Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Vaccine Industry's Free Pass

I've been following this debacle about the Vaccine Courts, and the parent's (assumed) right to sue a Vaccine Manufacturer in a civil court.

I do want to talk about is this "law" that seems to be preventing families from suing the vaccine manufacturers for harm to their children/loved ones.

Did Congress mean to block civil suits brought against the vaccine industry?  Or was it setting up a "special court" to hear the vaccine injury cases and not trying to block the civil actions?

It's a very good question and one I wish I could answer.

It all started in 1986.  Congress passed an act or a law that said parents/individuals/children who were adversely affected by vaccines would go through a special court that would determine what compensation they would get for the damage caused by a vaccine.  Now, in order for a parent to get compensation in the case of a vaccine injury, the evidence must be researched by the HHS (Health and Human Services)--which comprise the CDC and National Institutes of Health.  It sounds like a good idea...to have such distinguished government agencies working on your case; unless, of course, they are also the defendants and they are also used to test the "safety" of vaccines.  How many cases have been dismissed because there was "no cause found"?  It's ludicrous, really. (you can read a bit more at PRNews)

Where do the awarded funds come from?  Does it come from the vaccine manufacturers?  No!  It comes from each individual that receives a vaccine.  So, every time you get a vaccine (or get your child a vaccine) you pay an additional "tax" that goes into the compensation fund.  In essence, you are paying into a fund that will allow you to dip into it should you have an adverse reaction.  I still find it humorous that the vaccine manufacturers don't contribute a dime to the compensation...it's all paid by the vaccinated.  That's like paying an additional "tax" on every piece of clothing, every toy, every crib, every car you buy so that if someone gets hurt, they can be compensated, without touching the bottom line of the very industry who made the product.  Nice, huh?

So, in the recent months, the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz have sought to sue the vaccine manufacturer, Wyeth--a division of Pfizer--because their Vaccine Court case was dismissed citing that there was not enough "proof" that the vaccine caused any injuries.
"She was a healthy 6-month-old baby when she received a vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Within hours, she suffered scores of seizures and has been developmentally impaired ever since. Her parents claimed her injuries were caused by the vaccine, which was developed in the 1940s, and that the manufacturer, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, had declined to substitute another, safer and more modern, vaccine.  When the special vaccine court ruled that there was inadequate proof the vaccine caused Hannah's injuries, her parents then sued in state court,"
Now, in state court, the parents would have the ability to subpoena all records from the vaccine manufacturer to learn what the company already knew about the vaccine.  I find it a little alarming that parents are not given that right/option in vaccine court!  They have to prove harm in the vaccine court, but they cannot subpoena vaccine manufacturer records?  Their cases are being "tested" by the very entities that do the preliminary "safety testing" of the vaccines before they hit the market?  And the court is supposed to be unbiased?  How is this possible?

The Supreme Court is currently deciding on how to rule in the case of vaccine injuries.  The lawyer for the manufacturer is stating that if the Supreme Court allows every parent who believes that their child has been harmed by a vaccine to file suit, it will put the industry out of business.  I, personally, find that very hard to believe being that the vaccine industry is currently making billions of dollars a year (predicted to hit about $39 BILLION by 2013)--they've not been successfully sued in a court of law for over 15 years.  If they paid out 1/4 of the amount they are making, it would hardly put them under.  I mean, the Vaccine Industry is claiming that the vaccines are very safe.

But, I have to ask.  Why is there a shield in front of the vaccine industry, anyways?  If you make a product, shouldn't you be fully liable for that product?  If you cannot stand behind the safety of the product, then maybe it should not be on the market!  Vaccine manufacturers have been touting the "safety" of the vaccines for years.  Parents have been claiming vaccine damage for years.  If you buy a car and its defect causes death or disability, you have the right to sue the car manufacturer.  If you buy a crib and your child dies as a result of a defect, you have the right to sue the manufacturer.  It is believed that if a company is held wholly liable for the defects of their products, they will work harder to make sure that there are as few defects as possible.  You can even sue a gun manufacturer if they sell a gun that is "too easily modified" into a more powerful weapon that kills a loved one!  This is not the case in the Vaccine Industry.  They keep releasing products onto the market that are untested, unknown and touted as the next best thing...and there are no repercussions to the damages these vaccines can cause (Gardasil, being the most recent along with the H1N1 vaccine).

