Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Our Pediatrician has an Agenda

The human immune system is an amazing thing - when it works, anyway. I never knew this until Tuff Jr. was born, but apparently a newborn's "mature" immune system is inherited from the mother. This gives the child a fighting chance against the plethora of microscopic nasties out there while it grows and its own system gears up to take over. It's a pretty ingenious mechanism, until your kid starts mingling with other infantile petri dishes and brings home their first cold.

And so it has been at Castle Tuff these past few weeks. Sweatshirts of mine that once were monotone were quickly changed into groovy tie-dyes of baby phlegm and drool that Jerry Garcia could not have designed as dada and mama stayed up trying to get our son to sleep. As luck would have it, Tuff Jr. was scheduled for his one-year doctor visit and vaccinations just as his worst symptoms were subsiding. We had the usual questions about the shots he was to receive, side effects, thimerosal content, etc. but before anyone addressed them, we received some sheets of paper that were "about the immunizations." What we received were three sheets of paper. Two of them described the pending injections and one of them was from the American Academy of Pediatrics, titled: "1 to 2 Years, Safety for Your Child." It was the first page.

Just below the title was the following information:

"Did you know that injuries are the leading cause of death of children younger than 4 years in the United States? Most of these injuries can be prevented."

So, as a concerned - and often paranoid father, I continued to read. This paper then went on to list the preventable fatal injuries apparently most common to young children. I guess I should not have been surprised at what I read next, but I was. The very first preventable injury listed was:

"Firearm Hazards - Children in homes where guns are present are in more danger of being shot by themselves, their friends, or family members than of being injured by an intruder. It is best to keep all guns out of the home. Handguns are especially dangerous. If you chose to keep a gun, keep it unloaded and in a locked place separate from the ammunition. Ask if the homes where your child visits or is cared for have guns and how they are stored."

After this were other potential and avoidable lethal hazards for children. In order, they were:

And Remember Car Safety

(I am not listing the discussion following these topics for brevity.)

So being the "Think Globally, Shoot Locally" kind of guy I am, I decided to do a little research. The most recent compiled data I could find to list causes of death for age groups was the "National Vital Statistic Report" for 2000 from the CDC.

Lo and behold, what did I find?

On table 9 - page 27, "Accidents" was the leading causes of death of children 1-4 years old, just as the American Academy of Pediatrics said (12.1 per 100,000). But then, on table 11 - page 34, the category of "Accidents" is broken down as follows:

Transportation accidents: 4.6 deaths per 100,000
Drowning/Submersion: 3.3 deaths per 100,000
Smoke/Fire Exposure: 1.9 deaths per 100,000
Accidental Falls: 0.2 deaths per 100,000
Poisonings: 0.2 deaths per 100,000
Other: 1.8 deaths per 100,000

Now since the American Academy of Pediatrics saw fit to list "Firearm Hazards" first in their paper, where might you imagine that this cause of death fits on the scales of the CDC report?

Accidental discharge of firearms: *

Yep! A freaking asterisk! That means according to the footnotes of table 11, the figure "does not meet the standards of reliability or precision." Which means it is BASICALLY ZERO per 100,000. And since "Falls" are listed at 0.2, we have to assume that the accidental firearm hazard is far enough below this to earn the coveted asterisk.

So let's be good sports and include another related category from the same table of the CDC report shall we?

Discharge of firearms, undetermined intent: *

There it is again! That damned asterisk!

Now look at the list from the CDC. Transportation accidents, at 4.6 per 100,000 are far and away the leading cause of death for children 1-4 (Of the 4.6, motor vehicle accidents comprised 4.3). Yet the American Academy of Pediatrics saw fit to put that cause last. And while discharge of firearms (accidental or undetermined origin) didn't ever register in the CDC report, the American Academy of Pediatrics put that first - presumably because it presents the greatest danger.


Let's take a closer look at the helpful insight from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

"Children in homes where guns are present are in more danger of being shot by themselves, their friends, or family members than of being injured by an intruder."

Pretty persuasive "fact" huh? The original argument by the American Academy of Pediatrics is in regards to children in the home of a gun owner (legal or illegal? They don't say). Then they provide a statistic that a child can be shot by "themselves, their friends, or family members," implying of course that it is the parent's gun being used. It's a shame they don't state this though, eh? It is also interesting that they include the group "friends." However as is pointed out by John Lott, "friends" or "acquaintances" can mean many things:

"You are referring to the often-cited statistic that 58 percent of murder victims are killed by either relatives or acquaintances. However, what most people don't understand is that this "acquaintance murder" number also includes gang members killing other gang members, drug buyers killing drug pushers, cabdrivers killed by customers they picked up for the first time, prostitutes and their clients, and so on. "Acquaintance" covers a wide range of relationships."

Lets look at what else this handout to parents said:

"Handguns are especially dangerous."

How do they know this? There is no data from the report that indicates whether handguns, rifles or BB guns cause the most accidental deaths, since the category has an asterisk. How are they getting this data?

I believe that this statement outlines their overall motivation:

"It is best to keep all guns out of the home."

Why on earth would the American Academy of Pediatrics give top billing to a cause of death for children that does not even register with the CDC? And why do they list the primary cause of accidental death for this same age group last, on the back side of the handout? They even give it an "oh yea" level of importance by stating, "And Remember Car Safety" - like I'm going to forget and leave Tuff Jr. on the roof of my car when I pull out of the garage.

The only feasible explanation is that this organization has an agenda - and apparently this agenda is more important to them then our children's health. It seems that the American Academy of Pediatrics has caught a political virus that they would be better off being immunized against. Time to turn your head and cough.


Post a Comment

<< Home