Sunday, May 03, 2015

Jansson on 1942 births in Leningrad

In a further response to the blog Friedrich Jansson tries to help Mattogno …, Jansson provides a source that, so he claims, "decisively" refutes my assumption that 3rd percentile female weights given in CDC Growth Charts, namely the charts Data Table of Infant Weight-for-age Charts and Data Table of Weight-for-age Charts (I only addressed the latter so far) are too high to represent the weights of a starved population.



Update, 13.05.2015

Update, 21.05.2015

Said assumption was based on the following sources, rendered in the blog Friedrich Jansson tries to help Mattogno …:
The comparative smallness of these differences suggests that the 3rd percentile does not represent the lowest range of what is considered underweight in children, as do the aforementioned pages whereby there are four underweight percentiles (the 1st to 4th). See also this page ("As a general rule of thumb, a typical, healthy child’s growth measurements fall between the 3rd and 97th percentiles. A child may fall below the 3rd percentile if they are genetically small-statured or severely malnourished.") and this one ("It is desirable that the child’s growth measurements fall between the 3rd and 97th percentiles. If a child has both low weight-for-age and height-for-age, their weight-for-length should at least be proportional (between the 3rd and 97th percentiles)."). A PDF available under this link contains a book chapter ("Use of Percentiles and Z -Scores in Anthropometry", by Youfa Wang and Hsin-Jen Chen) featuring a table (Table 2.2) based on the 1995 WHO growth reference, whereby the anthropometric measure or cut point for conditions indicating "chronic malnutrition" and "acute malnutrition, current malnutrition" in infants and children below ten years and "chronic malnutrition" in adolescents is below the 3rd percentile. Another source mentioning "less than the third percentile" as a criterion for malnutrition in children is Robert Markowitz MD, John B. Watkins MD and Christopher Duggan, MD, MPH, "Failure to Thrive: Malnutrition in the Pediatric Outpatient Setting", in: Christopher Duggan (MD.),John B. Watkins, W. Allan Walker, Nutrition in Pediatrics: Basic Science, Clinical Applications, pp. 479 ff. (excerpt viewable here).

The fact alone that Jansson bluntly dismisses these sources as not being "any serious argument" speaks volumes about my interlocutor's intellectual honesty. But the party gets much better, as Jansson provides a (to put it politely) highly selective reading of the source that is supposed to "decisively" refute my aforementioned assumptions.

The source in question is a paper on children born in the Leningrad State Pediatric Institute during 1942 (M.D. A.N. Antonov, "Children born during The Siege of Leningrad in 1942", in: The Journal of Pediatrics, March 1947, Volume 30, Issue 3, Pages 250–259; the article’s abstract is available on this page, where the whole article can be accessed against payment). The article addresses several aspects, namely height, weight, lack of vitality and other health problems as well as mortality among children born in the aforementioned institute (hereinafter called the "LSPI") from January to June and from July to December 1942. During the first of these periods (January to June 1942), 414 children were born in the LSPI; of these 23 (5.6 %) were stillbirths, 161 were born prematurely and 230 were born at term. Of the babies born at term, 21 (9 %) died soon after birth, while of the babies born prematurely 62 (30.8 %) were neonatal deaths. During the second of these periods (July to December 1942), 79 children were born in the LSPI; of these 2 (2.5 %) were stillbirths, 5 (6.5 %) were born prematurely and 72 were born at term. One of the babies born at term (1.4 %) and 3 of the babies born prematurely (60 %) were neonatal deaths. Antonov points out that
Premature births in the first half of 1942 reached the high proportion of 41.2 per cent; in the second half the proportion was only 6.5 per cent, which differs little from the normal rate. The proportion of stillbirths also was exceptionally high in the first half of the year (5.6 per cent) while in the second half it was 2.5 per cent, which is within normal limits as can be seen in Table II.

He then goes on to provide an explanation for the surprising normality of births in the second half of 1942 despite ongoing siege conditions, which I will address below.

The weights of 368 children born during the first semester of 1942 are given as follows in Antonov’s article:



The weighted average of these weights (assuming that "less than 2,000 Gm." means a range from 1,500 to 2,000 Gm. and "over 4,000 Gm." means a range from 4,000 to 4,500 Gm., and taking the median of all ranges) is about 2,512 grams. Jansson estimates a mean weight of 2.5 kg and points out that this is "between the 3rd and 5th percentiles (closer to the 5th percentile)" of weights at birth given in this table.

