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  • As a kid I always loved information

  • that I could get from data

  • and the stories that could be told with numbers.

  • I remember, growing up, I'd be frustrated at

  • how my own parents would lie to me using numbers.

  • "Talithia, if I've told you once I've told you a thousand times."

  • No dad, you've only told me 17 times

  • and twice it wasn't my fault. (Laughter)

  • I think that is one of the reasons I got a Ph.D. in statistics.

  • I always wanted to know,

  • what are people trying to hide with numbers?

  • As a statistician,

  • I want people to show me the data

  • so I can decide for myself.

  • Donald and I were pregnant with our third child

  • and we were at about 41 and a half weeks,

  • what some of you may refer to as being overdue.

  • Statisticians, we call that

  • being within the 95 percent confidence interval.

  • (Laughter)

  • And at this point in the process

  • we had to come in every couple of days

  • to do a stress test on the baby,

  • and this is just routine,

  • it tests whether or not the baby is feeling any type of undue stress.

  • And you are rarely, if ever, seen by your actual doctor,

  • just whoever happens to be working at the hospital that day.

  • So we go in for a stress test and after 20 minutes

  • the doctor comes out and he says,

  • "Your baby is under stress, we need to induce you."

  • Now, as a statistician, what's my response?

  • Show me the data!

  • So then he proceeds to tell us

  • the baby's heart rate trace went from 18 minutes,

  • the baby's heart rate was in the normal zone

  • and for two minutes it was in what appeared to be

  • my heart rate zone and I said,

  • "Is it possible that maybe this was my heart rate?

  • I was moving around a little bit,

  • it's hard to lay still on your back,

  • 41 weeks pregnant for 20 minutes.

  • Maybe it was shifting around."

  • He said, "Well, we don't want to take any chances."

  • I said okay.

  • I said, "What if I was at 36 weeks

  • with this same data?

  • Would your decision be to induce?"

  • "Well, no, I would wait until you were at least

  • 38 weeks, but you are almost 42,

  • there is no reason to leave that baby inside,

  • let's get you a room."

  • I said, "Well, why don't we just do it again?

  • We can collect more data.

  • I can try to be really still for 20 minutes.

  • We can average the two and see

  • what that means. (Laughter)

  • And he goes,

  • "Ma'am, I just don't want you to have a miscarriage."

  • That makes three of us.

  • And then he says,

  • "Your chances of having a miscarriage double

  • when you go past your due date. Let's get you a room."

  • Wow. So now as a statistician, what's my response?

  • Show me the data!

  • Dude, you're talking chances,

  • I do chances all day long, tell me all about chances.

  • Let's talk chances. (Laughter)

  • Let's talk chances.

  • So I say, "Okay, great.

  • Do I go from a 30-percent chance to a 60-percent chance?

  • Where are we here with this miscarriage thing?

  • And he goes, "Not quite, but it doubles,

  • and we really just want what's best for the baby."

  • Undaunted, I try a different angle.

  • I said, "Okay, out of 1,000 full-term pregnant women,

  • how many of them are going to miscarry

  • just before their due date?

  • And then he looks at me and looks at Donald,

  • and he goes, about one in 1,000.

  • I said, "Okay, so of those 1,000 women, how many

  • are going to miscarry just after their due date?"

  • "About two." (Laughter)

  • I said, "Okay, so you are telling me that my chances

  • go from a 0.1-percent chance

  • to a 0.2-percent chance."

  • Okay, so at this point the data is not convincing us

  • that we need to be induced,

  • and so then we proceed to have a conversation

  • about how inductions lead to a higher rate

  • of Cesarean sections, and if at all possible we'd like to avoid that.

  • And then I said,

  • "And I really don't think my due date is accurate."

  • (Laughter)

  • And so this really stunned him

  • and he looked sort of puzzled

  • and I said, "You may not know this,

  • but pregnancy due dates are calculated

  • assuming that you have a standard 28-day cycle,

  • and my cycle ranges

  • sometimes it's 27, sometimes it's up to 38 —

  • and I have been collecting the data to prove it.

  • (Laughter)

  • And so we ended up leaving the hospital that day without being induced.

  • We actually had to sign a waiver to walk out of the hospital.

  • And I'm not advocating that you not listen to your doctors,

  • because even with our first child,

  • we were induced at 38 weeks; cervical fluid was low.

  • I'm not anti-medical intervention.

  • But why were confident to leave that day?

  • Well, we had data that told a different story.

  • We had been collecting data for six years.

  • I had this temperature data,

  • and it told a different story.

  • In fact, we could probably pretty accurately estimate conception.

  • Yeah, that's a story you want to tell

  • at your kid's wedding reception. (Laughter)

  • I remember like it was yesterday.

  • My temperature was a sizzling 97.8 degrees

  • as I stared into your father's eyes. (Laughter)

  • Oh, yeah. Twenty-two more years, we're telling that story.

  • But we were confident to leave because we had been collecting data.

  • Now, what does that data look like?

  • Here's a standard chart

  • of a woman's waking body temperature

  • during the course of a cycle.

