HOW TO RAISE A HEALTHY CHILD - INSPITE OF YOUR DOCTOR
by the late Robert Mendelsohn M.D.
On the back of the book we read:
Dr. Robert Mendelsohn has dedicated his life to demystifying the
medical profession, both as a renowned prdiatrician for nearly
thirty years ans as the widely read author of "Confessions of a
MedicalHeretic" and other books. In this practical and
informative guide, he turns his expertise to his own specialty,
maintaining that parents tend to rely too heavily on their
pediatricians and that they can take a more actice role in
determining which ailments require an office visit and which can
be dealt with at home.
* A complete section on picking the right doctor for your child.
* Comprehensive guideline for using time-honored, age-old
* All the facts about immunization
* Step-by-step instructions for knowing when you should call a
* Detailed information for coping with accidental injuries
Inside on the first page we have:
Rober S. Mendelsohn, M.D. has been practicing pediatrics for
almost thirty years. He has been the national director of Project
Head Start's Medical Consultation Service, chairman of the
Medical Licensing Committee for the State of Illinois, and
associate professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health
of Illinois. Dr. Mendelsohn has received numerous awards for
exellence in medicine and medical instruction.
YOU NEED TO BUY THIS BOOK, PAPERBACK, NOT EXPENSIVE AT ALL. YOU
NEED TO HAVE THIS BOOK IN YOUR LIBRARY, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE
PARENTS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN, OR HOPE TO BE SOME DAY.
I'm giving you the chapter on VACCINATION by Dr.Mendelsohn.
He was so well informed in the medical profession that nobody
would debate with him on the radio, a few tried, and it was soon
determined that to debate Dr.Mendelsohn was a NO WIN situation,
because he was so medically educated and informed. I was blessed
to see him a few times on TV before he died - Keith Hunt
Immunization against Disease:
A Medical Time Bomb?
The greatest threat of childhood diseases lies in the
dangerous and ineffectual efforts made to prevent them through
I know, as I write that line, that this concept is one that
you may find difficult to accept. Immunizations have been so
artfully and aggressively marketed that most parents believe them
to be the "miracle" that has eliminated many once-feared
diseases. Consequently. for anyone to oppose them borders on the
foolhardy. For a pediatrician to attack what has become the
"bread and butter" of pediatric practice is equivalent to a
priest's denying the infallibility of the pope.
Knowing that, I can only hope that you will keep an open
mind while I present my case. Much of what you have been led to
believe about immunizations simply isn't true. I not only have
grave misgivings about them if I were to follow my deep
convictions in writing this chapter, I would urge you to reject
all inoculations for your child. I won't do that, because parents
in about half the states have lost the right to make that choice.
Doctors, not politicians, have successfully lobbied for laws that
force parents to immunize their children as a prerequisite for
admission to school.
Even in those states, though, you may be able to persuade
your pediatrician to eliminate the pertussis (whooping cough)
component from the DPT vaccine.
This immunization, which appears to be the most threatening
of them all, is the subject of so much controversy that many
doctors are becoming nervous about giving it, fearing malpractice
suits. They should be nervous, because in a recent Chicago case a
child damaged by a pertussis inoculation received a $5.5 million
settlement award. If your doctor is in that state of mind,
exploit his fear, because your child's health is at stake.
Although I administered them myself during my early years of
practice, I have become a steadfast opponent of mass inoculations
because of the myriad hazards they present. The subject is so
vast and complex that it deserves a book of its own.
Consequently, I must be content here with summarizing my
objections to the fanatic zeal with which pediatricians blindly
shoot foreign proteins into the body of your child without
knowing what eventual damage they may cause.
Here is the core of my concern:
1. There is no convincing scientific evidence that mass
inoculations can be credited with eliminating any childhood
disease. While it is true that some once common childhood
diseases have diminished or disappeared since inoculations were
introduced. No one really knows why, although improved living
conditions may be the reason. If immunizations were responsible
for the disappearance of these diseases in the United States, one
must ask why they disappeared simultaneously in Europe, where
mass immunizations did not take place.
2. It is commonly believed that the Salk vaccine was responsible
for halting the polio epidemics that plagued American children in
the 1940s and 1950s. If so, why did the epidemics also end in
Europe, where polio vaccine was not so extensively used? Of
greater current relevance, why is the Sabin live virus vaccine
still being administered to children when Dr. Jonas Salk, who
pioneered the first vaccine, points out that Sabin vaccine is now
causing most of the polio cases that appear. Continuing to force
this vaccine on children is irrational medical behavior that
simply confirms my contention that doctors consistently repeat
their mistakes. With the polio vaccine we are witnessing a rerun
of the medical reluctance to abandon the smallpox vaccination,
which remained as the only source of smallpox-related deaths for
three decades after the disease had disappeared.