Wouldn't you, as a parent, want the right to hold the manufacturer, of whatever product you purchase, liable for their negligence in their products?  Do you not believe that you should have the right to pursue damages in a court of law, should it come to that?

Let's step back and look at the banking industry.  How do they compare?  Well, take a look what happens to an industry that runs unchecked and mostly unregulated.  The housing bubble?  The collapse of the economy?  These all could have been prevented.  While I do believe that each individual must be responsible for themselves, it doesn't change the fact that not having someone, unbiased, keeping tabs on what is going on...will cause disasters of epic proportions.  There are members/chairpersons/advisors of the FDA/CDC who either own stock in a vaccine--hence making it valuable to them to have the vaccine marketed--or otherwise have some kind of financial ties to the very industry in which they are supposed to regulate.  None of the agencies that are supposed to be "keeping tabs" on the vaccine industry are unbiased...none of them has any interest in keeping the vaccines safe or off the market.  For crying out loud!  Several years back, a Rotovirus vaccine was pushed on every infant.  It was called Rotoshield.  What happened to that vaccine?  It caused a host of adverse side effects.  Most notably, it caused the infants' intestines to become so blocked that they would rupture.  This vaccine was available for 15 months!  There were reports of over 100 babies that were severely adversely affected by this vaccine.  How much money did the manufacturer make?  I can definitely tell you how much they paid out in damages:  $0  The money that parents did get for compensation was from the very fund that they put their own money in to.

I'm not a litigious person.  I think our society overuses the court system on lawsuits that just don't belong.  If someone can walk into a store, pour water on the floor and then "fall" and sue the store (no matter how baseless the claim is), then why can't a parent sue a vaccine manufacturer if they feel that a vaccine harmed their child?  Some things deserve to see their day in court.  Vaccine injuries should be one of them.  And not just a day in court; a fair, unbiased day in court.  Hold the vaccine industry liable for their products.  Maybe then parents can be assured that the Vaccine Industry is doing everything it can to make a safe, viable product that will not cause harm.  Maybe then, they'll stop rushing products off the production line that are severely undertested at best and negligent money makers at worst.  Prevent individuals who hold any interest in the Vaccine industry from serving on any board that will vote to put a vaccine on the market.

These changes can happen.  But, you have to make your voice heard.  Do not let the Vaccine Industry hide behind their curtain of money while the general public is served dangerous and deadly vaccine cocktails, just so they can make a quick buck.  Your health and your child's health is certainly worth more than that.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

2nd Trimester and already ready to pop

I'm 25 weeks today...and I'm measuring at over 38 weeks.  I'm completely out of breath more often than not, my back hurts and I'm more than happy to go to bed at 8pm.

So, I knew that having twins would take a "little more" out of you but never did I ever imagine that it would take this much out of me.

The boys are totally taking advantage of my slower moving.  Don't want to get dressed?  Just run.  I'll never catch them.  I'm relying on my husband more and more to help me get the kids up and ready in the morning (my daughter and my older son both go to school).

Some days I feel like I can conquer the world...and other days I feel totally conquered.  I hate sitting for too long because then it hurts my back...but I cannot stand for too long because that hurts too.  I go to the chiropractor several times a week and have a "call and show" thing going on.  But, I always feel so much better when I leave and I prefer to go in the evenings and it helps me sleep better.

And, sleep...ahhhh...sleep.  I have 3 kids that all sleep fitfully through the night and I cannot.  Why?  Because my belly is so big and it's harder to get comfortable.  Sometimes I finally get comfortable and then I get massive heart burn...so the only way to get sleep some nights is by sleeping in the recliner...but then it hurts my back...I find myself wanting the babies born sooner than later.  I sometimes wonder how in the world I'm going to make it to January.

But, then there are the good things.  My husband does a lot more housework.  :)  Always a plus!  And my kids are having fun listening to the babies' heartbeats...and guessing which end is up.  They give me names (Yes, Elmo was suggested, as was Diego LOL) and they all kiss my belly.  I am amazed at how much anyone can love a little soul they have never met.

The other day, I was sitting down with my feet up and my youngest crawls into my lap and laid against my belly, tired and ready for a nap.  The twins didn't care for the crunch and starting kicking, punching and he sits on my belly and taps them back and then lays on my belly again and laughs as they kick and punch against him.

