Timely Tweets & NY COVID-19 Study

From John Pohl Twitter Feed: Article about mortality/comorbidites from COVID-19 in NYC: Link: Presenting Characteristics, Comorbidities, and Outcomes Among 5700 Patients Hospitalized With COVID-19 in the New York City Area

Methods: Case series of patients with COVID-19 admitted to 12 hospitals in New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County, New York, within the Northwell Health system. The study included all sequentially hospitalized patients between March 1, 2020, and April 4, 2020, inclusive of these dates.

Key findings:

  • The authors report a 88% fatality rate among patients requiring mechanical ventilation, including >97% among those >65 years of age
  • Comorbidities were present in 94% of the 5700 patients.  Most common comorbities included  hypertension (57%), obesity (42%), and diabetes (34%). Asthma was present in 9%.
  • Among patients who were discharged or died (n = 2634), 14.2% were treated in the intensive care unit, 12.2% received invasive mechanical ventilation, 3.2% were treated with kidney replacement therapy, and 21% died.


From Emily Perito:

From The Onion


Liver Briefs -April 2017

JA Flemming et al. Hepatology 2017; 65: 804-12.  This cohort study (2003-2015) of 47,591 adults wait-listed for liver transplantation, using the SRTR registry, showed that the era of direct-acting antivirals for hepatitis C was associated with a drop of 32% for HCV patients who were listed compared to the numbers listed during the interferon era.

AG Feldman et al. J Pediatr 2017; 182: 217-22. This retrospective study showed that elevated lactate levels (≥2.5 mmol/L) and elevated lactate to pyruvate ratio (≥25) were NOT predictive of mitochondrial diseases in pediatric patients who presented with acute liver failure.

AG Feldman et al. J Pediatr 2017; 182: 232-38. This retrospective cohort study showed a high rate of vaccine preventable illnesses (VPIs) following liver transplantation (n=2554), occurring in 1 of 6 liver transplant recipients. Most common infections was RSV; most common VPIs: rotavirus and influenza

Saint Chappelle, Paris

Latest Vaccine Recommendations

As a pediatric specialist, I do not administer vaccines in our office; at times I wonder how the recommendations for immunizations may have changed.  Relatively new vaccines include HPV and MenB. For those who want an up-to-date guidance for 2016 from CDC/ACIP:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.23.04 PM

Understanding Your Food and Biotechnology (Part 1)

Yesterday’s blog post summarized a recent talk by Ronald Kleinman, MD:  Biotechnology, Nutrition, and Agriculture: A Perspective and Implications for Child Health.  Given the prevalence of misinformation on this topic, I am spending the next few days elaborating on this lecture.  The full lecture (video and slides) will be available on the Nutrition4Kids website.

Genetic Engineering Has Allowed Development of Vaccines

Genetic Engineering Has Allowed Development of Vaccines

Biotechnology in Our Foods is Ubiquitous

Biotechnology in Our Foods is Ubiquitous

Biotechnology Has Reduced Mortality Dramatically

Biotechnology Has Reduced Mortality Dramatically

Genetic Change in Crops is as Old as Agriculture

Genetic Change in Crops is as Old as Agriculture. There would not be corn as we know it without crop breeding.

Key points:

  1. Genetic engineering has not only improved our food supply but has been essential in innovations like vaccines and insulin.
  2. Biotechnology is ubiquitous. It’s not just crops, but cheese, wine, etc. Biotechnology has led 16,000 fewer children dying each day compared to 1995; this is largely due to biotechnology. Improved food security and less malnutrition results in fewer secondary complications (eg pneumonia, diarrhea).
  3. Genetic change in foods is as old as agriculture. Lots of vegetables/crops were not found in nature, including corn and wheat. Cross-breeding allowed development of modern corn and wheat.

More tomorrow…

Just Saying…Vaccines Don’t Trigger Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The other day I was having a fun discussion on words that we may choose before providing information that others might not like.  Some examples:

  • “No offense but”…
  • “Don’t take this the wrong way”…
  • “Just saying”…

A recent report (GP de Chambrun et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015; 13: 1405-15) debunks claims that vaccines increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).  A report by Thompson NP et al (Lancet 1995; 345: 1071-74) suggested that measles vaccination could increase risk of IBD.  In the current study, the researchers examined 11 previous studies for review and meta-analysis.  Vaccines included: BCG, DPT, smallpox, poliomyelitis, pertussis, H1N1,measles, mumps, rubella, and combined MMR.  This study included 2399 patients with IBD and 33,747 controls. Bottomline: “Results of this meta-analysis show no evidence supporting an association between childhood immunization or H1N1 vaccination in adults and risk of developing IBD.” With regard to the measles vaccine in particular, the relative risk was 1.33 (CI 0.31 -5.80) in cohort studies and the relative risk was 0.85 (CI 0.60 -1.20) in case-control studies.

