Better to walk alone, than go with the crowd in the wrong direction: Medicalising children’s “health”


From The Sunday People

A few months ago I was contacted by a journalist from Triangle news agency about an article I had written on this blog explaining the reasons why; “we chose not to vaccinate our children”   I agreed to do an interview, which was publised in  a Sunday People article on August 5th. The Article opens with the comment  ‘They look the picture of Health; and the Lanigan family claim its because they are 100% medicine free. In the interview, I added; good nutrition, plenty of outdoor exercise, love and laughter. However the main point the journalist wanted to focus on was; that our children had not needed medicine in their young lives. Which in my circle of friends and colleagues is not that unusual.  Chiropractic is based on the philosophy that the body has an “innate ability to self heal” and regulate without the use of drugs, a physiologist would call that principal “homeostasis”.

Most chiropractors would try to get their patients off painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs as quickly as possible. Arguably starting children off on Calpol and Paracetamol is what has led to the problems with addiction to prescribed painkillers, which caused the deaths of among others, Michael Jackson and Prince. Many chiropractors would bring up their children as I have and only give drugs when absolutely necessary. The public health problem caused by over-prescribing of antibiotics has been well documented. There are at least 5.000 deaths each year because antibiotics, possibly the greatest medical discovery of the 20th century were used as a panacea by medical doctors for every sort of infection.

There is an element of the chiropractic profession, as in other branches of “complementary medicine”, which has embraced the biomedical model, in the belief they will be allowed on to their teritory to practice like “real doctors”.  The chiropractic profession was granted prescribing rights in the Health and Social Care act of 2001 and the direction the profession was moving in was a major factor in my resigning from the UK Chiropractic Register in 2009.  That is not to say I turned my back on “modern medicine”. It has a place when conservative methods have not worked. Unfortunately, in an underfunded health care system, a doctor has little time to take a full history, never mind physical examination. So the GP is forced to go straight to the prescription pad, resulting in statins or blood pressure medicine for life, rather than exploring changes in lifestyle like diet, exercise and reducing emotional stress. Doctors using conservative interventions from a young age in Primary care, should be the gatekeepers for a NHS system that would be sustainable in the long term. I clearly state in the article if our children needed medicine, say got hit by a bus or had a serious bacterial infection of course I would go to A&E ( secondary medical care) as I did when we suspected whooping cough in my 3 daughters in 2006.

We went to the GP first, who referred us to Kingston hospital for swab tests. A week later they came back positive. We discussed the prognosis with a paediatrician and concluded the children would be better off at home as the symptoms were not severe and in a hospital environment they would be at greater risk of other infections like pneumonia. There is no treatment for whooping cough, you can give antibiotics before it has been contracted, as a prophylactic or before the cough starts, to stop it being passed on to others.

If you believe in vaccines as a way of protecting your children, then vaccinate them. If the theory is correct those children should be protected from those who dont vaccinate. But doctors and parents who believe in the efficacy of the Pertussis vaccine, for example, are more likely to misdiagnose pertussis and only recognise it in unvaccinated children (this is called confirmation bias).  The reason I suspected whooping cough in the summer of 2006 and took our children to our GP was because, I used to read all the medical journals when I was doing my Masters in Health Promotion. Eloise was born on July 26th 2006 and an article about whooping cough was published on the 20th. The article’s conclusion was that  whooping cough was much more common than GPs believed. GPs were not recognising it, assuming vaccinated children were protected when in reality,  85.9% of the children diagnosed with whooping cough were fully immunised.   As it would appear the vaccine is not very effective and as there are risks associated with the vaccine, not giving it to our children was not a difficult decision for us. I would not say adverse events from vaccines are common, but they are there and are glossed over in the UK when the appointments are made. In the US when you consent to the first vaccine for your baby, you sign a “Vaccine Information Statement“;  which states “As with any medicine, there is a very small chance of a vaccine causing a serious injury or death”? How “small” those risks are is not clear. In the UK and US, the Government protects pharmaceutical companies from liability for vaccine injury, because its government policy to promote vaccination. The financial risks from “class actions” from vaccine injury became too great for the pharmaceutical industry to continue manufacturing vaccines, hence the Vaccine Damage Payment programme run by the HMRC in the UK and the Vaccine Injury Compensation Programme in the USA?

When your child has been damaged by a vaccine. To qualify for a Vaccine damage payment in the UK, you have to show the disability caused by the vaccine after the age of two, is at least 60% to qualify. When a child is vaccine damaged, the proponents of mandatory vaccines are no longer sharing the love of doing it “for the community”. This is the first line on “The Vaccine Damage Payment” application for compensation page. “If you’re severely disabled as a result of a vaccination against certain diseases, you could get a one-off tax-free payment of £120,000”. They dont inform you of this in the “Red Book” you are presented when your child is born. You could be forgiven for being angry if your child had a serious reaction to a vaccine in the UK and you had not been warned of the risk, as you would have been in the US. We were not willing to take this risk with any vaccines when our children were babies, taking the view illness strengthens the immune system  The UK taxpayer has paid out over £75,000,000 to vaccine damaged children over the years – a snip to the $3 billion been paid out in the US.

