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Dr. Ted’s Blog

Roller Shoes are Risky Business

Protective Gear Recommended When Using Roller Shoes
By Jennifer Warner
WebMD Medical News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
June 4, 2007 —

Gliding down the sidewalk in roller shoes may look like fun, but without protective gear the shoes may wind up sending kids straight to the emergency room.
A new study shows one hospital reported 67 cases of injuries caused by roller shoes last summer vacation. Wrist injuries were the most common. No protective gear was used during the time of these injuries.
“To reduce the rate of such injuries, parents buying roller shoes need to understand both the benefits and risks of this activity,” write researcher Mihai Vioreanu, MRCSI, of Temple Street Children’s University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, and colleagues. “Full protective gear needs to be used at all times, including a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads when using roller shoes.”
Roller shoes are a popular type of sneaker that has a detachable or convertible wheel in the heel, which allows the wearer to lean back and glide on the wheel as well as walk. They’re often sold under the brand names “Heely” or “Street Gliders.”
The shoes were introduced in 2000 in the U.S., but researchers say little is known about their safety.

Roller Shoes Tied to Injury

In the study, published in Pediatrics, researchers tracked the number of roller shoe-related injuries at their Dublin hospital during the 2006 summer school holiday.
They found 67 children suffered orthopedic injuries while using Heelys or Street Gliders, such as broken bones or dislocated joints. Girls were much more likely to be injured than boys, and the average age of injured children was just under 10.
The study showed:
Broken wrists were by far the most common type of injury reported. Other injuries included other broken bones in the arm, elbow dislocation, foot and ankle injuries, and broken bones in the leg.
Injuries were most commonly caused by falling backward or forward as the child tried to transfer their body weight and find balance on the wheels. In a few cases, the injury was caused by jumping or a sudden change of direction.
Most of the injuries happened while gliding outdoors on a road, sidewalk, cycle lane, or playground.
Researchers also found that 20% of the injuries occurred on the first time the child tried to use the roller shoes and 36% occurred while they were learning to use them.
They say the results show that close adult supervision is needed during this learning curve and use of protective gear, including wrist guards, is recommended at all times.

What Are Probiotics and Why Do I Need Them?


I am using more and more probiotics in my practice, for problems as wide-ranging as “tummy viruses” to ulcerative colitis and most everything in-between. Here’s a little primer on what they are and what they do.

Prepared for the subscribers of
Pharmacist’s Letter / Prescriber’s Letter to give to their patients.
Copyright © 2006 by Therapeutic Research Center

What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live, “friendly” organisms that live in the intestine. They help decrease “unfriendly”
bacteria and viruses that cause diseases such as diarrhea. Examples of probiotics include Lactobacillus,
Bifidobacteria, and Saccharomyces boulardii.

For what conditions are probiotics effective?
Certain probiotics have been shown to be beneficial for preventing and treating some types of diarrhea, including diarrhea caused by antibiotics. Probiotics also seem to help some bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Some yogurts that contain the probiotic Lactobacillus might also help women who get frequent vaginal yeast infections. However, eating yogurt doesn’t seem useful for preventing vaginal yeast infections caused by antibiotics.

What probiotic products are available, and how do I choose one?
Not all probiotic products are the same. Some do not contain what they say on the label. Others do not contain enough live organisms to be effective. And some probiotics work better for certain conditions than others. Clearly, product selection is important. To prevent diarrhea caused by antibiotics, choose Culturelle (Lactobacillus GG) or Florastor (Saccharomyces boulardii). You can also try these products for prevention of traveler’s diarrhea. Start taking them a few days before travel, and continue them for the duration of your trip. Yogurt is a source of probiotics, but not all yogurts contain the right kinds of organisms. Choose a
product with the National Yogurt Association’s “Live and Active Cultures” seal on the label (e.g., Dannon, Yoplait). You will need to eat about 8 oz twice daily to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea. To prevent frequent vaginal yeast infections, try 6 oz daily of a yogurt containing Lactobacillus acidophilus.
VSL#3 is a probiotic mixture used for certain bowel conditions such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. It may help reduce stomach pain and bloating if you have irritable bowel syndrome. Studies published just this year (2009) have documented VSL #3 and Align as very effective for bloating and cramping.

What are the side effects of probiotics?
In some people, probiotics can cause stomach and intestinal upset, including gas and bloating. These usually improve with time.

Are there any drug interactions with probiotics?
Antibiotics are used to reduce harmful bacteria in the body. They can also reduce friendly bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. If you are using these probiotics or yogurt, you should take them at least two hours before or after the antibiotic. The calcium in yogurt can also decrease the effectiveness of some antibiotics. You may need to allow more than two hours between eating your yogurt and taking your antibiotic. Check with your pharmacist for the best way to avoid this interaction. Saccharomyces boulardii is a fungus. Medications for fungal infections help reduce fungus in and on the body. Taking Saccharomyces boulardii with medications for fungal infections can reduce its effectiveness. Some medications for fungal infections include Diflucan, Lamisil, Sporanox, and others.

Who should not take probiotics?
For healthy people, routine use of probiotics to maintain bowel health is unnecessary. There is a small risk of infection with probiotics. If you have a weakened immune system you should not take probiotics unless you’ve checked with your healthcare professional. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you
should get approval from your healthcare professional before taking any probiotic other than yogurt.
Detail-Document #220704
−This Detail-Document accompanies the related article published in−
PHARMACIST’S LETTER / PRESCRIBER’S LETTER
July 2006 ~ Volume 22 ~ Number 220704
More. . .
Copyright © 2006 by Therapeutic Research Center

What Should I Eat to Get My . . .?

I’m often asked what foods are best for a variety of different nutritional entities. I just found this little list, and while it is not exhaustive, it’s a good start.

