Category: Public Health

Are the recommended childhood vaccine schedules evidence-based?

We write about vaccines a lot here at SBM, and for a very good reason. Of all the medical interventions devised by the brains of humans, arguably vaccines have saved more lives and prevented more disability than any other medical treatment. When it comes to infectious disease, vaccination is the ultimate in preventive medicine, at least for diseases for which vaccines can...

/ February 29, 2016

Air Pollution and Public Health

Public health measures are those not aimed at individuals but at society as a whole, or subgroups within society. Physicians are charged not only with promoting the health of their own patients, but as a profession we (and health care professions in general) are charged with promoting the public health. Public health measures, however, are highly likely to cross into politically charged...

/ February 24, 2016

Update on the Zika Virus

A new word has been added to the public’s vocabulary – the Zika virus. It seems we have one more infectious agent to worry about. Here are the facts as we currently understand them regarding the recent Zika epidemic, and also some rumors and conspiracy theories that need debunking. Zika virus The Zika virus (of the viral family Flaviviridae, an Arthropod-Borne or...

/ February 10, 2016

Laws Limiting Vaccine Exemptions Work

It’s nice when a question can be resolved with objective numbers of unequivocal outcomes. Subjective outcomes give scientists a headache. In this case we are talking about the effect of vaccine exemption laws on vaccine compliance rates. The question here is not the ethical one, the rights of parents to determine the fate of their children vs the right of the state...

/ February 3, 2016

Science-based medicine versus the Flint water crisis

One aspect of science-based medicine that is not covered frequently on this blog, aside from vaccines and antivaccine pseudoscience, but perhaps should be, is the intersection of SBM and public health. Unfortunately, living as I do in southeast Michigan right now, I’ve been on the receiving end of an inescapable lesson in what happens when the government fails in its mission to...

/ January 25, 2016

Docs v. Glocks: government regulation of physician speech

A few years ago, an Ocala, Florida, pediatrician, as part of a routine visit, asked a patient’s mother whether she kept firearms in the home. She refused to answer, feeling the question constituted an invasion of her right to privacy. The pediatrician then terminated the relationship and told the mother she had 30 days to find a new doctor for her child....

/ January 21, 2016

The cost of repealing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws

It’s a seldom mentioned aspect of my professional history that I used to do a lot of trauma surgery in my youth. I did my residency at a program that included a county hospital with a busy trauma program where I saw quite a bit of vehicular carnage and an urban hospital (which has since closed) where I saw a fair amount...

/ January 18, 2016
A vaccine to prevent cancer

HPV Vaccine Safety and Acceptance

The public fight over the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is still raging. The debate partly reflects the underlying logic of health prevention measures, which is essentially a statistical game of risk vs benefit. Unfortunately thrown into the mix are ideological opponents to vaccines who are distorting the facts at every turn. Notice that I said this was a “public” fight, because it...

/ January 13, 2016
china-medicine-herbs-greenpeace_wh1376_36580889

What’s in your Traditional Chinese Medicine?

What's in your Traditional Chinese Medicine? An Australian analysis of 26 products found 92% were contaminated with heavy metals, undeclared plants, pharmaceuticals, or even animals like the endangered snow leopard, cat, dog, rat and pit viper.

/ December 17, 2015
Michigan Legislature

Michigan HB 5126: Who thought it was a good idea to make it easier for parents to obtain nonmedical exemptions to school vaccine mandates and harder for local county health officials to do their jobs?

The Michigan Department of Community Health recently passed a regulation that requires parents seeking personal belief exemptions to school vaccine requirements to receive counseling at a local state or county health office, and the regulation has worked. Personal belief exemptions are down. No wonder the Michigan legislature is trying to reverse the rule and ban the MDCH from enforcing similar rules in...

/ December 14, 2015