Sunny Spot Radio Interview

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Vickie the supplements manager at Sunnybridge Natural Foods on their radio show called the SunnySpot on this station.

We talked a bit about our journey with our daughter’s health, mitochodrial disease, autism and we even had a caller question regarding vaccines.

Here is an audio recording of the interview-

I can’t thank the ladies (Vickie and Gina) at Sunnybridge enough for having me on their show! They have an amazing store and I hope you will stop in to say hello and check out some of their amazing products (did I mention they have a GF bakery!!)

I hope I will get the opportunity to do something like that again! That was fun!

Some of the references/links that I mentioned during the call can be found here:

Mito TOXIC series of blog posts

Autism article in Pittsburgh Parent Magazine

Ask 8 before you vaccinate

V is for Vaccine – information about the Hannah Poling Case, autism and mitochondrial disease




Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Vaccine Injury Table 

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Much Ado about the Flu (shot)

flu shot display
It seems as if you can’t turn a corner without hearing about the flu, and more importantly the FLU SHOT and why you must get one!! At the grocery store, the pharmacy, the community center, your doctor’s office and now even the commercials, information about the flu (shot) is everywhere. But is it the whole story?

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I am a passionate advocate for children’s health, I am NOT anti-vaccine, but I do believe there are some questions to be answered regarding vaccination and children and MUCH MORE research needs to be done to answer these questions. I believe information is power and that the more you know about ALL sides of a conversation, the better equipped you are to determine what YOUR position is (not what you are told your position SHOULD be)! And finally, I believe every healthcare decision for a child should be placed in the loving hands of their parents, because after all they know that child best and they must live with all the consequences (both good and bad) of that decision.

With all that said- here are 5 tidbits that I have learned along the way about the flu (shot), that have made me dig deeper and do my homework. I encourage everyone, young and old to do their OWN research also and not just accept that ALL medical interventions are 100% safe for you or your child, until you can confidently site ALL the risks and benefits and how your current medical status and medical family health history weigh into those risks/benefits… a big leap toward PERSONALIZED MEDICINE…when the Person getting the medicine makes a fully informed decision to do so!

Much Ado about the Flu- Top 5

1. The multi-dose flu shots contain a form of Mercury called Thimerosal. Thimerosal adversely impacts the function of your mitochondria (research here and here). Mercury in any form is considered a neurotoxin. Here is a listing of the flu shots for the 2015-2016 season showing the ones that contain  mercury. This FDA article/table explains why the ones with zero in the mercury column, may not actually mean “zero mercury contained”, but rather a “trace amount” (Trace=≤0.3 µg Hg/0.5mL dose). It is best to consult the package insert or call the manufacturer to be sure of the mercury content of any vaccine.

Recently, I was talking to a friend who was headed to the pediatrician’s office for her child’s flu shot. Her child has a history of developmental delays, so I was sharing with her a great question to call ahead and ask the clinic would be:

“Does the flu shot that my child will be receiving contain mercury or thimerosal?”

When she called to check, the reply was a bit shocking and concerning, as the person on the other end of the phone asked, “What insurance do you have?”

Now why would you and your child’s insurance status have anything to do with the type of flu shot you receive and the INGREDIENTS in that flu shot??    Hmmm….


2.  The Flu is seasonal and in my research about Vitamin D, I found out exactly why. Read more here but also consider this study that shows:

Vitamin D may be MORE effective than a flu shot, even at low dose supplementation.

Vitamin D3, even when taken in low daily dosages, has been found to slash your risk of developing the flu by 42%source


3. The FluMist version of the flu (nasal spray) is a LIVE ATTENUATED VIRUS (LAIV) vaccine. What does this mean? It means that if you or your child’s immune system is not in a TIP TOP 100% functioning state (i.e..immunocompromised in some way shape or form), then you may just be giving yourself the flu! Also this Live Virus vaccine SHEDS…which means it acts as the vaccination that keeps on giving (ie. vaccine viruses capable of infection and replication can be cultured from..vaccine recipients).

See the Package insert here:

FluMist Package Insert

FluMist Package Insert


4.  According to The National Vaccine Information Center:

“As of November 2013, there have been more than 93,000 reports of reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths following influenza (flu) vaccinations made to the federal Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), including 1,080 related deaths, 8,888 hospitalizations, 1,801 related disabilities and over 1,700 cases of GBS. In 2013 the Federal Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines (ACCV) voted to add GBS to the Vaccine Injury Table within the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP).”