Vitamin B6: Beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals

Folate: Beans and legumes, citrus fruits and juices, wheat bran and other whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, poultry, pork, shellfish, liver

Vitamin D: Fish, fish oils, oysters, fortified foods such as cow milk, soy milk, rice milk, and some cereals

Calcium: Milk, yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, calcium-fortified orange juice, green leafy vegetables (broccoli, collards, kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, and bok choy or Chinese cabbage), canned salmon and sardines canned with their soft bones, shellfish, almonds, Brazil nuts, dried beans

Zinc: Beef, pork, lamb, oysters; dark meat of poultry, peanuts, peanut butter, nuts, and legumes (beans), fortified cereals

Essential fatty acids (omega-3 fatty acids such as linolenic acid)

Fish (tuna, salmon, and mackerel oil) fish oil, flax seeds, flax oil, canola oil, walnut oil, dark green leafy vegetables

Tryptophan: Turkey, chicken, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, soy, tofu, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, tree nuts, peanuts, peanut butter

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects more than one in ten people. Little is known about the causes of IBS. It can be worsened by stress or emotional upsets. There may be differences in the symptoms of IBS between patients. This means that, of the many different treatment approaches available, you and your healthcare provider will need to select those that are most likely to help your individual symptoms.

What nondrug measures can I use?

Many people say that changing their diet is helpful. Some common culprits thought to make IBS worse are caffeine; alcohol; sorbitol (the artificial sweetener); fried or fatty foods; and gas-forming foods like cabbage, broccoli, or beans. Make sure that, if you do exclude something from your diet, you aren’t risking any type of deficiency (calcium, for example, from eliminating dairy products).
Adding fiber might be helpful for reducing the symptoms of IBS. Soluble fiber is best (supplements like Metamucil and dietary sources like applesauce, oatmeal, potatoes, and rice). Insoluble fiber, like wheat bran, doesn’t seem to work. The downside of fiber is that it can increase your chances of having gas and bloating. Add fiber gradually to reduce these effects.
You may also benefit from eating smaller, more frequent meals. Large meals can sometimes worsen IBS symptoms.
While stress does not appear to cause IBS, it may make the symptoms worse. Some patients have found that techniques to reduce stress or a good exercise program are helpful. There’s no harm in trying, so do what works best for you.

Are there medications I can take?

Over the years a number of different medications have been tried for IBS. You should always consult with your healthcare provider before trying any medication, especially nonprescription ones. Listed below are the most commonly used medications for IBS. Some of these medications require a prescription.
Antidiarrheal agents. Loperamide (Imodium) can be used for diarrhea, but it doesn’t help with stomach pain and bloating.
Antispasmodics. Hyoscyamine (Levsin [U.S.]), dicyclomine (Bentyl [U.S.], Bentylol [Canada]), and hyoscine butylbromide (Buscopan [Canada]) can reduce pain and cramping by decreasing muscle spasms in your intestinal tract. They’re especially helpful if your IBS symptoms are worsened by meals. However, antispasmodics may have some unpleasant side effects such as dry mouth, sedation, and constipation.
Laxatives. Osmotic laxatives, like polyethylene glycol or PEG (Miralax [U.S.], Lax-A-Day [Canada]) and milk of magnesia (MOM), can be tried for constipation.
Antidepressants. Antidepressants can reduce IBS symptoms as well as relieve depression and anxiety.
Herbal products. Several products have been tried that are available without a prescription. For example, peppermint oil is an antispasmodic that may help. You should consult with your healthcare provider before trying any alternative medications as these are active compounds and may have other physical effects and drug interactions that need to be considered.
Probiotics. Some probiotics might help with the symptoms of IBS, like bloating and gas. Look for products that contain Bifidobacteria, as this probiotic seems to be the most beneficial. Some products that contain Bifidobacteria include Align (U.S.), Activia (U.S.), Bifidox (Canada), or VSL #3.
Other therapies. Lubiprostone (Amitiza [U.S.]) is a prescription drug that’s helpful for women with IBS who have constipation. Alosetron (Lotronex [U.S.]) is another prescription drug that’s sometimes used in women with severe IBS with diarrhea. These drugs are expensive and have some important side effects, so they are generally used when other treatments have failed.

Where can I go for information?

There are some very good places on the internet where patients with IBS can go to keep up with current information about this disorder. A listing of these sites is given for your reference. Remember to talk with your healthcare provider about any information you find so you can discuss which treatments are best for you.
International Foundation for Functional GI Disorders: www.iamibs.org
The UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders: www.med.unc.edu/medicine/fgidc
The IBS Page: www.panix.com/~ibs/
IBS Resource Center: www.healingwell.com/ibs/
Canadian Society of Intestinal Research: www.badgut.com/
May 2009

Treatments for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)  
Background
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affects about 7% of individuals in North America. It’s defined by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits for a period of at least three months. Patients can experience predominant constipation (IBS-C), predominant diarrhea (IBS-D), or mixed symptoms (IBS-M). Unlike organic bowel diseases (e.g., celiac sprue, colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, etc), there are no structural or biochemical abnormalities associated with IBS.1 A new systematic review of therapies for IBS was recently published. This document discusses the treatments for IBS and their evidence for effectiveness. Recommendations for managing IBS patients are also included.

Fiber and Laxatives

Increasing fiber is one of the most common recommendations made to IBS patients, with the intent of reducing pain and regulating bowel function. However, studies show that insoluble dietary fiber, like wheat bran, is unlikely to improve symptoms.1
Patients may get improvement in overall IBS symptoms with psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid (Metamucil, etc). This is a soluble fiber, which absorbs water and forms a gel that helps food move smoothly through the GI tract. One study also showed some benefit of using calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon [U.S.], Prodiem Bulk Fibre Therapy [Canada], etc) compared to placebo. Like psyllium, calcium polycarbophil is a hydrophilic bulk-forming laxative.1
The downside of adding fiber is the potential for an increase in bloating, abdominal distension, and flatulence. Gradually adding fiber might help avoid this.1
One small study suggests that the osmotic laxative polyethylene glycol (PEG) (Miralax [U.S.], Lax-A-Day [Canada]) can double the frequency of bowel movements in patients with IBS-C. However, pain intensity is not reduced by osmotic laxatives.

Antidepressants

Pooled data from studies of both tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) (n=789) show that these drugs are likely to improve overall symptoms of IBS, regardless of IBS type. About one in four patients treated will have some benefit.
The largest individual trial with a TCA (n=216) looked at desipramine. The dose was started low, and then titrated up to a dose recommended for the treatment of depression. (However, most trials used low doses of TCAs, and using antidepressant doses don’t appear to be necessary).2 The presence of depression did not predict a response to treatment for IBS symptoms. A high incidence of side effects resulted in a dropout rate of almost one-third of subjects.1
SSRIs have a better side effect profile than TCAs. Unlike TCAs, good evidence for efficacy in improving IBS symptoms from individual trials of SSRIs is lacking.1
The SSRIs have a prokinetic effect, so they might work better in patients with IBS-C. Since TCAs are more likely to cause anticholinergic side effects like constipation, they might be better for individuals with IBS-D.1 Experts say that TCAs might be best for improving pain.

