April 12, 2014

March of Dimes
1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605-5298

I remember from childhood the March of Dimes and its campaign against polio.  In medical school we were told that the lion’s share of the money that went into the research that tamed the epidemic came from government funding, but I have no doubt in my mind that the March of Dimes had an effect far greater than the actual amount of money collected; it kept the issue of defeating polio constantly in people’s minds.

Eventually a vaccine came along, and the March of Dimes redirected its efforts against birth defects.  I do not have the dates strictly in mind, but in my childhood the cause of the vast majority of birth defects in the US was Rh incompatibility.  Once it was understood and laws were passed that prevented it – and I do remember when couples from Florida would drive to Georgia to get married because there was no three day wait there; there were billboards advertising “blood tests” at the state line – the incidence of birth defects declined farther than it could ever decline again.  None the less, they will always be with us.

The greater threat now is not so much babies with defects as it is no babies at all.  Birth rates in the developed world have been below replacement for a generation.  That means ultimately extinction. 

Of course that is not the only existential threat humanity faces.  Conceivably an insane nuclear war could do it.  Or an exceedingly unlikely impact by a rock from space could.  But in cold hard fact neither of these is going on at this moment.  But the lethal depression in birth rate is well documented.

If I were to ask just about anybody why this is so, the answer would be that it was a matter of people’s choices.  To this my response would be very terse.

It isn’t.

Fertility depends on kinship.  If there are choices that are killing us, they aren’t being made in bed.  They are being made at the altar.  If you disbelieve me, and I sure you do, here is a link:
Read it with the utmost care.  This is a matter of life and death for everybody, for everything you care about, for everything anybody cares about. 

What is needed is for this to be studied so that it is not my analysis alone that sounds the alarm.  This time it wouldn’t be so expensive.  Dimes would do it.  More importantly, a campaign to raise the money would simultaneously spread the news.

Are you in?


M. Linton Herbert MD

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