"Adjusting" an infant.

“Adjusting” an infant.

For the third time in four years, a chiropractic pediatrics conference will feature anti-vaccination propaganda as part of its program. The International Chiropractors Association (ICA) Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics Annual Conference, scheduled for November in New York City, includes a session titled:

Vaccines Revealed: A Film Producer’s Perspective

Participants will view portions of the film, which will be discussed by its producer, Jeff Hays. As we shall see, Vaccines Revealed is essentially a parade of well-known and thoroughly debunked anti-vaccinationists, in some cases being interviewed by other anti-vaccinationists, produced by someone whose past work has promoted anti-vaccination views.

This is par for the course at chiropractic conferences. In 2014, headliners at the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association’s annual conference were none other than Andrew Wakefield, the disgraced former British physician and an author of the infamous fraudulent “study” purportedly linking the MMR vaccine to autism, and Barbara Loe Fisher, grande dame of the anti-vaccination movement. Fisher’s National Vaccine (Mis)Information Center was one of the sponsors of the event. (Wakefield’s immoral misconduct and involvement in spreading anti-vaccine propaganda has been the subject of numerous SBM posts.)

In 2016, Wakefield again appeared at a chiropractic pediatrics conference, also sponsored by the ICA’s Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics. Participants were treated to a showing of the widely discredited (also here, here, here and here) anti-vaccination propaganda film VAXXED. This move garnered the chiropractors some unflattering attention in the mainstream press.

This year, the ICA Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics anti-vaccination lineup doesn’t have the louche appeal of seeing Andrew Wakefield in person or the unseemly notoriety of VAXXED, an otherwise obscure documentary made famous when it was pulled from the Tribeca Film Festival because Robert DeNiro was, as our good friend Orac points out,

shown just how full of misinformation, distortions, and pseudoscience the film is . . .

Vaccines Revealed revealed as propaganda

I have not seen Vaccines Revealed, but there is enough information available from those who have seen parts of it, as well as an outline of the episodes and a list of participants, to convince me that it is chock full of anti-vaccine rhetoric.

Vaccines Revealed is, oddly enough, both available for free for internet viewing as well as available for purchase as a downloadable series of 9 video and audio installments and transcripts for $79 (BONUS OFFER FOR A LIMITED TIME! 50% OFF!), although with the purchase you get a copy of the “Vaccine Exemption Playbook.” It is also sold as a DVD set.

Chiropractor Patrick Gentempo is behind this effort. Gentempo sells a practice building course to chiropractors and speaks at chiropractic practice building seminars. His holding company owns “Creating Wellness,” a “patented wellness program” sold through chiropractic offices, a centerpiece of which is regular chiropractic “adjustments” to eliminate “subluxations.” In other words, Gentempo is a “straight” chiropractor, those who believe in . . . well, let’s let Gentempo’s “Creating Wellness” explain it:

the discovery and removal of the vertebral subluxation, which is interference that is taking place in your central nervous system (CNS). It is important to recognize that our CNS is the master controller of our entire body and it directly correlates to our ability to function and exist. People who are suffering from allergies, asthma, headaches, etc. are living in a subluxated state, but when we provide these individuals with an adjustment, we are able to remove the interference, and the condition dissipates. In addition, patients who are under regular chiropractic care actually prevent these situations from impeding upon their lives.

This is, of course, pure pseudoscience, as SBM’s own Sam Homola, DC, has explained in a number of posts.

Gentempo is the former owner of Chiropractic Leadership Alliance, which sells dubious chiropractic diagnostic devices, as well as marketing Total Solution chiropractic practice building seminars. Gentempo and another chiropractor developed the Insight Subluxation Station, which got into a kerfuffle with NASA over claims of an implied endorsement of their product. The Insight Subluxation Station purports to provide

objective evaluation of neuro-spinal function related to vertebral subluxation

via, according to the website, electromyography, thermography and heart rate variability, or, as Sam Homola said, “chiropractic gimmickry.”

In other words, there is nothing in Gentempo’s background to suggest he has the scientific chops to make a credible documentary on immunization.

