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"Baby Yoga" Videos Cause a Stir

"Baby Yoga" Videos Cause a Stir

Picture of Sue Luttner

from the Mirror web teaser

Even I am uneasy with the subject, but I don't see how an SBS blog can ignore this season's tabloid news reports of "baby yoga" exercises, in which infants are flipped and swung and tossed by therapists.

The most startling videos are on the Mirror News web site out of the United Kingdom, where they've posted their enbtire televised segment on the subject. The Daily Mail Online text treatment offers a video near the end showing several minutes of one routine by therapist Lena Fokina.

The web site has a cautionary treatment featuring video sequences of parents performing the gymnastics on their own babies at a class in Egypt. The possibility remains that these videos are doctored, but if so, there's been a lot of editing going on.

Myself, I find these exercises terrifying: I'm at least relieved that most of the baby-juggling seems to be done over sand. I sent the urls to a few experts, none of whom had heard of this phenomenon before.

Biomechanic John Lloyd, PhD, noted:

I see that the baby-yoga instructor, Lena Fokina, moves very carefully in tune with and in time to the baby's motion. Her skill must take great practice and it worries me that anyone not possessiong such skill might attempt these exercises.

I have little doubt that the rotational head kinematics would be akin to those during aggressive shaking and enthusiastic playful activities, all of which, in the absence of impact, would be well below any threshold for brain injury.

My greater concern is the potential for spiral fracture of the long bones and/or adverse events such as falls.

Pediatric surgeon Anthony Shaw, MD, independently recalled an anecdote that validated Lloyd's long-bone concerns:

Some years ago I was consulted on the case of a weeks-old infant who was discovered to have metaphyseal fractures of both ends of all his long bones. His father, a body builder, had been told that exercise was good for his baby's bones and muscles. He made a video that he brought to court, in which he substituted a doll for the baby, to show the court what he had been doing with his infant son. It looked exactly like the maneuvers that this Lena Fokina displays on her video.

Therapist Lena Fokina claims on camera to have been practicing these techniques for 30 years with no adverse consequences. If anyone hears any reports of injuries, please do let me know. I will be keeping an eye out as well.

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