5 Reasons Why Pediatricians Suck

“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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About mooreamalatt

Find my whole bio here: http://www.savvyparentingsupport.com/#!about/cktc
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9 Responses to 5 Reasons Why Pediatricians Suck

  1. Melissa says:

    For once, I’m thanking my lucky stars for military healthcare. I hear and read all of these pediatrician horror stories, but we’ve been to every scheduled appointment and a few more, and I have never experienced any of the above. I have to think our doctors must not be as aggressively marketed to or pressured, because I have never seen a formula sample. Anywhere.

    My choice to breastfeed, even through pregnancy, has never been questioned (except by one awful nurse, and the pedi was horrified when I told her about it and sent me right off to file a complaint – even sent me an email later on reiterating the fact that my choice to breastfeed was respected), my daughter has never been prescribed an antibiotic and her growth is plotted on the WHO chart. I’m usually the only, or one of two parents in the waiting room. As for not vaccinating, the pedi expressed her dissenting opinions at one appointment only, and has never brought it up again, except to ask for something to put on file documenting my choice. When I told her there was no way I’d sign the AAP form, she was totally understanding and said I could write up whatever I wanted.

    My care, on the other hand, has been crap, but at least my right to refuse treatment has always been upheld.

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  2. Christine says:

    Well this cemented my view of paediatricians! I too, did not see the need for a paediatrician when I was pregnant, however the nurses did insist that one look over my son when he was showing signs of jaundice in the hospital, I consented and luckily he seemed mellow and respected my decisions on non-vaccinating etc.

    In South Africa, however, naturopaths are few and far between, I cannot find one in the city we have just moved to at all 😦 I definitely wouldn’t be able to find a naturopathic paediatrician! So, for the time being, I thank my lucky stars that my son is the picture of health and that we haven’t needed a doctor at all in his short 1 year of life.

    I

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  3. Yikes, yours sounds like a really horrible experience! Poor baby getting catheterized, yikes! My ped let us hang out for as long as it took to catch a pee when Emma was little. It was definitely a waiting game, but it happened! I can’t imagine them not allowing that!

    I have been one to say the “smile and nod” line about my ped (about stuff I believe is parenting/behavior issues, not medical issues), on the other hand, I also believe in sharing my views (and educating the ped!) and I have found my ped (and all the others in our clinic) very open and supportive of my views.

    I honestly have not seen most of what you describe above, and I’ve been to a loooooot of visits with my 3. Our ped always admitted he did not have expertise in breastfeeding and was happy to refer me to great LCs or the trained nurse they had on site (she was actually pretty good). They did have formula in the clinic but would only give it to me when I asked, never offered even though they new I was supplementing.

    Our ped was also supportive of cosleeping, and always framed his “suggestions” (ha!) as
    things that I do if was not getting enough sleep — that my girls were obviously healthy and how we managed their sleep was totally up to me. Same with solids introductions. He was never too worried about my kids if they fell from percentiles or were in the lower percentiles — “there has to be kids in the lower percentiles” was his line. That said, we never struggled with the difficulties that it sounds like you have. I know that can be really hard.

    Also encouraging is that in the 5.5 years I’ve been going to this clinic I’ve seen a continual decrease in frequency of antibiotic use — as well as meds for other stuff. They always seem to have this explanation they start to launch into about why they aren’t going to give it to me, and I have to cut them short and say yes, yes, I totally agree, I didn’t want them anyway (once whatever larger medical concern was ruled out). I think they get a lot of flack from mainstream parents who expect meds to solve everything. Unfortunately!

    So my long-winded reply here is to say I agree that the things you mention are really unfortunate and undesirable, and I would not go to pediatricians who do those kind of things. But every ped I have seen at the West Seattle Swedish Children’s Clinic has not been like that. Good ones are out there!

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  4. Jennifer W. says:

    We have our naturopath is also our midwife, woman’s health and pediatric doctor. It saves time, because she already knows just about everything about our whole family and we are all pretty much on the same page. I have been to mainstream clinics: mistakes and judgments abound. I am glad to be done with them.

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  5. I have been lucky to find a pediatrician who we love and who respects all of my decisions. Unfortunately, we had the kind of ped you described above first. Thankfully, that pushed me to find the right one for us.

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  6. I am so glad Iris has you to be her advocate! You and I have talked around this in the past, but I truly believe there is a call for medical advocates in our society. It is so easy to have the PERSON get lost in the crap of insurance and doctors who don’t listen/think/care.

    I’m actually rethinking our pediatrician choice, particularly around their quickness to prescribe antibiotics – Z had 2 courses in a single month. Must research more!

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  7. cheri says:

    i love my doc – she’s a naturopathic doctor/midwife/pediatrician/family doctor. she cared for me during my pregnancy and now cares for my 11mo daughter. she fully supports bedsharing, breastfeeding, whatever we choose for vaccines (none for us) and answers all my questions with respect for my instincts, experience, and personal choice.
    seattle naturopathy, acupuncture, and birth center. they are awesome (on the same block as birth and beyond)

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  8. Jim says:

    Most pediatricians are not real doctors as they don’t know much. For a healthy kid, all a pediatrician needs to do is to take some measurements and do vaccinations. If a kid really gets sick, you need a specialist, as a common pediatrician knows next to nothing about any real disease. A mom with many kids often knows much more than a pediatrician about “pediatrics”.

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