Eloise our youngest, was 2 weeks old when diagnosed with whooping cough in 2006, so would have been to0 young to have been vaccinated anyway. Interestingly, being breast fed by a heathy mother, Eloise showed hardly any symptoms of having contracted whooping cough, which is probably the case with many newborns, exposed to the whooping cough bacteria and they get immunity naturally, while doctors only see worst case senarios and assume every case is going to be the same.  I provided chiropractic care, for all three children, as I do, whether they have symptoms or not, so the spinal joints move symmetrically and do not interfere with nerve function, which is the main controller regulating our physiological systems. Our children have not needed medicines, they were not “banned”, we did not refuse blood transfusions to save their lives or refuse emergency care, they are extremely independent confident healthy children who have never needed the medicines that most children get.

A couple of months ago the two oldest girls did choose to have some vaccines to go abroad. This was not my choice it was theirs, as it was a requirement to go on the long haul trip with Guides, we had been in South Africa and the US before without problems, but if the wanted to make this trip they had to have vaccines. Even at 14, my children are old enough to make these decisions for themselves. Molly and Isabelle had been preparing for this trip with Guides for almost two years raised £3,000 each,  one for Ecuador and the other to Cambodia and they had some vaccines. The fact the girls were vaccinated was reported in the article in the Daily Mail  so the headline “Father bans Medicines”, was hardly accurate. As a parent I have never banned my children from doing anything. They are smart confident children, I have always tried to influence their decisions, which obviously gets harder as they get older. If kids want to have sex, drink alcohol, do drugs they will find a way. Any “bans” only causes resentment and they are less likely to confide in you, when they break the ban, as in all likelihood they will one day.

So when I did the interview on Stephen Nolan BBC 5 Live (below), on the evening the article was published. I thought I should clarify what had been reported, in all the newspapers. Afterwards I was concerned, that by telling Stephen Nolan the girls had been vaccinated before their trip, it might be interpreted as me having changed my mind, which wasn’t the case. But in these situations you dont have much time to go into details, so stick to your guns and dont say anything foolish or make sweeping statements, was to be my approach for future interviews.


WHO definition of Heath

This generation will be the first generation in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents and it is entirely due to lifestyle. So in bringing up our children we have focused on healthy old fashioned lifestyles, rather than the biomedical approach, the pharmaceutical industry and government would like us to give our children. Even the World Health Organisation would acknowledge that “Health” is more than absence of diseases. However  the Newspapers,  TV and radio just wanted to focus on diseases and why we had not given the children medicines.

It was only in the final interview on BBC Radio London (below), that I insisted on talking about health: how it is achieved and what it means to my children. Good air, clean water, good quality  food, exercise and good relationships. Doctor Rosmary Sutherland, joined the discussion and used the usual fear tactics of “Childreen suffering for three months” and being “protected” (from the horrible lurgies) by the children who are vaccinated. All she had to offer my children for the whooping cough, was a vaccine that does not work very well, even though the whooping cough study mentioned above was published in the British Medical Journal. She also suggested I was letting my “children suffer” and might even be “neglecting” them. You rarely find this celebrity GPs speaking out, when children are neglected because of government cuts. The fact is Medical Doctors have been giving pills out “Willy-nilly” for many years, which has created all sorts of health problems, as predicted by pediatrician Dr Robert Mendelsohn in the 70s; How to Bring up a Healthy Child – In spite of your Doctor. Is the philosophy I would recommend to all parents. There is a name for illness caused by medicine, its called “Iatrogenic” disease: which is recognised as one of the leading causes of premature death in the United States

The interview which got most attention was my appearance on ITVs Good Morning Britain (GMB). To be fair, I was a little naive in my approach to this. As they were sending a car to pick me up and drive me home, I was thinking I would be on for plenty of time, giving me a chance to say what I wanted. Originally the producers had asked me to come on with the girls. As they were away, I suggested having a discussion about the medicalisation of childrens health and wellbeing with one of their doctors Hilary Jones. I was very confident going in and knew exactly what I was going to do.

The introduction focused on what we had not not done medically, rather than what we had done so that our children were heathy. They used emotive language and there was no acknowledgment that this dad had any qualifications at all and it sounded almost like I was being guided by the position of the stars or something equally silly.