Think of it! For 30 years kids died from smallpox vaccinations
even though no longer threatened by the disease.
3. There are significant risks associated with every immunization
and numerous contraindications that may make it dangerous for the
shots to be given to your child. Yet doctors administer them
routinely, usually without warning parents of the hazards and
without determining whether the immunization is contraindicated
for the child. No child should be immunized without making that
determination, yet small armies of children are routinely lined
up in clinics to receive a shot in the arm with no questions
4. While the myriad short-term hazards of most immunizations are
known (but rarely explained), no one knows the long-term
consequences of injecting foreign proteins into the body of your
child. Even more shocking is the fact that no one is making any
structured effort to find out.
5. There is a growing suspicion that immunization against
relatively harmless childhood diseases may be responsible for the
dramatic increase in autoimmune diseases since mass inoculations
were introduced. These are fearful diseases such as cancer,
leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's
disease, lupus erythematosus, and the Guillain-Barre syndrome. An
autoimmune disease can be explained simply as one in which the
body's defense mechanisms cannot distinguish between foreign
invaders and ordinary body tissues, with the consequence that the
body begins to destroy itself. Have we traded mumps and measles
for cancer and leukemia?
I have emphasized these concerns because it is probable that
your pediatrician will not advise you about them. At the 1982
Forum of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a resolution
was proposed that would have helped insure that parents would be
informed about the risks and benefits of immunizations. The
resolution urged that the "AAP make available in clear, concise
language information which a reasonable parent would want to know
about the benefits and risks of routine immunizations, the risks
of vaccine preventable diseases and the management of common
adverse reactions to immuniza-tions." Apparently the doctors
assembled did not believe that "reasonable parents" were entitled
to this kind of information because they rejected the resolution!
The bitter controversy over immunizations that is now raging
within the medical profession has not escaped the attention of
the media. Increasing numbers of parents are rejecting
immunizations for their children and facing the legal
consequences of doing so. Parents whose children have been
permanently damaged by vaccines are no longer accepting this. as
fate but are filing malpractice suits against the manufacturers
and the doctors who administered the vaccine. Some manufacturers
have actually stopped making vaccines, and the lists of
contraindications to their use are being expanded by the
remaining manufacturers, year by year. Meanwhile, because routine
immunizations that bring patients back for repeated office calls
are the bread and butter of their specialty, pediatricians
continue to defend them to the death.
The question parents should be asking is: Whose death?
As a parent, only you can decide whether to reject immunizations
or risk accepting them for your child. Let me urge you, though -
before your child is immunizedto arm yourself with the facts
about the potential risks and benefits and demand that your
pediatrician defend the immunizations that he recommends.
I will deal more fully with each of the most commonly
administered immunizations in subsequent discussions of the
diseases to which they are applied. If you decide that you don't
want to have your child immunized, but your state laws say you
must, write to me, and I may be able to offer suggestions on how
you can regain your freedom of choice.
I am not going to try to cover all of the more obscure,
life-threatening diseases in this book. However, in the remaining
pages of this chapter I will describe the most common diseases,
one or more of which may affect your child.
Mumps is a relatively innocuous viral disease, usually
experienced in childhood, which causes swelling of one or both of
the salivary glands (parotids), located just below and in front
of the ears. Typical symptoms are a temperature of 100-104
degrees, appetite loss, headache, and back pain. The gland
swelling usually begins to diminish after two or three days and
is gone by the sixth or seventh day. However, one gland may
become affected first, and the second as much as 10-12 days
later. The infection of either side confers lifetime immunity.
Mumps does not require medical treatment. If your child
contracts the disease, encourage him to stay in bed for two or
three days, feed him a soft diet and a lot of fluids, and use ice
packs to reduce the swelling. If his headache is severe,
administer modest quantities of whiskey or acetaminophen. Give 10
drops of whiskey to a small baby and up to one-half teaspoon to a
larger one. The dose can be repeated in one hour and once more in
another hour, if needed.
Most children are immunuzed against mumps along with measles and
rubella in the MMR shot that is administered at about 15 months
of age. Pediatricians defend this immunization with the argument
that, although mumps is not a serious disease in children, if
they do not gain immunity as children they may contract mumps as
adults. In that event there is a possibility that adult males may
contract orchitis, a condition in which the disease affects the
testicles. In rare instances this can produce sterility.
If total sterility as a consequence of orchitis were a
significant threat, and if the mumps immunization assured adult
males that they would not contract it, I would be among those
doctors who urge immunization. I'm not, because their argument
makes no sense. Orchitis rarely causes sterility, and when it
does, because only one testicle is usually affected, the sperm
production capacity of the unaffected testicle could repopulate
the world! And that's not all. No one knows whether the mumps
vaccination confers an immunity that lasts into the adult years.
