A Civil Debate About Vaccines

conflict-clipart-CLIPART_OF_ProcessI don’t write about vaccines much anymore. The reason is simply that I had read more than enough (several times over enough) to completely convince me that vaccines were a bad idea for both humanity in general and my children specifically (which, contrary to popular press, are BOTH very important to me). It isn’t my passion anymore. Unless someone is talking about “anti-vaxxers” going to jail or having their kids sent into foster care. It is only when you seek to infringe on my right to body integrity that I engage. I no longer play the show me your research and I’ll show you mine game.

I am disheartened that, from my perspective, so many people believe the vaccine propaganda without digging deeper behind these recommended substances being injected into our most vulnerable population. However, what really pains me is how impossible it apparently is to have a civil discussion about the topic.

Last year I was kicked out of a feminist group for, “promoting child abuse” after having a rather civil discussion on vaccines with other members. The group admins believed so strongly that vaccines are an inarguable benefit to children and humanity that they not only couldn’t have a conversation with me about bodily integrity and the right of the state to force medications on autonomous human beings, but that to even bring it up promoted child abuse.

Damn, that is some seriously strong cultural indoctrination.

I *get* that I’m the minority. I know you think I am straight up wrong. I get that you can’t believe I don’t get it. But what I don’t get is that you are going to shame and demean me in your arguments. Honestly, when you notice yourself so vociferously defending a point of view, which is fine, but feeling hot under the collar about it, then maybe you want to examine where feelings that strong are coming from.

An emotional response that strong comes from one of two places. Either you have a personal experience to draw on (for example, you have a child injured by a disease that has a vaccine and you feel the unvaccinated were responsible) or you’ve been subliminally and overtly indoctrinated to feel something by someone else. Who is that? Why did they do that? I’d want to know. And why do they need to use influence and marketing to “sell” this idea so hard? Why don’t the vaccines speak for themselves?

Maybe you feel you have examined these issues and you still feel vaccines are for you. That is great. I’m happy for you. Perhaps you even think that unvaccinated individuals are a danger to others. I imagine that is a painful feeling to have. I know how I feel when I see transphobia against little kids just trying to be comfortable in their skin. I just know I have to speak out – and do so loudly – to give voice to a group that I know is so often silenced. If you truly feel that my choice not to vaccinate my children puts infants, the elderly, and immunocompromised people at risk then I empathize deeply with the compassion for those people that drives your passion. Namaste. That place in me that feels compassion sees the same place in you and I respect your voice in this argument.

Can you see me for one moment? I do care deeply about people for whom measles or chicken pox are deadly. I would never, never have made this decision without researching that aspect of public health and vaccines. I know you think I haven’t researched enough, or in the wrong places, or that I simply don’t understand enough to make what you consider the right choice. I’m not asking you to understand my choice. I’m asking you to see the place of compassion inside that my choice comes from.

The fact is I am not a shitty person. I’m not uncaring. I’m not uneducated or swayed by celebrity worship or an irrational hippie (I’m a quite rational hippie thankyouverymuch). I am a very kind person. If we met in person I’m sure we’d like each other.

You’d undoubtedly call me weird, or crunchy. You most definitely rolled your eyes when I said “vaccine propoganda” (ha! my side uses subliminal bias too.) My medicine cabinet has more brown, glass jars with droppers than things you’d buy at Walgreens. I’m a peace-freak who doesn’t spank her kids or send them to the local schools. I’m a “femi-nazi” and I’ll tell you, at length, why you should never say that. But I’m friends with many people who don’t believe the same things I do. And I think at least some of them would vouch for me being a decent human being. I’m not asking you to *get* me or agree with me.

I’m just asking that you can stop for a moment and not see me as an “antivaxxer.” I’m not your enemy. I am a friend. My life isn’t like yours. My choices aren’t like yours. But I worry about my kids all the time just like you. I think about their health and do things to make them as healthy as possible. I also care about humanity and I care very much that babies die around the world, just like you do. I think deeply on issues like white, western privilege and how this discussion would be different if I didn’t live in a place with access to healthcare, sanitation, and nutritious food, just like you do.

