Posts Tagged ‘ Jenny McCarthy ’

Jenny McCarthy on The View: Anti-Vaccine Views Get a Platform

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

The following post is by Darshak Sanghavi, M.D., a contributing editor to Parents and author of A Map of the Child: A Pediatrician’s Tour of the BodyJenny McCarthy

Barbara Walters announced earlier this week that Jenny McCarthy will begin co-hosting The View this fall, taking one of the chairs vacated by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Joy Behar.  Walters said in a statement that McCarthy “brings us intelligence as well as warmth” and “can be serious and outrageous.”

This decision has outraged many pediatricians and public health experts. For years, McCarthy has been one of the most public faces of the deadly anti-vaccine movement. The notion that vaccines cause autism has been discredited thoroughly. The British doctor who first proposed a link 15 years ago was found to engage in “callous disregard,” his article was retracted as erroneous by the journal that published it, and almost every author of the work has distanced themselves from it. However, the belief in a vaccine-autism link has survived with religious fervor ever since.

McCarthy isn’t the only Hollywood type to spout anti-vaccine nonsense (Chuck Norris and Rob Schneider have joined the bandwagon), but McCarthy even scorns reports of children dying of vaccine-preventable illnesses as a necessary price for her advocacy. “I do believe, sadly, it’s going to take some disease coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,” she blithely told Jeffrey Kluger of Time in 2009. (Only a month earlier, 1-month-old Dana McCaffery had died of whooping cough in an area with low vaccination rates in Australia. Over the past few years, vaccine-preventable illnesses and deaths have been tracked by jennymccarthybodycount.com.)

As Discover magazine points out, McCarthy’s concern about vaccine-related danger to brain cells is ironic, given she has no problem with getting regular cosmetic injections with the most potent neurotoxin known to mankind.

A spokesperson for The View said McCarthy would be free to discuss her anti-vaccine views on air. But why does any of this matter? After all, what parent gets their medical advice from The View?

The truth is that, for better or worse, celebrities have the power to influence people. In 2000, after her husband died of colon cancer, Today show host Katie Couric underwent an on-air screening colonoscopy, and nationally for about a year, colonoscopy rates suddenly jumped by 50 percent. Pop singer Kylie Minogue’s diagnosis of breast cancer led to a 20 percent jump in mammograms in Australia. When storylines about genetic testing for breast cancer appeared in Grey’s Anatomy and ER in 2006, viewers’ knowledge increased. Like it or not, celebrities have powerful effects on people’s health behavior and beliefs.

Still, one might argue: What is the harm in having McCarthy discuss her vaccine beliefs on The View? After all, people can hear all sides of the so-called “controversy” and make up their own minds. But as social scientists point out, repeating a claim–even if one’s trying to debunk it–only increases its apparent truthfulness. In other words, even if someone says a claim is wrong, hearing it over and over again makes people think it’s true. (A similar example concerns the untrue rumor that President Barack Obama is Muslim. The more it’s denied, the more some people tend to believe it.) That is the danger of giving McCarthy a platform to repeat her anti-vaccine claims to 3 million television viewers. No matter what the other hosts may say, a sizeable number of viewers will question and refuse vaccination for their children as a result.

It’s too bad that among the many intelligent, sassy, and provocative women the ABC could have chosen, they hired someone whose work has the potential to endanger children’s health. So for now, I’ll just hope that McCarthy keeps her erroneous vaccine beliefs to herself.

Image: Jenny McCarthy, via Shutterstock

Add a Comment

10 Celebrity Moms Who Make a Difference

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Celebrity Moms Who Make a DifferenceThis post was written by our friends at Celebrity Baby Scoop.

Three cheers for the following 10 celebrity moms who are making a big difference!

From donating to the relief efforts after natural disasters, to advocating for autism awareness, to building an all-girls school in Africa, take a look through our list of 10 celebrity moms who are giving back and making our world a better place.

Jenny McCarthy:

Love her or hate her, Jenny McCarthy has become one of the strongest voices for children with autism with her charitable organization Generation Rescue.  The activist mama told Celebrity Baby Scoop that her unofficial role as the celebrity spokesperson on the topic is nothing short of a blessing. “Anytime you can do something that serves the greater good and make a difference, you should act,” the mom-of-one said. “So, what I thought was a hardship in my life, I now see as a blessing because I can reach so many people.”

Jenny’s son Evan, 9, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 ½-years-old. The single mom has publicly spoken about the possible link between childhood vaccinations and autism. She is also well-known for saying that children can “recover” from autism.

Has the community embraced her since Evan’s recovery — and her controversial statement?

“My story of Evan’s recovery is not unique, there are thousands of parents before me whose shoulders I stand on today,” Jenny said. “I’m just as active today as when Evan recovered from autism. I still travel the country lecturing on autism, am the president and board member of Generation Rescue and actively fundraise throughout the country for the foundation. My journey now is for the other parents whose voice hasn’t been heard.”

Amanda Peet:

Something’s Gotta Give star Amanda Peet joined forces with American Red Cross to talk about the Measles Initiative. Unlike Jenny McCarthy, Amanda has long been outspoken on advocating for childhood vaccinations. “Every day, 450 children in this world die from measles – a disease that is entirely preventable with a vaccine,” Amanda told Celebrity Baby Scoop. “We have an actual cure, yet innocent children are still dying at alarming numbers.” She added: “Why? I learned why… The measles vaccine may exist, but many parents and children in this world do not have access to that cure. They live in remote villages, in countries with weak and inadequate health care systems. Routine immunization is a foreign concept altogether.”

