Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Open Letter on Vaccinations by Dr. Jay Gordon

Got this from a fellow triplet mama's blog. Thanks Mrs. P.

An Open Letter on Vaccinations by Dr. Jay Gordon

I don’t give a lot of vaccines.

I still give DPT vaccinations to some children, chicken pox shots to kids who haven’t been able to acquire natural immunity by age ten years or so, and I give polio vaccines very infrequently. The polio vaccines are given for what I call “emotional” reasons because my exposition of the “numbers” (2000 cases of polio out of six or seven billion people) doesn’t counteract the very strong memory of a beloved aunt or uncle who had polio in fifties or sixties. And many parents feel much more comfortable traveling to India or parts of Africa with updated polio immunity for their children and themselves. By the way, 2007-2008 statistics don’t support that discomfort, but I don’t argue much.
In 2007, there were 1314 cases of polio on the planet and 127 of them were in “endemic” countries: 873 in India, 285 in Nigeria, 41 in the Congo, 32 in Pakistan and 17 in Afghanistan.

As of July 1, 2008, halfway through the year, we’re running a similar pace with 714 cases of polio reported worldwide. Nigeria has had 353 cases, India 287. (World Health Organization Site)

In 1980 I abandoned the recommended vaccine schedule. I received dozens and dozens of phone calls from moms and dads reporting that their child had received shots a couple of days ago and they were acting “a little different.” They couldn’t quite put their finger on it but their child was just not acting quite the same as before I gave the shots. They’d ask if this was okay…was it normal? Initially, as I was trained to do, I replied “yes.” After dozens and dozens and dozens of phone calls, I decided that I had better listen to these moms a lot more.

I stopped some vaccines. I delayed others.

No, I am not “anti-vaccination.”

I am aware of the public health implications of completely abandoning our current vaccine schedule, and I certainly don’t advocate that. What I really want is an honest discussion of the risks and benefits of each vaccine and combinations of vaccines for your child. Just your child. My experience is that many parents don’t have the opportunity to discuss these concepts and these details with their doctors.

Some vaccination problems are completely verifiable and a strategy of delaying vaccines is, in some small way, supported by this recent article:

Delay in diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma.
J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008 Mar;121(3):626-31. Epub 2008 Jan 18.

When it comes to your children and vaccines, we can and must do better.

Your newborn receives a vaccine against a disease he can’t possibly contract in the he first year of life, hepatitis B, because our campaign to vaccinate high-risk groups failed. There has been a large decrease in the number of cases—and therefore serious complications—of hepatitis B since we started vaccinating newborns. But I still believe that the risks to each individual baby far outweigh the benefits in a family where mom’s Hep B status is known.

The combination of vaccines given at two months of age is not anywhere near as safe as it could if the vaccines were given separately, the aluminum were removed and if the vaccines were given at a later age.

Now, when you discuss this topic with your pediatrician, he or she will clobber my ideas and me. So be it. I have watched children getting or not getting vaccines for thirty years. I won’t publish my data because I have none suitable for “peer review.” I can tell you that my very strong impression is that children with the fewest vaccines, or no vaccines at all, get sick less frequently and are healthier in general. I truly believe they also develop less autism and other “persistent developmental delays.”

I know that children still get meningitis and they certainly can get whooping cough. (The past two years have been very “good” for pertussis: 156 cases thus far in California for the year and a total of 228 in all of 2007.) I have not seen bacterial meningitis in a child in at least twenty years although I did have an eighteen-year-old contract the disease a couple years ago. He did well and suffered no consequences. I believe we’ve reached a point where a discussion must include the risk of vaccinations because the diseases are so rare. These diseases did not diminish by “magic” but because vaccines do work. Public health is an important topic and ignoring that aspect of the discussion is irresponsible.

The rarity of the diseases against which we vaccinate has caused me to look much harder at the side effects of vaccines. In what other area of medicine do we deny side effects? If I have to give you antibiotics—amoxicillin—for a urinary tract infection, for instance, I feel almost apologetic about the rash you might get, the diarrhea and the yeast infections that every woman knows about. When we give six shots to your six-week-old daughter, we tell you that, amazingly, there are no side effects. We know you’ve heard about seizures, “collapse syndrome,” autism and more, but these are all coincidences. I think that even doctors are having trouble believing that. Dr. Bernadine Healy was the director of the National Institutes of Health and is still a member of the august Institute of Medicine. Her article is worth reading. She is very unhappy with the government’s and the medical establishment’s decision to stop looking at the connection between vaccines and autism.