Do you want to send the police to my house to put my kids in foster care? Do you want them to be held down and injected against their will? I am such a pariah to you that you want me HURT and ROBBED of dignity and my own children? If you had to be the one to hold them down after ripping them from my arms would it change your answer?

I hope you answered no. If we can’t look past our own thoughts and, even briefly, see the humanity in each other then what is all this even for?

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5 Ways to Restore Trust in the US Vaccination Program

 

The CDC, FDA, Pharma companies, and Paul Offit really want to find a way to get everyone to trust vaccines.  At least that is what they say.  After saying this they usually throw out the same arguments:

  • “young” parents don’t understand how horrible the diseases are
  • autism isn’t caused by vaccinations
  • parents are getting mis-information from quack websites

I’ve mentioned before that these arguments are simply not true for the vast majority of non-vaccinating parents.  We aren’t too young (and thus as implied too stupid) to understand.  We aren’t afraid of autism.  We are in fact quite informed about vaccines from sites that are well respected and even vaccine-biased like the CDC’s Pink Book.  Studies showthat vaccine refusers are educated people who have put much time into making this difficult decision for their families.

I’m left with the distinct feeling that these people don’t really want to restore trust.  They are too busy denigrating those lacking trust as loons and blind celebrity sycophants.  This got me thinking.  What would make me vaccinate my kids?  What would really restore MY trust in the program and the organizations/companies promoting it?

Here are my four steps for restoring faith in the US Vaccination program:


1. Conduct Placebo-controlled Longitudinal Studies

Placebo-controlled means that there is a control group that receives a placebo that is compared to the test group receiving the vaccine.  Studies like this are never done.  The “controls” in most vaccine trials also receive a vaccine albeit a different one than is being studied.  This is like testing the efficacy of Aspirin and giving the control group Excedrin (which includes Aspirin).  Any results would be impossible to interpret as deriving from Aspirin intake. Longitudinal is another important factor since it is false to assume that the effects of any drug are confined to the 7 days following exposure (as is done in most vaccine trials) especially in a drug that not only acts on the immune system but is intended to have long term effects (e.g. immunity).

The common complaint amongst vaccine evangelists regarding this request is that it would be unethical to withhold a vaccines from the control group because they are so clearly beneficial that to deny them would be a human rights violation.  This is absurd.  The Declaration of Helsinki, the World Medical Associations governing document on combining medical research with medical treatment, has clearly defined provisions for the use of placebo.  When there is an existing “proven” therapy (as vaccine promoters would claim) then placebo-control is permissible under the following circumstances (according to the 2002 clarification of the Declaration of Helsinki);

  • Where for compelling and scientifically sound methodological reasons its use is necessary to determine the efficacy or safety of a prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic method; or
  • Where a prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic method is being investigated for a minor condition and the patients who receive placebo will not be subject to any additional risk of serious or irreversible harm.

So, for example, it would be unethical (and unconscionable) to give a placebo to a control group of women with stage IV breast cancer when there is treatment available.  The thing with vaccines is that the person receiving the vaccine is healthy and not suffering from any disease.  It would therefore not be an ethical conflict to offer a placebo since the recipient would not be subject to risk or harm.  (note: “risk” is touchy since I’m sure someone would say the risk of the vaccine-available disease is increased.  However between the unknown efficacy of vaccination – i.e. it doesn’t work for everyone and requires frequent boosters – and, more importantly there not being a current outbreak of said disease, the real risk is limited).

Don’t forget, of course, that patients in a study are also provided the right of informed consent prior to enrolling in the study.  Thus if they personally felt the risk was too high they could decline participation.

The second complaint about conducting this type of study is that it would be impossible to find a group willing to enroll in a study that denied them vaccines.  I beg to differ since the number of american’s completely refusing vaccines is on the rise, but the complaint then becomes that it would be “impossible to control confounding factors”  like nutrition and environment.  Um, yeah, you can never control everything that’s why you can use statistics to account for socio-economic status, diet, and a host of other things.

