Over the last few months, there have been several recalls in the baby/kid business. The maker of a very popular brand of baby sling went out of business due to the bad press of another (poorly designed) infant sling. Hyland’s teething tablets went away because one of the ingredients was found to be potentially toxic in doses thousands of times greater than anything contained within (FYI anything including plain old ordinary water can be toxic to humans if you ingest enough of it). Drop-side cribs. Infant Tylenol and Motrin. Fisher Price toys. Sleep positioners. A certain powdered infant formula. It’s getting a little bit hard to witness.
Some things, like the Tylenol, Motrin and Similac were an oops, a glitch in the companies’ manufacturing equipment. Or in the case of the formula, beetle larvae. Some other things have not been recalled. Like the Nap Nanny, which due to improper use had been involved in injury, but with the addition of an extra warning label, are back on the shelves. And the Pampers Dry Max, which Pampers still claims is no worse than the old diapers, though we’ve made some accommodations for parents who’ve purchased the diapers that were burning babies, allowing them to return the open boxes of diapers for different diapers.
Some of these recalls are good things. I was never comfortable with sleep positioners, personally. And with the formula, it was only a matter of time, since it seems that every few years one of those companies has a reason to recall. And I wish that they’d recall the diapers. Because it breaks my heart when my customers tell me what their poor little babies have gone through because of them. But some of these things, just seems like it wasn’t the product itself that caused the harm, but plain old fashioned parental inattention.
Meanwhile, there are a couple of products and services out there that probably should have been recalled a long time ago.
Certain vaccines contain ingredients that are toxic in very small amounts, yet we continue to inject more and more of them into our most vulnerable members of society. There have been reported injuries from vaccines. There have probably been long-term effects which go unnoticed because it’s not directly apparent. Yes, I vaccinate M because I believe that there are certain diseases we don’t want to see come back, but I do it on a spaced out and selective schedule because the whole thing just makes me nervous.
I just finished reading a book, Milk, Money and Madness, and I have to say it made me angry. It’s all about the rise of the infant formula industry, and how it went from being individually produced for those rare babies who did not have access to human milk to a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry. At the expense of babies’ health. I talk to many parents who truly believe that cow’s milk formula is just as good as human breast milk. If people really knew what was at risk (sometimes babies’ very lives), we’d start seeing formula made from animal milk that was closer in composition to human milk (like goats), and perhaps even see a recall of all formula to the status of prescription only. Because there always will be a need, in cases of maternal death or adoption or illness or what have you, but no formulation has yet to come remotely close to what nature intended for human infants.
Third, and probably most incendiary, there’s the cutting. Offered as an “option” to parents of newborn baby boys, circumcision is directly responsible for nearly 200 infant deaths each year, and likely more from related complications. These deaths are entirely preventable. Because there is no medical reason for the routine circumcision of newborns and is, in fact, an elective, cosmetic procedure performed without the consent of the patient himself. For just over a century, this surgery has been performed in order to prevent any number of maladies, from masturbation to mental illness to autoimmune disorders to sexually transmitted diseases to urinary tract infection to cancer. It has been proven to work for preventing exactly nothing. Yet now because of the numbers of men who were circumcised by previous generations, hospitals continue to offer the surgery to new parents, some of whom demand it be done because they never questioned why it was done to them (or their partner), some of whom might not even know the difference. Fortunately, the numbers are dropping, and any boys born and left intact in recent years will be in good company (almost 70% of all baby boys born in 2009 were left intact). In several states, the operation is no longer covered by Medicaid. Men are talking more about living with circumcision injury, and parents and medical professionals are learning how to properly care for the foreskin. But still, the other day, a new dad came in with his list, including Vaseline to care for his new son’s circumcision site. But that’s not what hurt my heart, I later learned that his son was only four days old and had been born five weeks early. Thank God the baby was alright, but premature infants are especially vulnerable, I would think that cosmetic surgery would be the last thing you’d want to inflict upon someone at such a delicate time. I could go on, but I’ve probably offended all my friends who have circumcised their baby boys, so I’ll just say that I just don’t get it. And leave it at that. For those of you who are still looking into this because your expecting a boy, well, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions. Your son is worth it.
To sum up, I’m very sad for the babies and children injured that resulted in various products being taken off the store shelves. But I hope that some of these recalls, and even some products and services that have not been recalled or outlawed will help us to wake up to the world around us and do what’s right for our own precious children. I’m not trying to make people feel bad for having made fully informed decisions based on what’s right for their families. But in the cases of vaccination, infant formula marketing and routine circumcision, I have a feeling that most parents are missing some part of the information. And I finally felt the need to stop holding my tongue for just a moment right here. Because I’ve had to hold my tongue so often in other places.