About

Polly Palumbo, Ph.D., Founder, Momma Data 



I am not a traditional parenting expert. I can't tell you how to get your baby to sleep, potty train your toddler or save your kids from cyber-bullying, sibling rivalry, sexting, substance abuse or sub-par SAT scores.

However, I can help you sort through the massive onslaught of news and advice about children and parenting.

I can tell you:
Why you should wonder about the latest expert, study or article telling you how to make your child healthier, smarter, neater, kinder, etc

Whether the latest study supports (or not) the latest recommendation or news. 
How to evaluate news, claims, studies and evidence about children and parenting.

I'm a psychologist, research consultant, and a critic of what I call The Parenting Media or the loose collection of news, recommendations, studies, advice and other information parents encounter, on purpose or by accident every day if not every hour. I've been debunking and reviewing child health and parenting news and studies at Momma Data since 2006.

As a research consultant I help guide professionals such as journalists, writers and educators in better understanding research and statistics about children.  I also advocate for child and maternal health 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. Momma Data has introduced me to remarkable people and communities, and taken me to a number of unexpected events over the years including a summit on education at the White House and a special session on the eradication of polio at the United Nations (in the same room with leaders from around the world including Bill Gates and Hamid Karzai, then the President of Afghanistan).

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 no one outside of academia much dare to touch. 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.

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 B.A. in psychology from Duke University (with an emphasis on child development), a M.A. in General Psychology from the New School of Social Research (now NS University) and a Ph.D. in psychology from Rutgers University (now the State University of NJ).

You can find my Momma Data column, a slightly different version of this blog, at Psychology Today. My column, Naked Data is available on the now defunct Parent Dish, an old AOL site. My writing has also appeared in science and health sites including Research Blogging, Science Seeker and Next Avenue.


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 data. This 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 while also reading less than stellar parenting articles, I've made it my mission to flush out suspect claims about kids and also help parents better understand, question and even appreciate advice and studies about kids. Yes, even scientific research.

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