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The Hijacking of Pediatric Medicine


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:snip:Founded in 1930 as an offshoot of the American Medical Association, the AAP is first and foremost a standard-setting body. It outlines best practices for the nation’s pediatricians, advises policy-makers on public health issues, and, for many parents, is the premier authority on raising healthy kids. 


In recent years, it has also become a participant in America’s culture wars. Judges have deferred to the group’s expertise in high-stakes court cases about children with gender dysphoria, who the AAP says can start socially transitioning at "any" age. During the height of Covid, schools masked toddlers—including toddlers with speech delays—based on the guidance of the AAP. Sports leagues and after-school programs mandated the Covid vaccine after the AAP strongly recommended it, even as concerns mounted about its association with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart muscle, in young males.

Though the organization’s guidelines are framed as the consensus position of the AAP’s members, only a handful of physicians had a role in shaping them. Instead, insiders say, the AAP is deferring to small, like-minded teams of specialists ensconced in children’s hospitals, research centers, and public health bureaucracies, rather than seeking the insights of pediatricians who see a wide cross-section of America’s children. 

They also say a longstanding left-wing bias—over two thirds of pediatricians are registered Democrats—has accelerated, turning the organization into a more overtly political body that now pronounces on issues from climate change to immigration. As rates of gender dysphoria exploded and the Covid-19 pandemic hit, that bias seeped into the organization’s medical policy recommendations, unchecked by discussion or debate.

This story is based on dozens of interviews with pediatricians, academics, and current and former AAP members, including several with leadership positions in the AAP. It shows how a small group of doctors with virtually unaccountable power can exert tremendous influence over public policy, especially when a new crisis—be it moral or virological—gives them an emergency mandate. A mandate affecting the lives of millions of families. :snip:

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