Saturday, August 11, 2007

Vaccinations, Eye Goop, and Eric

For the past few days I've been doing a lot of research on vaccinations for the baby. I've never really thought of myself as a "crunchy" mom, or imagined that I would be so intent on researching all of the details of standard procedures for newborn care... but I find myself being so.

What I've learned so far and what I know I won't do: First of all I learned that they are now routinely giving every newborn a Hep B vaccination at birth. I really can't understand why this would be done, since hep b is spread through sexual contact and IV drug use only, unless the mom is hep b +. Since I am not Hep B + I will be refusing this vaccination for my child. Two things that really bother me about this vac (other than injecting useless medicines into my child) is that the immunity provided by the injection is projected to last about 10 years (and I don't imagine Lily will be sexually active by that age, or using IV drugs!) and also that it seems that in order to make sure my wishes are followed (and Lily not vaccinated) I will have to make sure she is always watched over by myself or her dad. I really hate feeling like I have to worry about them doing things I refuse to my child!

Next, they also routinely put antibiotic ointment into the eyes of every newborn (this is actually law in most states) which is to protect against blindness caused from being infected with Gonorrhea or Chlamydia while being born. Since I have ben tested for both of these STIs and do not have them it seems like a useless thing to do. What's the harm, you might ask... well, first of all it further clouds the baby's vision, often causes swelling and puffyness, and generally I can't see any justification of putting this medication in my baby's body when there is no risk or reason for the treatment in the first place.

Last, they routinely clamp the cord immediately after the birth of the baby and then cut it (immediately). Current research has shown that waiting until the placenta is delivered and the cord stops pulsing prevents anemia in infants and if nothing else, can cause no harm. I would like to donate Lily's cord blood, but they will only be getting what is not infused back into her naturally while the cord is still working with her circulation (sorry... she deserves all her blood).

Things I'm considering:
1) Delaying immunizations: I have been reading compelling research about delaying vaccinations for at least some time. First of all, I will be breastfeeding exclusively, and hopefully, for Lily's first year of life. My natural immunities seem to be just as effective (looking at research) as immunizations, and furthermore... they put a lot of scary stuff into immunizations (like aluminum, mercury, cellular tissue from primates, and other scary additives). Also, it really seems excessive, the number and amount of immunizations they give to babies, 32 injections by the age of 2. There has been some evidence of risks... and well I think the research I've read points to delaying until she's bigger and has a more developed immune system of her own. I read suggestions that immunizations should be delayed until the age of 2 (which is BTW the standard of care in Japan, just recently changed from a more like ours schedule) and may consider this route. I've also read that it is best to have only one immunization given at a time so that if there is a reaction it will be possible to tell which one she's reacting to. There is one immunization I am certain I will not get Lily until at least 10-12 years of age, and that is the chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox is a very mild illness in young children (and I will try and find a chickenpox party for her to attend) and having CP confers lifelong immunity. The vaccine, on the other hand, does not confer lifelong immunity and often wears off in early adulthood... CP in adulthood is a serious disease with a much higher mortality rate, and often becomes Shingles, a very painful illness. So the CP vaccine is out. Others... I'm not sure of yet. Still doing research and I want to make sure I make the best, and safest, choices for my sweetie.

2) Vit. K shot after birth: This one is tough... the UK has produced some very compelling studies that show a link between the Vit. K. shot given at birth and increased rates of childhood leukemia. The oral dose of Vit. K does not show the same correlation. I have to find out if the oral dose is available at the hospital I will be giving birth at (or another hospital my OB has privs at). Or I will start taking vitamin K supplements to make sure Lily won't need supplementation at birth. (Vit k, BTW, is given to help clotting and prevent hemorrhages).

3)Making sure Lily is never away from Eric or I. Since I am planning to opt out of at least the eye goop and Hep B shot (possibly vit K), I have to make some preparations to insure my wishes are followed. First I have to make a detailed birthing plan which states that Lily is not to have these interventions (as well as delayed cord clamp/cut), second, I have to check with the hospital and make sure I will have the ability to never have Lily "taken for observation" if she is healthy, and that Eric, or I, will have the ability to be with her at all times if she has to be taken to the nursery at all. It seems that some hospitals do not allow this :( so this week I'm gonna be busy asking questions :)

4)Will I be able to find a Ped who will work with me on selective/delayed immunizations? I knew it was time to start interviewing peds... I guess now I'm just making my job a little more complicated (TG I'm not working anymore!).