Consequently, there is an open question whether, when your child
is immunized against mumps at 15 months and escapes this disease
in childhood, he may suffer more serious consequences when he
contracts it as an adult.
If the mumps immunization is given to protect adult males
from orchitis, not to prevent children from getting mumps, it
would seem reasonable to administer it only to those males who
haven't developed natural immunity by the time they reach
puberty. They would then be more certain of protection as adults.
All girls and countless boys would thus avoid the potential
consequences of a hazardous vaccine.
You won't find pediatricians advertising them, but the side
effects of the mumps vaccine can be severe. In some children it
causes allergic reactions such as rash, itching, and bruising. It
may also expose them to the effects of central nervous system
involvement, including febrile seizures, unilateral nerve
deafness, and encephalitis. The risks are minimal, true, but why
should your child endure them at all to avoid an innocuous
disease in childhood at the risk of contracting a more serious
one as an adult?
Measles, also called rubeola or "English measles," is a
contagious viral disease that can be contracted by touching an
object used by an infected person. At the onset the victim feels
tired, has a slight fever and pains in the head and back. His
eyes redden and he may be sensitive to light. The fever rises
until about the third or fourth day, when it reaches 103-104
degrees. Sometimes small white spots can be seen inside the
mouth, and a rash of small pink spots appears below the hairline
and behind the ears. This rash spreads downward to cover the body
in about 36 hours. The pink spots may run together but fade away
in about three or four days. Measles is contagious for seven or
eight days, beginning three or four days before the rash appears.
Consequently, if one of your children contracts the disease, the
others probably will have been exposed to it before you know the
first child is sick.
No treatment is required for measles other than bed rest,
fluids to combat possible dehydration from fever, and calamine
lotion or cornstarch baths to relieve the itching. If the child
suffers from photophobia, the blinds in his bedroom should be
lowered to darken the room. However, contrary to the popular
myth, there is no danger of permanent blindness from this
A vaccine to prevent measles is another element of the MMR
inoculation given in early childhood. Doctors maintain that the
inoculation is necessary to prevent measles encephalitis, which
they say occurs about once in 1,000 cases. After decades of
experience with measles, I question this statistic, and so do
many other pediatricians. The incidence of 1/1000 may be accurate
for children who live in conditions of poverty and malnutrition,
but in the middle- and upper-income brackets, if one excludes
simple sleepiness from the measles itself, the incidence of true
encephalitis is probably more like 1/10,000 or 1/100,000.
After frightening you with the unlikely possibility of
measles encephalitis, your doctor can rarely be counted on to
tell you of the dangers associated with the vaccine he uses to
prevent it. The measles vaccine is associated with encephalopathy
and with a series of other complications such as SSPE (subacute
sclerosing panencephalitis), which causes hardening of the brain
and is invariably fatal.
Other neurologic and sometimes fatal conditions associated
with the measles vaccine include ataxia (inability to coordinate
muscle movements), mental retardation, aseptic meningitis,
seizure disorders, and hemiparesis (paralysis affecting one side
of the body). Secondary complications associated with the vaccine
may be even more frightening. They include encephalitis, subacute
sclerosing panencephalitis, multiple sclerosis, toxic epidermal
necrolysis, anaphylactic shock, Reye's syndrome, Guillain-Brre
syndrome, blood clotting disorders, juvenile-onset diabetes, and
even a relationship with Hodgkin's disease and cancer.
I would consider the risks associated with measles
vaccination unacceptable even if there were convincing evidence
that the vaccine works. There isn't. While there has been a
decline in the incidence of the disease, it began long before the
vaccine was introduced. In 1958 there were about 800,000 cases of
measles in the United States, but by 1962-the year before a
vaccine appeared -the number of cases had dropped by 300,000.
During the next four years, while children were being vaccinated
with an ineffective and now abandoned "killer virus" vaccine, the
number of cases dropped another 300,000. In 1900 there were 13.3
measles deaths per 100,000 population. By 1955, before the first
measles shot, the death rate had declined 97.7 percent to only
0.03 deaths per 100,000.
Those numbers alone are dramatic evidence that measles was
disappearing before the vaccine was introduced. If you fail to
find them sufficiently convincing, consider this: in a 1978
survey of 30 states, more than half of the children who
contracted measles had been adequately vaccinated. Moreover,
according to the World Health Organization, the chances are about
15 times greater that measles will be contracted by those
vaccinated for them than by those who are not.
"Why," you may ask, "in the face of these facts, do doctors
continue to give the shots?" The answer may lie in an episode
that occurred in California 14 years after the measles vaccine
was introduced. Los Angeles suffered a severe measles epidemic
during that year, and parents were urged to vaccinate all
children six months of age and older-despite a Public Health
warning that vaccinating children below the age of one year was
useless and potentially harmful.