A few years ago I did not know what VAERS (reporting system of CDC) and VICP (ie Vaccine Court) were or stood for… I quickly found out and I urge you to do the same if you have never heard of them.

This  short videos should help explain:

What is VICP?

What is VAERS?

Despite most claims being rejected, the government Vaccine Injury Compensation Program  (VICP) has paid over $3.1 billion to those killed or injured by vaccines.

The flu vaccine is the most compensated vaccine. Between 11/16/14 and 2/15/14 (a 3- month period), of 91 cases settled, 74 were for severe injury or death due to influenza vaccination.


5. And finally for my Mitochondrial counterparts… The live virus vaccine called FluMist carries this post-marketing warning in its package insert

“Exacerbation of symptoms of



(Leigh Syndrome)”




So those just a few of the tidbits that I have come across in my journey to try to understand why so many people I know, including some of my own family members, have had adverse reactions to certain vaccinations including the flu shot.  Consumer beware, but more importantly, do your homework so you can make the best INFORMED decision for you and your family!

And don’t forget there are ways to NATURALLY boost your immune system during these cold months of winter!

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Lady A’s GF/CF/SF Low Salicylate Banana Bread

banana bread
Lady A’s Gluten Free/Casein Free/Soy Free, Low Salicylate~

Banana Bread

2 cups GF Flour (we like this brand)

1 teaspoon  baking soda

1/8 teaspoon himalayan sea salt

1/2 cup sunflower or safflower oil (low salicylate oils)

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

3 bananas mashed (when our bananas go brown, we peel them and throw them in a container in our freezer and then get them out when it is time to make this recipe!)

1/2 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla


Heat oven to 325 F, lightly rub oil on small loaf pans and dust with GF flour

In a bowl, mix together GF flour, baking soda,and salt. In separate bowl combine oil, sugar and add to it eggs, mashed bananas and vanilla. Stir until well blended. Mix in the dry ingredients to this mixture.

Pour batter into small loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes or until cake tester (toothpick) is inserted in center and comes out clean. Cool and Enjoy! Freeze extra loaf to keep them from spoiling (the beauty of bread made with NO preservatives!!).

With the extra batter we make BANANA BREAD MUFFINS!!


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Hyperactivity: Is it “Just” the Sugar? Pittsburgh Parent Magazine October 2015

Honored and thrilled once again to have an article I wrote, published in the October issue of Pittsburgh Parent Magazine.

Sugar Sugar Sugar! Is it really the root off all Hyperactivity- evil? Read to find out more! And don’t forget about the DYES!

PDF File of Article here: Sugar Pittsburgh Parent October 2015

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T.I.M.E. for Mitochondrial Disease Awareness

Where did the summer go?

It is September and time for Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Month.

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week will be celebrated September 20-26, 2015. But here at Babyfoodsteps we think there is enough information and enough awareness that needs to be spread, to talk about it ALL MONTH LONG!!


The theme that babyfoodsteps is focusing on this year is a little acronym we came up with:


What does it stand for?

Toxin Induced Mitochondrial Etiology

What does that mean?

Well for a number of years if you have followed this blog, you have learned as we have learned about MITOXINS. These are exposures in our environment that can induce mitochondrial harm, dysfunction and even disease.  When I first learned about mitochondrial disease, I was told it was a RARE GENETIC disorder. The more I learn, with each passing year, I continue to discover more and more about another type of mitochondrial disease very few talk about: Acquired Mitochondrial Disease.

It is time to change that.

It is time to talk about ALL ETIOLOGIES of this Disease… including those that are TOXIN INDUCED leading to an Acquired form of the disease that is NOT always present at birth and NOT 100% genetic in origin.

Please join me for a month of awareness here on the blog and also on our facebook page. Feel free to post questions in the comment section or email us with questions at babyfoodsteps at symbol gmail dot com.

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness

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Back to School 2015- Planet Box lunch!

Today my kiddos headed back to school! 1st and 5th grade I can hardly believe it!

It has become tradition in our house for a fun and creative back to school lunch in our PLANET Boxes.  I have written about the planet box and how much we love them here, here and here, and this year is no different! These lunch boxes have been a God-send for us for managing food sensitivities!

What is for lunch today?

For Lady A- Nitrate free turkey with mango butter, That’s it bar (pear/apple), GF muffin (made with love from grandma), snap pea crisps, organic baby tri color carrots, dye free jelly beans!