Other than that.... Just trying to get things ready for Lily to come. I haven't been working for a few weeks now (and my bp and other health things have improved greatly since then) and am keeping myself reasonably busy.

It's still hard not having Eric around, but he's due to return in 2 weeks (YAY!!!) I can't wait to have him back... I think I'll feel much better then.

It's really hard being alone during such a large chunk of pregnancy. I worry that it will make things harder for him, as far as preparing for fatherhood, that it will hurt our relationship (he's also been gone a large chuck of our history now) and that his absence will prove a difficult hurdle for us to reconcile. I'd be lying if I didn't say I had other concerns as well. I've never been a jealous person, and I'm not sure its really jealousy, but I have sometimes worried that he would find someone else (or re-find them) and abandon Lily and I. Even if that happened, I know he would say he'd "still be there for us," but in all honesty... we need him to be there for us as a daddy and partner (even if part time) and... well I just don't think he'd be there so much if our relationship ended (particularly before he bonded with Lily).

It's strange to feel so... vulnerable and needy (I guess)... when I've made it a point to be self-sufficient (to a perhaps unhealthy degree) for so long. The thing is, if I am honest with myself, I DO need him (and so does Lily). I need him to be there when Lily is born, to support me, to make sure Lily is kept safe (and ungunked), to ease my fears... well, just to help me through this somewhat scary experience. Sure I could make it alone (I'd have to)... I just don't want to have to try, damnit! (TG it seems likely I won't have to try, too :))

Well, those are my thoughts for the day (or last couple). I'm still researching all this baby stuff and will post again soon.


Ruby said...

Stunning. Let's take a standard of care based on years of research--proven science, not junk science or conspiracy theory, or the countless flawed studies floating around on the web--backed by the American Medical Association, the American Association of Pediatricians, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization and toss it aside in the name of--what? Arrogance dressed up as conscientious parenting? As a worker in the health care profession, I see so many parents who either object to immunizations because they've read too much misinformation and adopted it as true or they just underestimate the protection immunizations can provide. The two single most important things you can do for your child's health after birth are to ensure excellent nutrition and keep up with her immunizations.

For example, Hepatitis B can be spread through any bodily fluid, not just through drugs and sex--saliva, for instance. If properly given (i.e. on schedule) an infant develops a 100% immunity; if given later in life, some protection is afforded but not 100%. 20 to 25 percent of people who contract hepatitis b die of liver failure. Like HIV, the initial infection may not manifest itself in symptoms until years later. Why put your child in the way of such risk, knowingly? Or measles. Measles in and of itself isn't that dangerous, but in a child young enough, the risk of secondary infections, like pneumonia, come into play. One in twenty children under the age of five who contracts pneumonia dies from it. The benefits of proper immunizations far outweigh the risks.

Breastmilk offers excellent immunity protection but certainly not against polio, tuberculosis, or other deadly disease.

Or are you going to put her in a bubble to move about in the world?

Let's hope that either 1) you can't find a pediatrician who would go along with this plan either for reasons of liability--she gets sick, you sue him--or if you do, likely his MD isn't worth the paper it's written on, or 2) when the father comes back he hopefully will demonstrate more sense!

Juliette said...

Hi Ruby,
Thanks for your concern but I have to disagree with a lot of what you are saying.

With regard to Hep. b, the literature provided in the hep b vaccination inserts, themselves, state that hap b is transmitted through blood (iv drug use) or sexual contact, in the same manner that Aids is. The stated reason for giving this vaccination to newborns is in order to "have the whole population" immunized and has been undertaken because, unfortunately, high risk group individuals are not going and getting vaccinated, As far as immunity being less effective in older populations, this is quite simply untrue. Immunity is conferred the same way to adults and the vaccine has the same effectiveness across all age groups. Unfortunately, as with most vaccines, the immunological efficiency of the hep b vax wanes as time passes, this is the reason why many vaccinations require boosters after a certain period of time. For the Hep. B vax immunity wanes after 10-15 years (before or when the child is entering the more at risk age). All of this information is freely available on the internet, from the cdc and other reputable sources, and for more academic papers you can search at some libraries for research done by scientists and medical professionals. Another thing, hep b actually causes severe liver problems in 5% of infected individuals, not 20-25%. This is also freely available information if you look through peer reviewed medical journal articles.

