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Is the current generation of children the “sickest generation,” as antivaxers claim?

Presidential candidate and New Age self-help guru Marianne Williamson has been repeating a claim that over half of our children have chronic illness and implying that the expansion of the vaccine schedule since the late 1980s is responsible. But is it true? Are over half of our children sick? Is this “the sickest generation”?

One of the oddest things to have come out of the first two rounds of Democratic Presidential debates was the inexplicable prominence of one candidate, Marianne Williamson. Indeed, she was the most Googled candidate after the second debate last week. A New Age self-help guru who got her start over 30 years ago peddling her own interpretation of “A Course in Miracles,” an unholy fusion of New Age woo and Christian beliefs, she rose to prominence, thanks to several books and becoming Oprah Winfrey’s “spiritual advisor” and has a bevy of celebrity friends and admirers ranging from Elizabeth Taylor to the Clintons to Alyssa Milano, the last of whom is fundraising for her. It also came out over the last couple of months that she harbors antivaccine views and has some very Scientology-like views towards mental illness. True, she’s tried to backpedal as much as she can, imitating antivaxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who has risibly called himself “fiercely pro-vaccine” while claiming today’s children are the “sickest generation” because of vaccines, GMOs, and the like, by proclaiming herself “pro-science and pro-vaccine.” There’s always, however, a “but,” as in “but big pharma and the opioid crisis”:

Or it’s “but childhood chronic illness”:

Marianne Williamson has a number of horribly denialist views about medicine, particularly about vaccines and psychiatry and antidepressants (about which she sounds rather Scientology-like). She routinely takes a criticism of medicine that has a grain of truth (e.g., regulatory capture at the FDA and other regulatory agencies) and then runs right off the cliff with it (and has been at it for a long time), even having gone so far as to confuse correlation with causation regarding celebrities on antidepressants who commit suicide:

My primary purpose in this post is not to deconstruct all of Marianne Williamson’s pseudoscientific beliefs about vaccines and medicines. That’s been done more extensively here, here, here, here, and here. Rather, my purpose is to hone in on one very specific one. It’s one she’s Tweeted about and has repeated in nearly every recent media appearance that I’ve seen her on, including interviews with Anderson Cooper of CNN and Ari Melber of MSNBC. It’s also one that I’ve been meaning to address in more detail for a long time because it’s a frequent talking point used by antivaxers. Here’s a quote from her interview with Melber, in which Melber asked her, “Do you think vaccinations are contributing to things being worse now? Is that what you’re suggesting?” Looking a bit flustered, Williamson responded:

No, no, what I’m saying is that in 1986 there was this vaccine protection law. There was, and there have been $4 billion in vaccine compensation payments that have been made. There was much less chronic illness. There was something like 12% chronic illness in our children previous to that law, and there’s 54% now. I don’t see why in a free society. I mean, what is going on here? When you look at the fact tha big pharmaceutical companies lobbied Congress to the tune of $284 million last year alone, as opposed to oil and gas, which has lobbied Congress to the tune of $125 million last year, when you look at all the money that is spent by pharmaceutical companies even on our news channels, when you look at the fact that there are two pharmaceutical lobbies for every member of Congress, and even when you look at the tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars that have been paid into the coffers of even Presidential campaigns, why are we so okay with complete shutdown of any conversation about this topic?

The above response is, of course, a pastiche of antivaccine talking points, including calling the Vaccine Court, which was mandated by the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, the “vaccine protection court”; harping on the $4 billion in payouts over the last three-plus decades (which, , when taken in context of the billions of doses of vaccines to hundreds of millions of children given during that time not really that large a sum of money); and, the topic of this post, her claim that 54% of American children now have a chronic disease. She even uses a typical form of antivax sleight of hand to imply without saying directly that the increase in prevalence of chronic disease is due to the expansion of the vaccine schedule in the wake of the NCVIA, while recounting big pharma’s lobbying influence. It’s JAQing off at its finest.

The claim that over half of our children are chronically ill is a variation of what I like to call “the sickest generation” trope, often used by antivaxers and quacks to claim that their favorite bogeyman, be it vaccines, GMOs, wifi, or whatever, is making our children sick. Does the claim stand up to scrutiny?

The sickest generation?

Before I discuss whether, in fact, 54% of our children have one or more chronic illnesses, it is useful to take note of where that claim came from. The first time I heard Williamson make it a month or two ago, I immediately recognized it as an antivaccine talking point. Even though I don’t recall Williamson ever using the term, it is a variation of “the sickest generation” trope, a trope frequently invoked by antivaxer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., such as when he referred to this generation of children as the “sickest generation in history.” Indeed, although the term didn’t originate with RFK Jr., as far as I can tell he is the first to have fused it with the very specific claim that 54% of children have some chronic illness or other. Basically, the first instance of the claim that I could find (and, I concede, I might have missed earlier instances, but I doubt it) was on RFK Jr.’s Childhood Health Defense website in a post Too Many Sick Children posted last December, complete with a video:

It opens with a simple statement, “The health of our children has declined dramatically over the past few decades.” After a list of prevalences of health problems among children, the video concludes, “VISION: A world free of childhood chronic health conditions caused by harmful environmental exposures” and:

Get involved. With your help and support, Children’s Health Defense will defend the health of our children in American and around the world, tackle the known exposures that are harming our children, hold those responsible accountable for their actions, and establish safeguards to prevent theses injuries from ever happening again.

