[Note: This post may upset some people. It damn sure upset me. If you are easily upset by pediatric medical stories that do not end well, then you might want to skip reading this. The title alone may be all you need to know.]
Homeopathy is the antiscientific belief that infinitely diluted medicine in water can cure various ailments. It’s perhaps the most ridiculous of all "alternative" medicines, since it clearly cannot work, does not work, and has been tested repeatedly and shown to be useless.
And for those who ask, "what’s the harm?", you may direct your question to Thomas Sam and his wife Manju Sam, whose nine-month-old daughter died because of their homeopathic beliefs.
The infant girl, Gloria Thomas, died of complications due to eczema. Eczema. This is an easily-treatable skin condition (the treatments don’t cure eczema but do manage it), but that treatment was withheld from the baby girl by her parents, who rejected the advice of doctors and instead used homeopathic treatments. The baby’s condition got worse, with her skin covered in rashes and open cracks. These cracks let in germs which her tiny body had difficulty fighting off. She became undernourished as she used all her nutrients to fight infections instead of for growth and the other normal body functions of an infant. She was constantly sick and in pain, but her parents stuck with homeopathy. When the baby girl developed an eye infection, her parents finally took her to a hospital, but it was far too late: little Gloria Thomas succumbed to septicemia from the infection.
Thomas and Manju Sam were convicted yesterday of manslaughter in Australian court. As a parent myself I cannot even begin to imagine the pain they are going through, the anguish and the emotional horror. But let us be clear here: their belief in a clearly wrong antiscientific medical practice killed their baby. Homeopathy doesn’t work, but because they were raised in an environment that supports belief in homeopathy, they trusted it. They used it, and they rejected real, science-based medicine. And their daughter suffered the consequences.
And suffer she did. The accounts of the pediatricians who tried too late to help little Gloria Thomas are simply harrowing.
Every time I hear about something like this — a baby dying due to "alternative" medicine, or the lies and disinformation from the antivaccination movement, or some other belief system that flies in the face of reality — a little bit of me dies as well. I held my daughter shortly after she was born, and I would have done anything to protect her, and that included and still includes protecting her against people who fight so adamantly against reality.
The reality is that the antivaxxers’ work will result in babies dying. The reality is that belief in homeopathy will result in more babies dying. The reality is that denying science-based medicine will result in more babies dying.
And I know these words will fall on many deaf ears. And I will guarantee the comments to this post will contain many loud and irrational arguments supporting homeopathy and the antivaxxers. I’ve seen it before, and I know that many of those people are completely immune to reason and logic. And if you wonder what might wake them up, the answer may very well be nothing. Just read what Gloria Thomas’ father — the man just convicted of the manslaughter of his own daughter — had to say:
But even after Gloria died, Thomas Sam adhered to his belief that homeopathy was equally valid to conventional medicine for the treatment of eczema.
He told police: “Conventional medicine would have prolonged her life … with more misery. It’s not going to cure her and that’s what I strongly believe.”
He and his wife face 25 years in jail, where they will have plenty of time to rethink their convictions.
Links to this Post
- Femmostroppo Reader - June 6, 2009 — Hoyden About Town | June 5, 2009
- The point about homeopathy « remnants of remnants | June 6, 2009
- Homeopathy killed a little girl « Why Evolution Is True | June 6, 2009
- Homöopathie tötet! « Aufklärung 2.0 | June 6, 2009
- Una verdad simulada » On Homeopathy | June 7, 2009
- Skepticism Doesn’t Sell « Grey and White Matter | June 7, 2009
- L’Omeopatia uccide (by Phil Plait) « Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Italian Church | June 9, 2009
- Omeopatia | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | June 9, 2009
- Naturopatie acută « Klewos | June 10, 2009
- Phil Plait: Homeopatia zabija « Blog Atopowy | June 10, 2009
- Naturpatie acută « Klewos | June 11, 2009
- Mr B’s Hot Link Injection for the week ending Friday, 5th June « Mr Blackett’s House o’Sex | June 12, 2009
- Guest Blog: Golden Advice « Kinetic Beans | June 12, 2009
- What a week for alt-med smackdowns | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | June 16, 2009
- Czech the dilution! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | June 21, 2009
- Discover How To Kill Louse on Head « Wicked Blogging | July 30, 2009
- Homeopatia zabija: Philip Plait « Eksploratorium Wiedzy | September 27, 2009
- finger excercise | September 29, 2009
- Alt med updates | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | September 29, 2009
- Homeopathy kills | Gifts For Babies | October 6, 2009
- A morte de Gloria Sam: Homeopatia, arrogância e… cientificismo? | ..:: In Nomine Dei ::.. | October 17, 2009
- Homeopathic Health Solutions – Medical Truth VS Fiction | US Life Daily | February 10, 2010
- British Medical Association: homeopathy is witchcraft « U S C M A – United States Colombian Medical Association | May 17, 2010
- If it quacks… « Life of a Lab Rat | September 21, 2011
- Toby Wardman — The point about homeopathy | September 4, 2012