Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fever, How high is too high?

When it comes to fever, how high is too high?

The journal Pediatrics did a follow up study in 2001 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11389237) to a similar study done in 1980 by Barton Schmitt, MD (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7352443), who found that parents had numerous misconceptions about childhood fevers. These unrealistic concerns were termed "fever phobia." The most alarming finding of the more recent survey was that “fever phobia”, or the misconceptions about fevers were even more prevalent in 2001 than in 1980. This tells me that the education about fevers has been very inadequate, and in some cases even misleading. The important thing to realize about these misconceptions is that it leads parents to seek and even demand inappropriate treatments for what is truly a normal part of our body’s intelligent design to handle infections. Furthermore the inappropriate treatment and medical interventions negatively affect your future health. Life is cumulative and to assume that one round of unnecessary antibiotics or antipyretic (fever reducing medication) is harmless, totally misses the fact that this trend of fever phobia and unwarranted intervention is continually increasing, as these two studies demonstrate. If you and your pediatric doctor are not aware of the facts about fever then throughout a lifetime your child will have received numerous inappropriate interventions. 

To clear the air and help our parents here are some common myths about fever and the reality behind them from Dr. Barton Schmitt and John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. http://www.allkids.org/PediatricSymptomChecker/housecalls3tab_english/peds/fever_myths.htm

MYTH: My child feels warm, so she has a fever.
FACT: Children can feel warm for a many reasons such as playing hard, crying, getting out of a warm bed or being outside on a hot day. They are “giving off heat”. Their skin temperature should return to normal in 10 to 20 minutes. Once these causes are excluded, about 80% of children who feel warm and act sick actually have a fever. If you want to be sure, take their temperature.  The following are the cutoffs for fever using different types of thermometers:
  • Rectal, ear or temporal artery thermometers: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
  • Oral or pacifier thermometers: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher
  • Under the arm (Axillary or Armpit) temperatures: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher
MYTH:  All fevers are bad for children.
FACT:  Fevers turn on the body's immune system and help the body fight infection. Fevers are one of the body's protective mechanisms. Normal fevers between 100° and 104° F (37.8° - 40° C) are actually good for sick children. 

MYTH:  Fevers above 104° F (40° C) are dangerous and can cause brain damage.
FACT:  Fevers with infections don't cause brain damage.  Only body temperatures above 108° F (42° C) can cause brain damage.  The body temperature climbs this high only with extreme environmental temperatures (for example, if a child is confined to a closed car in hot weather).

MYTH:  Anyone can have a febrile seizure (seizure triggered by fever).
FACT:  Only 4% of children can have a febrile seizure.

MYTH:  Febrile seizures are harmful.
FACT:  Febrile seizures are scary to watch, but they usually stop within 5 minutes.  They cause no permanent harm. Children who have had febrile seizures do not have a greater risk for developmental delays, learning disabilities, or seizures without fever.

MYTH:  All fevers need to be treated with fever medicine.
FACT:  Fevers only need to be treated if they cause discomfort.  Usually fevers don't cause any discomfort until they go above 102° or 103° F (39° or 39.5° C).

MYTH:  Without treatment, fevers will keep going higher.
FACT:  Wrong.  Because the brain has a thermostat, fevers from infection usually don't go above 103° or 104° F (39.5°- 40° C). They rarely go to 105° or 106° F (40.6° or 41.1° C). While the latter are "high" fevers, they are harmless ones.

MYTH:  With treatment, fevers should come down to normal.
FACT:  With treatment, fevers usually come down 2° or 3° F (1° or 1.5° C).

MYTH:  If the fever doesn't come down (if you can't "break the fever"), the cause is serious.
FACT:  Fevers that don't respond to fever medicine can be caused by viruses or bacteria.  It doesn't relate to the seriousness of the infection.

MYTH: Once the fever comes down with medicines, it should stay down.
FACT: The fever will normally last for 2 or 3 days with most viral infections.  Therefore, when the fever medicine wears off, the fever will return and need to be treated again.  The fever will go away and not return once your child’s body overpowers the virus (usually by the fourth day).

MYTH: If the fever is high, the cause is serious.
FACT:  If the fever is high, the cause may or may not be serious. If your child looks very sick, the cause is more likely to be serious.

MYTH:  The exact number of the temperature is very important.
FACT:  How your child looks is what's important, not the exact temperature.

MYTH:  Oral temperatures between 98.7° and 100° F (37.1° to 37.8° C) are low-grade fevers.
FACT:  These temperatures are normal variations. The body's temperature normally changes throughout the day. It peaks in the late afternoon and evening. An actual low-grade fever is 100° F to 102° F (37.8° - 39° C) .