Translation of “exposures”: Vaccines.

In any event, in the link above you can sign up for an e-book entitled The Sickest Generation: The Facts Behind the Children’s Health Crisis and Why it Needs to End. I took one for the team and entered a throwaway email address to sign up to get a link to the ebook. Fortunately it’s only 29 pages. It does, however, pack a lot of antivaccine tropes into its thin pages, including the bogus claim of an “autism epidemic” that ignores the effects of diagnostic substitution, broadening of the diagnostic criteria, and more intensive screening. Indeed, there’s so much deceptive weaving of statistics in the ebook that it might take multiple posts to unpack it, which is why for now I’ll stick with discussing the primary claim parroted by Williamson that 54% of our children are chronically ill. I will, however, show you just where this report is coming from by showing you a screenshot of a graph in the ebook. It’s about the most obviously deceptive attempt to confuse correlation with causation I’ve seen in antivaccine propaganda.

Sickest Generation stupidity
Dumbest graph ever.

Back to the claim that 54% of our children have chronic illness. The primary study cited to back that figure up is a 2011 study based on the 2007 National Survey of Children’s health. The aims of the study were:

  • to evaluate national and state prevalence of health problems and special health care needs in US children
  • to estimate health care quality related to adequacy and consistency of insurance coverage, access to specialist, mental health and preventive medical and dental care, developmental screening, and whether children meet criteria for having a medical home, including care coordination and family centeredness
  • to assess differences in health and health care quality for children by insurance type, special health care needs status, race/ethnicity, and/or state of residence.

Basically, the investigators used the 2007 NSCH to derive national and state level estimates of prevalence of health problems from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health

The 2007 NSCH included 91,642; children aged 0–17 years. The key graph is here:

Chronic illness from "sickest generation" study.

There are several things to note, The study found that, overall, 19.2% of children met the criteria for Children with Special Health Care Needs, defined as children who “have or are at increased risk for chronic physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional conditions and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.” That is, of course, a rather broad definition and would be expected to produce larger estimate. As was pointed out at Vaccines Work, the estimate that 54% of children have chronic illness of some sort includes children who are obese (which has nothing to do with vaccines, although occasionally antivaxers will claim obesity is related to vaccination) and have risk of developmental delay, which is likely correlated with the number of premature babies surviving birth and the number of drug-addicted babies surviving birth, not vaccines. (We already have numerous studies that do not support a link between developmental delays and vaccines.) It was also noted that the children in this study were born before specific vaccines were routinely recommended during pregnancy; so that can’t be a factor either. In addition, we have numerous studies showing no link between vaccines and allergies and asthma, the latter of which far more likely to be associated with pollution and lack of exposure to the microbiome. In fairness, RFK Jr.’s report does mention pollution as a potential contributor to childhood chronic illness. (He was an evironmentalist before he became an antivaxer. How could he not mention pollution?) However, vaccines are by far the “potential cause” of chronic childhood illness given the most verbiage in this ebook.

Basically, the claim that 54% of children in the US are chronically ill takes the most inclusive definition of chronic illness. The comparison to a figure of only 12.8% of American children having a chronic illness before the NCVIA is also a deceptive sleight-of-hand. For one thing, the study upon which that estimate was based was an entirely different study published in JAMA in 2010 using a different data source and different methodology. The authors of this study used the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth–Child Cohort (1988-2006) of 3 nationally representative cohorts of children, an ongoing survey that collects annual data from a national probability sample of youth aged 14-21 years in 1979 regarding their health, education, and employment. The study focused on three cohorts of children aged 2-8 in the years examined: 1988 (Cohort 1); 1994 (Cohort 2); and 2000 (Cohort 3). The authors also asked about a different set of chronic conditions. The finding was that the end-study prevalence of any chronic health condition was 12.8% for cohort 1 in 1994, 25.1% for cohort 2 in 2000, and 26.6% for cohort 3 in 2006.

The authors noted:

Many factors may have contributed, including environmental changes, which may affect rates of chronic respiratory conditions46 and obesity,47 better survival rates of conditions such as prematurity,5 and the development of “late effects” of some treatments, such as chemotherapy.34 Medicaid expansions and the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (S-CHIP) increased access to health care during the time this study was conducted,48,49 and children in later cohorts would have had greater opportunities for diagnosis and ongoing treatment of their chronic conditions. This may be especially true for less severe conditions that rarely flare to the point of needing emergent care. The push for increased surveillance for behavior/learning problems in children may have identified cases that would have previously gone undiagnosed. For some behavior/learning problems, patients qualify for therapies only with a diagnosis; thus, diagnosis may be influenced by pursuit of treatment.

