The article “Perfluorinated Chemicals and Fetal Growth: A Study within the Danish National Birth Cohort” (PDF here) by Chunyuan Fei et al. is another despicable attempt to worry pregnant women. Because they are popular, non-stick pots and pans MUST be bad for you, right? Nasty arrogant horrible elitist thinking but all too common.

The article is a classical example of the tendency in medical researchers to make mountains out of pimples. If you look at the plot of the “non-stick” chemicals against birthweight it is a blob (See their Figure 1). To find any trend there requires great ingenuity. Expressed as a Pearsonian correlation, it would be less than .10, from a quick look.

The only thing they actually found was that women with a very low exposure (bottom quartile) to the bad chemicals had slightly bigger babies. The other three quartiles did not differ in birthweight.

So what do you conclude from that? In the absence of any linear effect, I conclude that your non-stick cookware has been given a clean bill of health. But that is not what the authors claim.

So what do we make of the one small difference that they did find? My suggestion is that the women with very low exposure to the chemicals were from rural areas and that there is a slight tendency (for whatever reason — maybe lower stress) for rural women to have bigger babies.

The chemical concerned — PFOA — is very useful but is not very biodegradable (suggesting that it is probably inert in humans) so has long been a target of the Greenies and other health hysterics. It is found in food wrappers and many other things than Teflon cookware. This is just the latest attempt to find something wrong with it. If a few pregnant women are distressed by the “findings”, too bad. Propping up the Greenie religion trumps any care about people.

(For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)

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