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Baby Medical Q&A, Issue #084 Immunizations Update
October 01, 2013

Welcome to another edition of Baby Medical Q&A News.

This month's ezine is an immunization update.

Firstly, I would ask you to consider decisions on immunization carefully. Immunization s prevent serious diseases that can cause serious illness and even kill. Immunization s have been around a long time and have been studied extensively, particularly for safety.
See the immunization pages - click here

Can immunizations cause side effects?

- sometimes, but these are generally mild and do not cause serious lasting effects. On the other hand, the diseases that we immunize against can cause much more serious side effects and long term damage. You are much more likely to have a serious side effect from measles, for example, than from the measles immunization.
For more information, click here

Do immunizations overload and weaken the immune system?

- no. They help the immune system so it is more ready to fight serious illnesses.
For more information, click here

Do immunizations cause autism?

- no. There is a large body of research that specifically looks at this question and there is no evidence that immunizations cause autism. However, the symptoms of autism often show up at about 15 months of age which is close to the age of the MMR ( measles, mumps and rubella) immunization. It isn't that autism starts then, but at about 15 months, developmentally, infants with autism stand out more.
To read more, click here

Why immunize when the diseases we immunize against are not so common anymore?

- well, the reason they are not so common is that we immunize. As the immunization rates fall, then we start to see these disease again. So, over the past few years, there have been outbreaks of pertussis (whopping cough) and measles in a number of countries. The way to stay safe is to prevent the disease in the first place by keeping immunizations up to date. When I worked in Ethiopia, a measles outbreak could wipe out a village. When we obtained immunizations, mothers lined up for hours to get protection for their infants.

Immunizations hurt!!

- they don't have to and there are things you can do as a parent to help reduce the discomfort.
  • Prepare your child. Don't talk about shots as if they as some form of punishment. Talk about them positively. Don't say they will hurt or that they won't. You could say it will be like a scratch and then it will be all finished and they will be fine. Don't make them frightened before they even turn up for the immunization.
  • Before and during the procedure, keep calm yourself. Children will respond to the cues that you give them. So if you seem anxious, so will your child. Show you are confident in your doctor and nurse and stay calm and matter of fact. Don't prime your child by suggesting the shot is going to hurt or that the medical staff are mean. Yes, believe it or not, I have heard parents doing this
  • Distract your child during the procedure - blow bubbles or a pinwheel. Watching cartoons also works well. Distract in a way that keeps their attention off what the vaccinator is doing
  • Coughing has been shown to reduce pain in children aged 4 or over. Cough before and once during the procedure. Younger children could pretend to blow out candles or blow a pinwheel as above
  • A pacifier can help if your child uses one. Use during the procedure
  • Babies under a year get pain relief from as small amount of sucrose (sugar) solution. A breast feed works well in young babies, so a feed just before the procedure and immediately after
  • There are some creams and sprays that can be applied to help numb the skin but these often have to be applied well in advance (up to 40 minutes) of the procedure
  • One device that I like is the Buzzy4shots device. It provides a cold and vibration stimulus that means the body is so busy dealing with those sensations that it doesn't notice the pain.

What if I decide not to immunize?

- I strongly recommend immunization. Please consider carefully before deciding not to immunize your child. If you do make a decision not to immunize your child, think about what your concerns are and don't make a blanket policy.

For example, consider at least immunizing against tetanus. Tetanus can cause serious disease and even death. It can be caused as simply as your child standing on a rusty nail. How else are you going to protect your child from this? One family had this nightmare to contend with - read their story


AAP guide on reducing pain

So, please make safe choices for your child.

Please feel free to share this ezine with family and friends.

Till next time,

Dr Maud

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