Antispasmodics

Antispasmodics (e.g., dicyclomine [Bentyl-U.S., Bentylol-Canada], hyoscyamine [Levsin-U.S. only], hyoscine butylbromide [Buscopan-Canada only]) as a class can provide short-term relief of symptoms like abdominal pain and discomfort from IBS. The reason for this might be that pain with IBS is caused by colonic smooth muscle spasms.1
Systematic review (n=1,778) suggests that about one patient will have symptom relief for every five patients treated with an antispasmodic. However, most of the antispasmodics that have been studied for IBS are not available in the U.S. or Canada. In addition, studies typically have not specified the type of IBS treated.1
The most common side effects with antispasmodics are anticholinergic in nature. These include dry mouth, dizziness, and blurred vision. About one in 18 patients treated will experience a side effect, according to available data.
Limited data suggest that peppermint oil, thought to relax smooth muscle in the GI tract, might improve symptoms of IBS in about one out of three patients treated. Side effects reported in studies were rare.1
The usual dose of peppermint oil for adults with IBS is 0.2 to 0.4 mL given three times daily, in enteric-coated liquid-filled capsules.
Antispasmodics should be considered especially when IBS symptoms are exacerbated by meals. In this case, they can be taken about 30 minutes before a meal, on an as-needed basis.

Antidiarrheals

Since patients with IBS-D have a faster colonic transit than healthy patients, drugs that slow colonic transit might be beneficial. There is some data on loperamide. Loperamide (Imodium, etc) doesn’t help for IBS symptoms like pain, but it does reduce frequency and improve stool consistency in almost all patients who are treated.1
Alosetron (Lotronex)
There’s good evidence that alosetron (Lotronex, available in U.S. only), a serotonin 5HT-3 antagonist, is better than placebo at improving IBS symptoms in patients with IBS-D.1,5
The majority of the body’s serotonin is found in the GI tract. Serotonin plays a major role in GI motor and secretory function and visceral sensation. Antagonism at the 5HT-3 receptor specifically delays GI transit, reduces colonic tone, decreases the gastrocolic reflex, and decreases visceral sensation.1
Data from eight placebo-controlled trials (n=5,000) show that about eight patients will need to be treated with alosetron for one patient to experience adequate relief from discomfort and urgency. However, alosetron has serious side effects that include constipation and colon ischemia. The number needed to harm (NNH) for one adverse event with alosetron is ten. About one patient for every 1,000 patient-years of alosetron treatment will have ischemic colitis.1
The benefit vs. risk is most favorable in women who have not responded to other therapies. Several years ago, alosetron was pulled from the market for a period of time. However, it was subsequently returned to the U.S. market, and has since been available through a special prescribing program for women with chronic, severe IBS-D who have failed other therapies.5
A 30-day supply of 1 mg twice daily of Lotronex costs over $1,000.
Tegaserod (Zelnorm)
Tegaserod (Zelnorm) is better than placebo at relieving IBS symptoms in women with IBS-C and IBS-M. However, cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack are more common with tegaserod compared to placebo. It was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2007.1
For a period of time, tegaserod was available through FDA under a treatment investigational new drug application (T-IND) protocol. However, it is no longer available under the T-IND, and is only available for emergency use in life-threatening situations.
Tegaserod is no longer available in Canada.
Lubiprostone (Amitiza)
Lubiprostone (Amitiza), available in the U.S. but not Canada, is more effective than placebo at relieving IBS symptoms in women with IBS-C. Its efficacy in men has not been conclusively demonstrated.6
Lubiprostone is derived from prostaglandin. It’s a C-2 chloride channel activator. Lubiprostone works topically from the luminal surface of the GI tract to promote chloride secretion into the intestine. Sodium then enters the lumen as a result of the negative charge of the chloride ions, and water follows passively.6
The most common side effects with lubiprostone are nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Lubiprostone is contraindicated in patients with mechanical bowel obstruction.6
Lubiprostone was first approved for the treatment of chronic constipation. The recommended oral dose for constipation is 24 mcg twice daily. Note that the dose of lubiprostone for IBS is lower, at 8 mcg twice daily.6
A 30-day supply of lubiprostone will cost cash-paying patients around $220.

Antibiotics

Short courses of non-absorbable antibiotics are better than placebo for improving overall symptoms of IBS, and for reducing bloating specifically. There’s data for rifaximin (Xifaxan, available in U.S. only), with three RCTs (n=545) supporting its superiority over placebo. Duration of effect is variable. Symptom improvement can last after the antibiotic is stopped, for ten weeks or more in some cases. Most of the patients studied had IBS-D.1
Studies of rifaximin for IBS used higher doses than the FDA-approved dose for treatment of traveler’s diarrhea, which is 200 mg three times daily for three days. The dose of rifaximin studied for IBS was 1,100 to 1,200 mg divided two to three times daily for ten to 14 days.1
No severe adverse events were seen with these high doses of rifaximin. Two of the rifaximin studies reported individual side effects, and there was no significant difference between the rifaximin and placebo groups.

Probiotics

Nineteen trials evaluating the use of probiotics in IBS patients (n=1,668) were included in a systematic review. Eleven of these studies (n=936) looked at improvement in IBS symptoms as a dichotomous (benefit vs. no benefit) type of outcome. About one in four patients treated had symptom improvement. All of the different probiotics, including Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, Streptococcus, and combinations, showed a trend toward benefit.1
However, when the degree of improvement in IBS symptoms was considered as reported in fourteen trials (n=1,351), Lactobacillus did not have an effect on IBS symptoms. Probiotics with Bifidobacteria (e.g., Align, Activia, VSL #3 [all U.S. only]; Bifidox [Canada]) appear to be more effective.1 For more information about probiotics and their uses see our, “Comparison of Probiotic Products.”

Nondrug Therapies

Pooled data (n=1,278) show that psychological therapies (e.g., cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal psychotherapy, hypnotherapy) can improve overall symptoms of IBS. However, relaxation therapy alone does not offer any benefit. The mechanism for improvement of IBS symptoms might be stress reduction, empathic attitude of the provider, etc.1
There isn’t good evidence to support avoiding specific foods to help improve symptoms of IBS. However, the majority of patients relate symptoms to consumption of certain foods and as a result, avoid those foods. If this is the case, don’t discourage the patient unless exclusion of the particular food could lead to dietary deficiencies.