And then there are the days where I feel completely overwhelmed with the thought of having 5 kids running around the house (4 of them age 4 and under).  But, I'm constantly reminded that things always have a way of working themselves out.  I sit on the deck and watch the kids play together.  How they fight, but protect and watch out for each other.  How they are close and yet their own person and I am reassured that while the first 6 months may be the hardest, the rest of my life will be spent in awe at the amount of sharing, fighting, compassion, protection and love that they'll show each other.  I look at larger families and know that my kids will have the love of many and they'll never be alone.  I look ahead to the future and see the immense amount of love...and I can't help but smile and feel completely blessed.

Life is definitely good.

Have you worn your baby today?

Me with my daughter (then 4) and my son (then 6 months).

A friend on Facebook posted this link: Baby Carrier Industry Alliance

And since I'm all for Babywearing, I figured I jump into the mix with a blog of babywearing of my own!

In the 8 years I've been a parent, I have tried many slings, carriers, etc.  I have two, out of the dozens that I have tried, that I highly recommend.

The first one is the Moby Wrap.  I love this wrap.  I'm using it in the above photo.  It's everything I want and nothing I don't.  I wraps around my body and my baby so securely, so snugly, so perfectly that it's hard not to fall in love with it immediately.  My only dislike about this wrap is the back carry.  I could not get my boys to stay on my back while I wrapped them in, but also because my boys were constantly up and down.  For them, as infants, the Moby was a life saver.  But once they became a part of the mobility crowd, the Moby did not fit my needs, as well.

So, then I found the Ergo Carrier.  This is perfect for the back carry.  I would just "swing" my kids up onto my back, pull the staps up and go.  In fact, it worked perfectly with the Moby.  How?  Because when I had my boys, they were 18 months apart.  I would wrap myself and my newborn in the Moby.  Then I would put my toddler on my back and pull up the Ergo (I wish I could find a picture of this...I know I have one somewhere).  There were times we were out (myself and my 3 kids) and both boys would be sleeping (the Ergo has a "sleep hood" where you pull it over the sleeping child's head and it keeps their head from falling back) and I was still able to be out and about with my daughter.  Now, I do have to say this:  I did not like the Ergo for a newborn.  Even with the infant insert.  Why?  I always felt that it allows too much "slouch".  Baby couldn't really be supported as well, I felt, as the Moby--which would wrap them and keep them from slouching down.  So, I only used the Ergo for when they could sit up on their own and were mobile.  But, I do have friends who swear by it for the entire time a sling/carrier is needed.  Preference, but it's completely safe either way and it just depends on how you feel with the carrier vs. a wrap.

For myself, personally, the Moby and the Ergo are all that is needed.  Now, some people prefer the Mei Tai (not to be confused with the drink).  I did try this carrier and while it was good, it just wasn't for me.  Although I do know a lot of people who prefer the Mei Tai over the Ergo (again, preference).

Still, there are others who prefer the Ring Sling.  I tried this sling and it just wasn't as comfortable for me to use.  I tend to prefer carriers that distribute weight evenly across my back and shoulders.  Obviously, with the ring sling, one shoulder will take the weight.  This always caused my back to feel "off"...so this sling ended up in the donation pile.

Of course, no sling/wrap/carrier is safe if you do not use it properly. And there are some slings that just are not safe (remember the Infantino Sling Rider?).  Just because a carrier/sling/wrap gets a lot of "stars" online, doesn't mean it's a great sling.  You have to try the slings on yourself and make sure you are comfortable with the safety and comfort of the sling (and keep in mind that whatever carrier/sling/wrap you decide on should keep the baby upright and fully supported without "hiding" their face).

Not all carriers are alike.  And not every great carrier is great for everyone.  More and more stores are carrying a variety of carriers (I noticed that Babies R Us is now carrying the Moby Wrap and Ergo in addition to the BabyBjorn).  Use this to your advantage!  Really try them out and see how they work for you.  Most stores have a 30 day return policy, so you can take your choice home, try it out in "real life situations" and see if it works for you.  If you cannot do this, Craigslist always has a bunch of Ergos and Moby Wraps for sale (please do not buy "knock-offs" from anyone, as their safety cannot be ensured).  Ask around in your community and see if there is a local babywearing mom who will help you.  I remember when I had my 2nd, so many people commented on the Moby Wrap and were genuinely interested in it.  There were numerous times I actually unwrapped myself and my baby and let the other mom try it on with her child (and several times I saw the same mom a few weeks later with the wrap).

