Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My thoughts on vaccines...

I'm often asked my opinion on vaccines and whether or not I think they cause autism. My theory has always been this - I don't think vaccines in and of themselves cause autism. If that were the case, anyone who has been vaccinated would have autism, right? However, I do believe some kiddos have some sort of genetic predisposition (many postulate that these kids have weakened immune systems) that make them more susceptible to autism when given vaccinations. I wish I'd known back when Will was a baby what I know now - I'd be willing to bet we wouldn't be dealing with the issues we're dealing with now.

Will was a sick baby. He had ear infection after ear infection - seven double ear infections total before his first set of ear tubes were inserted at thirteen months. It seemed like he was constantly on antibiotics - the ones that are supposed to clear up infections like Augmentin finally stopped working. Omnicef was the only one strong enough that would knock the infections out. Couple the constant supply of antibiotics with the recommended vaccines, and I think we poisoned our child. I do feel some guilt over this, but I know I was just doing what I thought was right for my child at the time.

Ryan and I are pro-vaccine. We believe children should be vaccinated. However, we absolute think there is no reason in the world to bombard an infant or child's body with the plethora of shots recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. I'd never been one of those parents to question doctors because they know everything right? They want what's best for our kiddos, right? Now, I'm not so sure.

I'm currently reading Jenny McCarthy's new book - Mother Warriors. The foreword is written by a doctor from UCLA. He talks a bit about the harmful mercury we have all heard about that was "removed" from vaccines several years ago. The doctor then starts talking about Dr. Robert Sears' research about aluminum in vaccines. He states that the FDA claims that 20 micrograms of aluminum is considered toxic for babies, yet the Hep B shot they give newborns (which we declined - thank God) has 250 micrograms of aluminum in it. He goes on to say that if a child receives every vaccine recommended by the AAP at their two-month appointment, they will ingest almost 2000 micrograms of aluminum. I know, it's shocking. And it doesn't seem right. So let's get informed. Be armed with the facts so that when your child's pediatrician tells you there is no scientific evidence linking vaccines and autism and tries to talk you out of using a delayed scheduled, you're prepared to stand your ground and do what's best for your babies.

I have to recommend an awesome book written by Dr. Sears called The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision For Your Child. This book is awesome. It gives a wonderfully detailed but easy-to-read breakdown of all the childhood vaccines. The doctor discusses why the vaccines are given and what his thoughts are on them. He also recommends a delayed vaccination schedule - it's the one we are following for Bryn. For example, he recommends declining the Hepatitis B shot they give babies in the hospital on their birth day. At the two month appointment, instead of getting four or five shots, he recommends one and the rotavirus vaccine which is given orally. Following his schedule has given me some peace of mind - I feel like we're protecting our children from harmful diseases while protecting their systems from being bombarded by the bad stuff in vaccines.

Okay, getting off of my soapbox now...


Wendy Hagen said...

So I am reading Sear's book. Interesting. It actually makes be more hesitant to get most vaccines. The risks for most of the diseases are small than the risks from getting the vaccines - if you research the reported injuries/deaths from the various vaccines on the VAERS website or HRSA.

For example, sears says "The chance that an unvaccinated child will catch polio while living in the US is very close to zero." And yet since 1988, there have been 259 injuries and 14 death claims made on HRSA. Now only 7 claims were granted (but that doesn't convince me the others weren't legit - it is quite a to do just to make a claim and they say that less than 10% of cases are even claimed/reported). And they used to give a live vaccine until they realized it was causing polio (157 of those claims were compensated).
And I know polio USED to be really devastating here in the U.S. And if everyone stopped vaccinating (which we are not even close to - I think only 1% doesn't) we MIGHT have a problem (but that is arguable too). However, the U.S. has been polio free since 1985 (with the exception of some polio caused by OPV vaccine). So there has been much more damage caused (especially if it was your kid) by the vaccine than the actual disease. This is the case for many of the vaccines. And like you said, there is obviously some other factor (weakened immune system, genetics, environment, etc). I am no doctor, but I have done a lot of research. I am still searching for the right thing for my kids... but so far it keeps pulling me away from most vaccines. Just my controversial food for thought. Wow, that was a long comment.

Mandy said...

Thanks for the post, Dawn. I have been so concerned too with my Will and all the antibiotics he has been on. First with the ear infections and now we have had 3 stalph infections in less than 3 months! We just had the MMR shot this week at his 18 mo appt instead of at his 12 mo. Luckily my pedi is very open to spacing them out!

Wendy Hagen said...

update here. I have read more of the book and seen his revised schedule. Like it. Even though I have decided (I think) not to do any vaccines, I think his revised schedule is good. And look at that, no polio. And HIB and Prevnar are ones I have definitely considered. And they do have the least reported side effects - not just according to initial studies, but reported injuries/deaths to VAERS and HRSA.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dawn - and very much my thoughts as well. My boy is ten and is dianosed PDD-NOS, and I absolutely agree that vaccines were a factor. My little girl (5) is selectively vaxed - like others said, I worry much less about measles, mumps and rubella than I worry about having another child on the spectrum.