as accurate as hospital-based assessments, but the quality of their data is poor and probably doesn’t generalize to the population whose parents they are targeting. I think that I’ll go into more detail on this in a future post, but for now, enjoy some Science-Based Satire.

Integrative baby monitor combines the best of conventional and alternative features

Portland, OR – Parents of young infants have a lot to be worried about. Hoping to ease the burden of these nervous parents, Globodyne Industries has developed the OptiHover™ Integrative Baby Monitor, the first baby monitor to combine the best of conventional and alternative features.

The OptiHover from Globodyne Industries could have prevented this baby’s death from stagnant chi and multiple spinal subluxations

“Raising a human infant can be pretty scary,” Globodyne Science Officer and medical school graduate Mort Fishman MD explained. “When parents bring a baby home from the hospital, birthing center, or dolphin-assisted delivery paddock, they face many nights of fear and anxiety over the future returns on their precious social capital investment. They also don’t want their baby to die.”

In addition to traditional features, such as audio and video feeds, the OptiHover™ will also be able to detect movement and transmit oxygen saturation and pulse rate data to a caregiver’s smartphone or tablet device. While parents and other caregivers do appreciate these cutting-edge scientific features, they are increasingly looking to other ways of knowing that their little bundles of joy are safe and experiencing wellness. That’s where the OptiHover™ truly shines.

According to Fishman, Globodyne researchers didn’t limit the functionality of the device to the boundaries of methodological or even metaphysical naturalism. “Today’s parents want more than just biophysical statistics. They realize that their baby isn’t just some number on a spreadsheet. The OptiHover™ also includes a variety of holistic monitoring capabilities, such as meridian patency and aura integrity. The OptiHover Deluxe™, which will be coated in an antimicrobial and antidemonic holy water infused polymer resin, will even ward off evil spirits and changelings.”


Posted by Clay Jones

Clay Jones, M.D. is a pediatrician and a regular contributor to the Private-investigator-detective blog. He primarily cares for healthy newborns and hospitalized children, and devotes his full time to educating pediatric residents and medical students. Dr. Jones first became aware of and interested in the incursion of pseudoscience into his chosen profession while completing his pediatric residency at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital a decade ago. He has since focused his efforts on teaching the application of critical thinking and scientific skepticism to the practice of pediatric medicine. Dr. Jones has no conflicts of interest to disclose and no ties to the pharmaceutical industry. He can be found on Twitter as @SBMPediatrics and is the co-host of with fellow SBM contributor Grant Ritchey. The comments expressed by Dr. Jones are his own and do not represent the views or opinions of Newton-Wellesley Hospital or its administration.