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The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield
diversion sign
A fifteen page story about the MMR vaccination controversy. As ever, I'm sure a few spelling errors have slipped past me. Feel free to point any out so I can correct them.

The reference links for the strip are in the next blog entry.

Now! Let's have a heated debate!

2013 update. Since I wrote this blog entry, this cartoon strip as well as many others on such subjects as homeopathy, chiropratic, evolution, and the supposed NASA Moon hoax landings, have been published in a book: Science Tales in the UK (Myriad Edtions) and How To Fake A Moon Landing in the US and Canada (Abrams). Here's the link to my main blog.

1 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

2 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

3 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

4 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

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6 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 7 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 8 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 9 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 10 Vaccination Scandal Story

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MMR 12 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 13 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 14 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 15 Vaccination Scandal Story

I am Darryl Cunningham and this is my main blog.

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With the greatest of respect, some of what you posted is inaccurate for small babies. However from your post, I would agree that they method of delivering the advice to you has been horrendously sub-optimal and there are aspects of your own opinions that are entirely correct.

Small babies do not show serious infections in the same way as everyone else, particularly with respect to blood tests. Babies can be seriously ill with relatively normal tests (or tests with very mild abnormalities). Having said that, the critical age is under 4 weeks, but until the age of three months, doctors need to be very, very careful with them. The reason doctors want to perform lumbar punctures where possible (and indicated) on babies is because it will direct a specific course of management including the actual antibiotic they give as well as the duration of treatment (meningitis requires longer courses than blood or urine infections). Babies also tolerate procedures we would consider painful extremely well, provided adequate comfort measures and reassurances are given. I agree with you (and the second doctor you saw) that doing simple, less-invasive investigations first is the correct course of action. In my practice, I often mention lumbar punctures as a possibility for further investigation depending on the results of the initial tests. Also, it's important to remember that it is possible to have bacterial seeding into the CSF (the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord which is what we sample on lumbar puncture) from a primary infection elsewhere and that the important thing is knowing how long to treat the infection for and whether further investigations in the future (such as brain scans, hearing tests, etc) are required to determine the extent of damage caused by certain types of meningitis. Partially-treated meningitis can be extremely problematic and therapy to minimise long-term damage is vital, should it be the case.

Very few medications are actually licensed for children under one year because the pharmaceutical companies often struggle to recruit babies into trials (plus there is considerable financial burden). Doctors (specifically paediatricians) are aware of this and utilise their knowledge of both the drugs and infant physiology to recommend specific unlicensed treatments. Tamiflu (oseltamivir), once it was being used during the H1N1 crisis a few years ago, was found to be particularly problematic in children and it was ceased to be used in kids in Australia (with some specific exceptions where the risks of the drug side-effects were outweighed by the risks of influenza on those individuals). We regularly saw kids coming back in with vomiting and headaches after Tamiflu administration.

However, your description of your experience sounds awful: when your kids are sick it's the worst thing in the world, made worse only by you being sick at the same time. You have my sincerest sympathies for the stress you experienced and I hope that you never experience something so stressful again.

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