SUMMARY: Remember that fever is fighting off your child's infection. Fever is one of the good guys.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Do Not Want To Be Sold

I do not want to be “SOLD” some big package.

A man has noticed over a number of years that some of the doors in his house have to be given a little nudge to get them to shut, and that if he spills water on the kitchen floor it tends to collect in one spot, and the windows seem to be a little drafty. When he walks around the outside of his house he sees spots where the brick exterior has cracks running vertically from the ground to the roof. Likely, you have concluded the same thing as him. There is a foundation problem with his house. As you would expect, he called a foundation company that a friend in church recommended. They sent their inspector out to determine the extent of the problem and give the man an estimate. After a thorough inspection of the property it was determined the problems were extensive and the house would have to be raised and supported in a number of locations.  The inspector explained the foundation problem to the home owner. This particular inspector even went to the extent of showing the owner each problem area and explained the process required to fix the problem to avoid the likely future damage that would occur to the house if nothing was done. Because of the extent of the problem and how long it had been allowed to go without attention the repair was not going to be cheap. Even still, the man was very impressed with how thorough the inspector was and the obvious knowledge and experience he possessed. The home owner said, “Well, let’s get it fixed”.  Personally, I would have said the same thing. It’s the foundation. There really isn’t much of a choice. The foundation is essential to the integrity of the entire house. From walls, to roof, to pluming, to overall value of the house. The foundation affects it all.

What is often overlooked by people is the parallel this story has to your health. Your health affects your ability to enjoy work, time with your spouse, time with children, social activities, physical activity, hobbies, vacations, and travel. Your health affects your productivity at work, your mood, your relationships, and your impact in this world. Like the home owner in this story, if there is a problem with your health, you want it fixed. Right?  Just as you were not surprised that the foundation crew had a plan to fully address the problems at hand for our home owner, you should expect, in fact, demand, the same from your chiropractor. Chiropractors are not in the business of symptom relief, but rather in addressing the foundation of your health.

So why would it be that some may feel that they are being “sold” when it comes to a chiropractor recommending a “fix” (similar to how the foundation inspector did for our home owner)? There are a number of reasons that come to mind and they have to do with a misconception about health and also about chiropractic. First, most people assume that if they have no pain, aka symptoms, then there is no problem and they are healthy. When they do have pain (symptom) and it goes away, they again assume the problem is fixed or no longer present. That is why some people assume that after 2 or 3 chiropractic adjustments when their pain is dramatically reduced that the problem is fixed. This is like a home owner assuming his foundation is fixed because he put caulking around the windows and cement in the crack of the brick so he can no longer see the symptoms of the foundation problem. Symptoms are a warning sign and just because we can cover them with pills or creams or a few adjustments doesn’t me the problem is fixed. Furthermore, health is not just the absence of pain or symptoms. Anybody can just pop a pill to get rid of pain or other symptoms, but does that truly fix anything or make them healthy? Health is the full expression of the body’s ability to heal. And disease is the lack of that full expression of innate healing. We all know it is possible to be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, but never have a symptom. It is likely that you know or have heard of someone who has experience that scenario. It is just as possible that an untrained eye may have never seen anything wrong with that man’s foundation, just assuming that the changes in the house were normal with age. But just being unaware or blinded doesn’t mean the foundation problem didn’t exist.  Most likely it was getting worse each year. We all know if a problem is not truly fixed it will get worse. This is why the recommendations were made to fully fix the foundation, just as a chiropractor will make recommendations to fully address and correct spinal injuries. Do you think pain or lack of symptoms should be our only indicator of health? Should we just receive enough chiropractic care to get out of pain?

The perception about what chiropractic is and what the chiropractic adjustment does, is a second source of misunderstanding. Chiropractic is intended to promote whole body health through its ability to impact the health of the spine. Your spine is designed to protect your brain, spinal cord, and nerves, which make up your nervous system. Stress and trauma to the spine cause misalingments. Chiropractors call these misalingments, subluxations. A subluxations in the spine puts stress on the nerves and interferes with nerve function. Nerves control literally everything. If nerves are not working properly, then neither will your body. Chiropractic is least effective when used as emergency pain relief. Chiropractic therefore is not about pain, but about removing stress on the spine and nerves so that the body can work properly and heal itself. The Chiropractic adjustment works to remove that stress by improving spinal alignment and spinal health. The number of chiropractic adjustments is never judged solely on pain, but rather on a thorough evaluation, similar to the thorough evaluation done by the foundation inspector. Each chiropractic adjustment builds upon the next. Creating change in the body takes time. Think about exercising to change your appearance. It takes multiple workouts per week and months of consistency. Think about braces used to straighten teeth. It takes months to several years of wearing those braces every single day. While after a couple chiropractic adjustment most people feel dramatically better, their problem is only beginning to be addressed. It takes time and repetition to retrain and stabilize spinal subluxations. Think about hammering a nail into a board. It takes numerous hits to drive that nail in. Likely when the foundation crew was working on that man’s house they had to step back and take measurements repeatedly followed by numerous correction to get that house all level. And also very likely they will have to revisit that house from time to time to make correction throughout the years. It is true of chiropractic that regular checkups are required as maintenance once the initial phases of care have ended.

