Blog Posts

Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

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Ratings not responsibility

I understand that “The View” is replacing Hasselbeck with Jenny McCarthy.  I also understand that she has a child with autism which she (without any scientific evidence) attributes to his receiving vaccines.  Vaccines are generally given prior to the onset of autism, so seeing this association, Ms. McCarthy and others have concluded that vaccines caused the autism. I am saddened for the guilt Ms. McCarthy feels at allowing her child to be vaccinated. She is most certainly not responsible for her child’s autism.

It is easy to confuse an association with cause and effect. For example during the World War 2 bombing of London, rescue workers were going through the wreckage of a building looking for survivors. They found an elderly gentleman who was unclothed in a bathtub. When they got to him, he said, “That’s the last time I’ll drain a bathtub. I pulled the plug and the building collapsed.” Clearly this is an association and not cause and effect.

I spend a lot of time educating folks about vaccine safety based on science. There is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism. On the other hand we don’t know what causes it and until we do many will conclude that an association is really a cause. Let me strongly encourage you to get your child vaccinated. These vaccines are unquestionably lifesaving, just not in the dramatic way that a trauma surgeon saves lives.


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A Decline in Teen Mental Health Blamed on the Recession – Preposterous!

On July 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article in Preventing Chronic Disease about Teen Health in the past decade.  It was not surprising that adolescents self-reported a significant decline in their perception of personal health. The study was adjusted for possible confounding from gender, race/ethnicity, age, physical inactivity, and cigarette smoking. None of these confounders seemed to explain the decline. The conclusion drawn was that the recession and perhaps coincidentally the resultant move of many teens to lower socioeconomic status was the reason for this finding. Perhaps!

Or perhaps not – the article gives no basis for comparison with other eras of economic decline. Specifically, did teens have this same perception during other recession periods?  More important, how have the societal changes which occurred from 2004 – 2010 impacted their perceptions? In that period we moved from a Federal Administration and Congress which supported the family and was interested in promoting values based on natural law and tradition to one which works to support only those things which are politically expedient.

Could it be that the decline is due to the erosion of family values? How does the killing of our most vulnerable children – those still in the womb, the devaluation of marriage, and the increasing intrusion of government into the responsibility of parents to rear their children impact teens’ perceptions? What is the impact of the countenancing of gender confusion among our youth, or the promotion of the concept that all ills are “someone else’s fault”?   Aren’t these more likely explanations?



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Further advice on studying and time saving

Getting through college and medical school requires a lot of study.  Learning to use your time efficiently is critical. That is why I instructed my son on many time saving methods of which most people are not aware.   For one thing, people just do not realize how much time is lost due to blowing your nose when you have a cold.  Blowing your nose entails looking for a handkerchief/tissue and freeing a hand.  That very hand could have been used to highlight text or turn a page.  Instead, learn to SNIFF really really hard.  It also makes you feel less hungry so you don’t have to break for meal time.  And remember, hiccups are for losers.  If you have time to hiccup, then you have too much time.

Of course to really study efficiently, everyone needs some relaxation.  Yet that takes time.  However even relaxation can be done efficiently.  You just need to do it in concentrated form.  If listening to music relaxes you:  Instead of listening to one song, listen to 4-5 simultaneously!

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Children are sponges

When traveling with her 18 month old who was safely secured in the backseat, ‘Sally’ would sometimes find herself in harrowing circumstances. For instance, another car might cut in front of her causing her to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the offending vehicle. ‘Sally’ would mark these occasions by loudly issuing a four letter #*!# expletive – the same one every time. After this occurred only a few times, ‘Sally’ noticed that this expletive was also emanating from her 18 month old and not always at an appropriate time.

Children are sponges. They soak up everything they are exposed to. For instance, if a child is exposed from birth to three different languages, he will become fluent in all three in what appears to be an effortless fashion.

So what ‘Sally’ learned, was that by carefully selecting what her child is exposed to, she can influence her child’s development in an intentional fashion—-and so can you!

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At a Pediatric Conference

Almost the entire room of 370 pediatricians erupted in applause.  Moments before, a young woman had rushed to the speaker at a podium.  The speaker paused his lecture to read the note, and then pumped his arm in victory.  With his face raised in an exultant rictus, he announced “We have won!  Plan B will now be available to young girls over the counter.” 

I am currently attending a five day intensive review of pediatrics.  The conference attendees claim to have devoted their careers to helping children.  That is why I sat in shock as so many around me cheered this announcement.  Can anyone actually believe that removing barriers to teen sexual activity is in the best interest of children?  Many of these same people applauding the unrestricted use of Plan B will soon be tasked to deal with the consequences.  Who will pay for the rise in STDs and other consequences likely to be caused by this decision?  Oh…..I forgot….we now have ObamaCare.