In what other area of medicine does a 180-pound man and a twelve-pound baby get the same dose of a medication, the polio vaccine, for example? Please read Dr. Bob Sears excellent article about aluminum in vaccines. There’s far, far too much and it’s a known neurotoxin.

Mercury has not been removed from all vaccines. Most flu shots still contain 25 micrograms of mercury as do the tetanus boosters. This represents 30-60% of the dose a baby or child would have gotten in the “bad old days” and completely invalidates the argument that “we’ve gotten thimerosal out of shots and autism has not gone down.”

We must respect pregnant women who may be exposed to toxins in their food, cosmetics, flu shots, and more. We must respect babies whose immune systems should be left quiescent and natural for as long as possible so that they can develop and defend themselves. We must respect our children who should not be exposed to more environmental toxins including those in our air, our vaccines, and our water.

The Government has quietly settled over two billion dollars in vaccine injury claims and is now fighting what will be a losing battle against 5000 families who claim that the FDA and the CDC did not protect their children against doses of mercury sufficient to cause harm.

The CDC says that one out of five children have learning disabilities. I do not know why we have so many injured children now.

Let me say it again: I am not anti-vaccination.

I am proud to be going to Africa at the end of September to bring 5 million Tetanus shots to the Ivory Coast. In Africa, over 100,000 children die each year from neonatal tetanus. (In America, we average 35-40 cases per year, and the average age is sixty-one years old—a collection of older guys who probably shouldn’t be wandering around a construction site barefooted anyway!)

There are so many facets to this discussion, and they’re all important enough to merit attention from doctors, politicians, and all of us. What has led to this incredible increase in autism, ADD, Childhood and ADOL Depression, and learning disabilities, and how do we stop and reverse the trend? We need more funding and more respect for children and families. The debate over vaccines needs to move over and make way for the real research and work to begin.

Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP


Catherine Jackie Mitchell said...

Hi Jay,

[Sorry if this is a duplicate. I couldn't tell if my comment went through.]

Thank you for your blog.

We cannot use the statistics children considered to be learning disabled when that label has been generated by the school systems. There are other motivations at play.

Many school systems were motivated to label children as learning disabled so that they would receive more money from the state. The LD label was once a lucrative one. Now that practice has come back to bite them where it hurts. Now that state money has dried up these school systems (us taxpayers at the local level) have to come up with the money to cover these students.

I have first hand evidence of this practice and I have anecdotal evidence as well. Many, many, parents and far too many children have been hurt by this practice and the long term results will be devastating to the lives of people believing something that just is not true.

This is not to say that learning disabilities and autism are not increasing in numbers. The numbers just are not all that trustworthy.

Our skin is able to absorb so many of the toxins in our environment that we cannot discount this effect. This could be the black swan that we are not seeing because we are focusing on something that may only have a small part to play in the overall picture.

Propylene glycol in baby wipes and the chemicals that are in lotions, creams, shampoos, etc. that we bathe our children with every day may be having more of an impact. Plastic baby bottles, teethers, and pacifiers, may also be having an effect on them.

Anyway, thank you for your blog. I will be following it every day now. You have a clear voice of reason.

Best Regards,

loren said...

Thanks for the article, Michelle! I feel the same way - there is too much at stake to not, at the very least, investigate the effects of vaccinations. The gov't probably fears our country will fall into disease again if the real risks are found out. That's so scary that anyone should have that sort of control over our loved ones.

BTW, I vaxed my kids on schedule, but if I had any more kids, I'd be a bit more proactive about spreading them out or choosing the most important ones. (I am totally against the chickenpox vax, but will have it done if necessary when they're older.)

Tanna'sTriplets said...

Thanks for posting the article. I'm not anti-vaccination BUT I have put off a lot of my babies vaccanations until later when thier bodies are able to handle the vacc. better.