Obviously not satisfied with this result, Jansson then argues that (for reasons I will address below) one should "separate out the effect of the increase in premature births" during the first half of 1942 and consider only the weights of babies born at term, which are rendered as follows in Antonov’s article:



Jansson points out that "the birth weights for the first half of 1942 lie slightly above the 10th percentile on the CDC data", while the birth weights for the second half of 1942 "are higher, roughly midway between the 10th and 25th percentiles for females and above the 25th percentile for males". He then makes a "correction" of these values to "include the influence of the normal rate of premature births", the results of this "correction" being "an average birth weight of 2743 g" during the first half of 1942 and "3127 g for boys and 2838 g for girls" in the second half of that year. Jansson’s triumphant conclusion is the following:
Thus, in the most severe portion of the famine, during the first half of 1942, once the impact of the prematurity rate is separated out, Leningrad birth weights were approximately on the level of the 10th percentile CDC birth weights. Including the high rate of prematurity, they were between the 4th and 5th percentiles. For the second half of 1942, when pregnancies that began after the onset of the siege were the norm, birth weights were between the 10th and 25th percentiles of the CDC birth weight data. Muehlenkamp’s assumption that CDC 3rd percentile female weights are too high to represent the weights of a starved population is decisively refuted in this case.

Except that Jansson wouldn’t be Jansson if he had not omitted crucial information included in his source and thereby twisted it to yield the results he desired.

Let’s start with the justifications he provides for not taking into consideration the weights of premature births in the first half of 1942. Jansson writes:
The prematurity rate increased dramatically in the first half of 1942, reaching 41.2%, and then fell to normal levels – 6.5% – in the second half of 1942. While this fall may be partially the result of improved food supply, at least among the pregnant population, the initial rise was also the result of premature births to women who became pregnant before food became scarce. This suggests that prematurity rates for a population under sustained food pressure are likely to return to somewhat normal levels. Therefore, for the purposes of inference to Polish Jewish populations, it would be desirable to separate out the effect of the increase in premature births. (Another reason to do this is the high mortality rate among premature births – 39% in 1942 at the institution discussed in the paper under discussion, and as high or higher at other institutions. As deaths fall out of the population to be studied, these premature births would have no impact on date for average weight.)

The second reason is just plain nonsense. When determining a population’s average weight at birth, one has to take into account all children born alive, including those who died soon after birth.

As to Jansson’s assumption that "prematurity rates for a population under sustained food pressure are likely to return to somewhat normal levels", this is also nonsense, but there’s more to it. Jansson omitted Antonov’s explanation of why the 79 births in the second half of 1942 were about normal as concerns stillbirth and prematurity rates, which is the following (emphasis added):
How did the seventy-nine women who entered the clinic in the second half of 1942 differ from the other women in Leningrad, so that they did not suffer from amenorrhea and were able to become• pregnant, and so that the proportions of stillbirths and of premature births among them were not above the normal? While the material is too limited for positive answer, there are reasons to believe that their nutrition was much better than that of the rest of the women in the city during that period. It was possible to ascertain that among these seventy-nine women, fourteen were employed in food industries (cooks, waitresses, and others), six were receiving military rations, seventeen were physicians, nurses, teachers, and members of other professions, fourteen were manual workers, and twenty-two were housewives. Had information been obtained about the occupations of the husbands of the twenty-two housewives, it would doubtless have strengthened further the assumption that the food of the women who bore children in the second half of 1942 was considerably better than that of the other women in the city. In any event, these seventy-nine women did not suffer from the hunger that was the lot of the others.

So the 79 women who gave birth in the second half of 1942 belonged to privileged sections of the city’s population who were fed much better than the average citizen, and this was, in Antonov’s opinion, the reason why they got pregnant in the first place, at a time when amenorrhea was prevalent among the city’s women. They were thus an exception to the rule and everything other than representative of the conditions among Leningrad’s female population at the time. Antonov’s observation reflects one of the sad (one might also say scandalous) realities of how Soviet authorities behaved towards the encircled city's population. Instead of the burden of severe food shortage being distributed equitably according to objective criteria (such as distinguishing between manual and mental workers), there was a majority of citizens who starved to death or barely managed to survive on quantitatively and qualitatively miserable rations and whatever at least unpalatable complements to the diet (such as leather straps, carpenter’s glue and paste from the tapestries) they turned to in their despair, while on the other hand there was a minority of privileged individuals, usually associated to state and party entities, who barely suffered from hunger or didn’t go hungry at all. Siege survivor Dimitri Likhachov, to give but one example, mentions the following case:
The windows of the refectory near the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology were also nailed down. Here food was issued on special cards. Many employees got no cards and went here to lick the plates.

