Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do Your Research and Follow the Evidence

As a parent of a five year old, the question of a link between childhood vaccines and autism has been on my mind constantly for the last few years. When my son was born I spent countless hours researching on the Internet, going over tons of data from CDC, PubMed, and various other sites. All this gave me confidence and ease of mind that there is nothing to worry about, and my son got all his shots as prescribed.
This was 2005. Now, in 2010, we have even more evidence that there is no connection between vaccines and autism. The studies just keep coming, and they are getting better and better data. Hopefully, we are also getting closer and closer to finding real cause for autism.
Unfortunately, all this data and research still did not stop people from making claims that vaccines are unsafe and should not be used.
For all of those, who are just beginning to take this rode, here is a great testimonial from someone who walked very similar road:

Why we changed our minds and started to vaccinate.

In a related story, Neurologica blog is reporting that Andrew Wakefield has been found guilty of acting "dishonestly and irresponsibly" when performing the famous MMR/Autism study in 1998:

Andrew Wakefield “Acted Unethically”

I wonder if there is a way to stop him (and others like him) from practicing medicine of any kind... that would be a perfect world I guess.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Homeopaty - There Is Nothing In It!

As I have recently watched some friends being sucked into homeopathic remedies, I became more and more interested in this alternative modality. It's not hard to guess that (as it is with most of the alt-med stuff) the idea behind it makes no sense, the tests do not support it, and basically all you get is pure placebo effect.

Unfortunately, homeopathy is so popular that is actually can cause harm. For a lot of people, it also appears legitimate, since you are "taking a pill". They just don't realize there is nothing in it... NOTHING!!!

It's best to start off with this great resource: "The Ladybird Book of Homeopathic Treatment & High Street Chemists", and then read Orac's excellent "Studying homeopathy in Third World countries, revisited".

I also blogged in the past about an excellent book on the subject: A Few Books of Note...

Dig around, learn, understand, and don't get fooled into a treatment that does NOTHING, because it has NOTHING in it!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Baby Einstein and More...

I never liked those "baby geniuses" DVDs, videos. etc, no matter what company they came from, and the recent developments in this area (also here, and here) just reinforced my reservations: they are probably good for entertainment and as a babysitter device, but that's about it.
I do thing they just prey on parent's willingness to "do more" for their children, and the typical competition to make your kids look smarter and better than your neighbor's. In the process we all forget that children have less and less time to be just kids, to play and have fun, and we introduce them to the "rat race" at a very early age.

Steven Novella's Neurologica Blog has more on this: The Baby Einstein Hubbub:
It would seem there is no benefit to these alleged educational videos, and there is a suggestion of harm – although I would conclude that there is no long-term harm. It must also be pointed out that these studies are observational – not experimental. There are therefore many possible confounding factors. Perhaps parents who rely on these videos do so because they don’t have enough time to give to their young children – which itself is the factor that delays language.

He also blogged in the past on the newest fad: Your Baby Can Read – Not!, which I pointed to as well.

Remember, before your trust a TV commercial, do some research and go to the pros.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Give Me $7500...

Oh... if I only had $7500, I know already how I'd put that money to a good use: I'd get myself the newest release of documents from the Scientology Archives!!!

I'm sure it would be enlightening to read some more about Xenu, and how to become a better thetan, and I'm sure the fat cats on top of that cult would appreciate my $$$.

Good reading for a care-free Friday, I'm sure.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Is Herd Immunity Important? You Bet!!!

As we live in the increasingly connected world, our everyday interactions with others also increase (surprise, surprise!!!) and our individual decisions can have a deep impact on others. This has been especially evident since last year's swine flu outbreak, when we all suddenly realized that what each of us does every day may have very real influence on our families, friends and co-workers.
For some reason, this is not so evident to many when it comes to simple vaccines. I keep hearing from many around me that they would never take the seasonal (or H1N1) flu shot, because they are strong and healthy, and it's up to those who are not to protect themselves. The same selfish attitude is also present with some parents, who refuse to vaccinate their children due to some silly and long-ago-proven-false reasons, just because they feel their kids are healthy. Unfortunately, they do not understand a simple concept of "herd immunity", in which keeping the majority vaccinated and healthy, eliminates increased risks to those who can't get vaccinated due to real health problems, or who don't respond to vaccines well.
Maybe the term itself is not the best, as I have seen comments in some on-line discussions, stating that "we will not let them turn us into a herd of animals", but the concept is very real, proven scientifically, and can one day save YOUR life (when you are 64 (!) and you don't respond to the flu vaccine as well as you do today).

Thankfully, the mainstream media is beginning to cover this issue, as it is in the recent USA Today article: Missed vaccines weaken 'herd immunity' in children

Very good explanation with some additional info can be found on the (always reliable) Respectful Insolence Blog: The price exacted by the anti-vaccine movement

We can only hope that parents and general public will soon understand this important issue.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year... Let's Get Back To Work!

Happy 2010 to all!!!

Now, let's get back to work.
We all should remember the excellent Wired article: An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All, that finally broke the mainstream media silence on the growing anti-science problem, that, as suggested in the title, puts us all in danger.
Now, it's time for the skepitical bloggers to unite and show support, as the anti-vaxxers are using the only tool they have in suppressing the real truth: law suits.

Read more on this topic on Respectful Insolence and Neurologica.

I hope this one backfires and helps in spreading the real information and puts a small dent on the anti-vaxxers efforts.