Part 3 (1,619 words)
Part 4 (2,528 words)
Doctor-specified nursery lighting as cause of the continued baby-blinding
There were several clinical attempts to replicate those bogus 1955 accusations against oxygen, but all were poorly designed and mostly useless. Some of them omitted to state the death rate, others increased it, and all failed to produce any valid data about the postulated link between oxygen administration and ROP.
On the other hand, already the discoverer of ROP had proposed as early as 1943 that the most obvious cause of this damage to the most light sensitive organ was premature exposure to excess light. Also, after many decades of routine and generous oxygen supplementation for preemies without a single case of ROP, the epidemic of this previously unknown eye damage began in the U.S. in 1940, the year after fluorescent tubes were commercially introduced. The same parallel repeated itself after World War 2 in other industrial countries as those lamps became available there and were followed just as quickly by the sudden outbreak of the ROP epidemic.
The typical fluorescent intensive care nursery lighting specified by the American Academy of Pediatrics exposes the still developing retinae of a preemie in just a few minutes to a dose of retina-damaging blue-light-hazard radiation which the U.S. Industrial Safety Guidelines have established as the danger limit for adult industrial workers.
There is a large body of scientific literature about light damage to the retina, accumulated over decades of systematic scientific research for industrial and laser safety purposes. You find this evidence and additional arguments documented in my 1991 clinical paper “Baby-blinding retinopathy of prematurity and intensive care nursery lighting”, posted on the pages beginning at http://retinopathyofprematurity.org/Babyblindinglights01.htm.
A flurry of media coverage about this obvious reason for the continued epidemic of baby-blinding helped trigger the U.S. National Institutes of Health to sponsor another rigged medical experiment, called LIGHT-ROP and published in 1998, to falsely refute this embarrassing and liability-suggesting link.
The LIGHT-ROP researchers knew that the precisely measurable retina-damaging blue-light hazard could accumulate in the preemies’ eyes to dangerous levels in a matter of just a few minutes, almost as fast as the few seconds for damage from staring at the sun. The rapidity of this damage accumulation was described in several of the references they cited, including my above 1991 paper which contains a sample calculation for the damage-weighted retinal irradiance from the fluorescent nursery lamps. Yet, they patched the eyes of their allegedly protected group only up to 24 hours after birth.
Due to the delay in patching, the allegedly protected group was just as over-exposed to the eye-damaging radiation as the unpatched babies in the control group, and the incidence of blinding was predictably the same in both groups. When asked about this open defiance of basic logic, the then Director of the National Eye Institute evaded the question by claiming that it took this long to obtain the parental consent for enrolling their babies in this experiment, without acknowledging that this only allegedly unavoidable delay invalidated the entire experiment. See http://retinopathyofprematurity.org/ROPparademagazine1.htm.
However, this deceptive experiment achieved its real purpose. Its intentionally misleading result is now enshrined at the National Eye Institute’s website at http://www.nei.nih.gov/news/pressreleases/lightpr.asp as medical Gospel. This helps to continue the profitable epidemic of baby-blinding by nursery lights which is the major cause of childhood blindness in most developed and many developing countries. This knowingly false exoneration of the nursery lights now continues to assure a steady stream of customers for expensive pediatric retinal surgery as well as a readily available population and justification for costly new drug trials. Both are aimed at repairing or maybe reducing an eye damage which could be prevented simply by replacing the eye-damaging fluorescent nursery lamps.
For details of the cynical frauds and cruel patient abuses in that rigged LIGHT-ROP experiment, see http://retinopathyofprematurity.org/40fraudsinLIGHTROP.htm.
Current regulations still don’t forbid a Tuskegee-style experiment
Bad science is often associated with subject abuses, and the LIGHT-ROP sham is no exception. These rogue researchers forbade the nursery staff and parents to protect the unpatched babies’ eyes with the usual blankets spread over their isolettes because they wanted to “increase the contrast between the groups”. Their goal was to make their test results more convincing for exonerating the nursery lights from any role in the blinding epidemic. In other words, they openly sought to maximize the expected eye damage to the unprotected preemies to bolster the credibility of their fake result, never mind the crime of so adding to the harm they inflicted on their subjects.
