Are there any vaccinations you'd consider giving your new born? In the lens of a Paleo lifestyle/nutrition, but with all modern sanitation, health care, etc available, just what makes sense to get? Most vaccines seem to be without merit for most individuals, it's just "what we do" with newborns with no critical thought applied to each case.
Lay it out there if you have any input on DO or DON'T vaccinations.
Most vaccines seem to be without merit for most individuals
Vaccines are for the benefit of everyone else in the population just as much as they are for the individual. By not taking vaccines you increase the risk of a pandemic.
Also, the logic, "I don't need to get the vaccine because everyone else has it," is flawed-- consider what happens if everyone thinks that way. (Apologies if you are not thinking this way, I cannot tell from your post)
Vaccines for things like HPV and Hep-A (IIRC) (which can be avoided with certain lifestyles) are debatable. But I think you have at least a decade before your child would be getting those.
Final note: the "link" between the MMR vaccine and autism has been completely and utterly discredited.
Please get all appropriate vaccines.
Ooh, such a hot button topic!
I have very mixed feelings about vaccines, especially when it concerns the very young. In theory, I think that they are an excellent means to build immune resistance to a wide variety of illnesses; it reminds me of homeopathy, taking a small enough dose of something to elicit a physiological response without contracting the disease itself. I do, however, have serious concerns on two fronts:
The timing/quantity of vaccines that we expose small, developing immune systems to.
The adjuvants/additives that are in the vaccines.
For these reasons my husband and I decided, when our first son was born, to vaccinate ourselves and delay his vaccinations until he was past the newborn period, and even then to only give one vaccine at a time, and to consciously select which ones to give. For an infant, our main concerns were pertussis (which breaks out fairly frequently in the Bay Area where we live), Hib and pneumococcal.
Unfortunately, my son (who is admittedly very sensitive and has multiple food allergies) has now had a total of two different vaccinations resulting in one "strong" reaction and one "severe" reaction (developed non-viral encephalitis after his first vaccine at 4 months; fortunately he recovered without brain damage). This has left me even more wary than before, and we have, thus far, delayed vaccinating our second son, who just turned one. He will, most likely, receive selective immunizations, however we have decided not to vaccinate our firstborn anymore unless new information comes to light, or we find ourselves travelling to an area with considerable risk.
In the end, my advise is to follow your gut, but listen to your brain, too. Do your research, ask questions. Vaccines are likely responsible for much good in our society, but they can cause harm too, and what is good for most people might not be what is good for you and your children.
Vaccination is a tough issue and has been a difficult one for me to figure out. My kids are 13 and 15, so when they were infants, the situation was quite different. I will give you my thoughts on a few individual vaccines.
Polio: IIRC, there has not been a case of wild polio in the western hemisphere since the 1970s (unless there have been some since the late 1990s when I did my research). At the time my kids were born, the only option was the live oral polio vaccine, which caused a handful of polio cases each year, both in infants and in others exposed the shedding of the live vaccine in the infants' poop. To me, this was a no-brainer: if there was a higher chance of my baby contracting polio if he got the vaccine, why the hell would I get it? The injectable (killed) vaccine is much safer, but I don't know the details on it. If you are planning international travel, that is a whole other situation. If you are in frequent contact with immigrant communities or with other people who travel to countries where polio is an issue, that would place Fritz at higher risk also.
Chickenpox: it is unknown how long the chickenpox vaccine lasts. My concern is that we are putting of cases of chickenpox during childhood, when the disease is usually mild.The vaccine wears off, resulting in more adults contracting chickenpox. Chickenpox is much more serious in adults.
Pertussis: the acellular pertussis vaccine was not available when my kids were born, and the whole-cell vaccine was associated with a high rate of serious and sometimes permanent side effects. Unfortunately, pertussis is endemic in many parts of the US, and can be very serious, resulting in weeks or months of illness, hospitalization, and, occasionally, death. The acellular vaccine is much safer, but again, I can't comment on the specifics.
MMR: measles and mumps used to be common childhood infections that everyone got. Yes, there can be complications, but they are not common. The big risk held up for mumps is male infertility, but the reality is that mumps affects the testes very rarely, and almost always affects only one, so infertility is vanishingly rare. Rubella is extremely rare now, but the consequences if it is contracted during pregnancy are devastating.