Yes, you don’t diagnose what you don’t look for, especially milder conditions, and access to care will produce more diagnoses of chronic conditions. S-CHIP, as you might recall, was passed into law in 1997 and provided insurance to uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid. Indeed, I can’t help but point out that if you start with the 1994 cohort, which was roughly around the time that the vaccine schedule started to expand and right when the diagnostic criteria for autism were broadened in the DSM-IV, which was published in 1994. If you look at the changes between the 1994 and 2000 cohorts, you’ll see that it’s not nearly as impressive. Indeed, even the change from the 1988 and 1994 cohorts isn’t as impressive as comparing the 12.8% prevalence of chronic illness in the 1988 cohort to the estimate of 54% in the 2011 study. It’s almost as though RFK Jr. and Children’s Health Defense were going out of their way to produce the largest increase in prevalence they could find that almost perfectly correlated with the introduction of the Vaccine Court the year after the NCVIA was passed, differences in methodology and databases be damned. After all, antivaxers wouldn’t play fast and loose with studies, would they?

The authors also noted:

A surprising finding is that many children with a reported chronic condition at ages 2 through 8 years did not have the condition 6 years later. Additionally, most chronic conditions at the end of each study period represented new conditions that developed in the previous 6 years. This dynamism challenges the notion that chronic conditions persist without change. Although having a chronic condition in childhood is a risk factor for having the same chronic condition later, many chronic conditions appear to remit for a significant period before relapsing or resolve completely. After cancer treatment, a child may no longer fit criteria for having a chronic condition, although late effects can result in other conditions.34 Many young children with developmental delay receive therapy during critical years before catching up.35,36 A child’s natural development helps resolve conditions such as chronic constipation. For conditions where symptoms wax and wane, mild cases may be more common and likelier to remit, while severe cases may persist.17

This brings up another point. Unlike the case in adults, the prevalences of individual chronic illnesses in children are dynamic, as discussed above. A significant portion of children with developmental delay “catch up” and lose the diagnosis. This makes a blanket statement about the prevalence of “chronic illness” of the type that RFK Jr. is making incredibly simplistic. Just to illustrate, I further note that in 2007 a whole issue of JAMA was devoted to children’s health, in which one systematic review reported that the definition of chronic illness was very critical in estimating prevalence, listing estimates of the prevalence of chronic illness in children ranging from 0.22% to 44%, depending on specific operationalization of the definition. Another review from that issue estimated that the 1994-1995 National Health Interview Survey on Disability indicated that chronic conditions of any type affect 15% to 18% of US children and adolescents but also noted that “these estimates substantially undercount some prevalent conditions, especially obesity and mental health conditions.” This was over 20 years ago.

So what is the actual state of our children’s health?

There is no doubt that the prevalence of chronic illness among children is higher now than it was 30 years ago. At the very least, changes in diagnostic criteria and more intensive screening for some conditions would have changed the apparent prevalence of common conditions even in the absence of changes in the “true” prevalence. Moreover, if you count obesity as a chronic illness you’ll definitely find a large increase, given the more than tripling in the prevalence childhood obesity over the last 40 years.

Dr. Vincent Ianelli, a pediatrician who runs Vaxopedia, tried to put things in perspective with respect to antivax propaganda about “the sickest generation”:

If you have only been listening to the alarmists who talk about the unhealthiest generation all of the time, you likely wouldn’t know that:
  • while 2.6% of kids were thought to be in fair or poor health in 1991, that is down to just 1.8% today (2015)
  • fewer kids today (4.5%) report having had an asthma attack in the previous year than they did in 1997 (5.4%), and that fewer kids have asthma today (8.5%) than in 2003 (8.7%)
  • since 1997, fewer children, whether or not they have insurance, are visiting the emergency room
  • fewer children are requiring overnight hospital stays, down from 5.5% to just 2.1% today (2015)
  • rates of hay fever or respiratory allergy are down since 1997, from 17.5% of kids to 15.6% of kids today (2015)
  • rates of epilepsy have been stable in children for at least 40 years
  • fewer kids have multiple ear infections since 1997, when 7.1% of kids had 3 or more ear infections, to just 5% of kids today (2015)
  • fewer kids are being prescribed antibiotics
  • childhood cancer rates have been rising, but only slightly, and mortality rates have been declining
  • suicide rates are rising, but only from historic lows – they used to be about the same or higher in the early 1990s

He does concede that the prevalence of some conditions is on the rise, including ADHD, type 1 diabetes, food allergies, eczema, obesity, and most autoimmune diseases. Why might that be? Perrin et al commented on this in that 2007 issue of JAMA on childhood chronic illness:

A few conditions have decreased because of prevention (eg, lead encephalopathy), a few represent relatively new conditions (eg, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection), and some have increased after dramatic improvements in survival for individually low-prevalence childhood conditions that previously had high fatality rates (eg, leukemia, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart diseases).6 Most growth, however, reflects dramatic increases in incidence of a few high-prevalence conditions.

These high prevalence conditions include mainly obesity and associated type II diabetes, asthma, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism. Perrin et al also note that for ADHD and autism, diagnoses have definitely increased, although it’s not clear that actual prevalence has. (For instance, there was no entry for ADHD in the American Psychiatric Association manual until 1968). Even so, according to the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, among those under 18, more than 85% are in excellent or very good health, which is roughly in line with what we would expect if around (15% or even a little more) of children had chronic health problems.

