21 December 2011

sleep monitor, take 3

I wore that crazy contraption to bed in order to get some cold, hard cash, because I will apparently do practically anything for money. I'm participating in a study that requires me to wear a sleep monitor two nights (or more if it fails and you have to repeat) during different points in pregnancy. This study, the sleep breathing assessment, is a subsidiary study to the NuMom2B study, which I've been participating in for these past few pregnant months. Months of being pregnant. Anyway.

The NuMom2B study is rather a massive undertaking, as I suppose many clinical trials tend to be. This particular study is trying to gather data from a diverse group of 10,000 women who are pregnant with their first child to better determine  factors that result in outcomes such as premature birth, low birth weight, preeclampsia, etc. It's interesting and kind of terrifying how unpredictable some of these complications are, so this study hopes to clear up some of the existing uncertainty. The problem is, it seems difficult to really determine the underlying cause of pretty much any outcome.

I recently read an article discussing Milwaukee's campaign against co-sleeping. Have you seen it?

Courtesy the Milwaukee Public Health Department:

Seeing the ad made me wonder about what exactly prompted such a targeted campaign. (Some incident where a Milwaukee mother put a cleaver in her baby's crib?) Apparently, Milwaukee has one of the highest infant death rates in the country (10.4 deaths for every 1,000 live births in 2009), and at least some of these deaths are caused by "unsafe sleep environments" for the baby. There are definitely a lot of other factors contributing to the appalling statistics, but my foray into the issue made me realize that it's really difficult to get at the bottom of what's going on here, partially because many of the contributing factors are sociological.

This brings me to a beef I have with the field of social science in general. That may sound really cocky of me to doubt the credibility of an entire set of academic disciplines, but that's not what I'm trying to say, exactly. Mostly what I'm trying to get at is that it seems inherently problematic to subject behavioral issues to research and thereby get at their roots. One of my senior courses was called "Gender and Language," and it sounded really interesting to me, but subjecting the question of how language is influenced by gender to linguistic research proved less tantalizing. The research questions were interesting, but the resulting data seemed inevitably ambiguous. (Did anyone else taking social science classes have this hang-up?)

I'm actually not really sure what the sleep breathing assessment is trying to do, except gather additional data about factors that may influence pregnancy outcomes. But I've wondered how they're going to get any useful data from studying my sleep if I'm not actually sleeping while being monitored.  They are apparently trying to account for the quality of sleep, though, because I had to fill out a survey after wearing it that asks how I slept comparatively: "Much worse than usual," "somewhat worse than usual," etc. Too bad it wasn't a short-answer question; I can think of a lot of other ways to describe it. . .  Anyway, I have to wear that darned contraption again because for some reason the pulse oximeter didn't read when I wore it last week. At least they're giving me an extra $25 for the added trouble. Like I said, I will do almost anything for a little bit of cash.


Brit said...

Mmmm...sounds like a strange/interesting study. Sorry about the do-over, I don't feel a contraption would make sleep nicer at all.

Heather Burdsal said...

I don't know how you could sleep hooked up to that contraption. Good luck with your do-over!

Laurenkri said...

My husband has that beef. I had that beef with elementary education ... by the end of the major I realized that just about every question could be answered with "Know your class" or "It depends."

I also am constantly subjected to my AP Psych teacher's voice in my head "Correlation does NOT prove causation!"

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