Why

I blog to improve the quality of content on the Internet.

When my children were born extremely prematurely I was deposited squarely on the other side of the stethoscope. As I began to research my children’s medical conditions I was appalled at a lot of the content I read on-line. Information twisted and distorted by bias (the reporter’s bias, the blogger’s bias, or even the investigator’s bias). The influence of Big Pharma and advocacy groups (some who have an agenda that may not be entirely aligned with their purported mission). The fact that a lot was just out of date (if the New York Times reports on a fascinating study in 2003 and then that study is later disproven in 2010, no one at the Times is removing or retracting that old content, it’s archived and will eternally show up somewhere in a search). And that’s just for starters.

But I had an advantage. As a doctor I could dismiss a lot of bad content immediately. But given my slightly obsessive research tendencies and my ability to remember pretty much everything I read, I found I could sort through the information quagmire and come up with the best evidenced based medicine.

And then I wondered, how does everyone else do it? What if you don’t know about bias, or how to track down a research paper never mind decide if it has any merit?

And that’s when I decided to write my first book, The Preemie Primer, to give parents the repository of information that I used to help my children thrive. And because publishers only allow you so many pages, I decided to add additional content and do my bit to build a better medical Internet.

Along the way I found myself wanting to blog about more than prematurity, so I started this blog. Because women’s health is important to me.

Because I know from experience that you can only be empowered if you are informed.

And evidence based medicine is the best way to be informed.

I blog to build a better medical Internet.

Discussion

35 thoughts on “Why

  1. Nice post on the Oprah exit. Great points. Loved the sarcasm. You have a gift with that.

    Doug

    Posted by Douglas Farrago MD | May 28, 2011, 11:22 am
  2. And we are glad you blog. Thanks for making medical and overall internet content that much better.

    Posted by tommy riles | August 14, 2011, 11:09 pm
  3. I haven’t read much of your content (yet), however I am thrilled that I have come across your page. I’m a student at the University of Calgary hoping to one day become a doctor. Your attitude regarding medicine is inspiring and I will be following your posts!

    Posted by Kal | February 12, 2012, 5:14 pm
  4. I love it! Thanks for adding worthwhile content tot he blogosphere 🙂

    Posted by The Nerdy Nurse | February 21, 2012, 6:28 pm
  5. I just found your blog while researching on IUD. I also greatly believe in your evidence-based approach toward medicine.

    Posted by yen k. | April 25, 2012, 10:59 pm
  6. Dr Jen, I recently read your blog on comparing Guns to Cars. WOW. I have never seen anything so succinct and so obvious. I’m almost ashamed to think I never thought of this analogy and I am happy you raised the topic. I did take the liberty of sending the link to that article to my Congressman James McGovern, D-MA. I hope that is ok and that you continue my enlightnment.

    Phil Raffa

    Posted by Phil Raffa | February 4, 2013, 12:37 pm
  7. Dr. Jennifer, I just found out about you last night. It makes me feel great that you investigate everything you read; now, I am going to suggest to you to take a look at my work. The title of my “piece” book is: The Human Mold-prevention from origin. It is about the origin of Pain, or, I shall say…the foundation of it. You may Google my name and find more information about me. Would, indeed, love to hear from you. Thank you

    Posted by Jose A Jarimba | February 22, 2013, 8:38 pm
  8. Great blog! Reading your articles, and especially reading about why you write, really got me interested in starting my own (see http://www.autoinflammatorydiseases.org). However, I’ve been having difficulties in defining my audience. Is it patients? Medical providers? Also, how do you find the right balance of providing enough information to make the article interesting, without using too much jargon?

    Posted by Jonathan Hausmann | February 24, 2014, 7:35 pm
    • My audience is everyone. Some days patients/general public, some days providers, some days just myself. I think that it’s ok to include jargon (although not like an article) because everyone likes to learn. For me a lot depends on my mood and the subject matter. So, some days I feel jargony and other days not so much. I think the variety is good. That’s just me! Best of luck.

      Posted by Dr. Jen Gunter | February 28, 2014, 8:39 pm
  9. Hi, Jennifer.

    I’m Ron Smith. I’ll soon start my 32nd year in Pediatrics. I was trained at Oklahoma University of Medicine, Tulsa Medical College, Dept of Pediatrics. That’s when stipends were about $16K and the only source of extra income for residents was working extra in the EOPC, the Eastern Oklahoma Perinatal Center. The infant mortality rate there was 30% as it was before surfactant and the EOPC was a referral center for both Missouri and Arkansas.

    After I started solo practice in south Arkansas in 1986 I continued to do level III NICU in our town of 25,000. I did that for 6 1/2 years as we were two hours from every referral center in all directions. Our hospital and all the local Peds there (about 5 of us) were one of a couple of places in Arkansas that participated in the final clinical studies of Exosurf, the first artifical surfactant. During that time, my smallest baby, a pound and thirteen ounces, got Exosurf, went home in three months, and did amazingly well as a result.

    My youngest daughter, Laura (Forever And A Day For Laura Michelle free on iTunes), suffered from fetal isotretinoin embyopathy. I too know all the sides of premie and sick neonate issues.

    I saw your post about Bob Sears and his misguided vaccine recommendations, with which I agree.

    The reason that I’m writing this is that you are puzzling to me? I understood that you are pro-abortion? Your comments on the vaccine issue, your medical training and field of choice along with the personal medical heartaches of premature babies seems incongruous with that?

    Certainly I respect your personal experience and you as a peer, but how do you square that all I wonder? I mean how can anyone really care about children if they don’t care about ALL of them born or unborn? Please believe me that this is not a personal attack, but a sincere question. You really do puzzle me.

    Warmest regards,

    Ron Smith, MD
    McDonough, Georgia

    Posted by Ron Smith, MD | June 10, 2014, 4:18 am
  10. Hi Dr. Jen. I found your blog when a British friend shared your post about the NHS on Facebook. I am an American married to a Brit–we met in Japan–and my sister is an internist. I must admit I have certain prejudices about the NHS too, because my mother-in-law has not received very good care through the system. Part of it might be her own stubbornness and refusal to be honest and assertive with her doctors, too, but she’s had to go private to get better service. I believe in socialized medicine, but it’s not perfect!

    I wanted to reach out to you because I too had a preemie. My oldest son, Chris, was born at 24 weeks in 1996. He’s turning 18 this month! He also had ROP and wears glasses. He’s doing great–we are very lucky!–but it was a really horrible ride. 117 days in the NICU. I’ve written a lot about our journey with prematurity on my blog, including “10 things I wish I didn’t know about prematurity”: http://marie-everydaymiracle.blogspot.com/2013/09/10-things-i-wish-i-didnt-know-about.html

    So glad your son is okay!

    Marie G-G

    Posted by Marie | August 14, 2014, 10:20 am
  11. This is an amazing reason to start a blog of this kind! Please continue writing and knowing you have a infinite support for what you are doing!!

    Posted by Jenny C | November 19, 2014, 12:45 pm
  12. Anyway I could interest you in the topic of cytolytic vaginosis? There is not a lot of info out there and it is pretty frustrating to deal with!

    Posted by Helena | January 30, 2015, 9:42 am
  13. Just a suggestion for the blog: You might want to increase the size of the fonts. Its too small.

    Posted by anoopbal | February 17, 2015, 4:45 am
  14. When I read this I immediately thought of Dr Jen…. *sigh* the misinformation in this just… burns.

    http://www.lifenews.com/2015/07/02/schools-implant-iuds-in-girls-as-young-as-6th-grade-without-their-parents-knowing/

    Posted by Kat | July 5, 2015, 12:24 pm
  15. Hello Dr. Gunter, I’m interested in what you have to say about the following article and how it seems to be more misinformation spreading to mothers looking to provide vitamins to their children. The mother that posted it is using an alternative vitamin and I’m wondering what nonsense could be spun around that supplement to make it seem just as terrible as the good ol’ Flinstones chewable.

    Flinstone Article: http://www.healthy-holistic-living.com/1-childrens-vitamin-in-us-contains-aspartame-gmos-and-hazardous-chemicals.html

    Alternative Vitamin: http://www.doterratools.com/documents/A2Z_Chewable_Product_Information_Page.pdf

    If you have a moment and could review these two vitamins for mother’s looking to provide supplements to their children that would be awesome. Have a great week!

    Posted by ShellofaGirl | July 7, 2015, 7:54 am
  16. Do you have a post about vaccines? I know it is very contraversial and would like to read what you have to say.

    Posted by Dorothy | April 25, 2016, 12:47 am
    • And….silence.

      Better to ask a researcher-blogger not forced to speak within the confines of a paradigm-truth on this one. A blog where Truth is allowed not just “truths” which support a paradigm and the economy it drives.

      Or do your own literature review. Anybody can search scientific journals and published research papers connecting GI disease to metals and autism to GI disease. You can easily find out how long both ethyl and methyl mercury stay in the brain, what they do in the brain, what they do in the gut and liver, how long it takes for heavy metals to break down. If your diligent you’ll also find out how much metal a baby is exposed to in the first 15 months of life.

      Peer review has of course kept a serious lid on research in this direction (for the sake of maintaining a VERY healthy paradigm). In British Columbia vaccines are now mandatory for school age kids. It may be worth considering moving your family out of any jurisdiction where the power held by doctors is so completely out of control that your child can be denied a public education on account of refusing a flu shot.

      Posted by AJ | October 16, 2017, 6:18 pm
  17. To study health through any lens i.e. preference (age, sex, race, education, etc) introduces bias. To study health with a biological ideal in mind (as achievement of the asymptomatic state for example) also introduces bias. There is also a bias at work that, as we find ourselves, we have the capacity to understand what is objective or “good”. “Good” generally equated in medicine with being freed of feeling the effects of the consequences (symptoms) of my own actions, inner and outer. This reduces what is “good” or “healthy” to what is free of symptoms…

    But if I never had the symptom, I would never find the motivation to know what I was doing to force the body into imbalance, requiring the adaptation called “symptom”! Are symptoms therefore unhealthy? Doctors don’t seem to want to consider this. They go right after eliminating the symptom. To the point that, to this day, we have entire organizations dedicated to run, march, fight, bike, hike, i.e. going to war against symptoms, commonly called “disease”.

    While looking at health through the lens of our education, how able are we to know what is objective? Especially when we take what is healthy or normal to be what is ideal? Ideals as we know are illusions therefore the basis of what we take to be objective is also an illusion. But this will not stop us from holding up the pretence that, as we find ourselves, we are unquestionably unbiased, objective, and scientific. When entire communities are infected with this kind of thinking (bias), statistics begin to replace perceptions as the basis for action.

    Posted by AJ | October 19, 2016, 9:37 pm
  18. Here’s one more kudos to add: The promise of a future of fact-based and evidence-based blogs and social media is one step closer, thanks to your work and others like you. This editor of a small-town paper and regular attender of our public hospital board of trustee meetings is following, along with another good rural doctor thinker and her KO Rural Mad As Hell Blog. Keep up the good work.

    Posted by keebslac1234 | March 17, 2017, 8:40 pm
  19. Thank you for taking the time and effort to explain science in a way that is accessible for everyone.

    I respect the fact that you have explained the fallacies that have been purported by goop with actual science.

    Obviously your expertise and experience are seen as a threat by GOOP. I admire the way you have responded to their attacks on you. It has been enjoyable to read as you have shown humour and class.

    You are a true role model for young women and I will be encouraging every person I know to read your posts.

    Keep up the great work, your the type of person that we need posting on the internet.

    Posted by Sathiya James | July 15, 2017, 9:19 pm
  20. Hi,
    Let me know if you are back in Winnipeg. I teach a course on EBM at U of M, and would be great for you to talk to the class.

    Posted by Sadeesh Srinathan | July 18, 2017, 3:26 pm
  21. Dear Dr. Junter,
    I have realised how much crap information is out there regarding women’s health for a long time but now I would like to fight it. I have decided to make videos for the youtube platform in order to get information about women’s basic biology as well as health related issues such as cosmetics. Your blog post about the vulva whitener alarumed the living hell out of me and I see I need to make these videos quickly.
    I very much understand you are a super busy woman so I wanted to see if I could send you a list of things I have already thought to cover and you could tell me what you would like to see in them? Point out misinformation that is repeated by the media and corporations, or make suggestions for things I could also cover?
    My goal is to start a place on the inernet where women come together to safely discuss their thoughts and issues and learn about their bodies because I only found out what my clitoris looked like in my late 40’s.

