Florida’s SB46 and HB67 – Another Danger to Babies

By Dani Lasher, Vaxxter Contributor

The legislative climate around mandatory healthcare is ominously spreading across the U.S., but Florida is leading the downward spiral with two bills that would force an unnecessary procedure on infants and if it is not completed, healthcare practitioners could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

What’s This About? 

Florida SB46, called “Eyecare for Newborns and Infants,” introduced by Senators Lauren Book (D) and Lori Berman (D) requires an antibiotic to placed in the eyes of a newborn infant within one hour of birth by a physician, midwife or other “qualified healthcare attendant.” In addition, the legislation would require all babies born in a hospital to receive an eye examination, using a direct ophthalmoscope, in which the newborn’s pupils are dilated to allow detection of pediatric congenital and ocular abnormalities and developmental abnormalities. The direct examination is called a red reflex test

The bill then goes further and requires two more eye exams in the child’s first nine months of life. SB46 was referred to Health Policy, Banking and Insurance, Appropriations committees on August 6, 2019, and if approved and signed into law, is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2020.

A similar bill was introduced in the Florida House on August 16, 2019, by Representative Kristin Diane Jacobs (D). HB67 would similarly require an invasive eye examination, “using a direct ophthalmoscope, at birth or within 2 weeks, at 6 to 8 weeks of age, and at 6 to 9 months of age.” HB67 was referred to three committees – Health Market Reform Subcommittee; Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee; Health and Human Services Committee – on September 23, 2019. Similarly, if passed, is intended to go into effect July 1, 2020.

While parents would be permitted to opt-out by submitting a written objection, would parents be told they don’t have to — or even need to — subject their baby to this invasive exam? Would parents be educated on the reasons why they might want their child to have the exam? Or would the procedure become so routine that most won’t question it, much like the long-standing practice of plopping eye ointment into a newborn’s eyes? Silver nitrate solution, which was changed to erythromycin or tetracycline in 1984, has been smeared into the eyes of newborns since the 1880s as a prophylaxis against Neisseria gonorrhea and ocular chlamydia, conditions which used to be rampant and if untreated, can lead to infant blindness. Many parents have no idea that the ointment is an antibiotic. Few are told the purpose of it either.

Babies born to mothers who don’t have either of these sexually transmitted infections do not medically require this antibiotic. 

Some healthcare practitioners insist the eye antibiotics can also protect against other potential bacterial infections, such as straph or strep, but providers usually fail to disclose that these infections do not pose the risk of blindness.

While there are disagreements among physicians regarding drugs and their potential risks, there is a firm consensus on antibiotics: They should not be used unless medically necessary because they can indeed cause harm. The manufacturer’s insert for Ilotycinthe standard form of erythromycin ointment used in newborn eyes, notes hypersensitivity and redness as the most common side effects.

The relationship with your child begins as soon as they come into this world. The eye ointment blurs baby’s vision and causes the eyes to stay closed, interfering with the key initial bonding between mother and child. Your eyes need to connect. Your baby does not have language, but all other sences are fully deveoped. Avoid, or at least delay, this procedure until you have time to gaze lovinging into each other’s eyes. 

Beyond topical irritation, the antibiotics may hinder the immune system, increase future antibiotic resistance, and disrupt the newborn’s microbiome. This disruption can significantly impact your baby’s future health and development, including breastfeeding and the breast crawl.

Risky Business

In addition to antibiotic eye ointment, Florida now wants to mandate the application of another medication into brand-new eyes for an exam. Dilation of the pupil would be carried out with the use of cycloplegic eye drops which will cause blurred vision from two hours to 48 hours depending on the strength used. What is worse, these drugs have not been tested for safety on newborns, and the medications can flow directly into the brain.

Similar to what is know about vaccines, neither Cyclopentolate nor Tropicamide drops have been tested for carcinogenic potential. Side effects include burning, nervous system disturbances, cardiorespiratory and vasomotor collapse, conjunctivitis, blepharoconjunctivitis, increased intraocular pressure, photophobia, synechiae, punctate keratitis and more. In other words, this procedure to look for something that doesn’t exist can cause permanent damage to your baby’s eyes and vision.

