USA Infant Mortality Rate is low. Part 2

There are claims, by those opposed to vaccines, that vaccines are the cause for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs.” Some people think that the only thing that caused infants to die, 50 or more years ago, was poor nutrition and unclean water. This could not be farther from the truth.

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As you can see, infant mortality rates in USA. Please visit Part 1 for details.

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Even when presented with this evidence, persons opposed to vaccines will claim that the rate would be lower if the USA did not have ‘the highest vaccination rate in the world.’ Or, they will claim the USA ‘is the only country on earth to vaccinate newborns.’  (I am paraphrasing from what I have read online.)  So, does the USA have the highest vaccination rate in the world? Are we the only country on earth to vaccinate newborns? Let’s take a look.

Australia: Hep B at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

Israel: Hep B at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

Amongst other European countries, the following routinely give Hep B at birth to all infants: Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. The following countries routinely give tuberculosis (BCG) as well as Hep B vaccine to newborns:  Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Slovenia. All of the rest of European countries do give these vaccines to newborns but only in recommended groups. All of these countries also give vaccines for pertussis, diphtheria, polio and tetanus to infants in the early months. The following countries also give rotavirus to infants, some as young as six weeks: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland and the United Kingdom.

What about in Asian countries or thereabouts?

Singapore: Hep B and BCG at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

Hong Kong: Hep B and BCG at birth, infant schedule a lot like USA’s

The World  Health Organization has a search engine for immunization schedules. The following additional countries to routine Hep B immunization for newborns: Algeria, Botswana, Bhutan, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Nigeria, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu.

All of these countries also routinely give children most, if not all, of the same vaccines we give in USA.

As you can see, it only takes a bit of leg work to disprove the myth that American babies are dying more than ever and that USA vaccinates more than other countries. American babies are LIVING more than ever and we DO NOT vaccinate more than the rest of the world.

 

Remember to always think for yourself!

 

Kathy

 

Be sure to read part 3: USA does not vaccinate more than other countries

USA Infant Mortality Rate is low. Part 1

Lately, I keep reading comments from people saying that the hepatitis b vaccine for newborns, along with the rest of the infant vaccines, is causing massive infant deaths in USA. They say that vaccines are the reason the infant mortality rate is abysmally low. They say that vaccines are murdering babies.

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This is confounding when you look at the actual evidence. Infants in USA are not dying. They are living more than ever before in history. SUID and SIDS rates are both at all time lows.  Look at these two graphs.

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In 1935, the infant mortality rate (IMR) was 55.7 deaths per 100 live births. In 2000, it was 6.9. In 2015, it was 5.87 deaths per 1000 live births. From 55.7 to 5.87 in less than 100 years is an astounding decrease.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the USA currently ranks 167th best, out of 224 countries, for Infant Mortality. The worst is Afghanistan at 115/1000 and the best is Monaco at 1.82/1000.  But, look at the countries close to our statistics:

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We are much closer to the best countries than we are to the worst. There are many countries in the same 5 range as  USA. Pretty much all the countries with better IMRs have socialized medicine and far less poverty (meaning more welfare and higher taxes) than USA. Plus, there is an additional reason the USA has a higher IMR than some of the best countries: we count premature births differently and we have significant issues with regards to income and other demographics. According to Chen, Oster, and Williams, some European countries count very premature infants who then die not as infant deaths but as miscarriages. We count them as infant deaths, in USA. Also, there are dramatic differences, in USA, between socioeconomic groups. “Digging deeper into these numbers, Oster and her colleagues found that the higher U.S. mortality rates are due “entirely, or almost entirely, to high mortality among less advantaged groups.” To put it bluntly,” says the Washington Post,  “babies born to poor moms in the U.S. are significantly more likely to die in their first year than babies born to wealthier moms.”

 

April 2017 Update:   A new report shows infant mortality rate decreased 15% in the last ten years. That is astounding!

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As you can see in this graph, the race difference is profound:

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Now, some people opposed to vaccines like to say that SIDS is a made up diagnosis, one that did not exist before vaccines. That is because we used to call it cot death or crib death and it was poorly understood. It is clear, however, by looking at the above graphs that infant mortality is lower than ever before in USA. We may vaccinate more, we may have only recently started to vaccinate newborns, but it is indisputable that babies are dying less and less in USA. And that is wonderful news.

