Anti-vaccine propagandist Andrew Wakefield to speak at "chiropractic pediatrics" conference

Anti-vaccine propagandist Andrew Wakefield to speak at "chiropractic pediatrics" conference

There is so much wrong with the upcoming International Chiropractors Association Pediatrics Council annual conference it is hard to know where to begin, but we'll start with the fact that there is such a thing as a chiropractor who fancies himself (or herself) as a specialist who cares for pediatric patients and pregnant women. The Pediatrics Council is holding its annual conference in Hawaii this coming December and, according to a recent email, Andrew Wakefield will be speaking on vaccines and autism.

Wakefield, as many who follow SfSBM will know, is the disgraced British MD whose fraudulent "study" falsely claimed there is a connection between autism and the MMR vaccine. Wakefield was ultimately stripped of his license to practice medicine in the U.K., although his thoroughly discredited "theory" that the MMR vaccine causes autism lives on, wreaking havoc with vaccination rates along the way. Since he can no longer legally practice medicine, he spends his time among the denizens of the anti-vaccination movement, making a living speaking at such disreputable events as a "conspira-sea" cruise. This will be at least his second appearance speaking to a chiropractic conference on the subject of vaccination.

Chiropractors who fancy themselves as pediatricians are, of course, the perfect audience for Wakefield. They are already primed to be anti-vaccination because chiropractors are generally against immunization as a matter of tradition. Fortunately for Wakefield, their education and training are so deficient they don't know any better than to believe what he says.

This is a group, after all, who believes that the non-existent chiropractic spinal "subluxation" causes "nerve interference" which, in turn, can result in health problems.These chiropractors purport to "detect" imaginary subluxations with various means, including totally unnecessary x-rays, then go about "removing" the "interference" with "adjustments" to the spine, thereby "allowing the body to heal itself." They also advocate regular "spinal checkups," or "wellness care," to keep the mythical subluxation at bay.

According to chiropractors who "specialize" in pediatrics, the spines of newborns should be adjusted as soon after birth as possible because "inter-uterine constraint" can cause subluxations, resulting in all manner of health issues, including SIDS. (Actually, rather than preventing health problems, "adjusting" a neonate's or child's spine can result in serious injury.) They also maintain they can, in effect, turn breach babies via a method called the "Webster technique."

Wakefield, as a medical doctor, fully realizes this is all nonsense. He also realizes that chiropractors do not have the education and training to advise parents about immunization, other than to recommend a consultation with their child's physician. But a guy's got to earn a living and no reputable health care conference would dream of asking him to speak.

Fortunately for Wakefield, the scientific bar appears to be pretty low for conference presentations. For example, Dr. Ramneek Bhogal, who advertises himself as a diplomate of American Board of Chiropractic Internists (a sort of chiropractic naturopath) and Functional Medicine practitioner, will speak on "influencing epigenetic changes with wellness and chiropractic." Epigenetics, as Drs. David Gorski and Clay Jones have pointed out over on SBM, is one of the shiny new science words that CAM practitioners don't really understand but like to embrace to "explain" how whatever it is they are doing "works." His wife, Dr. Stephanie O'Neill Bhogul, a DICPP [Diplomate in Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics] and certified Webster Technique Practitioner who says she completed a "pediatrics residency" in 2005, will speak on "fetal position and baby's development." (Like other chiropractic post-grad education leading to "diplomate" status, the DICPP is earned by attending weekend courses, some on-line, where there appears to be no actual clinical training.) There will also be a lecture on "ICD-10 Codes for pediatric and pregnancy conditions," which gives me the sinking feeling that chiropractors treating children and pregnant women are seeking insurance reimbursement for their pseudoscience and getting it.

Palmer College of Chiropractic is working on getting CE credit in all 50 US states and the province of Alberta for conference attendance. So, presumably, chiropractors will be able to fulfill their state licensing requirements by listening to anti-vaccination ideology, aided by an institution (Palmer) that receives federal research and student loan funding. In other words, the state and federal governments are facilitating the anti-vaccination movement, all the while fighting inroads into immunization rates caused by – you guessed it – the anti-vaccination movement.

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