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Entries in Michele Bachmann (4)

Thursday
Sep152011

Debate over 'Forced' HPV Vaccination Re-Opened

Paul Tearle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Texas Governor Rick Perry got slammed at the GOP debate in Florida this week for signing an executive order in 2007 requiring all sixth-grade girls in Texas to get the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer. But the Texas state legislature overturned the order before it went into effect.

Meanwhile, fellow GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was met with criticism after stating that the vaccine causes mental retardation.

“I had a mother last night come up to me here in Tampa, Florida, after the debate,” Bachmann told NBC’s Today show Tuesday morning. “She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection, and she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

Pushback to Bachmann's claim came hard and fast. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement denouncing Bachmann’s suggestions.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation,” it said. “There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement.”

Bioethicist Art Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania said he would donate $10,000 to the charity of Bachmann’s choice if she can produce a patient who was left mentally retarded by injections of the Gardasil vaccine.
 
Some 12,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. One-third of them die.

Furthermore, the human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States, and certain varieties of HPV cause most cervical cancers.

The medical community recommends parents protect their 11- and 12-year-old daughters with a life-saving HPV vaccine, Gardasil.
 
Gardasil has been proven to be safe, and 35 million doses have been given to girls across the country. And there is no data to link the HPV vaccine with mental retardation.
 
But the series of three shots must be given on schedule, over about six months starting at age 11 or 12. After that age, it's too late.
 
Like the flu shot, the HPV vaccine is strongly supported by medical evidence and experts.
 
Still, it remains a matter of personal choice, better left to the family than the politicians.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Bachmann Comments Spark HPV ‘Retardation’ Debate

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., made HPV vaccinations a sticking point in Monday night’s Republican presidential debate.

Bachmann slammed Gov. Rick Perry for his 2007 executive order mandating that all sixth-grade Texas girls be required to get vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus linked to cervical cancer.  Bachmann said Perry’s mandate was a “government injection through executive order” and a “violation of a liberty interest.”

She charged that Perry’s order also endangered young girls who might experience negative side effects to the vaccine.

Bachmann’s statements elicited a statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

“The American Academy of Pediatrics would like to correct false statements made in the Republican presidential campaign that HPV vaccine is dangerous and can cause mental retardation.  There is absolutely no scientific validity to this statement.  Since the vaccine has been introduced, more than 35 million doses have been administered, and it has an excellent safety record… This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.”

Perry said his 2007 order was “a mistake,” as he did earlier this year.  But he also defended his decision, saying that it was an attempt to protect young women against cervical cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV.

The Texas legislature voted to override Perry’s order, and the law was never enacted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jul202011

Can High Heels Trigger Migraines?

Thomas Northcut/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As Rep. Michele Bachmann's severe migraines hit the headlines this week, The Daily Caller website reported that the Minnesota Republican has -- to her staff -- "implausibly blamed the headaches on uncomfortable high-heel shoes."

So, can wearing high-heels trigger debilitating migraines?

Dr. Lucas Bachmann, a medical resident at University of Connecticut and the congresswoman's son, told The New York Times that his mother had noticed a connection between the headaches and her wearing high-heel shoes.

"Different things do trigger migraines, and it's not easy to automatically discount that," said Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor. "But it could be more likely that she wears heels at times when she has a particularly important or busy encounter that may cause stress."

Bachmann tried to ease the worries of a crowd in Aiken, S.C., Tuesday, assuring those assembled that she could control her migraines with medication, and they would not impede her ability to serve as president, playing down reports that the migraines have prevented her from doing her job.

Her spokeswoman told ABC News Tuesday that the migraines have not interfered with her presidential campaign or her ability to serve as a member of Congress. She denied reports that Bachmann's migraines had "incapacitated" her in the past.

"Twelve percent of Americans suffer from migraines, so if you're saying that Americans who suffer from migraines can't do their jobs, then I think you're going to run into problems," said Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota congresswoman.

But doctors who specialize in treating migraines say that while they can't speak for Bachmann, many migraine sufferers experience headaches that can incapacitate them.

"The World Health Organization has ranked migraines in its top 20 incapacitating disorders during an attack," said Dr. Jan Brandes, assistant clinical professor in the department of neurology at Vanderbilt University. "They can be as incapacitated as someone who suffers from quadriplegia."

Brandes says about 10 percent of migraine sufferers experience debilitating headaches, but some studies put the number at 50 to 80 percent. Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men.

"Two to three days of debilitation is not unusual," said Saper. "You have not only the pain, but you have nausea, sometimes vomiting, a visual aura and other neurological disturbances as well as a mental fog that can be caused by the pain or the headache itself.

"We grade these things from one to five," Saper said. "If it's a very severe four or five, some people can't get out of bed. They're dizzy or they vomit, and they're just in bad shape."

Medications can also affect the ability to function, because they often have a sedative effect or cause nausea while making the pain go away.

People experiencing severe migraines might also not be able to think clearly and be unable to move, because any movement at all can exacerbate the pain.

"Migraine is a complex neurological disorder, and I fully understand why people with migraine and even doctors make associations all the time, which are very interesting and need further study to prove whether they are valid or not," said Dr. Allan Purdy, professor of neurology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

"In neurology," he continued, "we have to be very careful to ensure balance but still be open-minded to all ideas, as we really to date do not know the exact cause of migraine however we are getting there with better and new science every day."

At the event in South Carolina Tuesday, Bachmann told the assembled crowd, "I've maintained a full schedule between my duties as a Congresswoman and a presidential candidate traveling across this nation. I have prescribed medication I take on occasion whenever symptoms arise and they keep my migraines under control. But I'd like to make it abundantly clear, my ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as Commander in Chief."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul192011

On Migraines and Michele Bachmann

Medioimages/Photodisc(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The migraine headaches that afflict GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann do not prevent her from doing her job, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

"Twelve percent of Americans suffer from migraines, so if you're saying that Americans who suffer from migraines can't do their jobs, then I think you're going to run into problems," said Alice Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota congresswoman.

But doctors who specialize in treating migraines say that while they can't speak for Bachmann, 55, about 10 percent of migraine sufferers experience headaches that can be incapacitating.

"The World Health Organization has ranked migraines in its top 20 incapacitating disorders during an attack," said Dr. Jan Brandes, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. "They can be as incapacitated as someone who suffers from quadriplegia."

Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, said, "Two to three days of debilitation is not unusual. You have not only the pain but you have nausea, sometimes vomiting, a visual aura and other neurological disturbances as well as a mental fog that can be caused by the pain or the headache itself.

"We grade these things from 1 to 5," Saper said. "If it's a very severe 4 or 5, some people can't get out of bed, they're dizzy or they vomit and they're just in bad shape."

Medications can also affect the ability to function because they often have a sedative effect or cause nausea while making the pain go away.

People experiencing severe migraines might also not be able to think clearly and be unable to move, because any movement at all can exacerbate the pain.

"Many people want to be in a still, dark place with very little sound," Vanderbilt's Brandes said. "People are not really functional during this kind of attack."

Bachmann's camp is calling "bogus" a report by The Daily Caller which alleged the Minnesota congresswoman's migraines could "incapacitate" her "for days at a time."

On the campaign trail Tuesday, Bachmann herself responded to the article, saying "I've maintained a full schedule as a Congresswoman and a presidential candidate traveling across this nation. I have prescribed medication I take on occasion whenever symptoms arise and keep my migraines under control. My ability to function effectively will not affect my ability to serve as Commander in Chief."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio