3/28/2010

Another Reason Why Age of Autism Isn't the Place to go for Your Autism Information

"However, with so many parents,  physicians and researchers united in their opinions  as to what  is contributing to  this condition, as well as which strategies are bringing about improvements in these children, we now have a pool of wisdom, good science and common sense from which to draw the following safe, effective and practical recommendations for preventing autism…….. and we can do it now!"-- McDonnell on AoA

Opinions are irrelevant. I don't want my physician's opinion unless it's backed by science. There's a reason evidence matters. Our opinions are swayed by our confirmational biases, affect and availability heuristics. It is so not the way to go.

I don't care how united people are in their opinions. Seriously. Mercola has over 60 thousands fans who are united in their opinions that he's awesome. Doesn't make what he's selling safe or legitimate, though.

Parents need sound evidence, not hyperbole.

McDonnell doesn't provide any evidence for preventing autism, but if you were reading it carefully, she wasn't promising folks would be able to avoid it: "Of course there are no guarantees."   No, really? You can't guarantee a safe and uncomplicated pregnancy, one of the potential implications in autism, you can't guarantee that the genetic role can be controlled (and one more parent who asserts there's no autism in their family simply proves they don't understand genetics nor the interplay between genes and the environment); you can't control for maternal and paternal ages, either, or fetal testosterone levels -- all things that are potentially implicated in the causation of autism.

For Age of Autism to now add the mantra of "We can keep you from having autistic kids if you live in a bubble" to its continual cry of "It's the vaccines or something in them!" is further proof that scientific evidence is not something they are at all interested in. After all, common sense and opinions are all we need, along with a fear of everything in the environment!

Reading through McDonnell's checklist of things potential parents can do to avoid having teh dreaded autism, it becomes immediately apparent that this is a selling of high-dollar (and cheaper) woo:

"If a detox program alone does not relieve fatigue, migraines and or other symptoms associated with being toxic, she may want to consult a well trained chiropractor or medical doctor familiar with nutritional and chelation protocols for a more advanced detoxification process."

"If a woman has several mercury based amalgam dental fillings, she may want to have these removed by a dentist familiar with safe procedure for the removal of dental mercury (www.holisticdental.org)."

"If sick, rest, drink lots of hot water with lemon, take extra Vitamin C and possibly use Echinacea drops (not goldenseal during pregnancy) ."

"Continue with regular chiropractic care on a weekly basis throughout pregnancy with a doctor who caters to pregnant women."

Why bother with the scientific evidence when you've got anecdote out the wazoo:

"More importantly, there are thousands of parents of sick children who can tell you they had a normal child until he or she received several vaccines in one day or that their child was vaccinated despite being ill."

And, of course, McDonnell is pretty much against vaccines, but if you're going to do it, through some woo in first: "I would also suggest priming your child’s immune system with immune protective nutrients prior to vaccinating.  You can give 250mg of Vitamin C, 2 or 3 Echinacea drops and ½ tsp Cod liver oil for a few days before and after the vaccine."

But, to cement her position, she encourages those who choose to react in fear of teh dreaded autism by  letting all the loyal AoAers know that they're part of a special group: "If you decide not to vaccinate, know you are a among a growing group of parents who are shifting their paradigm of health from a fear based, disease model to a vitalistic, trust base wellness model."

No, you're not. You're choosing to make health decisions for your children, your family, and your community based out of the senseless fear that vaccines will cause autism, even though, despite McDonnell's assertion that there is science to show vaccines cause autism, the evidence shows autism and vaccines are not linked. That isn't moving away from fear-based decisions. It is, in fact, a baseless fear with which to make decisions.

While it makes good health sense to eat healthy, exercise regularly, and try to be as healthy as possible while pregnant, following this lady's recommendations is moving in fear, fear based not on the science, but on pseudoscience and woo.

3 comments:

Science Mom said...

10. Continue breastfeeding for at least one year (preferably two). A child’s own immune system does not kick in until they are about 18 months of age, and your breastmilk offers the best immune system support available.

There was so much wrong with this woman's recommendations, it doesn't even bear mention of the sensible things she listed. WTF a child's immune system doesn't 'kick in' until they are about 18 months old?

This woman is a nurse and she knows nothing about infant immune function. Bloody scary. Chiropractic care? For an infant? She is full on into the Woobicon.

kathleen said...

Wow..not much that I can add..except to ask, is she REALLY a nurse? or does she just play one on the internet?

"Grendel" said...

Also she did not pay attention during whatever classes she took where the role and function of the immune system was discussed.

Either that or she is chronically stupid.

She needs to go back to school and learn how the immune system actually functions and understand that her concept of 'priming' it is fatally flawed.