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what's in the water?

Procrastinating like crazy, I've just come across an interesting post over on Science-Based Medicine. It's about the hazards associated with water births (sometimes promoted as a 'natural' way to deliver a baby...). I've wondered before about the sense of delivering a baby under water (the 'diving' reflex only kicks in in cold water & no mum-to-be is going to sit around in a chilly tub) but I hadn't really thought before about the microbiological side of things. Faecal contamination (eg via meconium) + body-temperature water - not a good combination...

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Hi Alison,

One of my friends has this as their current status on Facebook, and I wondered if you had some facts at your finger tips which I could steal to reply (as I'm sure it's not scientifically sound):

"The swine flu itself has killed about 2/3000 people total. The regular flu kills 40 000 plus per year.The vaccine contains 2 dangerous compounds, one is thimerosol. It is made 50% of mercury. It binds to receptors in your brain, and can causes brain damage. The other is squalene. It accidentally tricks your immune system into killing your own cells. So people what do we think?"

Youre dead right, it's not scientifically sound! The comments about relative numbers of deaths do probably stack up, but the northern hemisphere is going into a second winter with H1N1 & the worry there is that the virus will be more aggressive second time around (having had time to pick up various beneficial mutations (beneficial to the virus, that is!) in the interim. Hence the mass vaccination campaign in the US.

Thimerosol - is a preservative in some adult vaccines (hasn't been in childhood vaccines since 2001 as far as I'm aware). It's present in miniscule amounts in those vaccines that contain it & there is absolutely no evidence that it causes any form of brain damage.

Squalene is made in the body as a normal metabolic by-product & the quanitity in vaccines (apparently it's present in the European H1N1 vaccine but not the one used in the US) is again so tiny as to be insignificant.

I'll have a look for some references to support all that & maybe write a post about it :-)

Hey Alison,

I've got an unrelated question: If humans are the only species that can recognise their own reflection in a mirror, how come other species (who cannot recognise these reflections) recognise other members in the same species?

I hope that made sense, haha...

Perfect sense :-)

I think it has to do with self-awareness: if you're aware of yourself as a specific, independent individual, this would make it likely that you could recognise your own reflection (ie distinguish yourself from the herd). Recognition of other members of the same species is hard-wired, I would say - natural selection would make sure of it: individuals who don't mate with conspecifics are much much less likely to leave offspring, so anything that lets you recognise a conspecific will be selected for.

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Recent Comments

  • Alison Campbell: Perfect sense :-) I think it has to do with read more
  • Jenny: Hey Alison, I've got an unrelated question: If humans are read more
  • Alison Campbell: Youre dead right, it's not scientifically sound! The comments about read more
  • Renee: Hi Alison, One of my friends has this as their read more