The contrast between the privileged few and the starving many is illustrated by the picture on the right of the scan below, taken from Anna Reid’s book Leningrad. Tragedy of a City under Siege, 1941-44 ((2011 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London) and captioned «A "well-fed type" and a "dystrophic"; Ligovsky Prospect, December 1941»:



The 79 women who gave birth in the LSPI were obviously "well-fed" types, privileged people who ate regular meals on special cards instead of being reduced to licking the plates or trying to survive by other desperate methods such as those mentioned above.

This means that, instead of suggesting that "prematurity rates for a population under sustained food pressure are likely to return to somewhat normal levels", as Jansson would have it, they must not only be left out of any calculations aimed at establishing average birth weights among a starving population, but are also no justification for considering only the weight of babies born at term, as Jansson does.

It is inconceivable that Jansson, however sloppily he may have read his source, could have missed Antonov’s above-quoted explanation for the reasons why births in the second half of 1942 resembled normal circumstances, which contradicts his "return to somewhat normal levels" assumption. What clearly happened here was that Jansson deliberately omitted information that is not only unfavorable to his argument, but completely destroys it.

While I’m careful with accusing my interlocutor of lying (also because I have a healthy contempt for the baseless and dishonest or hysterical "lie" accusations he sends my way), I’d say that in this case the expression "lying by omission" is an accurate description of Jansson’s behavior.

This leaves us with the aforementioned average weight of ca. 2.5 kg for children born (at term or prematurely) in the LSPI between January and June 1942. This weight being above the 3rd percentile and close to the 5th percentile in this table, one might consider it enough to make Jansson’s point against my assumption that malnutrition, or at least severe malnourishment, is signaled by weights below the 3rd percentile. However, one should consider the following aspects:

1. The number of live births in the first half of 1942, as shown in Table II from Antonov’s article rendered below, was far below the number of live births in the same period of previous years, less than one-fifth of the number of live births between January and June 1941:



This although the pregnancy of the women who gave birth between January and June 1942 must in a great many cases have occurred before the beginning of the siege (a woman whose baby was born at term in January 1942 would have got pregnant in May 1941, and the corresponding months for February to June 1942 would be June, July, August, September, October and November 1941). While the siege of Leningrad started in September 1941, mortality in the city (mostly from lack of food) rose slowly in the following two months, to then take a dramatic leap in December 1941, as shown in the table below from Appendix II of Anna Reid’s aforementioned book about Leningrad.



The official figures in the above table are obviously considered too low by Reid, who writes that "the best estimate for the number of civilians who died during Leningrad’s first siege winter is around half a million" (Leningrad, page 231; Reid’s estimate of the siege’s overall death toll is about 750,000, which is lower than the estimates of Salisbury, Ganzenmüller and others). Nevertheless they show the trend in mortality, which, if taken as an indicator of the population’s health, suggests that women who got pregnant before or in the early stages of the siege spent much of their pregnancy still without feeling the full effects of acute malnourishment. If nevertheless the number of births in the first half of 1942 was only one-fifth of what it had been in the same period of 1941, this suggests that only the strongest, most resistant pregnant women managed to carry their pregnancy until birth, while weaker specimens either had natural abortions or died before giving birth. In other words, those women who managed to give birth in the first half of 1942 may already have been the survivors of a natural selection process, rather than representative specimens of the female population, and the weight of their babies, while being far lower than in normal times, may have been higher than that of average Leningrad women would have been if they had carried their pregnancy until birth.

2. The weight at birth was not necessarily a predictor of continuing weight development even among the children born at term that didn’t die in the LSPI, a fact that Jansson also conveniently omits. In fact their weight dropped after birth, as shown in Table IV from Antonov’s article:



Antonov adds the following after this table:
The loss of weight lasted three days or less in only 11.2 per cent of the children; in 88.8 per cent it lasted more than three days. Many of the children were discharged without any established tendency toward further gain in weight. On the average, the loss of weight continued for six days instead of three to four days; the average loss was 273 Gm., 9.7 per cent of the original weight.

Not being a doctor, I don’t know what the implications of a child having "no established tendency toward further gain in weight" upon release were, but my guess is that such child was expected to either become severely underweight or die after release from the clinic.