Although Los Angeles doctors responded by routinely shooting
measles vaccine into every kid they could get their hands on,
several local physicians familiar with the suspected problems of
immunologic failure and "slow virus" dangers chose not to
vaccinate their own infant children. Unlike their patients, who
weren't told, they realized that "slow viruses" found in all live
vaccines, and particularly in the measles vaccine, can hide in
human tissue for years. They may emerge later in the form of
encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, and as potential seeds for the
development and growth of cancer.
One Los Angeles physician who refused to vaccinate his own
7-month-old-baby said: "I'm worried about what happens when the
vaccine virus may not only offer little protection against
measles but may also stay around in the body, working in a way we
don't know much about." His concern about the possibility of
these consequences for his own child, however, did not cause him
to stop vaccinating his infant patients. He rationalized this
contradictory behavior with the comment that "As a parent, I have
the luxury of making a choice for my child. As a physician...
legally and professionally I have to accept the recommendations
of the profession, which is what we also had to do with the whole
Perhaps it is time that lay parents and their children are
granted the same luxury that doctors and their children enjoy.
Commonly known as "German measles," rubella is a
non-threatening disease in children that does not require medical
treatment. The initial symptoms are fever and a slight cold,
accompanied by a sore throat. You know it is something more when
a rash appears on the face and scalp and spreads to the arms and
body. The spots do not run together as they do with measles, and
they usually fade away after two or three days. The victim should
be encouraged to rest and be given adequate fluids, but no other
treatment is needed.
The threat posed by rubella is the possibility that it may
cause damage to-the fetus if a woman contracts the disease during
the first trimester of pregnancy. This fear is used to justify
the immunization of all children, boys and girls, as part of the
MMR inoculation. The merits of this vaccine are questionable for
essentially the same reasons that apply to mumps inoculations.
There is no need to protect children from this harmless disease,
so the adverse reactions to the vaccine are unacceptable in terms
of benefit to the child. They can include arthritis, arthralgia
(painful joints), and polyneuritis, which produces pain,
numbness, or tingling in the peripheral nerves. While these
symptoms are usually temporary, they may last for several months
and may not occur until as long as two months after the
vaccination. Because of that time lapse, parents may not identify
the cause when these symptoms appear in their vaccinated child.
The greater danger of rubella vaccination is the possibility
that it may deny expectant mothers the protection of natural
immunity from the disease. By preventing rubella in childhood,
immunization may actually increase the threat that women will
contract rubella during their childbearing years. My concern on
this score is shared by many other doctors. In Connecticut a
group of doctors, led by two eminent epidemiologists, have
actually succeeded in getting rubella stricken from the list of
legally required immunizations.
Study after study has demonstrated that many women immunized
against rubella as children lack evidence of immunity in blood
tests given during their adolescent years. Other tests have shown
a high vaccine failure rate in children given rubella, measles,
and mumps shots, either separately or in combined form. Finally,
the crucial question yet to be answered is whether
vaccine-induced immunity is as effective and long-lasting as
immunity from the natural disease of rubella. A large proportion
of children show no evidence of immunity in blood tests given
only four or five years after rubella vaccination.
The significance of this is both obvious and frightening.
Rubella is a nonthreatening disease in childhood, and it confers
natural immunity to those who contract it so they will not get it
again as adults. Prior to the time that doctors began giving
rubella vaccinations an estimated 85 percent of adults were
naturally immune to the disease.
Today, because of immunization, the vast majority of women
never acquire natural immunity. If their vaccineinduced immunity
wears off, they may contract rubella while they are pregnant,
with resulting damage to their unborn children.
Being a skeptical soul, I have always believed that the most
reliable way to determine what people really believe is to
observe what they do, not what they say. If the greatest threat
of rubella is not to children, but to the fetus yet unborn,
pregnant women should be protected against rubella by making
certain that their obstetricians won't give them the disease.
Yet, in a California survey reported in the "Journal of the
American Medical Association," more than 90 percent of the
obstetriciangynecologists refused to be vaccinated. If doctors
themselves are afraid of the vaccine, why on earth should the law
require that you and other parents allow them to administer it to
Whooping cough (pertussis) is an extremely contagious
bacterial disease that is usually transmitted through the air by
an infected person. The incubation period is 7-14 days. The
initial symptoms are indistinguishable from those of a common
cold: a runny nose, sneezing, listlessness and loss of appetite,
some tearing in the eyes, and sometimes a mild fever.
As the disease progresses, the victim develops a severe
cough at night. Later it appears during the day, as well. Within
a week to 10 days after the first symptoms appear the cough will
become paroxysmal. The child may cough a dozen times with each
breath, and his face may darken to a bluish or purple hue. Each
coughing bout ends with a whooping intake of breath, which
accounts for the popular name for the disease. Vomiting is often
an additional symptom of the disease.
