What Can We Learn from the Tragic Story of Dr. Semmelweis?

Numerous parents have reported that a child of theirs experienced digestive disturbance and a regression in behavior following the MMR vaccine. This observation made by parents has been discarded because “correlation is not causation”. Yet consistent observations of loving parents should give the medical field pause and a reason to do deeper study.

In 1846 Ignaz Semmelweis was an intern at Vienna General Hospital. He noticed that the death rate of women from childbirth fever was 10 times greater if they were under the care of a doctor, instead of a midwife. The doctors had a 15% mortality rate compared to the midwives’ 1.5% mortality rate. [DeLee p. 382] The death from childbirth fever seemed to correlate with the type of practitioner.

Dr. Semmelweis eventually became the obstetrician in charge of all the autopsies done on women who has succumbed to childbirth fever at Vienna General Hospital. He saw a connection between doctors performing autopsies in the morning and then managing the care of women in labor. The doctors and medical students performed internal exams on laboring women with the same hands that had dissected a body for an autopsy.

Dr. Semmelweis wrote letters and gave lectures on the importance of hand washing. This was taking place before bacteria were discovered, before germ theory was understood. He knew there was a connection between hands that had touched dead bodies and the development of childbirth fever (also known as puerperal fever). But few believed him. In fact he was ridiculed and scorned by many in the medical profession. Women continued to die.

According to an account in Sherwin Nuland’s book, The Doctor’s Plague, young women coming to Vienna General Hospital were aware of the mortality of women in labor whose care was directed by doctors. They begged to have midwife care. They saw a correlation. They knew they had a better chance for surviving childbirth with the midwives.

In the book, Genius Belabored: Childbirth Fever and the Tragic Life of Ignaz Semmelweis, Theodore Obenchain writes: It seems incredible that so many seemingly intelligent people of medicine could have been so grievously wrong for so many decades.

Ever since the MMR vaccine became part of the immunization schedule in 1979, parents have observed the side effects of the MMR vaccine. Not every child, but enough children to raise a red flag. (see my story)  

The observations by the parents are not off the wall. In fact the studies done on 834 children leading up to the licensing of the MMR vaccine showed gastrointestinal symptoms in a significant percentage of the children. But these symptoms were only followed for 42 days, despite some children continuing to have symptoms.

When parents brought their observations to Dr. Andrew Wakefield, he felt that further study was  needed. See the video of Dr. Wakefield (and the argument against him) that took place on Australian 60 Minutes. Click here.

The CDC did do a study with the purpose of proving that there was no link between the MMR and autism. Whistleblower, Dr. William Thompson, who participated in the study states that pertinent data was destroyed.

In the past five years research on the microbiome has led to discovery of a connection between the gut and the immune system. What impact does the MMR have on the gut (gastro-intestines)? Is there a connection to the regressive behavior that some children experience?

It scares me when I consider the number of children that have chronic illnesses, the number of children on the autism spectrum. Parents will continue to pursue answers. The government and the medical field must look deeper at the concerns parents are raising.

DeLee, Joseph B. M.D., Obstetrics for Nurses, Philadelphia; W.B. Saunders Co. 1927

Nuland, Sherwin B. M.D., The Doctor’s Plague: Germs, Childbirth Fever and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis

Obenchain, Theodore M.D., Genius Belabored: Childbirth Fever and the Tragic Life of Ignaz Semmelweis, Tuscaloosa; The University of Alabama Press, 2016

Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public Health Service, Food and Drug Administration. Reference Nos 76-316, 77-303, 77-304

Always More to Learn

On Fridays I respond to a writing prompt that Kate Motaung gives. Over the past 24 hours I have mulled over the word given and am finally tapping the keys of my computer. The prompt is: COMPLETE

We spent a week at my daughter’s home—taking care of the grandkids, the dog, the cat & kittens, the fish and the butterflies. We had a good time, although we felt our age.

My daughter and her husband were at a medical conference while we were caring for their household. I thought about what she told me about the conference. She told me that the conference sessions affirmed the choices I had made as a mom when she was a toddler.

When she was 15 months old her health deteriorated after multiple courses of antibiotics and the vaccines given on schedule. I wrote about the stomach pain and the way her speech and behavior regressed after the MMR on this page of my blog.

