YouTube image from Times Free Press.

Health Impact News Editor Comments

The Times Free Press in Chattanooga, Tennessee reported last week that the Erlanger Health System was going to start forcing all newborn babies in their health facilities to receive an antibiotic ointment applied to their eyes at birth, whether their parents want it or not. Even if nurses and midwives attending the birth do not approve of the antibiotic ointment, the hospital allegedly stated that they will apply it anyway, using security guards at the patient’s bedside if need be.

The hospital system can do this because of a 100 year old law in Tennessee:

Erythromycin protects babies’ eyes against infections they can acquire in the birth canal if the mother has a sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea or chlamydia. Such infections can lead to blindness, and since 1915 Tennessee law has required protective ointment be applied within an hour after birth — no exceptions. Georgia requires the same thing. (Source.)

Kate Belz of the Times Free Press reported why some parents want to refuse the treatment:

However, a few parents are refusing the ointment. Some insist they don’t have STDs, and so the ointment is unnecessary and unnatural. Others say the procedure interferes with critical bonding during their child’s first moments of life.

Where Kate Belz fails in her reporting, however, is giving the doctors’ point of view with no apparent fact checking:

Doctors say the ointment is effective and without side effects.

No side effects? Is there any prescription drug in the market today with “no side effects”? Are doctors simply saying this because they have never seen babies go blind due to antibiotic ointment applications? What about secondary side effects, and the effect on the newborn’s natural immune system?

A simple search to find the product’s package insert, which is required by the FDA for all approved drugs, reveals this side effect:

The use of antimicrobial agents may be associated with the overgrowth of nonsusceptible organisms including fungi; in such a case, antibiotic administration should be stopped and appropriate measures taken. (Source: ILOTYCIN package insert on National Institute of Health government website.)

Topical antibiotics kill all the bacteria on the skin when applied, whether good or bad, and it is common knowledge that this can lead to fungal skin infections. The package insert also seems to suggest there are no long-term studies done on the topical form of Erythromycin, only the oral form:

Two year oral studies conducted in rats with erythromycin did not provide evidence of tumorigenicity. Mutagenicity studies have not been conducted. No evidence of impaired fertility that appeared related to erythromycin was reported in animal studies. (Source.)

Medical Tyranny Needs to be Opposed

Forced medical treatments on children violate basic civil liberties and need to be opposed. The Times Free Press quoted both a nurse and midwife who are opposed to the use of force for medical procedures:

But one Erlanger East labor and delivery nurse, who asked not to be named because she does not have authorization to speak on the matter, said for her and her co-workers, the policy “goes against everything” she has been taught about patients’ right to refuse treatment.

“You’re darned if you do, darned if you don’t,” she said. “If we don’t, then we could supposedly get sued. If we go through with it, then I’m afraid someone could say it’s battery because we’re providing care against their wishes. That’s my biggest fear.”

She said she would not go against parents’ wishes, even if a security guard was involved.

Local midwife Amy Miller Anderson, who has worked in labor and delivery for more than 20 years including her time as a nurse, said the policy has “deeply troubling” implications.

She does not discourage the use of erythromycin ointment, and always spells out what the law requires.

“What I don’t agree with is the use of force. … It’s entirely inappropriate,” said Anderson.

Read the full article here.

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Baby designed by God
by Dr. Amanda Hess & Dr. Jeremy Hess


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