3. It is doubtful whether weight at birth is a predictor of continuing weight development at all under precarious food conditions. Antonov quotes foreign and Russian research, also not mentioned by Jansson, which suggests that a child’s birth at weight, while negatively affected by the mother’s severe malnourishment, may on the other hand be positively affected by the fact that the fetus draws resources from its mother while it is the womb. The following information is of particular interest in this respect:
According to Shkarin,4 the proportion of babies with birth weights above the average (more than 4,000 Gm.) was lower in 1919 than in 1913, while the proportion with very small birth weights (below 2,300 Gm.) was higher. Lurie and Belugin5 found that with insufficient diet there was a slight decrease in birth weight, in 1919 the average birth weight was 160 Gm. less than in 1915. According to Troitzkaia, 6 the average birth weight in 1919 was 200 Gm. less than in 1914. This did not prevent either Troitzkaia or Lurie and Belugin from reaching the conclusion that the fetus receives from the mother's body everything it needs for its development, regardless of the nourishment received by the mother from the outside, that, in other words, the fetus behaves like a parasite.

(Emphasis added.)

Antonov also mentions at least one source that "rejects the theory that the fetus is a parasite", but in the last paragraph states that "we do not contradict the prevailing opinion that the fetus behaves like a parasite in the mother's body":
While, in general, we do not contradict the prevailing opinion that the fetus behaves like a parasite in the mother's body, we can say on the basis of our material that the condition of the host, the mother's body, is of great consequence to the fetus, and that severe quantitative and qualitative hunger of the mother decidedly affects the development of the fetus and the vitality of the newborn child.
If, as was the prevailing opinion among Russian pediatric doctors at the time according to Antonov, the fetus enjoys "parasite" benefits while in the mother’s womb that help its development despite the mother’s weakened condition, these benefits cease to exist once the baby is born, especially as the baby (a phenomenon mentioned earlier out by Antonov) will not be able to draw sufficient milk from its mother:
In 1918, on the basis of many observations of the effect of hunger on lactation in women, we came to the following conclusions:3 (1) in spite of hunger, the mammary gland secretes milk if there is sufficient physiologic stimulation, that is, the capacity for breast feeding remains; (2) the quantity of milk, however, decreases; and (3) the duration of the lactation period becomes shorter. These circumstances were observed also during the siege of Leningrad, 1941 to 1943, with the difference that the mother's incapacity to produce sufficient milk was greater.

The extent and duration of the physiologic loss of weight and the rapidity of restoration to the initial weight depend mainly upon food conditions, that is, on the quantity of the mother's milk to some extent they probably depend also upon the strength with which the child sucks, that is, on his general vigor. Most of the children born late in 1941 and in the first half of 1942 of severely exhausted mothers had very low vitality. The mothers as a rule had very little milk, and many babies had to be fed, even in the first few days of their lives, on artificial mixtures prepared from milk substitutes because there was no cow's milk.

4. Last but not least, births in Leningrad occurred among a population that, according to the 1906 Jewish encyclopedia’s article "STATURE: Jews Compared with Non-Jews, must have been comparatively taller (and accordingly heavier) than the Jews of Poland and Galicia at the time, a trend that presumably continued over the next decades. One reads in the mentioned article that
As will be noticed from the figures in Table 2, showing the average height of Jews as compared with that of the non-Jewish inhabitants in eastern Europe, the stature of the former corresponds to a great extent with that of their Gentile neighbors. Wherever the latter are tall, the Jews also are tall, and vice versa. Thus in Galicia and Poland, where the indigenous Polish population is short of stature, measuring 162 to 163 cm. on the average, the shortest Jews are found. In Little Russia and South Russia, where the Gentiles are characterized by their superior height, measuring 165 to 167 cm. on the average, the Jews also are comparatively tall, averaging 163 to 167 cm. The same is true of the Jews in Rumania, Bukowina, etc.

The article mentions "Little Russia and South Russia", but there’s no reason why inhabitants of northern Russia should not have been equally tall or even taller.

To sum up, consideration 1 above calls in question whether an average birth weight of 2.5 kg under starvation conditions was representative of Leningrad’s average female population at the time, rather than a natural selection of particularly strong and resistant specimens. Considerations 2 and 3 suggest that weight at birth cannot, under continuing precarious food conditions, be considered a predictor of further weight development, namely that children with birth weights closer to the 5th than to the 3rd percentile may have seen their weights reduced to or below the 3rd percentile in the following weeks, months and years, if they survived. Consideration 4 suggests that data about the birth weight of Leningrad children born under starvation conditions cannot be projected onto Polish Jewish children born under similar conditions (to the extent that there were any), due to substantial differences in average height and accordingly weight of the relevant population.

The conclusion from the above is that, contrary to what he would like to believe (or to what he would like his readers to believe), Jansson has not refuted my assumption that 3rd percentile female weights given in CDC Growth Charts are too high to represent the weights of a starved population, namely a starved Jewish population in Poland during 1942. The only thing Jansson has achieved with his exercise is to again put his intellectual dishonesty on display, by showing that he is willing to distort his own source by omitting crucial information from such source that contradicts his argument.