The actress – who is mom to daughters Frankie, nearly 5, and Molly, 1- continued on the importance of childhood vaccinations. “Can you imagine watching your child die from a disease that a simple vaccine could have cured? It is not right. We take so much for granted in this country. When my children were born, my husband and I made the choice to vaccinate them against measles. Why shouldn’t other parents have that same choice and that same peace of mind? Why shouldn’t those children be protected the way mine are?”

“The good news is that groups like the American Red Cross  and the United Nations joined together in 2001 and formulated a plan to bring mass measles vaccination campaigns to countries and villages all over the world,” Amanda continued. “For two years, I have been a volunteer with the American Red Cross, advocating on behalf of its Measles Initiative, a partnership committed to reducing measles deaths globally.”

Gwen Stefani:

The original Harajuku Lover, Gwen Stefani, dug deep into her pockets after the devastation in Japan.

The mom of 5-year-old Kingston and 3-year-old Zuma donated $1 million to Save the Children’s Japan Earthquake-Tsunami Children in Emergency Fund to help with recovery efforts in the devastated nation. “I’ve been inspired by Japan for many years and have a true love, appreciation and respect for the Japanese people and their culture,” Gwen said. “The disaster in Japan is beyond heartbreaking, and I want to do anything I can to help. I would never be able to make a gesture like this without the love and support of all the fans over all these years.”

Sandra Bullock:

Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock was one of the first celebrities to donate toward the Japan tsunami relief. The mom of 1-year-old Louis donated $1 million to the important cause.

And that’s not the first time she’s helped out after a natural disaster. She was also involved in the disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. “Half of my family has a deep-rooted connection to the South and Louisiana, and, for me, New Orleans is one of our most precious, historic communities — visually, emotionally, artistically,” Sandy B has said.

(more…)

Add a Comment

Original Study Linking Autism and Vaccines a ‘Fraud’

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

In 1998, a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield published a research paper suggestion autism in children was linked to the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine.  The groundbreaking research was published in The Lancet, a medical journal specialzing in oncology, neurology, and infectious diseases. 

While some medical professionals were skeptical of the research results and discredited it, some doctors and parents voiced their support for the research and became suspicious about other vaccines.   Some moms, including celeb mom Jenny McCarthy, became pickier about vaccinations or stopped vaccinating their children completely.

Even though The Lancet retracted Dr. Wakefield’s research in early 2010, a recent editorial in the the British Medical Journal has publicly denounced Dr. Wakefield’s research as “fraudulent.”  The editorial asserts that Dr. Wakefield “falsified data” and tampered with his research results to give the (MMR) vaccine bad publicity.  At the time, Dr. Wakefield was involved in a lawsuit against the manufacturers of the (MMR) vaccine and would have gained money for winning–an obvious conflict of interest.

After the research was released in 1998, there was a sharp decrease in parents giving their children the (MMR) vaccine.  Even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 90% of children in the United States are vaccinated, mumps remain the second most common disease that can be easily vaccinated.  Also, in 2008, reports for measles reached an all-time high since 1997, and about 90% of the kids with measles hadn’t been vaccinated.

Since Dr. Wakefield has been unable to reproduce his research results and there are no other conclusive studies, there is no proof that autism is linked to the (MMR) vaccine or other vaccines.  However, the new information has lead parents to wonder if they should have vaccinated their children, while doctors are disturbed how one study prevented children from getting necessary medical attention.

More Health Content on Parents.com:

As a parent, do you believe autism is still linked to vaccinations ? Do you vaccinate your children and will you continue to do so? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Add a Comment

The Jenny McCarthy Effect

Monday, November 8th, 2010

imagesIn 2009, the number of kids in commercial health plans who were vaccinated dropped almost four percentage points. This finding comes from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a nonprofit dedicated to improving healthcare quality. One reason for the decrease, suggests NCQA, is what some call the Jenny McCarthy effect: the unproven theories connecting vaccines to autism, put out loudly by celebrities like Jenny. “The drop in childhood vaccinations is disturbing because parents are rejecting valuable treatment based on misinformation,” says NCQA president Margaret O’Kane.

This finding made me think about a talk I heard at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference last month. Paul Offit, M.D., chief of the division of infectious diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, was talking to a packed room of doctors about vaccine exemptions. He said that when growing numbers of parents choose not to immunize their children because of religious or other non-medical reasons, there’s one nearly guaranteed outcome: Unwanted diseases start coming back. He gave several examples of recent outbreaks, including measles, mumps, and Hib (which is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis). They’ve all cropped up in communities where parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children.

Dr. Offit also took “alternative vaccine schedules” to task, citing the unfortunate popularity of Dr. Bob Sears’ suggestion that parents delay several vaccines. Waiting to give your child certain vaccines may sound reasonable enough, but the end result can be as dangerous as if you don’t immunize your child at all. “At the very least, they will increase the time during which children are susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases,” Dr. Offit has written. “If more parents insist on Sears’ vaccine schedules, then fewer children will be protected, with the inevitable consequence of continued or worsening outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases.” In person, he was a little more emotional, describing the rigorous science behind the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions recommended schedule as well as that of the AAP’s and contrasting that to Dr. Sears’. If it weren’t so scary, he said, “It would be funny: You’ve got the CDC, the AAP, and ‘Dr. Bob’s Schedule.’ You’ve got to admire the hubris.”

We at Parents really do understand how confusing the issue of vaccines can be. Our most recent story addresses parents’ most pressing concerns and gets to the truth behind them.

Add a Comment