So when the opening question came from one of the presenters, Ranvir Singh: ” what on earth has led you to this decision”, the tone in her voice told me,  this was not going to be easy and I now knew, I only had 7 minutes air time. I responded by saying they were making “it” ( a normal family life for millions of people) sound very dramatic. The main point being our children have never needed medicine or hospitalisation for illnesses and just because most people choose to medicate their children, does not mean we have to do it as well. There is no evidence this approach makes children healthier, on the contrary,  the exponential increase in autoimmune disorders and autism, is being linked to the increasing number of chemicals our children are ingesting compared to when I was a child. Deep down as I took my place between the two presenters and the doctor I suspected this was not going to be as easy as I thought. I was on the programme to have a discussion with Dr Hilary Jones (Clip 2 of GMB).

Having a discussion with two mothers, is different. We all want to do whats best for our children, we have just taken a different path. I would have made clear to the two mothers, that if my children were in serious pain, of course the doctor could give them pain relie, if it was necessary. Its not that we are refusing medicine, ours children have never needed any and could also have gone with this from view from  Dr Suzanne Humphries  if it was just me and the presenters. 

I have always gone to doctors I respected, for another opinion, weighing up benefits against risks. My partner and I made our decision based on the evidence available to us. As I was debating with Dr Hilary Jones, I did what I have often done with GPs in the past; come across as a bit “folksy” at the start; how it was in “my day”, few medicines for children; Dr O Brien came in checked my temp and tells me everything will be fine. Then I bowl Dr Hilary what he thinks is an easy ball, one that most doctors, particularly the younger ones think, they can hit for a six. I state  “the doc and I had measles in the late 50s and my doctor said measles was just a mild infection, a week in bed”.

That statement lights up all doctors under fifty who are taught measles is a “killer disease” best defended with vaccines.  Hilary Jones was no different; Measles is a “Killer disease”; he responded, but to be fair to him he was better prepared and knowledgeable than most GPs are when discussing vaccines and  sidestepped my trap (view clip 3 GMB) by shifting the discussion to German Measles (Rubella) a risk to foetuses in mothers who do not have the antibodies from being exposed to the infection.

Editorial BMJ February 1959

Anticipating Dr Hilary’s response, to my measles comment, I had brought 2 pages from the British Medical Journal from February 1959 and pulled them out of my pocket. Dr Hilary knew where I was going with this and dismissed my reference as “out of date”, which got a laugh. The point being; this Journal was published during a massive measles epidemic, there had been 41,000 cases reported in January and no fatalities or serious adverse events reported, just kids getting measles, as Dr Hilary and I had it in the 50s.

The Journal’s editor had invited doctors to write about their experience of the disease and this was summarised in the 1959 editorial. The article, started on page 381; clearly stated, that there had been no fatalities during the previous ten years of measles. Kate Garaway seemed to think we have better knowledge about the risks of measles today; “we know more now”; she said. How doctors would see the “dangers” of death or serious side effects later, when measles has become quite rare, is beyond me. Surely the best time to observe how children respond to measles is during and immidiatly after an epidemic? Not years later when the pharmaceutical industry has a vaccine to promote and sell.

Hilary Jones sidestepped my Measles assertion by introducing “German Measles”/ rubella, an entirely different infection, which you might not even notice you had it while infected. However it is very dangerous for a developing foetus. If women of childbearing age who do not have antibodies for rubella, I would advise against getting pregnant, alternatively have the vaccine. A lot safer to have the vaccine as a mature woman than giving it to an 12 month old infant.

The presenter asks why you would not put your child in a hospital when she had whooping cough. (Clip 4 GMB) Eloise who was 2 weeks old and was being breastfed, had no symptoms although she tested positive for the pertussis bacteria. Children hospitalised with Whooping Cough have a tube inserted to keep airways open, making them more susceptible to infections like pneumonia. We took the view she was safer at home and she was. The presenter asks why would you take any risk with your children assuming there is no risk from the vaccine. There are risks from all vaccines.  Dr Hilary later acknowledges, yet the presenters would not press him on this for more information.

Then Dr Hillary states 190,000 children have died from whooping cough last year, this may very well be true, however, it did not happen in developed countries and according to the WHO  95% of these deaths were in developing countries not the UK.  These statements are made regularly and designed to generate fear in the listener. Any deaths in developed countries could also indicate a failure of the very vaccination programme they are promoting. They also reflect the impact of malnutrition and poor living conditions. I can only speak for my own children experience of whooping cough, Molly had a bad cough for two weeks and it was on and off for three months, Isabelle had it less and Eloise had no symptoms at all. The coughing did make their thoracic spine tight and I used chiropractic adjustments to keep it loose which seemed to reduce the intensity of the coughing.

