Prenatal vitamins during pregnancy reduce the risk of autism spectrum disorders

prenatal vitamins

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I’m not exactly a fan of vitamin supplements. They are expensive, and they don’t do what people want to believe they do. They do not reduce the risk of any cancer. They do not improve bone health. But I always forget to mention an important exception – prenatal vitamins and supplements that are well known to improve pregnancy outcomes.

And now it’s time for me correct this egregious oversight on the part of the feathered dinosaur’s body of work on supplements. Just to be clear, I always state an important caveat on my dismissing the usefulness of vitamins and supplements – those individuals with chronic disease or malnutrition may require supplements. For example, if you never touch a fruit or vegetable, you will probably need vitamin C to prevent scurvy. No, I didn’t say that vitamin C will prevent cancer, but it will prevent one disease.

Recently, a top peer-reviewed journal has published an article where the researchers showed that there was a lower risk of autism spectrum disorders in children of mothers who took prenatal vitamins. And I can write about one area of healthcare where some vitamins and supplements do have some value. This is more evidence that there are numerous issues that may lead to autism spectrum disorders – and it’s not vaccines. Continue reading “Prenatal vitamins during pregnancy reduce the risk of autism spectrum disorders”

Non-ionizing radiation causes miscarriage? New paper gets it wrong

Non-ionizing radiation causes miscarriage

It may appear that scientific skeptics are always criticizing any newly published scientific article that doesn’t fit some imaginary point of view. Personally, I evaluate and critique a lot of “scientific” articles that make the rounds on the pseudoscience websites, such as the recent “canola oil causes Alzheimer’s disease” nonsense. Now, a new article has been published that claims that non-ionizing radiation causes miscarriage in a respected journal.

Of course, based on this one article, many news organization and legitimate websites have jumped all over it – “Miscarriage rates triple for women with top radiation exposures” is a typical headline. When I see a new science article get that much play in the press, my skeptical radar goes on full sensitivity mode. I just know there’s something wrong with the original science.

On the other hand, maybe the new science article is of high quality and may be indicating to us that there’s an issue. Let’s take a look at whether non-ionizing radiation causes marriage – or not. Continue reading “Non-ionizing radiation causes miscarriage? New paper gets it wrong”

Part 5. Marijuana and pregnancy – assessing the science

marijuana and pregnancy

This is Part 5  of a series of six articles discussing various medical uses for cannabis or marijuana. In this article, I review and summarize some of the evidence that marijuana supporters have used to claim that smoking weed during pregnancy is safe. And I look at data from high quality reviews that shows it isn’t. So let’s assess the science regarding marijuana and pregnancy.

As I have written previously, consumption of and growing marijuana should be completely decriminalized. And the laws need to be rewritten, not in the haphazard way it is now, but with protection and respect of rights of people to consume or grow (for personal use) cannabis. The criminal prosecution of marijuana use and distribution is a ridiculous waste of public resources.

There are numerous health claims made about marijuana, including its use for cancer, neurological disorders, and other medical uses. There’s even a whole area of belief that claims smoking cannabis is perfectly safe during pregnancy. Let’s look at this. Continue reading “Part 5. Marijuana and pregnancy – assessing the science”

Flu vaccine during pregnancy – unrelated to autism

flu vaccine during pregnancy

There has been a general misconception that flu vaccine during pregnancy was not safe. Whether this was based on the general concerns about vaccines or something specific is difficult to determine. One of the worries was that getting a flu vaccine during pregnancy may cause a higher risk of autism in the baby.

We have tons of data that show us that vaccines are not related to autism spectrum disorder. Now we have another robust, large scale research study that establishes that autism is not link to flu vaccine during pregnancy.

Continue reading “Flu vaccine during pregnancy – unrelated to autism”

The flu can kill – get the seasonal flu vaccine

Every year I, and a lot of other pro-science bloggers, write article after article about getting the seasonal flu vaccine, which, of course, prevents most types of flu. I even have a very popular article that calls health care workers who don’t get their flu vaccines “dumbasses.”

The seasonal flu vaccine saves lives. There is almost no evidence contrary to that fact.

And this week, California public health officials confirmed the first flu-related death of the 2015-16 flu season. The flu victim was under 65 years old and lived in Santa Clara County. Yes, the flu can be most dangerous to the elderly, but it’s also dangerous for those with chronic diseases, the very young, and, frankly, everyone else.

And just as frightening, a baby, less than 1 year old, died of the flu this week in Stanislaus County, CA. If the baby was less than six months old, then she wasn’t eligible for the vaccine, so she was at risk of contracting the disease. I cannot think of anything more painful than imagining what these parents are feeling.

Continue reading “The flu can kill – get the seasonal flu vaccine”

Part 6. Medical uses for cannabis – the TL;DR version

This is Part 6  of a series of six articles discussing various medical uses for cannabis or marijuana. In this part, I summarize all of the five previous articles into some bullet points so that you have quick and fast access to some scientific information about medical uses for cannabis or marijuana.

In case you missed them, here are the first five articles in this series:

Part 1. Marijuana and medicine assessing the science.

Part 2. Marijuana and cancer – assessing the science

Part 3. Marijuana and neurological disorders – assessing the science

Part 4. Marijuana and health risks – assessing the science

Part 5. Marijuana and pregnancy – assessing the science

Maybe you don’t agree with the science about marijuana’s role in medicine. But that’s not how science works. The evidence should lead you to a conclusion (actually, the acceptance or rejection of a hypothesis). One shouldn’t form an a prior conclusion, then go hunt for data. That’s not how it works.

As new systematic or meta reviews bring more clinical evidence of the benefits of the medical uses for cannabis – this takes time – maybe evidence based medicine can incorporate marijuana into the armamentarium of medical practice. But only real clinical evidence matters.

So let’s review where the evidence leads us. Continue reading “Part 6. Medical uses for cannabis – the TL;DR version”

Marijuana and pregnancy – again hitting that bong of science

Editor’s note–this article has been updated and included into a multi-part series on marijuana and medicine. Check it out there. 

As I have written previously, consumption of and growing marijuana should be completely decriminalized. And the laws need to be rewritten, not in the haphazard way it is now, but with protection and respect of rights of people to consume or grow (for personal use) cannabis. The criminal prosecution of marijuana use and distribution is a ridiculous waste of public resources.

The criminalization of marijuana has caused the growth of drug cartels that threaten the survival of Latin American democracies. And it has caused damage to delicate environments in pristine wilderness in the western USA where illegal marijuana farms use chemicals, human waste and water diversion to destroy the forest.

I could go on, but marijuana laws are simply unsupportable by any stretch of the imagination–the laws waste money and harm citizens.

That being said, it doesn’t mean that cannabis is completely safe. Or that the guy driving his car next to me or a surgeon about ready to slice into my abdomen or the pilot of the jet I’m boarding should be high.

Marijuana should be regulated and taxed like any other product in the class, such as alcohol and cigarettes. It’s a reasonable system where people can enjoy their weed, but it is regulated to prevent harm to others.

Continue reading “Marijuana and pregnancy – again hitting that bong of science”

Why we vaccinate–to protect our children from pertussis

 

tdap-mother-pertussis

During this past week, a 25 day old baby in Santa Barbara, CA died from pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough (caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria). The disease can be easily prevented by the DTaP or Tdap vaccines (also protect against tetanus and diphtheria), which can be given to infants as early as 6 weeks to 2 months old.

According to the California Department of Public Health, infants who are too young to be fully immunized or those who are not vaccinated are most vulnerable to severe and fatal cases of pertussis. In 2014, 66 of the pertussis hospitalizations cases were children four months of age or younger. Two infants have died of pertussis in California during 2014. Continue reading “Why we vaccinate–to protect our children from pertussis”

Genetically engineered insulin does not cause cancer in diabetics

insulin-vialI have a lot of issues with the pseudo-medicine pushed by many many websites whose sole purpose is to push woo, or nonsense, to their readers. Then they have links to buy junk medicine from their website. Natural News, Mercola, and others have become multimillionaires with this business model.

These “entrepreneurs” deceive their readers with pure pseudoscience, using misleading language, and searching scientific literature for research that confirms their beliefs and ignoring everything that refutes it. They oversimplify complex issues, “take this pill, it will prevent all cancers,” making it seem most medicine can be boiled down to taking a couple of supplements–which they sell on their website. Of course.

Some might argue that this information isn’t dangerous. These people will say that a couple of supplements, even if they’re expensive, isn’t going to hurt. Maybe, though there’s a lot of evidence that those couple of pills might be more harmful than even I expected. But if these junk medicine websites push information that can harm or kill, then someone has to draw a line in the sand and tell them “you lie, and by lying, you might kill.”

Many of us say that about these woo-websites’ general antivaccination beliefs. This blog has posted numerous articles about the Natural News’ unethical and risky antivaccination articles. Mike Adams, the so-called Health Ranger and wealthy owner of the Natural News, makes his money by pushing his lies and misinformation about vaccines. Continue reading “Genetically engineered insulin does not cause cancer in diabetics”

Why we vaccinate–so mom will protect her newborn baby

tdap-mother-pertussisOne of the important hypotheses of vaccination is to make sure that all family members or others who may encounter a newborn child be vaccinated, especially since many vaccinations are not indicated for infants for a couple of months after birth–those newborns are very susceptible to vaccine preventable diseases until they themselves are vaccinated with the DTaP vaccine (which also protects against tetanus and diphtheria).

This protective “cocoon,” especially important with whooping cough (Bordetella pertussis), theoretically blocks the transmission of the disease to a newborn by creating a protective circle of vaccinated individuals around the newborn. A teenage sibling could catch the disease and accidentally infect the infant. Pertussis is bad enough for a teenager, but it can be deadly to a baby.

Even though the evidence for cocooning is growing, there are some flaws to the idea that are still being investigated in various parts of the world. One of the concerns is that asymptomatic carriers of pertussis (who have been vaccinated) might transmit the disease through a cocoon. However, scientists have known that the current version of pertussis vaccine, called acellular pertussis, isn’t as effective as it should be, but it is still better than not vaccinating. Much better. But that is a potential hole in the protective cocoon that needs to be understood better through research. Continue reading “Why we vaccinate–so mom will protect her newborn baby”