“Well, we just smile and nod to what our pediatrician says when it comes to feeding and sleeping and discipline issues because we don’t agree with him on those things and who wants to make your doctor mad, you know?” I have heard this a thousand times.

Mary Cassatt

Why on earth would you have a doctor who does not agree with your own researched views of child health and behavior? (Just in case? Well read on for some alternatives to traditional pediatric care, just in case..)

1) Sleep. For sleep issues, Cry It Out is all most of them know (when there are countless fixes to try that would take to long to go into in a 15 min visit- I guess all the better for parent coaches like me?). They believe babies should learn to sleep through the night as early as possible (without any medical evidence and against all biological and anthropological evidence to the contrary. Don’t want to cry it out? They’ll tell you to night wean because breastfeeding is the cause of bad sleep. (But what about all of those formula-fed kids who wake up at night?…) Not to even mention the problems with recommending all children sleep in cribs.  The American Academy of Pediatrics has a policy against co-sleeping but they also believe that no matter the age, you should not immediately attend to your woken baby’s cries or pick her up. 

2) Formula. They are paid to push formula. The American Academy of Pediatrics receives gigantic donations from formula companies (in the millions every year though they have a policy against detailed disclosure) and have a history of allowing formula companies to lobby them away from measures which would further increase breastfeeding in the U.S. The AAP conferences are funded by formula vendors.

Peds are inundated with samples and rep visits from formula companies so that formula is always on the brain. When it’s always on the brain, it becomes a pretty easy answer to a bunch of medical and behavior problems. And don’t expect a pediatrician to actually help you with breast pain, latch or other nursing issues, they aren’t trained in that. 27 percent of pediatricians offices report that their staff has no specific training in breastfeeding. You are very lucky if they have a lactation consultant on board.

To quote the above-linked article from Mothering Magazine:

“The mission statement of the AAP is ‘to attain optimal physical, mental and social health and wellbeing for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.’ While I’m sure this is true of many well- intentioned and courageous members of the AAP, the organization as a whole has traded optimal health for infants for political position and financial gain. The group has done good work over the years, but ties to government and industry as well as constant funding needs inevitably compromise its mission.”

Fortunately in the U.S., it is illegal for formula reps to directly pay individual pediatricians. Here-gifts, meals, office supplies, vacations and a year of free formula to a family member are legal and of course, samples for your newly born patients. 70 percent of doctors report recommending a favorite brand.

3) The CDC growth chart. It they know anything, they should know that the CDC itself recommends pediatricians use the World Health Organization growth charts for breastfeeding babies and toddlers instead of the CDC charts. Still, most pediatricians use the old CDC chart for breastfed and Formula fed children, regardless of the fact that there is a big difference. Formula has led to an epidemic in infantile obesity, throwing the charts askew for many decades. Using the CDC chart makes pediatricians see a breastfed baby’s growth as abnormal- leading to usage of formula supplementation and cause for alarm and medical testing to find a physiological or neurological illness causing the lack of growth.

4) Vaccine Pushing. One of the main jobs of a pediatrician is to push a certain vaccine schedule – for a few reasons. One reason is the theory that it will protect babies and the population. Another reason is all of those “well baby” visits add up to great profit. Another reason is that HMOs pay pediatricians bonuses if they have a fully vaccinated practice (leading many to turn away patients who do not conform.) This is one of the things that makes pediatricians different from all others- they are in charge of vaccinating America on schedule.  But pediatricians often don’t know as much about vaccines as well-researched parents do, or if they do, they probably lie about it. I went to an appointment with a mom I nannied for once. Before shots, the mom asked, “are there any possible side-effects or dangers?”  the Ped said, “No.”  We had a feverish screaming baby for three days who did not want to eat. The doctor said it must be a cold. A week later there were some random seizures. “Febrile seizures” he said, but there was not a fever at the time.  There was obviously no vaccine reaction reported.

I’m not saying that vaccines are bad. It is obvious that some of the vaccines we use have protected many people, but I wonder if vaccinating with the current hefty shot schedule so young in a baby’s life might be more detrimental than we know at this time. And why do we go ahead with vaccines without blinking after a child has had an adverse reaction in the past? I once sat in a room full of pediatrics med students and professors at the University of Washington on a panel explaining my selective vaccination schedule. I asked why it was beneficial for babies to get so many shots so early in life. A professor replied, “It really isn’t. There is not really that much benefit to the baby for most of the vaccines, especially since they won’t work well without a few doses. Most things could probably wait until 2 years for most vaccines for herd immunity. It’s mostly so that we can get them all vaccinated before we lose them from the practice.”  But what if it actually hurts tiny babies to be injected with so much aluminum and other chemicals? We don’t really know because of the lack of quality reporting to the CDC by pediatricians.

