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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.


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Picking the “right” answer

I once heard a sermon about a moral man that went through the streets of an evil city preaching that folks should repent and start living right.  At first he was barely listened to.  Later he was tolerated.  Eventually he was ridiculed almost everywhere he went.  One time a person went to him and asked “why do you keep wasting your time preaching to these folks?  Do you seriously think that you are going to change them?”  The moral man answered.  “Once upon a time, I DID preach hoping to change them.  Now I preach so that they will not change ME”.

In a previous blog, I wrote that I had to pick what I thought was a morally wrong answer for my recertification test.  That bothered me because “If you do that kind of thing enough, the morally wrong answer becomes more acceptable to you.”  We like to think good of ourselves.  Therefore, we often spend a lot of mental energy trying to convince ourselves that whatever we do is good….or at least not too bad.  It is hard wired into our psyche.  Therefore when we are forced to pick answers that are neither moral nor in the best interest of children, it has an effect on us.  The way to fight back is to work harder to promote what is good and true.  If we can’t win, at least we can protect ourselves.

God calls us not to be successful, but to be faithful (by doing what we can!)‏
—-Mother Teresa

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The purpose of the M(aintenace) O(f) C(ertification)

I just got my scores back from my pediatric recertification test.  I passed much above the mean, thank you very much.  Upon taking the test, you must agree NOT to reveal any specific questions.  However, there were some questions where I KNEW what answer they wanted but I disagreed.  I felt that the “correct” answer was neither moral nor in the best interest of children (think emergency contraception).   I held my nose and picked the answer that I knew they were wanting.  If you do that kind of thing enough, the morally wrong answer becomes more acceptable to you. Now frankly I am of the opinion that the major purpose of the MOC is to line the pockets of folks associated with the ABP.  However, I think another purpose is to mold pediatricians more in line with the politically correct ideas of those same folks.  I suspect that with time, the MOC testing will become more and more politically correct.  Eventually only the most politically correct will be capable of passing.  Those of us that have moral scruples against some of these issues will be removed from the equation as our ability to practice diminishes.

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The recertification test – a matter of trust

I miss the days when you could recertify by taking a computer test at home.  That was fun.  Not only could you take weeks to do the test, you could look up answers, discuss with colleagues and actually LEARN.  Isn’t that the goal for which we should strive? Doesn’t that learning help us to provide better care?  Now the test is a six hour ordeal at a test center.   At the test center, I had to empty my pockets.  I had to take off my watch.  A packet of gum in my pocket was quickly confiscated.  I was incredulous that I could be expected to cheat with an unopened packet of gum.  I should have kept quiet.  The sneer I received made me feel like a particularly nasty sort of caterpillar found in a salad by a vegetarian.  Unfortunately, since it was a day off for me otherwise, I had worn some very relaxed yet comfortable overalls instead of my normal dress shirt and tie.  I had NO idea that they would wand me with a metal detector and the buttons would make the alarm go off.  I also had to lift my pants leg up so my socks could be checked for potential cheat notes.  It almost reached the point where I felt like saying “Ah…I see.  If one wants a prostate check, one merely needs to register to take the recertification test.”   I also learned that taking a bathroom break meant the entire security screen had to be repeated.  At last, I was allowed access to the computer.  One of the screens before the test actually started stated the following: (paraphrased) “ we know that we can trust you NOT to discuss the specific questions and answers on this test.”  Wow.  They trust me!!  Not enough to wear a watch but they trust me.  Not enough to wear comfy overalls but…they trust me….Not enough to chew gum but …they trust me. Not enough to take a bathroom break but…………

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Final advice on studying and time saving

My son asked me once about my college kidnapping experience that he had heard of.  I REALLY did have a set schedule of being at the library when it opened and being there until it closed with very brief breaks for meals (often missed) and classes.  I had just finished a major tough exam and my friends were surprised that I was BACK in the library working on a biology paper not due for a month (and it was a Friday).  So….they kidnapped me.  Complete with blindfold.  They put me in a car and drove me to Lake Tillary where one of my friend’s families had a vacation home.  They led me into a boat late that night.  It was so dark on the lake that you couldn’t see where the horizon began and the lake ended.  With almost NO manmade light pollution, the sky was filled with millions of stars that reflected on the water.  The Hallelujah chorus was booming out of a tape player and it looked as if the boat was thrumming through the water and into the sky.  I had not yet learned the military saying “Don’t run when you can walk, Don’t walk when you can stand, Don’t stand when you can sit.  Don’t sit when you can lie down.”  It actually was difficult for me to learn to relax but I had a nice weekend with friends and somehow STILL managed to make it into medical school.

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Ratings not responsibility

I understand that “The View” is replacing Hasselbeck with Jenny McCarthy.  I also understand that she has a child with autism which she (without any scientific evidence) attributes to his receiving vaccines.  Vaccines are generally given prior to the onset of autism, so seeing this association, Ms. McCarthy and others have concluded that vaccines caused the autism. I am saddened for the guilt Ms. McCarthy feels at allowing her child to be vaccinated. She is most certainly not responsible for her child’s autism.

It is easy to confuse an association with cause and effect. For example during the World War 2 bombing of London, rescue workers were going through the wreckage of a building looking for survivors. They found an elderly gentleman who was unclothed in a bathtub. When they got to him, he said, “That’s the last time I’ll drain a bathtub. I pulled the plug and the building collapsed.” Clearly this is an association and not cause and effect.

I spend a lot of time educating folks about vaccine safety based on science. There is no credible evidence that vaccines cause autism. On the other hand we don’t know what causes it and until we do many will conclude that an association is really a cause. Let me strongly encourage you to get your child vaccinated. These vaccines are unquestionably lifesaving, just not in the dramatic way that a trauma surgeon saves lives.


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A Decline in Teen Mental Health Blamed on the Recession – Preposterous!

On July 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published an article in Preventing Chronic Disease about Teen Health in the past decade.  It was not surprising that adolescents self-reported a significant decline in their perception of personal health. The study was adjusted for possible confounding from gender, race/ethnicity, age, physical inactivity, and cigarette smoking. None of these confounders seemed to explain the decline. The conclusion drawn was that the recession and perhaps coincidentally the resultant move of many teens to lower socioeconomic status was the reason for this finding. Perhaps!

Or perhaps not – the article gives no basis for comparison with other eras of economic decline. Specifically, did teens have this same perception during other recession periods?  More important, how have the societal changes which occurred from 2004 – 2010 impacted their perceptions? In that period we moved from a Federal Administration and Congress which supported the family and was interested in promoting values based on natural law and tradition to one which works to support only those things which are politically expedient.

Could it be that the decline is due to the erosion of family values? How does the killing of our most vulnerable children – those still in the womb, the devaluation of marriage, and the increasing intrusion of government into the responsibility of parents to rear their children impact teens’ perceptions? What is the impact of the countenancing of gender confusion among our youth, or the promotion of the concept that all ills are “someone else’s fault”?   Aren’t these more likely explanations?



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Further advice on studying and time saving

Getting through college and medical school requires a lot of study.  Learning to use your time efficiently is critical. That is why I instructed my son on many time saving methods of which most people are not aware.   For one thing, people just do not realize how much time is lost due to blowing your nose when you have a cold.  Blowing your nose entails looking for a handkerchief/tissue and freeing a hand.  That very hand could have been used to highlight text or turn a page.  Instead, learn to SNIFF really really hard.  It also makes you feel less hungry so you don’t have to break for meal time.  And remember, hiccups are for losers.  If you have time to hiccup, then you have too much time.

Of course to really study efficiently, everyone needs some relaxation.  Yet that takes time.  However even relaxation can be done efficiently.  You just need to do it in concentrated form.  If listening to music relaxes you:  Instead of listening to one song, listen to 4-5 simultaneously!

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Children are sponges

When traveling with her 18 month old who was safely secured in the backseat, ‘Sally’ would sometimes find herself in harrowing circumstances. For instance, another car might cut in front of her causing her to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into the offending vehicle. ‘Sally’ would mark these occasions by loudly issuing a four letter #*!# expletive – the same one every time. After this occurred only a few times, ‘Sally’ noticed that this expletive was also emanating from her 18 month old and not always at an appropriate time.

Children are sponges. They soak up everything they are exposed to. For instance, if a child is exposed from birth to three different languages, he will become fluent in all three in what appears to be an effortless fashion.

So what ‘Sally’ learned, was that by carefully selecting what her child is exposed to, she can influence her child’s development in an intentional fashion—-and so can you!

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At a Pediatric Conference

Almost the entire room of 370 pediatricians erupted in applause.  Moments before, a young woman had rushed to the speaker at a podium.  The speaker paused his lecture to read the note, and then pumped his arm in victory.  With his face raised in an exultant rictus, he announced “We have won!  Plan B will now be available to young girls over the counter.” 

I am currently attending a five day intensive review of pediatrics.  The conference attendees claim to have devoted their careers to helping children.  That is why I sat in shock as so many around me cheered this announcement.  Can anyone actually believe that removing barriers to teen sexual activity is in the best interest of children?  Many of these same people applauding the unrestricted use of Plan B will soon be tasked to deal with the consequences.  Who will pay for the rise in STDs and other consequences likely to be caused by this decision?  Oh…..I forgot….we now have ObamaCare.

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When was the last time you saw a news article encouraging couples to have 3 or more children?   This thought came to me one day in clinic when I saw a particularly smiley mom and her three children.  I recalled a chapter from the Birth Order Book and seemed to remember that 3rd born children tend to be more laid back.  They bring something extra to a family (as do subsequent children).  Factbook on my iPhone tells me that the fertility rate in the US is now at 2.06.    This is the average number of children born per woman.  We rank 121st in the world.   This number ranges from as high as 7.52 in Niger to as low as 0.78 in Singapore.    These numbers are referred to as Fertility rate.  Somehow I just cannot believe that  women from Niger are that more fertile than those in Singapore.    All of that aside,  I continued my study of smiles and consistently noted that there are more smiles the more children there are in the family.   There seems to be some tacit belief that countries that have more children are full of sad people that only wish their fertility rate was not so high and that those of us from “enlightened” countries should intervene and cause a reduction in the fertility rate.    Since almost everyone can agree that this world could use many more smiles, I would like to do the politically incorrect – and recommend that parents consider raising our fertility rate in this country to at least 3!   Ancient writings say, “Happy is the man whose quiver is full.”  This refers to having many children.  In honor of the recent Mother’s Day and of the upcoming Father’s Day (June  16), I say be fruitful and multiply! See this post from a colleague: Are you done yet?

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