As to Jansson’s closing remark that my assumptions on weights of Jewish children and adults in 1942 Poland "rest on no weight-data whatsoever", my comment is that I consider the data mentioned in the blogs Friedrich Jansson tries to help Mattogno … and Just when I thought I had seen all of Jansson’s fits … - namely Baron Otmar von Verschuer’s 1938 article, the aforementioned Jewish encyclopedia article, the "Gewichtstabelle nach BMI and evidence to the severe malnutrition/starvation of Polish ghetto Jews in 1942 - to form a pretty good database in support of my assumptions, and what is more, one that hasn’t been distorted the way Jansson distorted his Leningrad source where it didn’t fit his argument.

I would like to end this blog with a quote from Antonov’s article explaining the reasons (or some of the reasons) for the high mortality among children born in the first half of 1942, especially premature births. While not related to the refutation of Jansson’s article, it provides further insight into the plight of an urban population caught between Nazi Germany’s endeavor to eradicate it (which German historian Ganzenmüller called A Quiet Genocide) and the callousness, corruption and incompetence of its own government;
In the beginning of the war the Department for the Newborn consisted of 120 beds and was• situated on the third floor of the obstetric-gynecologic building. During air raids the babies were taken by elevator to the basement, where an air-raid shelter was specially equipped for them. Late in the fall of 1941, damage to the central heating plant forced the obstetric department to move, with reduced facilities, to other quarters which could be heated by stoves. The Department for the Newborn was placed in a ward of fifteen to twenty beds, which was heated by a brick stove with a pipe connected to a window. The stove was too small to heat the ward adequately; it smoked often, arid there was not enough wood. The temperature in the ward was usually very low, often 50° F.; in the fourth week of January, 1942, it went down to 40° F. The physicians and nurses worked in their overcoats (over which they wore white coats) and in felt boots. Medical examination of the infants and changing of diapers brought danger of chilling. The same danger threatened in the corridor and in the mothers' ward, where the infants were taken for feeding and where the temperature was lower still. The situation was made worse by the insufficiency of heaters, the impossibility of repairing damaged heaters, and the insufficiency of hot water (the water system was not working; water could be heated only on the stoves in the wards). It is not surprising that during that time many newborn infants died from such diseases as scleredema, sclerema, and pneumonia. It should be added that of the children born at home the majority were brought to the clinic severely chilled.

The large number of premature births, the congenital debility of many babies born at term but with low weight, and poor conditions of care and feeding, all explain the high neonatal mortality at the end of 1941 and in 1942. Under these difficult conditions, the staff of the Department for the Newborn, Dr. R. M. Levis and the nurses, themselves in a condition of advanced alimentary dystrophy, did everything they could to preserve the lives of the newborn babies; but, unfortunately, many things did not depend upon their good will and devotion.

I thank Jansson not only for giving me another chance to expose his mendacity and the fallaciousness of his arguments, but also for having brought this very interesting source to my attention. _______________________________________________________________________

Update, 13.05.2015

In another furious rant with the self-characterizing title More garbage disposal, my rabid friend Jansson tries to clean up the mess in his previous blog about Leningrad birth weights.

After feebly attempting to cover up his dodging of arguments he’d rather avoid (hoping for suckers who may take his affectation of superiority seriously, Jansson brags about his "annihilation" of my "claims", then squeals that my arguments "rarely reach the minimum level to justify further response"), and after some equally feeble rambling about the meaning of the term "Ausrottung" when used to describe something done to a group or population of human beings (which will be commented in another update of the blog Friedrich Jansson proudly presents …), Jansson produces the arguments that will be addressed hereafter.

Jansson:
Regarding my post on Leningrad birth weights, Muehlenkamp argues that the study does not prove that 3rd percentage female CDC weights for children are lower than the mean Warsaw ghetto weights for children, because of his data-free speculations.

The data supporting what Jansson calls "data-free speculations", first referred to in this blog, are again quoted at the beginning of the present blog. Jansson apparently thinks he’s writing for an audience dumb enough not to check behind him.

Jansson:
Here he shifts his ground: his previous argument was that 3rd percentile weights were too high because infants can be healthy at that weight, suggesting that the mean for a starved population would have to be lower.

It is duly noted that Jansson doesn’t explain in what respect I’m supposed to have changed my argument. It is also noted that Jansson misrepresents my argument, which does not rely on sources whereby infants can be healthy at 3rd percentile weights, but on sources whereby
a) "a typical, healthy child’s growth measurements fall between the 3rd and 97th percentiles",
b) it is "desirable that the child’s growth measurements fall between the 3rd and 97th percentiles",
c) the anthropometric measure or cut point for conditions indicating "chronic malnutrition" and "acute malnutrition, current malnutrition" in infants and children below ten years and "chronic malnutrition" in adolescents is below the 3rd percentile, and
d)"less than the third percentile" is a criterion for malnutrition in children.

