Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Vaccines (part 1: birth - 6 months).

There has been so much controversy surrounding vaccines the last several years that it's made everything quite confusing. I for one, didn't even know that they were optional. I thought that you had a baby, they got shots, and that was that. No thinking required. After all, it's just a shot right?

The truth is, vaccines are here to protect us (though some would disagree, and that's fine). The truth is also that the Hepatitis B vaccine, given when your baby is a day old, contains 250 micrograms of aluminum. Aluminum is crazy stuff. The FDA has determined that a "safe" amount of aluminum is 5 micrograms per kilogram per day. So, a healthy 8 pound baby should be able to handle 20 mcgs of aluminum with no problem. Again, the Hep B vaccine contains 250 mcgs. In Dr. Sears' The Vaccine Book, he references a study from 1997 (found in The New England Journal of Medicine) that gave 100 premature babies a feeding solution that had 500 mcgs of aluminum, spread over 10 days (50 mcgs a day). They also gave another group of premature babies a feeding solution that had the aluminum filtered out to approximately 10 mcgs of aluminum per day. They found that the babies who received the higher dosage of aluminum had "impaired neurologic and mental development at eighteen months, compared to the babies who were fed much lower amounts of aluminum." That's very concerning. Especially considering that autism has sky rocketed in recent years (going from 1 in 10,000 children, to 1 in 88).

Let me put aluminum in vaccines into perspective for you:
Birth: Hep B (250 micrograms)
1 month: Hep B (250 micrograms)
2 months: HIB (225 micrograms, there is also an aluminum
free brand), Pc (125 micrograms), DTaP (varies from 170-625), (There are also combo
vaccines that vary from 330-850 micrograms of aluminum per shot)
4 months: Same as above
6 months: Same as above, but also add another Hep B (250 micrograms)

If you do the math, at your baby's 2, 4 and 6 month doctor visits, he can receive anywhere from 295 micrograms of aluminum, to an astounding 1225 micrograms of aluminum per visit. The FDA says that premature babies, and anyone with impaired kidney function, should not be injected with more than 10 to 25 micrograms of aluminum at one time. But I don't have a premie. Well, according to Dr. Sears, there haven't been any studies done on healthy infants to determine their ability to "excrete the aluminum rapidly." So no one really knows where the toxic level lies.

What should you do?
First of all, educate yourself. You should do your own reading and research. I would start with The Vaccine Book, by Dr. Sears. Second, don't believe everything you hear. Many doctors will reassure you that vaccines are completely safe. This is simply not true. I have found, in my own experience, that some doctors will make you feel like a complete idiot for trying to understand and make an informed decision when it comes to vaccine safety and your children. But I have heard too many stories of kids going in for their shots completely fine, then within a week, stop speaking, begin banging on the floor, and are then diagnosed as "autistic". I'm not willing to take that gamble. Third, find a good pediatrician. To me, a good pediatrician is one who is experienced and knowledgable, listens to my concerns and questions, gives me his opinion, but ultimately leaves the decision for my child, up to me. You wouldn't drop your car off at the first body shop you found: so don't be afraid to shop around for pediatricians (I have a fantastic referral for those living in or
near San Antonio TX).

What do I do?
I vaccinate. Surprised? There are options! [sigh of relief:] Here is a kind of "play by play" of how I approach vaccines, and my thought process behind it.

Being that Hepatitis B is a Sexually transmitted disease, I opt out of this one until my kids are a little older. This can also be transmitted through sharing dirty needles, so make sure your child gets it before his first tattoo. Seriously though, "theoretically" there are other ways to get Hep B: bad blood transfusion-which is very rare, coming into contact with the saliva of an infected person (which according to Dr. Sears is virtually unheard of), and if the blood of an infected person were to get into a cut of a non infected person. This vaccine is only available with 250 mcgs of aluminum.

I feel that the HIB vaccine is very important. While this illness isn't extremely common in the US, it is a bacteria, so you could catch it. It is treatable with intravenous antibiotics, but the potential complications are severe. There are two brands of this vaccine ActHIB and PedVaxHIB. I ask specially for the ActHIB brand because it has NO aluminum!:)

I also choose to get the PCV vaccine (it's called PCV13 because it protects against 13 strains of the infection). It's one of the most common bacterias that lead to meningitis. There isn't a brand that's aluminum free (it has 125 micrograms).

DTaP. This is a big one because it covers Pertussis, aka whooping cough. Pertussis is peaking right now, meaning it's really common. There are three brands of this vaccine. I ask for the brand, Deptacel. Deptacel has 330 micrograms of aluminum, compared to the brand Infanrix, which has 625 micrograms! The brand Tripedia is the lowest, at 170 mcgs, but this one also contains mercury. (I'll briefly touch on mercury in a moment, but in short, it is known to cause neurological problems).

Fun personal story about the DTaP vaccine:
Johnny and Ezra have different pediatricians (long story). While Johnny's doctor is nicer than some when it comes to choosing a delayed vaccine schedule (covered in Dr. Sears' book), he doesn't "advise" it. But then again, he doesn't think there's anything toxic about aluminum either. In order to let Johnny gain weight, and develop a healthy gut flora (through breastfeeding), I had planned on waiting to get him started on getting vaccinated until 4 months. Because we were doing this, we were very careful. We washed our hands like we were supposed to, kept him away from sick people as best we could, and I breastfed (which is baby's biggest defense against sickness. Breast milk contains antibodies that coat the lining of the nose, lungs and intestines, so that most of the germs that are inhaled or swallowed, are killed before they can stick around). However, at 4 and a half weeks old, Johnny contracted viral meningitis from something similar to the common cold (there is no vaccine against this form of meningitis). Before it was confirmed to be viral and not bacterial, they did several days of intravenous antibiotics as a precaution. Once everything was over, and we were back home, I wanted to give his body time to recover from everything. So, I decided to wait on the vaccines and stayed home with him as an extra precaution (until I felt he was well enough to be around other people). So at 6 months Johnny went in for his first vaccine: DTaP. When we got there I was ready. I wanted the Deptacel brand and I was really trying not to care if I sounded stupid asking for a specific brand of vaccine. When we got into the office Ezra decided to ask the same question over and over and over again, as I was nervously trying to talk to the Doctor. I told him that I wanted the Deptacel brand because I was trying to avoid aluminum. He looked at me like I was a quack job. Then he left and the nurse walked in and said that she was getting the shot ready. I ask her the brand. She left and comes back and said "Infanrix." Now, if you've ever tried to go somewhere with two little kids, you know that it can be very hectic. By this point I think I was threatening Ezra, bouncing Johnny, and now I couldn't remember the brand that I wanted! So, confused and frustrated, I'm like, "OK!" She left the room and I did a quick google search and realized that this is the worst one!!
Que the doctor.
He walked in with a huge unfolded paper and was reading every ingredient in the vaccine trying to see if it had aluminum. Finally he saw that it did and knew that I didn't want it. My head was screaming at me, JUST DO IT! YOU'RE WASTING THEIR TIME! YOU ARE NOT LEAVING HERE WITH NOTHING AFTER MAKING SUCH A SCENE WITH YOUR LOUD KIDS! But I couldn't. So I told the doctor that I knew it probably sounded ridiculous, but that I really wanted the other brand. To my surprise, he had no problem with it. Ezra was still acting like a 3 year old, Johnny was still needing to be bounced, and yes the shot was ready and waiting on a metal tray, but we left-looking like a circus act and all:) -and it was OK. It all worked out, and I felt like I had done the right thing. Now, they save the shots that I ask for in the fridge with my name on them:).

As far as Polio and Rotavirus, I haven't decided on these yet. If we do them, I'll probably wait until we've completed the rounds of HIB, PC and DTaP.

Now, a little something that I do to avoid too much aluminum at one time, is only get one aluminum containing vaccine per doctor visit. Truth be told, I only get one, at the most two, vaccines of any kind, at one time for my kids. Sure, you have to take a few more trips to the doctor's office, but to me, it's worth it. I don't know all of the science behind it, but in my own experience, it's easier on their bodies this way: which in turn, makes it easier on me.

When Ezra was an infant, before I knew anything about vaccines, I had him on
the normal schedule. When I told his (former) doctor that he was extremely
fussy, ran a fever, and was sick for 7-10 days after each round of shots, he
told me that it wasn't related to the shots. Ezra also had 3 ear infections
before he could crawl. I began purposely stretching out his appointments so
that there was more time in between, and only doing one or two shots at a time.
His reactions were much more mild and, to this day, he hasn't had
one more ear infection. Skeptics would probably call this coincidence, but I
don't think so.

A *brief* note on mercury:
Mercury, also known as Thimerosal, has been proven, time and time again, to cause brain damage. If you give your child the seasonal flu shot, go to this page. This has a list of all of the vaccines and whether or not they contain mercury (not aluminum, just mercury). In infant vaccines, mercury is only in one of the brands of DTaP and 4 brands of the flu shot. But keep a watchful eye because the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics’ have just issued their support for continued use of mercury in vaccines. When considering the welfare of our children, this makes no sense at all.

Mercury has clearly been linked to neurological problems. Go to this page and watch the first two video clips. It's from C-SPAN, so at first it looks boring, but once you start listening to what they're saying, it's shocking. The second clip is especially insane. It shows an actual animation of a study recently conducted that reveals, "with direct visual evidence from brain neuron tissue cultures, how mercury ions actually alter the cell membrane structure of developing ions. Case in point: You actually see parts of the brain changing. I couldn't stop there, so I watched all of the clips:). The people speaking aren't all natural radicalists, they are congressmen who, like me, support vaccines. What they are working toward is removing the toxic ingredients from them. They believe that the surge in autism is related to these toxins. Once you watch the clips, you may be convinced too. It just doesn't makes sense that, to protect the unborn child, pregnant women aren't supposed to eat mercury; yet, we turn around and inject it into our children.

Don't take my word on all of this though. I highly encourage you to do your own research. Don't read one article saying that something is or isn't "safe" and believe it. Be well rounded in your research so that you can make an educated, informed decision for your child. This is vitally important because our kids don't have a choice in the matter; the responsibility lies solely on us.