Thursday, May 19, 2005

Where do I stand?

A friend of mine recently brought into question the fact that I follow and espouse the AAP's (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations and guidelines regarding television viewing (and other things), yet I do not follow their recommendations regarding vaccinations.

I'm glad she brought it up because this is something I've been giving a lot of thought to lately and trying to figure out exactly where I stand. After all, how can I say "yes, the AAP is right" regarding one thing, and not another?

This is the conclusion I've come to:
I follow the AAP's recommendations on all of the things that make sense to me and where there is not obvious conflicting information available.

Some examples of the things I follow are:

-- "Until more research is done about the effects of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children younger than two years of age. For older children, the AAP recommends no more than one to two hours per day of quality screen time." -- Television — How it Affects Children
-- I don't know of any studies that say that television is beneficial for very young children, so I choose to heed the AAP's recommendations.

-- "Exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months and support for breastfeeding for the first year and beyond as long as mutually desired by mother and child." -- AAP Releases Revised Breastfeeding Recommendations

-- Again, I don't know of any studies that say that breastfeeding is bad for a child (quite the contrary), so I follow their recommendations. (Not to mention that breastfeeding just feels natural to me.)

-- "While scientific studies show some medical benefits of circumcision, these benefits are not sufficient for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to recommend that all infant boys be circumcised." -- Circumcision: Frequently Asked Questions

-- I haven't had to make this decision yet as we have a daughter, but if we were to have a son in the future, he would not be circumcised.

Now onto the topic of whether or not to vaccinate and/or whether or not to vaccinate on the AAP's recommended schedule. There is a plethora of information contradicting what the AAP recommends.

The National Vaccine Information Center is one place to gain information to help make an informed decision on whether/when to vaccinate. From the website, "Vaccination is a medical procedure which carries a risk of injury or death. As a parent, it is your responsibility to become educated about the benefits and risks of vaccines in order to make the most informed, responsible vaccination decisions."

Another website that gives food for thought with regard to vaccinations is on Dr. Joseph Mercola's site. The article is Tell the Truth About Vaccines - Or Keep Away From My Children.
Dr. Mercola's comments on the article are:
"If the average American were aware of the common components of vaccines, they may think twice before considering them. Now they have replaced mercury with equally damaging toxins, aluminum and formaldehyde. But the list of vaccine fillers doesn't end there. Here is a partial list of some of the other fillers that vaccines could contain:

* aluminum hydroxide
* animal tissues: pig blood, horse blood, rabbit brain, dog kidney, monkey kidney, chick embryo, human diploid cells (originating from human aborted fetal tissue)
* monosodium glutamate (MSG)
* phenoxyethanol (antifreeze)
* sorbitol
* sucrose

These additives are often more dangerous than the viral component of the vaccine. If you are a parent and are considering vaccinating your child, please read up on the potentially devastating side effects of vaccines before doing so, it could mean the difference between life and death."

I've met people (via the Internet) who's children have had bad reactions to certain vaccines. Reactions that were bad enough, in fact, that their doctor told them their child should NOT have any more of the vaccinations in that sequence and that any other children they may have should not receive any of those vaccinations (that caused the reaction) either. That's frightening to me.

I've also read stories of children who've had severe reactions to vaccinations - some paralyzed, some died. While there isn't conclusive proof that the vaccinations caused these things, the coincidences with the timing of the vaccinations and the onset of the problems seems way too close to ignore the possiblity that they could've resulted from the vaccinations.

I know that the risks involved with getting vaccinations are small, and one might argue that there is a greater risk of my child getting one of those diseases by not having the vaccine. But that is a risk that I'm aware of and, until I feel comfortable with vaccinating my child, I will hold off on it.

There are a few reasons why my child is not at a high risk of getting one of those infectious diseases at this time in her life, which make me more comfortable with my decision to hold off on vaccinations for the time being.
1. She is breastfed.
2. She is not in daycare.
3. We do not travel outside the country.
While my doctor is definitely in favor of vaccinations, she admits that my child is not at high risk (because of the aforementioned reasons) and therefore is ok with me delaying vaccinations at this time.

