Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 2, 2014

ED VASICEK: Tylenol, attention deficit and alternative lifestyles

Mature, responsible people labeled oddballs

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Today’s column deals with reversals in two completely unrelated realms: medicine and moral/social values. Let’s begin with medicine.

I take a baby aspirin every day as a blood thinner, which means I can no longer take aspirin or ibuprofen when I have a headache. But I can take Tylenol. OK, I am too cheap. Let me be honest: I take a generic.

In our day and age, many medical experts say aspirin is no longer the drug of choice to reduce fever or lessen headaches. In my experience — especially for sinus headaches — nothing worked like aspirin. Still, Tylenol is thought to be the safest of all pain relievers and fever reducers. Recently, however, the health community has discovered an exception: Tylenol may precipitate ADHD (attention deficit)!

According to Time Health and Family, “... Now there’s another thing to add to the growing list of agents — including tobacco from cigarettes, mercury from fish, and alcohol — that may affect their babies’ development. In a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, an international group of researchers led by Dr. Jorn Olsen at the University of Aarhus in Denmark found a strong correlation between acetaminophen (found in common pain killers such as Tylenol) use among pregnant women and the rate of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses and prescriptions for ADHD medications in their children.”

How serious a risk is this? The article continues, “Overall, moms who used the pain reliever to treat things like headaches or to reduce fevers saw a 37% increased risk in their kids receiving an ADHD diagnosis and a 29% increased risk in the chances that their kids needed ADHD medications compared with moms who didn’t use the over-the-counter medication at all.” Wow.

If you know folks who are resistant to antibiotics, you may have noticed the medical world is returning to Sulfa, a drug commonly used during and before World War II. Maybe we will head back to aspirin again, too?

A moral/social reversal has taken place in my lifetime that seems even more troubling. I was taught in my public school that family was the bedrock of society. As we have witnessed the decline of the family, some of us believe society has declined; others suggest society has improved and we simply need to redefine “family.”

Now the idea of getting married to someone of the opposite gender, rearing children and attending church is considered an “alternate lifestyle.” A Washington Post article explains, “NBC reporter Skyler Wilder wrote: ‘David Wise is at the top of his sport. He’s always smiling among his friends and competitors, however, he’s not like the rest of the field. He is mature ... At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult. He wears a Baby Bjorn baby carrier around the house. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road.’

“But it was the [article] title that evoked a strong response ... ‘David Wise’s alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold.’”

Labeling the values and behaviors of a young man with traditional Christian values as an “alternative lifestyle” is correct, in my opinion. Several decades ago, Wise’s maturity and behavior would have been relatively common (although never common enough). In our day, it is actually becoming an exception, especially for young adults in the limelight. Yet it is no rare exception either; it is just no longer the norm. Thus society has reversed itself: what was once considered dysfunctional and immature is becoming the new norm. The mature and functional are considered the oddballs, the new dysfunctionals who mysteriously surface, projected through a time vortex from the past. Who would have thunk?

Ed Vasicek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@gmail.com.