For Big B- Nitrate free turkey rolls, organic apples, non-GMO kettle corn, tri color organic carrots, a chocolate chip cookie and dye free jelly beans.


And they are off – for what I am sure will be an amazing start to an awesome year!


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Is Autism Medical? Pittsburgh Parent Magazine September 2015

I had the privilege to write this article about the scientific and medical underpinnings of AUTISM in the September 2015 issue of Pittsburgh Parent Magazine.

PDF Version here: Is Autism Medical?

Pittsburgh Parent Sept 2015

Autism is Medical 1

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T is for Titer


Over the past few weeks, I have had a few conversations with some moms that really got me thinking about a topic that is about as controversial as they come… vaccinations, and in particular: over-vaccination of our children. These conversations including this experience that a mother shared with me, compelled me to share what I know about vaccine titers, just in time for back to school, when undoubtedly, many of you will need this information when you receive the note home saying Johnny is past due for his shots or he can’t go to school (not true in every state, but that is a topic for another blog).

To set the stage, first watch this video about Fido, man’s best friend, and while watching it replace in your mind “baby or child” everytime they say the word “puppy or dog“.

So what exactly is a “TITER”? Well in my chemistry days it meant to do a Titration with a Graduated burette to determine the “end point” of a reaction. Exciting huh? Today it means so much more to me as a mom.

Wikipedia describes it this way-

titer is a way of expressing concentration. Titer testing employs serial dilution to obtain approximate quantitative information from an analytical procedure that inherently only evaluates as positive or negative. The titer corresponds to the highest dilution factor that still yields a positive reading.

Huh?? So what does that have to do with vaccination? Well, a titer test is a blood test that measures the amount or concentration of antibodies (usually IgG antibodies) that a person has made against a specific pathogen which the person has been exposed to naturally or  through vaccination. By comparing the titer result with the reference range for the test, it can be determined if the person has produced enough of an immune response to have presumptive (key word!) immunity. Why presumptive and not definitive…well that is the thing… no one (or test) can predict definitvely, even after vaccination, if a person is exposed to the same antigen or germ again, if they will get sick, many many factors play into this beyond what a lab test can tell us (things such as are they on immune suppressing medications, are they ill with another pathogen, are they vitamin deficient, the list goes on and on).

So what does this mean for our kids? As you may be aware the pediatric vaccination schedule has grown exponentially in the last 30 years. From 23 doses of 5 vaccines in 1974  (or 3 vaccines if you got the MMR) to 49 doses of 14 vaccines by age 6 today.

Take the DTap shot for example:

Children should get 5 doses of DTaP vaccine, one dose at each of the following ages:

• 2 months
• 4 months
• 6 months
• 15–18 months
• 4–6 years

Each subsequent dose of DTap is referred to as a “booster” in order to “boost” the “immunity” of the first dose.  Some children depending on their immune system, may mount an adequate immune response after the first dose or maybe after the third, and not need the rest of the vaccine series. But because we practice a “one size fits all” approach to pediatric medicine in the United States, most if not all children will get all 5 of the boosters, whether they need them or not. What if your child has an adverse response to dose 1 and you are worried what may happen when they get their next booster? Drawing a blood titer may be one way to determine if they need those other boosters.

Since titers are a blood test, your doctor or pediatrician can write a perscription to order this bloodwork from your local lab or hospital. I have put together the following chart with the CPT and test codes for various vaccine titers at 2 of the largest commercial labs (LabCorp and Quest Diagnostic) in the United Sates here —> Titer Chart PDF

Titer Table

Once you get ther results of this test you can talk them over with your doctor or pediatrician and see if Johnny really needs x,y, and z boosters after all. If his titer levels show presumptive immunity, then you can ask you physician for a letter stating that, which you can turn into the school for their records.  If his levels are not high enough, then you have a very crucial decision to make about giving him that next booster, which is only a decision a parent can make for their child when they have done their homework and gathered enough info to make and INFORMED vaccination decision. Remember- YOU are your child’s best advocate!

There are many resources out there that talk about titers including a few labs where you don’t need a doctor’s orders to get the testing done-

A good definition of what a titer is and why you may want to test one-


This resource is for college admission and how to use a titer test for admissions-

Two labs that offer direct to consumer titer testing:



And for your furry four legged friends out there (dog titers):

The Bark

Clinical use of serum parvovirus and distemper virus antibody titers for determining revaccination strategies in healthy dogs.Twark L1, Dodds WJ.