Just as you were not surprised that the foundation crew had a plan to fully address the problems at hand, you should expect the same from your chiropractor. Chiropractors are not in the business of symptom relief, but rather addressing the foundation of your health.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chiropractic is Not for Pain

Chiropractic is Not for Pain
Chiropractic has helped millions of people throughout the history of the profession with spinal injuries that cause debilitation pain and disability. Many patients of chiropractic say they love going to the chiropractor because they just feel so good after getting adjusted. The amazing success stories of crawling into the chiropractic office and walking out pain free have created a huge misunderstanding for the average person about what chiropractic is actually for. Even despite the great testimonials of patients who love their chiropractor because of how much they have helped them, chiropractic is dramatically more effective in there scenarios where individuals use chiropractic for optimal function and therefore, prevention of future problems.  Most people are aware of the famous truism stated quoted by Benjamin Franklin when he said, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This means the longer you wait the more it will cost you. So, is it less expensive to change the oil in your car or to change the engine in your car? Is it less expensive to exercise daily or have heart surgery? Is it less expensive to buy organic when necessary or pay for cancer treatment? It all boils down to the ultimate truth that prevention, or being proactive, is much more effective and much less expensive than being reactive. The same is true of the effectiveness of chiropractic. Chiropractic is awesome at promoting amazing health, but is rarely used as such, it is instead used as an emergency band-aid for chronic aches and pains. There are a number of reasons for this currently reality, including the medical professions continual attempts to unlawfully discredit chiropractors, but lets direct our focus back on establishing the truth of what chiropractic is designed for and where it is most effective.

Wellness is by definition, the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort. I would add to this definition, just for clarity, not just deliberate effort, rather deliberate preventative effort. The definition of health is in the word itself. Heal-th is the state of the body healing itself. So the question is how does chiropractic prevent? Chiropractors first recognize what controls all healing in the body is the brain through the spinal cord and nerves. Chiropractors look to correct interference in that pathway of healing. Interference in the form of spinal misalignments cause stress on the nerves. This creates a state of dis-ease on the nervous system. Since your nervous system control everything in your body, if it is not at ease then neither is your body. If this interference is left uncorrected the problem and your health just becomes worse with time. If the misalignment is corrected, the stress is removed and your brain is again able to restore normal health to the body. As we established previously, this is always much more effective and much less expensive when used preventatively. In the common scenario where the misalignment is undetected or just flat out ignored for weeks, months, and in most cases years, the possibility of complete correction is dramatically diminished. This is because the problem has progressively worsened right under your nose. Therefore chiropractic treatment at this point will need to be much more aggressive, but have only a fraction of the results as compared to if it was used to detect and prevent misalignment early on.

My hope and mission is that our office can help as many people and their entire families change their legacy of health by following the recommendation of Benjamin Franklin, and using chiropractic as a wellness tool to prevent di-ease and actively promote heal-th.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Chiropractic Care In Pregnancy

The following video is used to educate parents about the devastating effects of birth trauma on the newborn's developing nervous system. This portion of the video covers the importance of perinatal chiropractic care for the mother and baby.

Watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZh318IUZz0

Dr. Joe Colopy is a member of the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) and certified in the Webster Technique.  For more information oh how we can help you please visit our web site or give us a call at 682-2389-0625

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Thank You a Day

The health benefits of gratitude are an amazing example of just how sturdy the bridge is between the mind, body and emotions. Research shows that heart-centered feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation and caring—essentially, love—enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for, and you hold that feeling for as little as 15 to 20 seconds, many subtle and beneficial physiologic changes take place in your body. For instance:
  • Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and norepinephrine decrease, creating a cascade of beneficial metabolic changes, such as an enhanced immune system.
  • Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart.
  • Heart rhythm becomes more harmonious, which positively affects other bodily organs, and lifts your mood.
  • Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues.
Other scientific evidence that gratitude improves health comes from research accumulated by Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. Emmons found that gratitude makes people healthier, smarter and more energetic. He also showed that people who practiced gratitude daily, such as by writing in a gratitude journal, reported higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy than those who didn’t.
If all of this happens when you focus for just 15 to 20 seconds on something that brings you pleasure, joy or a feeling of gratitude, imagine what would happen to your health if you were able to cultivate thoughts of appreciation on a consistent and regular basis.

Practice Makes Perfect

Cultivating gratitude, like maintaining strong muscles and bones, takes discipline and will. That’s right: It takes practice to feel gratitude and reap its physical and emotional benefits. There are valid physiologic reasons why focusing on gratitude isn’t easy. Physically, we humans evolved along with a nervous system wired to ensure our survival by alerting us to possible danger from the occasional wild animal or violent storm—events that were relatively infrequent within a life span. Now fast-forward that same nervous system to our current era of mass media, when all of the possible dangerous events from the entire planet are beamed into our living rooms, day and night. You can see why holding thoughts of appreciation is hard.
Here’s a good way to start. Get a piece of paper and list your blessings. Pay special attention to those people who enhance your life on every level: the checkout person at your favorite grocery store; the FedEx driver; a sunny, optimistic coworker. Thanking the people who bestow these blessings on you will uplift them, and enrich your life in ways you never thought possible. The more you notice the people and things you’re grateful for, the more of them you’ll attract.
In my book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, I wrote, “Thinking with your heart takes practice, but if you faithfully learn to start thinking with your heart and pay attention to areas of your life that bring you joy and fulfillment, over time you will evoke biochemical changes in your body that will recharge your batteries.” Not only does it enhance your energy levels and reduce stress, but recognizing and appreciating life’s many blessings is one of the most powerful ways I know of to enhance the immune system, balance your hormones and promote heart health. This exercise can literally change your life.

Written by Christiane Northrup, M.D.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

More Parents Seek Chiropractic for Kids’ Chronic Conditions

Parents Turn to Chiropractic for Children's Chronic IllnessesAs a parent, there is no worse feeling than seeing your child in pain and not being able to do anything about it. Perhaps you’re concerned about the side effects of the medications or maybe even these traditional approaches to pain management haven’t helped.  Recent research suggests that more parents of children with chronic neurological conditions turning to chiropractic and other complementary and alternative therapy treatments to help their children live a normal, pain-free life.

Canadian Study Results
In one study of pediatric patients at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, Canada, and Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, researchers looked at over 200 surveys completed regarding both male and female patients with an average age of almost 10 years old. The diagnosis of the patients ranged from epilepsy to headaches to cerebral palsy.

They found that around 60% of the parents had sought some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). The most prevalent CAM methods tried were massage and chiropractic care, and multi-vitamins were the most used CAM products.

In the surveys reviewed, most participants reported that they found good health benefits with CAM and appreciated the minimal or completely non-existent side effects. They also pointed out that if you do choose to use CAM products, it is always best to disclose this to your practitioner (such as when taking multi-vitamins that may interact with a prescription).

In a prior study involving the same two hospitals, researchers reviewed 939 questionnaires completed by parents who had children with chronic illnesses there for treatment. Just as before, the parents also highly agreed that CAM products and treatments such as chiropractic care were used quite often and very effective when dealing with children who suffered with chronic conditions. The ones mentioned in the study were disorders relating to cardiology, gastroenterology, neurology, oncology, or respiratory issues.

Better Communication Equals Better Results
Both of these studies point out the benefits of using complementary and alternative medicine like chiropractic care when helping a little one deal with their chronic illness. It offers an alternative that doesn’t create negative side effects and focuses on total body health, making it perfect for children with chronic illnesses.

Galicia-Connolly E, et al. CAM Use in Pediatric Neurology: An Exploration of Concurrent Use with Conventional Medicine. PLoS One. 2014; 9(4).
Adams D, et al. Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use by Pediatric Specialty Outpatients. Pediatrics 2013; 131; 225.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What Can Be Done to Prevent Autism?

Autism Awareness month (April) is over but that does not mean we should forget about this disorder until April 2015.  Autism is an everyday reality of life for many people, including our patients.  This article discusses how and what can be done to possibly prevent Autism prior to conception, during pregnancy and during newborn and infant stages of life. Please read this and pass it along for others.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Autism?
 Written by Maureen H. McDonnell, R.N.

It’s a fact that more and more kids are showing signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) than ever before. What’s causing this epidemic is still a mystery, but we now have some strong clues about prevention and treatment, based on emerging science and parents reporting the specific treatments that have created improvement (and, in some cases, recovery) in their children.

There are many theories about why the autism rate has exploded. Some think it’s due to better diagnosis, rather than a real increase. Other people blame maternal age at the time of conception. Still others suggest that a mix of genetic predispositions and environmental factors (including a dramatic increase in the number of vaccines given before the age of 5) is a more likely cause. But while the experts debate these theories, more and more children are being negatively impacted by this condition. In the meantime, moms of affected children who want to have another child, and women who have never conceived, are asking what they can do to increase the chances of a healthy baby. Instead of waiting for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue new guidelines or policy changes, savvy individuals are examining the published scientific research and listening to parents who have improved their children’s conditions. They’re coming up with new strategies for carrying, birthing and raising healthier children.