Whooping cough can strike within any age group, but more
than half of all victims are below two years of age. It can be
serious and even life-threatening, particularly in infants.
Infected persons can transmit the disease to others for about a
month after the appearance of the initial symptoms, so it is
important that they be isolated, especially from other children.
If your child contracts whooping cough, there is no specific
treatment that your doctor can provide, nor is there any you can
apply at home, other than to encourage your child to rest and to
provide comfort and consolation. Cough suppressants are sometimes
used, but they rarely help very much and I don't recommend them.
However, if an infant contracts the disease, you should consult a
doctor because hospital care may be required. The primary threats
to babies are exhaustion from coughing and pneumonia. Very young
infants have even been known to suffer cracked ribs from the
severe coughing bouts.
Immunization against pertussis is given along with vaccines
for diphtheria and tetanus in the DPT inoculation. Although the
vaccine has been used for decades, it is one of the most
controversial of immunizations. Doubts persist about its
effectiveness, and many doctors share my concern that the
potentially damaging side effects of the vaccine may outweigh the
Dr. Gordon T. Stewart, head of the department of community
medicine at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, is one of the
most vigorous critics of the pertussis vaccine. He says he
supported the inoculation before 1974 but then began to observe
outbreaks of pertussis in children who had been vaccinated. "Now,
in Glasgow," he says, "30 percent of our whooping cough cases are
occurring in vaccinated patients. This leads me to believe that
the vaccine is not all that protective."
As in the case with other infectious diseases, mortality had
begun to decline before the vaccine became available. The vaccine
was not introduced until about 1936, but mortality from the
disease had already been declining steadily since 1900 or
earlier. According to Stewart, "the decline in pertussis
mortality was 80 percent before the vaccine was ever used." He
shares my view that the key factor in controlling whooping cough
is probably not the vaccine but improvement in the living
conditions of potential victims.
Others in the profession do not deal kindly with doctors who
raise questions about their cherished vaccines. In 1982 I
appeared in a one-hour NBC television documentary devoted to the
pertussis vaccine controversy and commented that "the danger
[from the vaccine] is far greater than any doctors here have ever
been willing to admit." In July 1982, the "Journal of the
American Medical Association," in a bitter attack on the program,
charged that the network chose dubious 'experts' to badmouth the
vaccine and endowed them with false credentials." It then
proceeded to attack my credentials.
I don't feel any compulsion to defend myself from the
American Medical Association which, over the years, has had to
spend an inordinate portion of its budget in its own
self-defense. It is instructive, however, to read what that same
issue of the AMA Journal had to say about the risks of pertussis
vaccine. I'll cite what they had to say and let you judge whether
it is inappropriate for me to raise questions about its use. For
starters, JAMA said this:
To health professionals, of course, the dangers of DPT are
nothing new. The D and T components, which were given long
before the P was added in the late 1940s, are partially
purified toxoids considered to carry little risk. The
whole-cell P component, consisting of 4 units of protective
pertussis antigen per 0.5 ml of DPT is universally
acknowledged to be relatively crude and toxic, and the
advent of a safer version is eagerly awaited (italics mine).
Almost from the inception of widespread DPT immunization,
severe reactions have been reported, beginning with Byers's
and Moll's study of vaccine-associated encephalopathy in
1948. The incidence of such reactions has not been firmly
established. It does seem fairly certain that
vaccineassociated seizures, unusual as they are, are
considerably more common than brain damage or residual
impairment secondary to such seizures.
It is obvious from this statement that the American Medical
Association does not deny that pertussis vaccine is hazardous,
with the potential of frightening side effects. Their concern is
over the fact that media attention is making the recipients of
the vaccine aware of the risks!
If it is improper for a doctor to share with his patients
his knowledge of the risks of immunization, I plead guilty to the
charge. The common side effects of the pertussis vaccine,
acknowledged by JAMA, are fever, crying bouts, a shocklike state,
and local skin effects such as swelling, redness, and pain. Less
frequent but more serious side effects include convulsions and
permanent brain damage resulting in mental retardation. The
vaccine has also been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
(SIDS). In 1978-79, during an expansion of the Tennessee
childhood immunization program, eight cases of SIDS were reported
immediately following routine DPT immunization.
Estimates of the number of those vaccinated with the
pertussis vaccine who are protected from the disease range from
50 percent to 80 percent. According to JAMA, reported cases of
whooping cough in the United States total an average of
1,000-3,000 per year and deaths 5-20 per year.
My question is: Does it make sense to expose millions of
children each year to the potential hazards of the vaccine in
order to provide them with dubious protection against a disease
that is so rarely seen?