What types of words do you hear people use before saying something someone is not going to like?

Related posts:

Another Big Study: No Link between MMR vaccine and Autism (Plus one)

In a study with 95,727 children, there was no link between receipt of the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism, even in children at high risk (eg. sibling with autism).

Here’s a summary from USA Today: No link between MMR and Autism

Original JAMA article (free & entire article)

Related blog: “Too many vaccines and autism” is debunked | gutsandgrowth

An unrelated commentary, “Social Distancing and the Unvaccinated,” (NEJM 2015; 372: 1481-83) notes that a recent ruling (Phillips v City of New York) upholds the state’s authority to bar unvaccinated children from school during outbreaks.  This practice is referred to as social distancing to lessen likelihood of further transmission. This “reiterated the Supreme Court decision in the 1905 case Jacobson v. Massachusetts, which clearly found vaccine mandates constitutional.”

GI Care For Kids: Our group has been very supportive of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) and especially active in staffing the yearly Camp Oasis for more than 20 years.  Throughout the year, there are a number of other events to support CCFA.  This past weekend many of us participated in “Taking Steps.”  Here are a few pictures:

Super Poopers: Ben Gold, Larry Saripkin, Dinesh Patel, Seth Marcus, and Jay Hochman

Super Poopers: Ben Gold, Larry Saripkin, Dinesh Patel, Seth Marcus, and Jay Hochman

Dr. Spandorfer’s team raised a great deal of money (50K) and he/his family were featured in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (Local Family Takes Big Steps to Raise Awareness).  His son, Jack, spoke at the event, and was honored as this year’s hero.  They also had pretty clever T-shirts

With 'Pip" Spandorfer (whose team raised $50,000)

With ‘Pip” Spandorfer (whose team raised $50,000)

Dinesh Patel and Kimberly Sheats

Dinesh Patel and Kimberly Sheats




Vaccine Safety Comic Book Version – Will It Help?

The following link (from Jeff Lewis’ twitter feed) provides a terrific review and summary of the effectiveness of vaccines, the debunked myths, and how “anti-vax” movement hurt not just themselves but others too.

Vaccines Work, Here Are the Facts -Cartoon

Related blog posts:


Measles Epidemic 1991 -Compelling Narrative

I saw two personal heroes yesterday –Donald Schaffner and Paul Offit.  This happened at the 13th annual Donald Schaffner conference.

Dr. Schaffner is a former surgeon at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta .  In recent years, he has battled a number of medical problems.  During my early years as an attending, he and I worked together to help a number of children.  His patience, caring, and dedication to providing the best care were unrivaled.

I had never met Dr. Offit in person and this was the first time that I heard him speak.  However, he has been an outspoken advocate for vaccines and has written extensively on this subject; in addition, he has cast a critical eye on some alternative medicine practices.  I have quoted him numerous times on this blog (see links below). His topic for this conference: “The Philadelphia Measles Epidemic of 1991: Lesson from the Past or Prologue to the Future.”

This was an amazing narrative of the measles epidemic combining the epidemiology, with journalism, law, politics, and the history of refusing vaccines.  I did not take any notes, though I did take two pictures.  The lecture was effective because it was presented like any good story with lots of details, facts, and passion.  The lies and mistakes were discussed as well.

Legal Foundation for Compulsory Vaccination during Measles Epidemic

Legal Foundation for Compulsory Vaccination during Measles Epidemic

High case fatality among those who claimed religious exemptions to vaccine

High case fatality among those who claimed religious exemptions to vaccine

Key points:

  • Religious vaccine exemption was claimed initially by Christian Scientists. This has been expanded by other groups claiming personal beliefs.
  • Vaccine successes have made people forget how dangerous diseases like measles can be; unfortunately, resurgence of these diseases may be necessary to convince people that vaccination is worthwhile

One more link -yesterday on NPR: Measles Still Kills

Related blog posts:

Measles, Seizures and Sometimes Death due to Vaccine Delays and Avoidance

Three recent news items provide more up-to-date reasons for childhood vaccines.