  • So from the beginning of the menstrual cycle

  • till the beginning of the next.

  • You'll see that the temperature is not random.

  • Clearly there is a low pattern

  • at the beginning of her cycle

  • and then you see this jump and then a higher

  • set of temperatures at the end of her cycle.

  • So what's happening here?

  • What is that data telling you?

  • Well, ladies, at the beginning of our cycle,

  • the hormone estrogen is dominant and that estrogen

  • causes a suppression of your body temperature.

  • And at ovulation, your body releases an egg

  • and progesterone takes over, pro-gestation.

  • And so your body heats up in anticipation

  • of housing this new little fertilized egg.

  • So why this temperature jump?

  • Well, think about when a bird sits on her eggs.

  • Why is she sitting on them?

  • She wants to keep them warm,

  • protect them and keep them warm.

  • Ladies, this is exactly what our bodies do every month,

  • they heat up in anticipation

  • of keeping a new little life warm.

  • And if nothing happens, if you are not pregnant,

  • then estrogen takes back over and that cycle starts all over again.

  • But if you do get pregnant, sometimes you

  • actually see another shift in your temperatures

  • and it stays elevated for those whole nine months.

  • That's why you see those pregnant women just sweating and hot,

  • because their temperatures are high.

  • Here's a chart that we had about three or four years ago.

  • We were really very excited about this chart.

  • You'll see the low temperature level

  • and then a shift and for about five days,

  • that's about the time it takes for the egg to travel

  • down the fallopian tube and implant,

  • and then you see those temperatures start to go up a little bit.

  • And in fact, we had a second temperature shift,

  • confirmed with a pregnancy test that were indeed pregnant

  • with our first child, very exciting.

  • Until a couple of days later

  • I saw some spotting and then I noticed heavy blood flow,

  • and we had in fact had an early stage miscarriage.

  • Had I not been taking my temperature

  • I really would have just thought my period was late that month,

  • but we actually had data to show

  • that we had miscarried this baby,

  • and even though this data revealed a really

  • unfortunate event in our lives,

  • it was information that we could then take to our doctor.

  • So if there was a fertility issue or some problem,

  • I had data to show:

  • Look, we got pregnant, our temperature shifted,

  • we somehow lost this baby.

  • What is it that we can do to help prevent this problem?

  • And it's not just about temperatures

  • and it's not just about fertility;

  • we can use data about our bodies to tell us a lot of things.

  • For instance, did you know that taking your temperature can tell you a lot

  • about the condition of your thyroid?

  • So, your thyroid works a lot like the thermostat in your house.

  • There is an optimal temperature that you want in your house;

  • you set your thermostat.

  • When it gets too cold in the house, your thermostat kicks in

  • and says, "Hey, we need to blow some heat around."

  • Or if it gets too hot, your thermostat

  • registers, "Turn the A.C. on. Cool us off."

  • That's exactly how your thyroid works in your body.

  • Your thyroid tries to keep an optimal temperature

  • for your body.

  • If it gets too cold, your thyroid says, "Hey, we need to heat up."

  • If it gets too hot, your thyroid cools you down.

  • But what happens when your thyroid is not functioning well?

  • When it doesn't function, then it shows up

  • in your body temperatures,

  • they tend to be lower than normal or very erratic.

  • And so by collecting this data

  • you can find out information about your thyroid.

  • Now, what is it, if you had a thyroid problem and you went to the doctor,

  • your doctor would actually test the amount of

  • thyroid stimulating hormone in your blood.

  • Fine. But the problem with that test is

  • it doesn't tell you how active the hormone is in your body.

  • So you might have a lot of hormone present,

  • but it might not be actively working to regulate

  • your body temperature.

  • So just by collecting your temperature every day,

  • you get information about the condition of your thyroid.

  • So, what if you don't want to take your temperature every day?

  • I advocate that you do,

  • but there are tons of other things you could take.

  • You could take your blood pressure, you could take your weight

  • yeah, who's excited about

  • taking their weight every day? (Laughter)

  • Early on in our marriage, Donald had a stuffy nose

  • and he had been taking a slew of medications

  • to try to relieve his stuffy nose, to no avail.

  • And so, that night he comes and he wakes me up and he says,

  • "Honey, I can't breath out of my nose."

  • And I roll over and I look, and I said, "Well, can you breath out of your mouth?"

  • (Laughter)

  • And he goes, "Yes, but I can't breath out of my nose!"

  • And so like any good wife, I rush him

  • to the emergency room

  • at 2 o'clock in the morning.

  • And the whole time I'm driving and I'm thinking,

  • you can't die on me now.

  • We just got married,

  • people will think I killed you! (Laughter)

  • And so, we get to the emergency room, and the nurse sees us,

  • and he can't breath out of his nose, and so

  • she brings us to the back and the doctor says,

  • "What seems to be the problem?" and he goes, "I can't breath out of my nose."

  • And he said, "You can't breath out of your nose?

  • No, but he can breath out of his mouth. (Laughter)

  • He takes a step back and he looks at both of us

  • and he says "Sir, I think I know the problem.

  • You're having a heart attack.

  • I'm going to order an