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Why pediatricians are dangerous
On Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
Doctors are just like other Englishmen: most of them have no honor and no conscience.
“The pediatrician serves as the recruiter for the medical profession. He indoctrinates your child from birth into a lifelong dependence on medical intervention. It begins with a succession of needless "well-baby check ups" and immunizations and then moves on to routine annual physical examinations and endless treatment of minor ailments that would cure themselves if they were left alone.”
"Avoid your doctor whenever you can."
“For some, the temptation to display their knowledge and thus win the gratitude of parents, even when the treatment is superfluous and even potentially damaging, can be overwhelming. This indefensible medical behavior is a real threat to your child.”
- Dr. Robert Mendelsohn
Mendelsohn has been on my radar for a while. I’ve been nudged towards his work several times (thanks Amelia) and I’m glad I finally got around to paying attention to him and am reading:
Here is a short bio of the man:
ROBERT 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 in the School of Medicine of the University of Illinois. Dr. Mendelsohn has received numerous awards for excellence in medicine and medical instruction.
Here's a much more detailed biography.
By now you know what I think of the medical profession, doctors generally, and pediatricians specifically:
Me saying it is one thing but having another doctor, pediatrician and teacher of pediatricians (no less) say it, is another thing entirely.
What’s important to remember is that this book was published in 1984!! That’s right, before the current explosion of vaccination and disease. There was ample evidence even then, that the system and its priests were bad for your and your child’s health.
Chapter 3 below is the gem, but here are several beauties on the way from the book.
Although the pharmaceutical companies keep churning out new drugs, there is increasing patient resistance to overmedication, and fewer drugs are being prescribed. The number of prescriptions filled in 1980 was 100 million fewer than in 1974. Perhaps as a consequence, the drug industry is putting enormous pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to permit it to advertise prescription drugs to consumers, not just to doctors.
Pediatricians enjoy one significant advantage over other medical specialists because they can exploit the wholesome tendency of most parents to be more concerned about the health of their children than about their own health. Think about that for a moment. If you awaken at night with a splitting headache, what do you do? If you are like most adults, you probably get up, take an aspirin, and go back to bed. Very likely you soon fall asleep and feel fine when you wake up in the morning.
At least 95 percent of the ailments that children are prey to will heal themselves and do not re quire medical attention.
Pediatricians spend most of their time treating parental distress. The child rarely needs treatment but gets it anyway and is subjected to the consequences, and it is the parent who gets the relief. That's because most doctors believe that parents demand, or at least expect, that they will do something for the child. What concerned parents really need is reassurance, and what their kids don't need is treatment when they aren't really sick. Most doctors won't take the time to provide meaningful parental reassurance; it is quicker and easier to write a prescription for the child.
At least 90 percent of the drugs prescribed by pediatricians are unnecessary and a costly risk to the child who takes them. All drugs are toxic and thus dangerous, per se. Beyond that, excessive childhood use of prescription drugs may generate the belief that there is "a pill for every ill." This may lead the child to seek chemical solutions to emotional problems later in life.
At least 90 percent. of children's surgery is unnecessary, needlessly exposing the patient to the risks of death from the surgery itself, from anesthesia, or from infections contracted in the hospital, which is an inescapably germ ridden environment.
Most pediatricians have received little or no education covering the fundamentals of nutrition and pharmacology, and no emphasis is placed on these vital subjects in medical school. Their patients suffer because of the pediatricians' ignorance of the impact of diet on health and of the hazards and side effects of the drugs he prescribes.
Virtually nothing is done in medical school to teach students that nutrition may often be the most important element of diagnosis and treatment.
This confidence in the FDA is misplaced, because virtually all drugs are released without appropriate or significant human trials.
Here are many more of his quotes.
Here is the archive of his newsletter:
He wrote three books:
It’s clear to me that he is one of the original good guys and his writings from the 70s and 80s ring true today.
If you have a young child, or one on the way, then I cannot recommend Mendelsohn and his works strongly enough.
His primary message is to stay away from doctors and the medical system as much as possible. The system and its recruiters are a serious threat to you and your child’s health. You need to upskill and do more of the work yourself. It’s not that hard but it is harder than totally outsourcing the work to a corrupt, captured, disease causing, well-being stealing system.
He died too young, age 61 of “acute cardiac arrest”. Hmmm…
I encourage you to buy his books and get to know the man.
With thanks to, and in memory of, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn.
How Doctors Can Make Healthy Kids Sick
If you think about the relationships you have had with doctors, I suspect you'll be surprised to discover that they're unlike those you have with anyone else who provides you with a service. The typical doctor-patient relationship is revealed in a phrase that has become part of the language, doctor's orders. Doctors do give give orders to their patients; lawyers, accountants, and other professionals give advice.
When you take your child to a pediatrician he conducts a physical examination that is too often cursory rather than thorough; orders tests and x-rays; makes a diagnosis; decides on a course of treatment, often requiring drugs; and sometimes admits him to a hospital for an extended stay. He does all this with a minimum of explanation, without asking for your approval, usually without warning you about the risks and potential side effects of the treatment he is giving, and without telling you what it is all going to cost. When it is all over he will expect you to pay your bill, even if the diagnosis was wrong, or the treatment didn't work, and your child is still sick. Doctors, in short, have minimal accountability to their patients for anything they do.
Americans clearly are at the mercy of their doctors, and as a parent you are even more so because your concern for a child who can't make his own decisions makes you particularly vulnerable. Your child, in tum, becomes vulnerable to treatment that is often painful and debilitating. Because doctors are taught in medical school to submerge any emotional response to human suffering, they simply don't pay enough attention to the pain they inflict and the damage that their treatments may cause.
Among doctors as a group, I believe the pediatrician is the most dangerous because he appears to be the most benign. The image of a pediatrician is most often that of a smiling, kindly, caring professional who, along with his prescriptions, gives balloons and lollipops to your kids. He undeservedly escapes the opprobrium that is some times- directed toward obstetricians and surgeons, who are more likely to be viewed as callous and moneygrubbing.
WHY PEDIATRICIANS ARE DANGEROUS
The confidence inspired by the demeanor of pediatricians is, in my experience, undeserved. It tends to mask the elements of pediatric practice that are threatening to your child. Let me recite briefly some of the reasons why I believe pediatricians are dangerous and then get into the most serious of them later, in greater detail.
1. The pediatrician serves as the recruiter for the medical profession. He indoctrinates your child from birth into a lifelong dependence on medical intervention. It begins with a succession of needless "well-baby check ups" and immunizations and then moves on to routine annual physical examinations and endless treatment of minor ailments that would cure themselves if they were left alone.
I love this framing. Yes indeed, they are the recruiters for the system. It all starts with them.
2. Pediatricians are the least likely of all specialists to tell parents about the potential side effects of the drugs and treatments they prescribe. What pediatrician ever told mothers of the evidence linking infant formula to high blood lead levels and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)? What pediatrician, until pressured to do so by media revelations, ever told parents of the risk of epilepsy and mental retardation associated with the immunizations that he performs? What pediatrician tells parents that antibiotics should be reserved for cases in which there is no acceptable option, that frequent and indiscriminate use may have adverse future consequences for the child?
3. The pediatrician's wanton prescribing of powerful drugs indoctrinates children from birth with the philosophy of "a pill for every ill." This may lead the child to the belief that there is a drug to treat every condition and that drugs are an appropriate response to normal feelings of frustration, depression, anxiety, inadequacy, insecurity, etc. Doctors are directly responsible for hooking millions of people on prescription drugs. They are also indirectly responsible for the plight of millions more who tum to illegal drugs because they were taught at an early age that drugs can cure anything-including psychological and emotional conditions-that ails them.
4. Pediatrics is among the lowest-paid of the medical specialties. Consequently, because he has greater need for the income they generate, the pediatrician is more likely than other doctors to order unnecessary x-rays and tests. The risks to the patient are twofold: first, potentially harmful effects from the tests and the x-rays themselves; second, the danger that inappropriate treatment may be given because the pediatrician discounted clinical evidence in making his diagnosis and relied on test results that too often are unreliable.
5. Pediatricians are so accustomed to seeing patients who aren't really sick that they often fail to recognize the ones who are. I have been an expert witness in many malpractice suits that bear this out. Board-certified pediatricians have overlooked important, life-threatening conditions because they had forgotten what to look for in a sick child and missed the symptoms that should have alerted them to a serious condition.
Meningitis is an outstanding example of this short-coming, because it is today one of the rarities in pediatrics. It used to be 95-percent fatal and now is 95-percent curable, but only if the pediatrician recognizes the symptoms and identifies the disease in time. Every pediatrician, during his residency, is taught how to diagnose meningitis. In fact, it is one of the few really useful things that he is taught. But that lesson is often blotted out after years of examining a procession of healthy children. To make matters worse, the pediatrician gets so accustomed to treating non ailments that when he does properly diagnose a sick child he may no longer re member the appropriate treatment.
6. Because they see more children in order to enjoy a profitable practice, pediatricians don't spend enough time with their patients to diagnose and treat them properly. Every competent physician knows that 85 percent of an accurate diagnosis is based on the patient's history, 10 percent on a thorough physical examination, and the remainder on laboratory tests and x-rays. It takes at least half an hour to an hour to take an adequate history and to conduct a thorough physical exam. Pediatricians typically spend 10 minutes with a patient and thus fail to discern much of what they need to know for a reliable diagnosis because they simply don't spend the time that is needed. The result is "knee jerk" or "cookie cutter" diagnosis, in which habit replaces sound judgment based on careful examination.
7. Pediatricians are the most likely of all specialists to enhance their income by promoting and defending laws that force patients to use their services. It is pediatricians, not politicians, who are responsible for mandatory use of silver nitrate or antibiotic drops in a newborn’s eyes, mandatory school physical examinations that provide opportunities for "creative diagnosis" of non-ailments, mandatory hospital births, and court-ordered use of controversial and unproven methods of treatment to which the parents object. Increasingly, one of the dangers inherent in taking your child to the doctor is the possibility that he may be taken from you and-placed in state custody if you reject the treatment that his doctor demands. I have testified on behalf of the parents in many such legal actions in recent years.
8. Pediatricians are the principal foes of breastfeeding, despite incontrovertible evidence that it is one of the most effective ways to assure the future health of your child. Although the LaLeche League is beginning to counter the influence that the formula makers have long had on pediatricians, many doctors either fail to encourage or actively discourage breastfeeding. I won't go into all of the reasons for this, but it is worth noting that the growth of the pediatric specialty in the United States can be attributed in large measure to the financial support of the manufacturers of infant formula, who have long used pediatricians as unpaid salesmen.
9. Pediatricians give tacit support to the unconscionable obstetrical intervention that is damaging children, physically and intellectually. They cover up the obstetricians' role in producing much of the damage that they see. When a parent has a child with a birth defect, and asks a pediatrician whether the obstetrician might be responsible, he will get the reply that is taught during pediatric residency: "Don't look back; just look ahead." Dangerous obstetrical practices that produce retardation, learning disabilities, and physical abnormalities would disappear in a few years if pediatricians had the courage and compassion to place the blame on obstetricians, which is often where it belongs.
Despite all this evidence of negative effects from pediatric care, the myth persists that American children enjoy better health care because of our abundance of pediatricians. That belief is wrong on two counts. First, infant mortality statistics reveal that American children are less healthy than those in many other developed nations that have few pediatricians. They're even less healthy than children in some of the underdeveloped countries. Second, the reason our children are less healthy may well be because of our abundance of pediatricians.
Despite evidence to the contrary, public health policy in the United States is based on the premise that access to care determines the health of a population. Doctors have succeeded in convincing politicians of this, even though they can't prove it I believe that as long as emergency medical services are available, access to routine medical care probably has a negative effect on health. We've seen it happen in California, Saskatchewan, Israel, and elsewhere: call a doctor's strike and the death rate goes down!
KEY TO HEALTH: STAY AWAY FROM DOCTORS!
The best way to raise a healthy child is to keep him away from doctors, except for emergency care in the case of an accident or an obviously serious illness. If your child displays symptoms of illness, monitor his condition closely, but don't seek medical help until there are clear indications that he is seriously ill. Most doctors ignore the fact that the human body is a wondrous ma chine with an astonishing capacity to repair itself. If you take your sick child to a doctor, he probably won't allow it to do that. Instead, he will interfere with the body's natural defenses by giving your child treatment that he doesn’t need and shouldn't get, with side effects that his body is not designed to handle.
If you become convinced that you should accept my advice and avoid your doctor whenever it makes sense to do so, you will learn to avoid the traps that pediatric medicine has laid for your child. The first of these is the "well-baby visit'' - a cherished ritual of pediatricians that enhances their income but does nothing constructive for your child. The hazard of these examinations is the proclivity of doctors - a heritage of medical school - to discover illness where none exists. The diagnosis leads to treatment, of course, with consequences that may make your child sick.
The time to see a doctor is when your child is really sick, not when he's well. If your pediatrician asks that you bring your baby inf or routine, regular checkups on a monthly, bimonthly, or other regularly scheduled basis, ask him why he thinks this is necessary. Ask him if he knows of any objective studies that indicate it will have any effect in improving your child's health. I've never seen one, and I don't believe he will be able to point to one, either.
Although professional groups have recommended that the value of preventive child health care be validated by conducting controlled studies that follow patients over many years, little research has been done. The three studies that I have seen offered no support to pediatricians who demand that their patients visit them on a regular basis. The studies focused individually on general health, behavioral patterns and learning abilities, and developmental status, as the end points of the research. As reported in Pediatrics, "None of these studies provided evidence that the preventive services given affected the outcomes measured positively."
In the absence of any evidence that well-baby visits will improve the health of your child, I suggest you avoid them and the risks of needless treatment they present and save your time and money. In all my years as a pediatrician / do not recall ever having discovered an illness - during a well-baby examination that was not revealed in a timely manner by taking a careful history on the child's initial visit or by the subsequent development of observable symptoms. I'll discuss that more fully later.
Well-baby visits are worthless because they are essentially superficial, and they are superficial because the doctor knows deep in his heart that they are a waste of time. Another study conducted in metropolitan Pitts burgh revealed that pediatricians conduct a well-baby visit in an average of a little more than 10 minutes and then provide advice on child development, potential problems, and similar matters in an average of 52 seconds. Similar findings were reported in New York City, Baltimore, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Rochester, New York.
No doctor can diagnose a symptom-free disease in 10 minutes or give any constructive advice in 52 seconds. If my child were the patient, I wouldn't even give a doctor the opportunity to try.
When your child enters a pediatric examining room he is almost invariably subjected to height and weight measurements, usually taken by a technician or a nurse. This is part of the ritual Modem Medicine has developed to make you feel that you are getting your money's worth. First-time parents wait nervously while the nurse places the squirming baby on the scale and may be asked to help hold the child's legs down so that the height can be measured. Mom and Dad sigh with relief when their pediatrician finally appears, checks the measurements· against a chart, and announces that their child is developing "normally." Conversely, they are worried if they are told that their baby is gaining too much or too little weight.
What their doctor doesn't tell them is that this ritual has no medical significance whatsoever. They aren't told that some formula manufacturer was probably the source of the growth chart that the doctor is using and that he gets them free. That leads to an obvious question: Why are the formula makers so eager to have your doctor check your baby's weight? Answer: Because the weight gain of breastfed babies may not match the average weights shown on the formula maker's chart. They hope that the pediatrician, instead of reassuring the mother that this is normal and nonthreatening, will tell her to stop breastfeeding and switch to their product, of which he has a handy reminder in his hand. Too often, that is exactly what he does, and the baby is subsequently denied the immunity and other benefits that breastfeeding provides.
For at least half a century doctors have been relying on various standard weight and height tables to measure the health of patients of all ages. For older children and adults the most commonly used chart is one developed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, last re vised in 1959. The pediatrician compares your child's height and weight measurements to those on the average growth curve. If the child is at either end of the spectrum, he will be defined as "abnormal." The doctor misleads the parent by evaluating a single patient on the basis of a theoretical statistical value.
WHY WEIGHT CHARTS ARE MISLEADING
This evaluation is misleading because the charts are based on an average of a group of subjects that may not be comparable - environmentally, racially, or genetically - to your child. The doctor makes the assumption that, unless your child is near the 50th percentile, he is either too skinny or too fat, too tall or too short. If the measurements are well removed from the midpoint, the doctor can then seize the opportunity to treat your child. This indefensible practice reminds me of a definition I once heard of the role of lawyers, whose function; it was said, was ''to raise doubts in the minds of their clients;· which they can then resolve over a long period of time at great profit to themselves." That's what is happening when a pediatrician uses variations from "normal" height and weight as an excuse to treat your child.