As far as breastfeeding and immunity: Polio is one disease that I am concerned about and I will (eventually) have my child fully immunized. At this point it is fully admitted by medical professionals (including the scientist who developed the vaccine) that all modern cases of polio have stemmed from the vaccine itself. I would prefer to delay that vaccine until she has some immune system to combat such an occurrence in the unlikely event that the vaccination might cause infection. And with regard to TB, there is no TB vaccination listed on current vaccination schedules offered through the CDC's website.

I respect your right to hold whatever views you choose to hold, and your job as a health care professional, but in the future I might recommend that you try and make sure your own information is accurate before flaming informed parents who are responsible and proactive enough to perform extensive (and reputable) research upon the things put into our children's bodies.

Juliette said...

One correction: modern cases of Polio in the united states have been stated to be caused by the vax.

micpro said...

Juliette -

I just wanted to step in and let you know that not everyone in the medical community disagrees with the decisions you are making here. In fact, many support them.

I work in a health care profession and I believe that the choices you are making are responsible. You are not saying that you won't ever immunize your child, you are just saying that you would like to tailor your child's immunization schedule so that it suits your child's individual needs. Something that actually makes more sense than cookie-cutter health care for the masses, provided that you are organized and follow through on the modifications made in your child's treatment plan.

My daughter has been through a host of complex medical issues and I have never regretted placing myself in the position of being the decision making force behind all that she has endured in the medical world. Often that has involved flying in the face of medical convention. In my daughters case, this has meant life-saving decisions for her on more than one occasion. In spite of my profession, I too have had medical professionals who have accused me of 'arrogance dressed up as conscientious parenting'. My response to this is: "My daughter is breathing today because of my 'arrogance'."

In direct response to the immunization issues, I opted to delay the Hep B series until age two for both of my children. Early enough to meet school required immunization schedules while allowing the child to have a developed immune system in place when the vaccine is given. The others I approached from a risk vs benefit perspective. My daughter was in the NICU for 9 weeks as a newborn and at high risk in many categories so she was started on a standard immunization schedule for everything but Hep B. Because of her individual situation, I also lobbied hard and successfully for the addition of a vaccine called Synagis.

For my son, I delayed his schedule since he was low risk. He is now 16 months old and current on his vaccines with the exception of Hep B which I will start at age two.

For both children, I opted for the oral vitamin K. Same benefit less risk. The absorbtion isn't as high with the oral dose, so remember to keep in mind that it should be given at birth and repeated at age one week and four weeks.

With the eye ointment, I opted to delay treatment until four hours after birth. A compromise with the hospital medical staff. Kept them from having panic attacks (although I wasn't in the at risk population) while allowing me to have some time to work on bonding and breastfeeding with my baby before throwing blurred vision into the mix.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is that the REAL single most important thing you can do for your child's health is to become comfortable in the role of primary medical advocate for your child. No one knows my child's medical history as well as I do and I make no apologies for asserting my medical expertise in this category. I think you are going to be an excellent parent and medical advocate for your child.

valiens said...

My understanding is that having a birth plan at all instantly labels you a "granola" and they're not amused. I grew more and more uncomfortable with all of the hospital usuals and began looking at birthing centers and home birth around 5 mo. We have been blessed to birth all three of ours at home, the last one in water.

We also have delayed vaccines, received no goop in eyes, nursed while the cord finished pulsing, nursed for a long time (3 years each on the first two, over a year so far on our newest babe), and have found the best possible thing for all of these questions to be other moms with the same questions, solutions, and ideas. Mothering Magazine is a fantastic resource, mommy & me yoga classes, the people who work at yoga studios and health food stores, and homeschool and breastfeeding groups. Seek, they are out there and will be supportive and informative.

Hospitals aren't big on changing the routine, you'll have precious little control once you're there. If you do go that way, consider a birthing doula. She can advocate for your birth plan, be a buffer between you and the staff for non-essential issues, and free you and your partner to be emotionally vulnerable at a time when that is a wonderful thing to be.

Ultimately the point is to have a healthy baby, not a great birth story, but if you do get a great birth it's pretty nice gravy.

BTW, don't assume nursing ability is innate. Make sure you have people around you who are supportive and informed for the best results. Getting a lactation consultant right away is a good idea at the first sign of trouble. Don't assume a LLL person will have all the answers, even though she'll no doubt be helpful.

The main thing is to do what you think is best. You're having the baby, not the hospital staff.

Keep making yourself informed! You're already doing such a great Mommy job!