Polly Palumbo, Ph.D., Founder

I am not a traditional parenting expert. I won't tell you how to get your baby to sleep, potty train your toddler or save your kids from cyber-bullying, sibling rivalry, sexting or substance abuse. Although I do have some training, experience and knowledge on those topics, and also a rather broad general knowledge of parenting issues, I don't consider these areas my particular expertise. What I can tell you, however, is how to approach the experts, the advice, the websites, the news reports, and the studies telling you how to potty train, prevent bullying, etc.

I'm a psychologist (specializing in research not therapy) keenly interested in what I have termed The Parenting Media - the loose collection of news, official recommendations, studies, advice and other information parents routinely encounter, on purpose or by accident. I've been debunking and reviewing child health and parenting news and studies at Momma Data since 2006 and on Psychology Today, Kids in The House and other outlets. As a research consultant I also help guide professionals such as journalists, writers, policy makers and educators in better understanding, using and communicating research, statistics, issues and policies involving children. I work to help others not only understand but appreciate and put to use the growing wealth of knowledge about kids and parenting.


Before Momma Data, I conducted and collaborated on research in labs and organizations, taught psychology, research methods and statistics, and co-authored articles in noted research journals and scholarly books. For over 15 years I worked on research projects in academia, government and the private sector spanning the fields of psychology, health and education with a special interest on cognitive and social-cognitive judgment in children and young adults. For more than a decade I've been reviewing and writing about research on children and observing how it gets reported, and yes, misreported or exaggerated.

My research experience involves a number of institutions including the Department of Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, The National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, ABT Associates (a social science research firm) and several academic psychology labs. I hold a A.B. in psychology from Duke University (with an emphasis on child development) and a Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.


In addition to this site, you can find my Momma Data column at Psychology Today.  My former parenting column, Naked Data is available on the former AOL site, Parent Dish.


I also provide research and policy reviews on a case-by-case basis. This service ranges in scope and time. Reports provided range from a brief overview of the literature to detailed evaluations. Please email for more information. Clients include journalists, writers, educators, schools and non-profits.


I also advocate for child and maternal health and well-being on behalf of several organizations including the United Nations Foundation and the Shot At Life campaign, a movement to improve access to life-saving childhood vaccinations in the developing world.  In 2014 the United Nations Foundation named me a Social Good Fellow for my advocacy.

Why Momma Data?

My first child was born in 2000 near the height of the vaccines-cause-autism scare, a frustrating time for a new parent who cared deeply about scientific research and evidenced-based parenting information. My training and experience in psychology familiarized me with the complexity of autism, including its assessment and development. So I grew tired of the poor reporting on autism and scientific research as I began reading more and more parenting news and advice in the media.

Speaking of media, my motherhood also coincided with a massive change in media, basically the explosion of the internet with its huge store of information and misinformation. Six years, two more pregnancies, two more kids, and a doctorate and many parenting claims later, I began working to bring clarity and solid evidence to parents and to that end sorting through some of the seemingly endless claims about kids.

Having spent my prime child-bearing years in poorly lit labs doing research while also reading less than stellar parenting articles, I've made it my mission to flush out questionable claims about kids and also help parents better understand, question and even appreciate advice and studies about kids.