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Parents of boys, prepare to spend more time in the emergency room.

That’s the popular wisdom derived from studies like this 2010 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in which boys represented 52.8% of all pediatric ER visits while girls represented 47.2%.

Findings like these give weight to sayings like, “boys are walkers, girls are talkers,” and, “boys will be boys.” We imagine boys to be naturally more active, rambunctious, and fearless than girls. But what if the differences in injury rates are less about the native traits of boys or girls and instead about our collective scientific literacy?




There are more boys than girls

Various studies of child injury rates suggest higher injury rates for boys and girls. Take, for example, the above AHRQ report, which estimated that boys make up 52.8% of emergency room visits while girls make up 47.2%. If we assume that the population of boys and girls is equivalent (50-50), then it looks as though boys are significantly more likely to require emergency room services.

That only holds true if the populations of boys and girls are equal, which they are not.

When interpreting data that shows a difference between boys and girls, it’s important to consider the sex ratio, the ratio of infant boy births to infant girl births. In 2015, the sex ratio in the United States was 1.048, which means that for every 100 females born, there were almost 105 males born.

The above AHRQ report did consider sex ratio, and included what proportion of the population was male (51.2%) and female (48.8%) at the time of its study. This difference in population narrows the gap in emergency room visits between the two groups, leaving boys with a narrower edge. Many studies, however, do not incorporate the sex ratio, making it easier for casual readers to draw poor conclusions about differences between the sexes.

All ages are grouped together

As children age, culture may also have an impact on injury rates. Take, for example, the finding by researchers at a Turkish hospital that boys are more likely to experience severe electrical burns than girls. That difference is mostly accounted for by high-voltage electrical injuries resulting from contact with electrical wires. A common scenario included by that study’s authors’ is the teenage boy who jumps from a metal balcony onto an electrical pole. The authors conclude that because teenage boys are more likely to take risks such as jumping off of balconies, they are at elevated risk for electrical burn injury.

When researchers do not break down “boys” and “girls” into smaller age groups, it’s harder to see cultural differences like risk encouragement. In a 2014 study of furniture-tipping injuries and fatalities, the Consumer Product Safety Commission grouped children from ages 0 to 17 in order to compare them to groups of adults and seniors. The study estimated that boys account for 11,700 (54%) of furniture-related injuries during the 2001-2013 period, while girls accounted for 9,900 (46%).

The report appears to show that furniture is more dangerous for boys than girls. The report breaks down the ages that are most likely to experience death or injury from furniture, but does not include sex in that breakdown. Without this further breakdown by sex, it’s impossible to make strong conclusions about possible differences between boys and girls. Imagine, for example, that boys represented a higher proportion of the injuries for teenagers. From this report, it is impossible to identify a teenager standing on an inappropriately-secured piece of furniture from a curious toddler crawling up it.

For many injury types, there are comparatively small samples

An additional problem of studies describing injury rates for boys and girls is their size, Many of the events described in these studies occur so infrequently that there is insufficient data to draw large conclusions.

The above CPSC report, for example, indicated that boys were more likely to be killed by a piece of falling furniture than girls, by a ratio of 53:28.

Just using those numbers, we could conclude that boys represent 65% of deaths from tipped furniture, while girls represent only 35%. That could lead parents to make lots of assertions about how much more active boys are than girls, or how much more curious boys are than girls, or how much more rebellious they are when told not to jump on the furniture, or even how much more negligent parents are about boys’ safety.

All of those assumptions, though, would be based on a total of 81 children, a sample that may be too small to draw larger conclusions from, especially when those 81 children are spread out over a 17-year age range.

Large studies often rely on population estimates that are unclear to readers

Small studies are problematic because the sample isn’t necessarily representative of larger populations, but even comparatively large studies can make it difficult to come to strong conclusions about the sexes.

Take, for example, this study of nonfatal pediatric choking, which estimated that boys represent 55.4% (61,942) of all nonfatal choking incidents. Given that boys only represent around 51% of the population, these results appear to show that boys are more likely to choke than girls. Does this mean that they are biologically predisposed to choking? That they are more rambunctious and careless eaters? That their parents are less focused on cutting their food?

Or, does it mean that estimates have limitations?

The data included in this choking study was drawn from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All-Injury Program, which is based on a representative sample of about 100 hospitals. The data from these hospitals was used to make estimates about the larger population.

This kind of study is useful in developing a large-scale picture of illness and injury. In this specific case, for example, it was used to identify the kinds of food most commonly choked on (candy).

It is common practice for researchers to also include demographic data, as the researchers in this study did with male versus female choking, but the inclusion of such estimates in the results does not mean the authors have made any conclusions about that data. In this case, the authors couldn’t make any such conclusions, given the wide confidence interval.

A confidence interval is a measure of the repeatability of a study. In the choking study, the authors gave a 95% confidence interval of 46,611 to 77,474. That means that, if this study was repeated 100 times, 95 of those times the number of estimated choking for boys would be between 46,411 and 77,474. If repeated studies fell toward the bottom of that range, boys would number lower than half of the choking cases. As a result, while the authors include the demographic information in their results, they do not draw any conclusions about a child’s sex and likelihood of choking.

4 tips for better scientific literacy

Studies of injury rates for boys and girls can be helpful in determining biological differences that might require different types of medical care. But those kinds of studies are also often used to ascribe character traits. Boys are more active. Girls are more thoughtful. Boys are fearless. Girls are cautious. When parents internalize these attitudes, our children do too.

So when you see that next viral post about a scientific study, practice these four tips to make you a savvier reader:

  1. When you see outcomes grouped in percentages (55% of injuries were boys, for example), ask yourself how each group was represented in the study’s original population.
  2. Regard wide age ranges like “children ages 0-17” with suspicion. Seek out studies that focus on narrower age divisions or those that compare groups by age.
  3. Note the sample size. A small study isn’t, necessarily, a bad one, but probably cannot lead to large generalizations about entire groups of people.
  4. When reading a study that produced population estimates, be wary of accepting as “fact” any statistics reported with wide confidence intervals. Those intervals suggest that the authors could not draw any definitive conclusions about those parts of the study.


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When it comes to holiday gifts, we know what you really want, mama. A full night's sleep. Privacy in the bathroom. The opportunity to eat your dinner while it's still hot. Time to wash—and dry!—your hair. A complete wardrobe refresh.

While we can't help with everything on your list (we're still trying to figure out how to get some extra zzz's ourselves), here are 14 gift ideas that'll make you look, if not feel, like a whole new woman. Even when you're sleep deprived.

Gap Cable-Knit Turtleneck Sweater

When winter hits, one of our go-to outfits will be this tunic-length sweater and a pair of leggings. Warm and everyday-friendly, we can get behind that.


Gap Cigarette Jeans

These high-waisted straight-leg jeans have secret smoothing panels to hide any lumps and bumps (because really, we've all got 'em).


Tiny Tags Gold Skinny Bar Necklace

Whether engraved with a child's name or date of birth, this personalized necklace will become your go-to piece of everyday jewelry.


Gap Brushed Pointelle Crew

This wear-with-anything soft pink sweater with delicate eyelet details can be dressed up for work or dressed down for weekend time with the family. Versatility for the win!


Gap Flannel Pajama Set

For mamas who sleep warm, this PJ set offers the best of both worlds: cozy flannel and comfy shorts. Plus, it comes with a coordinating eye mask for a blissed-out slumber.


Spafinder Gift Card

You can't give the gift of relaxation, per say, but you can give a gift certificate for a massage or spa service, and that's close enough!


Gap Stripe Long Sleeve Crewneck

This featherweight long-sleeve tee is the perfect layering piece under hoodies, cardigans, and blazers.


Gap Chenille Smartphone Gloves

Gone are the days of removing toasty gloves before accessing our touchscreen devices—thank goodness!


Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug

Make multiple trips to the microwave a thing of the past with a app-controlled smart mug that'll keep your coffee or tea at the exact temperature you prefer for up to an hour.


Gap Flannel Shirt

Our new favorite flannel boasts an easy-to-wear drapey fit and a flattering curved shirttail hem.


Gap Sherpa-Lined Denim Jacket

Stay warm while looking cool in this iconic jean jacket, featuring teddy bear-soft fleece lining and a trendy oversized fit.


Gap Crazy Stripe Scarf

Practical and stylish, this cozy scarf adds a pop of color—well, colors—to any winter ensemble.


Nixplay Seed Frame

This digital picture frame is perfect for mamas who stay up late scrolling through their phone's photo album to glimpse their kiddos being adorable. By sending them to this smart frame to view throughout the day, you can get a few extra minutes of sleep at night!


Gap Crewneck Sweater

Busy mamas will appreciate that this supersoft, super versatile Merino wool sweater is machine washable.


This article was sponsored by GAP. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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There's a lot of discussion about the importance of early education—but what about soft skills like respect and kindness? How can mamas teach children important values like cooperation, gratitude, empathy or politeness?

These values are basic, foundational beliefs that help us know right from wrong, that give balance and meaning to life and that enable us to form community bonds with one another. These soft skills are crucial for kids to learn at any age, and it's important for them to be reinforced, both in the classroom and at home, throughout their childhood.

Here are fundamental ways to build character in your young children:


Performing random acts of kindness can have a positive influence on both the individual showing and receiving the kindness. As a family, think of ways that each one of you can show kindness to others. Some ideas may include baking cookies for the mail carrier, donating an unopened toy to a local charity, purchasing canned goods for a homeless shelter or leaving notes and drawings for the neighbors. Include your child in the process so they can see firsthand the joy that kindness can bring to others.



Children have a strong desire to mimic adult family members. Encourage your child to help complete simple chores in and around the house. Children feel a great sense of accomplishment when they can do their share and feel that sense of responsibility. Two-year-olds will enjoy folding towels, putting books away, putting paper in the recycling box and tending to the garden. Older children may enjoy helping out in the kitchen or with yard work.


Patience is the ability to demonstrate self-control while waiting for an event to occur. It also refers to the ability to remain calm in the face of frustration. This is a skill which develops in children as they mature. While it is important to practice patience, adults should also be realistic in their expectations, evaluate daily routines and eliminate long periods of wait time from the schedule.


Schedule a time when the whole family can sit down together for dinner. Model good manners and encourage older siblings and other members of the family to do the same. Use phrases such as, "Can you please pass the potatoes?" or "Thank you." Be sure to provide your child with guidance, by explaining what to do as opposed to what not to do.


Change your routines at home to encourage children to be flexible in their thinking and to try new things. Try being flexible in the small things: enjoy breakfast for dinner, eat ice cream with a fork, have your child read a bedtime story to you or have a picnic in the living room. Let your child know it is okay to do things in a different way.


Children are beginning to understand different emotions and that others have feelings. Throughout their childhood, talk about their feelings and share one's own feeling with them as well. By taking the time to listen to how children are feeling, you will demonstrate to them that you care and reinforce with them that you fully understand how they are feeling.


Coordinate playdates or take your children to events where they can practice introducing themselves to other children, and potentially with adults. Find games and other activities that require turn-taking and sharing.


Encourage your child to spend five minutes every day listing the things they are grateful for. This could be done together just before bedtime or after dinner.


As parents, our goal is to teach children to recognize that even though people have different likes and dislikes or beliefs and ideas, they must treat each other with manners and positivity. Respect should be shown when sharing, cleaning up, and listening to others. Always teach and model the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would like to be treated. Also remind children that respect can be shown towards things in the classroom. Treating materials and toys correctly shows appreciation for the things we have.
Learn + Play

Medical researchers and providers consider a woman's postpartum period to be up to 12 months after the delivery of baby, but too often, health insurance doesn't see it the same way. Nearly half of the births in the United States are covered by Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and while the babies who are born during these births are eligible for Medicaid or CHIP for a year, their mothers often lose their coverage 60 days after delivering their child. There is clear data showing 70% of new moms will have at least one health complication within a year of giving birth.


This week, members of Congress' Subcommittee on Health met to mark up H.R. 4996, the "Helping Medicaid Offer Maternity Services (MOMS) Act of 2019, and it was favorably forwarded to the full Committee.

What does this mean? It means that while this bill still has a ways to go before it potentially becomes law, its success would see states get the option to provide 12 months of continuous coverage postpartum coverage to mothers on Medicaid. This would save lives.

As we at Motherly have said many times, it takes a considerable amount of time and energy to heal from birth. A mother may not be healed 60 days out from delivering. She may still require medical care for perinatal mood disorders, breast issues like thrush and mastitis, diabetes, and the consequences of traumatic births, like severe vaginal tearing.

Cutting off Medicaid when her baby is only 2 months old makes mom and baby vulnerable, and the Helping Moms Act could protect families from dire consequences.

The United States has the highest rate of maternal deaths in the developed world, and according to the CDC, "about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications." This is not okay, and while H.R. 4996 is not yet signed into law this bill could help change this. It could help address the racial disparities that see so many Black mothers and Native American mothers dying from preventable causes in the first year of motherhood.

A report from nine American maternal mortality review committees found that there were three leading causes of death that occurred between 43 days and one year postpartum: cardiomyopathy (32.4%), mental health conditions (16.2%), and embolism (10.8%) and multiple state maternal mortality review committees have recommended extending Medicaid coverage to one year postpartum in order to prevent these deaths.

Basically, making sure that moms have have continuous access to health care the year after a birth means doctors can spot issues with things like depression, heart disease and high blood pressure at regular check-ups and treat these conditions before they become fatal.

The Helping Moms Act is a step forward in the fight for maternal health and it proves that maternal health is truly a bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike recognize the value in providing support for mothers during the postpartum period.

The Helping MOMS Act was was introduced by Democratic Congresswoman Robin Kelly of Illinois, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust. It was co-lead by Texas Republican Michael Burgess (who is also a medical doctor), as well as Georgia Republican Buddy Carter, Washington Republicans Jaime Herrera Beutler and Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ayanna Pressley from Massachusettes and Lauren Underwood of Illinois (both Democrats).