Although it was one of the most feared of childhood diseases
in grandma's day, diphtheria has now almost disappeared. Only
five cases were reported in the United States in 1980. Most
doctors insist that the decline is due to immunization with the
DPT vaccine, but there is ample evidence that the incidence of
diphtheria was already diminishing before a vaccine became
Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial disease that is
spread by the coughing and sneezing of infected persons or by
handling items that they have touched. The incubation period for
the disease is two to five days, and the first symptoms are a
sore throat, headache, nausea, coughing, and a fever of 100-104
degrees. As the disease progresses, dirty-white patches can be
observed on the tonsils and in the throat. They cause swelling in
the throat and larnyx that makes swallowing difficult and, in
severe cases, may obstruct breathing to the point that the victim
chokes to death. The disease requires medical attention and can
be treated with antibiotics such as penicillin or erythromycin.
Today your child has about as much chance of contracting
diphtheria as he does of being bitten by a cobra. Yet millions of
children are immunized against it with repeated injections at 2,
4, 6 and 18 months and then given a booster shot when they enter
school. This despite evidence over more than a dozen years from
rare outbreaks of the disease that children who have been
immunized fare no better than those who have not. During a 1969
outbreak of diphtheria in Chicago the city board of health
reported that 4 of the 16 victims had been fully immunized
against the disease and 5 others had received one or more doses
of the vaccine. Two of the latter showed evidence of full
immunity. A report on another outbreak in which three people died
revealed that one of the fatal cases and 14 of 23 carriers had
been fully immunized.
Episodes such as these shatter the argument that
immunization can be credited with eliminating diphtheria or any
of the other once common childhood diseases. If immunization
deserved the credit, how do its defenders explain this? Only
about half the states have legal requirements for immunization
against infectious diseases, and the percentage of children
immunized varies from state to state. As a consequence, tens of
thousands - perhaps millions--of children in areas where medical
services are limited and pediatricians almost nonexistent were
never immunized against infectious diseases and therefore should
be vulnerable to them. Yet the incidence of infectious diseases
does not correlate in any respect with whether a state has
legally mandated mass immunization or not.
In view of the rarity of the disease, the effective
antibiotic treatment now available, the questionable
effectiveness of the vaccine, the multimillion-dollar annual cost
of administering it, and the ever-present potential for harmful,
long-term effects from this or any other vaccine, I consider
continued mass immunization against diphtheria indefensible. I
grant that no significant harmful effects from the vaccine have
been identified, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. In the
half-century that the vaccine has been used no research has ever
been undertaken to determine what the long-term effects of the
vaccine may be!
This is my favorite childhood disease, first because it is
relatively innocuous and second because it is one of the few for
which no pharmaceutical manufacturer has yet marketed a vaccine.
That second reason may be short-lived, though, because as this is
written there are reports that a chicken pox vaccine soon may
Chicken pox is a communicable viral infection that is very
common in children. The first signs of the disease are usually a
slight fever, headache, backache, and loss of appetite.
After a day or two, small red spots appear, and within a few
hours they enlarge and become blisters. Ultimately a scab forms
that peels off, usually within a week or two. This process is
accompanied by severe itching, and the child should be encouraged
not to scratch the sores. Calamine lotion may be applied, or
cornstarch baths given, to relieve the itching.
It is not necessary to seek medical treatment for chicken
pox. The patient should be encouraged to rest and to drink a lot
of fluids to prevent dehydration from the fever.
The incubation period for chicken pox is from two to three
weeks, and the disease is contagious for about two weeks,
beginning two days after the rash appears. The child should be
isolated during this period to avoid spreading the disease to
Scarlet fever is another example of a once feared disease
that has virtually disappeared. If a vaccine had ever been
developed for it, doctors would undoubtedly credit that with the
elimination of the disease. Since there is no vaccine, they give
the credit to penicillin, despite the fact that the disease was
already disappearing before the first antibiotics appeared. In
all probability, as with other diseases, the true reason for its
waning incidence is improved living conditions and better
The disease got its name from the red rash that covers the
body of victims. It is caused by a streptococcus infection, and
the initial symptoms are vomiting, headache, a swelling of the
lymph nodes in the neck, and a fever of 101-105 degrees. The
disease usually affects children between the ages of two and
eight, and the rash that accompanies it fades in about a week. If
your child contracts scarlet fever, which is most unlikely, you
need not be alarmed because it is no more dangerous than a strep
throat infection. It will disappear by itself, but if you take
your child to a doctor, he is likely to prescribe an antibiotic
that your child really doesn't need.
One of the appalling inconsistencies of contemporary medical
practice is the tendency of doctors to overtreat the diseases
that don't require treatment, and miss the diagnosis in diseases
like meningitis that deserve all of the skill they have to offer.
This disease is an inflammation of the membranes that cover the
brain and the spinal cord, called the meninges. The symptoms may
include a stiff neck (but not necessarily), a persistent
headache, vomiting, fever, and convulsions in infants. Bacterial,
viral, and fungal infections can cause the disease. One of the
bacterial types is particularly contagious because the bacteria
are found in the throat as well as in the cerebrospinal fluid.