Lastly, I’ve heard that “we” don’t want to divert meager research dollars to vaccines which are “proven” safe and effective.  Ok.  Whatever.  This is how you restore trust in vaccines.  If the errosion of vaccine compliance is less important than the other research then that’s the decision you are making.  If vaccines and vaccine compliance is as all-powerfully important (due to “herd” immunity) as you keep saying then put your money where your mouth is and prove it.

Seriously, it is totally doable and someone needs to do it.  What are you afraid of?

 

2.  Support Informed Consent

Informed consent has been a cornerstone of medicine since the Nuremburg Trials.  Informed Consent is the policy that doctors disclose information about a treatment course in a thorough enough manner to allow the patient to make a decision to proceed or decline.  According to the AMA, informed consent includes the doctor informing the patient of,

  • The patient’s diagnosis, if known;
  • The nature and purpose of a proposed treatment or procedure;
  • The risks and benefits of a proposed treatment or procedure;
  • Alternatives (regardless of their cost or the extent to which the treatment options are covered by health insurance);
  • The risks and benefits of the alternative treatment or procedure; and
  • The risks and benefits of not receiving or undergoing a treatment or procedure.

This is not only a crucial part of medicine but of a free society as well.  Public health does not trump individual choice in a carte blanche manner.  The state must have compelling cause to force medical treatment on an individual such as an epidemic.

It is actually required by law that physicians provide patients with a Vaccine Information Sheet (VIS) prior to each vaccination.  Raise your hand if you’ve gotten one!  That’s what I thought.  Most parents aren’t even informed what shots the child is getting.  It is just routine “shots” that are not explained or questioned.  Even if your doctor is one of the ones that hand out the VIS – the VIS is very misleading and has only a smidge of actual information.  For example, the Hep B VIS has the following statistics to inform parents;

  • In 2005, about 51,000 people became infected with hepatitis B.
  • About 1.25 million people in the United States have chronic HBV infection.
  • Each year about 3,000 to 5,000 people die from cirrhosis or liver cancer caused by HBV.

ZOMG!  Gimme that shot!  Well, actually that doesn’t give me much information that I can use.

How suceptible is my child?

2007 Hep B Incidence by Age and Sex (source: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5803a1.htm )

Hep B infection is almost non-existent in children under 15.  The VIS information is so grossly misleading as to be useless.

Also, the Hepatitis B Foundation talks about risk factors for HepB transmission:

[box]HBV is spread by blood or sexual contact.

To protect sexual partners, members of the household, or colleagues at work, the following measures to prevent transmission of HBV are recommended:

  • Using latex condoms when having sex; sexual contacts should be vaccinated
  • Never sharing personal grooming items that may be contaminated with blood such as razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers
  • Cover open sores, cuts or scratches
  • Clean any blood-contaminated surfaces with bleach

The following activities are NOT associated with spread of HBV:

  • Sharing of food and utensils
  • Kissing, hugging
  • Handshakes or casual contact
  • Coughing or sneezing

[/box]And that is if you are a known carrier of HepB – something you usually know when you are pregnant.  I would be in favor for HepB vaccination of infants of mothers with known HepB or with unknown HepB status.

Anyways, I could go on and on for each vaccine.  My point is the VIS is clearly vague at best and misleading more likely.  This is not informed consent because it is not informed.  I’m going to write this because it will make me do it: I want to make my versions of the VIS – not biased, just with real numbers and what I think a mom should know before she jabs her 12 hour old infant.