So are our children the “sickest generation”? My conclusion is that it’s highly unlikely that they are in fact “the sickest generation.” One reason, of course, is that vaccines have eliminated many once deadly diseases. For example, children are no longer paralyzed by polio. It is true that there has been a rise in the prevalence of certain high prevalence chronic conditions, but many of them are well-managed and it’s not clear for every illness or chronic condition how much of the observed increase in prevalence is due to increased diagnosis of previously undiagnosed conditions versus an actual increase in prevalence. More importantly, estimates of chronic illness in childhood are highly dependent on the operational definition of chronic illness. Worse, the claim that 54% of our children have some sort of chronic illness is based primarily on a single cherry-picked study that is compared with another cherry-picked study for the pre-NCVIA estimate of chronic illness used by antivaxers to make it look as though the overall prevalence of childhood chronic illness has increased more than four-fold in the last 30 years. Even more deceptive is the linking of that dubious estimated increase in childhood chronic illness to a timeline that allows antivaxers to spread a narrative that it’s vaccines causing it. Thus, even if we concede that today’s children represent “the sickest generation,” we already know that vaccines aren’t the cause, the efforts of RFK Jr. and his fellow antivaxers to promote the narrative that vaccines are the cause notwithstanding.

Finally, I’ll conclude by saying that we don’t need another President who spouts dubious statistics from conspiracy mongering websites.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

90 replies on “Is the current generation of children the “sickest generation,” as antivaxers claim?”

Well it’s good to know that I’m not borderline obese because I eat too much and exercise too little, it’s the vaccines. And here I thought I’d have to take some personal responsibility for myself. Whew! saved by the cranks.

The modern world makes it harder for parents to get their kids to exercise. Too many indoor activities that involve sitting and twiddling your fingers, instead of being outside and moving your body. Granted, there’s a lot less chance of broken bones if you never leave the house.

It is kind of interesting that they lump life-style and genetic issues in with things “caused” by vaccines. But as Orac is fond of saying, to anti-vaxxers, it’s always the vaccine.

It’s not just that “the modern world makes it harder for parents to get their kids to exercise,” it’s that (at least in the US) parents are actively discouraged from allowing their kids to do things that would naturally provide exercise. Consider how kids get to school these days. Outside of a handful of urban areas, it is considered unthinkable these days to let your kids walk or bike to school. I even saw an ad for a caregiver whose specified duties included driving the kids to the elementary school located directly across the street from the house (this in a town of about 30k). When I was growing up it was normal for me to walk or bike to school (at least until I got my driver license), either by myself or with one or both younger siblings in tow. And before anyone says that I grew up in an atypical part of the US, I will stipulate that this is true: I lived in Miami during the era of the Cocaine Cowboys.

But the point still stands: the epidemic of obese kids has nothing whatsoever to do with vaccines and everything to do with cultural issues in the modern US.

I even saw an ad for a caregiver whose specified duties included driving the kids to the elementary school located directly across the street from the house

I grew up (a long time ago) in the country. My sister and I were expected to walk 2 km to school and 2 km home excepting in really bad weather. I think some neighbours did 3 km. Neighbours in our terms meant anyone within about a 6 km circle.

Other factors – like spatial design of neighborhoods – often also work against exercise. And yes, we do have things to improve in our food environment. So it’s not just personal choices.

Their need to blame vaccines for all ills works against their credibility.

The current generations quantitative-serum-titer has increased and this may be a catalyst for observed secondary symptoms through cross-react immune responses. In simplification, an increase in specific antibodies that attack beneficial proteins based on structural similarities with respect to conformational and linear epitopes. It is important to acknowledge that specific antibodies formed to a specific antigen are not identical in each individual. So, for some, forced immunity may be a conundrum in that the formation of specific antibodies may behave in a non-specific manner.

@ Orac’s minions,

Is this clear?

@ Orac’s minions,

Is this clear?

What’s that? Little Timmy is stuck down the well?

Before plunging into the gobbledegook, let’s get this out of the way:.

The current generations quantitative-serum-titer has increased


Yes, increased compared to what? To their titers at birth? To the previous generation? To people 200 years ago? To last week? To people in other cities or countries or continents?

I suggest reading: Samuel H. Preston (1991). Fatal Years: Child Mortality in Late Nineteenth-Century America. Princeton University Press.

From Dust Cover: “Despite having a rich, well-fed, and highly literate population, the United States had exceptionally high child mortality levels during this period: nearly one out of every five children died before the age of five. . . loss in privileged social groups were as appallingly high.”

Of course, dead kids wouldn’t be counted as “disabled” by Robert Kennedy.

And there is an abundant literature about disabled children prior to World War II. Rates astronomically in excess of today. So, besides his and others bogus statistics, their total disregard for historical data is appalling

My father, born in 1908, was among the final 4 children of 12 born to his mother. Three of the older siblings died before 12: two before he was born, one slightly after.

