My family has had the same pediatrician for nearly 13 years. My oldest child started seeing Dr. Richard Knight, whose office is located on Dunn Road in Hazelwood, when he was just over a year old, and the younger two have been seeing him since they were newborns. Dr. Knight even visited each of my youngest two in the hospital after they were born.
My three-year-old daughter, Sophie, loves visiting Dr. Knight’s office. In addition to her affection for the friendly office staff and nurses, the waiting room has a table and chairs that’s just her size, topped with old-fashioned toys she doesn’t see anywhere else. Even when we just stop in to pick up a prescription or make an appointment, Sophie insists on playing in the waiting room for a few minutes before we leave.
Last week, I took her in for a physical and Dr. Knight noticed that she was a bit behind on her immunizations, so we got her caught up while we were there. That reminded me of the news I’d heard about the doctor who had caused many parents to stop immunizing their children altogether—and apparently, for no good reason.
Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s '98 article, published in a prominent British medical journal, caused fear in the hearts of many parents—me included. He claimed to have found a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) immunization that had, at that time, effectively eliminated those diseases among Americans. In 2010, Dr. Wakefield’s article was retracted by the medical journal and called “an elaborate fraud” by its editors. Wakefield lost his medical license.
Personally, I continued to immunize my own children despite Wakefield’s article and the ever-growing number of parents who chose the other path—and I’m glad I did. While I was initially concerned about the so-called findings when the study came out, I did my own research and talked with Dr. Knight and a couple of his nurses about my concerns. They explained why Wakefield’s study was rejected by many doctors, and told me a couple of stories about unimmunized kids who had suffered horribly after contracting previously eradicated diseases.
I asked Dr. Knight about the retraction of the study after Sophie’s appointment, and he told me that Dr. Wakefield had apparently performed his analysis on a group of children who attended his child’s birthday party, many of whom already had health concerns. Additionally, Wakefield was being paid as a consultant to a couple of attorneys who were representing parents who believed their children had sustained injuries from the MMR vaccine.
Dr. Knight noted that while immunizing kids won’t increase their risk of becoming autistic, it will definitely decrease their risk of disease. I’m not a medical professional, but I’m inclined to agree. First, I trust Dr. Knight and have trusted him to oversee my own kids’ health for nearly 13 years. And second, all three of my kids are happy and healthy today, and all three have received the immunizations advised by their doctor.