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One Mom’s Experience: Vaccine Titers

This story was shared with me, recently,  by a mother who chooses to remain anonymous, about her experience with obtaining titers for her child. In her own words…

I have always wanted to be a mother, for as long as I can remember, having children has always been a non-negotiable part of who I am. My husband and I were fortunate to have a healthy baby boy (all 10 pounds of him!) in 2005. An equally large “little sister” made our family complete in 2008. My husband and I took precautions to keep our children healthy, including vaccinating them on schedule. Our son had all of his vaccinations through age 8 and our daughter had all of them up to age 5. We did yearly flu vaccinations to keep them from getting illnesses that could otherwise be prevented. That changed in 2013, after my daughter had what I believe was an adverse reaction to the Flu Mist vaccine. Read on.

We were surprised when our son began showing signs of motor tics around age 5. Not to worry, said the neurologist, “The best thing is to do is… nothing at all because most tics go away in a year, and you shouldn’t worry about these little things” he continued. It never occurred to us that these tics could be related to vaccination.

But they didn’t wane; in fact they increased. More worrisome was that the motor tics were soon joined by vocal tics. Diagnosis: Tourette Syndrome.

When our daughter started excessive eye blinking, we trotted off to the ophthalmologist and were told that eye blinking was a common occurrence. Furthermore, drawing any parallel between our son’s Tourette’s and her blinking was irrational. Again, no one, including my husband and me, considered that they might be related to a vaccine.

As health-conscious, compliant parents we kept on track with our children’s vaccine schedules, never questioning vaccine safety,efficacy or possible side effects.

In the fall of 2013 we returned to the Pediatrician’s office for well-child visits, and this time chose the Flu Mist vaccine, to avoid a needle stick. We left the office feeling like we had done everything we were supposed to do keep our children in the best possible health. I even got the Flu Mist myself while I was there- I loved how concerned and efficient our pediatricians office was to take care of me in the same visit.

Several hours after we returned home my children were playing in the living room, when I heard my daughter scream, “Mommy! Mommy! I can’t control my leg- make my leg stop!” She was thrashing on the floor, her leg appearing as if an invisible force was causing it to jerk violently in and out. Her foot came up towards her buttock and then shot straight out. This jerking and kicking continued for minutes, and when I could do nothing to stop it, my daughter became increasingly upset. Her leg continued as she were trying to kick something as hard as possible. She was crying and screaming and neither she nor I had any idea what was happening to her body.

I called the pediatrician’s office to see what they had to say- I wondered if it could be a reaction to the Flu Mist. The curt response was, “She has a tic disorder, what do you expect?” I replied, “No, she blinks excessively- that is all that there is to her to her tic disorder.” Why wasn’t the doctor more concerned?

I later learned that tics can be an adverse reaction to a vaccine. I also learned that an adverse reaction can be immediate or delayed, making it difficult to draw any conclusions about cause and effect relationships. Most importantly, I learned that the U.S. government provides a way to report an adverse vaccine reaction through the pediatrician. I asked my doctor to file an adverse reaction report, but was told by the nurse that my pediatrician would not support that action.

My daughter’s leg jerking was my wake up call. It really grabbed my attention. I never wanted to experience anything like it again, nor my daughter.

My journey to help my children be as healthy as possible led my family to a specialist, who, after extensive laboratory testing, found underlying auto immune conditions in both of my children. My son’s immune levels and markers are significantly worse than my daughter’s immune levels, just as his motor and vocal tics are worse than her occasional bouts of excessive eye blinking. My research told me that vaccines are counter-indicated for individuals whose immune systems are compromised, as my children are. Thus, I made the decision to decline the flu vaccine for all of us in 2014. We had a few colds, but not the flu.

Our daughter, age 6, was due for some vaccine boosters. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) vaccination schedule, she should receive another dose of DTap, MMR, varicella and polio by May of this year, in order to remain in public school in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania where we live. I noticed that the extensive blood testing done contained titers on several of these diseases, and that hers were above the levels necessary to show immunity.

In March, we returned to our pediatrician to discuss vaccinations. I was very concerned about continued vaccination with my daughter’s previous vaccine reaction to the Flu Mist, and her underlying autoimmune conditions. Even though I had acceptable titers from the measles, mumps and rubella that were less than a year old, the doctor insisted that he needed to draw current titers. Why?