Conclusion

There are a wide variety of treatments for IBS, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Treatment decisions are often based on the severity of disease, and on the predominant IBS symptom of either constipation or diarrhea.3
For all patients with IBS, insoluble fiber like psyllium can be tried for regulating bowel movements and reducing pain.1 Be aware of the potential for gas and bloating. Introduce fiber gradually to minimize these side effects.1
Recommend antispasmodics or peppermint oil to reduce abdominal discomfort.1,2 Consider this especially for patients whose symptoms are worsened by meals.3 Antidepressants might also help with abdominal pain.1
Probiotics containing Bifidobacteria might help improve bloating and flatulence associated with IBS.1 SSRIs or TCAs can be tried for overall symptom improvement as well.1 Consider SSRIs for IBS-C, and TCAs for IBS-D.
Recommend loperamide to reduce the frequency of bowel movements for patients with IBS-D, but don’t expect it to help with abdominal cramping.1 Reserve alosetron (Lotronex) for women with severe IBS-D refractory to other therapies. It’s available through a restricted prescribing program because of the increased risk for ischemic colitis.1
Try osmotic laxatives like PEG for increasing stool frequency in patients with IBS-C.1 Reserve lubiprostone (Amitiza) for women with IBS-C who haven’t responded to other therapies. It’s prescription only and quite expensive.1
Psychotherapy can help improve symptoms of IBS, possibly by reducing stress.1 But relaxation therapy alone doesn’t offer any advantage over usual care.1
Project Leader in preparation of this Detail-Document: Stacy A. Hester, R.Ph., BCPS, Assistant Editor

References

1.Brandt LJ, Chey WD, Foxx-Orenstein AE, et al. An evidence-based systematic review on the management of irritable bowel syndrome. Am J Gastroenterol 2009;104:S1-S35.
2.Jellin JM, Gregory PJ, et al. Pharmacist’s Letter/Prescriber’s Letter Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com (Accessed April 15, 2009).
3.American Gastroenterological Association. American Gastroenterological Association medical position statement: irritable bowel syndrome. Gastroenterology 2002;123:2105-7.
4.Mertz HR. Irritable bowel syndrome. N Engl J Med 2003;349:2136-46.
5.Product information for Lotronex. Prometheus. San Diego, CA 92121. April 2008.
6.Product information for Amitiza. Takeda. Deerfield, IL 60015. April 2008.

Holiday Hours/Closing

Meyer Pediatrics will be closed for Christmas & New Years Holiday as follows:

December 24th – Christmas Eve – Closed at noon.
December 25th – Christmas Day – Closed
December 26th – Saturday – Closed

December 31st – New Years Eve – Open
January 1st – New Years Day – Closed
January 2nd – Saturday – Open

We hope everyone enjoys celebrating the holiday with family and friends!

A "Discussion" With Jim Carrey About Autism


The following is a response to actor Jim Carrey following his TV appearance with his wife (and former Playboy bunny) Jenny McCarthy and his very vocal assertions that vaccines cause, or are a causative agent of autism. Mr. Carrey, and especially his wife, have been very outspoken about their belief that vaccines, or a component of vaccines, are associated with autism.

This idea was first proposed by a British doctor who published a “study” allegedly proving that vaccines (specifically the MMR) caused autism. This article has since been proven to be a fake: 10 of the article’s co-authors have admitted that they faked their numbers because they were silently being paid by a legal firm that wanted to file a class-action lawsuit. The main author of the study has had his license to practice medicine stripped by Great Britain because of the gross fraudulence involved in the study.

No controlled, double blinded study has EVER linked ANY vaccine with autism and every major health organization in the world (not just the US) has come out in support of vaccinations, and all of them have stated that all evidence is conclusive that vaccines are NOT associated with autism in any way.

Autism, which in reality is a group of different but related problems, is a genetic entity. I can understand that Ms. McCarthy has difficulty accepting that she may have contributed genetically to her child’s problems, and that it is FAR more convenient to blame the evil vaccine industry, but facts are facts.

Don’t be mislead by emotion, no matter how powerful. Listen to the facts. And now, back to our “discussion” with Jim Carrey.

Jim Carrey And The Autism Argument
By Kevin Leitch , Parent and Autism Activist – April 22, 2009

Today on The Huffngton Post, actor Jim Carrey posted his thoughts about autism and vaccines. With his very first paragraph it became apparent how little Carrey understood the issues involved:

Recently, I was amazed to hear a commentary by CNN’s Campbell Brown on the controversial vaccine issue. After a ruling by the ‘special vaccine court’ saying the Measles, Mumps, Rubella shot wasn’t found to be responsible for the plaintiffs’ autism, she and others in the media began making assertions that the judgment was in, and vaccines had been proven safe. No one would be more relieved than Jenny and I if that were true. But with all due respect to Ms. Brown, a ruling against causation in three cases out of more than 5000 hardly proves that other children won’t be adversely affected by the MMR…

Point one Mr Carrey. The vaccine issue is only controversial to adherents of your belief system. Within scientific, medical, legal, autistic and parental circles its not even slightly controversial.

Point two, the three cases chosen were chosen – by the plaintiffs legal team – to represent their absolute best chance of winning. If they had won, there was an excellent chance all the cases that were suggesting MMR as causation would have just ‘won’ automatically. Thats why its called an Omnibus.

Point three, regarding the MMR, it has been firmly established that:

a) The data supporting the MMR hypothesis was fixed.
b) The science supporting the MMR theory was badly wrong – both badly done and exposed to contaminants.

You might also note that the court was not attempting to see if the children were ‘adversely affected by the MMR’, it was looking to see – using the three cases the legal team representing the families thought were the absolute best – if MMR caused autism. It didn’t. Thats probably why your Campbell Brown found it easy to say the MMR hypothesis was dead and buried.

You go to say Mr Carrey that:

Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but cigarettes do cause cancer. After 100 years and many rulings in favor of the tobacco companies, we finally figured that out.

