Tag: Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood

Healthy Kids Can Just Die

No one likes to think about it, but yes, healthy kids can just die.

Tragically, misunderstanding this fact can lead some parents who have lost a child to blame vaccines.

Healthy kids can just die and they are often attacked by anti-vaccine groups who push them to blame vaccines.
The 8 year-old child they are talking about died of SUDEP or Sudden Unexplained Death of Epilepsy.

It certainly doesn’t help that anti-vaccine folks are targeting families who have recently lost a child, pushing them to blame vaccines…

Healthy Kids Can Just Die

Speaking of vaccines, that leads us to one group of healthy kids who can die suddenly – those who die with a vaccine-preventable disease.

All of those kids who die with the flu each year? Many are healthy. And many are unvaccinated.

Infants who die with pertussis.

Teens who die with meningococcemia.

They were all typically healthy – at least they were before they got sick.

And then some of them died.

Of course, vaccine-preventable diseases are not a common way for children to die in developed countries anymore – thanks to vaccines.

Healthy Kids Dying is Not a Vaccine Injury

Again, although no one likes to think about it, healthy kids can just die.

Surprisingly, about 10% of deaths in children over age 12 months are classified as sudden death, including many in healthy kids with no explanations for how they died.

These types of sudden, unexplained deaths are actually the 5th leading cause of death in children between the ages of 1 and 4 years. That adds up to about 400 deaths a year in the United States alone!

Were some of these kids recently vaccinated?

Of course.

Just like some infants who die of SIDS were recently vaccinated.

That doesn’t mean that the vaccines caused the deaths though.

“Dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of a baby to any cause is devastating – but in the case of a death for which no specific cause can be found, the lack of answers about why your baby has died can be overwhelming.”

Surviving the Sudden Death of a Baby

So why do some people blame vaccines?

“The parents’ need to understand why their baby died came across very strongly in most interviews despite parents not being asked specifically about this.”

Garstang et al on Parental understanding and self-blame following sudden infant death: a mixed-methods study of bereaved parents’ and professionals’ experiences

Few people like the idea that there isn’t a known reason for why a child died.

“Our results suggest that most parents really want to know why their baby died; not knowing why their baby died may cause further distress to parents, whether this is due to long waits for the results of postmortem examinations or because deaths remain unexplained. An unexplained death by its nature is an unpredictable event rendering the parents powerless to prevent future tragedies, thus increasing the anxiety and grief; having as much information as possible should help parents to emotionally accept and make sense of the death to themselves.”

Garstang et al on Parental understanding and self-blame following sudden infant death: a mixed-methods study of bereaved parents’ and professionals’ experiences

Saying it was vaccines gives people an answer.

“The aggregated theme, We Feel Like We’re to Blame, was composed of three categories: (a) Not where s/he was supposed to sleep, (b) Naming the cause of death increases my guilt, and (c) It was our fault. Mothers often felt that they were being told that the baby’s death was their fault.”

Stiffler et al on When Baby Stops Breathing: Analysis of Mothers’ Interviews

And in the case of SIDS, especially if the baby was in an unsafe sleeping environment, it is easy to see that blaming vaccines might help those who were made to feel that the death had been their fault, even though bedsharing is widely pushed as a safe alternative to roomsharing in many parenting circles.

It isn’t.

“The mothers talked about how difficult it was trying to move on after an unexpected infant death. They expressed that they are not only dealing with the grief of losing a child, but they are dealing with the feelings of guilt, despair, and regret. In this aggregated theme, there were three categories: (a) I can’t talk about it, (b) One step forward, and (c) Support helps me get through.”

Stiffler et al on When Baby Stops Breathing: Analysis of Mothers’ Interviews

One thing should be clear.

Seeking support in anti-vaccine Facebook groups is not healthy and will not help parents deal with their feelings of guilt, despair, or regret.

Shaming was described from the mothers’ perspective “ . . . it sounds so blaming and makes me feel like they think we killed our baby.” Parents were dealing with the grief of losing children, but they were also exhibiting feelings of guilt and responsibility for the deaths. The mothers did find support and eventually moved forward emotionally. In the end, as one mother succinctly expressed, “I am pregnant now . . . we are happy, but are scared, too.”

Stiffler et al on When Baby Stops Breathing: Analysis of Mothers’ Interviews

These parents instead need support and doctors, nurses, first responders, child protective service workers, and medical examiners that don’t worsen their grief and guilt.

If you need to blame vaccines, then go ahead and do so, but please also get some extra help from the resources below.

And lets work to figure out why these healthy kids are dying, so we can get better at saving them and preventing these deaths.

More on Healthy Kids Can Just Die

How the Anti-Vax Movement Takes Advantage of SIDS and SUDC Families

Unfortunately, we have gotten used to the modern anti-vaccine movement doing some horrible things. What’s one of the very worst? Taking advantage of the parents of children who have recently died of SIDS or SUDC.

We commonly see anti-vaccine folks seek out parents whose children have very recently died to make them think that vaccines were the cause.
We commonly see anti-vaccine folks seek out parents whose children have very recently died to make them think that vaccines were the cause.

Making parents think that their baby died because of vaccines.

How the Anti-Vax Movement Takes Advantage of SIDS and SUDC Families

Although we have seen folks like Larry Cook do this time and again, it isn’t what is best for these families.

“When a child dies unexpectedly, a family may feel a flood of emotions, including guilt, anger and lack of control. The clinician’s role is to offer stable support, information and compassionate care. In order to provide the most appropriate care for families in these situations, it is necessary to understand the complexities of the grief and trauma response and to recognize that the families’ needs will change over time.”

Caring for the SUDC Family: Medical and Bereavement Information for the Clinicians’ Consideration

What do anti-vax folks offer to these grieving families?

“During an open investigation, do not speculate on the cause of death with the family. Although this may feel supportive, it often undermines the relationship with the Medical Examiner/Coroner who is legally charged with determining cause of death and adds stress for the family when clinicians and the investigating authorities disagree. It is optimal that clinicians and Medical Examiners/Coroners communicate directly for the best interests of the family. “

Caring for the SUDC Family: Medical and Bereavement Information for the Clinicians’ Consideration

They offer an answer…

“Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC) is a category of death in children between the ages of 1 and 18 that remains unexplained after a thorough investigation, including an autopsy.”

Facts About Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood

Often when answers haven’t been available.

“Dealing with the sudden, unexpected death of a baby to any cause is devastating – but in the case of a death for which no specific cause can be found, the lack of answers about why your baby has died can be overwhelming.”

Surviving the Sudden Death of a Baby

And whether it is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), or SUDC, invariably, the “answer” that they offer is that they should blame vaccines.

Of course, they shouldn’t.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks.

Vaccines are not associated with SIDS.

Vaccines are not associated with SUID.

Vaccines are not associated with SUDC.

Shame on these folks for making grieving parents think that they are.

These families would get much better help from organizations like the SUDC Foundation and first candle.

More on Caring for SIDS and SUDC Families

The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

It doesn’t take much to outrage folks these days.

It seems like there is always someone, someplace that is outraged about something.

Ironically, the latest faux outrage comes from anti-vaccine folks.

The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

What do anti-vaccine folks have to be outraged about, besides the idea that they think we are forcing them to vaccinate and protect their kids against life-threatening vaccine-preventable diseases?

“Report this Doctor – Laughing At Injured is not acceptable”

Apparently, they think that a doctor was making fun of autistic kids during a flu shot clinic at a hospital:

T: So after this shot, am I going to be good at math, Z?

Z: You’re going to be really good, because you’re going to be fully autistic, instead of just partially….

Z: You know Tom, I’m wondering if we’ve just been hit with placebo, because I didn’t feel the needle, I didn’t feel the autism coming on. None of it.

This was similar to an unscripted routine Zdogg did last year:

Z: Thomas is getting autistic as we speak, because he is full of mercury right now.

T: I can do math now. It’s awesome.

Z: That’s right. He’s gonna go gamble on the strip and clean house.

In the videos, they also talk a lot about how the flu shot is a scam by the government to control our thoughts…

Are they making fun of autistic kids or adults?

“It was a dumb joke, probably in poor taste, but it didn’t occur to me at the time because it was a live show and we were trying to be funny.”

ZDogg

It wasn’t funny and I’m glad he took down the video, even if it was under pressure from hospital administration and not because he really wanted to.

Joking about vaccines causing autism is offensive and no one should be doing it, even if it is call out and making fun of the folks in the anti-vaccine movement who try and associate vaccines with autism and do actually hurt autistic families.

But did he mock the father of a child who died of SUDC, within a day of getting vaccinated? A father who was carrying a copy of JB Handley’s autism book, who claims that “there is no money in dead babies,” and who is banging on the studio window during his interview with Paul Offit?

No.

He is simply pointing out, and seemed a little excited, that he had anti-vaccine protesters at his studio for the first time.

At a screening for Vaxxed, Paul Thomas, MD, joked that kids with autism were brain damaged. And everyone laughed.
At a screening for Vaxxed, Paul Thomas, MD, joked that kids with autism were brain damaged. And everyone laughed.

But if anti-vaccine folks really feel outrage over this, why is it so selective?

Where is the outrage when the comments don’t come from someone who supports vaccines?

“I want to thank the warrior moms and dads. Those of you who have an autistic child, or a child who is otherwise damaged, you know the damage isn’t always clear-cut autism. Some times it is just some variation – your kids just not quite right.

That’s why I didn’t stand and say that I have an autistic child, because my kids, I tease them and say that they are brain damaged. Uh. Sorry son.”

Paul Thomas

I don’t remember any outrage over Paul Thomas’ comments or when Del Bigtree said “Eve is autistic, that’s right, otherwise, why would she have eaten the apple,” and made this statement on his show:

“When I go visit my grandma, why don’t I see any autistic people flapping in the corner of the room.”

Apparently, the idea of autistic adults doesn’t fit into their narrative that vaccines are associated with autism.

But that isn’t even the worse thing Del has been recorded as saying…

“But I would think when you have a child with autism, you know, or on the spectrum, you have no reference point. You have no…

I don’t want this to sound wrong, but it’s a little bit more like having a dog or a Doberman or something that you don’t understand how it thinks, you don’t know. I mean, I mean a better figure than animal reference except… you don’t have their brain.

Or you hear about stories of people that bring home of exotic you know of chimpanzee or something where they can’t, and this is not sounding right.”

At least he didn’t want it to sound wrong…

“They get the shot. That night they have a fever of 103. They go to sleep, and three months later their brain is gone. This is a holocaust, what this is doing to our country.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr

The anti-vaccine world is full of talk of autistic kids being broken and damaged, they push dangerous and expensive “cures” on parents, and spread propaganda to scare parents away from vaccinating and protecting their kids.

Dr. Jerry is a pediatrician who practices Translational Medicine and wrote the forward to Jenny McCarthy's autism book.
Dr. Jerry is a pediatrician who practices Translational Medicine and wrote the forward to Jenny McCarthy’s autism book.

And they hijack every disease, story, and tragedy to make folks think that everything is a vaccine injury.

As a physician, I assure you this story isn’t believable at any level. In my opinion, the “health officials” are conjuring meningitis fairy tales about an “unvaccinated” boogeyman to cover for the much more probable cause of this child’s death: VACCINES.

The much more likely cause is right in front of us: “The child had just received his 4-month-old vaccinations two days beforehand.”

Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan, for example, is so upset that he thinks Zdogg should lose his medical license, but he had no problem harassing the family of an infant who had just died of meningitis, claiming it was a cover up for a vaccine injury.

This is the modern anti-vaccine movement.
This is the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Have I mentioned that some of them lie about religious and medical exemptions to avoid getting their kids vaccinated and protected? And others sell those vaccine exemptions?

“A Clallam County woman in her 20s died this year from an undetected measles infection discovered only after an autopsy, state health officials said Thursday. The case is the first confirmed measles death in the U.S. in 12 years.

The woman was likely exposed to the highly contagious infection at a local medical center during a recent outbreak in Clallam County. She was at the site at the same time as someone who later developed a rash and was determined to be contagious for measles.”

Undetected measles led to death of Clallam County woman in her 20s

Where is the outrage when someone dies from a disease that could have easily been prevented by a safe and effective vaccine?

Those of us who understand the hypocrisy of the anti-vaccine movement know exactly where it is.

More on The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement

The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Payouts Prove that Vaccines are Dangerous

Have you heard this argument?

Misinformation about the NVICP, like from this Focus for Health article, likely helps confuse and scare many parents.
Misinformation about the NVICP, like from this Focus for Health article, likely helps confuse and scare many parents.

Apparently, some folks think that because we have a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that compensates those who have serious problems after a vaccine, even deaths, then it must mean that vaccines are dangerous.

Do the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Payouts Prove that Vaccines are Dangerous?

To most other people, that argument doesn’t hold water.

Why?

Because we know that:

  • the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions
  • of over 3.1 billion doses of vaccines that were distributed in the United States between 2006 and 2016, there were 3,749 compensated claims through the NVICP
  • almost 80% of all compensated awards by the NVICP come as a “result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury.”
  • the NVICP settlements are funded by an excise tax on vaccines
  • the NVICP cases are published by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, so all information is disclosed to the public and no safety concerns are hidden

So what does the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) really prove?

It proves that true vaccine injuries are very rare – about 1 in a million rare.

It proves that while vaccines are not 100% safe, they are very safe.

Certainly safer than the complications of a vaccine-preventable disease.

And it proves that anti-vaccine arguments are very easy to refute

More on the NVICP and Vaccine Safety