The Vaccines Revealed producer and conference speaker, Jeff Hays, is also the producer of a documentary called Bought, which excoriates Big Pharma, vaccines and GMOs. One reviewer describes the movie thusly:

Bought is a movie by Jeff Hays which wants you to believe the dangerous idea that vaccines are ineffective and can cause autism, a notion that has been repeatedly debunked. They also combine this strain of paranoia with one claiming how dangerous “GMOs” are, even though they cite not a single study to support this discredited idea either.

It is narrated by Toni Bark, an anti-vaccination MD/homeopath (“the one quackery to rule them all”) and features chiropractors as well as anti-vaccination ideologues Kelly Brogan, Stephanie Seneff, and Gayle DeLong.

Hays also produced Doctored, attacking the AMA for attacking chiropractors and, via a series of anecdotes, promoting chiropractic treatment, as well as Undoctored, which appears to cover the same ground.

Although I didn’t watch Vaccines Revealed, fortunately, others who are familiar with the anti-vaccination movement did. One is none other than Orac, who had this to say:

Today, Episode #3 of Vaccines Revealed, a painfully long series of ten 1-2 hour episodes that is chock full of every chuck of antivaccine pseudoscience, paranoia, and conspiracy theories, all “revealed” through interviews with luminaries of the antivaccine movement conducted by a chiropractor named Patrick Gentempo. I signed up for short-term free access to the series, thinking I might blog about it, but I don’t know if I can manage. The first episode featured nearly an hour of Andrew Wakefield without interruption. The third episode, the link to which was just released early morning and will expire within 24 hours, features over 65 minutes of RFK, Jr. repeating “the long version” of his antivaccine conspiracy theories. I’m tough and dedicated, but even I had a hard time sitting through such concentrated crankery when I tried to watch the video very early this morning. I saved it for later, but I don’t know if I can do this. There are some things that are too much even for me, and watching over an hour of Wakefield and over an hour of RFK Jr. might be it.

VaccinesWorkBlog also watched Episodes One and Three and provides summaries of the episodes, complete with references debunking claims made by its participants, such as those surrounding the “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy. VaccinesWorkBlog has this to say about Wakefield:

It is fair to say that Andy Wakefield continues to be a lying liar.

Episode One also includes Gary Goldman, a computer scientist and, per the reviewer, “author of some very bad studies on vaccines,” one of which Orac characterized as:

a giant, drippy, stinky turd of an article—and amateurish to boot—whose conclusions were not at all supported by the data or analysis.

Episode Three is an interview of, as noted, one of the all-time most famous anti-vaccination cranks, Robert Kennedy, Jr., by Gentempo, in which Kennedy refers to this journal article by none other than Geier and Geier as “very good research,” (it’s not) along with other anti-vaccination talking points debunked by VaccinesWorkBlog.

Other “high-level, well credentialed experts” (their words, not mine) seen in the series is a veritable who’s who of anti-vaccination luminaries. In addition to Wakefield, Kennedy, Seneff, Fisher, Brogan, Bark, Gentempo and DeLong, we find Sayer Ji, Suzanne Humphries, Jack Wolfson, Brian Hooker (also here) and Sherri Tenpenny, as well as chiropractor Dan Pompa, a self-described “celluar detox expert.”

Topics discussed by these “experts” include:

  • “The Vaccine/Autism Connection” and “Autism Connection” (which doesn’t exist)
  • “Unknown Dangers of Vaccines” (not sure how they know about them if they are admittedly “unknown”)
  • “Mercury in Vaccines – Thimerosol” (featuring – you guessed it – Robert Kennedy, Jr.)
  • “CDC Fraud” and “CDC Guidelines and Coverups” (featuring – you guessed it again – Brian Hooker)

The last installment is “Vaccine Solutions,” which features, among others, Dan Pompa, the chiropractor behind “cellular detox.” And what is one of the “toxins” Pompa’s “celluar detox” program addresses? Why, mercury in vaccines, of course.