 

3.  Support Universal and Unfettered Vaccine Choice

Vaccine choice has three arms;

1.  National Standardization of Legal Exemptions

Every state allows exemptions to mandatory vaccination laws.  There are four kinds of exemptions:[box]

  • Natural Immunity – proving you have natural immunity from contracting the disease.  For example Ohio’s law states, “A pupil who has had natural chicken pox, and presents a signed statement from the pupil’s parent, guardian, or physician to that effect, is not required to be immunized against chicken pox.
  • Medical Contraindication – for medical reasons you are unable to be vaccinated e.g. being allergic to a vaccine ingredient, immunodeficient, etc.  Ohio’s law states, “A child whose physician certifies in writing that such immunization against any disease is medically contraindicated is not required to be immunized against that disease.
  • Religious Objection – In Ohio this reads as “religious convictions” but it differs state to state.  All states, except Mississippi and West Virginia, allow religious exemptions.  The problem is some states put a huge burden of proof on the parent to “prove” their reason is religious or to be part of an “bona fide” church that opposes vaccination.  For example, in Ohio I must only submit a letter signed by me that I oppose vaccination for religious reasons.  Period.  In New York, on the other hand, I would have to “apply” for religious exemption and prove that my reasons were purely religious and sincerely held. The idea of a school district deciding my sincerity in any objective manner gives me chills.  (From what I understand NY also does not have a natural immunity exemption.) Some states require specific forms, in person counseling, and notarization – which disadvantage the poor.  The AMA is actually actively promoting the abolishment of religious exemptions (section H-440.970 on page 406) and this whole organization exists to end religious exemption on numerous issues.
  • Philosophical Objection – In Ohio this is stated as “reasons of conscious”.  Only 20 states allow this type of exemption and it is even more controversial.  It seems we as a culture believe that a religious conviction is an order of magnitude more “real” than other types of convictions?  I have both religious and philosophical objections to vaccines and I honestly don’t know how to separate the two.  Paul Offit and the AAP are vociferous about eliminating philosophical exemptions.

[/box]

 

2. Information Dissemination on Exemptions – If you have the legal right to exemption it does little if there is a systemic approach of concealment and coercion.  In Ohio, for example, I challenge you to find information about legal exemptions on the Department of Health website.  It would be exceedingly rare to find a school that has a simple exemption check box on the “MANDATORY” vaccine sheets or staff that will let you know about them.  In my 3 weeks in perinatal and 5 weeks in the NICU I talked to many nurses and doctors about vaccination (offering flu shot for me and HepB for the boys) and without question they all said “well you’ll need it before they get to school.”  They were truly astonished when I told them that Ohio has exemptions and the vaccines are not really mandatory.  I don’t think this is collusion on the medical personnel’s part, simply a complete and utter lack of education on the topic.  Clearly, however, at some level of government it has been decided that parents shouldn’t be openly offered their legal rights.

Worse yet is the harrassment, lies, and coercion that go on in some pediatricians offices.  Threats of calling Child Protective Services for medical neglect, horror stories about how your baby will die, and refusal to see a patient that doesn’t toe the line.  We interviewed 4 pediatricians before we found one that was respectful or our legal right not to vaccinate.

3. Separate vaccines – We can not have vaccine choice without separate vaccines.  Companies are deliberately reducing single-vax manufacturing in order to stop deviation from the standard CDC schedule.  What they are doing is reducing choice.  Can you imagine if your zoloft were ONLY available in a combo with Xanax?  Or how about if Lipitor came ONLY with Metaformin.

The fact is that each vaccine carries its own benefit and risk.  Look at DTaP – there couldn’t be three more different diseases.  One is non-communicable (T), another for a disease that nearly every child gets anyways (P), and the other for a horribly virulent disease.  Someone, like me, who might consider Diptheria vaccination is cut short because it is not offered alone.

Merck stopped production of the separate measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine in order to outsmart Dr. Sears’ alternate vaccine schedule. Now women who need the rubella vaccine after pregnancy must get the MMR even though they have immunity to M and M.  They are forcing unneeded medication in an attempt at coerce vaccine compliance.

This is what I mean when I say unfettered vaccine choice.  The exemptions laws should be uniform in every state and plainly available to parents.  Notification of the option of exemption should be a required part of the informed consent discussion with a pediatrician prior to vaccination.  I have no problem with a doctor letting his opinion be told (wouldn’t a cardiologist do the same?) but it should not be disrespectful or coercive or full of lies.

In echo of “get your rosaries off my ovaries” I have to say “get your vaccine law out of my bloodstream!”

4. Restructure the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice and the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee

There are two government advisory committees involved heavily in the vaccines our children are given.  One is the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) which advises the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the licensure of new vaccines and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) advises the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on recommending vaccines to doctors and state health departments.  The problem is both are plagued by serious conflicts of interest.  To see the extent of these conflicts check out the US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform’s report on Conflicts of Interest in Vaccine Policy Making.

 

5. Stop Shielding Pharma from Justice

The fact that injuries and death result from some vaccines is not in dispute.  It should not take decades and thousands in legal fees for these parents to be compensated for their loss or medical burden.  The argument is that pharmaceutical companies won’t make vaccines if they have to be liable for harm.  I understand that drugs can have unavoidable risks and in an ideal world pharma could be trusted to provide the safest drugs possible through responsible development, trials, and post-market surveillance.  However, Pharma has proven time and again that they can not be given our trust in this manner.  Their devotion to their investors and the bottom line have made their decisions questionable at best.  See Vioxx as an example.  It wasn’t just that Vioxx was dangerous but they knew and did nothing.

Because the government line is that vaccines are a miracle, I understand the need for a “special” court for vaccine litigation.  However, special can not mean a black box that is designed to shield Pharma and place the burden unduly on the injured.  This court needs an overhaul in the worst way.  In the 2011 Supreme Court decision that upheld the law stating that parents can not sue in state court, dissenting Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg (the ruling was 6-2 in favor of Pharma shielding), stated that by shielding drugmakers from lawsuits, what the government is actually doing is removing the pressure to create better and safer vaccines.  I agree.


I think these steps would go a long way to having a vaccine system that has integrity.  I’m certain that most of the vaccine pushers would say all these things are pointless.  That’s fine but please stop pretending you “have no idea” why people don’t trust the system or that you are truly trying to ensure a fair and safe vaccine program.

I am not a loon or too young or a hyper-protective mother.  I am not “anti-vax” a term that just inflames and misses the point. I do not get all my information from “some random webiste”.  I am an intelligent woman who cares about my child’s health and that of my community.  I am not a conspiracy theorist nor do I wear a tinfoil hat.  I have sincere doubts about vaccines being a positive thing for our individual and communal health.  My doubts are enough to stop me from vaccinating my children.  Other mothers make different decisions.  None of us make them lightly.  Stop patronizing us.  It is misogynistic (those silly mothers!) and counterproductive to your mission.


note: my numbering was off due to multiple drafts of this post and there are actually FIVE listed!  I sold myself short on the post title.  I have fixed the numbering and the title but kept the permalink the same so any incoming links would still work!  Sorry!  Can I blame mommy brain?

Hib Vaccination: Missing the Forest for the Trees

I realize that I kind of dropped the ball on writing about vaccines.  I wrote about it a lot when I was researching it to make a decision for my family.  Then, there came a point where I was 100% convinced not to vaccinate and I stopped writing about it.

I would like to continue sharing my research about vaccines in the context of why we made the choice not to vaccinate.  Please use the information as a launching point for your own research.

Remeber you can always decide to vaccinate later but you can never unvaccinate.

What is Hib?

Haemophilus influenza type b is a bacterium that colonizes the nasopharynx of healthy people.  Most are asymptomatic while a few individuals, primarily children under the age of 5, will develop invasive disease where the bacterium causes infection.  Infection of the brain and spinal column, called meningitis, is the most frightening possibility and the one the vaccine is designed to avoid.

Remember, meningitis is not a virus or bacteria.  It is a type of infection, like pneumonia, that can be caused by a variety of things including various viruses, bacterium, or fungi.  You can’t “catch” meningitis.

I find that discussion of this vaccine often frame it as a vaccine against meningitis.  I feel this causes a false sense of security.  This is only one way that a person could get meningitis.

Hib is one type of Haemophilus influenza.  There are 6 different types (a-f) as well as “nontypeable” types.  Type b caused the most cases of invasive disease prior to the vaccine.

What are my child’s risk of catching Hib?

According to the CDC’s Pink Book risk factors for Hib include:

  • household crowding,
  • large household size,
  • child care attendance,
  • low socioeconomic status,
  • low parental education levels,
  • school-aged siblings,
  • not breastfeeding

It is also more prevalent in African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans and in males more than females.

As with all disease, risk of invasive infection is compounded by poor health or chronic disease such as sickle cell, cancer, etc.

Passive immunity conferred at birth to an infant from the mother is observed in Hib.  As a result infection in babies younger than 6 months is uncommon.

Breastfeeding offers a protective benefit to babies.  The effect was so strong that each additional week of breastfeeding confered measurably more protection.  For example, in this study in the International Journal of Epidemiology

The association of decreased risk for invasive HI infection and long duration of breastfeeding was persisting beyond the period of breastfeeding itself. This finding supports the hypothesis of a long-lasting protective effect of breastfeeding on the risk for invasive HI infection. 

This study also notes that Hib infection skyrocketted in the 70s at a time when breastfeeding rates were at an all time low.

Furthermore, nearly all children develop immunity to Hib before the age of 5 through asymptomatic exposure (see CDC Pink Book pg 88).

What is the Hib Vaccine?

Currently available Hib vaccines are conjugate vaccines.  This means they use a “carrier protein” to elicit an immune system response.  In this case the tetanus bacterium is used with the polysaccharide portion of the Hib bacterium.
Vaccine reactions include:

irritability, sleepiness, injection site pain/soreness, injection site erythema, injection site swelling/induration), unusual high-pitched crying, prolonged crying (>4 hr), diarrhea, vomiting, crying, pain, otitis media, rash, and upper respiratory infection.

Other reactions include transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, thrombocytopenia, anaphylaxis and sudden infant death syndrome.  Additionally, Hib disease can be a result of vaccination.

Does the vaccine work?

Let’s see.

  • 41-55% of Hib disease post-vaccination occurs in those having received at least one shot of the vaccines.
  • The vaccine manufacturers state the efficacy between 59-98% although studies have found efficacy numbers of 31% and lower (source).

Worse yet is what has replaced the previous Hib infections in 0-4 year olds:

  •  56% of invasive disease now occurs in individuals aged >10 years.
  • ” total numbers of invasive Hi infections increased due to a large rise in infections caused by non-capsulated Hi (ncHi) strains (source).”
  • “The number of cases of invasive nontypeable H. influenzae disease increased by 657%, from a low of 7 cases in 1996 to a high of 53 cases in 2004; as a proportion of annual cases, nontypeable H. influenzae disease increased from 17.5% in 1996 to 70.7% in 2004. Overall, the case-fatality rate was 12.7%, with the highest rate observed in persons aged > or = 65 years (20.6%) (source). “
  • The Journal of Infectious Diseases published  a study  which found:
    “The incidence of Hib meningitis decreased 69% during the 1-year period after initiation of Hib immunization (from 2.62 to 0.81 cases/100,000 person-years; P<.001). In contrast, the incidence for H. influenzae type a meningitis increased 8-fold.herefore, Hib immunization contributed to an increased risk for H. influenzae type a meningitis through selection of circulating H. influenzae type a clones.”

In other words, the type b infections have been replaced by and increase in nontypeable HI disease and has shifted outside the normal childhood infection age group.  Meningitis, the main fear behind creating the vaccine, has actually increased 8 fold.

Has this made us safer?  Healthier?

I think the Hib vaccine is a case of saving a tree and not noticing that the forest is burning down around you.  I have ways of protecting my kids from Hib (breastfeeding, healthy living conditions, nutrition, and medical care) without risking the side effects of the vaccine or contributing to the deterioration of global health through tampering with the balance of HI disease.

Drop-side Cribs, Penises, and Vaccines

Recently, the Consumer Products Safety Commission banned the use and sale of drop-side cribs in the US.  This certainly doesn’t bother me per se.  I’m all for making any child product safer.  However, this flury of news over the drop-side cribs is just so hypocritical!  This is why;

Drop-side Cribs vs. Co-sleeping

The CPSC is one of the loudest squawkers about the dangers of babies sleeping in adult beds.  Their campaign used the statistic that between 1999 and 2001, 180 babies under two died as a result of being in an adult bed. This statistic is based on an article published in Pediatrics that looked at all mechanical suffocation deaths during an 18 year period [Dorothy A. Drago and Andrew L. Dannenberg, “Infant Mechanical Suffocation Deaths in the United States, 1980-1997,” Pediatrics 103, no. 5 (1999): e59].  The actual number of deaths that happened in an adult bed during the 18 year period of the study is 139 or a little less than 8 deaths per year.

From the same study, there are 428 deaths that occurred in a crib or approximately 24 deaths per year.  Based on this I’m glad that the CPSC has turned its attention to the much more prevalent deaths in cribs instead of focusing on cosleepers.  However the number of deaths that prompted this most recent ban on drop-side cribs is 32 in 10 years.  That’s a little more than 2 per year.  So I’m left scratching my head at a regulatory agency that so indiscriminately decides to take action.

Of even more concern, one of the major producers and benefactors of anti-cosleeping propaganda is the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers, is ducking any responsibility for deaths caused by these cribs.  Here their rep is quoted as saying;

“When these products are used correctly, they’re perfectly safe,” said Mike Dwyer, executive director of the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents about 90 percent of crib manufacturers. “Many of these incidents involved improper assembly. There are a lot of second-hand cribs sold through garage sales, thrift stores, and that’s a problem. They have missing hardware or missing instructions . . . Some parents and caregivers are using bailing wire and duct tape.”

So it is the parents fault.  And yet, cosleeping deaths are lumped together – regardless of if the parent was drunk, sleeping on a sofa, or other known unsafe practices.  Mr. Dwyer wants to push for better guidelines for proper assembly of their product but the do not under any circumstances want proper cosleeping habits to be circulated.  The only answer for unsafe cosleeping is to put your baby in our safe crib.

Drop-side Cribs vs. Circumcision

Recently there has been a move in San Francisco to ban circumcision. The reaction in much of the comments range from disbelief to outrage at this “intrusion” on parental rights (of course, there are anti-genital mutilation activists in the mix as well).  You can read my thoughts on this barbaric, and unnecessary cosmetic procedure here but the real question is why aren’t people upset that the government is forcing them to get rid of their oft expensive cribs?  It must be because the cribs are so dangerous and circumcision is harmless right?

Ummm, no.  So, there were 32 deaths in ten years due to these drop-side cribs or 2 per year.  The estimated amount of deaths directly related to circumcision is 117 per year.  Yes, PER YEAR in the US [THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90].  That means your child, if a boy, is 53 times more likely to die from a completely avoidable surgery than he is to suffocate in a poorly designed crib.

Drop-side Cribs vs. Vaccines

Vaccines are COMPLETELY safe.  Dr. Offit says so.  There is no possible way that children die due to vaccinations.  No. Possible. Way.

How do the 32 deaths in 10 years stack up to vaccine-related deaths?  Between 2000 and 2010 (to date) there have been 957 deaths in children under 2 reported to VAERS.  This database is self-reporting and estimated by the CDC to capture only 10% of actual cases.  But even if we take the numbers at face value that is 95 deaths each year in children under 2.  This goes beyond the debate about vaccines causing things like ADHD and autism.  This is verifiable deaths like Ian’s (warning: triggering images and story).

Christie Haskel also talks about the dangers of infant car seats vs. cribs here.

Once again, I’m not really upset that they are recalling cribs.  Good for them for pulling something that might not be safe but I’m just dumbfounded at the contradictions and duplicity of these regulatory entities that are meant to protect us and the media coverage of different “alerts”!  What is a conscientious mother to do?  For me, I don’t take anything at face value.  I read.  I read some more.  I draw my own conclusions and trust thousands of years of maternal instinct.  Luckily my children’s stuffed animals are pretty safe in their non-drop-side crib down the hall far from where they sleep.

What are your thoughts on the crib recall?