My father’s sister died in the 1930s, when she was seven. This was pretty normal back then, even with medical advances since your father’s time. Then there’s polio. I had classmates who’d survived it. This is the world anti-vaxxers want to return us to.

My mother always talked about her baby sister, Amelia, who died in the 1918 flu epidemic: she herself was only a few years older but she recalled the small casket. Later, she liked to visit a young woman who had a new baby but then couldn’t go there because a child in another apartment was ill and there was a quarantine for another illness not flu- signs on the door and all.. My mother and her siblings escaped quarantine though. I just learned recently – my cousin did ancestral research- that my father also lost a brother in 1918. My parents- career people- were more “grandparent” age, older than most of my school friends’ parents. .

At least one of my father’s siblings during the 1930s didn’t make it out of childhood due to infectious disease and living in crowded conditions during the Depression in a relatively poor neighborhood where a lot of Polish and Eastern European immigrants lived. I found out about it during a family gathering. He doesn’t talk about it, and I’ve never pushed him to tell me the whole story. He might not even know that much about it, because it could have happened before he was born or when he was too young to remember, as he was one of the younger siblings. Too bad neither my grandmother or grandfather on that side of the family is no longer with us to tell us.

My great Aunt (for who am I named) died of polio at 13 in the late 1940’s. Her older brother (my great uncle) wore leg braces the rest of his life, but also never really recovered from finding out his sister had died by reading her obituary in the newspaper (in the newspaper!). He felt terrible guilt for a long time because he got polio at Boy Scout camp and brought it home.

No one needs to experience that.

My aunt is super into geneology. It was eerie to discover children in my grandparents (early 1900-1920s) or great grandparents’ (late 1800s) generation who no one had ever heard of, because they died so young, and people didn’t talk about them.

My second cousin sent me her mother’s family bible. Specifically the one written in by our mutual great grandmother, who was the mother of the two sisters that had been our grandmothers. It was in those pages that I learned that along our grandmothers and great aunt had come from a family of five children. Though only three had become adults. Both brothers died prior to their eighth birthday.

I don’t think even my mother ever knew her mother had had two brothers. It seemed like something they just never talked about. Including the fact that all three sisters succumbed to strokes, two died quickly and my grandmother was in a nursing home from the time of my birth until I was sixteen years old. Something that would have been useful information when both my sister and I saw our pretty normal blood pressure rise quickly after menopause.

In my youth I used to hitchhike everywhere. I would frequently find myself on a road near a cemetery and I didn’t have to search far to find the single stones with multiple names that died within months of each other. Often there were ages associated and age groupings like 28,8,6,5,3 made me very sad.

I used to live in a very New-Agey little town in the Northwest where losts of Marianne Williamson quotes were posted on the walls of the laundromat–all framed and in calligraphy! What was amusing is that some “crank” had defaced them with “Marianne Williamson is a filthy lying c–t” and similar invective. I thought it was hilarious.

And not even just ‘linear plot’… plot formed from exactly two points, so let’s draw a direct line between them despite the fact that the two points were determined in completely different ways.

Ugh, migraines and adhd/add are both counted as ‘diseases’ and so is o.d.d. which is at best, marginal, if not actually made-up. (From what I’ve seen, it’s used a lot as an excuse for abuse.)

MJD: Please don’t use words you don’t understand. Lots of long words don’t mask the fact that you have yet to learn how to write.

Are there any educators of children here on this blog? I’d be interested in hearing from them. How about parents with kids/grandkids across several decades of age groups?

Only people who rarely interact with many children (or ONLY see them in an office environment for billable minutes at a time) could say that the statement: ‘Something is wrong with the children’ … is incorrect.

I don’t know about the stats, apparently they are arguable? School is getting ready to start. Observe a playground at recess & listen to the unusual vocalizations, the screeching, the shrillness. Look at the kids walking in circles, unsure of how to interact. Volunteer in the classrooms & for field trips & then come back & say that ‘nothing is wrong’.

If they behave this way when you are observing them, maybe there is another explanation for the behaviour….

“Observe a playground at recess & listen to the unusual vocalizations, the screeching, the shrillness.”

You mean, when they’re playing on the playground?

“Look at the kids walking in circles, unsure of how to interact. Volunteer in the classrooms & for field trips & then come back & say that ‘nothing is wrong’.”

My schedule let me spend a good deal of time at my sons’ school when they were young (admittedly, several years ago), and I went on all of the field trips. We had an occasional bit of odd behavior, but nothing like your comments. Questions to two neighbors, who both teach elementary school (at different schools) got the same result: nope, not here.

Are you just making things up again?

@ dean,

Unfortunately; no. But it’s just my personal observation that you can’t agree with because it does not fit your narrative. It’s something I started noticing when I was still provaccine. I’ve been a mom since 1985 & still have kids in school but have been anti-U.S. immunization policy only since 2016.

Of course she is. You notice whenever anyone calls her on a fact, she invents a newer and more dramatic story to go along with it. Tomorrow it will be “You’re stupid if you don’t notice that babies urinate these days. Back in my day, they didn’t!”

