Here is a recap of the stories that appeared last week at Science-Based Medicine, a multi-author skeptical blog that separates the science from the woo in medicine.  

The anti-vaccine lie that just won’t die: The claim that shaken baby syndrome is really due to “vaccine injury” (David Gorski) Babies who are violently shaken can develop bleeding in the brain and retina and suffer brain damage or death. Controversies remain, and campaigns to exonerate abusers have tried to blame a whole host of other factors. The most vile claim unreasonably tries to implicate vaccines.  

Clinical Practice Guidelines: Cholesterol Tests for Children? (Harriet Hall) The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cholesterol tests for children age 2-10 with risk factors but the US Preventive Services Task Force does not recommend screening children at all. The reasons for the difference in recommendations are explored. There are no controlled trials demonstrating that lipid screening in children improves long-term health outcomes. There are problems with the clinical guideline development process and suggestions for improvement.  

More HIV Nonsense in Africa (Steven Novella) africa/ Former South African president Thabo Mbeki and his Health Minister embraced HIV denial and their actions led to hundreds of thousands of AIDS deaths. Now the President of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, is telling AIDS patients to stop their antiretroviral drugs and substitute his secret formula of boiled herbs. Magical and faith-based treatments are mislabeled as “traditional” to gain acceptance.  

Don’t call CAM “cost-effective” unless it’s actually effective ( Scott Gavura) A recent systematic review tried to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of CAM treatments. The process is flawed, amounting to an economic house of cards. Higher quality evidence fails to find meaningful clinical benefits for CAM interventions.  

Chinese Systematic Reviews of Acupuncture (Brennen McKenzie) Systematic reviews of acupuncture come to faulty conclusions if their methodology is poor or if they review a biased selection of poor quality studies. In China, there is evidence of a systematic problem with the conduct and publication of CAM studies. Randomization is often faulty, negative results are never published, and Chinese systematic reviews are unreliable.