June 28, 2010
I like to tell my boys often that they are “good boys.”
Most especially because Hamhock struggles often to follow the rules, keep his impulses under control, learn to deal with his anger, etc. I want them both to know that even though the may make a bad choice, or do something wrong, that the choice was bad, but they are always good.
As I was walking through the hospital to visit my mom after her knee surgery this past Saturday, Hamhock called me from Gramma’s house.
Hamhock: “Mom, I’m eating an orange!”
Me: “Good for you! That’s healthy.”
Hamhock: “Can I hang up now?”
Me: “Yep, have fun at Gramma’s. Bye.”
Hamhock: “You’re a good mom. I love you!”
Me: “I love you, too.”
So super sweet! That makes up for the rest of the time when he gets mad at me and calls me a liar when something doesn’t go right . . .which happens at least a dozen times every single day (hurmpf).
So, I’ll take it, sweet good boy of mine.
April 30, 2010
(Love that Seinfeld episode where they reference Tolstoy’s novel with that phrase. . .har.)
Really? Really, PBS? We need to declare “war” about complex issues where all parents involved just want the best ways to keep their children healthy? I’m so tired of our culture of “war.” It’s everywhere – in politics (especially), religion, financial markets, health issues and on and on. One side gets vilified, the other sides’ virtues get extolled. It’s just so completely exhausting.
The fact of the matter remains: a very small minority of children with autism experienced vaccine injury. These parents’ stories are real. Who am I to disregard what they experienced? As you know, there have been several studies that concluded that there is no link between autism and vaccines for healthy, genetically strong, normally developing children. The IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) unanimously voted in November 2009, however, that more research will be conducted to determine vaccine safety vis-a-vis a minority of children who are genetically susceptible to autism (and hopefully someday for those susceptible to ADHD, severe allergies & asthma).
Since the Dept of Health & Human Services and the National Survey of Children’s Health have determined that autism affects 1% of children (1 in 100 diagnosed with autism as of 2009), and until the effect of vaccines on those 1% are finally determined through those scientific studies, this sub-population *may be* the minority that would benefit from an individualized, less aggressive vaccine schedule.
In my opinion, that means that probably 99% of children should follow the current CDC vaccine schedule, and more than likely will have no adverse reactions to it. This will ensure herd immunity in our society for the minority of children (this 1%, as well as other immune-compromised individuals, or those susceptible to ADHD, severe allergies & asthma) who may experience adverse reactions according to the regular schedule.
I fault the CDC, AMA, AAP, etc. for not addressing this issue better. I understand that because there has been no study to date that gives us *the* answer for the cause of autism, that some parents are emotionally reacting to the experience of that 1% minority, and they are choosing not to vaccinate their healthy children, who may fall in the 99%. It’s a tough call. But at the end of the day, the right and responsibility will always remain with the parents, to individualize health care for their children, based on their child’s particular health needs.
PBS decided to cut the entire interview for their documentary of Dr. Jay N. Gordon, MD, FAAP (Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCLA Medical School). He is very angry with PBS for not offering a more balanced approach to this issue:
28 April 2010, Huffington Post
Tonight PBS aired a show called “The Vaccine War.” I was interviewed at great length and in great depth about vaccines and my point of view and expressed my ambivalence about the polarization of this issue and the need for more calm reasoned discussion about the number one question that new parents have. I told Kate McMahon, the co-producer of the show, that there was a large group of doctors and others who cannot be dismissed with the facile label “anti-vaccine” because we still give vaccines and see a place for them in the practice of medicine but we do not agree with the current vaccine schedule nor the number of vaccines children receive all at one time.
A few days ago, Ms.McMahon emailed me to tell me that the decision had been made to omit my interview from the show. There would not be one word from me. She didn’t tell me that she had also omitted 100 percent of Dr. Robert Sears interview. And that any other comments from physicians supporting the parents on the show in their ambivalence about vaccines or their decision to refuse all vaccines would also be omitted.
She left this as a show with many doctors commenting very negatively, very frighteningly and often disdainfully and dismissively about vaccine “hesitation” as they called it.
Below is my email response to Kate McMahon.
The Frontline show was disgraceful. You didn’t even have the courtesy to put my interview or any part of the two hours we spent taping on your web site.
You created a pseudo-documentary with a preconceived set of conclusions: “Irresponsible moms against science” was an easy takeaway from the show.
Did you happen to notice that Vanessa, the child critically ill with pertussis, was not intubated nor on a respirator in the ER? She had nasal “prongs” delivering oxygen. I’m sorry for her parents anxiety and very happy that she was cured of pertussis. But to use anecdotal reports like this as science is irresponsible and merely served the needs of the doctor you wanted to feature.
No one pursued Dr. Offit’s response about becoming rich from the vaccine he invented. He was allowed to slide right by that question without any follow up. Dr. Paul Offit did not go into vaccine research to get rich. He is a scientist motivated by his desire to help children. But his profiting tens of millions of dollars from the creation of this vaccine and the pursuit of sales of this and other vaccines is definitely not what he says it is. His many millions “don’t matter” he says. And you let it go.
Jenny McCarthy resumed being a “former Playboy” person and was not acknowledged as a successful author, actress and mother exploring every possible avenue to treating her own son and the children of tens of thousands of other families.
I trusted you by giving you two or three hours of my time for an interview and multiple background discussions. I expressed my heartfelt reservations about both vaccines and the polarizing of this issue into “pro-vaccine” and “anti-vaccine” camps. I told you that there was at least a third “camp.” There are many doctors and even more parents who would like a more judicious approach to immunization. Give vaccines later, slower and with an individualized approach as we do in every other area of medicine.
What did you create instead?
“The Vaccine War.”
