Category Archives: Parenting

Bill Maher’s Illogical Thoughts on Vaccinations

I’m visiting my mother-in-law and so Friday night we watched Real Time with Bill Maher and I enjoyed watching satire of the news from the left side.  I recently visited my Dad and endured Fox Network’s Justice w/Judge Jeanine so Maher seemed like a Rhode’s Scholar in comparison to Ms. Pirro.  Much of what Mr. Maher had to say was funny and right on target. I just cannot figure how a seemingly bright and open-minded guy like him can have such uninformed and downright odd theories about our immune system.  He seems to propose that immunizations against some specific infections may somehow weaken our ability to respond to other ailments. Watch his You-Tube starting at about the 6-minute marker.

Maher tries to make an analogy between the observation that there seems to be a correlation between super-clean environments and asthma and allergies with getting immunizations.  As I see it he does not have a clue here.  It appears to be true that children raised in very clean dust and germ redued environments do to have more allergies and asthma.  The theory behind this is that lack of early childhood exposure to a wide variety of antigenic stimuli may leave us recognizing antigens later in life as foreign therefore inducing allergic reactions.  Vaccinations expose our immune system to antigens that induce an immune response that makes us immune to certain illnesses.  This is exposing our children to more antigenic material not less. How Maher in his mind relates these two phenomenon alludes me.

There is no evidence that having immunity to one type of organism reduces our ability to mount a strong immune response to other organisms.  I know of no evidence that having immunity induced by vaccines leads to more allergies or asthma. Neither is there evidence that getting vaccinations leads to lowered immunity to other organisms.  Mr. Maher seems to be drawing on his innate skepticism here with an analogy that just doesn’t hold up,

I agree with the premise that it is good to be skeptical.  I just feel strongly that when the evidence shows that immunizations are safe and effective people in a position of influence like Mr. Maher need to take care not to give credibility to skeptics that rely on hunches (like his hunch that flu shots are not beneficial) rather than data.

Can Football Survive in the Age of Concussion Awareness?

I was talking with my son this week, watching the Monday Night Football game, and he asked if I thought football would be around in the future as we learn more and more about the impact of concussions on NFL and other high level football players.   The NFL is such huge business with over $9… Continue Reading

How Safe is Oral Sex?

Bill Clinton didn’t consider it sex.  Lots of teens today consider oral sex a safe alternative to intercourse. Headlines like on ABC news in 2009 cry out, “Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss.” Data suggests that oral sex is becoming more common practice in teens than vaginal intercourse, a major change from a generation… Continue Reading

The Gluten Free Marketplace Explodes

The Gluten Free Marketplace Explodes Gluten Enteropathy, or celiac disease (sometimes called celiac sprue), is a condition where the lining of the small bowel is damaged by antibodies to gluten found in wheat, rye, barley, malt and some other grains.  When people who are gluten sensitive eat food containing gluten their small bowel becomes inflamed,… Continue Reading

Sequenom™ brings MaterniT21™ and a Whole New Set of Difficult Choices

Coming to 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas this week will be a test called MaterniT21™  from Sequenom™. Over the past 25 years we’ve gone from alpha-fetoprotein testing, to adding 2, 3 and more recently 4 tests as “penta” screen to try to improve the estimation of  a woman’s risk for having a trisomy-21, or Down’s… Continue Reading

Which Argument Shoots Down Your Excuse for Not Getting a Flu Shot.

I really don’t like the term “flu” or “flu shot” because the term flu should not be used interchangeably with “viral illness.” Influenza is a specific, often very severe and even deadly viral illness and influenza vaccine is a very specific vaccine.  Still the term flu shot is so integral to our everyday language that… Continue Reading

Rohypnol: What You Should Know About the Date Rape Drug

Rohypnol, or roofies, is the name for what is more commonly called the date rape drug.  Rohypnol has become notorious because of its potent amnestic and hypnotic effects which can lead a person given a dose of Rohypnol to have short term amnesia.  This has led to its popularity as a “Club Drug” along with Ketamine, MDMA… Continue Reading

Molluscum Contagiosum: Common in Children and as an STD

Despite the name which sounds like a terrible disease molluscum contagiosum is arguably the least serious and concerning of all warts and all STDs.  Warts, STD’s, children, not serious?  Has Dr. Pullen gone nuts?  Hear me out.  It all makes sense really if you read on. Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection that causes… Continue Reading

Enterobius Vermicularis and the Scotch Tape Test

The scotch tape test for Enterobius vermicularis, the common pinworm, is one of the really simple, inexpensive and just plain cool tests used in primary care.  In addition the life cycle of the pinworm is well understood and is quite unique (not to mention disgusting) in that it depends completely on humans eating feces repeatedly.… Continue Reading