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 or substance abuse. However I can tell you why you should think twice if someone tells you they do know.

If You're Not A Parenting Expert, Who Are You?

I'm a psychologist (specializing in research not therapy) and a critic of what I call The Parenting Media or the loose collection of news, official 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 and on Psychology Today, Kids in The House and other outlets. As a research consultant I also help guide professionals such as journalists, writers and educators in better understanding and communicating research and statistics about children. I love helping others not only understand but appreciate the wealth of knowledge about kids and parenting.

Advocacy

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. 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 that included leaders from around the world including Bill Gates and Hamid Karzai, then the President of Afghanistan. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to ever be in the same room as those two.

Research 

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 University.

Writing

You can find a my Momma Data column at Psychology Today.  My parenting column, Naked Data is still available on the former AOL site, Parent Dish.


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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