Meningitis is amenable to treatment, but early diagnosis is
essential. Doctors often miss the diagnosis because they fail to
take the mother seriously when she reports significant changes in
her child's behavior. Many also fail to give serious
consideration to the possibility of meningitis unless the child
has a stiff neck.
Potential consequences of failure to diagnose and treat
meningitis properly are mental retardation and death. If your
child has an unexplained fever for three or four days,
accompanied by drowsiness, vomiting, a shrill cry, and possibly a
stiff neck, it is time to suspect meningitis. Some of these
symptoms are also present with influenza. You can distinguish
meningitis by the last two, particularly the shrill- cry. If your
child has this, insist that your doctor perform the appropriate
tests, which may include a spinal tap. In that event, if he
doesn't find the spinal canal on the first or second attempt,
tell him to stop trying and call another doctor.
Antibiotics have reduced mortality from this dread disease
from 95 percent to 5 percent. That's why correct, early diagnosis
of the disease is a matter of life or death.
Parents should have the right to assume, and most do assume,
that the tests their doctor gives their child will produce an
accurate result. The tuberculin skin test is but one example of a
medical test procedure in which that is definitely not the case.
Even the American Academy of Pediatrics, which rarely has
anything negative to say about procedures that its members
routinely employ, has issued a policy statement that is critical
of this test. According to the statement,
Several recent studies have cast doubt on the sensitivity of
some screening tests for tuberculosis. Indeed a panel
assembled by the Bureau of Biologics has recommended to
manufacturers that each lot be tested in 50 known positive
patients to assure that preparations that are marketed are
potent enough to identify everyone with active tuberculosis.
However, since many of these studies have not been conducted
in a randomized, doubleblind fashion and/or have included
many simultaneously administered skin tests (thus the
possibility of suppression of reactions), interpretation of
the tests is difficult.
The statement concludes, "Screening tests for tuberculosis
are not perfect, and physicians must be aware of the possibility
that some false negative as well as positive reactions may be
In short, your child may have tuberculosis, even though
there is a negative reading on his tuberculin test. Or he may not
have it but display a positive skin test that says he does. With
many doctors, this can lead to some devastating consequences.
Almost certainly, if this happens to your child, he will be
exposed to needless and hazardous radiation from one or more
x-rays of his chest. The doctor may then place him on dangerous
drugs such as isoniazid for months or years "to prevent the
development of tuberculosis." Even the AMA has recognized that
doctors have indiscriminately overprescribed isoniazid. That's
shameful, because of the drug's long list of side effects on the
nervous system, gastrointestinal system, blood, bone marrow,
skin, and endocrine glands. Also not to be overlooked is the
danger that your child may become a pariah in your neighborhood
because of the lingering fear of this infectious disease.
I am convinced that the potential consequences of a positive
tuberculin skin test are more dangerous than the threat of the
disease. I believe parents should reject the test unless they
have specific knowledge that their child has been in contact with
someone who has the disease.
SUDDEN INFANT DEATH SYNDROME (SIDS)
The dreadful possibility that they may awaken some morning
to find their baby dead in his crib is a fear that lurks in the
minds of many parents. Medical science has yet to pinpoint the
cause of SIDS, but the most popular explanation among researchers
appears to be that the central nervous system is somehow affected
so that the involuntary act of breathing is suppressed.
That is a logical explanation, but it leaves unanswered the
question: What caused the malfunction in the central nervous
system? My suspicion, which is shared by others in my profession,
is that the nearly 10,000 SIDS deaths that occur in the United
States each year are related to one or more of the vaccines that
are routinely given children. The pertussis vaccine is the most
likely villain, but it could also be one or more of the others.
Dr. William Torch, of the University of Nevada School of
Medicine at Reno, has issued a report suggesting that the DPT
shot may be responsible for SIDS cases. He found that two-thirds
of 103 children who died of SIDS had been immunized with DPT
vaccine in the three weeks before their deaths, many dying within
a day after getting the shot. He asserts that this was not mere
coincidence, concluding that a "causal relationship is suggested"
in at least some cases of DPT vaccine and crib death. Also on
record are the Tennessee deaths, referred to earlier. In that
case the manufacturer of the vaccine, following intervention by
the U.S. surgeon general, recalled all unused doses of this batch
More recently, in 1983, the department of pediatrics
of the UCLA School of Medicine and the Los Angeles County health
department reported another disturbing study of 145 SIDS victims.
Of this number, 53 had received DPT immunizations in close
proximity to their deaths. Twenty-seven died within 28 days of
being immunized, 17 of those within a week after receiving the
DPT shot, and six within 24 hours of receiving it. The
researchers concluded that these findings "further substantiate a
possible association" between DPT shots and SIDS.
