Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Above All, Do No Harm

"Because of possible harm to children, [provincial bans exist on indoor tanning beds for minors along with bylaws disallowing children under 16 in tattoo parlours]."
"There's also the consent aspect -- that children aren't mature enough to say no to these outfits."
"If [children] are not mature enough yet to say, 'Mum, I'm not going to that quack, I need to go to a doctor', then there could be an argument for a legal restriction to protect children."
"...The behaviour in Lethbridge suggests that they're not professional, because a professional would have called the Director of Child Welfare and said, 'This parent is unwilling or unable to provide the child necessary medical treatment." 
Juliet Guichon, bioethicist, lawyer, University of Calgary
Facebook     David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet, 35, have pleaded not guilty to failing to provide the necessities of life for their son, 19-month-old Ezekiel, who died in March 2012

And at a year and a half of age, Ezekiel Stephan was in no position to tell his parents, much less understand that what they were exposing him to in naturopathic medicine taking the place of professional medical science would be the death of him. Because he did die, when he could have been saved if his parents had taken him to a  hospital for treatment, as they were advised to do, even by the naturopath whom they consulted. They are now on trial in Lethbridge, Alberta for failing to provide their son with the necessities of life.

David and Collet Stephan, Ezekiel's parents, believed in what they exposed their son to. They operate a nutritional supplements company. And they have pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against them. Ezekiel's parents believed their son had the croup, and they took to treating the child with homemade smoothies and natural remedies. They felt confident they were doing the right thing for him, giving him ginger root, olive leaf extract and water with maple syrup. None of which helped his condition of viral meningitis. "There’s nothing in the world that will bring him back", complained Ezekiel’s father. "What good could possibly come out of this (trial)?"

Though the little boy had been sick for weeks, it was only once he stopped breathing that an ambulance was called for, and the child subsequently airlifted to Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary. Five days later he was taken off life support. He had suffered a lung infection which then had developed into viral meningitis. A family friend had informed the parents their child in all probability had meningitis; as a nurse she had a fairly good idea what he was suffering from and urged the parents to seek medical intervention.

The reaction to that advice, which was echoed by a naturopath whom they visited, was to give the little boy water with maple syrup, juice with frozen berries, and a drink comprised of apple cider vinegar, horseradish root, hot peppers, mashed onion, garlic and ginger root. No doubt they felt that what didn't kill him might very well cure him. It did neither. Now provincial authorities will consider whether a new law needs to be formulated, to restrict naturopaths from treating children.

Collet Stephan had visited a naturopath and bought a tincture of echinacea called "Blast" from the clinic. At the trial the naturopath testified she had been busy with another client when the child's mother had called the clinic, but she had firmly instructed a staff member to inform the mother the boy needed to be brought immediately to hospital. She testified that she was not questioned whether echinacea could be used to treat meningitis.

"Many parents of young children distrust conventional medicine and have] an almost magical belief that there is some pill or preparation called 'natural' that will wipe things away", said Calgary pediatrician Dr. Ian Mitchell. He feels that restricting naturopaths from seeing children would only serve to drive matters from sight, discouraging parents from informing doctors of natural products they may be using whose interactions with other medicines could be "disastrous".

"We want people to be open with us", he stated, and it is his belief that society should neither condemn nor judge parents who embark on initiatives driven by distrust of conventional medical science and who cling to belief in alternatives which may in the final analysis, harm their children.

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