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Medical Study: Mommy Kisses on Boo-Boos Are Ineffective

(Photo: USAID Africa Bureau)

Did you fall and get a boo-boo? Let Mommy kiss it. Mommy kisses are super good at making you feel better, right?

Wrong! My mother lied to me! And so did yours and everyone else's mothers! According to the results of a study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Medical Practice, mommy kisses have no discernible healing effect on minor injuries.

The study tested 943 toddler and mother pairings in outpatient clinics in Ottawa, Ontario. The examiners induced self-imposed injuries on toddlers, who sought maternal first aid after getting hurt. Sean Davis The Federalist acquired a copy of the full text of article, which describes the experimental procedure:

To induce head boo-boos, a piece of chocolate was placed under a low table edge and the child would be allowed to crawl to the candy. Invariably, the child would then stand to eat the chocolate and would strike his or her head on the table edge. All tables were constructed of soft wood (pine or fir) and edges were appropriately rounded enough to guarantee that skin would not be broken. Hand boo-boos were induced by placing a favourite object (lovey) of the child just out of reach on a counter behind a heated coil. Attempts to obtain the lovey would result in a noxious thermal stimulus to the fingertips. The coil was heated to 50 degrees Celsius (120 F) in order to produce a significant but non-damaging stimulus.

Not only were the resulting mommy kisses ineffective, they actually harmed the children by necessarily depriving the toddlers of more productive uses of maternal time:

Second, maternal resources are very limited, and time spent on delivering ineffective kisses to boo-boos means that maternal attention is not devoted to other activities that have clearly been shown to be beneficial to toddlers, such as the introduction of algebraic functions and the teaching of conversational Mandarin [8].

Davis suspects that the editors of the journal have fallen for a hoax. But given that the joke is given away in the abstract, I think that it's more likely that the editors knowingly participated in a prank. And I don't see any indication that this journal is open access and thus more vulnerable to hoaxing.

-via Popehat


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Well, see, there's a problem with the experiment design. Doing a double-blind study on boo-boo kisses is like studying placebos when the subject doesn't even know they are getting any kind of medication. You've buried the variable.
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