Hepatitis B is a blood-borne pathogen; you contract it the same way you contract HIV. Unless you think your infant will be having unprotected sex or sharing needles, it is unnecessary to consider this vaccine for at least a decade. They only give it at birth because it's hard to get teenagers in to the office to get vaccines.
I used data from the Institute of Medicine (part of NIH) when I made my decisions. They rated the risks of each vaccine; most of them were unknown, because the vaccines generally do not go through the same rigorous trials that most medications go through. After weighing the risk-benefit ratio of each vaccine, I chose to delay almost everything. The decision was difficult and I never felt easy with it. My decisions might be very different today, however. My kids have now received most of their vaccines - after their nervous systems were matured.
In terms of herd immunity, my feeling is this: when I chose to become a parent, my primary responsibility was to my child. To put one's own child at risk is to be an irresponsible parent. People who choose not to breastfeed are putting their babies at much higher risk than those who choose not to vaccinate, but they are not being excoriated for it (no offense meant to those who were unable to breastfeed).
This is a hard question to answer, the following are just some of my random thoughts.
Fisrtly there are no perfect vaccines. It is almost impossible to produce a vaccine that gives 100% protection with zero risk. The risk or a vaccine is always balanced against the risk of the disease. However the vaccines around now are much safer than examples from the past and carry extremly low risks.
Many vaccines seem unnessesary now only because almost everyone in the population is vaccinated. Most serious childhood diseases are largely forgotten in Europe and the USA but have not gone away and are only a flight away. If vaccination rates drop below a critical level, usually about 80%, these epidemic diseases are soon back. Measles still kill hundreds of thousands of unvaccinated children worldwide each year. Not vaccinating and relying on the protection of everyone else vaccinating is very selfish. There are children and adults who cannot be vaccinated for various reasons and they rely on the protection from everyone else who is.
The idea vaccinating babies or multiple vaccinations is harmful: Vaccines produce a very small immune response compared to the real infection. Babies are exposed to hundreds of bacteria and viruses from imediatly after birth, they are everywhere and were far more so in our evolutionary history. Response of the immune system to mutiple potential threats at once at a very young age is completely natural, it is what the immune system is designed to do. A babies immune system is identifying, responding to and fighting off many threats everyday. Many vaccines are given very early because it is ofen the young children that are most at risk of dying from viral infections like measles.
Most childhood vaccines given now target viral infections. These are viral diseases spread from person to person and for which there is little effective treatment. These diseases have little to do with good sanitation, clean water or good diet. While the rational for vaccinating against childhood diseases is obvious, some others like Hepititis B are less so. Population wide vaccination often involves a pragmatic approch. Most people will simply never come back for vaccinations as a teenager or adult. Also the people who will most need it are probably the least likely to get it as an adult.
People who work in public health to prevent infectious diseases are usually good people who want to make the world a better place and usually don't get paid a great deal for doing it. I would not compare it to nutritional science. With a disease like measles you know if what you do works, either people get measles or they don't. It's not like trying to work out how diet affects heart disease. As an aside, the guy who developed the Hepititis B vaccine worked at my University http://www.research-innovation.ed.ac.uk/success/hepatitisB.asp he gave away all the royalties he would have made from the vaccine.
And finally a song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1xw0Ob5bqs&feature=player_embedded
The CDC has alot of very good information on vaccines such as the reccommeded child vaccination scedule.
There is information on each vaccine preventable disease.
I think there are reasonable arguments that these vaccines given to children. Some are to prevent common dangerous diseases. Some to prevent diseases re-entering the USA like polio. Others to reduce the longer-term risks the child like hepatitis. I think the common childhood diseases are the most important to vaccinate very young children against.
Hmm. Some interesting responses from folk here. Let me lay down how I feel about Vaccines right off the bat! >>> I don't know. I am not really sure yet. And I am frustrated by the whole deal.