One other thing that comes to mind regarding why I question the AAP's recommended vaccination schedule is that I've had doctors tell me that the reason the schedule is set up the way it is is not because having shots in those time incriments is best for the child or will achieve optimal results. Rather that it is set up that way because it is most convenient since parents are already bringing their children into the doctor for well-child check-ups at those times.

Because I have not felt 100% (or even 90%) comfortable with getting vaccinations as of yet due to the amount of conflicting information available, I have not followed the AAP's recommendations. I do, however, have plans to start selectively vaccinating my daughter in the very near future.

I thank God that I live in a country where I have freedom of choice to pick and choose what makes sense to me and decide what I feel is right for me and my family. :)

I hope that answers the question of why I support some of the AAP's recommendations and not others. As always, if you have more questions for me, let me know.

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." -- Malcolm X


At 5/19/2005 1:14 PM, Anonymous Brandy said...

Amy, I'm glad that you were able to determine why you pick and choose. :) This is very well thought out and has helped me to remember why we don't vax our son..yet. I have also been told by dr's that the AAP's sched is purely for convenience and that the 5 in 1 shots are as well. It's not better or safer for the child but it's more convenient bc the parent doesn't have to take off as much work, you only stick the child once, etc. I don't want my ds (dear son) being poked more than needs be but I think he could stand a prick a few more times and would prefer that to any of the other afflictions he would possibly be subjected to. I'm glad that you have done so much research on this.

Oh and I like your quote for the day. :)

At 5/19/2005 8:15 PM, Blogger myrmom said...

This entry has really hit home for me Amy. We are currently researching vaccines(something I wish we had done before Ewan was born) which is something that I believe every parent should do before taking their child in for vaccinations. We have come to the conclusion that we would rather not continue with the vaccines at this time and my choose to continue at a later date. Of course I have always been one to question things in society that are a given as as far as I am concerned Doctors are not gods and don't know everything so why would I put complete and blind faith into them. I think both the APP and the CPS(Canadian Pedatric Society) have our nations children as a whole in their best interest but I do not believe it is a case by case individual interest. One child lost to a vaccine or hundreds to a disease right? Of course they will try and do what is best for the hundreds it is up to us as parents to do what is best for the one.

At 5/21/2005 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i sure hope you never have a boy....

At 5/21/2005 2:30 PM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

I think you made an excellent point in your comment - "I think both the APP and the CPS(Canadian Pedatric Society) have our nations children as a whole in their best interest but I do not believe it is a case by case individual interest. One child lost to a vaccine or hundreds to a disease right? Of course they will try and do what is best for the hundreds it is up to us as parents to do what is best for the one."
I agree that it is up to the organization to recommend what's best for the majority. That doesn't mean it's right for everyone, but their job is to protect as many children as possible.
Let me know what you end up doing with Ewan.

At 5/21/2005 6:27 PM, Blogger Jody said...

To Anonymous, what exactly is your fear? A) Is it so hard to oppose Amy's viewpoint you must post anonymously? She has proven herself to be a fair person and would not judge you, though your statement certainly appears to be an attack on her.

B) Why does Amy's decision to circumcise effect you in any way, and why would you care about her childs penis? Having a child circumcised certainly doesn't make him a better person. If anything, I would prefer to be her son and avoid what some call mutilation.

Please at least post an intelligent reason why a boy SHOULD be circumcised, enlighten us all.

At 5/21/2005 11:08 PM, Blogger myrmom said...

annonymous...I hope women like myself and Amy are the only ones who have sons. I feel sorry for any boy whose parents would have so little a regard for their child that they would cut off a part of their body for their own vanity. How about if I tattoo something onto my childs body because I think it looks better then the unadorned skin he was born with. I would probably be arrested for child abuse.