By the way,

“But it’s just my personal observation that you can’t agree with because it does not fit your narrative.”

No, it fits neither my experience nor the experience of friends who are currently working with young kids. I will take your comment as proof that you have no support for your assertion and are simply playing the “challenging and questioning me means you’re insulting me” game.

“But it’s just my personal observation that you can’t agree with because it does not fit your narrative.”
So if someone has had personal observations that differ from yours, it must be bias – “I am right and you are wrong because I say so.”
Give it up. No matter what anyone says that points up your errors or contradicts your assertions, you just retreat to butwhataboutism. You cannot call your interactions here a discussion, because you automatically gainsay anything in any reply.
It puts me in mind of this:

Oh I dunno. I have no clue how to evaluate whether or not something is wrong any given kid I see in a school playground. I have only one kid, and I’m no expert in child developmental psychology. Do you have such qualifications that you could instantly tell that something is wrong with a kid at a glance? I don’t think even such an expert could do so!

By the way, I used to be one of those kids “walking in circles, unsure of how to interact”. In many ways I still am that kid. I take issue with you implying something is wrong with me.

@ AC,

No, it’s not something you notice at first glance. I first started noticing it in the early 2000s. I don’t subscribe to the neurodiverse movement. I am that kid too but when something is wrong; it’s just wrong.

Psychologists don’t randomly observe kids on a playground: even if they’re interested in how kids act on a playground, they first do a literature search, form hypotheses….many other steps omitted here because it would take forever—- THEN, they observe and count actions kids performed prior to doing the statistical analyses.

Interestingly, Ann Dachel at AoA maintains the same belief.
She even told them so before asking them to get off of her lawn.

“I first started noticing it in the early 2000s.”
Note that “noticing”. Not “studying”. Not “seeking confirmation from others”.
Or is it impossible that you “first started noticing it” because you weren’t paying attention to it before?
If you don’t see the flaw in that statement, then you need to first start noticing the actual ideas that words do or do not convey, to see if they’re valid or fallacious.

Christine K:
If what you say is true (note the “if”), you should be aware that special needs kids only recently are being integrated into the community and school system, rather than kept in institutions out of sight and awareness of the general public. I think that this is a more plausible explanation than “the vaccines done it”.

My friend who is a director of an early childhood education center has not described any change in her students over time that would indicate that the children are either more likely to be ill or more likely to be non-neurotypical. She has a Master’s in early childhood development.

Also, all children are shrill. That is their #1 super power.

I’m a parent and I’ve taught peripatetically at many schools – I’ve not observed anything matching your description, perhaps you might be suffering from confirmation bias, or are you simply trolling?

Is this some ridiculous extension of that really silly “encephalitic cry” nonsense for infants?

” Observe a playground at recess & listen to the unusual vocalizations, the screeching, the shrillness. Look at the kids walking in circles, unsure of how to interact..”

The spousal unit just retired from 20 years teaching and says you are full of it.

” Look at the kids walking in circles, unsure of how to interact.”
Are you sure of that interpretation? Children often do things for reasons that make sense to them alone. Before you decide what it means, maybe you should ask them.

Many Calvin and Hobbes cartoons come to mind.

I have kids, grand-kids and was a Boy Scout and 4-H leader for many years. Navel gazing is a common past-time. Their brains are growing and their bodies are changing. This may require some alone time to get through. Of course this is true of adults too.

I’ve been an educator for nearly 40 years, and a fair bit of that time has involved working with school-aged children.. And I can safely say that I have not seen the sort of behaviour you’re describing. Not in the playground. Not in class. Not among my kids’ extensive circle of (fully-vaccinated) friends.

@ Alison,

Good. I am glad to hear it. I wish my observation was the same. Four years ago I didn’t know if I could handle another bus-ride for the elementary school field trips. I might wonder if it was just the noise affecting me as ASD … I seem to be getting worse symptomatically with age (not as bad as puberty but still bad)… but it really wasn’t like this 15 years ago.

Nonetheless, our kids are in sad shape right now. Sticking our heads in the sand won’t help them get better.

“Nonetheless, our kids are in sad shape right now. ”

Repeating this in the face of the evidence doesn’t really get us any further along.

I’ve been a high school teacher for 26 years, and we share the campus with the elementary school. Shrillness and shrieking have always been the norm for prepubescent children. And no, I’ve never seen them walking around in circles. The occasional spinning, sure. But all little kids like to make themselves dizzy, and always have. You sound like you don’t actually spend a lot of time around kids when they are being themselves (as opposed to behaving for adults).

Hmph, I seem to have missed this one.

Only people who rarely interact with many children (or ONLY see them in an office environment for billable minutes at a time)

Something something lawyers something? It’s a pretty specific turn of phrase.

Observe a playground at recess & listen to the unusual vocalizations, the screeching, the shrillness. Look at the kids walking in circles, unsure of how to interact.

This hardly seems necessary with your already being here.

“Observe a playground at recess & listen to the unusual vocalizations, the screeching, the shrillness”

OK, so add in kids screeching at recess, and you get a chronic disease incidence of 94.6%!!!

