Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

How not to report news

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 12, 2010

BABY DIES AFTER RECEIVING HEP B VACCINATION, screams the headline. One need not read the rest of the article, because the headline tells it all, the Hep B vaccine killed the baby, right? Well, yes, if you’re only looking for sensational headlines that is. Here’s how the story goes:

The one-month old baby was given the shot at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Shidao Hospital in Hongmei Township, Nan’an City, a county-level city in Quanzhou, the baby’s mother Huang Ali claimed.

“After the vaccination, he became fidgety and cried a lot after we returned home half an hour later,” she said, adding that he had been a healthy baby.

She claimed that she found her son’s limbs were cold and his nose were bleeding at 1 am on Sunday, and she rushed him to Shidao Hospital.

“He did not respond to the first-aid,” she said, adding that she suspects that the vaccine administered on her son was low quality, and it caused her son’s death.

Ok, that may, or may not, be a reasonable suspicion. Technically speaking the baby did die at some point in time after the vaccination was received, but what else happened in between those two events? Did the baby eat? Drink? Most likely, and most likely much closer to the time of death than the vaccine. So why does the headline not read “Baby dies after eating?” or something similar? Why that wouldn’t be sensational now would it?  Could there have been some other reason why the baby died? Maybe, we can’t say for sure. All we know is this:

Meanwhile, health specialists from Quanzhou and Nan’an said the baby had died from anoxia, disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and lung bleeding, possible signs of suffocation, Xie said.

“The cause of his death will be pinpointed only after autopsy,” Xie added.

Xie said the vaccine was produced by Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co. Ltd. and was distributed by the disease prevention and control center in Quanzhou.

He said the city has sealed all 5,001 doses of the vaccine in stock for quality inspection. He said no other abnormal reactions to the vaccine had been reported after 4,898 doses were used. – Bernama

Ok, so suffocation is one possible culprit here. Not sure how a vaccine can cause suffocation, but I will keep my mind open for some extremely rare reaction, nevertheless there are countless other ways little babies suffocate, such as SIDS, which also affects little babies as they sleep.

So I guess the only thing we can say for sure at this point is that we do not know why this baby died. He did die about 16 hours after the shot, but no causal link can be made at this point. Let us see if anything comes out of the autopsy. But, don’t be an idiot and pretend to know what happened here; no one does yet.

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