Now that I am going to be a mom I find that most of my thoughts are consumed with my baby, what kind of mom I will be, and all the decisions that I will have to make that will affect her life. This point in my life is exciting and while I am anxious to hold my baby in my arms, I am also scared shitless. I will soon become responsible for a life other than my own and that thought really terrifies me. When I think about all the ways I can possibly screw her up I begin to worry. It’s not like I can go back, rewind, and start over.
Today, I spent most of my morning researching vaccines which will be one of the many decisions that I have to make once my baby arrives. There was so much information, that I have to admit, I felt a bit overwhelmed. There has been so much debate about vaccines, how they differ from when I was a kid, the number of vaccines that should be given, the vaccination schedule and whether or not a baby’s immune system can handle it, and lastly the debate on whether or not vaccines are linked to autism.
While the original study, that was initially reported in the medical journal, The Lancet, by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, helped start a lot of the fear about a connection between vaccines and autism, it has been determined that the findings were based on fraudulent research. Furthermore, the study was never replicated by other researchers, and it has been retracted. Dr. Wakefield eventually lost his medical license in Europe as a result of his research. However, none of this really helps me because I am still just as confused as I was when I began my research. It does seem to me however, that there are a lot more cases of autism reported now than there were when I was a child. Some argue that environmental factors coupled with genetic factors may also be a cause of the higher autism rates. Autism is just one of the many issues that concern me. I am also concerned about the vaccines themselves, without them even having a link to autism.
While I do understand that vaccines do prevent many illnesses that at one time were deadly I am unclear as to why the number of vaccinations has increased since I was a child, how if at all have the doses changed since I was a child, what exactly is in these vaccines (I’ve read that vaccines may contain additives and preservatives such as mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, human serum albumin, gelatin, antibiotics, and yeast proteins), and what potential dangers do these additives and preservatives pose to a newborn baby?
While experts agree that vaccine additives do sometimes cause reactions, with the most common being allergic reactions being to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin and eggs they do contend that they are rare. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), “Parents should be reassured that quantities of mercury, aluminum, and formaldehyde contained in vaccines are likely to be harmless on the basis of exposure studies in humans or experimental studies in animals.”
While I may have to do some research and speak with a pediatrician in order to get some answers to my questions I am willing to do whatever I have to in order to make an informed decision. Because, according to the CDC’s 2012 recommended vaccination schedule, at the time of birth my baby will immediately be given the Hepatitis B vaccine with approximately another 4 shots given when she is 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. There are 25 shots recommended during the first 15 months of the baby’s life. This is way too many vaccinations in my opinion, but I’m no doctor so what do I know? What I do know is that I need to be as informed as possible in order to make the best decision for my baby. This will be the first of many.