At this point, I felt I was holding my own on GMB. No one had asked; why do you think your children are so healthy. They wanted to focus on why I was not doing what the doctor was advising and giving my all these medications to our children. Then Presenter Kate Garroway asks, “Why do you think you know more than the doctor”: This was my “Houston we have a problem” moment. I realised then I was not going to nail the doctor to the floor as I had boasted to the GMB researcher. This was “Jeremy Kyle” for the middle classes and I was to be the victim.

The presenters were seeing a doctor offering my children health and wellbeing. What I saw, was a parent standing outside a Mac Donalds choosing to walk past. Kate Garraway does not understand why I dont want to go in, when there is a doctor sitting in there eating who must know more than me because he has “studied for six years”. There is also a point of view that he has stopped asking questions and is merely doing PR for the pharmaceutical industry. Thats his choice, it has nothing to do with education; she might as well have asked me who has the largest penis; we were not going to put them on the table to compare. I know my children better than any doctor and if they are seriously ill I will seek advice from a number of people, the point being they have not been ill, have never needed medical treatment and traveled in South Africa and the US

To answer her question I decided to change the subject slightly and tell my cancer story (Clip 5 GMB ) . This would give me more time and it would demonstrate that you did not always have to follow doctors orders. I explained how in 2011 I had all the orthodox treatment for cancer including chemotherapy. I had been given the all clear in 2012, but the cancer came back in 2013. I was told it was “incurable” and average life expectancy with chemo was 22 months. I started the chemo but  was getting the same side effects after three cycles decided to stop, against doctors orders.

The alternative treatment I tried was cannabis oil; now normally people are blown away by this story.  I am alive 5 years after being told my cancer was incurable and being given months to live, not only am I alive I am cancer free;  these people in the studio were not impressed, similar to these “skeptics” discussing my story. It flies in the face of everything they believe in. “Thats just another form of medicine” they say; bearing in mind the guy who supplied me is serving time in prison for doing so, their reaction threw me. At this point, I knew they were not interested in anything I had to say and would talk over me. I just had to dig my heels in and survive the 7 minutes. Dr Hillary made no comment on my cancer “anectode”; I would have liked to have asked him how many times he had prescribed cannabis as “medicine”.

Dr Hilary says I want to go back to a time before antibiotics and modern medicine (clip 6 GMB); This was a time when doctors operated in their street clothes. Why would I or anybody want to go back to a time, before antibiotics when surgeons operated in their street clothes. If my children need antibiotics of course they would get them, they have not needed them. They are healthy with a strong immune system, because of what the eat, the exercise they get and if possible trying to avoid too many toxic chemicals going into their bodies. The latest controversy has been over the weedkiller Roundup, a product owned by the pharmaceutical giant Bayer.  There is a problem with giving to many medicines and over-prescribing antibiotics. Who created the problem? Doctors seeing antibiotics as a panacea for every infection or the patients who were led to believe they also worked on viral infections. Dr Hillary and the presenter acknowledged there was a problem with antibiotics; “we should not be giving anything that isnt appropriate”. Wouldn’t medicating my children be inappropriate when they did not need any medicine? That would have been a good question at this point. Instead, I asked if there are any risks from vaccines, hoping the presenters would ask for further information. Dr Hillary said there are “small risks from vaccines which are explained to parents”; This is simply not true, as I have explained above.

Mortality rates from all these diseases were in decline by the time vaccines were introduced because of improved living standards, better nutrition and access to clean water. We should arguably thank plumbers more than the microbe hunters for this miracle. For example: some diseases more or less disappeared with out a vaccine, Scarlet fever and cholera. Dr Hillary brings up TB which killed my grandfather in 1937. (Clip 7 GMB ) BCG vaccine is only used now in areas of poor living standards, because TB needs dark and damp conditions to proliferate. The BCG vaccines was no longer included in the UK routine vaccination programmes from 2005, not because of herd immunity as suggested by Dr Jones, but because it was easy to know those at most risk in the population: poor people in bad housing.

There is zero risk of polio or diphtheria in the UK yet we continue to vaccinate against it. Polio is transmitted in poo and was a problem in the 50s because of outdoor toilets and open sewers getting into the water system. If we moved to Pakistan, we would probably have a polio vaccine. The point is before consenting to any medical intervention you should weigh up the benefits against the risks before deciding what to do. We have not given the children medicine because they have not needed it for a variety of reasons.

If you are part of a group, I am happy to go and give talks to your group free of charge. Ultimately I do not claim to have a monopoly on knowledge or to being righteous. However if doctors or government officials want me to vaccinate my children, they need to make a better case for it than they are and demonstrate that vaccinated children are healthier and have less autoimmune disorders than unvaccinated children.  Thats not too much to ask, is it?







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About Richard

Richard Lanigan 57 is the parent of four children, he was awarded a Masters in Health Promotion at Brunell University in 2004 he has practiced chiropractic at his practice Spinal Joint in Kingston Upon Thames since 1996 providing care for thousands of children

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