Yes, we did – and do you know how? With good science – just like the science that established in the three MMR test cases that the MMR didn’t cause autism. And its fascinating that you bring up this parallel to the smoking issue and then later in your blog post invoke the name of Bernadine Healy. Healy – who’s ‘more sensible voice’ you say you’d rather listen to. Did you know Healy used to be a member of TASSC:

TASSC was created in 1993 by the APCO Worldwide public relations firm, and was funded by tobacco company Philip Morris (now Altria)….

According to Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber in their article How Big Tobacco Helped Create “the Junkman”, one of the forerunners of TASSC at Philip Morris was a 1988 “Proposal for the Whitecoat Project,” named after the white laboratory coats that scientists sometimes wear. The project had four goals: “Resist and roll back smoking restrictions. Restore smoker confidence. Reverse scientific and popular misconception that ETS (passive smoking) is harmful. Restore social acceptability of smoking.”

Is that what you consider a sensible voice Mr Carrey? Someone who supported the tobacco agenda?

Moving on, you say:

If we are to believe that the ruling of the ‘vaccine court’ in these cases mean that all vaccines are safe, then we must also consider the rulings of that same court in the Hannah Polling and Bailey Banks cases, which ruled vaccines were the cause of autism and therefore assume that all vaccines are unsafe. Clearly both are irresponsible assumptions, and neither option is prudent.

First and foremost, the vaccine court did not rule at all in the Hannah Poling case. HHS conceded. And what they conceded was that Hannah Poling was damaged by vaccines resulting in ‘autism like features’. In fact, when we look at the the one piece of medical science carried out on Hannah Poling (co-authored by her own father), we see that only three of the symptoms described as being the result of vaccine injury appear on the DSM (IV) diagnostic criteria for autism.

As for Bailey Banks, this is a perfect illustration of both how the vaccine court in the USA was designed to work and also how terrible the evidence was in the three MMR test cases.

The Banks ruling (subtitled ‘Non-autistic developmental delay’ by the way) drew a line of causation from vaccine to PDD-NOS. It is able to do this as the burden of proof for any science presented to the vaccine court is ‘50% plus a feather’. In other words, it just has to be plausible, no causation needs to be shown.

What doesn’t seem in doubt is that Bailey was injured by a vaccine which resulted in a condition called ADEM. The judge in the case then went on to accept the plaintiffs position that the ADEM in turn caused PDD-NOS. He did this seemingly because there was no evidence to the contrary – e.g. no evidence that ADEM doesn’t cause PDD-NOS.

In any scientific situation – including civil court in the US – this would never have been accepted. The plaintiff would have had to have demonstrated that ADEM did cause PDD-NOS. And a search of PubMed reveals nothing for ‘ADEM autism’ or ‘ADEM PDD’.

So, in the Banks case, because there was no evidence that ADEM does not cause PDD-NOS, they won. In every situation bar the vaccine court, the Banks’ would not have won their case. There is no science to support the idea ADEM causes autism.

Bearing this ‘50% plus a feather’ concept in mind it is clear just how utterly dreadful the evidence was to support the idea MMR caused autism. Not only could plaintiffs not provide any evidence that MMR causes autism, respondents produced reams of evidence to show it clearly doesn’t.

You carry on Mr Carrey to say:

I’ve also heard it said that no evidence of a link between vaccines and autism has ever been found. That statement is only true for the CDC, the AAP and the vaccine makers who’ve been ignoring mountains of scientific information and testimony. There’s no evidence of the Lincoln Memorial if you look the other way and refuse to turn around. But if you care to look, it’s really quite impressive. For a sample of vaccine injury evidence go to www.generationrescue.org/lincolnmemorial.html.

Your analogy is ridiculous. I could go to any library and find evidence for the Lincoln Memorial without ever seeing it. In fact, what your analogy does is demonstrate exactly how blinkered and able to only face one direction at one time you and your colleagues are.

The evidence you present as that being supportive of evidence between a link between vaccines and autism is equally ridiculous and blinkered. I simply don;t have the time to tackle the mountain of misinformation presented on the page you link to suffice to say there’s not a single section that doesn’t have a major error. Most of them have been tackled on this and other blogs over the years.

Next you say:

In all likelihood the truth about vaccines is that they are both good and bad. While ingredients like aluminum, mercury, ether, formaldehyde and anti-freeze may help preserve and enhance vaccines, they can be toxic as well. The assortment of viruses delivered by multiple immunizations may also be a hazard. I agree with the growing number of voices within the medical and scientific community who believe that vaccines, like every other drug, have risks as well as benefits and that for the sake of profit, American children are being given too many, too soon. One thing is certain. We don’t know enough to announce that all vaccines are safe!

Mr Carrey, vaccines do not contain anti-freeze – for goodness sake, even Jay Gordon, Evan’s Paediatrician knows that! Did you also know that (to quote myself):

There’s also Aluminium in breast milk so lets compare the two.

According to this paper (which is from 1990 – any more up to date papers welcomed) the amount of Aluminium in breast milk is 49 ?g/L. The average amount of breast milk expressed per day is 0.85 liters. This means that 41.65?g Aluminium per day is in breast milk. Now, according to this paper, there is between 125 – 850?g of Aluminium per dose in a vaccine.

So, for a 6 year old, total Aluminium is between 2,125 – 14,450?g. In real terms this means that after between 51 and 346 days breast feeding, a 6 year old will have taken onboard the same amount of Aluminium as from the total US vaccine schedule.

Now I couldn’t find out what vaccines contained the lower amount or which contained the higher amount. Even so, this means that if every vaccine a 6 year old has that contains Aluminium contains the highest possible amount, within a year of breast feeding they will have matched that. Or to put it another way, an anti-vax tree-hugger soccer mom who doesn’t vaccinate her baby will have given him the same amount of Aluminium he would’ve had in six years after one year of breast feeding.
And thats of course, not even touched on the fact that:

In the Earth’s crust, aluminium is the most abundant (8.13%) metallic element, and the third most abundant of all elements (after oxygen and silicon)

And is found naturally occurring in sea water, fresh water, the human body etc etc.

[Regarding Formaldehyde]..There’s also Formaldehyde in Apples, Apricots, Banana’s and….ah, I lost interest. Lots of stuff. Including the human body. So – how much is in vaccines? According to this and using it in combination with the US vaccine schedule referenced above, we can see that the total amount of Formaldehyde in vaccines from the vaccine schedule for a 6 year old child is 1.2016mg (again, do your own maths, correct me if I’m wrong).

