New here - many questions!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-23-2003
New here - many questions!
2
Wed, 07-23-2003 - 7:56pm
Hi All!

I'm a first time mom to a beautiful 9 month old girl. I decided before she was born that I would not allow her to have the MMR due to the ongoing contraversy surrounding this shot and autism. I was comfortable giving her the other shots because I had been told by a doc that the mercury has been taken out of all of the vaccinations - my questions are as follows:

1) From reading other posts, I am getting a STRONG sense that mercury has indeed NOT been eliminated from all shots. A lot of you have referred to lot# - what is this, and what is the best way to ensure that DD is not getting vaccinated with mercury?

2) I was shocked at our 9 mo well visit to hear that DD would be getting a chicken pox vaccination at her 12 mo visit. We never had this growing up - right? We just lived with chicken pox for a couple of weeks and went on our merry way. What is the logic behind this vaccination and what do you all think about it (I'm kind of leaning towards not letting her get this one either).

3) We do not live in a state that offers a philosophical exemption - we plan to send her to public school because the system in out town is fantastic (reason we moved here) - what to do, what to do?

Thanks so much for all your thoughts!!

Kim

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 07-24-2003 - 4:27pm
Hi Kim! Welcome to our corner of cyberspace here~

First off- I can understand your trepidation WRT the MMR vaccine- I think this vax alone has caused the biggest scare, and while none of the evidence supports a direct link, the anecdotal evidence is overwhelming- and more than enough to scare a parent. As this is a red hot issue, keep your eyes to the news for more studies, discoveries & reports about both the MMR vaccine, and autism. Here is a link & text to something just out this week:

http://my.webmd.com/content/Article/71/81183.htm

Rapid Brain Growth May Indicate Autism

Finding May Lead to Earlier Diagnosis of the Condition

By Salynn Boyles

WebMD Medical News Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD

on Tuesday, July 15, 2003



July 15, 2003 -- Small head size at birth followed by an abnormally rapid and excessive growth in head size during the first year of life may be an early-warning sign of autism, new research suggests. The findings could lead to earlier diagnosis of the condition, before symptoms occur, and the development of better ways to study it.

The findings also argue against the theory that certain childhood immunizations -- most notably the mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccine -- cause autism, say the University of California, San Diego, investigators who conducted the study. That is because children typically get their MMR vaccinations between 12 and 18 months of age, but the increase in head size and accelerated brain growth tended to occur earlier.

Writing in the July 16 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers note that the "degree, rate and/or duration" of the excessive brain growth may be predictive of the severity of later symptoms of autism. But in an accompanying editorial, pediatrician and psychiatrist Janet Lainhart, MD, writes that it is "premature to conclude that increased rate of head growth is a universal feature of autism."

"On its own this marker is not specific, so it certainly can't tell if a child is going to develop autism," Lainhart tells WebMD. "But the hope is that it can be combined with subtle developmental differences that might be present during infancy to aid in early identification."

Diagnosis of Autism

Children are usually diagnosed with autism between the ages of 2 and 4, when behavioral signs and symptoms such as delayed speech and unusual social and emotional reactions become apparent.

"By 18 months there are very clear warning signs in most children who develop autism," study co-author Natacha Akshoomoff, PhD, tells WebMD. "The hope is that suspicions will be raised even earlier if this pattern of head growth is proven to be a biological marker of autism."

In earlier work, lead author Eric Courchesne, PhD, and colleagues with UCSD and the Center for Autism Research at Children's Hospital reported that 90% of 2- and 3-year-old autistic children they studied had brains that were larger than normal. In their latest study, they examined the medical records of 48 2- to 5-year-olds who had been diagnosed with autism and compared head growth measurements with those of average children, as defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts. They were also compared with 51 non-autistic infants born between 1980 and 2001 who took part in a separate head circumference study.

Head size at birth among the autistic children was, on average, smaller than the children who did not develop autism. But during the first year of life, these children experienced sudden and excessive brain growth such that their brains were larger than all but 15% of all children measured. This excessive growth in head size occurred well before the onset of behavioral symptoms.

"Those infants having the most extreme rate of accelerated head (and brain) growth had the poorest clinical outcome -- being at the severe end of the autism spectrum, while those infants with a slower rate of accelerated growth had a relatively better outcome," Courchesne said in a news release.