My doctor’s initial response to my concern about titer testing was, “Insurance won’t cover these tests.” Hmm… I quietly wondered to myself, our insurance DID cover the earlier testing, the results from which I gripped in my sweaty palms. I didn’t confront, I was passive, responding “I don’t mind paying if that is the case.” His next response surprised me, “I don’t think there is a lab in this city (1 million metropolitan area) that can do these tests. I’m not even sure where to send you for this blood work.”

He then excused himself,and I heard him consulting with another pediatrician in the practice. When he returned, he asked me to contact the developmental pediatrician to ask where they send their patients for blood titers. I left the office with no prescription.

I called to confirm that our local children’s hospital could do all the blood titers required, and called back to report to my pediatrician. “Ok, I’ll write the script and you can pick it up on Monday.” This sounded like a good plan. But after so many phone calls on a Friday afternoon I was concerned that my pediatrician was not very well versed about vaccination after an adverse event or in the case of children who are immune compromised.

Monday I picked up the prescription for blood titers for the required vaccinations from the doctor’s office. It was folded, and in a sealed envelope- I didn’t even open it until I was home. Then that feeling of my blood pressure rising caught me as I read the bold words scrawled across the bottom of the prescription Mother does not want to vaccinate child

 How could he write this? It was a lie! I asked him to draw blood and check the levels of existing immunity in my daughter to be able to see if she even NEEDED further vaccinations. I had NOT refused vaccination!

I calmed down and I googled “Parent refusal to vaccinate.” I was astounded to learn something that I couldn’t believe was real: there are medical processing codes for refusal to vaccinate!

Here are a few of them:

The ICD-9-CM Volume 2 Index entries contain back-references to:

V64.00 Vaccination not carried out because of

V64.01 Acute illness

V64.02 Chronic illness

V64.03 Immune compromised state

V64.04 Guardian refusal

V64.05 Parent refusal

V64.06 Patient refusal

V64.07 Religious reasons

V64.08 Patient had disease being vaccinated against

V64.09 Immunization not carried out because of other contraindication

My husband and I headed back to the pediatrician to find out why he chose these words  and wrote them on the order for blood work. Does this say to the insurance company, “Don’t cover this test?” Is it a code that is sent to the CDC to track my child? Why didn’t he give me a code for “immune compromised state?”

Our long story short, the pediatrician agreed to change the code on the prescription for the titers. We had them drawn at our local children’s hospital and returned a few weeks later to our pediatricians office to find out that our daughter DID NOT NEED another dose of either the DTap, MMR, varicella or polio vaccine because her body had mounted an adequate immune response, that was still present. No need for a booster and no need for unnecessarily putting her at risk for another vaccine reaction.

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Mommy Book Report: Saving Sammy, Curing the Boy who caught OCD #PANDAS


This week I picked up this book while hanging out in Pittsburgh waiting for my son at camp. It was a quick read and one that I could not put down- perhaps because the physical and medical underpinnings of psychiatric illness are a topic near and dear to my heart, but partly because Beth Maloney tells the story as only a mom can, of saving her son from the horror of what she witnessed before her eyes. Beth, like so many other mothers I know, experienced seeing her typically developing pre-teen son “disappear” and become lost in the world of what the psychiatrists that she was seeing for him labeled as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and tourettes.  It was only through her searching and her tenacity to find out what happened to her son, that she was able to lead him to health (with a hand picked team of  enlightened professionals). Without giving away too much of the story, I think it is important to mention that the cause of her son’s “mental illness” was an infection that millions suffer from yearly- STREP. The condition her son was suffering from is called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated (with) Streptococcus (PANDAS).  I highly encourage all moms out there to read this book, to allow it to broaden you mind of what may actually be going on with children who suffer from “mental illness”- from OCD to Tics, from Bi-polar to Autism… and ask yourself if medicine is doing all it can to properly diagnose and treat our next generation. In the past 3 years, I have unfortunatley gotten a crash course in PANDAS because a number of close friends have had children “catch” this illness that is unrelenting.  Recently I have heard many in the Autism community struggling with PANDAS in addition to their child’s autism.

I will end with some links to resources for PANDAS and more about Sammy’s story, which is truly remarkable. If you don’t have time to read the book, please take the time to watch these 2 videos about Sammy and PANDAS:

Beth’s second book on PANDAS

Saving Sammy FaceBook page

A resource for PANDAS testing.

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