An article in the Journal of Emergency Medicine reports that diazepam (Valium) was necessary to calm infantile delirium produced by cycloplegic eye drops in a 15-month-old male. Progress in Retinal and Eye Research published an article warning of the potential for serious eye injury from these eye drops. In 2015, a Dutch study (full text) was conducted on children aged 3- to 14-years. Children received either two drops of cyclopentolate or one drop of cyclopentolate and one drop of tropicamide. Adverse reactions were common and almost exclusively involved in the central nervous system. The researchers concluded:

Our study shows that adverse reactions occurred most frequently in young and low BMI participants… In general, one can state that young children have an increased risk of drug-related adverse events…Children have a large brain mass in relation to body volume and a higher blood-brain barrier permeability than adults, thereby facilitating CNS adverse reactions. The high incidence of reported adverse reactions, especially in the youngest children of our study, supports the hypothesis that immaturity of the CNS plays a key role in cyclopentolate’s potency for adverse reactions.

This begs the question: What could this medication do to the brain of an infant that is hours to days old? Is it a coincidence that instilling a drug that can cause central nervous system adverse events and cardiovascular collapse is to be mandated and given at the same time as neurotoxic vaccines:

  • birth (Hep B – #1);
  • 8 weeks (DTaP + HepB #2); and
  • 6 months (DTaP + HepB #3 + influenza with mercury).

Call to Action

Critics of SB46 have come out in full force, insisting there must be an ulterior motive.

It has happened many times before. One example is when Eli Lilly’s patent was about to expire for Prozac. They rebranded the drug in a low-dose version called Sarafem. But pharma needed an indication for the drug, so they can up with a new mental health disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, even though experts from the American Psychiatric Association said there was not enough evidence for this to be a real condition requiring a prescription medication.

Some researchers wondering if this is tied to retinal scanning from infancy or facial recognition artificial intelligence software or perhaps the upcoming REAL ID tracking technology. Senator Lauren Book is up for re-election in 2020 and she’s currently running unopposed. Floridians, this is where your vote counts. With the daily news numbing us to politics in general, Americans are tuning out and not voting in elections that are the most important and have the most impact on your daily life: State politicians, taxes/levies, district policies, vaccination bills, and medical mandates.

  • Is Senator Book in a dalliance with Big Pharma? Records show she has accepted campaign contributions from Eye Management, Inc and many other pharmaceutical contributions. What about the co-sponsors of this bill in both the House and the Senate?
  • What do these legislators know about pediatric eye health?
    • Before being elected to politics, Senator Book was an elementary school teacher, Senator Berman was a lawyer with an emphasis on estate planning and Representative Jacobs appears to have had no particular career before politics.
    • Yet, these women were somehow coerced into introducing legislation to do an invasive procedure with possibly mind-damaging side effects and charges physicians with a crime for non-compliance?

Florida’s legislative session gears up on January 14, 2020, and if passed, these bills would go into effect in July of 2020. The potential ripple effect of this legislation is that it could set a precedent for executing similar laws nationwide.

Where there is smoke there must be a fire. We must find the money trail. Get vocal. Share this article with your friends, family, and colleagues in Florida. Let them know why this bill matters to you, and why it should matter to them. Tell them why it’s imperative to unseat legislators who are introducing – and passing – bills that can cause permanent brain damage to Florida’s children. At this stage, opting out of activism just might impair your ability to opt-out from unnecessary medicine.


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Dani Lasher is a writer, motherhood coach, and health advocate living just outside of Washington, DC. While passionate about informed consent and women’s birthing choices, she’s also slightly obsessed with city living and cooking. You can catch up with Dani at her site, BumpMama.

Photo credit: ID 107138484 © Luca Calzone | Dreamstime.com

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