Preaching to the anti-vaccination choir

Hays will be preaching to the choir. Given its long-standing anti-vaccination ideology and the fact that chiropractic is based on pseudoscience, Hays will no doubt find easy marks for his documentary’s debunked claims. Chiropractic pediatrics is based on the same faulty foundation as chiropractic treatment of adults: the pseudoscientific notion that just about anything, including birth, can cause the putative “subluxation” in a child’s spine. These phantom subluxations cause actual disease, according to chiropractors, who treat children by “adjusting” them, claiming this is effective for a host of conditions like asthma, ear infections, bedwetting, allergies, colic, Tourette Syndrome, and ADHD. They also claim that regular “spinal checkups” and “adjustments” are necessary to keep your child healthy. An article in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics recommends that children visit the chiropractor 6-12 times annually. Care of pregnant patients falls under this “specialty” as well, including the Webster Technique, which chiropractors claim can turn a breech baby. All of this is the most extraordinary nonsense and, unfortunately, perfectly legal throughout the U.S.

Other woo on the conference agenda includes “Cranial sacral techniques for the newborn” (cranial sacral therapy being yet another form of quackery based on a faulty conception of human anatomy) and “Adjusting the pelvis and sacrum of the school-age child.” There is also “Dysfunctional Infant Feeding: Evaluation and Treatment.” In the chiropractic view of things, “subluxations” in infants can cause breastfeeding difficulties and “adjustments” (including “cranial adjusting”) are the remedy. Attendees can get continuing education credit for these sessions, thanks to the cooperation of Palmer College of Chiropractic.

If that’s not enough to scare the wits out of you, there are also courses entitled “Pre-Eclampsia and the Chiropractor’s Role” and “Hope is Where the Heart Is: Congenital Heart Defects in Newborns.” Other than immediately referring a patient to an appropriately-credentialed physician, chiropractors have no “role” whatsoever in diagnosing and treating either condition.

Their ignorance stems, at least in part, from their education and lack of sufficient clinical training. Chiropractic education in pediatrics consists of one 22-hour pre-clinical course in “pediatric topics” and chiropractors can graduate without ever having seen an actual pediatric patient in clinical training. Post-graduate courses (they don’t do residencies) which allow one to call oneself a “Diplomate” in chiropractic pediatrics, consist of as little as 360 hours of classroom training, sometimes in airport hotel conference rooms. Whether students actually see patients in this training is unclear. The ICA’s recommended books on vaccination contain plenty of anti-vaccination propaganda.

The association between seeing and chiropractor and noncompliance with the CDC-recommended vaccination schedule is well-documented in the medical literature:

Anti-vaccination attitudes still abound within the chiropractic profession. Despite a growing body of evidence about the safety and efficacy of vaccination, many chiropractors do not believe in vaccination, will not recommend it to their patients, and place emphasis on risk rather than benefit.

One study found a correlation between seeing a chiropractor or a naturopath and lack of flu vaccination in pediatric patients. Another study found that children who saw chiropractors were significantly less likely to receive each of three CDC-recommended vaccinations. Yet another found that student anti-vaccination attitudes actually increased in the later years of chiropractic and naturopathic programs. Anti-vaccination attitudes among chiropractors have been documented by the mainstream media as well (also here and here).

Vaccines Revealed will simply reinforce chiropractic prejudice against immunizations. Chiropractors can then go back and spread this misinformation to their patients’ parents. A reasonable solution would be to prevent chiropractors from giving advice about immunizations, or any prescription drugs, for that matter, as outside their scope of practice, and requiring that they refer all questions to the patient’s physician. (Rhode Island just imposed this very restriction on naturopaths.) They have no business advising patients about immunization, especially when they are so thoroughly misinformed. In fact, with their insufficient education and training and propensity toward quackery, they have no business treating children at all.

Posted by Jann Bellamy

Jann J. Bellamy is a Florida attorney and lives in Tallahassee. She is one of the founders and Board members of the Society for Science-Based Medicine (SfSBM) dedicated to providing accurate information about CAM and advocating for state and federal laws that incorporate a science-based standard for all health care practitioners. She tracks state and federal bills that would allow pseudoscience in health care for the SfSBM website.  Her posts are archived here.