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When was the last time you saw a news article encouraging couples to have 3 or more children?   This thought came to me one day in clinic when I saw a particularly smiley mom and her three children.  I recalled a chapter from the Birth Order Book and seemed to remember that 3rd born children tend to be more laid back.  They bring something extra to a family (as do subsequent children).  Factbook on my iPhone tells me that the fertility rate in the US is now at 2.06.    This is the average number of children born per woman.  We rank 121st in the world.   This number ranges from as high as 7.52 in Niger to as low as 0.78 in Singapore.    These numbers are referred to as Fertility rate.  Somehow I just cannot believe that  women from Niger are that more fertile than those in Singapore.    All of that aside,  I continued my study of smiles and consistently noted that there are more smiles the more children there are in the family.   There seems to be some tacit belief that countries that have more children are full of sad people that only wish their fertility rate was not so high and that those of us from “enlightened” countries should intervene and cause a reduction in the fertility rate.    Since almost everyone can agree that this world could use many more smiles, I would like to do the politically incorrect – and recommend that parents consider raising our fertility rate in this country to at least 3!   Ancient writings say, “Happy is the man whose quiver is full.”  This refers to having many children.  In honor of the recent Mother’s Day and of the upcoming Father’s Day (June  16), I say be fruitful and multiply! See this post from a colleague: Are you done yet?

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The Nortonized Method of Time Saving

Mr. Norton was our college town barber and he was famous for scalping people.  I would get scalped and then no matter how short he cut it, insist it was too long and make him do it over.  That way I only required 1-2 haircuts/year.  Hair that short requires almost no care so I saved valuable time from combing (not to mention the money saved on shampoo).  I studied next to Rocky “the Troll” who went bohemian (with the hair only…well mostly).  He usually fell asleep about 11 pm- just about the time I needed beard crumbs or beard juice (so I didn’t have to rely on my own snack supply).  He used to awaken at midnight for another study session and seemed disappointed that  his snack supply was lower than he thought.  He never figured it out though.    To further save time, I used to squirt toothpaste into my scrambled eggs.  That way I could eat breakfast and brush my teeth at the same time.  When exam time came, I would eat the mixture while showering to multitask even further.  I saved time dressing by rarely wearing shoes and socks. I also saved time by not yawning.  It is usually no problem to find a non-science major (they have a LOT more time) and pay them to do your yawning for you.  It did get expensive but that was a sacrifice I had to make to get into medical school.


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Gruesome Behavior on Trial

Not everyone is aware of the trial in Philadelphia of Kermit Gosnell. He is an abortion provider who is on trial for the murder of a woman and born alive babies. The details are gruesome and can be found here and here. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

There has been limited coverage of this trial for reasons that are not clear to me. This gruesome behavior will, I hope, stir people to refocus on the issue of abortion and honestly answer the question of when does life begin. A famous tenured professor at Princeton University who is a bioethicist sees no problems killing babies up to 30 days after birth. His view of the world is that we should do what’s best for society and not be concerned with what is best for the individual.

James Taranto has written about the Gosnell trial and associated issues. It is worth reading and can be found here.

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Advice given to my son on how to study for college/grad school

When I was in the military, I learned a saying.  “Never run when you can walk, never walk when you can stand, never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down.”  Unfortunately college and medical school require a lot of running (in the academic sense).  To get enough time to study, you need to take advantage of a lot of time-saving strategies.  One method is the Bohemian method.  It never appealed to me.  This method involves never taking the time to bathe and even studying while in the bathroom.  Even if the BO and scruffy appearance didn’t warn you, you could tell a bohemian studier from the way they walked after long “leg numbing” study sessions in the john.  “Yep, that problem set was a leg number fer shore.”  Sorry, that was not my style.  I did stop shaving and grew long hair and a beard to see if it would save time but it was too much trouble to comb and push out of my eyes.  However, the one benefit was that if I was hungry or thirsty, I could pick a few crumbs out of the beard or squeeze out some “beard juice” (depending on lunch, water fountain availability,  and ice cream social, could have various combinations of water, soft drinks, ice cream toppings and watermelon juice).  I found it better however to use the Nortonized method.  More on that next time.

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On sending a child off to college

One of the toughest parts of parenthood is the transition stage of letting children go. I remember how painful it was to send my son away to college. It was a thirteen hour drive to take him through the West Virginia hills and into Pennsylvania to drop him off. We got him settled in his new room after meeting his roommate. Then there was an awkward silence. There was nothing more that we could do and yet he could not get on with his new life until we left. Leaving was like suddenly ripping a bandage off an old wound. It had to be done but it was best done quickly so we cranked the car and took off, being as stoic as possible. It was one of the most painful times of my life. On the bright side though, we made much better time coming home. Cars just kept pulling to the side to let us pass. It wasn’t until several hours later when my voice gave way that I realized other cars stopped mistaking my wailing for a siren. Still, I couldn’t just abandon my son to the tough world. I eventually sent him advice on how to succeed in college and medical school. More to come…

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