A war. Not a discussion or a disagreement over facts and opinions, but a war. This show was unintelligent, dangerous and completely lacking in the balance that you promised me — and your viewers — when you produced and advertised this piece of biased unscientific journalism. “Tabloid journalism” I believe is the epithet often used. Even a good tabloid journalist could see through the screed you’ve presented.
You interviewed me, you spent hours with Dr. Robert Sears of the deservedly-illustrious Sears family and you spoke to other doctors who support parents in their desire to find out what went wrong and why it’s going wrong and what we might do to prevent this true epidemic.
Not a measles epidemic, not whooping cough. Autism. An epidemic caused by environmental triggers acting on genetic predisposition. The science is there and the evidence of harm is there. Proof will come over the next decade. The National Children’s Study will, perhaps by accident, become a prospective look at many children with and without vaccines. But we don’t have time to wait for the results of this twenty-one year research study: We know that certain pesticides cause cancer and we know that flame retardants in children’s pajamas are dangerous. We are cleaning up our air and water slowly and parents know which paint to buy and which to leave on the shelves when they paint their babies’ bedrooms.
The information parents and doctors don’t have is contained in the huge question mark about the number of vaccines, the way we vaccinate and the dramatic increase in autism, ADD/ADHD, childhood depression and more. We pretend to have proof of harm or proof of no harm when what we really have is a large series of very important unanswered questions.
In cased you were wondering, as I practice pediatrics every day of my career, I base nothing I do on Dr. Wakefield’s research or on Jenny McCarthy’s opinions. I respect what they both have done and respectfully disagree with them at times. I don’t think that Dr. Wakefield’s study proved anything except that we need to look harder at his hypothesis. I don’t think that Jenny McCarthy has all the answers to treating or preventing autism but there are tens of thousands of parents who have long needed her strong high-profile voice to draw attention to their families’ needs: Most families with autism get inadequate reimbursement for their huge annual expenses and very little respect from the insurance industry, the government or the medical community. Jenny has demanded that a brighter light be shone on their circumstances, their frustration and their needs.
I base everything I do on my reading of CDC and World Health Organization statistics about disease incidence in the United States and elsewhere. I base everything I do on having spent the past thirty years in pediatric practice watching tens of thousands of children get vaccines, not get vaccines and the differences I see.
Vaccines change children.
Most experts would argue that the changes are unequivocally good. My experience and three decades of observation and study tell me otherwise. Vaccines are neither all good–as this biased, miserable PBS treacle would have you believe–nor all bad as the strident anti-vaccine camp argues.
You say the decisions to edit 100% of my interview from your show (and omit my comments from your website) “were purely based on what’s best for the show, not personal or political, and the others who didn’t make it came from both sides of the vaccine debate.” You are not telling the truth. You had a point to prove and removed material from your show which made the narrative balanced. “Distraught, confused moms against important, well-spoken calm doctors” was your narrative with a deep sure voice to, literally, narrate the entire artifice.
You should be ashamed of yourself, Kate. You knew what you put on the air was slanted and you cheated the viewers out of an opportunity for education and information. You cheated me out of hours of time, betrayed my trust and then you wasted an hour of PBS airtime. Shame on you.
The way vaccines are manufactured and administered right now in 2010 makes vaccines and their ingredients part of the group of toxins which have led to a huge increase in childhood diseases including autism. Your show made parents’ decisions harder and did nothing except regurgitate old news.
Parents and children deserve far better from PBS.
Jay N. Gordon, MD, FAAP
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, UCLA Medical School
Former Senior Fellow in Pediatric Nutrition, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute
April 24, 2010
Anyone living in Salt Lake City need another option for speech therapy? Give Helen at Scottish Rite Children’s Learning Center a call!
We only had to wait about 4 months, we were able to see her once a week for this entire school year, AND IT’S FREE (privately funded by the Masons/Shriners)!
The other *huge* benefit for using Scottish Rite is that even though your school assessment may indicate your child doesn’t need speech help, Scottish Rite will see the deficits and offer help where you know your child needs it.
Hamhock was tested with Jordan School District (right before the Canyons split) and they tested him as too high functioning to receive speech therapy services. Scottish Rite, however, offered us services. Their main therapist on 3300 South and Highland (in a small office building sandwiched in between Tres Hombres and Crowne Burger) is fabulous. She has 30+ years experience, raised her own 4 active boys, and has a fun, playful approach to therapy.
She told us to come back in the fall to work on Hamhock’s “r” and “l” – you know how kindergartners make the “r” and “l” sound like a “w”? She has confirmed with her public school SLP colleagues that the public schools in Utah definitely do not have the budget to start treating kids with that speech issue until they are 8 or 9. She’ll tackle it as early as 6 or 7.
My favorite thing about watching her work with Hamhock was how playful he’d be with her. She’d use reverse psychology (as appropriate) with him: “I bet you can’t pick the right one. . .”, he would accept the challenge, by focusing on her question, answering correctly, and then shouting out:
“In your face, Miss Helen!”
January 16, 2010
The CDC released its latest autism figures just a few weeks ago (December 18, 2009). Their current findings indicate that Autism Spectrum Disorders (Autism, Asperger’s and PDD-NOS) now affect 1% of children in the US, or 1 child out of every 100. This shows an increase of 60% from 2002 – 2006.
David Kirby of the Huffington Post, conducted a phone interview with Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH and Chair of the IACC (Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee) to interpret the CDC’s findings.
The highlights of his interview are:
1. Better diagnoses do not explain this huge increase.
2. The causes are both genetic and environmental. “There is no question that there is an environmental component here.” – Dr. Insel.
3. Finding environmental exposures that trigger autism are essential in order to decrease the epidemic.
Let’s hope those in positions of power and science and medicine can figure the solution out. Soon.