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Myths and Realities About Child Rearing

Roslyn Physician Publishes Baby Facts

Recently, Roslyn resident Ellen Pober Rittberg published a book about rearing teenagers, 35 Things Your Teen Won’t Tell You, So I Will. Now, another Roslyn resident, Dr. Andrew Adesman, has written his own book about parenting. Baby Facts, as the title suggests, is about child rearing, especially designed to dispel what the author terms as “dangerous myths that persist about the health of young children.”

“Raising young children and keeping them healthy is never easy, but doing so while relying on erroneous or misleading information can make parenting a particularly daunting challenge,” reads the publisher’s statement. “To help guide parents through the myths and confusions of raising a child, Dr. Adesman wrote Baby Facts, the only book on the market focused specifically on widespread misconceptions regarding children’s health, safety and development.”

The book identifies and demystifies more than 150 myths surrounding early child rearing. According to the publisher, Baby Facts offers animated and realistic explanations that appeal with reassurance to parents and caretakers alike.

A purpose of the book is to debunk certain myths about both child rearing and child behavior and to explain what constitutes normal development in both male and female toddlers. The book covers the gamut from nourishment, sleep, toilet training, child illnesses, body and brain development, and accidents that are unique to young children.

According to Dr. Adesman, the “dangerous dozen” health beliefs, those that the majority of pediatricians mistakenly endorse as being true include having a burn being treated with ice, that it is safe to put a baby down to sleep on his side, that children can be given an ice bath to treat a fever, that children over 6 can be given aspirin for a fever, that it is acceptable to place a soft object in a child’s mouth during a seizure, and that babies younger than 6 months can be given honey.

None of these beliefs are true and some, such as lying a baby down on her side, can lead to crib death, while giving aspirin for fever can result in Reye’s syndrome, Dr. Adesman states.

A number of pediatricians also endorsed what Dr. Adesman called “Old Wives Tales,” popular ways of rearing children that have proved to be mistaken. They include the belief that children should not swim until 30 minutes after eating, that vitamin C helps ward off colds, that eating carrots will improve a child’s vision, that eating chocolate causes acne, that listening to Mozart will make a baby smarter, that reading in the dark causes visual problems, that sugar causes hyperactivity, that sitting too close to the TV will damage vision, and that sleeping with a night light causes nearsightedness.

While doing his research, Dr. Adesman said he was not surprised that large numbers of pediatricians endorsed old wives’ tales. Still, he added that he remains “very concerned that so many pediatricians failed to identify one or more parenting practices that could pose safety or health risks to children. Raising young children and keeping them healthy is never easy, but doing so while relying on erroneous or misleading information can make parenting a particularly daunting challenge.”

In Long Island, Dr. Adesman is chief of the Division of Development and Behavioral Pediatrics at Schneider Children’s Hospital. He is also an associate professor in the Pediatrics Department at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

Baby Facts is published by John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ, and is available now in paperback.