And, lest you still think vaccines might be associated with SIDS, read this study. Vaccines cut the risk of SIDS in half.  That’s astounding!

Stay tuned for part 2, coming soon: Many countries vaccinate newborns.

 

Remember to think for yourself!

 

Kathy

 

 

There is no autism epidemic

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One argument made by people opposed to vaccination is that autism is new, caused by vaccines, and is an epidemic. In the film Vaxxed, which I watched and reviewed here, the filmmakers quote Dr Stephanie Seneff, a computer scientist, as saying that by 2032, 80% of boys, 50% of all children, will be on the autism spectrum.  Respectful Insolence blog has done a nice job of debunking Seneff’s claims. Even though we know Dr Seneff is wrong, there are people who worry she could be correct.

I have already shown you how vaccines do not cause autism.  That argument involved looking at autism and immunization science. Some people don’t trust the science. If you discount the science because you do not trust it, there is another way of making this argument and it debunks the idea that autism is new and an epidemic. This way uses logic, which is reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. This is not about feelings. This is like how Mr Spock from Star Trek talks and reasons.

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Logic statements have rules or conditions. They are called conditional statements. for example,  “If all philosophers are thinkers and John is a philosopher, then John is a thinker,” is logical because if one is true and the other is true, then the third must be true.

 If the mental retardation and schizophrenia rates in USA used to be 3-5% and the current diagnosis of similar behavior is now called autism or intellectual disability and rates are currently 3-5%, then the autism rate is not increasing. 

Autism is not new. Mental retardation and schizophrenia rates have decreased as autism and intellectual disability rates have increased. This is because we have new terms for behaviors which have been in humanity for all eternity. A current diagnosis of autism includes behaviors we formerly diagnosed as mental retardation. Look at this meme from RtAVM. It makes the point visually.

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First, a bit of history. Prior to the early 1900s, we did not have many good tools for diagnosing and treating people who had any differences from the “norm” with regards to their thinking and behavior. Gradually, the fields of psychiatry and psychology, as well as other social and behavioral sciences, have learned more and more about human behavior and the brain.  In his book, Neurotribes, Steve Silberman goes through the “earliest days of autism research” and he  chronicles “the brave and lonely journey of autistic people and their families through the decades.” I highly recommend this book as a starting place for anyone wanting to learn about the history of autism.

Prior to the 1970s, we did not have special education in the USA. Two legal cases from the early 1970s, Pennsylvania Assn. for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (PARC) and Mills v. Board of Education of District of Columbia, paved the way for more laws that have led to what we know today as special education. In 1972, Congress decided to investigate how children with disabilities were living and found many problems, including lack of education. In 1975, they passed The Education for All Handicapped Children Act. Congress has since amended and added to it and renamed it IDEA, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Since 1975, more and more children are now educated in schools and, in order to do so, many changes have been made to medical and educational diagnoses for behavior and disabilities.  When I was a young child, in the early 1970s, we did not find any children with disabilities in the schools. My mother paid for private tutoring for my brother, who had a mild reading issue. There was no reading specialist in schools. Children with severe disabilities were institutionalized and children with mild disabilities struggled and often dropped out of school. Children with behavior issues fared poorly in school. Many school-related issues were blamed on the child or on parenting practices. All that has changed, thanks to IDEA, including the labels we give to children to enable them to get the services they need.

Before IDEA, a diagnosis of autism was rare. More likely, children with severe symptoms were labelled “mentally retarded” or “schizophrenic.” Yes, you read that correctly. Please continue to read as I explain.

In an analysis of the prevalence of mental retardation, Dutch epidemiologists Roeleveld and Zilhuis looked at rates for severe MR as well as mild from 1939 through 1986. They concluded, from looking at data from many countries, including USA, that the rate of mental retardation in children was 3%.