Why is RFK Jr. minimizing this deadly vaccine peril?

I think you’re being generous. Generally, it’s the ones NOT screeching that you should probably be worried about.

The reference to allegedly odd screaming/screeching on the playground reminds me of Forrest Maready’s genius theory that “crooked” expressions are much more common these days due to them (vaccine) Toxins. Hilarious confirmation bias.

My personal theory* is that increased yelling and hyperactivity among children in public places (especially restaurants) is caused by parents glued to their cellphones and ignoring the kiddies.

*I believe it, therefore it is true.

My personal theory is a combo of limited time to run and screm, so it’s the same amount in a smaller amount of time, and that we aren’t so quick to beat kids into submission (a good thing!)

Educators & parents of many & over the last few decades. Not one or two & measured in years.

My cousin who spent her adult life unable to walk due to polio contracted in the 1950s, and my great-uncle who died as a teenager from appendicitis would love to live in such an unhealthy time as today. Antivaxxers should be marched through the graveyards of the 19th century to revel in the tombstones reading 1901-1903, or March 1905-May 1905 (like the villagers in Germany were marched through other places to see the fruits of their delusions) Then, if they have any shame, they can renounce their lies and we’ll welcome them back into humanity.

There is no vaccine for appendicitis. My daughter never made it to adulthood thanks to a vaccine that killed her.

In 100 years we will not be decrying the antivaxxers but the provaccine.

My daughter never made it to adulthood thanks to a vaccine that killed her.

Well of course a vaccine killed your daughter, because other factors that could have lead to the death of a fragile preemie can be summarily dismissed:

“[premature rupture of membranes] at 24 weeks followed by 6 weeks inpatient, premature c-sec for Chorioamnionitis (30 weeks) followed by 2 months in NICU then discharged home on O2. In fact, that very day her O2 had been D/C’d.

Yes, particularly, ruling out respiratory issues that are often associated with SIDS is a smart move, because the fact that your preemie’s oxygen was discontinued at home just before her death might otherwise confuse you–because it’s always the vaccines.

There is no vaccine for appendicitis.

I don’t believe that was implied, rather a simple surgical procedure that we now take for granted was fatal some decades ago.

“Educators & parents of many & over the last few decades. Not one or two & measured in years.”
I am not sure what you’re trying to say here. I will assume that you are making a referral to authority instead of randomly typing.
Even if we accept that as “backup” for your assertion that children have changed, it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that citation.

Hmmmph. I’ve realised where I’ve been going wrong. Its not a conspiracy or Dunning Kruger or people who think they can accomplish anything if they google it enough. Its just America. Sorry guys. I think we’ll have to build a wall round you and wait it out. Mind you, you’ll all be walking in circles before long, so maybe just a lot of arrows pointing right?

In the UK a solitary child walking in circles in the playground is sending a text.

@ brian,

She was a fighter for sure. Got her DTP & was dead within 24 hours.

Yes, your fragile preemie died just after her oxygen was discontinued. Sorry. This might interest you:

Stojanovska V. et al. The Consequences of Preterm Birth and Chorioamnionitis on Brainstem Respiratory Centers: Implications for Neurochemical Development and Altered Functions by Inflammation and Prostaglandins. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 2018 Feb 1;12:26

@ brian.

Yes, that does interest me, thank you. I appreciate everyone here who has shared links with me. I will say this much; all of you here are the very best resourced group I have come across online.

Typically, in online discussions; I give PubMed & I get blogs & magazine articles in return. I have actually been ‘sent here’ many times. At least here is better than Snopes. I detest Snopes but anyway; I thank you for your time.

@Christine K: So you’re saying that there is something that might be called “introverted personality disorder” huh. So there is something wrong with being the kind of person who prefers to think quietly in silence, to speak only when there is actually something meaningful to talk about. Because obviously if you aren’t the life and soul of every party you go to, surrounded by countless friends and acquaintances, able to talk about anything and everything, then nothing else you do has any meaning and you’re a poor, broken reject of a human being.

Welcome to the club AC. We meet every fifth Friday in months with a W.

@ AC,

Quit being so melodramatic & putting words in my mouth. The kids I’m talking about will never be typing away & commenting on an online blog; perpetuating a lie for a group that only accepts them because they are a token provaccine ASD.

The minute you found even a small point of contention & dared to question them they would turn on you in a new york minute.

The kids I am referencing will be segregated by middle-school.

For all the venom that antivaxers and other woo enthusiasts exhibit towards websites like Snopes, Quackwatch, RI, Science-Based Medicine etc.,we’re never given any examples of how those sites supposedly get it wrong.

Instead we typically get ad hominems, shill accusations and generalized shrieking about “bias”.

@ DB,

Yes I have. It was about Snopes & on a different thread. I said they were debunking an urban legend about a collection of human remains at the Smithsonian that they no longer admit to having but the Snopes article only gave one citation … the Smithsonian.

I mean; that’s some investigative journalism there. Really?

“There is no vaccine for appendicitis.”

True. There’s just modern medicine, with antibiotics that allow safe surgery, and doctors educated enough to recognize a now-treatable condition – modern medicine that has changed the death of a child from a routine part of life, to something rare enough to seem like there must be a conspiracy behind it.