At 5/23/2005 1:25 PM, Blogger Tanya said...

QUOTE********annonymous...I hope women like myself and Amy are the only ones who have sons. I feel sorry for any boy whose parents would have so little a regard for their child that they would cut off a part of their body for their own vanity.*******************

Ditto to that. I too, am waiting to be enlightened upon why??? Maybe you should be off to read up on it a bit now huh?

At 5/25/2005 6:37 AM, Anonymous JMS said...

I did not post as "anonymous", but I felt the need to say that I didn't because I'm sure a lot of people thought it was me because I usually have an opinion about everything and circs are no exception.

I had my son circ'd and if I were to have another boy, I would have him circ'd too. It is not purely from a vanity standpoint either; there is really not enough literature out there to say difinitively whether or not it is truly beneficial, but the benefits it may have, in my mind, outweigh the negatives.

There is TONS of websites out there on the negatives of it, which are only that of "mutilation." You have to do more seraching to find the benefits, but worth looking for...If you have a circ, some of the benefits are, less risk for infection because you get rid of the excess skin, there is less risk of penile cancer later in life, and some of you may not think this is important, but what kind of verbal abuse do young boys take in gym class when they are changing and someone notices that they're "different?" Kids are very cruel these days and I don't need other kids making mine feel like they are any less of a person.

This is a very controversial topic and I'm sure I'll get picked apart for what I said, but I'm not pushing circs on anyone, just defending why we chose to have our son circ'd.

At 5/25/2005 10:06 AM, Blogger Jody said...

Actually Janelle, I didn't have a good idea who posted that anonymously, but figured it wasn't you. You have proven that you will post a disagreement without needing to hide behind an anonymous login, so you were clean and clear.

I think this topic is an easy one to debate, ultimately its not life threatening, so most won't get too gung ho on their side of the story. I see it on both sides, and can only offer my point of view from a circumcised male.

From what I hear, to be uncircumcised means greater feeling (more nerve endings right?), I would like to think I didn't deny my child that later. I realize that this is not a "baby" type consideration, but longer term, thats reason enough for me to say 'nay' to circumcision.

Cleanliness, not that big a deal, we live in a clean society, its just about learning grooming habits.

Embarrassment, thats just teenage years, if my son is ruined by locker room jeering, he has bigger issues anyway. (ie. I'd like to think my parenting style will lend to self-confidence as my son gets older.)

Cancer, I had not heard of, and don't understand why it would lead to cancer, but if its true, thats a valid reason FOR circumcision.

Here is a great site to help you make an informed decision though (thanks for making me think about it and look it up):

Circumcision Information and Resource Pages

At 5/25/2005 11:26 AM, Blogger Jody said...

After scanning that linked site, the Cancer thing appears to have been disproven. Here is the quote I refer to:

"If infant circumcision reduces penile cancer we could expect to see proportionately less penile cancer in circumcising nations as compared to noncircumcising ones. No such difference is found."

A quote on the same page alarmed me though (and I think this is probably rare.) "Gellis (1978) said there are more deaths from circumcision than from cancer of the penis."

Anyway, thats just me recapping what you may have already read by now, just wanted to mention it. Thanks again, I definitely appreciate being questioned more than blind agreement.

At 5/31/2005 7:25 PM, Blogger Running2Ks said...

I have to say, I think it is unfair for anyone to call someone hypocritical for allowing themselves the chance to believe some things a group suggests and not other things.

And groups (especially medical ones) change their minds about things all of the time--sometimes for the better. Like the AMA finally getting it together and denouncing episiotomies. I feel you are right, Amy, you do have the right and pick and choose what you agree with. No one should be forced by others to fully endorse anything. Being blind sheep is what gets a lot of people in trouble. The only way to educate oneself is to question, reconsider, and grow.

I'm a homeschooler, I have a semi-crunchy doctor, and she has given me choices about vaccinations. I've opted out of a couple, and due to a severe reaction my first daughter had to one, I delayed that particular vaccine by a year in my second child.

