Aviva Romm and the quack attack on Glucola

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Aviva Romm is a quack.

She’s a certified professional midwife (CPM) and an herbalist, both quacks by definition. She got an MD (from Yale!!!) and completed a family practice residency, which apparently taught her a few things. No, it didn’t teach her to give up quackery. It merely taught her to avoid any situation where should could be held accountable for her quackery. Delivering babies was awesome when she planned to take no responsibility. Now that she has an MD, and carries malpractice insurance, it is suddenly too dangerous to do or to even back up.

Dr. Romm has helpfully provided us with an excellent example of the standard quack attack in her most recent post, Gestational Diabetes: Please Don’t Drink the Glucola Without Reading the Label.

All quack attacks rest on two foundational claims:

1. Don’t trust the people who are trained in the specific area under discussion, the people who went to school, undertook an internship and residency in obstetrics, and have provided obstetric care to thousands of women, and stand ready to accept responsibility for the advice that they offer; trust me (who did not do a residency in obstetrics, and chooses not to practice obstetrics, and intends to take no responsibility for her obstetric advice) instead.

2. Obstetricians aren’t simply ignorant, they are actively conspiring to harm your baby with chemicals … AND THEY ARE HIDING THEIR EVIL INTENT.

Sounds stupid, right, but Romm, like all quacks, bets on the stupidity and gullibility of her readers.

In addition, quacks are always selling something, in Romm’s case, her books, her courses, and her services separating the worried well from their money at a high end clinic that caters to the rich and charges exorbitant prices.

Consider the specific claims in Romm’s quack attack on Glucola, the test dose of sugar used in screening pregnant women for gestational diabetes.

I’m a midwife and MD who specializes in the health and wellness of pregnant mommas. While I’m one of the original crunchy mamas, I got the science thing down tight in my medical training at Yale, so I can keep you informed on what’s safe, what’s not, and what are the best alternatives.

Bullshit. She isn’t an obstetrician or an endocrinologist so she DOES NOT specialize in the health of pregnant women. She has no business giving obstetric or endocrinology advice. She went to medical school at Yale. Woop-de-doo! Did they teach anything about Glucola in medical school? I doubt it.

The medical community considers this “drink” harmless though it is well recognized that some women just can’t tolerate it due to digestive system side effects including nausea, vomiting, bloating, and diarrhea, as well as other adverse reactions including headache, dizziness, and fatigue.

But Romm thinks she knows better, despite lacking the requisite training. And Romm thinks she knows that … cue the creepy music … obstetricians are secretly trying to poison your baby!!

… [A]t least one of the glucose test drinks EasyDex, by Aero Med (note that ingredient lists from the test companies are notoriously hard to find online!) contains something called BVO, or brominated vegetable oil. BVO is also found in at least 10% of all soft drinks in the US, and is included to keep the favoring from floating to the top of the beverage.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, “safety questions have been hanging over BVO since 1970, when the FDA removed BVO from its ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ list of food ingredients.” At that time, the FDA granted BVO ‘interim status’ as a food additive which allowed its use in soft drinks, but it was and remains banned from European and Japanese soft drinks. BVO is patented in the U.S. and overseas as a flame retardant.

Classic quack attack characteristics: isolate one product and let it stand in for all products of that type, insinuate that the product is harmful, list the countries where it is banned (don’t say in what dose or why), imply that because it has other uses, it must be poisonous.

How about proof?

Don’t be foolish. Quacks don’t need any proof. Quacks quote lay people as if they were scientists and blogs as if they were scientific papers.

Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe), a food activist who is bringing fresh attention to the hazards of the chemical additives in our foods, brought the … issue to my attention when we were chatting at a conference. We both agreed that this toxin should not be given to pregnant women!

Romm uses another favored quack source, the product label. As she undoubtedly knows, doctors don’t read the product label to learn about a medication and you shouldn’t either. The product label has more to do with legal protection than with medical knowledge.

Can Aviva Romm point to anyone who has been harmed IN ANY WAY by Glucola? Of course not. Doctors who care for patients need actual data. Quacks just need insinuations.

All the central quack claims are here, rolled into one: don’t trust your doctor, your doctor is trying to poison your baby, read the product label (not the scientific literature), scary insinuations and no actual proof of ANYTHING.

Now that Aviva has filled the heads of her gullible minions with her conspiracy theory, she presses on with phase two of the quack attack: praise those who believe her bullshit as educated and empowered.

As women, many of us were taught to “be nice,” or “be seen and not heard.” As patients, this can translate into accepting tests, procedures, and treatments that we feel we don’t want or need, or that, in this case, might not be safe for us or our babies!

You certainly have the right to read the label on the glucose test drink you are offered before agreeing to the test!

You also have the right not to be screened for GDM, as well as to choose your preferred screening method…

Just what women need, encouragement to be arrogant in their ignorance.

But I have bad news for Romm’s minions, eager to believe that they are learning something that other women don’t know:

Aviva Romm is in the pocket of Big Placebo. Her income rests on tricking women into paying her for her useless (and often harmful) “wisdom,” instead of learning from the people who know the most about obstetrics. She is shilling for her products and her pocketbook.

And if you think she cares about what happens to your baby, I have a bridge for you to buy in Brooklyn.

Aviva Romm KNOWS that homebirth kills babies. That’s why she refused to discuss the MANA data; she KNOWS it shows that homebirth is dangerous. And that’s probably why she refuses to have anything to do with homebirth as a practicing physician. She no longer wants to be responsible for the death and injury that may result.

Romm should be ashamed of herself and her quackery, but she probably has no time; she’s busy making money from fooling unsuspecting women, and potentially harming their babies in the process.