Thursday, June 9, 2011

Because Preventing Child Deaths is a Bad Thing?

Coming up on June 13, 2011 in London is a fundraising conference organized by the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunisation (GAVI). GAVI describes itself as:

Launched in 2000, the GAVI Alliance is a global health partnership representing stakeholders in immunisation from both private and public sectors: developing world and donor governments, private sector philanthropists such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the financial community, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, research and technical institutes, civil society organisations and multilateral organisations like the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank.

Their goal is to provide rapid and affordable access to vaccines for poorer nations. With the conference, they are trying to raise funds to be able to provide immunizations for approximately 243 million children in poor and developing countries. By immunizing against pneumococcal disease, Hib and rotavirus (all of which are prominent causes of child mortality in the target countries), among other diseases, GAVI hopes to reduce the number of deaths caused by these diseases.

But it appears there are some people who aren't too happy about that.

Yesterday, a reader let me know about some plans that some anti-vaccine, sorry, pro-safe-vaccine activist parents have in mind. A protest against GAVI is being organized, according to a posting on the Facebook page for "Dr Wakefield's work must continue":

I'm not really sure what their goal is. Clearly, they hope to bring attention to their claims that vaccines injured their children. But protesting a conference that is raising money to prevent the deaths of children? I really hope that I am wrong in thinking that they feel that autism is worse than the deaths of thousands of children from preventable diseases. Perhaps they should take a visit to some of these nations to see first-hand what these diseases are doing.

Actually, that's a pretty good idea. If they truly care about the health and well-being of kids, they should volunteer to help the children who are suffering and, yes, dying, from diseases like pneumonia and rotavirus-caused diarrhea. Of course their own children are more important to them than some random, unknown child in a poor (and likely not white) country. And that's why I think it's important for them to go and see, to learn a little compassion and maybe, just maybe, gain an understanding of the very real benefits of vaccines.

Oh, and if there are any reality-minded readers who will be in the London area on June 13, perhaps a counter-protest is called for. However, I will say that if anyone does go, be civil and non-confrontational. Provide fact-based information, but do not engage in arguments. Do not toss around insults. And do not provoke anyone to violence. In short, be the better person.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. has a number of flyers, brochures and posters that may be appropriate to distribute or use. The Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the U.K. may also have useful information and publications.


  1. Hello! Any chance of covering Cannabis for Autism or will you be censoring that?

    Cannabis is saving the lives of autistic children. Please help to raise the profile of this novel and remarkably safe therapy for ASD.

  2. After a quick search on PubMed, I was unable to find any studies on cannabis as a treatment for autism. Until such time as there is published evidence, I will probably not cover that topic. Given the lack of published evidence, I find your claim that it is "saving the lives of autistic children" implausible.

    That said, cannabis and autism is not the topic of this post. Do please try to stick to the subject if you are going to comment here.

  3. Thank you, I came here via Orac's blog where I read about the Kurtz study with THC rather than Cannabis, and two other studies that are not yet published.

    The problem is that the discussion is being discouraged on that blog so I am seeking a credible forum where it can be looked at scientifically without it getting spun by antivax people. This is the last place they come, surely?

    Your current entry is entitled "Because preventing child deaths is bad thing?". There is evidence on pubmed that cannabis prevents child deaths:
    PEDIATRICS Vol. 100 No. 1 July 1, 1997 pp. 79 -83
    (doi: 10.1542/peds.100.1.79)

    Furthermore, there are physician's confirmations that medical cannabis has saved the lives of autistic children who were unable to eat and who's immune systems were attacking them. Not dying of autism but that's hardly a reason to call it off topic.

    Will you censor? Or will you allow? Please, children are dying.

  4. @LokaSamasta

    The post is more than just the title. You are off-topic. The post is about the efforts of GAVI to save lives through vaccines by preventing diseases such as pneumonia and diarrhea, and the planned protest of some anti-vaccine parents against GAVI.

  5. Children are dying, Todd! Think of the childrenz!!! Give them cannabis, feed them the weed! That and only that will save the childrenz!

    So this is the replacement of industrial chelators, then? Marijuana?

    Anyway, his reference to the journal of pediatrics is off. 1997 was volume 131. I looked it up and can't find anything even remotely related to cannabis.

  6. Yes and I am completely pro-vaccine.

    I have also noticed a trend. Where parents are treating their autistic children with medical cannabis, then those parents reduce their anti-vax activities.

    If there was a treatment that worked, would we still be hearing this outcry?

    Please. My friend's child is dying. Not from autism, from seizure and ftt. The medical establishment should not be looking they other way but they are in my friend's location.

  7. Apologies Ren, Here:

    Mortality Within the First 2 Years in Infants Exposed to Cocaine, Opiate, or Cannabinoid During Gestation
    Enrique M. Ostrea Jr, MD*, Anthony R. Ostrea, BS*, Pippa M. Simpson, PhD

    From the *Department of Pediatrics, Hutzel Hospital, Children's Hospital of Michigan and Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan.

  8. @Ren

    He's misreading a study that was looking at whether exposure to drugs in utero led to a higher mortality rate. The conclusion was that exposure does not necessarily increase mortality. Where LokaSamasta is going wrong is in reading that there were slightly more deaths among the drug-free group and in the exposed group.

    It looks like it may just be due to chance, but I haven't looked at the full study to see what the significance level was.

  9. At any rate, LokaSamastra, if you want to say something related to my post, go ahead, but please knock it off with the off-topic cannabis fixation.

  10. @Todd

    What is missing is the full study. Don't worry, NORML paid for it for you:

    Look closer at the breakdown, and read the whole article again. Properly.

    Drug-negative 1658 26 15.7 59%
    Drug-positive 1306 18 13.7 41%
    Cocaine-positive[a] 903 16 17.7 36%
    Cocaine only 457 6 13.2 14%
    Morphine-positive[a] 599 11 18.4 25%
    Morphine only 213 1 4.6 2%
    Cannabinoid-positive[a] 338 3 8.9 7%
    Cannabinoid only 157 0 0.0 0%

    If you deny the implication that cannabinoids can protect some children, then are you really being 100% pro-living babies?

    Please. Stop fighting me. This is medicine for children, why are you so defensive? Are you scared you will lose your income if you speak neutrally about cannabis as medicine?

  11. There are sadistic scientists who hurry to hunt down errors instead of establishing the truth.
    Marie Curie (1867 - 1934)

  12. @LokaSamasta

    I've been incredibly patient with you. You have been told that your comments are off-topic. If you want to discuss your cannabis fixation, do it on a thread with cannabis as a topic. This is not the place for it.

    If you continue to post off-topic, I will very likely delete your post, since they are, at this point, spam. You are more than welcome to comment to your heart's content if you are on-topic, but I would appreciate it if you do not spam my comments. If that does not work for you, you can find some other blog to post on.

    Am I clear?

  13. Clear as day, screenshots taken, silencedbysilencedbyageofautism blog already pwned.

    Clearly, you do not like autistic children.

    We can't give the safe medicine to our children because you lot are afraid of this lot

    Those politicians really need some of you brave scientists to introduce them to the 2009 Keele Study then please tell Baroness Angela Browning that she is possibly banning her own autistic son's medicine without even realising it because none of the doctors in her own country will dare to talk to her about it.

    If you have a conflict of interest please state now.

  14. @LokaSamasta

    Take all the screen shots you want, and create whatever straw men you please. I have nothing against cannabis per se, but this comment thread is not the place for discussions about it.

    As I said, if I ever have a post about studies looking at cannabis and autism, you're welcome to discuss it in the comments on that post. But until then, I simply ask you to have some respect for me and for my readers and stay on-topic if you comment.

  15. Sorry Todd I got distracted and annoyed by Ren.

    I did have the decency to search your blog to see if you had already covered it but you hadn't.

    When can we expect you to blog about it please?

  16. Back on topic:

    sorry, pro-safe-vaccine activist parents have in mind

    I believe the correct terminology is the movement for the advancement and spread of vaccine-preventable disease (MASVPD).

  17. @Todd & @Ren

    I have decided to attend on the 13th, it will be a pleasure to meet you.

    I like the way you interpreted that study. How is it not significant that there were 157 deaths per 10000 (26 of 1658) in the drug-negative group, while there were 0 deaths per 10000 (0 of 157) in the cannabis-only group?

    We would expect 2 or 3 deaths in the cannabis only group but zero is statistically highly likely as a fluke so this alone tells us nothing.

    It's when we also look at cannabis-positive: 89 deaths per 10000 live births (3 of 338) that we can say that it now looks quite unlikely that cannabis is not exerting some kind of protective effect in utero.

    I will explain this better in person on Monday. Looking forward to it.


  18. P.S. it's the Movement Against the Global Alliance for Vaccines & Immunisation (MAGAVI).

  19. Truth sits upon the lips of dying men.
    Matthew Arnold (1822 - 1888),

    + dying polititions, dying leaders + dying policemen ;)

  20. A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
    Lenin (1870 - 1924)

    So is this who our democratic government learnt from ........

  21. DOI: 10.1177/0146167209337163

    Just in case our audience has any difficulty in understanding Ren's initial response.

  22. «I like the way you interpreted that study. How is it not significant that there were 157 deaths per 10000 (26 of 1658) in the drug-negative group, while there were 0 deaths per 10000 (0 of 157) in the cannabis-only group?»
    Small sample size. That's a p-value of 0.08, which is well above the standard p-value cutoff of 0.05(which itself is probably too high).

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Thank you William, Yes, an ~8% chance that the results are a fluke.

    So does that mean there is a 92% chance that cannabis will save your baby from death, if your baby is one that is 'destined' to die in the first two years? As only ~1.5% of babies die in the drug-negative group, then we would need to see a p-value of <0.015 in order for this risk to be worth taking from the gambler's perspective..

    That is assuming that there is some kind of risk associated with perinatal cannabis consumption, and there is no evidence for that. Plenty of evidence against that hypothesis, thanks to Dr Melanie Dreher.

    William is there a way of calculating the p-value for the results of the cannabinoid-only plus the cannabinoid-positive group?

    Finally, what is the probability that p=0.05 is probably to high, as you probably forgot to state! :)

    Thank you!

  25. Loka,

    Honestly, get off the weed trip because nobody wants to hear it. As the mother of a child with autism, I can say I would NEVER give him weed or anything remotely related to it as a treatment for autism. It is a neurological condition and weed hampers neurological function. One dysfunction does not cancel another dysfunction out, it makes it worse. Have you ever had any experience at all being around a child or person with autism? Their difficulties are figuring out how to communicate with the world around them, trying to figure out if a person is angry, sad, confused or just making that face to be funny. If you haven't spent any time with autistic individuals, I suggest you do so and then maybe you'd get that weed can't help them. Therapies can and do and I'll stick with what has been proven, thanks.

  26. lol Venna, 'Loka' means 'World' so you said:


    Honestly, get off the weed [ambiguous, clarify] trip [ambiguous, clarify] because [conjecture] nobody wants to hear it [citation needed]. As the mother of a child with autism [what about his privacy?], I can say I would NEVER give him weed or anything remotely related to it as a treatment for autism.[what if it had been proven and FDA approved?] It is a neurological condition[citation needed] and weed hampers neurological function [citation needed]. One dysfunction [autism is dysfunction? Source?] does not cancel another dysfunction out [actually that is how pharmacology works], it makes it worse [or better, think vector not scalar]. Have you ever had any experience at all being around a child or person with autism? [I am autistic, you will need patience] Their difficulties are figuring out how to communicate with the world around them, trying to figure out if a person is angry, sad, confused or just making that face to be funny [citation needed, even though I agree]. If you haven't spent any time with autistic individuals [n/a], I suggest you do so and then maybe you'd get that weed can't help them [imo it can help some autistic people]. Therapies can and do and I'll stick with what has been proven, [which is? citation needed] thanks. [welcome].

    Regards, Lokam ca Svasanam ;)


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