I have chosen to vaccinate, despite being a vegetarian and a homeschooler, out of a deep sense of responsibility to society-at-large in helping to eradicate devastating diseases. I don't blindly do them all, and I have dutifully reported the adverse reaction my daughter experienced to the appropriate authorities. I am very conservative about medical treatments for my children, and it was a hard choice for me to vaccinate, but I also have come to peace with my decision to prevent some illnesses for the later hope that my children will rely on minimal medical care in the future.

Anyway, I wanted to make it clear that you are not a hypocrite to examine and decide what you believe in.

At 5/31/2005 9:35 PM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

Running2ks -
Thank you. :)
I'm glad to hear that you didn't make your decision "blindly" and that you are at peace with your decision. It certainly isn't an easy one to make.
Do you mind my asking which vax caused your daughter a severe reaction and what it was? Did your other daughter have any problems with it when you delayed it?

At 6/02/2005 8:57 AM, Blogger Running2Ks said...

Varicella (chicken pox); I blogged on it, I'm sure you read. Here's what happened: a week after the shot she was in the hospital due to severe dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea (after doctors ignored my concerns over her condition, I brought her to the hospital). Doctors say it was a coincidence--that she got rotavirus or some other stomach flu around the time of the shot. That may or may not be true, and I did report the reaction to The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). I do know, for sure, that shortly after receiving a vaccine a child's immune system is weakened for a period of time. If a child is then exposed to a virus (which they often are), then they are at higher risk for that virus. My daughter lost 4 lbs. Fortunately, she was strong and large for her age and recovered. I have learned to keep my kids home for a few days after shots. Of course, delaying shots helps, I think--I'm glad I delayed that one by a year in my second daughter.

At 6/10/2005 3:26 PM, Blogger Rowan said...

It’s strange how often in my life I’ve found myself challenged by my own belief system.

When I had my first daughter, Maya, I was diametrically opposed to vaccinations. Eleven years later, along came daughter #2. When we took Kajsa to see the pediatrician he stated that while it was our own decision to make, he strongly recommended immunizations. His rational essentially being, that, if enough people decided not to vaccinate, diseases would run rampant through the child population. Fine, I thought, that’s your opinion....end of story.

Then at 39 days Kajsa was diagnosed with Kidney Failure. From then on, she would be susceptible to every bug that came down the pike. (Later that year she was intubated & in the ICU for 6 weeks from a case of the flu.) Geez, we thought, our options just went away. There was no longer a decision to make.

Kajsa has now had a full round of immunizations exactly on schedule. She’s currently on a transplant list, after which she’ll be on immunosuppressants for life. Basically a walking pharmacy, and everything I indignantly felt was never ever (EVER) going to be a part of MY life.

I in no way whatsoever regret not immunizing Maya. She is a healthy, happy 13 year old. She’s had virtually none of the illnesses that seem to plague so many kids, and has seen a doctor once in her entire life. Nor do I regret Kajsa’s hyper-boosted immune system.

Each kid got what she needed according to HER life. If I ever had another child, I probably would choose not to immunize. But then again, you never do know.

At 6/10/2005 4:25 PM, Blogger amygeekgrl said...

I think you raise a great point. You did what was best for each child. You adapted your opinion of vaxes based on their needs.
Like so many things in life, I believe that the issue of whether or not to vax is not cut and dried.
I can't imagine what you dealt with having Kajsa diagnosed with KF at 39 days old. How scary that must have been! I hope that a donor comes along for her soon and she can lead a relatively normal life. :)

At 6/10/2005 5:35 PM, Blogger Rowan said...

Oh, one will. It's just a waiting game. We're fortunate to live in this place and time. Even with it's pitfalls.

Yes, it was terrifying at first, but eventually you just realize that although your life must change, it isn't over. Then you begin to meet other mama's with chronically ill children & discover that we're everywhere...we just don't make a huge deal about it.

There's so much more to life.


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