Now, look at the graph below. Yes, I know some of you don’t like Autism Speaks, but I am using this graph to make a point. The rate of autism appears to have risen dramatically since 1975. But, Autism Speaks published this graph and stated “approximately 53% percent of the increase in autism prevalence over time may be explained by changes in diagnosis (26%), greater awareness (16%), and an increase in parental age (11%).”  They acknowledge how the increase has many factors behind it.

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Today, in 2016, the Autism Science Foundation says the rate of Autism in USA is 1 in 68, which is 1.47%. Others think the rate of autism is 1:45, which is about 2%.  As of 2014, an estimated 5.4% of children between ages 5 and 17 qualify as disabled in some way. This includes hearing and vision disabilities as well as ambulatory disabilities and all other categories of disabilities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14% of public school children qualify for special education services under IDEA. This includes children with speech and language impairments, learning disabilities, and many other categories. (Remember, none of these children would have had services at all prior to IDEA). Of those 14%, 8% are labelled autistic and 7% are labelled with an intellectual disability (ID). Thus, 1.12% and 0.98%, respectively, of public school children are autistic or have an ID. This comes to 2% of public school children. Doubtless, there are also children with ID or autism diagnosis not in public schools so, for the sake of the argument, let’s assume the autism plus ID rate is at least 2% in real life, in USA.

We no longer use the term “mentally retarded.”  So, what happened to it?  Are there no longer any children suffering symptoms we used to label “MR?”  Far from it. We changed the diagnosis from mental retardation to autism and intellectual disability. We know a lot more today than we used to about how intellectual quotient (IQ) tests are not the best way to define a person’s abilities.  In 1941, mental retardation was defined as social incompetence associated with deficits in mental ability. In 1959, it was “subaverage general intellectual functioning which originates during the developmental period and is associated win adaptive behavior.” In 1973, the definition changed again, to subaverage general intellectual functioning.

Meanwhile, according to Autism Speaks,  in the 1970s, autism was beginning to be understood as “a biological disorder of brain development.” In the 1980s, the diagnosis manual (DSM-III) first distinguishes autism from childhood schizophrenia and then the DSM-IIIR showed a checklist of criteria for diagnosing autism. By 2000, the DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR had expanded the definition of autism to include Asperger’s syndrome. In 2015, a Danish study found the “vast majority of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders today would never have qualified under the 1980 classification, and no formal classification separate from schizophrenia existed before then.” Dr Jess P Shatkin writes that most of the early work on childhood “schizophrenia” was really about autism. We also know that in the 1940s, Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger delineated two forms of autism out of the pool of schizophrenia psychoses. Back then, anyone who would today have been labelled Aspergers would have just been called odd. Aspergers did not become an official diagnosis until 1994. Currently, we no longer commonly diagnose children as schizophrenic. Today, this is a very rare diagnosis.

Since the 1970s, thanks in part to IDEA and related research, the diagnosis of mental retardation has been used less and less. Gradually, the shift was made to using the term intellectual disabilities. In 2013, the term “mental retardation” was struck from federal registers by President Obama. It was replaced with the term “intellectual disability.”

So, here is what we know:

  • mental retardation and schizophrenia rates in USA used to be 3-5%
  • current (2016) autism rate is 1.47-2%
  • approximately 1% of public school children are identified as intellectually disabled
  • mental retardation diagnosis was replaced by intellectual disability or autism diagnosis
  • Aspergers was not commonly diagnosed until recently
  • 1+2=3
  • There is a small percentage of children diagnosed as autistic or intellectually disabled who are in private schools. They are not accounted for in the federal special education statistics. Let’s say they would be 1-2%.
  • 3+2=5

If we add all of that together, what I see is that the rate of severe autism has not changed much in the 100 years we have been tracking these kinds of diagnosis. We have just changed the name for it. Three percent (3%) of public school children fall in the autism or intellectual disability diagnoses. This is a similar rate to the mental retardation and schizophrenia rates of yesteryear.

 

Autism is not new.

 

 

Remember to think for yourself.

 

Kathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haters gonna hate

Why do some people opposed to vaccines have hate in their hearts for those who advocate for vaccines? Are some humans are just really mean people or are these persons opposed to vaccines like wounded animals: they are hurt and acting mean as a self-defense mechanism. What is the explanation for creating memes like this?  How do people justify  writing horrible things about vaccine advocates?

