Tag Archives: vaccines

The Most Important Question in Pediatrics (Archived Pedcast)

 The other day I was doing a thought experiment, you know the way Albert Einstein did when he imagined what the world would look like if he were moving at the speed of light. These mind experiments are really fun if you have never tried them. My experiment certainly was not on the level of Dr. Einstein’s, but it was interesting to me nonetheless. I was thinking what would it be like if I were dropped off in some isolated, rural part of the world where there was a febrile, really sick child, and I was responsible for their health. An enormous challenge without all the modern diagnostic tools I usually have, but even more so since I could only ask the patient’s family one question. What would that question be? Continue reading

Good News on Baby Shots, But… (Article)

We still have more children to immunize as the recent Disney measles outbreak demonstrates, but there is great cause for celebration by pediatricians and public health officials: vaccination rates among young children are actually quite high. From 2012-2013, many of the most important vaccines for young children such as the measles vaccine (MMR), hepatitis B vaccine, poliovirus vaccine, and chicken pox vaccine have been administered to over 90% of children aged 19 -35 months. It is estimated that this level of vaccination in children born between 1994 and 2013 will prevent 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations, and 732,000 deaths during these children’s lifetimes.  What a tremendous achievement! But it is too early to rest on our laurels. In order to get the maximum benefit from vaccines for our children, we need to continue to improve vaccine delivery for every child. Currently, we are having problems getting the children of families with either very low and very high incomes vaccinated.
 

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Do You Believe in Magic, by Paul Offit M.D. (Book Review Pedcast)

 Help support DocSmo.com by buying this reviewed book using this affiliate link. You get Amazon’s best price and DocSmo.com earns a small affiliate marketing fee.  Thank you.


 

Welcome to the DocSmo.com pediatric blog. I am your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, a practicing pediatrican and founder of the docsmo blog. Thank you for joining me today. Today, I am going to review an interesting book written by a well known pediatrician and vaccine expert, who authored  a book that analyses the alternative medicine  and supplement practices in the U.S..

Dr. Paul Offit, the author of Do You Believe in Magic, is a pediatrician and effective advocate for children’s health. He is a hero to many practicing pediatricians because he has been such an effective advocate for vaccines.  In fact, he is probably the most influential advocate doctors have to promote vaccines.  After reading Do you believe in Magic, I can now see why his foes in the anti-vaccine movement dislike him so intensely.  He does not mince words when he decides to criticize practices he does not approve of.  In Do You Believe in Magic, Dr. Offit challenges the biggest names in alternative medicine and politics, with biting pointed criticism of what he sees as mostly quackery and snake oil sales.

 

The foundation of  Dr. Offit’s book is his faith in the scientific method.  For Dr. Offit, a therapy is only effective if there is good scientific evidence of effectiveness.  Much of the alternative medicine world has no peer-reviewed scientific support and therefore, according to Dr. Offit, is useless …or worse.  Unfortunately, the world is not always so black and white.  Dr. Offit is very good at pointing out instances when reliance on alternative therapies have done great harm to patients, especially when treating famous patients like Steve McQueen and Steve Jobs, but he seems to give conventional medicine a pass on poor science that inflates the effectiveness and minimizes the side effects of western medicinal practices.

 

Do you Believe in Magic brings a strong point of view to the discussion of alternative versus modern medicine.  Since the majority of people in the U.S. now consume alternative therapies, be they herbs, vitamins, supplements, physical manipulations like chiropractry, or acupuncture, Dr. Offit has started an important discussion.  Even though his title claims to be a balanced look at alternative and complementary medicine, his blunt criticism and visceral tone are anything but balanced.  Magical theories of disease, unproven therapies, false hopes of cure that delay or prevent effective therapy can certainly do great harm as Dr. Offit is quick to point out.  On the other hand, emphasizing better nutrition, stress reduction, improved sleep, the healing power of exercise and meditation are good things that alternative medicine brings to the discussion and can provide healing where pills cannot.  Just because no one has done a double blind, placebo controlled study to prove that the child eating his or her salad everyday improves his or her health doesn’t mean that the salad can’t be helpful to their health. As parents are faced with ever increasing limitations on their healthcare spending, making wise use of these healthcare dollars is increasingly important. For those parets interested in healthcare policy and debates, Dr. Offit’s book is an interesting read. For those parents looking for practical advice and information about pediatrics, you need to look elsewhere. I give Dr. Offit’s latest book 3.5 out of 5 Doc Smo stars.