Note that none of these sources specifically addresses weights at birth or the weights of newborn infants. They rather refer to weights of children at later stages of their development, if I understood them correctly.

Jansson:
(Again, Muehlenkamp makes the fundamental error of supposing that values of some statistic established in order to diagnose outlying or problematic members of one population can be used to give the mean value of that same statistic for an outlying or problematic population.)

Witness Jansson complaining about the very kind of suppositions he uses himself and, IIRC, actually introduced to the discussion. Pathetic.

Jansson:
The reference to the Leningrad study was designed to refute this argument, and did so.

Witness Jansson’s pathetic foot-stomping.

Jansson:
Naturally that study does not singlehandedly establish what Warsaw ghetto weights were, and naturally extrapolation to higher ages is problematic (although Muehlenkamp has never hesitated to make wild extrapolations when it suited his case).

First of all, look who is talking about "wild extrapolations". It’s the same fellow who, at the beginning of his previous blog on the subject, claimed to be addressing my argument that "3rd percentile female weights from the CDC data", which Jansson had supposedly "used to highlight the unreasonableness" of my "assumptions concerning weight", are "too high to represent the mean weight of a poorly fed population such as the Polish Jews". And it’s the same fellow who, towards the end of that very blog, claimed that my assumption whereby CDC "3rd percentile female weights are too high to represent the weights of a starved population" is "decisively refuted in this case" by the Leningrad birth weight data he provided.

If Jansson wanted to make a case that my assumptions regarding weights in a malnourished population are refuted by his data only as concerns weights at birth, as he seems to be claiming, he should at least have expressed himself more clearly.

Second, if extrapolation to higher ages is "naturally" problematic, as Jansson now concedes (though he didn’t point that out in his previous blog, preferring to create the impression that he had refuted my weight assumptions throughout), then what was the point of his Leningrad birth weight exercise?

Jansson:
My conclusion was simply that the study refuted Muehlenkamp’s position in this case – which is entirely correct.

Actually it is not, for there are several reasons I mentioned in this blog why the birth weights mentioned in Antonov’s article cannot be considered representative of a) the starving population of Leningrad and b) another starving population (namely that of Polish ghettos).

But before that, I don’t remember having taken a "position" specifically as concerns weights at birth, which in turn means that – much like on a previous occasion discussed in the first update of this blog, though less flagrantly – Jansson attacked an argument I didn’t actually make.

Jansson:
The Leningrad study also forms part of a pattern: everywhere where there is data (see for instance the numerous BMI studies which I linked earlier), Muehlenkamp’s weight suppositions are dramatically contradicted, requiring him to construct ad hoc excuses. All Muehlenkamp has to offer in response is a retreat into the darkness where there is no data, where he can let his imagination run wild with speculations advantageous to his case. Every time that hard data is available, Muehlenkamp’s position is refuted, and he has no data whatsoever to support his position.

What Jansson (again hoping for impressionable suckers) calls a "retreat into the darkness where there is no data" is actually a conclusive demonstration that Jansson’s data don’t contradict my assumptions, let alone as "dramatically" as Jansson would have it. Jansson is reduced to lamely calling my demonstration "ad hoc excuses" because he has little if any arguments against it. The thing about my having "no data whatsoever" to support my position can safely be called a claim made against better knowledge (aka a lie), considering (among others) the data first provided here and again mentioned above. And if I (like Jansson and his fellow "Revisionists") were in the predicament of, say, not being able to provide a plausible an evidence-backed account of my version of events, the last thing I would do is whine that my opponent’s position is "refuted" when "hard data" are available. Where are the "hard data" supporting the "transit camp" theory, Mr. Jansson?

Jansson:
Regarding his lack of any data to support his position on weights, Muehlenkamp states:
As to Jansson’s closing remark that my assumptions on weights of Jewish children and adults in 1942 Poland “rest on no weight-data whatsoever”, my comment is that I consider […] Baron Otmar von Verschuer’s 1938 article, the aforementioned Jewish encyclopedia article, the “Gewichtstabelle nach BMI and evidence to the severe malnutrition/starvation of Polish ghetto Jews in 1942 – to form a pretty good database in support of my assumptions

Verschuer’s article and the Jewish encyclopedia article concern (19th century) height data, not weight data, so they are besides the point when considering my statement that Muehlenkamp’s claims about weight rest on no weight-data.

