Got Lice? Use Science, Not Placebos

Pediculus_humanus_var_capitisWith the return to school earlier this month, we’re in prime lice season. I was recently forwarded a copy of a Toronto public school’s communication on head lice. Here’s an excerpt:

Oil & vinegar lice treatments do not kill live (unhatched) nits & have to be hand picked. It must be repeated daily until no nits (eggs) are found. Both light (hatched) and unhatched nits must be removed by hand (lice combs won’t pull all nits), and the hair needs to be checked daily for new nits.  As much as no-one wants to put chemicals in their child’s hair, in severe cases it might be advisable. Medicated shampoos and cream rinses have a residual effect, but daily nit picking is required. As well a second treatment with the same treatment in a week is required. Homeopathic treatments are available, but eggs must be picked daily. Teatree oil, as a shampoo or oil (massaged in the scalp) is said to be a preventative. However, if you already have nits or lice, it will not kill or remove them. Remember: One nit left on the hair will keep the cycle going.

This paragraph is so full of inaccurate information, it’s astonishing.  First a bit of background, then let’s examine the evidence supporting this school’s advice. Continue reading

When universities sell their name and let the pseudoscience in

One step forward…

Well it seems our feedback to the University of Toronto about the upcoming Autism One conference has had an effect. As I noted earlier, Autism One is hosting a conference on autism in Toronto in October. The original brochure listed boldly that the conference was being presented with the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. Understandably concerned, I, along with many of you, contacted the university to register our concerns. Why would a school of public health support a program that touts dubious biomedical treatments for autism, and the ultimate quackery, homeopathy? Continue reading