    Thank you so much for what you do and I hope and pray we can overcome the insanity of snake oil pedlars.

    Posted by GenderDysphoriaCritical | July 27, 2017, 3:21 am
  22. I am so happy I came across this blog. I am so sick of pseudoscience.

    Can you comment on progesterone after hysterectomy?

    Also, is it plausible that some women just cannot tolerate birth control pills and HRT?

    Looking forward to your response and following your blog!

    Posted by Adrienne | August 12, 2017, 6:58 am
    • If you are tired of pseudoscience, then find your own question and launch yourself into hypothesis, experiment, and result! It’s a free method and guaranteed to give you results unbiased by vested interest.
      You won’t get pushed around by research mandates (money).
      You won’t leave some “place of excellence” with a health paradigm stuck in your head. You won’t be inclined to confuse Truth for paradigm “truth”.
      You won’t be inclined to soap box and parrot paradigm-truths for actual truth. Nor will you be led to believe the truth about health cannot be discovered by you, yourself.
      You won’t be put on the path that says the truth is out there to be discovered “but just not today. Someday, maybe but only if we raise enough funds”.
      You won’t be dogged by a college which publishes only what of the truth it can stand/is convenient to publish.
      People would be healed by the truth but unfortunately paradigm-truths bring about a pseudoscientific quagmire concerning, first and foremost, what is true. And by extension, what is true for health. Interestingly, death in ever greater numbers has not caused any serious reckoning for either group, both the believers and the believed-in (usually called “doctors”).
      Truth and its by-product health can be found through the grunt work of rational experiment with attitudes, with nutrition and activity. Work taken up by self for self. Work which incidentally requires no capital expenditures, appointments, degrees, scalpels or pills.
      No need to “blame genetics” promoted as “a leading cause of death” and this as the scientific ? result of “luck” or “bad luck”, with certain caveats. Such fairy tales evaporate in the light of truth.

      Posted by AJ | October 12, 2017, 7:19 pm
  23. Your personal tag line reminds me of a quote, something to the effect of “the best way to avoid knowing the truth is to believe that one is already in possession of it”.

    Posted by AJ | October 28, 2017, 10:31 am
  24. Fantastic article in the NYTimes today!

    Posted by Dr Julie | November 16, 2017, 7:45 pm
  25. Just read your recent NYT piece, your article was definitely needed (as is your blog!). I’m not sure if you ever reply to questions, or if this has been covered in a previous post. But for a long time–and especially following my first pap last year–I feel unnerved by the thought of trusting any medical professional with anything to do with my vagina… or breasts, or uterus, or anything regarding the female body. My pap, even performed I presume correctly by a patient and understanding (female) doctor, was still an awful experience that left me crying and wanting to pass out (I consider the speculum barbaric). How can I trust a profession that has not prioritized us? One where even the most well-meaning of doctors are learning what can only constantly be dated and sexist, if not flat out misogynistic, information? I need some peace of mind, because aside from birth control and receiving the HPV vaccine, I question whether I can really trust anything they tell me. Please do not take my concerns negatively, I would not be asking if I did not respect your opinion.

    Posted by anonymous | November 16, 2017, 11:18 pm
  26. A few years ago, two women came out with a vibrator they said would be great for women, a hands-free silicon machine that supposedly fit into the labia. Thrilled to hear about this female sex-positive possibility, and running my own market research company for over 25 years, I contacted the women and offered to do pro bono qualitative research for them. We sent the vibrator to 15 women I knew who were interested in trying it out, and then they answered a survey. I personally did not ask them questions since it was inappropriate because I knew them. But one after another they told me how the vibrator was not a success for them. HOWEVER, the way they put it was blaming themselves, each and every one. These are professional, educated, sexually active and confident women in their 40’s and 50’s, all saying things like, “Well, I have a weird vagina,” and “My vagina is retarded,” and “Well, it didn’t work for me, but it’s probably my vagina.” I wanted to weep. Frankly, the thing was a piece of garbage; how on earth is the labia –which is not muscle — supposed to hold this thing in?! But these otherwise powerful women — who would not hesitate to criticize a any other electronic that did not work correctly — blamed their own damn selves. Thanks, society.

    Posted by Sharon DeLevie | November 21, 2017, 3:23 pm

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