5) Overuse of Antibiotics. Lets say a parent’s child has had a virus for three weeks and wants it over with. They ask a pediatrician for antibiotics. Though antibiotics won’t help with this common flu virus, the doctor gives in anyway.   The side-effects of antibiotics can be diarrhea, a mild allergic reaction like hives or a life-threatening emergency (like I had as a toddler).  The overuse of antibiotics causes bacteria to mutate into resistant strains which make the disease more difficult to shake for everyone and very dangerous for the very ill.  The last article cited a doctor who believes we will have to inoculate children with the good bacterial flora our human bodies have lost over time due to widespread usage of antibiotics. Children’s own immune systems are changed by the antibiotic, there is often overgrowth of bad bacteria leading to other infections in the body and on the skin leading to the need for more pharmaceuticals. And getting antibiotics for an ear infection may lead to increased risk for getting another ear infection. (A naturopath can cure it with garlic oil.)

6) Clogged Waiting Rooms. All of those well-baby visits scheduled in advance mean that practices are full all of the time and patients who have pressing health concerns cannot get in to see a doctor when sick or may go months without care while they wait on a list.  Preventative medicine is a good thing and this includes the family taking care of baby’s health at home. But why does a healthy, thriving baby need to go to all of those scheduled appointments..every month or three?  Vaccines, I guess. The low-income pediatric clinic by my house tries its best to see every patient they can, but they still have to send sick babies to the hospital for mild conditions sometimes. If you don’t have a pediatrician yet or if you have left yours, you will be paying big bucks at the children’s hospital clinic.

Now for Our family’s personal story.  Why WE don’t have a pediatrician. (We do have a naturopathic pediatrician and a family MD who was carefully researched and tested and screened but we haven’t used her much yet.) Maybe there are a few good pads out there and I’d love for you to tell us about yours below. But the model and the academy is the problem. Here is our Story:

When Iris was going to be born, I didn’t think we needed a pediatrician. She was a growing and happy baby before the sleep  issues became truly apparent at around 6 months. The weight-gain issues then became apparent at around 11 months. So by that time, I was searching like mad for a Pediatrician. I mostly couldn’t get in because as you know, you are supposed to find and stick to one pediatrician before your child is even born. The waiting lists for the recommended Peds here in settle were three to nine months long and it didn’t matter that we had actual pressing health issues to discuss.

For months we had been occasionally seen at the low-income clinic by the house but never seeing the same doc and usually seeing a resident and never getting any real help- and mostly worked with specialists. The sleep doctor and the neurologist.

I asked the receptionist which Peds clinic which doctor, if not the ones recommended by friends, could see us quickly. We made an appointment for a month out with a young Pediatrician. In the meantime, I found out that she was being sued by multiple families over bad advice that caused irrevocable damage. (The issue was actually ignoring the evidence parents were bringing to the table.) So I cancelled my appt. About a week later, after seeing my daughter’s neurologist in that same office, our wonderful neurologist got us in to see one of the good pediatricians immediately. Phew. Or so I thought.

The new doctor walked in and announced she knew we were there to find out what was causing our daughter’s diagnosed sleep disorder. “You aren’t going to like this” she said looking at my “Whip It Out: I Support Breastfeeding” shirt. “But I believe she will suddenly gain weight and start sleeping through the night if you just stop breastfeeding.” She was right. I hated her already. She didn’t go on to ask how much table foods Iris was eating. I offered up, “meals like that of a child three times her size.”

This new doctor also wanted to talk to us about Iris’s recent pee test. The pee test was for metabolic disorders but she was worried by a slight margin of numbers that Iris might have a urinary tract infection and probably needed antibiotics so we needed to re-test her pee. I said she didn’t have a fever and her pees were fine.  I said she was already potty trained very early and could likely pee in a container.   “You should potty train my son” she said. “He is 4 and I can’t potty train him because he has an inverted penis and splashes standing up.” (How stupid is this woman. He cannot pee sitting down?) They weren’t going to wait for pee, so they said we had to catheterize her. They made me hold her down screaming while they hurt her. It took a few jabs before it went in. They couldn’t wait, so I participated in causing my child excruciating pain.

I noticed formula sample bags everywhere on my way out. The test came back negative for UTI and that visit is the mommy decision I regret most of all so far.

Just curious, I immediately asked four friends who had weaned. “He lost weight.” said each one of them. Two of them said , “And then we went back to the pediatrician to see about helping him gain weight.” and then one of them said, “They put him on a special toddler formula after we tried some of their samples.”

So, I should stop breastfeeding so that I can buy the formula that the doctor gets paid to push. I am pretty sure that is how it would have gone, had I not cancelled my follow-up appointment with that doc. This was just one of my 5 bad experiences with taking Iris to a pediatrician. Not to mention all I have seen and heard over the years working with families in LA and Seattle.

I’m not getting in bed with any pediatricians who sleep with the AAP which sleeps these companies: formula manufacturers,  vaccine manufacturers (Drs. paid to vaccinate = $ conflict of interest), other major pharmaceutical corporations, Lysol, Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson (all known AAP donors). We know the negative effect on health that pharmaceutical company lobbying of doctors to push adult drugs has had. It isn’t any different in Pediatrics.

How do we survive without a Pediatrician? Our naturopathic pediatrician‘s office can prescribe meds or antibiotics after we have tried natural remedies. They have vaccines. We see a specialist if needed. We have a family medicine MD who can help me think through certain things and look at a bigger picture. She isn’t as targeted formula companies or vaccine reps. In an emergency, we go to a clinic or the emergency room. Can ya dig it? Life without trying to find the right pediatrician is awesome.

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