"Incentivizing postpartum Medicaid expansion is a critical first step in preventing maternal deaths by ensuring new moms can see their doctor. I'm proud that my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, came together to put an end to the sad reality of American moms dying while growing their families," said Kelly. "We can't allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. This is a good, bipartisan first step, but it must be the first of many."

It doesn't matter what your political stripes, reducing America's maternal mortality stats should be a priority.


Whether you're having a low-key Friendsgiving with your closest friends or prepping to host your first big Thanksgiving dinner with both families, figuring out all of the menu details can be the most overwhelming step. How much should I cook? What ingredients do I need? How does one actually cook a turkey this big?

But, don't worry, mama—HelloFresh is lending a helping hand this year with their Thanksgiving box in collaboration with Jessica Alba. Because you already have enough on your plate (and we're not talking stuffing).

Here are the details. You can choose from two Thanksgiving boxes: Turkey ($152) or beef tenderloin ($132). The turkey box serves 8-10 people while the beef one will serve 4-6 and both are $6.99 to ship. We got to try both and they're equally delicious so you can't go wrong with either one, but the turkey does require a 4-day thaw period so keep that in mind. And if you're wondering what the sides are, here's a sneak peek:

  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole with crispy onions
  • Ciabatta stuffing with chick sausage and cranberries
  • Cranberry sauce with orange, ginger and cinnamon
  • Apple ginger crisp with cinnamon pecan crumble

While someone still has to do the actual cooking, it's designed to take the stress out of Thanksgiving dinner so you can focus on spending time with your loved ones (or watching Hallmark Christmas movies). You don't have to worry about grocery shopping, portion sizes, recipe curation or forgetting that essential thing you needed to make the meal perfect. Everything is super simple to make from start to finish—it even comes with a cooking timeline.

Orders are open through November 21 and can be delivered anytime through November 24. Even better? You don't need a subscription to order.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


My mother's death propelled me to start the process of becoming a parent as a 43-year-old single woman. As my connection to her remained strong in spirit after her death, I was ready to experience the same bond with my own child. I began the journey with Intra Uterine Insemination (IUI), and after three failed attempts at getting pregnant, I decided to adopt.

The adoption process is a lengthy and humbling one—one that includes fingerprints, background checks, references, classes, doing a profile of yourself and your life that birth parents eventually use to choose adoptive families.

After my application was approved, a young couple chose me just a month later. I couldn't believe my fortune. But I had to get to work and prepare the house for my baby's arrival. I bought the best of everything—bassinets, clothes, diapers, car seats… the list goes on. I told close friends and family that it was finally happening.


But all of this was in vain. The day I was supposed to pick my daughter up, I learned that the birth parents had changed their minds. They no longer wanted to give their daughter up for adoption. As time passed, it was difficult to endure no interest from potential parents but the faith in believing what is meant to be continued. To increase my potential, I enrolled with a second adoption agency.

A few months later, as I was getting ready to try IVF for the first time, I received a phone call to let me know that a woman had selected me to adopt her child. So I opted out of IVF and found myself in a hospital delivery room with the birth mother, assisting her in the delivery of MY child. It was a boy! I was so thrilled, and he was just adorable.

After six years of losses and disappointments, I was able to bring him home and awaited the final word that the mother and father have given the needed consent. I was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl with him dressed in football gear, I got a phone call.

Once again, the adoption agency informed me that the birth mother had changed her mind. That evening, I had to return the baby to his birth mom. I was heartbroken, and my hopes were shattered.

What now? Going back to IVF meant starting from scratch, and that would take a minimum of six months before being able to really start getting pregnant. I was 49 years old, and the clock was ticking. I really wanted to be a mom by the age of 50.

I was in Chicago, recovering from a collapsed lung, when I received yet another phone call from the adoption agency. An expecting mom had chosen me and had already signed over all of her rights. This little girl was mine. For real, this time. But I had to get to Southern New Jersey by Thursday to pick her up from the hospital.

After negotiating with my doctor to give me the green light to leave while recovering from my condition, I hopped on a train, and 22 hours later, I arrived to New York City in a massive snow storm. I took longer than expected to get to her, but after navigating the icy roads of New Jersey, I met my daughter!

She is now 2 years old, and she has changed my life in ways that just can't be fully described. What I can say is that I now understand my mother's love even more and her devotion to me and my siblings, and as I am sharing the same with my daughter, my bond to my mother keeps on growing.

Becoming a mom at 49 was never what I had envisioned. But whether you are trying to conceive or have decided to adopt a child, the road to becoming a parent is rarely easy. I know that inner strength and believing in what was meant to be kept me moving forward.

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