 

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I really don’t know who created this meme. It has been shared many times all over the internet. This is just the most recent tweet of it I could find.  It’s a picture of Dr Richard Pan, California state senator and one of the authors of the vaccine bill SB277. They make memes and say thinks like this about him all the time. He is compared to Hitler, all sorts of evil characters, and worse.

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“But I keep cruising
Can’t stop, won’t stop moving
It’s like I got this music
In my mind
Saying, “It’s gonna be alright.”

‘Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off
Heart-breakers gonna break, break, break, break, break
And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, fake, fake
Baby, I’m just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

I never miss a beat
I’m lightning on my feet
And that’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm
That’s what they don’t see, mmm-mmm ”

I think this must be Dr Pan’s inner theme song because he and his team really do just keep on moving, even when haters post hateful images and comments about him.

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This one is from Dr Pan’s page yesterday.  If a child made a comment like this in school today, we would have no problem considering this child a bully. What makes grown adults think it is acceptable to make comments like this online? And, don’t they realize comments like this can be saved forever? What if this person goes to apply for a job and her potential employer does a google search?  He or she will find comments like this and think what? What will they think? This is not going to make this person look very good, I think.

I know that when I first started using the internet, more than 20 years ago, I took a seminar called “The internet and the law.” I was interested in using computers in educational settings. The attorney running the seminar made a living representing school districts and others when they got in trouble for doing something stupid online. He tried to fix their mistakes and he also counseled school districts how to protect themselves and students from harm. He advised us to never post anything thinking it would be private. Everything can be hacked. Always use protections, like antivirus and malware software, always back things up, always post statements we would be okay with our mother reading. That one stuck with me. When you post online, don’t post anything that can later be used against you to make you look bad. No threats, no nastiness, no nudity, no porn, nothing illegal, nothing secretive. This is especially important advice for kids who practically live on line. Future employers can and will Google you. They can find the things you think are secret.

So, why don’t grown up antivaxers realize this lesson? Why do they think it is okay to engage in online terrorism against people of opposing positions? Twitter is the worst place simply because they have much more lax rules about harrassment than Facebook and forums.

 

More nasty memes made about Dr Pan, this time including Dr Dorit Rubinstein Reiss,  Dr Paul Offit, and long-time vaccine advocate, Liz Ditz. These are all kind people in real life. People who have tremendous expertise in their fields, people who never engage in nastiness towards others. Dorit, especially, is very kind and patient with people opposed to vaccines. I am fortunate to know them all and call Dorit my friend.

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And, yet, they make pictures about her like this one above. I am not even sure what it means but it doesn’t look positive. The floating head in the helmet is the Skeptical Raptor. 

They can’t even take a joke.  Dorit and a friend once posed, in jest, in front of a Pfizer sign.  It is pretty funny. For someone who is called a “pharma shill” and a “troll” every day, Dorit handles it all with grace. Yet, early this week, prominent antivaxer, Ginger Taylor, felt the need to steal the photograph and post it on her own wall on Facebook.

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When it comes to healthcare and science and medicine, what matters is the science. But, to some of the people opposed to vaccines, it is perfectly acceptable to mock and belittle a person’s looks, accent, even the way their children look.

 

Yes, they stole a picture of Dr Reiss’ child and mocked and belittled it. They took a picture of a lovely, healthy child with rosy cheeks and decided he is vaccine injured and sickly.  What kind of person does this? And who thinks this is going to make anyone respect their opinions?

I am posting all of this to shame them. They should be ashamed. They should grow up and mature and learn that either you have an argument or you do not.  When you devolve as a human and debase your opponents with childish putdowns and mockery and threats you are proving you are among the worst of humanity.

I hope that by sharing these images, someone will realize this is not a group they want to join. This is a cult run by people who never matured past middle school bullying.

And, yes, they do it to me, too.  I got this one today on Dr Pan’s Facebook page.

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My advice to provaxers when you see these comments? When you see the hateful remarks, don’t join their party. Rise above, be respectful, be the change you want to see. If they threaten you or steal your images, report them.

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Remember to always think for yourself!

Kathy