 

Thanks for joining me today. I hope you take a few minutes to explore the hundreds of interesting posts and articles I have on my blog, www.docsmo.com.  Until next time.

 

 

The Most Important Question in Pediatrics (Pedcast)

Welcome to another pedcast. If you are a new listener, let me introduce myself…I am Dr. Paul Smolen, a board certified pediatrician and curator of the docsmo.com blog, home of the pediatric podcast I call a pedcast. The other day I was doing a thought experiment, you know the way Albert Einstein did when he imagined what the world would look like if he were moving at the speed of light. These mind experiments are really fun if you have never tried them. My experiment certainly was not on the level of Dr. Einstein’s, but it was interesting to me nonetheless. I was thinking what would it be like if I were dropped off in some isolated, rural part of the world where there was a febrile, really sick child, and I was responsible for their health. An enormous challenge without all the modern diagnostic tools I usually have, but even more so since I could only ask the patient’s family one question. What would that question be? I only have one question that I can ask to sort out this child’s fever. Said another way, what is the most important question to ask the family of a sick pediatric patient? Since I’m a pediatrician and most fevers in children are caused by infections, the child’s fever is likely coming from an infectious disease; but which infectious disease? Would I ask if the child was born by C-section or was premature; or would it be does the child drink formula or is being breast-fed; or maybe I should ask about whether this child drinks city water or well water; or maybe I need to know whether the child lives in the city or in a rural area near animals?

What would that one question be that might really help me sort out their sickness, a question that is so important and vital to this child’s health? For me, the answer is simple…”Is this child immunized?” is clearly the most important question when it comes to this child’s health. This is because being immunized–fully immunized–takes so much potential illness off the table. If they are immunized, the child can’t have diphtheria, polio, tetanus, most kinds of meningitis, hepatitis A or B, measles, mumps, rubella, or chickenpox. This is why so many pediatricians and family practitioners hesitate at seeing children whose families don’t immunize their children. Being fully immunized is the most important thing we can do to protect children.

We’ve heard all the arguments from those that oppose vaccines, but as I have pointed out before, where is the alternative to vaccines? Vaccines are a child’s best chance of avoiding and surviving the myriad of infectious diseases that have killed so many. We take it for granted that children in this part of the world are immunized and can’t get any of those horrible diseases that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers struggled so mightily against. But in much of the world it’s not that way. We can’t take for granted that children all over the world are immunized. We are making progress, however. Take a look at what the World Health Organization has published in terms of the number of cases of vaccine preventable disease. What you notice in this chart is that even though the world’s population has increased by about 50% since 1980, the number of children dying and suffering from horrible childhood diseases like pertussis and tetanus has dramatically dropped.

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So, I’m back in the tent in rural Wherever. I barely speak any of their language, and I can only ask one question. What is that question going to be? For me, there is no doubt it would be, “Is this child immunized?” Make sure your children are fully immunized, and take full advantage of the phenomenal technology that modern vaccines provide.

If you enjoyed this pedcast, take a few minutes to write a review or a comment at my blog, www.docsmo.com or on iTunes. This is your host, Dr. Paul Smolen, hoping you will be Johnny on the spot for your child’s next shot.  Until next time.

Smo Notes:

http://www.unicef.org/media/files/SOWVI_full_report_english_LR1.pdfA Thought Experiment