Explaining the Symptoms

Though it is widely believed that autism is a genetic disorder, Akshoomoff says the rapid, early brain growth could explain why autistic children develop the symptoms they do. The hypothesis, she says, is that the brain growth occurs in an autistic child before that child is developmentally ready for it.

"There is a vast overproduction of connections in a young child's brain," she says. "But as children start to develop skills between 2 and 5 years of age, there is a pruning back of these connections. They keep what they need and get rid of those that are not meaningful."

The early brain growth in autistic children could mean that they are losing these extra connections too soon, Akshoomoff says, and as a result their emotional and intellectual development is impaired.

She says that the findings must be confirmed in a larger sample of children followed from infancy in the hopes of identifying a clinically useful model of brain growth and autism risk. Such research could also lead to better animal models to study the disorder.

"If there is ever going to be a useful pharmaceutical or genetic intervention in autism it will have to be delivered early in a child's life," she says. "If we wait until the child is 2 to 5 years old, there is only so much that can be done to correct what has already taken place."

SOURCES: The Journal of the American Medical Association, July 16, 2003. Eric Courchesne, PhD, department of neuroscience, University of California, San Diego; Center for Autism Research, Children's Hospital Research Center, San Diego. Natacha Akshoomoff, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry, University of California, San Diego; assistant research scientist, Children's Hospital, San Diego. Janet E. Lainhart, MD, division of child and adolescent psychiatry, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City.

Now on to your questions~

1.) Thimerisol, a mercury derivative has been elimated from pediatric doses, but some earlier doses may still remain in offices. Here are links that give you the names & companies:

CBER- Thimerosal inVaccines

http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimerosal.htm#t1

Institute for Vaccine Safety - Thimerosal Content in Some US Licensed Vaccines

http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm#2

2. The logic behind Varivax is that if mass coverage is achieved they will eliminate chicken pox. What this means for your children NOW is that, with so many children getting the vaccine, your child may have a much lower chance of getting the disease while young and more likely to manage the disease successfully. There are rare risks involved with chicken pox however. What a lot of people are doing is holding off on the vaccine until necessary and trying to expose their kids to the disease first.

3. Your state may have a religious exemption- I think all but 3 do. Here are some links on state requirements, and their exemptions:

Map of 2002 Immunization Requirements:

http://www.sabin.org/map.htm

State Vaccine Exemption laws:

http://www.access1.net/via/STATES/allstates.htm

State Immunization Mandates:

http://www.immunize.org/laws/


Both the MMR & Varivax are live vaccines that have been cultured in fetal cell lines. That alone, proves a religious exemption for those who oppose abortion.

Also, you may find support & info on our Non Vaccine board on Parent Place~ the ladies there are very savvy on how to maintain your rights WRT your childen's vaccines.

Non-Vaccine Support Board at Parent Place:

http://boards.parentsplace.com/cgi-bin/boards/nonvaccines

Please feel free to ask any questions, join any discussion, etc~

HTH~ Miki

Avatar for kidoctr
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 07-29-2003 - 11:28pm
Hi Kim -

>>"1) From reading other posts, I am getting a STRONG sense that mercury has indeed NOT been eliminated from all shots. A lot of you have referred to lot# - what is this, and what is the best way to ensure that DD is not getting vaccinated with mercury?"<<

It doesn't have anything to do with the lot numbers. All of the vaccines on the currently recommended childhood schedule are thimerosal(containing mercury) free. The residual post-production thimerosal in some of the vaccines are listed here:

http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/thi-table.htm#2

For Tripedia and Trihibit, it states: "* This product should be considered equivalent to thimerosal-free products. This vaccine may contain trace amounts (<0.3 mcg) of mercury left after post-production thimerosal removal; these amounts have no biological effect. JAMA 1999;282(18) and JAMA 2000;283(16)."



>>"2) I was shocked at our 9 mo well visit to hear that DD would be getting a chicken pox vaccination at her 12 mo visit. We never had this growing up - right? We just lived with chicken pox for a couple of weeks and went on our merry way. What is the logic behind this vaccination and what do you all think about it (I'm kind of leaning towards not letting her get this one either)."<<

Info about the varicella vaccine:

http://www.vaccine.chop.edu/each_vaccine2.shtml#name11

My thoughts about the vaccine:

http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppvaccines/?msg=723.7

>>"3) We do not live in a state that offers a philosophical exemption - we plan to send her to public school because the system in out town is fantastic (reason we moved here) - what to do, what to do?"<<

It depends on the state - which one do you live in? I'm sure someone will be along to find the info for you.

Eve