Insofar as height and weight are correlated, height data are actually highly pertinent.

Jansson:
As for the figures on the website “Gewichtstabelle nach BMI”, this is not data that can be used to give any population’s average BMI. It is a chart designed to diagnose problematic members of a population. This cannot be used to establish any population’s mean BMI.

It can at least be used for an educated guess, which is all I have to provide as long as Jansson – who, as the challenger of generally accepted historical facts and related evidence, bears the burden of proof for the "impossibility" claims that would substantiate his challenge – cannot at least demonstrate a significant margin of error.

Jansson:
Muehlenkamp cannot find even a single example in the scholarly literature on bodily weight in which the standard (or non-standard, as in Muehlenkamp’s “Gewichtstabelle nach BMI”) BMI ranges were used to derive an estimate for a population’s average BMI. No-one works that way, because that’s not what this kind of a table is for.

Highly irrelevant arguments, as long as Jansson cannot show a) how "one works" when determining a population’s average weight (I hope for him that he doesn’t take as model his coreligionist Mattogno, who suggested that adult Polish ghetto Jews in 1942 weighed 70 kg on average) and b) demonstrate that there is a significant difference between my assumptions and the results of how "one works".

In what respects is the "Gewichtstabelle nach BMI" supposed to be "non-standard", by the way? In that it obviously considers a BMI of 18.75 as the upper limit of "underweight", whereas the WHO sets that upper limit at BMI 18.5? If so, using this "non-standard" table works against my arguments, and this means that there’s no reasonable objection to my using it.

Jansson:
Muehlenkamp also argues that the weight loss after birth in Leningrad proves… something:
The weight at birth was not necessarily a predictor of continuing weight development even among the children born at term that didn’t die in the LSPI, a fact that Jansson also conveniently omits. In fact their weight dropped after birth, as shown in Table IV from Antonov’s article:
[…]
Not being a doctor, I don’t know what the implications of a child having “no established tendency toward further gain in weight” upon release were, but my guess is that such child was expected to either become severely underweight or die after release from the clinic.

Muehlankamp is indeed not a doctor, but more to the point he is also unable to perform a simple web search. In about 15 seconds he could have found out that weight loss after birth – in considerably larger quantities than observed in Leningrad – is completely normal and does not depend on starvation conditions. Thus, Muehlenkamp’s attempt to establish low weights among children on the grounds of post-birth weight loss fails completely. Honestly: what is the point of my continuing to respond to a guy so stupid that he posts a blog on a subject on which he couldn’t be bothered to type a few words into google and hit “Enter”?

Why, my big-mouthed interlocutor seems to have got so excited about this "point" that he didn’t manage to spell my name correctly.

I thank him for pointing out that – as he acknowledged himself earlier in his rant, though he didn’t mention it in the piece that the present blog refers to – weight at birth is not a predictor of further weight development not only under precarious food conditions, but also when such conditions are not present. Apparently without noticing it, Jansson has thus provided a further argument against the relevance of his Leningrad birth weight exercise.

As we’re at it, let’s see to what extent weight loss in the babies mentioned in Antonov’s article was normal.

Jansson’s sources provide the following information:

Neonatal (Newborn) Weight Loss:
Neonatal weight loss is another issue of concern to nurses and pediatricians. A weight loss of 5% in the first week of life is considered normal for the bottle fed infant. A loss of 7% is average in the first week for the breastfed infant, 10% is the absolute maximum (Lawrence and Lawrence 397-398). If the baby loses 7% in the first 72 hours, breastfeeding should be observed by a trained professional for proper technique and milk transfer.
"Monitoring your Newborns Weight Gain":
It is expected that all newborns will lose some weight in the first 5-7 days of life. A 5% weight loss is considered normal for a formula fed newborn. A 7%-10% loss is considered normal for the breastfed baby. Most babies should be back at birth weight by days 10-14 of life. If a baby loses a significant amount of weight, is sick or premature, it may take up to 3 weeks to get back to birth weight.
"Infant Weight Loss After Birth":
A newborn who is formula fed usually loses about 5 percent of his birth weight in the first few days of life, advises the American Pregnancy Association. For breastfed infants, this number is slightly higher. A breastfed newborn may lose 7 to 10 percent of her birth weight in the beginning days of life.
[…]
The American Pregnancy Association reports that most newborns will have gained enough weight to be back by their birth weight by 10 to 14 days old. It does vary, though, so don't panic if it takes your baby a bit longer. Newborns who are premature or sick at birth may take longer, even as long as three weeks.

According to Dr. Antonov’s article, the newborns born at term lost 9.7 per cent of the original weight on average, which is close to what one of Jansson’s sources considers the "absolute maximum" in breastfed babies.

