Nappy Science Gang is GO!

We are delighted to be able to announce that the Wellcome Trust, in their infinite wisdom, have given us a grant to run Nappy Science Gang. This means we’ll be able to fund someone to run the project one day a week and we’ll be able to fund doing some experiments and get things tested in a real lab. Yay!

The project will run for eight months, starting now and ending in mid-November 2015. In that time we hope to be able to run several experiments and get some proper answers to questions that plague cloth-nappy users. With SCIENCE.

Some examples of questions we are thinking about:-

  • Is strip washing really needed? If so, what’s the best method? (It’s commonly said that detergent build-up in nappies can cause you problems, so you need to ‘strip-wash’ periodically. Opinions differ on the best way of doing this. I have come across no scientific evidence that detergent build-up happens, or what the best method of strip-washing would be.)
  • What causes a pinkish tinge to develop on some nappies and reusable wipes (when they haven’t been washed with anything red or pink)?
  • What temperature do you need to wash at, to kill any nasties? (Given that many nappies can’t be washed at higher than 40°C)
  • Do amber teething necklaces work? (Science says no, but no-one has actually done the experiment)
  • Do cloth nappies affect children’s walking and leg development?
  • Are cloth nappies REALLY better for the environment, given that you need to do more washing?
  • Do cloth nappies increase the risk of balanitis?

The project is mostly made up of volunteers who use cloth nappies on their children. We all hang out in a facebook group, which you are welcome to join, if you are interested.

We will need to talk to lots of scientists and other experts in our research, so if you are interested in the project, and you know stuff and might be able to answer questions, then please get in touch.


6 thoughts on “Nappy Science Gang is GO!

  1. I’m very interested in your experimental design for the amber teething necklaces. Hopefully you are looking at a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled trial. Will the grant cover such an experiment?


    • Hi Graham. We are just at the beginning of the project. The group need to research the area and work out the best experimental design. In initial discussions we’ve talked about an RCT, exactly as you say. But we need to work out exactly how/if that could work (e.g. how to blind it, when the mums will probably be able to tell the difference between amber and plastic-beads-that-look-like-amber). It may be that we will conclude an amber teething study is not feasible. Or that the group feel other questions are a higher priority for them. I can’t tell you in advance what the group will decide, I’m just the facilitator.

      But don’t worry, we have three epidemiologists who have agreed to oversee the experiment and they will make sure our methodology is watertight. We will also have to get ethical approval from the UCL ethics board, so there is a second layer of oversight.

      This project is being funded by the Wellcome Trust, as I’m sure you saw above. As one of the world’s largest medical research charities, and one of the UK’s largest funders of medical research, you can be sure that they have insisted upon things being done to the highest standards.


  2. Sounds like a great project Sophia. There should be more of them. Will you be reporting your results via a journal or directly to the Wellcome Trust? I’d be interested to see how it all works out.


    • Thanks Graham. We hope to be able to publish at least one paper based on our findings, but as you know, it’s difficult getting papers published for anyone, never mind citizen science projects, so that’s an aspiration, rather than something we can promise to deliver. We’ll be reporting back our findings (and our progress as we go along) here anyway, so you can follow the blog.


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