1. Delaying vaccines may increase seizures –here’s the link and an excerpt (from NY Times):

Some parents postpone their children’s vaccinations because they believe the delay decreases the risk. But a new study finds the opposite may be true.

The analysis, published online in Pediatrics, involved 5,496 children born from 2004 to 2008 who had seizures in the first two years of life.

For children who received any of their shots as recommended before age 1, there was no difference in the incidence of seizure in the 10 days after vaccination compared with the period before vaccination. But compared with giving it in the first year, giving the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine at 16 months doubled the incidence of seizure, and giving the measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine at that age increased it almost six times.”


2. Rate of measles infections at 20 year high –here’s the link and an excerpt: (from USA Today)

The USA has the most measles cases in 20 years…The confirmed case count for 2014, as of May 23, was 288 and growing, the CDC says. That number includes 138 cases from Ohio, where the biggest outbreak is ongoing – and where the actual count is 166 as of Thursday, according to the state Health Department.

The nationwide total is the highest for late May since 1994, when 764 cases were reported, the CDC says. It surpasses the 220 cases reported in all of 2011, which was the most in the post-2000 era.

“This is not the kind of record we want to break, but should be a wake-up call for travelers and for parents to make sure vaccination records are up to date,” said Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases. Schuchat…Before the measles vaccine became available in 1963, the virus infected about 500,000 Americans a year, causing 500 deaths and 48,000 hospitalizations.

Cases this year have been reported in 18 states and New York City. Ninety percent have been among people who have not been vaccinated or have unknown vaccination status, according to the CDC. Most of the patients report religious, philosophical or personal reasons for avoiding vaccines.”


3. When parents withhold vaccines, vulnerable children get sick and sometimes die  –here’s the link (reference noted from Eric Benchimol’s twitter feed) and an excerpt:

Jason Lawson recalled a terrifying 10 days in B.C. Children’s Hospital when his son Beckett was six, after Beckett became severely ill from chicken pox.

At the time, Beckett was still receiving a maintenance dose of chemotherapy to kill potential cancer cells. That treatment also suppressed Beckett’s immune system.

When an unvaccinated child at the school passed on chicken pox, the consequences were dire — at one point the virus got into Beckett’s liver and started to do damage, which in some cases can be irreversible….

Lawson said he’s speaking out to remind families that protecting their friends and neighbours is another good reason to make the effort.

Take home message:  With every medical intervention, there are risks and benefits.  Those who forego vaccines increase the risk for themselves, their families and friends.

Related blog posts:



Life and Limb: The Price of Not Vaccinating Children

A recent article in USA Today focused some light on the issue of vaccine avoidance and its consequences. Two specific examples in the article included the death of an infant to pertusis and healthy boy who lost his arms and legs as a consequence of the measles. In my opinion, the authors and editors of this publication make a mistake by offering up too much credence to the vaccine naysayers presumably to provide a “balanced report.”  Their arguments should have been subjected to further scrutiny.  Here’s the link, decide for yourself:



Recent measles outbreaks in New York, California and Texas are examples of what could happen on a larger scale if vaccination rates dropped, says Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s director of immunizations and respiratory diseases. Officials declared measles, which causes itchy rashes and fevers, eradicated in the United States in 2000. Yet this year, the disease is on track to infect three times as many people as in 2009. That’s because in most cases people who have not been vaccinated are getting infected by others traveling into the United States. Then, Schuchat says, the infected spread it in their communities.

The 189 cases of measles in the U.S. last year is small compared with the 530,000 cases the country used to see on average each year in the 20th century. But, the disease — which started to wane when a vaccine was introduced in 1967 — is one of the most contagious in the world and could quickly go from sporadic nuisance to widespread killer.

Measles kills about once in every 1,000 cases. As cases mount, so does the risk. “We really don’t want a child to die from measles, but it’s almost inevitable,” says Schuchat. “Major resurgences of diseases can sneak up on us.”…

Even so, in some states the anti-vaccine movement, aided by religious and philosophical state exemptions, is growing, says Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He points to states like Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Oregon and Vermont — where more than 4.5% of kindergartners last year were unvaccinated for non-medical reasons — as examples of potential hot spots. Such states’ rates are four times the national average and illustrate a trend among select groups.

“People assume this will never happen to them until it happens to them,” Offit says. “It’s a shame that’s the way we have to learn the lesson. There’s a human price for that lesson.”

The most vulnerable are infants who may be too young to be vaccinated, children with compromised immune systems and others who may be unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, scientists say.

Related blog posts: