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Alicia Silverstone's Clueless Vaccine Advice

Silverstone joins Jenny McCarthy in dispensing dangerous anti-vaccine ignorance.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Debby Wong/Shutterstock.com

 
 
 
 

Alicia Silverstone and Jenny McCarthy have a lot in common. They’re both blondes who were famous in the ’90s and who now use their celebrity to spout dubious parenting advice. But whereas McCarthy has of late been  clumsily trying to rewrite her very public record of unscientific statements, Silverstone seems willing to pick up the slack. Behold “The Kind Mama.”

Silverstone has long been an active and outspoken vegan and advocate for living “eco-friendly.” But since the birth of her son Bear nearly three years ago, she’s also appointed herself a mothering expert. Look, if Cher Horowitz wants to  pre-chew her toddler’s food for him, I say, whatever works. If she wants to teach her kid to  poop in the yard, good for her. And if she’s raising her child on a vegan diet and it’s working for them, they can knock themselves out. But when she starts spouting nonsense in the form of advice  “you might want to consider,” “just to give you information,” then she’s actually becoming a problem.

In Silverstone’s new book, “The Kind Mama,” she promises “an authoritative, one-stop guide that empowers women to trust their instincts” while warning against stuff like tampons and vaccines. “Unfortunately, feminine-care manufacturers aren’t required to tell you what’s in their products,” she says, urging women to reconsider their feminine protection for the sake of their fertility, “which means that no one’s talking about the potential pesticide residues from non-organic cotton and the ‘fragrances’ containing hormone-upsetting, fertility-knocking phthalates.” It’s true that a Women’s Voices for the Earth study last year showed that major  tampon brands can contain chemicals like dioxin. But as Elle quickly rebutted, “dioxins from tampons are approximately  13,000-240,000 times less than the levels of dioxins we’re exposed to in our diets.” And good luck finding any solid research correlating tampon use with infertility, though there is, surprisingly, evidence that  using them can stave off endometriosis – a leading cause of infertility.

More troubling, though, are Silverstone’s views of child healthcare. She says that thanks to her family diet, her son’s “never been sick-sick – just feeling a little off from time to time, maybe with a stuffy nose – but then it passes. Because his body is a super-clean, healthy machine, it can defend itself against and flush out all the nasty stuff much more quickly than a baby whose diet isn’t as kind .… He’s never had a drop of medicine.” There’s no doubt Silverstone takes good care of her son and is lucky to have a healthy boy, but she’s also selling an inaccurate idea that being “super-clean” is a panacea against illness. In fact, a controversial study earlier this year suggested that vegetarians may be more prone to allergies and certain chronic health problems. I’m a strong believer that moving toward a more plant-based diet can boost your health and well-being at any age, but I wouldn’t frame in a brag about never needing a drop of medicine. And I find it deeply troubling to consider what an enthusiastic reader might do with that anecdote, and faced with a baby who truly needs a fever reducer or antibiotic.

Silverstone also has some thoughts on vaccination. On her Kind Life site last year, Silverstone posted a story on pediatrician Jay Gordon, a man famed mostly for being Jenny McCarthy’s son’s doctor. In it she quotes Gordon’s rather unreliable statistic that “One of my biggest problems is that  99% of pediatricians don’t feel that parents should even participate in the decision about how or when, let alone if a baby should get all, some or none of the shots at any given office visit.” Gordon’s skepticism about vaccines is well-established. In an interview with the now defunct Cookie magazine a few years ago, he declared, after being asked about the side effects of immunization, that “I’ve seen kids who developed autism shortly after vaccination,” and added, “I think that  the public health benefits to vaccinating are grossly overstated. I think that if we spent as much time telling people to breastfeed or to quit eating cheese and ice cream, we’d save more lives than we save with the polio vaccine.”