A Sense of Urgency
During the last decade, as the debate about the causes of autism has raged, the Autism Research Institute has been gathering experts from around the world to brainstorm and research the underlying metabolic dysfunctions associated with autism, as well as safe and effective interventions to treat this condition. The founder of the Autism Research Institute (and cofounder of Defeat Autism Now), Dr. Bernie Rimland, instilled a sense of urgency in the group. Its mission is to focus on solutions that will improve the lives of children right now, rather than conduct research that would only have relevance for future generations. As a result of Dr. Rimland’s vision, many children diagnosed on the spectrum have improved and, in some instances, recovered from autism.

Research funded by ARI and other organizations revealed abnormal patterns and metabolic dysfunctions in the ASD population. They include: gastrointestinal dysfunctions (constipation, diarrhea, reflux, increased permeability, decreased enzyme production including DPP1V, abnormal microflora); neuro-inflammation (neuro-glial activation, decreased blood flow to certain parts of the brain, abnormal brain size); hormonal disturbances (including increased cortisol production, disorders of serotonin and dopamine); immune dysfunctions (including a shift from Th1 to Th2, and pro-inflammatory cytokine production); oxidative stress (decreased methylation capacity indicated by lowered methionine levels and other markers, increased homocysteine, lower levels of glutathione, increased lipid peroxidation, decreased B-12 levels); and mitochondrial dysfunction (decreased carnitine level, increased lactate levels).

As parents and clinicians work feverishly to address these abnormalities by assessing each child’s individual issues and attempting to normalize or correct their disturbances, children are improving in speech, behavior, cognition, attention and general health. In some instances, they are even recovering. But this is tremendously difficult and expensive work. Since some of these biochemical abnormalities may be preventable, more and more parents are working at optimizing their health prior to conceiving.

I’ve been a pediatric registered nurse for 33 years, during which time I’ve worked as a certified natural childbirth instructor, labor and delivery nurse, and had a private practice where I provided nutritional counseling. For ten years I coordinated the Defeat Autism Now! (DAN) conferences, interacting with hundred of parents of autistic children. These parents worked tirelessly to implement the biomedical approach (a combination of detoxification, nutritional supplements and dietary changes) to treating their children’s autism symptoms. Many of them, exhausted (and often broke) from instituting various treatments, said to me, “If only I knew then what I know now. I would have made very different choices.”

Autism can not always be prevented, of course, and no one should harbor guilt. We know there are genetic components. But we also now know that environmental toxicity and suboptimal nutrition play a role, as well. As a result of research and from parental reporting, practitioners like me have come to realize that we must build more awareness that autism can be prevented.

I believe we now know enough to encourage couples— whether they’re contemplating pregnancy, are currently pregnant or already have an infant—to implement certain precautionary principles to minimize the risk of autism. These strategies involve minimizing exposure to environmental toxins; maximizing the nutrition and general health of the mother at all stages; providing superior sources of nutrition for the infant and child; and careful, strategic and individualized consideration and use of vaccines.

Of course, there are no guarantees. However, countless parents, physicians and researchers are pooling their experience to learn what is contributing to autism, and those strategies are bringing about improvements in affected children. We now have a deep well of wisdom, science and common sense from which to draw the following safe, effective and practical recommendations for preventing autism, right now.

