Thursday, September 12, 2013

Stepping up on my soap box for a moment....

*disclaimer - the following post regards a somewhat controversial topic.  However, I consider this my space in the blogosphere to air my opinion.  If you don't share my opinion, please do so respectfully.  I generally avoid conflict, however, when I do strongly disagree with someone I try to do so maintaining my emotions and avoiding impulsive and hostile language.  Sometimes we have to agree to disagree.  And I'm ok with that.

I work in a physical therapy clinic that shares a building with two other medical practices.  We discovered last week that the podiatry office saw a patient with an active case of measles.  We don't share direct space with their office, however, do share a ventilation system.  We contacted the health department and since we don't share direct space with them, they didn't feel it was necessary for us to take any special precautions.  I'm not sure what they did over at the podiatry office but I'm sure the health department guided them appropriately.

Here's my issue.  There are people who are still not vaccinating their children against such diseases.  I read an article today on CNN that stated that the US may see the most cases of measles since 1996.  This is mainly because people are refusing to vaccinate their children.

There are many who erroneously think that the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine is linked to autism due to a 1998 study done by Andrew Wakefield and published in The Lancet (a medical journal).  He claimed to have discovered a bowel inflammation caused by the MMR vaccine that led to autism.  While the paper itself didn't claim a causative effect, Wakefield made several statements in the press stating use of the MMR vaccine should be suspended until further research could be done.  A journalist investigation found Wakefield had multiple conflicts of interest and many of the co-authors withdrew their support and The Lancet retracted the article.  He is no longer licensed to practice medicine in the UK or the US.  No other research has been able to replicate Wakefield's results (which is essential in the research world) and he only had 12 kids in his initial study (which is hardly enough of a sample size to extrapolate the to general population).

Recently I saw this article circulating on Facebook that supported Wakefield and is still making these claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism.

I'm angry.

People have chosen not to vaccinate their children because of Wakefield's study, erroneous reporting and these dumb blog posts being published.  As a result, a disease that was nearly eradicated as of the year 2000 is now coming back.

I understand that people are freaked out about autism.  But there are millions of kids who have gotten the MMR vaccines (myself included) who do not have autism.  There is also a study that suggest autism changes in the brain can be detected as young as 6 months which is way before the MMR vaccine is even administered. 

I agree that the incidence of autism has increased dramatically over the last two decades.  Is this because we know more about brain development?  What about environmental factors over the last several years?  We are using so many more synthetic products these days including plastics, dyes, preservatives, pesticides, etc.  Kids are exposed to technology so early these days - could all the flashing lights of televisions, iPads, video games etc be affecting brain development?  I don't know.  Just a thought.  Bottom line:  we don't know what causes autism.

Refusing to vaccinate your kids doesn't just effect your family.  My son is less than a year old and hasn't had the MMR vaccine yet.  A parent chose not to vaccinate their child for measles and that child came to the building where I work.  What if Sawyer had been at my office that day?  What if I had been in the waiting room of that office with Sawyer for some reason and he was directly exposed to measles?  Your decision not to vaccinate YOUR child put MY child in danger.  I am not cool with that.  Measles, mumps and rubella can be very dangerous and potentially lethal to very young children.  I will do everything I can to keep Sawyer healthy and happy but I can't protect him from the ignorance of other people.

Please people.  Your decision not to vaccinate your child doesn't just affect your child.  It potentially affects thousands of others who will be put at risk if your child happens to contract a contagious disease. 

Educate yourself.  Modern medicine is all about evidence based practice. Don't just take the word of some news article or even a blogger like me.  Take the time to do the research, talk to your pediatrician, ASK for evidence and make an informed decision. 

<<I know there are many who refuse to vaccinate for religious reasons.  I don't know which religions these are or anything about their doctrine therefore I cannot comment on their reasoning.  I am unaware of any biblical reference regarding vaccines.  I still do not agree with this decision .>>

By the way, Sawyer has his 1 year check up next week and will get his first round of the MMR.  I will not be responsible for him or anyone else getting a preventable disease.

Stepping off my soap box now....have a fun weekend.  Lots coming next week including my Miss America superlatives and recap, Sawyer's birthday post and his 12 month update. 

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