Homicide by Homeopathy

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396692_6494A family in rural Pennsylvania bore the sad fruits of believing in products that could not possibly help when illness struck. We hope this tragedy can be a lesson for others possibly vulnerable to the siren call of phony health remedies: this time it s homeopathy.

Eighteen-month old toddler Hope Elizabeth Delozier developed an ear infection not an unusual occurrence. What (we hope) was unusual was the treatment her mother provided. Since she reportedly didn t believe in vaccinations or other aspects of modern medicine, Christine Delozier administered herbs and homeopathy to her ailing baby daughter. As one would expect, these had no effect on the infection and it spread to the child s brain where it caused an abscess, brain swelling and death, according to the autopsy report.

No one is suggesting this was murder the parents had no plan to kill their child. But what it did amount to, according to officials, was felony counts of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

The tragedy here, of course is that this death was totally avoidable a simple course of antibiotics would likely have taken care of the ear infection before it spread. As we have said repeatedly most recently here treating an ailment with homeopathy is useless unless you consider a placebo an effective treatment.

In brief, homeopathy is the system of using extremely dilute solutions of the disease-causing entity itself to treat the disease. This is not the same as vaccination, although it may sound similar. The system was developed (made up, really) by Samuel Hahnemann in 1796 well before the germ theory of disease was elucidated. Thus he can be forgiven for his beliefs and his misguided attempt to cure. But no such forgiveness should be extended to those in the 21st century who willfully ignore the advances and benefits of modern medicine.

We have decried the practice of people being exempted from vaccinating their children because of religion or personal philosophy. This sad case is yet another example of parents putting their offspring at risk because of their anti-science beliefs. We hope that this case gets widespread coverage and perhaps can induce a greater degree of parental responsibility with respect to their children s health.

Hopefully, the FDA, which is currently reviewing homeopaths, will take cases like this into account as they deliberate on whether to impose stricter regulations on these products.