Consumer Health Digest #15-11
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 15, 2015
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Study examines how doctors respond to parental requests to delay vaccinations. Researchers have found that nearly all pediatricians and family physicians who responded to a nationwide survey have been asked by parents to deviate from the standard vaccination schedule. The survey was done because increasing numbers of parents want to decrease the number of simultaneous vaccines or delay certain vaccines until an older age. The survey was distributed to a nationwide sample of 815 doctors, of whom 534 (66%) responded. The data show:
- 93% of the respondents reported that in a typical month some parents of children over the age of two asked to "spread out" vaccines and 21% reported that 10% or more of their parents made that request.
- Most respondents thought these parents were putting their children at risk for disease (87%) and that the requested schedule would be more painful for the children (84%), but most also thought that granting the requests would build trust with families (82%).
- 80% believed that if they did not agree, families might leave their practice.
- 40% reported this issue had decreased their job satisfaction.
- Most agreed to spread out vaccines when requested, either often/always (37%) or sometimes (37%).
- 2% would often/always, 4% would sometimes, and 12% would rarely dismiss families from their practice if they wanted to spread out the primary series.
Source: Kempe A and others. Physician response to parental requests to spread out the recommended vaccine schedule. Pediatrics 135(4), March 2, 2015.
Australian Government agency blasts homeopathy. The Australian Government's National Health and Research Council has produced a 40-page report which concludes, essentially, that homeopathic treatment is worthless. [NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. National Health and Medical Research Council. 2015. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council; March 2015] After surveying the scientific literature, the authors said:
- Based on all the evidence considered, there were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective.
- No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.
- Homeopathy should not be used to treat conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious.
- People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.
- People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner, and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.
Neural therapy criticized. Dr. Stephen Barrett has posted an investigative report on neural therapy, which involves the injection of procaine (a local anesthetic) or other substances into various body tissues. Neural therapy is based on the notion that trauma can produce long-standing disturbances in the electrochemical function of tissues. Proponents claim that the injections often can relieve chronic pain and many types of long-standing illnesses. They further claim that the injections worked by removing interferences that block or short-circuit the flow of "information" through the autonomic system. In addition to procaine, current practitioners may inject vitamins, minerals, homeopathic medications, and/or herbal extracts. The injections are placed into scars, nerves, ganglions (nerve clusters), and/or "acupuncture meridians" claimed to be responsible for the "blockages." To determine where to inject, many practitioners utilize "autonomic response testing (ART)," in which they test muscle strength by pushing down on the patient's arm or trying to pull apart the patient's fingers (O-ring test) while exposing the patient to stimuli such as a slide or a vial containing a test substance. Some also use "electrodermal testing" (also called meridian testing) with a device that supposedly locates"energy blockages" and suggests corrective measures. Neural therapy is one of several irrational practices embraced by "holistic" or "biological" dentists. Quackwatch's report on holistic and biological dentistry has been updated and includes links to related disciplinary actions.
This page was revised on March 15, 2015.