Moreover this weight loss apparently occurred even though, as Antonov also mentions, many babies were fed on artificial mixtures prepared from milk substitutes even in the first days of their lives, because their mothers had very little milk. So the weight loss was way above what, according to the first two of Jansson’s sources, is considered normal "for the bottle fed infant" or "for a formula fed newborn".

Last but not least, as already pointed out, Antonov mentions that many of the babies were released "without any established tendency toward further gain in weight" after the weight loss observed in the first week (which, as mentioned before, was on average close to the maximum for breast-fed babies and way above what is considered normal in bottle-fed or formula-fed babies). Considering the circumstances described in Antonov’s article, this suggests that the author didn’t expect the return to initial birth weight mentioned in Jansson’s sources to occur – which in turn means that the children were expected to become severely underweight or die after release from the clinic, as I wrote before.

Jansson wouldn’t be Jansson if he had not failed to mention these aspects.

He would also not be who he is if he had not produced the flagrant falsehoods addressed hereafter.

Jansson:
In spite of the fact that I specifically referred to the “improved food supply, at least among the pregnant population” during the second half of 1942, Muehlenkamp claims that I have dishonestly omitted this information, and goes on at some length about my alleged deceptiveness. Evidently he is unable to extract information from a text unless it is patched in in a stringy block-quote. This may be the explanation for his inability to make a concise and coherent argument, and his penchant for long, disconnected, and ineffectual rants.

Here we see Jansson trying to obfuscate one claim made against better knowledge (aka lie) with at least one other such claim.

Notwithstanding his pseudo-concession that the fall of the prematurity rate among children born at the Leningrad State Pediatric Institute (LSPI) in the second half of 1942, if compared to the high prematurity rate in the first half that year, "may be partially the result of improved food supply, at least among the pregnant population", he previously argued that said fall of the prematurity rate "suggests that prematurity rates for a population under sustained food pressure are likely to return to somewhat normal levels" (emphasis added).

Jansson used this argument as the essential justification for his not considering premature births in establishing the average weight of newborns in the LSPI during the first half of 1942, thus obtaining weights more favorable to his case.

Now he invokes the aforementioned pseudo-concession to claim that he didn’t withhold information about said "improved food supply", as if his argument had not been that the fall in prematurity rates was not (or not mainly) due to said "improved food supply".

This alone would be a further example of Jansson’s dishonesty, but it gets even better.

Jansson claims that I accused him of having omitted information about "improved food supply, at least among the pregnant population" in the second half of 1942. As he very well knows, this was not the omission that I took him to task about.

The omitted information I pointed out was that the 79 women who gave birth at the LSPI, as expressly mentioned by Antonov in a paragraph fully quoted in this blog, seem to have belonged to privileged segments of the population that, in Antonov’s words, "did not suffer from the hunger that was the lot of the others". Though he later conceded that "some general improvement" in food supply was or may have been a factor in the increase of birth weights in the second half of 1942, Antonov considered the privileges enjoyed by the women who had given birth at the LSPI in the second half of 1942, or at least by a "large proportion" of them, to be the main reason for increased birth weights and at least the main reason why the women in question "did not suffer from amenorrhea and were able to become• pregnant", and why "the proportions of stillbirths and of premature births among them were not above the normal".

Needless to say, these observations of Antonov’s destroy Jansson’s above-quoted main "justification" for not considering premature births in establishing the average weight of newborns in the LSPI during the first half of 1942, as privileged women with access to sufficient food supplies are everything other than representative of a general population under starvation conditions.

And this was obviously the reason why Jansson made no mention whatsoever of these observations.

In other words, Jansson deliberately omitted information in his source that contradicted an essential argument of his.

Now, here’s how Jansson reacts to my exposure of his mendacity:

Jansson:
In short, this is not evidence to my dishonesty in the presentation of the source, but testament (again!) to Muehlenkamp’s poor reading comprehension. I can only repeat my frank advice:

Roberto, you’re an illiterate moron. However, you can avoid at least some of your errors, and the attendant humiliation which you have caused yourself, if you stop and take the time to re-read before rattling off an attempt at a reply.

Here we see Jansson behaving like a spiteful brat who has been caught with his hands in the cookie jar.

The "frank advice" is discussed in this blog, which Jansson – for lack of better arguments, and presumably also due to the puerile "get even" urge that characterizes "Revisionist" fish-wives – made the subject of yet another (yawn) of his hysterical and obviously self-projecting "lies" accusations. The accusation will be addressed in an update of the blog it refers to.

Update, 21.05.2015

See link 2.

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