Comparison of individual children to charts of aver age height and weight is unscientific, per se, and be comes more so when you consider that the charts themselves are invalid. As this is written there is a raging debate over the Metropolitan Life charts, which many doctors have challenged as defining ideal adult weights 10-20 pounds too low. It appears that Metropolitan will respond to this criticism by raising the weight standards, and another group of doctors is challenging that. What ever the result, one thing is certain. Doctors will ignore this history and continue to compare your child to what ever standard is agreed to, as though the measurements had been handed down from a Higher Power that inscribed them on stone.
Studies have shown that the standard height and weight charts applied to children (several are in use) are even less valid than those used for adults. For example, they are meaningless when applied to measure the development of black children. That's because they are based on the progress of groups of Caucasian children, and black children exhibit different growth characteristics when studied as a group. Another deviation that the charts fail to take into account are genetic factors in child development. They make the assumption, ignoring the genetic factors, that a child with parents shorter than five feet, six inches, should attain the same height as a child whose parents are both over six feet tall.
Comparisons with standard growth charts also trouble me because no valid norms have ever been developed for breastfed babies, who often exhibit weight gains that are below those achieved by babies who are formula-fed. This is quite normal, and also beneficial, and there is no evidence that God made a mistake when he constructed breasts that don't yield Neo-Mull-Soy or Enfamil. Unfortunately, many pediatricians don't seem to believe that, so if you are breastfeeding your baby and his weight gain does not match the charts, your doctor is likely to insist on switching him to formula. That's bad for you and worse for your child. I'll have more to say on this later, but let me emphasize right now that I believe breastfeeding is a vital element in the health of children, not only in infancy but later in life.
The use of standard growth charts is an example and American medicine is filled with them - of quantitative nonsense superseding qualitative sense. Don't let your pediatrician influence you by attaching importance to comparisons of your child's growth with any standard norms. Remember, if he tries, that these norms are based on tiny groups of children, were done many years ago, often compare apples and oranges, and don't differentiate between breastfed and bottle fed babies.
Let me repeat: Your pediatrician literally does not know the normal growth pattern of breastfed babies. He is misleading you if he tells you that your breastfed baby isn't growing fast enough. If your baby is otherwise healthy, don't switch to formula because of nonsense your pediatrician has extrapolated from his worthless charts!
I know it may be difficult for you to accept the fact that growth charts have no place in medical diagnosis, because doctors have been using them for so long. Let me assure you that I am not alone in the view that more harm than good may come from using them to measure the health and progress of an individual child. This position is shared by many other doctors who have been moved to look objectively at the results they have experienced in their own practices rather than continue to accept what they learned in medical school.
I have belabored this issue because I want it to serve as an advance warning of all the other offenses against your child that your pediatrician may commit. I'll de scribe many more as we move on to specific illnesses. The point is that, if a pediatrician will treat a child on the basis of information obtained from invalid charts, it is not difficult to comprehend the interventions he will conceive if he has a more tangible symptom that he can use to rationalize his behavior.
For the most part, the damage done by growth charts is limited to their impact on your pocketbook and your peace of mind. However, in recent years they have led to a major abuse that I will mention briefly only to condemn it. I refer to the growing use of estrogens and other hormones to try to alter the height of children who are perceived as being too tall or too short. Little is known about the potential damage that may be inflicted by the hormones that are being used to stimulate or retard growth, and nothing is known about the long-term effects of this treatment.
In recent years the medical journals have reported extensively on the use of estrogen to keep girls from growing "too tall." One headline, which assured readers that such treatment was "safe," noted the following risks and side effects, but they were buried deep in the text of the story: morning sickness, night cramps, thrombophlebitis (blood clots in the veins), hives, obesity, hypertension, abnormal menstrual bleeding, suppression of pituitary hormones, migraine headaches, precipitation of diabetes ,,.mellitus, gallstones, atherosclerosis, breast and genital tract cancer, and sterility. The article also noted that "relatively few girls have been treated long enough ago...to have outlived the latent period for neoplasia [the formation of malignant tumors]."
How many doctors who recommend this treatment tell their patients about these side effects? How many parents would permit their doctor to treat a child for height control if they were made aware of the risks the treatment entails?
The risks of exposure to significant damage in the course of routine medical care are neither remote nor inconsequential. That's why you should assume the dominant role in dealing with your child's health.
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