Expectant mothers who are concerned about SIDS should bear
in mind the importance of breastfeeding to avoid this and other
serious ailments. There is evidence that breastfed babies are
less susceptible to allergies, respiratory disease,
gastroenteritis, hypocalcemia, obesity, multiple sclerosis, and
SIDS. One study of the scientific literature about SIDS concluded
that "Breastfeeding can be seen as a common block to the myriad
of pathways to SIDS."
No one who lived through the 1940s and saw photos of
children in iron lungs, saw a President of the United States
confined to his wheelchair by this dread disease, and was
forbidden to use public beaches for fear of catching polio can
forget the fear that prevailed at the time. Polio is virtually
nonexistent today, but much of that fear persists, and there is a
popular belief that immunization can be credited with eliminating
the disease. That's not surprising, considering the high-powered
campaign that promoted the vaccine, but the fact is that no
credible scientific evidence exists that the vaccine caused polio
to disappear. As noted earlier, it also disappeared in other
parts of the world where the vaccine was not so extensively used.
What is important to parents of this generation is the
evidence that points to mass inoculation against polio as the
cause of most remaining cases of the disease. In September 1977
Jonas Salk, the developer of the killed polio virus vaccine,
testified along with other scientists to that effect. He said
that most of the handful of polio cases which had occurred in the
U.S. since the early 1970s probably were the by-product of the
live polio vaccine that is in standard use in the United States.
In Finland and Sweden there have been no cases of polio in more
than a decade, but in those countries the killed virus vaccine is
used almost exclusively.
Meanwhile, there is an ongoing debate among the
immunologists regarding the relative risks of killed virus vs.
live virus vaccine. Supporters of the killed virus vaccine
maintain that it is the presence of live virus organisms in the
other product that is responsible for the polio cases that
occasionally appear. Supporters of the live virus type argue that
the killed virus vaccine offers inadequate protection and
actually increases the susceptibility of those vaccinated to the
This affords me a rare opportunity to be comfortably
neutral. I believe that both factions are right and that use of
either of the vaccines will increase, not diminish, the
possibility that your child will contract the disease.
In short, it appears that the most effective way to protect your
child from polio is to make sure that he doesn't get the vaccine!
I well remember in England about 1953/4 as I was about 11 or 12, the
polio was a big scare and talk. The school teacher gave us a note
to take home to our parents to have them sign the note for their
child to get the polio shot. Some-how even at that early age, I
was not impressed, or an inner voice told me not to have the note
signed (I was very religious going to a Church of England school,
and I now believe it was the still small voice of God talking to
me). I never did take the note home, I never did show it to my
parents, and I never had my parents slipping me off to the clinic
to get the "polio shot." I do remember the teacher raising his
eyebrows the next day when he asked me if I was going to have the
polio shot, when I answered I was not going to have that shot. I
do not remember getting any vaccine shots of any kind in my life,
except the "small-pox" shot when I was moving to Canada at age 18
- it was the law I had no choice if I wanted to move and live in
Canada. Oh, and during the polio scare none of the 250 children
in my school got polio, and of all my friends and relatives and
cousins etc. I never knew anyone who got polio - Keith Hunt
The symptoms of infectious mononucleosis resemble those of
the common cold or influenza, so in its early stages it is not
likely to be suspected or diagnosed. It usually affects children
and young adults, and if your child is the victim, he will
display fever, swollen glands, a sore throat, weakness, and
fatigue. As the disease progresses, the symptoms may also include
abdominal pain, nausea, headaches, chest pain, coughing, and
several other less common symptoms.
If your child has these symptoms and they persist beyond the
normal course of a common cold, he should see a doctor. If the
doctor suspects mononucleosis, he will probably order a blood
test, which will usually, alhough not always, determine whether
mononucleosis is present. The disease usually runs its course in
one to three weeks, but in extreme cases it may persist for weeks
or even months.
The fact that mononucleosis, in its early stages, cannot be
distinguished from other ailments such as the common cold need
not concern you because there is no specific drug treatment for
the disease. The treatment is what you would be giving your child
in any event-bed rest and liberal fluids. Some doctors prescribe
adrenal steroids such as prednisone for mononucleosis, but I
believe they should be avoided except in extreme cases of the
disease. They have serious side effects, as described in Chapter
END OF CHAPTER
REMEMBER TO GET THIS BOOK "HOW TO RAISE HEALTHY
CHILDREN...INSPITE OF YOUR DOCTOR" AND YOU ALSO
NEED TO HAVE "CONFESSIONS OF A MEDICAL HERETIC" ALSO
BY DR. MENDELSOHN. THE LATTER BOOK WILL OPEN YOUR EYES TO
THE "NOT SO GREAT" SIDE OF THE MEDICAL INDUSTRY.