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Meet The 62,000 Pediatricians Influencing How You Raise Your Child

The encouragement of teen condom use by large segments of the health profession has driven large segments of the parenting profession bonkers for years, but the nation’s most prolific pediatric publishing organization took things one step further when they proclaimed that the best birth control option for teen girls is the IUD.

The name of the organization is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and since their prescriptive recommendations for physicians and parents carry a tremendous amount of weight, it probably wouldn’t hurt for you to know a bit more about them. We spoke with Dr. David Hill, AAP spokesman and author of ” Dad To Dad Parenting,” to get a little insight into how the AAP operates.

AAP 101
Pre-term infants? There’s an AAP committee for that. Toddler with an infectious disease? There’s an AAP committee for that. Bioethics? Native American child health? Pediatric AIDS? There’s an AAP committee for all of them. In total, the AAP is 62,000 pediatricians reviewing the totality of research and literature on child and adolescent health to make recommendations to other doctors and the public. In that mission, they are tireless, publishing over 800 titles — if there’s a matter that involves your infant, toddler, child, or adolescent, they have weighed in on it, and most likely influenced policy on it.

Flickr / Hubert K

Taking A Hard Line
Unlike most (possibly all) bureaucracies, the AAP isn’t afraid to take a tough or unpopular stance, based on the belief that scientific understanding by the wider community “lags by decades”. Besides the IUD thing, they’ve raised hackles with their positions on everything from circumcision to gun control. “We go where the science takes us. That’s the only mandate.” A less contentious example: “Vitamin C repels the common cold,” lamented Dr. Hill. “That hasn’t been right since the 1950s. It wasn’t right when it was inferred by Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winner. It was never right.”

“We go where the science takes us. Vitamin C repels the common cold – that hasn’t been right since the 1950s. It wasn’t right when it was inferred by Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winner.”

Dr. Hill used violent video games to demonstrate how AAP recommendations come together by bringing in wide swathes of the sprawling organization to weigh in on a single subject. “I have an interest in because I’m interested in media. But then members of councils on violence and injury prevention are also interested because video games may contribute to violences against children. So council members draft a policy and then it will be shared with every group within the AAP that has an interest.” While AAP’s recommendations are issued by one council, input from all the councils is taken to assure every angle of child impact is considered.

How To Access Their Stuff
The AAP’s resources for dads, be they new or old salts, start with the parent-facing website (also available en Español). This portal distills all recommendations and policies into language parents can grasp. It also addresses timely topics you might be freaking out about, (“Enteroviruses for Dummies” entry), and answers more timeless questions with the FAQ-formatted “Ask the Pediatrician.”

Because they’re firm believers in transparency, AAP also uses to the site to explain their rationales for policy positions. If they come out and say that young girls should be using long-acting contraceptive devices, they don’t just expect you to take their word for it — they provide you access to several dozen articles on the subject. Or if you don’t even want to think about that, you can just peruse stories about how vitamin C, “when consumed in mega doses in hopes of undermining a cold, can sometimes cause headaches, diarrhea, nausea, and cramps.”

10 of the AAPs More Controversial Decisions
1. Breastfeeding: The AAP unequivocally recommends exclusive breastfeeding until the kid’s ~6 months old

2. Gun Control: The AAP firmly believes that the safest home for a child is a home without a gun and that assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines should be banned

3. Screen Time: The AAP recommends parents minimize or eliminate altogether media exposure for children under the age of two

4. Circumcision: While the health benefits outweigh the risks, they are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision according to the AAP

5. Immunizations: The AAP believes that immunizations are the safest and most cost-effective way of preventing disease, disability, and death

6. Fruit Juice: The AAP recommends that fruit juice not be given to infants under six months, for children older than six months, the AAP says fruit juice offers no nutritional benefits over whole fruit

7. Car Seats: The AAP recommends that parents should keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2

8. Swaddling: The AAP has published pro and con information on swaddling due to conflicting data on risks and benefits

9. Bumper Pads: The AAP states that bumper pads should not be used in cribs as there is no evidence that bumper pads prevent injuries, and there is a potential risk of suffocation, strangulation or entrapment

10. Pacifiers: The AAP recommends using pacifiers to help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome