Friday, October 17, 2008

Brain Fight

I try to be fair and balanced as well as self-critical. I don't always try hard, but I do try.

Case in point: PZ Myers recommends the web site Stop Jenny McCarthy. The point of stopping Jenny McCarthy is that she's spreading false information about autism, and since it's about autism and how best to approach, treat, and think about that condition, and not just about some bloodless chewtoy of a topic, it is indeed important to stop Jenny McCarthy.

Parents should know that contrary to what Jenny McCarthy and her allies say, vaccines do not cause autism. Withholding vaccines will not prevent autism, but will leave your child -- and potentially other children -- exposed to serious, even fatal, conditions.

But here's the thing. I find Jenny McCarthy very attractive, and have for as long as I've known there was a Jenny McCarthy. I'm right now resisting the excuse this post affords me to google up an image of her and add it to this post. I won't, but part of me wants to. A particular part wants me to.

So there it is, and therefore when men sign on to the Sarah Palin bandwagon because (or even partly because) they find Sarah Palin attractive, I disagree with them but I can't claim I am innocent of such wanderings from the straight path of reason.

Still. Sarah Palin? She's a proven liar and shockingly incompetent.

And Jenny McCarthy is spreading dangerous untruths.


Domestically Challenged said...

Hmmmmm, vaccines are one of my hot button issues!

I think it is unfortunate that the Mercury scare has overshadowed the other important issues surrounding the way we do vaccines here in the US. My reasons for delaying and selectively vaccinating have nothing to do with Autism and everything to do with what I learned back in my medical training about artificial vs natural immunity and the concern of what over vaccinating is doing to the human immune system. Once upon a time we thought it was imperative to counter the dangers of bacterial infection with prophylactic antibiotics. That didn't go so well and now we realize a) what that really did for the evil bacteria (eery laughter) and b) that our bodies, if left to do their natural thing, can actually benefit from fighting off *certain* bacteria all by it's lonesome!

So much of the US/CDC vaccine policy is POLITICALLY driven. We are vaccinating against a few diseases most people recover from with out complication and we are doing so because in a *small minority* of cases there were complications which resulted in rallying Senators to join a crushed parent's plight... blablabla... new vaccine is developed and passed through congress to be required by law.

Our 2yr schedule is NOT because children need to be vaccinated w/in their first 2 yrs of life for the benefit of a young child's health, but because it was found that parents tend to be really good about keeping medical appointments ONLY in the first 2 yrs but not so much after that. When vaccines are spread out over a 6yr schedule, vaccine compliance was down. So, we now shove them all into that small 2 yr window. That's too much!

We also have vaccine requirements based on WHO recommendations and not the actual threat of disease here in our country. Hep B is not epidemic or even close to it here in the US (or world wide) but it is in some parts of the world where health care and sex education are greatly lacking. WHO makes it's attempt to control the growing rate by vaccinating in first world countries where immigrants from those hot zones sometimes give birth. Vaccinate the kid before they go back to their parent's home country and get infected. Since we can't discriminate by vaccinating only certain demographics ALL kids get the Hep B vaccine. There is a high incidence of negative rxn to the the Hep B vaccine. It also doesn't always "take" which is why adults who received the vaccine do a titer to check immunity... yet we don't titer our children.

And finally, because, you know, I'm not off the topic of Autism enough here already, it really pisses me off that I as a parent (with a medical degree) don't have the freedom to do what I feel is best for my child's health, under the supervision of our physician. Vaccines are law because that was the only way they could legally be provided by the govt to the indigent population who otherwise could not afford immunizations.

It's really not always about Autism. Sorry for the long winded babble.

Dale said...

DC, dang, you really know how to complicate a perfectly straightforward morality tale with "facts" and "insights" and "knowledge" and "experience," don't you? I hate it when that happens.

Both as a parent and as someone who follows the matter not terribly closely, I've learned about the controversy over autism and its relationship with vaccines. I think it's important to debunk the vaccines = autism myth, as it just ain't so (and I see that you realize that).

Everything you say makes a lot of sense -- it goes beyond unfounded fears of autism. You've brought sides and aspects into the discussion that I did not know were there to be considered. That's helpful and I thank you for it.

As for the political and obligatory nature of it, I'm not sure I agree completely. I don't think there's a "non-political" answer available here. I think lawmakers face a not-so-easy choice between the reality that (a) good parents don't need responsible care measures required of them and yet (b) a whole lot of people aren't good parents for a variety of familiar reasons -- e.g., maybe they don't know because they don't have the time/money to find out about things they don't even know they don't know (a common affliction), maybe they don't care (sadly, also a common affliction).

Anyway, thanks. Clearly I have more to learn on this topic.

Domestically Challenged said...

I don't believe there is a "non-political" answer either. Immunizations will continue to be a topic of great controversy for years to come with in the medical community (and beyond). Too much remains unknown about the long term effects of our current CDC schedule. Only time will tell. Until then, the majority of medical practitioners will continue protecting public health in our present manner.

I just had to say, "Hey, it goes far beyond Autism!"