For comparison to that 1.2mg in all vaccines for a 6 year old, 1 (one) banana contains 16.3mg Formaldehyde. Mr Carrey, you’ve got to stop throwing these scaremongering nonfacts around. Its damned irresponsible for a start.

Lastly Mr Carrey, you say:

If the CDC, the AAP and Ms. Brown insist that our children take twice as many shots as the rest of the western world, we need more independent vaccine research not done by the drug companies selling the vaccines or by organizations under their influence. Studies that cannot be internally suppressed.

In terms of autism, if you want to make a big deal out of the fact that ‘our children take twice as many shots as the rest of the western world’ then please consider this – the UK has less shots than you. We also have a higher prevalence than you. 1 in 100 vs 1 in 150.

And please also don’t invoke silly conspiracy theories. Think about how science works. A study is done, funded by Eli Lily for example. It is peer reviewed and found to be good quality and it is published in, lets say NEJM. Now, every single reader of that study can see exactly what methods and means were used to reach the studies conclusions. I ask you Mr Carrey, how much more independent can you get? How much more transparent? Basically anyone, anywhere can try and replicate that same studies results. If they can and a few others can – the results are good. If nobody can (think Andrew Wakefield) then the results must be bad.

And for goodness sake man, grow up, who is ‘suppressing’ what study exactly? Have you any evidence at all that any study ever has been internally suppressed? Or are you just throwing this stuff out to scare people?

Mr Carrey, I loved the Truman Show but this isn’t it. There’s no god like figure overseeing every aspect of your life and wanting to control it. I ask you – get in contact with an actual scientist and go through your concerns with them. At the very least they’ll be able to stop you saying silly things like there’s anti-freeze in vaccines.

Holiday Hazards


Holiday Poisoning Hazards

Preparations for the holidays are happy, hectic times that can double the risk of toxic exposures. Not only are attractive items brought into the home, but the disruption of the household routine means less supervision of curious children. Even safe homes can become hazardous when visitors bring purses with pills in them. Other hazards include:

Poinsettia: This plant is actually not very toxic, but the sap can be irritating. If a piece has been chewed, clear the mouth of plant material and offer something to drink.

Christmas Berry: The leaves and crushed pits are poisonous if a large amount is swallowed.

Holly: Eating a few berries can cause vomiting, cramps and diarrhea.

Mistletoe: Eating berries can cause vomiting, cramps and diarrhea. Large amounts can cause high blood pressure, seizures and confusion.

Christmas trees: The evergreens are non-toxic with the exception of the Yew, which has red cup-like fruits on its branches. The leaves and seed pits are toxic. Be careful what is added to the water in the Christmas tree stand. Pets may drink it and some preservatives are toxic.

Christmas tree ornaments: Antique or imported ornaments may have a lead-based paint which would be a hazard if ingested.

Tinsel: While non-toxic, these shiny icicles can cause airway or intestinal blockage if eaten by children or pets. Veterinarians perform at least one operation each Christmas season to remove tinsel from pets’ intestines.

Angel Hair: This tree decoration is made of spun glass that causes irritation upon contact.

Bubble Lights: These lights contain a poisonous liquid called methylene chloride that can be a danger if the fluid from several lights is swallowed.

Alcohol: Alcohol poisons children by causing a drop in their blood sugar and by making them dangerously drowsy. A combination of these two factors can cause coma. Holiday alcohol is available in many forms: perfume given as a gift, mixed drinks leftover after a party, or even mouthwash by the bathroom sink.

For an emergency or question about poisons, call the Poison Center toll-free 24 hour hotline 1-800-222-1222

For a free poison prevention information package, call our administrative line at (813) 844-7044 or write:
FL Poison Information Center,
Tampa General Hospital, P.O.Box 1289,
Tampa, FL 33601

The Florida Poison Information Center wishes you and your family
a healthy and happy holiday season!

The Gardasil Vaccination for HPV and Cervical Cancer


I also took this from Snopes.com. It’s not a medical site, per se, but the information about the Gardasil vaccine is accurate. Gardasil prevents infection by the Human Papilloma Virus which is the cause of cervical cancer. Some cancers, such as cervical cancer and liver cancer, are caused by viral infections. So, you don’t get the virus, then you don’t get the cancer. Gardasil prevents infections from 2 of the HPVs that are responsible for about 70% of all cases of cervical cancer. This virus also causes genital warts, so the vaccine will also help prevent these minor STDs, but in my mind this is not the real reason to get the Gardasil vaccine.

At Meyer Pediatrics, we do recommend this vaccine, although it is NOT required for any school. The vaccine, which is given as a series of 3 shots spread out over 6 months, is available for girls age 9 to 26 and we will probably initiate a conversation with you at your daughter’s 9 year old well check. She will never be required to get this vaccine. Boys are not currently eligible for the Gardasil (although it would not harm them to get it, and from a standpoint of social responsibility, it probably should be considered, but insurance companies are unlikely to ever pay for it), and from the look of things, they may never be.

Gardasil Vaccine Side-Effects

The following text is from an e-mail circulating the Internet right now:

32 Girls Have Died

11,916 adverse events already reported to the CDC … and counting.

Pain and swelling. Life-threatening muscle weakness. Blood clots in the heart and lungs.

And the deaths of 32 innocent girls and young women.

You might think I’m talking about a deadly new disease or a global epidemic …

I’m not.

Sadly, it’s more sinister than that. The health threats listed above have all been linked with Gardasil, the so-called “cervical cancer vaccine.” And thanks to Pharma giant Merck, desperate parents and naive young women believe this vaccine saves lives! Tthey couldn’t be more wrong.

That’s why HSI’s Jenny Thompson has released a new video in which she exposes the deception for what it is — and reveals some truly shocking information no one else is talking about.

And you are the very first to see it.

Please, if you have daughters, granddaughters or friends who might be considering this terrible vaccine, you must watch this video. And please forward it to anyone you think would benefit from the vital information it contains.

If you think you know the whole story on Gardasil, I think you’ll be shocked by what you’re about to see. Just click here to start watching the video. It’s just a few minutes long. and those few minutes might just save a young girl’s life.

Origins:
Gardasil is a vaccine intended for girls and young women between the ages 9 to 26 to protect against human papillomavirus (HPV), a virus which is currently linked to an estimated 70% of known cervical cancer cases. Because Gardasil prevents only the onset of HPV infections (rather than curing those who have already been infected by HPV), health officials have advocated that girls be vaccinated for HPV prior to adolescence (or as soon as possible thereafter) in order to head off the occurrence of cervical cancer later in life.

The message quoted above warns that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has already received nearly 12,000 complaints about adverse medical issues related to Gardasil vaccinations, and that 32 young women died after receiving Gardasil vaccinations. Although this information is accurate in a strictly literal sense, it is raw data that does not in itself establish a causal connection between Gardasil and the posited medical dangers.

The CDC, in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), operates a program known as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). The VAERS program collects and analyzes reports on adverse events following immunizations in order to help track the safety and efficacy of various vaccines. It is important to note that reports collected by VAERS are raw data; they do not in themselves establish causal connections between vaccines and adverse medical issues — such determinations cannot be made until the reports have been investigated, evaluated, and analyzed.

(To illustrate this concept, we offer the following [admittedly far-fetched] scenario: A man who received a flu vaccination and then accidentally hit his hand with a hammer a few hours later might legitimately report that soon after he received the flu vaccine, his hand began to throb painfully. Although such a report would be literally true, it would not establish any causal connection between the flu vaccine and the adverse medical symptom of a throbbing, painful hand.) It WOULD, however, be listed in the package insert as a potential complication of the flu vaccine because that’s the way medication side-effect law is written.

As the CDC states in their article on “Reports of Health Concerns Following HPV Vaccination,” before the HPV vaccine was licensed, it was studied in five clinical trials involving over 21,000 girls and women ages 9 through 26, and since the licensing the “CDC and FDA have been closely monitoring the safety of the HPV vaccine.” The article notes that as of 31 December 2008, more than 23 million doses of Gardasil had been distributed in the United States, and VAERS afterwards collected 11,916 reports of adverse events following Gardasil vaccination. However, the article also notes that 94% of those reports were classified as “non-serious”:

This works out to only one adverse event for every 1930 doses given, and only one in 17 of these adverse events was considered serious. So, only one in 32,169 doses of Gardasil resulted in a serious side-effect.

And not all of these could be directly attributed to the vaccine. Since these numbers were taken from the raw VAERS data, there is no way to know how many of these serious side-effects actually occurred because of the vaccine, and how many were unrelated occurrences that simply followed the administration of the Gardasil vaccination.

The vast majority (94%) of the adverse events reports following Gardasil have been non-serious. Reports of non-serious adverse events after Gardasil vaccination have included fainting, pain and swelling at the injection site (the arm), headache, nausea and fever. Fainting is common after injections and vaccinations, especially in adolescents. Falls after fainting may sometimes cause serious injuries, such as head injuries, which can be easily prevented by closely observing the vaccinated person for 15 minutes after vaccination.

Moreover, the article also noted that the relatively small percentage (6%) of reports classified as “serious” (including those involving deaths) could not be definitively linked to the use of the Gardasil vaccine:

All serious reports (6%) for Gardasil have been carefully analyzed by medical experts. Experts have not found a common medical pattern to the reports of serious adverse events reported for Gardasil that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine.

As of December 31, 2008, there have been 32 U.S. reports of death among females who have received the vaccine. There was no common pattern to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine.

The article concludes by stating that:

Based on all of the information we have today, CDC and FDA continue to recommend Gardasil vaccination for the prevention of 4 types of HPV. As with all approved vaccines, CDC and FDA will continue to closely monitor the safety of Gardasil. Any problems detected with this vaccine will be reported to health officials, healthcare providers, and the public, and needed action will be taken to ensure the public’s health and safety.

The video featuring Jenny Thompson of Health Sciences Institute that is linked at the end of the warning reproduced above deals mainly with subjects such as the political and moral issues involved with requiring HPV vaccinations for young girls, the notion that vaccinated girls might mistakenly believe they had been immunized against contracting sexually transmitted diseases (other than HPV), and the claim that cervical cancer deaths can be effectively eliminated through means other than HPV vaccinations. It offers no real evidence that Gardasil vaccinations are dangerous other than to cite the raw VAERS data referenced above (without noting that analysis of those reports failed to establish a causal link between HPV vaccinations and the reported serious adverse events).

Last updated: 22 April 2009
The URL for this page is http://www.snopes.com/medical/drugs/gardasil.asp

Urban Legends Reference Pages © 1995-2009 by Barbara and David P. Mikkelson.
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.

Sources:
Harris, Gardiner. “Panel Unanimously Recommends Cervical Cancer Vaccine for Girls 11 and Up.”
The New York Times. 30 June 2006.
Houppert, Karen. “Who’s Afraid of Gardasil?”
The Nation. 8 March 2007.
Litwin, Grania. “Vaccine Can Save Vast Number of Lives, Says Cancer Specialist.”
The Victoria Times Colonist. 22 April 2009.
Centers for Disease Control. “Reports of Health Concerns Following HPV Vaccination.”
3 March 2009.
Reuters. “Allergic Reactions to Gardasil Uncommon: Study.”
canada.com. 22 April 2009.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA Approves Expanded Uses for Gardasil.”
12 September 2008.

Febrile Seizures (Fever-Induced Convulsions)


This is taken from a book written by Dr. Barton Schmidt and deals with febrile seizures. The 2 big take-home points about seizures, or convulsions, that are induced by fever are these: simple febrile seizures that last less than 30 minutes do NOT harm the child’s brain (YOU may faint, but your child will be fine) and the 4% of children that have febrile seizures are not just any 4% of the population. They are genetically predisposed to febrile (occurring with a fever) seizures. That means that if your child is not in that 4% of the population that is susceptible to them, he or she will not have a seizure no matter how high the fever goes.

If your child is 2 or 3 years old and is having the 5th or 6th high fever of her life, then there is almost no chance that she’s in that 4% and there is no need to worry. One final point: febrile seizures do NOT predispose your child to epilepsy. About 1% of children with febrile seizures will go on and develop epilepsy, which is exactly the same incidence as occurs in the general population, since about 1% of ALL people will one day develop epilepsy.

What are febrile convulsions?
Convulsions are also called seizures. Febrile convulsions are seizures triggered by high fever. They are the most common type of convulsion and are usually harmless. The average body temperature at which they occur is 104°F (40°C). The fever itself can be caused by an infection in any part of the body.
Children who have febrile convulsions are usually 6 months to 5 years old. A child’s first febrile convulsion usually occurs by 3 years of age.
During a convulsion, your child may:
• become stiff
• become unconscious or not know where they are
• have jerking or twitching movements
• have the eyes roll backward
• have noisy breathing
• after the seizure, your child may be sleepy and confused for a while.

