Disgraced former physician Andrew Wakefield is keynote speaker at upcoming chiropractic "pediatrics" conference

Disgraced former physician Andrew Wakefield is keynote speaker at upcoming chiropractic "pediatrics" conference

Disgraced former British physician and anti-vaccination crank Andrew Wakefield will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming International Chiropractors Association (ICA) Annual Conference on Chiropractic Pediatrics, December 9-11 (at the Ritz Carlton Kapalua, in Maui, no less), put on by the ICA's Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics. The topic of his talk is "Whistleblowing in the Patient's Interest: Research Vaccines, Autism and More." There will also be a showing of the anti-vaccination propaganda "documentary," VAXXED, Wakefield's film Valentine to himself. (For more criticism from other sources, additional links can be found here.)

Given its long-standing anti-vaccination ideology and the fact that chiropractic is based pseudoscience, Wakefield no doubt finds chiropractors an easy target for his thoroughly discredited claims of a vaccine-autism connection, now boosted by the equally thoroughly discredited claim of a "cover-up" at the CDC.

That Wakefield perceives himself as a victim, rather than the perpetrator of a fraud causing a resurgence of vaccine-preventable disease that continues to this day, is clear from his Conference bio:

"In the pursuit of possible links between childhood vaccines, autism, intestinal inflammation, and neurological injury in children, Dr. Wakefield lost his job, his career, his fellowships, and his medical license."

For good reason, of course, but the bio conveniently leaves out the well-documented factual basis for those actions. He also now bills himself as a "film producer/director."

Stripped of his medical license in the U.K., Wakefield needs to earn a living doing something, so he's made a career out of promoting himself and his crank anti-vaccination nonsense through paid appearances, propaganda films and books. If the anti-vaccination movement went away tomorrow, Wakefield is so reviled outside his own echo chamber I imagine that he'd be hard-pressed to find another job. Hence, he must keep his personal myths (that he is unjustly persecuted and will ultimately be proven right) and those of the anti-vaccination movement alive, even if it means giving talks to chiropractors and on "Conspira-Sea" cruises. In fact, this is not his first appearance before chiropractic "pediatricians." In 2014, Wakefield, along with his partner in spreading vaccine misinformation, Barbara Loe Fisher, were featured speakers at the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association (ICPA) annual conference.  He also joined with chiropractors to oppose state laws limiting vaccination exemptions.

Borrowing the nomenclature, but not the substance, of real medicine and its specialties, the ICA offers a "Diplomate" in "Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics," which can be had after less than 400 hours of classroom and on-line instruction, with almost no actual contact with patients. This faux specialty is also recognized by the larger American Chiropractic Association (ACA). The ICPA has its own "Diplomate" program, with similarly scanty requirements.

Chiropractic pediatrics is based on the same faulty foundation as chiropractic treatment of adults: the pseudoscientific notion that just about anything, including birth, can cause the putative "subluxation" in a child's spine. These phantom subluxations can cause actual disease, according to chiropractors, who treat children by "adjusting" them, claiming this is effective for a host of conditions like asthma, ear infections, bedwetting, allergies, colic, Tourette Syndrome, and ADHD. They also say that regular "spinal checkups" and "adjustments" are necessary to keep your child healthy. An article in the Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics recommends that children visit the chiropractor 6-12 times annually. Care of pregnant patients falls under this "specialty" as well, including the Webster Technique, which chiropractors claim can turn a breech baby. All of this is the most extraordinary nonsense and, unfortunately, perfectly legal throughout the U.S.

For a pediatrics conference, the ICA's agenda is pretty thin gruel. In addition to Wakefield, presenters will give talks on headaches, infant adjusting techniques, proper coding for reimbursement, "epigenetics" (which, one imagines, has little to nothing to do with the real science of epigenetics), movement, "the limbic system and childhood stress," and "fetal position." There will also be a presentation of 7 (yes, 7!) research papers.

Given chiropractors' relentless promotion of themselves as "wellness" and "prevention" experts, it is interesting to compare this puny schedule to that of the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics Conference selection of presentations, which included, among many others, obesity prevention, parenting, sports and fitness, breastfeeding support, nutrition, health promotion, tobacco use prevention, school readiness and, of course, science-based information on immunization.

Wakefield, who was at one time a practicing physician, most certainly knows that chiropractic "pediatrics" is based on rank pseudoscience. I have to wonder how he feels about being around people who call themselves "doctors" and "physicians," yet who actually believe that "birth trauma" causes "subluxations" and that "adjustments" to a neonate's spine is necessary soon after birth to prevent fabricated threats to the infant's health. I have to imagine it makes his skin crawl, but I suppose that's a small price to pay for keeping his myths alive. Without his myths, Andrew Wakefield is just a thoroughly reviled former physician who helped unravel the medical safety net that keeps children from becoming sick and dying.

Points of Interest 12/03/2016
Points of Interest 12/03/2016

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