On politics…and vaccines

So, normally I stay out of the political discussion.  I would consider my political views to be moderate.  I would probably vote Libertarian if I thought they could win.  I am a Christian. I am a pediatrician.  My passion is the health and safety of children.  I don’t oppose abortion or gay marriage.  I know a lot of Christians won’t agree with me on that. The reason I don’t oppose abortion (though I’m glad I was never in the situation to have to make that choice) is history. I’ve always believed that you can’t legislate morality, so even though it would not be the moral choice for me, I can’t deny that choice for others.  Historically, before abortion became legalized, many pregnant women died in back alley abortions.  Alternatively, they might have become infertile due to the procedure.  Now, some may say they deserve it for their “sin”.  I disagree.  The fact is, gay marriage and abortion are both legal now.  I think it’s time to stop arguing about both topics.  Homosexuals have been around for as long as human history.  They aren’t going away and they deserve the same rights and privileges as everyone else.

Like I said previously, I am passionate about the health and safety of children. I am a scientist.  I am a critical thinker. I am analytical.  I presumed that Trump, as a successful businessman, would surround himself with smart people.  People that are leaders in their fields.  Instead, he is surrounding himself with anti-science folks: climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, etc.  It’s not looking too good for America.  A lot of Republicans thought Obama would be our nation’s downfall.  I’m afraid it might be Trump, if he keeps down this path he has started.

Over the weekend, Dr Daniel Neides of the Cleveland Clinic published an op-ed piece on Cleveland.com.  He expressed concerns about vaccines that are not backed by science.  Cleveland Clinic has expressed that disciplinary action will be taken against Dr Neides. Of course, this led to a public outcry by the anti-vaccine community.  The thing is, you can’t use your title at an institution and express views publicly that go against evidence-based medicine.

The anti-vaccine rhetoric continued yesterday when it was announced that Robert F Kennedy, Jr was approached by Trump to lead a council on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity”.  I would laugh if I weren’t crying.  This move would make my job, and the jobs of pediatricians all over the country, much harder.  Trump is now denying the appointment but the fact that he is even considering Mr. Kennedy for this committee shows how far from science he is.  Mr.  Kennedy is well known for subverting the truth about vaccines.

The fact is, vaccines are safe and effective.  Now, nothing is 100% safe or 100% effective.  It just doesn’t work that way.  We are always working to make vaccines better.  Vaccines, despite the rally cry of the anti-vaxxers, are actually tested more than any other pharmaceuticals. The other side would have you believe that clean water and sanitation is responsible for the decline of vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs).  If that were true, why was the last case of polio in 1979 and measles in 2016 (US)?  Clean water and sanitation can not eliminate different disease at different points in history. The fact is, we are doing a good job of eliminating VPDs in third world countries that still have no clean water or sanitation.   Another fact is that the mortality of VPDs in the US did decrease with clean water and sanitation but not the incidence of these diseases.

Rant over for the day.

Peace out.

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Home sweet home…or is it?

I’ve been reading a lot about home births.  Women have been delivering babies at home for millions of years, right?  What could be more natural?

Women and babies have also been dying during home births for millions of years.

I read a blog post by a doula, Lisa Flato, where she describes her perfect home birth. Despite the fact that it ended with the death of her baby.  She justifies this as, “it was her path”.  How is it her path to die when she almost certainly would not have died had she been born in the hospital?  Ms. Flato also encourages women to eat their placenta after delivery!

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Ashley Martin’s story.  Again, the delivery is described by others as the “perfect birth experience”. This is mostly per the photographer who took pictures of a nearly dead baby.  Luckily, Ms. Martin lived just minutes from the hospital.  Her baby was able to be resuscitated and he is doing fine now.  She does NOT describe this as a perfect home delivery.  She is beating herself up over what the outcome could have been, and for following all the advice she was given that home births are perfectly safe and natural.

As a pediatrician, I have the utmost respect for women who can have natural childbirth.  I also have the utmost respect for my Neonatology and OB/GYN colleagues.  You can have it “both ways”. There are hospitals that allow water births, minimal intervention births, etc.  But you still have the back up of the hospital personnel, if, by chance, something were to go wrong.

Think about it.

Peace out.