For me personally, I am at a crossroads about a specific vaccine that I have been reluctant to go forward with. It's the whooping cough (Pertussis) vaccine. My sister in law just had a baby last week. She was born 3 weeks premature at a weight of 5 lbs 0 ounces and narrowly evaded the NICU. I am not allowed to get to hold this little precious girl or even get close to her until I've had my vaccine. So I am almost being forced to get it, else face the inconvenience and "miss-out" factor by choosing not to get it. Then again, I have Paleo babby on the way myself, and the cycle of ponderance begins again.
Vaccines is a HOT topic and there are people foaming at the mouth on both sides of the fence trying to assert their position. Many of those that are squarely and firmly in the YES camp believe that the people who are iffy on it or downright against it are being selfish and/or wreckless. Many of those that are squarely and firmly in the NO camp believe that the people who are totally for it are born of Satan, out to disease the world and crush humanity forever.
It's quite the tug of war. Anytime I see very strong opposition on stuff like this, I know immediately that there will be no easy answer because there is truth on both sides.
The tough part then, is understanding what's really true and what is fear mongering.... understanding what is bogus information to support their side, and what is valuable truth put forth or exposed.
From the NO camp, here are a couple of highly reviewed books:
Also, here is a site that seems to fight back against the YES camp and their assertions that the autism link was bogus. In other words, they are saying the folks who 'disproved' the autism link were doing what the medical industry does all the time >> Lying and deceiving.
From the YES camp, here is the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
Also, here's some other resources that seem to be somewhat balanced on their stance from what I can tell, offering supporting/opposing information from both sides.
Simply put, it's a tough call, as there are convincing arguments from both sides. Anyone who flames others for being iffy on this issue is likely not considering the difficulty involved based on seemingly valid points from both camps.
It completely scares me that the herd immunity of US children is being affected by mommies with no scientific education who think it sounds like a bad idea to expose developing immune systems to vaccines. It really challenges my normally libertarian beliefs.
You know that argument against paleo that "people didn't live that long?" Well we typically dismiss it by saying "Well, if you don't count infant mortality...then people lived quite a long time." But for the mothers of the Paleolithic, infant mortality did count. And it continues to count in many foraging societies. If you want to reenact this part of paleo, go ahead, but you'll do it without my support.
I would recommend Seth Mnookin's book The Panic Virus, which explores the origin of these memes.
If you have a lot time on your hands, this free book is worth reading. Don't accept sources that are just random websites. There are a lot of quacks out there.
science before "gut" and "ancestors". We, as modern societies, have managed to drastically lower the child mortality and almost completely rid of many horrible diseases. I find that some parents act selfishly not doing vaccines, as they think their child is safe. the thing is, the system works only if everyone participates. very rarely there is a severe reaction to the shots. a day of flu-like symptoms is worth the benefits.
to me the question is not "if" but rather "how" - to choose the best way to get vaccinated (multiple or separately, etc.).
As much as I’m appreciating certain parts of Paleo, I tend to regard anti-vaccination sentiments as highly dangerous, though I’ll be the first to admit if I’m proven wrong. I think Penn & Teller put it best (note: language NSFW or for prudes):
I'm in the camp of "an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure" on this one.
My wife and I had carefully considered it, and we just felt it was best to get all the vaccinations.
My answer is a resounding NO. Not for a newborn. Except in the cases I will share below.
If I personally did any vaccinating, it would be delayed & selective, on a case by case basis, depending on where I lived, how much travel I planned with babe, my nutritional & health status, etc.
I've been researching this issue for the last 4 years, because I work with families from pre-conception through post-partum.
I've know families who range the continuum from no vaxing at all to the full set of recommended vaccinations.
For me, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of making sure mom's nutrition is optimal pre-conception through all of the breastfeeding relationship so that her immune system/gut health is in an ideal state to convey strong immunity and good gut health to her baby.
However, if mom's diet is less than optimal or she is Vitamin D deficient or she has experienced antibiotics during pregnancy or she has had a cesarean or a birth with a fair amount of interventions, or the breastfeeding relationship is interrupted, then I would consider vaccination --again, on a vaccine-by-vaccine basis.
I do not advise my clients on vaccinations, but I do provide resources (if asked) that hopefully will give them enough information (pro & con) to make the decision that is right for their family.