The LIGHT-ROP grant approvers and peer reviewers did not mind either and did not object to this intentional increasing of the irradiation the grant applicants had described and documented as harmful. An internal memo at the Office for Protection from Research Risks, as the Office for Human Research Protections was then named, revealed that Office’s predetermined conclusion about my complaint: "it is just a given that there will be bright lights." (For a documentation of the dishonest parody of an investigation this Office performed in 1998, see http://recoveredscience.com/Sovereigndoctors01.htm)
This summary dismissal of a well known existing risk highlights the fact that under the current federal regulations for human research protections, the infamously patient-deceiving Tuskegee Study would again be approved as a matter of course if the same protocol was re-submitted under a non-tarnished name. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations states in its Title 45 §46.111 (2) about criteria for IRB approval that
The doctors running the Tuskegee Study had failed to protect their subjects from a known but pre-existing danger to observe its effects on them. They did not create a new risk resulting from their research, and they could probably have argued that many of the people in their study would likely not have received any therapy anyway even if they were not enrolled, so their cure-withholding project still complies with this current regulation.
The LIGHT-ROP authors had also failed to protect their subjects from an existing danger and even went a step further by intentionally maximizing the pre-existing exposure they themselves had described as potentially harmful. Yet, incredible as this may seem to lay observers after the much publicized official “never again” condemnations of the Tuskegee Study and of the Human Radiation Experiments, the inhumane and intentionally harm-maximizing LIGHT-ROP protocol still met the rules of modern U.S. "medical ethics" and got all the required approvals because its researchers did not introduce a new risk and “only” increased an existing potential risk that was “just a given”.
Contrary to the unsupported assurances about patient protection safeguards offered by the Bioethics Commission, the current official U.S. research subject protections and their interpretation by the grant approvers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health still do not require the protection of research subjects from such known existing dangers.
Harmful fallout from the LIGHT-ROP fraud
This clearly fraudulent and patient-abusing medical show-trial of over-exposing preemies to harmful retinal irradiation was being conducted while President Clinton’s Bioethics Commission condemned the broadly comparable Human Radiation Experiments. The President himself apologized publicly for these and other long past medical ethics violations, using the customary “never again” rhetoric, but his Bioethics Advisory Commission ignored alerts about the similar and then ongoing LIGHT-ROP abuse of defenseless patients and passed them on to the do-nothing Office for Protection from Research Risks because
(This Laputa-exemption from having to deal with specific cases had not kept that earlier Commission from examining at length the individual case of one cloned sheep. However, it considered decades of baby-killing and brain-damaging and blinding and official cover-up as an "individual case" although the number of victims from that case exceeded by far the number of all those affected by all the Human Radiation Experiments they were examining.)
Similarly, I documented the SUPPORT and LIGHT-ROP abuses to the current Office for Human Research Protections in May, 2011. It replied two months later that it would “evaluate the allegations related to informed consent/parental permission” by asking the institutions involved to respond. The OHRP did not address at all the knowingly lethal SUPPORT experiment design or the LIGHT-ROP frauds and patient abuses, and I have not heard from them any further. They also omitted to answer my question about what procedures they had in place for verifying that any such consent documents, if submitted to them, were genuine and not ad hoc fabrications to cover up their original absence.
Amid this official indifference to baby-killing research protocols and blinding epidemic-prolonging research frauds, the entrenched medical experts in charge of maintaining the orthodox purity of the pediatric doctrine continue to insist against all evidence on blaming oxygen for the blinding, just as religious authorities once used to insist that the Sun turned around the Earth because their dogma said so.
Until these systematic research frauds are exposed and corrected, misled intensive care nursery doctors in the U.S. will continue to restrict life-saving oxygen breathing help for the preemies who need it most and thereby kill many of them. They kill them or damage their brains not only in unethical child suffocation experiments like those described above, but also in their daily routines that continue the legacy of the earlier eugenicist designers of the 1955 Cooperative Study.
And while nursery doctors keep mindlessly pursuing their misguiding oxygen theory, the preemies entrusted to them keep getting their eyes destroyed by the retina-damaging blue-light-hazard from the doctor-specified fluorescent nursery lights.
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