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There's an interesting story about a doctor in Hungary named Semmelweis who discovered that hand washing before treating pregnant women, reduced the number of deaths from puerperal fever. In the clinics for the wealthy, medical students performed autopsies on women who died the day before, and then in the afternoon attended to pregnant women without washing, thereby spreading infection. In clinics where midwives attended to pregnant women, the incidence of death from puerperal fever was much lower.

Dr. Semmelweis made the connection and developed a hand washing protocol which dramatically lowered the rates of death in both clinics. He was ridiculed and eventually had a nervous breakdown and was possibly beaten to death in an insane asylum. His replacement at the hospital undid his changes and mortality rates went up. His methods were only adopted after his death.

At the time, before microbes were understood, it must have seemed like homeopathy to say that some "essence" from the dead people was being carried to the mothers. There's a reaction named after him. From Wikipedia: The Semmelweis reflex or "Semmelweis effect" is a metaphor for the reflex-like rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms, beliefs or paradigms.

http://www.wikiwak.com/wak/Ignaz_Semmelweis

Something to think about
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
Hi Alex,
Thanks for this interesting, thought provoking post. I had only known about Pasteur and Lister regarding antisepsis. I do enjoy reading medical history. I am currently reading The Age of Autism: Mercury, Medicine and a Manmade Epidemic, which investigates the use of Mercury in Medicine through the ages, very interesting stuff. ( have AS son so I am more interested than some, I guess) BTW, the Autism community also has skeptics dismissing new ideas.
What do you think about the MMR/Autism controversy? We were living in England at that time and had to decide whether to get our kids vaccinated. We got the both vaccinated with the MMR and didn't have any issues, but it sure frightened us at the time.
Alex

Diagnosis: Jan 2010, OMS April 2010.
My husband didn't get the MMR because of that scare story - I think the media enjoy hyping things up to make people frightened, because then they'll buy more newspapers.
I'm with you on the importance of not automatically rejecting new ideas just because they're at odds with the existing consensus - but I've also met some crazy people who seem to automatically accept some ideas as the Gospel truth regardless of evidence, just *because* they're controversial (I guess because some people have had such bad experiences with conventional medicine that they support anything which goes against it - kind of like "the enemy of my enemy is my friend")
Thank you for posting. Vitamin D springs to mind. Is it to MS what handwashing was to peurperal fever?
Alex wrote: What do you think about the MMR/Autism controversy? We were living in England at that time and had to decide whether to get our kids vaccinated. We got the both vaccinated with the MMR and didn't have any issues, but it sure frightened us at the time.



Alex,
All I know is there are so many who report regression in their children after getting the MMR, (15 mo.) hard to ignore. I do not think vaccines were at fault for our son, he was 6 mo. old and started having seizures, started medication at a year and then we noticed developmental delays. At 3 yrs, he had 1.5 yr language delay along with fine and gross motor delays. So was it vaccine reaction that started the seizures or was it the seizure medications that caused the delays? He is now 14 yrs. and has mostly caught up, but still needs social coaching, he is doing great and no more seizures :D
I wanted to add that I think vaccines should be given one at a time, on separate occasions.
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