Prior to conception:
  1. If you are considering becoming pregnant, one of the best things you can do is to spend six months to a year improving your diet and making better lifestyle choices. You should consume organically grown grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean sources of protein. Laying the foundation for a healthy pregnancy by putting yourself in optimal shape prior to conceiving will do much to minimize the chance of miscarriage, or developing other complications of pregnancy and delivery.
  2. Many intended mothers reduce or eliminate the “white foods” (sugar, white bread, pasta, pizza and bagels), along with chemical preservatives and other processed foods, before conceiving. But because gastrointestinal problems are so common in children with autism, some women I’ve been working with are choosing to address their own GI related conditions prior to conceiving. Women with a history of candida (yeast) overgrowth, for instance—or digestive problems, gluten intolerance, food allergies, bloating, constipation or parasites—are treating these conditions before becoming pregnant. Reducing sugar consumption, minimizing the use of antibiotics, taking probiotics and using specific diets and herbs for intestinal pathogens can all be helpful in optimizing your health. These steps increase the likelihood that your child won’t be prone to GI problems.
  3. Reduce or eliminate your alcohol and caffeine intake, and eliminate tobacco.
  4. Begin (or continue) an exercise routine.
  5. Prior to conceiving, switch to using green cleaning and personal care products (e.g., shampoo, toothpaste, body lotion and facial cream). A 2006 report from the CDC found that Americans, on average, tested positively for 116 of 148 synthetic compounds, including dioxin, polycyclic hydrocarbons and organochlorine pesticides. These same substances were also found in human milk, placental tissue, umbilical cord blood, and the blood and body fat of newborns. The average American home contains 3 to 10 gallons of hazardous materials, and 85 percent of the chemicals that are registered have never been tested for their impact on the human body. (For more information on this, see the Green This! series of books by Deirdre Imus.)
  6. If your toxic load has been high (for example, if you’ve taken many prescription or over-the-counter drugs, or you work or live in a chemical-laden environment), you might want to consider a detoxification or cleansing program, such as those found at BlessedHerbs.com.
  7. If a detox program alone does not relieve fatigue, migraines or other symptoms associated with being toxic, you might want to consult a chiropractor or medical doctor familiar with nutritional and chelation protocols for a more advanced detoxification process. Contact a local M.D., N.D., D.C. or D.O. affiliated with the American Academy of Advancement in Medicine. (For a list of physicians in your area, visit ACAM.com.)
  8. If you have several mercury-based amalgam dental fillings, consider having them removed by a dentist familiar with safe procedure for the removal of dental mercury. A dentist associated with the American Holistic Dental Association (holisticdental.org) can safely remove mercury-based amalgam fillings at least 6 months before you becoming pregnant. Do not have them removed while breastfeeding.
  9. Begin taking a comprehensive multivitamin mineral supplement. One of the most comprehensive and easily absorbed prenatal supplements is OptiNatal. Start by taking one, and work up to taking six per day.
  10. Adding a source of animal-based omega-3s is also essential for optimal health. Krill oil is a popular option, as are mercury-free sources of fish oil, such as supplements like Nordic Natural or OmegaBrite.
  11. Find a “green” dry cleaner. The chemical used in most drycleaning facilities, perchlorethylene, is a known carcinogen.
  12. Drink filtered water. For more information about water filters, call NSF International at 800-673-8010, or see their website at nsf.org/Certified/DWTU. Also, visit the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website at nrdc.org/water/drinking/ gfilters.asp.
  13. Use a stainless-steel water bottle to carry and consume filtered water. Whether they’re heated or not, soft plastic bottles will release phthalates. Antimony can also be released from polyethylene terephthalate.
  14. Limit your mercury intake by minimizing the consumption of large fish. For mercury levels of fish, visit gotmercury.org.
  15. To build beneficial microflora, consume more fermented foods and take high quality probiotics. In addition to improving levels of beneficial intestinal flora, these have been shown to decrease intestinal absorption of certain chemicals by facilitating their excretion. See BodyEcologyDiet.com.
  16. Improve indoor air quality in your home or office by opening the windows and creating cross ventilation.
  17. Test your vitamin D levels, and add additional vitamin D3 if necessary. Many studies support higher levels of Vitamin D than what was previously recommended. This boosts your immune system, cardio and neurological function.
  18. Eat a diet rich in colorful, organically grown vegetables. This will provide an adequate intake of antioxidants to fight off the damaging effects of free radicals. Juicing organic vegetables is a great alternative if you find it daunting to consume the daily recommended 41/2 cups of veggies and fruit.
  19. If anticipating pregnancy, I would also suggest you avoid the flu shot and any other vaccine for a year prior to conception.
  20. Minimize your exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Computers, TVs and cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation, so do not sleep with these in your bedroom. Use cell phones only when necessary, and keep your phone in your pocketbook, rather than in your pocket.
  21. Do what is reasonable to green your home and minimize exposure to EMFs and toxins in your food, water and cleaning products. If you’re planning to remodel your house, or are building a new home, try to select no-VOC paints and sustainable wood instead of composites or resin-based products. Minimize your exposure to building materials, and allow outgasing of new materials.
  22. Begin regular chiropractic care with a family wellness practitioner. The specific adjustments will begin optimizing your nerve and immune system function and balancing your pelvic muscles and ligaments.

During Pregnancy:
  1. Continue a high-quality organic diet that eliminates, or greatly reduces, sugar and other processed foods.
  2. Continue to take a comprehensive, natural and easily absorbed multivitamin with at least 1,800 milligrams of calcium and 800 mg of folic acid. You might want to consider adding 2,000 IU or more of Vitamin D. Continue (or begin) taking a mercury-free source of omega-3, fish oil and probiotics.
  3. If possible, avoid dental work while pregnant—especially the removal or insertion of amalgam fillings.
  4. If possible, avoid antibiotics and other over-the-counter and prescription medication. There is no pharmaceutical drug on the market that has been proven safe for pregnancy. A new study, published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, shows that antidepressants are especially dangerous to take during pregnancy.
  5. Continue an exercise program to improve circulation and stimulate peristalsis. Intestinal motility slows as a result of pregnancy hormones, so, in order to continue having good bowel movements, daily exercise is essential. In addition, take good sources of fiber, such as ground flaxseed, psyllium husks, bran, nuts, whole grains and seeds.
  6. Eat a diet that contains at least 80 grams of protein per day. High-quality, organic, lean sources of protein include turkey, chicken, nuts, meat, eggs and whey protein powder for smoothies. Divide them up into four or five 2-ounce servings.
  7. Always have a protein-rich snack on hand for any dips in blood sugar.
  8. Avoid the flu vaccine or any other immunizations. If you’re RH negative and require Rhogam, ask to see the package insert to make sure there is no thimerosal in the vaccine.
  9. If you get sick, rest. Drink lots of hot water with lemon; take extra vitamin C, and possibly use echinacea drops. (Do not use goldenseal during pregnancy.)
  10. Interview midwives and or obstetricians until you find one who makes you feel comfortable and empowered. Home birth is an option that is not right for everyone. However, a 2005 study published in the British Medical Journal found that natural birth, at home, with certified practicing midwives is safe for low-risk mothers and their babies. The study followed 5,000 mothers in the U.S. and Canada, and found that these home births with low-risk mothers had much lower rates of medical interventions when compared to the intervention rates for low-risk mothers giving birth in hospitals.
  11. Avoid unnecessary ultrasounds—which may include all ultrasounds. There are no conclusive studies showing that ultrasounds are safe in pregnancy. Of greater concern are the studies showing how prenatal ultrasound affects brain development. Even standard, routine ultrasounds are not medically necessary and have not been shown to improve birth outcomes. Issue No. 22 of Pathways has an informative article on the potential relationship between ultrasound and autism.
  12. Minimize intrusive procedures during labor (such as induction with Pitocin, pain meds, epidurals, forceps, C-sections and early cord clamping) by researching them and discussing with your midwife or doctor which procedures you wish to avoid, if possible, and which ones you wish to have be part of your labor and birth experience. Pathways No. 21 has an article that relates many of these often unnecessary procedures to an increased risk of autism.
  13. Choose your birth care providers wisely. Rather than selecting a provider or place of birth because of insurance coverage, select providers who will support your philosophical core beliefs about birth. Decisions made about “necessary treatment” vary drastically between home birth midwives, birth center midwives and obstetricians. Define your values and beliefs, and then seek a provider accordingly.
  14. Start childbirth classes early. Seek classes outside of the hospital, with independent groups that offer support and knowledge about natural birthing. Additionally, finding a birth-support doula is essential for a better birth outcome. The perceived need for medication can be eliminated with proper breathing and relaxation techniques and adequate support during birth. Additional information on natural labor and birth procedures is available in Pathways No. 24.
  15. There is a higher risk of autism in cesarean-delivered babies. So, although it’s tempting to think of skipping labor, labor is actually mother nature’s way of preparing the child for life outside the womb. The baby’s neurological function is enhanced by naturally passing through the birth canal and through cranial molding.
  16. Walk during labor, and stay in an upright position or on all fours for pushing and delivery. This will greatly maximize your pelvis’ ability to easily open and birth, minimizing the need for doctor assisted pulling, the forceful use of forceps, and vacuum extraction. Any form of pulling and rotation to the baby’s delicate spine in labor may have a lasting affect on her future nerve system function.
  17. Interview several pediatricians during your pregnancy to find one who accepts your views on health and is open to discussing and giving careful consideration to invasive care with drugs and vaccines. Today, many parents are seeking providers outside of the typical allopathic model, choosing instead holistic practices that offer safer, more natural options to achieve health and well-being.
  18. Continue regular chiropractic care on a weekly basis with a doctor who caters to pregnant women. This will optimize both your nerve system function and your pelvic biomechanics in preparation for an easier, safer birth.

During the newborn and infant stages:
  1. Bond with your baby as much as possible. You will need your sleep, so rest when you can. But be sure to hold and talk to your infant as often as possible. Co-sleeping is an option many parents are adopting to ensure continued contact with their babies.
  2. Breastfeeding is one of the best ways to not only provide optimal nutrition, but to ensure there is a good amount of bonding time between mother and child. While breastfeeding, keep up your excellent dietary habits of 6 to 9 servings of colorful, antioxidant-rich veggies and fruit, 80 to 100 grams of high-quality protein sources (divided into four or five 2-ounce servings) and plenty (6 to 8 glasses) of filtered water per day.
  3. Wear your baby as often as possible, utilizing various baby carriers. Having you baby held close allows them comfort, emotional ease and, very importantly, constant motion. These factors all strengthen and enhance neurological development in your baby.
  4. Because birth is strenuous on both the mother and baby, you should both be checked by a qualified chiropractor shortly after birth. Spinal alignment is essential for your healthy recovery and continued stamina. Your baby’s cranial and spinal development will affect her nerve system function for the rest of her life. Early care supports strong nerve and immune system function.
  5. Consume extra fiber to ensure a good bowel movement each day.
  6. Purchase an organic crib and or bed mattress. Be aware of bedding and clothing treated with flame retardants, as they contain high levels of antimony and other toxic substances.
  7. Continue taking multivitamin and fish-oil supplements with extra vitamin D if your blood work shows a deficiency.
  8. Unless you are positive for hepatitis B, there is no need for your newborn to receive the hep B vaccine in the nursery or within the first few months of life.
  9. I would suggest you avoid all vaccines until the child is older, and then make an informed decision about each one based on its potential affects to your child’s immune, digestive and neurological systems. This issue of Pathways has an outstanding article on informed choice by Barbara Loe Fisher, cofounder of National Vaccine Information Center. [See page 52.]
  10. To minimize the possibility that your child will develop food allergies, postpone the introduction of solids until at least 6 months. When it is time to introduce solids, only use organic vegetables. Steam them and purée them in a blender. You can make batches of these and freeze them in ice cube trays. Introduce each new food no sooner than 4 days apart to make sure there is no reaction. After a few weeks, you can begin introducing fruits. Grains should not be introduced until the baby has teeth. Before teeth appear, babies do not have the digestive enzyme to assimilate grains. If you have a history of eczema, food allergies, celiac or autism, avoid dairy, soy and gluten grains (such as wheat, barley, oats, rye and Kamut).
  11. Continue breastfeeding for at least one year (preferably two). A child’s own immune system does not kick in until they are about 18 months of age, and your breastmilk offers the best immune system support available. Contact your local La Leche League for support and knowledge before and during the breastfeeding period.

Regarding Vaccines

Almost every article about autism and vaccines printed in the mainstream media states that all studies have shown there is absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. This is simply not true. There is good science pointing to a connection, including studies published in Toxicological & Environmental Chemistry and The New England Journal of Medicine. More important, there are thousands of parents of sick children who can tell you they had a normal child until he or she received several vaccines in one day, or that their child was vaccinated despite being ill. More research needs to be done, but these accounts by intelligent, observant parents cannot be discounted. To me, these reports are of equal or greater importance to any scientific study.

Parents are choosing which vaccines to give after careful consideration of their child’s history and genetic background. If a child was born prematurely, for instance, or has had recurrent ear infections, or if the parents have a history of autoimmune disorders or allergies—these are all indicators that the infant or toddler may not respond well to a vaccine (and certainly not when several are given at one time). I’d like to suggest discussing all of this with your pediatrician, but, unfortunately, most would not agree to postpone, spread out, or avoid vaccines based on a family history or current illness. As a matter of fact, I have heard several respected pediatricians say that a child’s immune system can handle hundreds of vaccines in one day. Honestly, what are these people thinking? And where are the studies proving their theory? They don’t exist!

If you do decide to give a vaccine, make sure your child has not been ill recently, or is not coming down with something. You also shouldn’t give a vaccine if the child is (or recently was) taking antibiotics. Ask for single-dose vials of the vaccines, and give them one at a time. There are no long-term studies showing that giving multiple vaccines at once is a safe practice. I also suggest, prior to vaccinating, that you prime your child’s immune system with immune-protective nutrients. Give 250 mg of vitamin C, 2 or 3 echinacea drops and 1/2 teaspoon cod-liver oil each day for a few days, before and after the vaccine. For more information, please download the pdf “A Safer Way to Vaccinate,” at sokhop.com/pdf/a_safer_way_to_vaccinate.pdf.

If you decide not to vaccinate, know you are among a growing group of parents who are shifting their paradigm of health from a fear-based, disease model to a vitalistic, trust-based wellness model. Although you may sometimes feel isolated, there are many parents making this shift, and support and updated information are available. On the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (icpa4kids.org) and Holistic Pediatric Association (hpakids.org) websites, you can find listings of providers who have have committed their practices to be a resource for vitalistic family wellness options. There you can find information, support and holistic care congruent with your choices.

We don’t have all the answers. No one does. But we should consider the research that has already be done, and the stories of improvement and recovery told by parents who have already traveled this difficult path. Let’s apply common-sense precautionary principles as we prepare for and enter motherhood. If we wait for all of the research to be conclusive, or for public health policy makers to issue new edicts and catch up to what many smart and observant parents, researchers and physicians already know, how many more children will be unnecessarily affected by autism? The time to prevent autism is now.

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