How long will the effects last?
Each convulsion usually lasts 1 to 10 minutes without any treatment. Febrile convulsions do not cause any brain damage. However, a few children (3%) will have convulsions without fever sometime in the future.
Febrile convulsions occur in 4% of children. Most of these children have just one febrile convulsion in a lifetime. About one-third of children who have had a febrile convulsion have 1 to 3 recurrences over the next few years. Febrile convulsions usually stop happening by the time a child is 5 or 6 years old.

What should I do when my child has a convulsion?
• Reduce the fever. Bringing your child’s fever down as quickly as possible may shorten the seizure. Remove your child’s clothing and apply cold washcloths to the face and neck. If the seizure persists, sponge the rest of the body with cool water. As the water evaporates, your child’s temperature will fall. When the convulsion is over and your child is awake, give the usual dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen for your child’s weight and age, and encourage your child to drink cool fluids.
• Protect your child’s airway. If your child has anything visible in the mouth, clear it with a finger to prevent choking. Place your child on the side or stomach (face down) to help drain secretions. If the child vomits, help clear the mouth. Use a suction bulb if available. If your child’s breathing becomes noisy, pull the jaw and chin forward. NEVER put your fingers or a spoon into the mouth of a child who is seizing; your fingers will be bitten off, or the child will shatter his teeth on a metallic object such as a spoon.
Call a rescue squad (911) IMMEDIATELY if the febrile convulsion continues more than 10 minutes.
• Driving to a medical facility. If you are told to drive to a medical facility, dress your child lightly (weather permitting). (Warning: Prolonged seizures due to persistent fever have been caused by bundling up sick infants during a long drive.)
• Common mistakes in first aid of convulsions. During the convulsion, don’t try to restrain your child or stop the seizure movements. Once started, the seizure will run its course no matter what you do. Don’t try to resuscitate your child just because breathing stops momentarily for 5 to 10 seconds. Instead, try to clear the airway. Don’t try to force anything into your child’s mouth. This is unnecessary and can cut the mouth, injure a tooth, cause vomiting, or result in a serious bite of your finger. Don’t try to hold the tongue. Children may rarely bite the tongue during a convulsion, but they can’t swallow the tongue.

How can I take care of my child?
• Oral fever-reducing medicines: Febrile convulsions usually occur during the first day of an illness. Although research is lacking, preventing high fevers may prevent some febrile seizures. Begin acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) at the first sign of any fever (a temperature over 100°F, or 37.8°C) and give it continuously for the first 48 hours of the illness. Because fever is common after DTaP immunizations, begin acetaminophen or ibuprofen in our office when your child is immunized and continue it for at least 24 hours.
• Fever-reducing suppositories: Have some acetaminophen suppositories on hand in case your child ever has another febrile seizure (same dosage as oral medicine). These suppositories may be kept in a refrigerator at the pharmacy, so you may have to ask for them.
• Light covers or clothing: Avoid covering your child with more than one blanket when they are sick. Bundling during sleep can push the temperature up 1 or 2 extra degrees.
• Lots of fluids: Keep your child well hydrated by offering plenty of fluids.

How can I help prevent convulsions?
The only way to prevent future febrile convulsions completely is for your child to take an anticonvulsant medicine on a daily basis until the age of 3 or 4 years. Because anticonvulsants have side effects and febrile seizures are generally harmless, anticonvulsants are rarely prescribed unless your child has other neurologic problems. We will discuss this decision with you.

When should I call Meyer Pediatrics (365-5898)?
Call us IMMEDIATELY after the seizure is over. If your child has had one or more febrile seizures in the past, you may feel comfortable waiting until the following morning to notify us, but feel free to call us whenever you have questions.
________________________________________
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of “Your Child’s Health,” Bantam Books.
Copyright © 2005 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.

Teen Drivers’ Greatest Danger: Distractions

I took this from a series of articles that originally ran in USA Today several years ago. It highlights the dangers posed by cell phones, video games and even other teen passengers when an inexperienced (ie, teen) driver is at the wheel. Sixteen year old drivers kill almost 1,000 people every year including themselves, their passengers, other drivers and even pedestrians. In terms of driving fatalities as a marker for driving ineptitude, 16 year olds are the worst drivers on the road (big surprise, huh?) Seventeen year olds are the third worst, and the group in the middle are 80 years old and up. So, a 78 year old, statistically, is a better driver than a 16 or 17 year old. And it’s not even really all that close.

Distractions challenge teen drivers
Posted 1/25/2007 6:01 AM ET
By Larry Copeland, USA TODAY

Teenagers understand the danger of drinking and driving but still don’t grasp the risks of driver distractions such as cellphones, loud music and young passengers, says an extensive new study of teen habits behind the wheel.

About 90% of the teens surveyed say they rarely or never drink and drive, although 50% say they have seen other teens do so, according to the study released today by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm Insurance Companies. Much higher percentages say they have seen peers speeding, driving while fatigued or dealing with distractions such as loud music and “passengers acting wild.”
The research sought to get inside vehicles with young drivers and their passengers by surveying 5,665 ninth-, 10th- and 11th-graders from 68 randomly selected schools across the nation. The survey is part of a growing effort by child- and auto-safety advocates, insurance companies and others to cut teen driving deaths.

“Probably the most significant finding is that the environment inside the vehicle is very different from what adults might expect,” says Laurette Stiles, State Farm’s vice president for strategic resources. “Teens have a very challenging (driving) environment, which would challenge even an experienced driver.”

Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The nation’s 12.5 million young drivers — those ages 15 to 20 — account for 6.3% of 198.9 million licensed drivers in the USA, according to 2005 NHTSA data, the most recent available. But 12.6% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were in that age group.

Earlier research has shown that teen drivers carrying one teen passenger face double the risk of a fatal crash as teens driving alone. That risk increases to five times as likely for teen drivers with two or more passengers.

Sandy Coble, 47, of Jackson, Tenn., knows all about that risk. His only son, MacKenzie Allen Coble, 15, was one of three teens killed in a 2005 crash. None of the teens was wearing seat belts, he says. “Instead of picking out school clothes, I was picking out a casket.”

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