I occasionally dip my toe into the constant Internet flame wars over the generous term "vaccine skepticism," and the less generous "vaccine denial." If you’re looking to see one of these quickly, Twitter always has some ongoing vaccine fireworks. The character limit of Twitter tends to compress the exchanges into hurled invectives, only occasionally punctuated by futile pleas for calm. Many quickly devolve into exchanges between posters of what they believe to ...

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For many centuries medical practice was a black art. What physicians did was based upon theories of how the body worked that turned out to be fanciful at best, dangerous at worst. The late nineteenth century brought breakthroughs in the biological sciences, such as the identification of bacteria and new understandings of physiology, which increasingly placed medical practice on a scientific basis. That process has continued over the past 150 years, ...

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Those of us who work in pediatric intensive care have frequent encounters with the problem of suicide and attempted suicide. It has seemed to me for some years that the numbers are increasing, and this has been shown to be the case. After years of declining, the suicide rate in our country has been increasing, now at about 125 percent of the rate of several decades ago. This increase ...

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A fairly recent article in the Journal of Pediatrics is both intriguing and sobering. It is intriguing because it lays bare something we don’t talk much about or teach our students. It is sobering because it describes the potential harm that can come from it — harm I have personally witnessed. The issue is overdiagnosis, and it’s related to our relentless quest to explain everything. "Overdiagnosis" is the term the authors ...

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We do many things in medicine to patients that are either not helpful or have the potential to harm. If you take the long view of medical history, this should not be surprising. After all less than a century ago, physicians were still giving toxic mercury compounds to people in the form of calomel. And a century before that, physicians were bleeding people because they thought that was a good ...

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Should school boards discontinue support for high school football? That’s the provocative title of a recent article in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The background to this controversy is the increasing recognition that chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a severe and debilitating brain problem first identified in former professional football players, can have its beginnings in college or even high school football ...

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Sometimes an interesting thing happens on patient rounds. Rounds are a traditional exercise in hospitals going back at least a century. In the old days, this meant the physician going from patient to patient. He (it was nearly always he back then) went over the patient’s progress with the bedside nurse, examined the patient, reviewed pertinent test results, made an assessment, decided on a plan for the day, and gave ...

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Asthma is a complex, chronic lung problem that now affects nearly 10 percent of all children. Both the incidence of new cases and the prevalence of ongoing cases in the pediatric population have been rising steadily for years, although there are hints these increases may have leveled off. A wealth of research suggests a huge part of asthma causation comes from the environment the child lives in, things like air quality and exposure to various ...

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A manifesto has been making the rounds on Twitter (and other places) over the past year. It has been attributed to Dr. Mike Ginsberg, a California pediatrician. It reportedly was originally a Facebook post that has since been taken down, perhaps because of the controversy it generated. I can understand why; vaccines are a hot button topic, and anyone who writes about them attracts attention, some of it unpleasant. I know ...

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I found this study to be absolutely fascinating. The link is to the abstract; the complete article is behind a paywall, but I can get it for anybody who’s interested in reading the whole study in detail. Its title is “Fundamental frequency variation in crying of Mandarin and German neonates.” I have always assumed, like most people I suspect, that babies cry the same the world over. When they’re uncomfortable or ...

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