Children's Health Defense

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Children's Health Defense
FounderRobert F. Kennedy Jr.
Founded atWashington, D.C.
TypeNon-profit advocacy organization
Location
Chairman
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Vice Chairman
J.B. Handley
Brian Hooker, Katie Wright, Mary Holland, Terena Thyne Eisner
Websitechildrenshealthdefense.org
Formerly called
World Mercury Project

Children's Health Defense is an American anti-vaccination group led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Founded under the name World Mercury Project in 2016,[1] it has been spreading myths about the effect on human health of various "toxins", among which vaccines figure prominently. The group has been contributing to vaccine hesitancy in the United States, encouraging citizens and legislators to support anti-vaccine regulations and legislation[2][3][4][5] despite the overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe and effective.[4][6][7][8]

Goals and activism[edit]

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 6 children in the U.S. are now diagnosed with a developmental disorder.[9] An estimated 43% of U.S. children have been diagnosed with a chronic health condition.[10] As the basis of its actions, Children's Health Defense states that a large proportion of American children are suffering from conditions as diverse as autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, food allergies, cancer and autoimmune diseases, all allegedly caused by exposure to a variety of chemicals they characterize as "toxins". In addition to vaccines, Children's Health Defense has been campaigning against fluoridation of drinking water, acetaminophen, aluminium, wireless communications, among others.[5][11][12][13]

Named the World Mercury Project until 2018,[3][5][14] Kennedy's fame makes the Children's Health Defense an influential anti-vaccine organization.[2][3][4][5] On February 15, 2017, with other anti-vaccination activists and actor Robert De Niro at his side, Kennedy challenged anybody to prove the use of thimerosal is safe "in the amounts contained in vaccines currently being administered to American children and pregnant women", ignoring a 1999 Food and Drug Administration study doing just that. Although the use of thimerosal in vaccines has been phased out starting in 2011 (with one exception), this mercury compound is often targeted by anti-vaccination groups.[4][15]

Kennedy met with Donald Trump in January 2017. While Kennedy claimed the President agreed to establish a commission to study the risks allegedly associated with vaccines, government officials denied any decision was taken and nothing subsequently came of it.[16][17]

Criticism[edit]

Despite Kennedy's claims that he is in fact "pro-vaccine" or a "vaccine safety activist", several critics point out he and his organization spread common anti-vaccine arguments as part of their core messages. According to David Gorski, the World Mercury project was "a group dedicated to fear mongering over mercury in vaccines as a cause of autism and health problems". Kennedy has stated the media and governments are engaged in a conspiracy to deny that vaccines cause autism.[4][6]

On May 8, 2019, while some areas in the United States were struggling with a resurgence of measles due to low vaccination rates, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Joseph P. Kennedy and Maeve Kennedy McKean publicly stated that while their relative Robert has championed many admirable causes, he "has helped to spread dangerous misinformation over social media and is complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines."[18]

New York City measles lawsuit[edit]

On April 19, 2019, the Kings County Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit in which Robert Krakow, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Patricia Finn of Children’s Health Defense represented five parents of unvaccinated children protesting the decision by New York City authorities to impose mandatory measles-mumps-rubella vaccinations for residents in parts of Williamsburg, as a response to the epidemy of measles in that area. The lawsuit was filed four days earlier against the New York City Department of Health and Human Hygiene and its Commissioner.[19][20]

In its ruling, Judge Lawrence Knipel indicated the arguments presented by the plaintiffs amounted to little more than "unsupported, bald faced opinion". Responding to Children's Aid Defense's claims that the City's reaction to a "garden-variety annual measles outbreak" was excessive, the judge pointed out their own documents filed as evidence demonstrated otherwise. He concluded that "the unvarnished truth is that these diagnoses represent the most significant spike in incidences of measles in the United States in many years and that the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is at its epicenter. It has already begun to spread to remote locations."[20][21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Launches The World Mercury Project". PRNewswire. November 16, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Hotez, Peter (January 3, 2019). "Global disease risk worsening as anti-vaccination campaigns spread". Axios. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Plater, Roz (January 22, 2019). "The World Health Organization says the refusal to get vaccinated threatens to disrupt progress made against deadly diseases". Healthline. Archived from the original on March 1, 2019. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Scott, Katie (February 16, 2017). "Robert De Niro, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. offer $100K to anyone who can provide proof vaccines are safe". Global TV. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Announces The Launch of Children's Health Defense". PRNewswire. September 12, 2018. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Gorski, David (April 30, 2018). "Autism prevalence increases to 1 in 59, and antivaxers lose it…yet again". Science-Based medicine. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  7. ^ Gorski, David (December 15, 2017). "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his World Mercury Project: Antivaccine, NOT "fiercely pro-vaccine"". Respectful Insolence. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  8. ^ Gorski, David (February 21, 2017). "How antivaxers deceptively don the mantle of "vaccine safety activists"". Restpectful Insolence. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  9. ^ "Key Findings: Trends in the Prevalence of Developmental Disabilities in U. S. Children, 1997–2008". CDC. Archived from the original on May 21, 2019. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  10. ^ "A National and State Profile of Leading Health Problems and Health Care Quality for US Children: Key Insurance Disparities and Across-State Variations". ScienceDirect. Archived from the original on May 21, 2019. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  11. ^ "The Children's Health Defense Team: Fluoridation Must End". PRNewswire. January 10, 2019. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  12. ^ "U.S. Water Fluoridation: A Forced Experiment that Needs to End". Children's Health Defense. January 9, 2019. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "Known culprits". Children's Health Defence. Archived from the original on March 3, 2019. Retrieved March 3, 2019.
  14. ^ Senapathy, Kavin (December 27, 2019). "The Top 10 Woo of 2018 [Part I]". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  15. ^ Gorski, David (February 16, 2017). "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro issue a $100,000 vaccine "challenge." It's every bit as much as scam as Jock Doubleday's "vaccine challenge" was a decade ago". Respectful Insolence. Archived from the original on February 27, 2019. Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  16. ^ Smith, David (February 21, 2018). "Trump appears to abandon vaccine sceptic group denounced by scientists". The Guardian. Archived from the original on March 10, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  17. ^ Branswell, Helen (August 21, 2017). "As White House appoints pro-vaccine officials, plan for safety commission appears stalled". STAT news. Archived from the original on March 10, 2019. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
  18. ^ Kennedy Townsend, Kathleen; Kennedy, Joseph P.; Kennedy McKean, Maeve (May 8, 2019). "RFK Jr. Is Our Brother and Uncle. He's Tragically Wrong About Vaccines". Politico. Archived from the original on May 8, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2019.
  19. ^ Enman, Scott (April 16, 2019). "Anti-vaxxers sue city over mandatory measles vaccination". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  20. ^ a b Enman, Scott (April 19, 2019). "Measles outbreak: Brooklyn judge dismisses anti-vaxxer lawsuit against the city". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  21. ^ C.F., on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children; M.F., on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children; B.D., on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor children; M.N., on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor child; and A.L., on her own behalf and on behalf of her minor child (Petitioners) vs. The New York City City Department of Health and Human Hygiene, and Dr. Oxisris Barbot, in her official capacity as Commissioner of the New York City City Department of Health and Human Hygiene (Respondents)., 508356/19 (Supreme Court of the State of New York April 18, 2019).

External links[edit]