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TIME magazine

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...161253,00.html

Last fall a handful of us wanted to get our tots flu shots without the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, which some people suspect is a risk factor for autism. Still searching for a new pediatrician, I asked a friend's doctor about the issue and was assured that kids' flu shots never contain thimerosal. A second friend was told the same thing by her doctor. It was very comforting--and very untrue.

Another friend's doctor, meanwhile, informed her that all childrens' flu shots contain thimerosal. Also not true. In reality, a less prevalent thimerosal-free version can be had for a few extra bucks.


As a physician, I was completely flabbergasted and embarrassed to learn that my understanding that thimerosal had been completely removed from child vaccinations was wrong (thank you, Long Island).

In trying to talk to my pediatrician colleagues about this, there is a complete wall of hostility and resistence. Basically, their contention is that they (the pediatricians) have decided that the thimerosal risk is not real. Therefore, they are justified in admiinistering it to children. Furthermore (more shocking to me), they feel no obligation to specifically discuss this issue with parents, educate them and elicit their understanding and cooperation. So long as the routine 'VIS' - vaccination information sheet - is signed and on the chart, they feel their job is done.

I'm not feeling very comfortable about the ethics or credibility of my profession right now.
post #2 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed
I'm not feeling very comfortable about the ethics or credibility of my profession right now.
I know that was probably very difficult for you to write, especially on this forum. Thank you for taking a closer look at this issue.


This is the information (if you want to call it that) the CDC has released to the public regarding thimerosal in influenza vaccine:

http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/thimerosal.htm

I use the term "laughable" a lot on this forum and this Q&A CDC page on thimerosal in influenza vaccine is just that . . . laughable and misleading to say the least.
post #3 of 24
My husband often feels the same way. He would really like someone to comiserate with (besides me, lol), if you'd like.

nak, will try toreply later when i can actually type.
post #4 of 24
It's so nice to see a pediatrician who is willing to question...

My MIL got a flu shot for my nephew this year after being assured that it did not contain mercury.

Bold. Faced. Lie.
post #5 of 24
Blessed:

I'm so glad you stuck around even after all the controversy .

THANK YOU for being a pediatrician who is willing to actually research this subject and open your eyes to the truth. It gives me hope for your profession and hope that many children will be spared a life of pain and suffering because you now understand. Please continue to talk about this subject with your colleagues. Encourage them to do their own research.

post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the kind words.

Just to clarify, I'm actually a surgeon (adult), rather than a pediatrician.

To be honest, I'm not convinced that there has been any demonstration that there is a link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders (you guys won't like that part, I know ). Not that I'm convinced that there is not a link necessarily. There may very well be. But the current data is very equivocal and doesn't allow me to draw a definitive conclusion.

However, in 1999 the FDA, CDC, NIH and the American Academy of Pediatrics reviewed the data that was available. They determined in a joint statement that, while there was no proof of injury at that time, it was a plausbile hypothesis for this known toxin to cause neurological injury to the developing brain. Therefore, they recommended withdrawal of thimerosal from all pharmaceutical administered to children, pregnant or nursing women.

This was mostly done, and thimerosal exposures today are a fraction of what they were seven or eight years ago. However, influenza was recently recommended for pediatric use, and it still is manufactured with thimerosal when supplied in the multi dose vial. So, unless you specify thimerosal free - or the more expensive single dose vial - your child will receive thimerosal if you choose to get him/her a flu shot.

I argued with my peds friends that, if the FDA advised me not to give a drug to children - any drug - then by god, I would not give that drug to children. If for some reason I thought that there was no other option available, then I would most certainly have a detailed discussion with the parents as to why I was recommending the drug. The parents would then be able to make an informed decision about whether to use it or not.

The way the peds are currently practicing, this decision - and all of the information behind it - is withheld from parents.

To me, that is a breach of medical ethics.
post #7 of 24
We need another Medical Heretic.
post #8 of 24
Thanks, blessed, for your post.

BTW I get TIME and that article had me steamed. Not that part (I know that happens every day) but the part about how not vaxing your kids is definitely dangerous. We'll see, won't we.
post #9 of 24
thank you so much for giving this further thought & being willing to post. we don't bite, really. (much )
post #10 of 24
First of all, thank you for sticking around and thank you doubly for posting what you did in your first post.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed
Thanks for the kind words.

To be honest, I'm not convinced that there has been any demonstration that there is a link between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders (you guys won't like that part, I know ). Not that I'm convinced that there is not a link necessarily. There may very well be. But the current data is very equivocal and doesn't allow me to draw a definitive conclusion.


Second, I can understand why you are not yet convinced either way. I have a suggestion, if you are interested? Please read David Kirby's Evidence of Harm, just released in paperback yesterday (updated from the hardcover edition that came out last April).
Kirby's book is, IMO, very fair. Not alarmist in the least, not even anti-vaccine at all. He simply tells the story of thimerosal and autism, up to the present time (or at least when it went to print). It is chilling. I bought hardcover copies for two pediatricians I know. I have no idea if either read them.

Anyway, if you really want to know, look. Read the studies and see what you think. Evaluate the methods used in those epidemiology studies that proclaim the theory should once and for all be laid to rest.

But be prepared to have your confidence in your profession further eroded.
post #11 of 24
One very good clue that they know that thimerosal *does* cause a whole host of problems is the plain and simple fact that they had it removed from most vaccines. They can say all they want that they don't know for sure that it's true, but when was the last time you heard of the FDA, CDC or any other governmental agency creating policies based on popular opinion? It doesn't happen. They don't request the removal of thimerosal just because a few parents out there raised a ruckus. They've requested it's removal and they'll leave it at that for a few years. Maybe in a few more years they'll admit it's a problem. As of right now, they just can't do that. How would that look? Come on, do you really, really, really, really believe they took it out just to make parents happy? Do you really, truly, honestly believe that in the depths of your soul? My guess is that you know better, if you'll only give it the consideration it deserves. You don't even need to read study after study. They don't set policy based on public opinion - especially when it's only a minority of people who believe said opinion. No way.
post #12 of 24
Read anything by your colleague, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, THE Medical Heretic.

Little has changed since he first wrote that book in 1977.

His first granddaughter, Hannah, whose birth at home he wrote about in the last chapter, is now about 28-29, and probably a mother herself.
post #13 of 24
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post #14 of 24
post #15 of 24
A few of us are lucky enough to have a Dr. like you, who is willing to learn, discuss, and disclose.
post #16 of 24
But most of us have docs or have at least experienced them, that IF they are willing to "talk" , it's lectures of old and misinformed information. It's bullying and a sheer unwillingness to see another side, of a parent of a child for crying out loud. They question your credibility, where you got your information "THE INTERNET????" they say. If you start the conversation instead of just saying no thanks, not today, it's a toe to toe battle that you can't win because they will never understand informed consent, nor think it's something parents should have the right to have.

It must be very hard for you to see this in your own profession, but try being on the other side. and i don't mean that harsh. What if you are one of the parents that has your child damaged and forever changed because they lacked in ethics. It's just so hard to express how it is to be on the other side and be in this position. I would feel betrayed, if I were in your position, so you can imagine how most of us on this forum feel when we are dealing with the lives of the people we are responsible for and love to no end. That is where all the passion has come from.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by girlsmamma2
It must be very hard for you to see this in your own profession, but try being on the other side..
Lucky me, I get the full exposure of both perspectives, being that I'm also a mother and a patient, as well as a physician. I posted on another thread about switching from a pediatrician to a family practitioner for my child's care, exactly for many of the reasons you've listed.

But then, I also just ranted on a physician's website about taking my 2 yo to her doc with near respiratory collapse from what turned out to be RSV with undiagnosed asthma exacerbation (I'd been telling her doc for 4 months that I thought she had asthma, but because she always looked normal by the time I got her in for an exam, the doc didn't want to make the diagnosis ). My baby was so hypoxic (low oxygen to the brain) that she was confused, thrashing around and screaming when they tried to examine her - which she NEVER does. The doc wrote her off as an 'uncooperative child', and said that 'she must be doing okay' since she was resisting so vigorously .

I went from there immediately to the emergency room where she was found to have an oxygen saturation of 88%, low enough to cause confusion and diminished mentation (anything below 92% warrants admission to the hospital for oxygen and observation), as well as a heart rate of 190 - over twice normal.

It frightens me to think what might have happened if I'd not known better than to simply take her home as I'd been advised.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by blessed
I went from there immediately to the emergency room where she was found to have an oxygen saturation of 88%, low enough to cause confusion and diminished mentation (anything below 92% warrants admission to the hospital for oxygen and observation), as well as a heart rate of 190 - over twice normal.

It frightens me to think what might have happened if I'd not known better than to simply take her home as I'd been advised.
That sucks. I hope your little girl is doing better.

Not to beat a dead horse, but if you can't get respect as a fellow physician from your family doctor, can you imagine what some of the mamas here go through to get taken seriously?
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MomInFlux
That sucks. I hope your little girl is doing better.

Not to beat a dead horse, but if you can't get respect as a fellow physician from your family doctor, can you imagine what some of the mamas here go through to get taken seriously?
Thank you. She is indeed amazingly better now that we've got the asthma under control.

Yes, I get a pretty clear notion of the opinion that most pediatrician's hold about parents, and as usual, mothers take the brunt of that. It's pretty easy to see why people have turned away from traditional allopathic medicine in such droves. Very, very unfortunate - I think - because the basis of scientific based medical care is there. The field of medicine is not the problem. It's the practice of medicine that goes awry.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
The way the peds are currently practicing, this decision - and all of the information behind it - is withheld from parents.

To me, that is a breach of medical ethics.
thank you for writing this--this is exactly what i want to say to my pedi (who gave the girls their last ever shot). i was uneducated then. can i say it to my pedi? is there a way?
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