At the time the pediatrician advised more medications. The gastroenterologist said that I was an over involved mother. He wanted me to admit this child to the hospital, leave her in his care for a week. This doctor told me I should stay home with my other children.

My husband and I took her to a different gastroenterologist who performed an intestinal biopsy while we stayed at the hospital. He said there were red patches on the lining of the intestine but he found nothing that he could diagnose.

During this time I was praying for God’s guidance.

I continued to journal all the meals and snacks that I offered. I wrote down the timing of the episodes of gas and abdominal pain and adjusted her diet.   Through a friend in the  Mothers  of  Twins  Club  I found  an  allergy/alternative medicine doctor. He guided us in treating the food intolerances and choosing supplements that would help.

I am thankful for the answers to prayer.

Now my daughter, as an adult and pediatric nurse practitioner, is grateful for the path we took.

As a nurse I am aware of changes in practice that have occurred because someone challenged accepted practice. It took many years for the importance of hand washing promoted by Dr. Semmelweis to be accepted. He observed that doctors were going from patient to patient and sometimes from an autopsy without washing their hands. He said that the failure to wash hands was causing childbirth fever. Despite the papers that he wrote, the lectures that he gave, he was ignored by many in the medical profession.

When I started working in labor and delivery making a cut in the pelvic floor—an episiotomy—during delivery was routine. Midwives have shown the benefit of delivering without an episiotomy. Routine episiotomy is no longer the rule.

Antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s. They successfully treated infections and before long they were being over prescribed. It took many years for the medical profession to see the effects of the over use of antibiotics.

Science is never complete. There is always more to learn.

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Ancient Wisdom, New Life and the Love Hormone

Could the book of Job be a description of  God’s  design for  the  earth   following the flood? Currently I am reading  The Remarkable Record of Job*  by Henry Morris.   Throughout the book he points out amazing insights about our world, offered in this Old Testament book of the Bible.

Morris theorizes that  Job  lived before  Moses  and possibly before   Abraham. The book makes reference to the great flood (Job 22:15-16). Prior to the flood the earth was covered in a mist, but following the flood a new water cycle was established. Dr. Morris reflects on passages that describe this great change. Job records references to wind, water vapor, clouds and rain.

He [God] binds up the waters in his thick clouds, and the clouds are not split open under them. Job 26:8

For He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything  under  the    heavens. When he gave to the wind its weight and apportioned the waters by measure, when he made a decree for the rain and a way for the lightning of the thunder, then he saw it and declared it; he established it and searched it out. Job 28: 24-27

Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of Him who is perfect in knowledge . . . Job 37: 15-16

Dr. Morris, a scientist,  wrote a fascinating book that points to the details of God’s creation which we continue to discover. As a nurse I realize that we are still learning about the wisdom of God’s design for childbirth.

Once again  I was in awe of the miracle of new life  when  I  attended the birth of our seventh grandchild!

My daughter was able to go through labor with supportive care, but without medication or interventions. She gave birth to a healthy son.

The baby was placed on her chest, skin to skin, immediately after the birth. The baby stimulated her body to release the hormone, oxytocin, which is produced in the brain. This hormone has a calming effect and also stimulates the womb to contract. She did not need to have pitocin (a synthetic form of oxytocin) given intravenously.

Oxytocin has several of purposes.  It stimulates uterine contractions,    reducing bleeding. It enhances bonding between mother and baby.   It is involved in the let-down reflex that occurs during breastfeeding.

Kelly Brogan M.D. discusses the difference between oxytocin, an endogenous hormone, and pitocin in an article here.

Another article  (American College of Nurse-Midwives)  calls for more   research on oxytocin and pitocin. Click here.

A Swedish doctor has written a book titled The Oxytocin Factor:Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing.  Throughout the book Dr. Moberg cites the research that she has done at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She lists the factors that enhance the body’s release of calming oxytocin: gentle touch; massage; quiet environment; various scents and music. For a brief review of the book, click here.

It is a common practice to give pitocin prophylactically following birth. My daughter requested that it not be given routinely.

Praise the Lord for this healthy birth!

We are thankful for the availability of modern medicine, but give praise to God for his marvelous design for childbirth.

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*Henry M. Morris Ph.D, The Remarkable Record of Job, Master Books:Green Forest, AR, 2000.

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