@ VCL,

Yeah, that same modern medicine with IVF, supp O2, antibiotics, imaging diagnostics, lab diagnostics, etc … that save us from fevers with spots? I guess we ‘peaked’. Unaware there was a conspiracy theory about appendicitis but okay …

that save us from fevers with spots a highly contagious disease that, in first-world countries with modern healthcare, kills one in every thousand?


Yeah, that same modern medicine with IVF, supp O2, antibiotics, imaging diagnostics, lab diagnostics, etc …

What part of this do you object to? Some lackey of the Pope was bitching about IVF on the radio this morning, just by coincidence, but what are you driving at?

@Narad, she was nearing the end of her list of red herrings and had to scramble for something.

“Yeah, that same modern medicine with IVF, supp O2, antibiotics, imaging diagnostics, lab diagnostics, etc”

Yes, they are all wonderful things that have saved many members of my family, some of my friends and even a couple of pets. What is there to object to?

Measles killed a quarter of the population of Fiji when it was first introduced. That’s the same proportion of the population as the Black Death killed in Europe in the 1340’s.

It’s not just “spots”.

@ Christine K

“The facts + [your] gut feelings.”

In science, “gut feelings” can help develop hypotheses; but then these hypotheses are put to objective tests, that is, tests that do not rely on selective perceptions, memories, etc; but that independent observers can agree on. Something you and many unschooled in science fail to understand is that what seems to be causative, in a world of seven billion people, can occur multiple times by chance. For instance, how many cases of SIDS occur in the world without any preceding vaccination? So, even if several occur following vaccination, doesn’t mean the vaccination was causative. Lightening actually does strike twice in the same place. And studies where videos of kids were available have shown ASD behaviors prior to, for instance, receiving the MMR vaccine.

What is fascinating and frightening at the same time is how people like you assume without having put in the years of education and training arrogantly assume you know and understand things as well or better than those who have devoted years. Oh, I forgot, all those supporting vaccines are either dumber than you and/or part of the world-wide conspiracy to further the profits of the pharmaceutical industry, Of course, besides the absurdity of this, if the small profits made from vaccines for children, because governments and insurance companies negotiate prices, are proof vaccines are bad, then since all pharmaceuticals, including insulin for diabetics, albuterol for asthmatics, etc., must also be bad, especially since the profit margins, even before the more recent obscene increases in prices, were much higher than for vaccines and given insulin is needed every single day for a life-time, much much more profitable. Do you have any friends who are Type 1 diabetics? If so, do you advice them to not use insulin given it is sold for a profit? Everything is sold for a profit, so making a profit doesn’t prove something is good, bad, or in between.

So, yep, myself, having spent 50 years learning research methodology, statistics, epidemiology, immunology, microbiology, etc. and having read literally hundreds of books and thousands of articles on the history of various infectious diseases, either don’t understand and/or are dishonest. Yikes!

In science, “gut feelings” can help develop hypotheses; but then these hypotheses are put to objective tests

Tell that to string theorists.

@ Narad

Having read Brian Green’s book and seen several documentaries, there are numerous string theories, number of strings, and currently they aren’t testable; but the goal of string theory is to find one universal, unifying theory that covers the microscopic and macroscopic universe. Not in the ballpark of observing kid’s behaviors. One can’t see strings, just hypothesize them, and make predictions. One can see kid’s playing.

I realize you are just trying to be amusing; but Christine K may take you seriously.

Having read Brian Green’s book and seen several documentaries, there are numerous string theories, number of strings, and currently they aren’t testable….

“Currently”? String theory has produced quite the valuable mathematical apparatus, but it and its myriad “vacua” show little chance of making contact with experiment.

Christine should attend public health meetings in countries experiencing measles outbreaks (dozens of deaths in Europe, thousands killed in other countries, many more hospitalized and/or suffering serious and permanent complications) and explain to them measles is no biggie, just “fever with spots”.

@ Christine K

So “only parents with children”. Well, there are parents with children who have put them through exorcisms, chelation therapy, which killed several, neglected them, smothered them with too much protective attention, and all imaginable variations. Having a child confers NO EXPERTISE. If you had cancer would you require the oncologist to have had cancer? Many times being too close to something actually inhibits an objective evaluation. Just one more example of your foolish misguided belief that you are the litmus test for what is valid or not.

Oh, and I missed this gem from Christine attempting to show up Snopes:

“I said (Snopes) were debunking an urban legend about a collection of human remains at the Smithsonian that they no longer admit to having but the Snopes article only gave one citation … the Smithsonian.”

“I mean; that’s some investigative journalism there. Really?”

The Snopes article that Christine apparently refers to, responds to claims that the Smithsonian destroyed thousands of giant human skeletons in an attempt to save the modern narrative of evolution.*

The article doesn’t rely on the Smithsonian to refute this nonsense, but uses other means (and a helping of common sense) to knock it down.

You’ll need to work a bit harder to trash Snopes as a source of woo-debunking.

*is this another of Christine’s cherished beliefs?

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