The next issue I wanted to touch on was the statement that slings "reduce the incidence of PPD in mothers".  I'll make a very short comment on this, since I do have personal experience here (which I blogged about here).  Babywearing didn't do that for me.  I still got a full blown case of PPD (in my case, it was more aptly named PPTSD).  HOWEVER, I will say that because I was so adamant about babywearing, I believe that I held my 2nd child (and 3rd) MORE even though I had PPD/PPTSD.  More than I would have if I wasn't babywearing.  I can imagine the stress my little guy was going through during that time and I hope that wearing him and keeping him close to me, despite my issues, helped give him a sense of love and closeness that I was, otherwise, unable to give him at the time.  So, while I disagree that babywearing can prevent or reduce PPD, I do believe that babywearing can help during PPD.

Babywearing is very important.  It keeps your baby close and warm (just like they want to be) and allows you to still do what you need to do.  Despite what a lot of people say, you cannot hold a baby too much.  It does not prevent them from being independent--all of my kids were worn as much as possible and they are all very, very independent.  In fact, I believe it helps with their independence as long as the parent respects when the child wants to get down and explore and when they want to be held.  Babywearing instills that sense of safety that a child cannot get from being in an infant seat or stroller, and while those items do have their place, I believe that babies really need to be held close to the ones who love them.  Everyone can successfully wear their baby and I think that most people who do, will find that it agrees with their lifestyle pretty well (we can keep doing most of the adult stuff we need to do and still hold and cuddle our bundles of joy).  But the thing I love the most about babywearing (well, besides the closeness)?  I don't have to cart a stroller around.  Frees up the trunk and is more easily maneuverable.

Overall, I really do believe that babywearing makes for a happier parent and a happier baby/child.  What better way to keep you little one close while still having 2 hands to do the things you need to do?  :)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Formula is good for...beetles??

It's true!  At least in the case of Similac!!

The latest debacle was Similac and its formulas that could contain bug parts or bug larvae.  The consumers were "reassured" that ingesting this formula, even if it was tainted, would not cause harm.

I have to whole-heartedly disagree here.  Do they mean to tell me that a newborn who has a "new" digestive system is not going to get sick off of these bugs parts/larvae?  Well, there have been numerous reports of babies getting sick!  "Mild gastrointestinal distress" sounds like no big deal, right?  Until you know what it's like to be up all night with a baby who is suffering from such a mild discomfort.  And if a parent has been feeding the contaminated lot for several days and this is on-going...well, no fun for the parents or the babies.

According to Abbot Laboratories, 99.8% of the lot was uncontaminated/unaffected.  But, the recall affects 5 MILLION containers.  And if 99.8% if them were fine...that's still 10,000 CONTAMINATED containers.  While the number doesn't sound very high, that's about 10,000 families/babies who were using contaminated formula (including hospitals).  

Why did it take Similac one week to notify everyone.?  But my other question would be more along the lines of: why are they releasing such an important product without testing the lot prior to distribution to verify its safety?

Even if you are not a formula feeding parent, you should be outraged at this.  There shouldn't be "well, that's why you should breastfeed...".  It should be outrage and supporting your local representatives, etc to crack down on manufacturers of baby formula to have tighter, more strict, quality control.

Get on top of your congressperson and state representative and make sure that the formula companies do not buy their way out of this.  And be sure to keep an ear out for a response to the Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's letter to Similac.  He gave them until October 7th to respond.

Do not let the formula companies get away with this.  If you formula feed and you did not get a tainted lot, you should still protest this.  There are far too many babies out there who depend on the sustenance of formula to ignore this problem.

You can make a difference, but you have to speak up.  There is a Facebook page dedicated to this and a New Orleans mom who has begun a class-action lawsuit against Similac (and Sam's Club).

Have you purchased Similac and need to know if the lot you purchased was affected?  Here is a list of the lot numbers that were recalled:  Similac Recalled Lot Numbers