Tag Archives: Parenting

Vaccines and Infant Mortality

I recently came across a new study by Neil Miller and Gary Goldman in the Journal of Human & Experimental Toxicology comparing the infant mortality rates (IMRs) and vaccine requirements in developed countries.  The study, titled “Infant mortality rates regressed against number of vaccine doses routinely given: Is there a biochemical or synergistic toxicity?“, compared the number of required vaccines in the United States with the number required in the 33 countries with lower (better) infant mortality rates than the US.  Yes, the “greatest nation on earth” is ranked number 34 for infant mortality, one of the most important indicators of the socio-economic well-being and public health conditions of a country.  Miller and Goldman state that

[d]espite the United States spending more per capita on health care than any other country, 33 nations have better IMRs. Some countries have IMRs that are less than half the US rate: Singapore, Sweden, and Japan are below 2.80. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ‘‘The relative position of the United States in comparison to countries with the lowest infant mortality rates appears to be worsening.’’

In developing nations, The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes 7 out of 10 childhood deaths to five main causes: pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, malaria, and malnutrition.  In developed countries, like those listed above, there are many factors that impact IMRs; in the US, for example, Miller and Goldman cite an increase in premature birth and its related complications.  But there is also a marked difference in the immunization requirements for infants less than 1 year old, which led Miller and Goldman to explore the correlation between vaccine doses that nations routinely give to their infants and their infant mortality rates.

Miller and Goldman analyzed vaccine doses using linear regression and found that

at a certain stage in nations’ movement up the socio-economic scale—after the basic necessities for infant survival (proper nutrition, sanitation, clean water, and access to health care) have been met—a counter-intuitive relationship occurs between the number of vaccines given to infants and infant mortality rates: nations with higher (worse) infant mortality rates give their infants, on average, more vaccine doses.

I find this very troubling.  I was especially concerned by their discussion of a possible correlation between vaccinations and SIDS.

there is some evidence that a subset of infants may be more susceptible to SIDS shortly after being vaccinated. For example, Torch found that two-thirds of babies who had died from SIDS had been vaccinated against DPT (diphtheria–pertussis–tetanus toxoid) prior to death. Of these, 6.5% died within 12 hours of vaccination; 13% within 24 hours; 26% within 3 days; and 37%, 61%, and 70% within 1, 2, and 3 weeks, respectively. Torch also found that unvaccinated babies who died of SIDS did so most often in the fall or winter while vaccinated babies died most often at 2 and 4 months—the same ages when initial doses of DPT were given to infants.

I had previously read a study which concluded that the SIDS mortality ratio after DTP was high, but the period of risk was relatively short.  I was shocked to read here about Torch’s study: that the risks could extend for a month.  (Although does that really matter?  I’d question the benefit of doing something even if the increased risk of death is only in the first 72 hours, especially when it’s a seven times higher risk of death.)  I wonder how many doctors have told the parents of their patients about that study, or will tell them about this one.

It’s hard to argue that vaccines are irrelevant to IMR when “nations that require more vaccine doses tend to have higher infant mortality rates.”  As a parent who is currently delaying vaccines, and planning to only selectively immunize when we do vaccinate, seeing the difference in vaccine requirements by country and those countries’ corresponding IMRs only made me more sure of my decision.  I don’t, by any stretch, think all vaccines are bad and I do plan on insuring that Nora has immunity against key diseases, but I think the US standard of vaccination is overkill, way too much, too soon, and this study is evidence that a “one-size fits all” approach to vaccination may not work.

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Nighttime Parenting

Infant and toddler sleep may be one of the most controversial aspects of parenting.  There are dozens of philosophies and ideas about where, how, and for how long babies should sleep.  Alone.  In the parent’s room.  In a bassinet.  In a co-sleeper (how that turns out).  In the parent’s bed.  On their backs.  Swaddled.  Or, cuddled right up next to mama.  There are blankets and suits designed to get baby to sleep “better and longer,” and countless books about how to train babies to sleep on their own so parents can get a full night’s sleep — most of which completely go against the physiological infant sleep pattern.  One of the first and most commonly asked question of a new parent is, “how are you sleeping?”

When we first had Nora, we didn’t really have a plan for sleep.  There was a pack’n’play with a bassinet in our room, but I was also open to bed sharing; I figured I would just see how things would go.  I knew for sure I was not down with “cry-it-out”.

Well, we didn’t make it out of the hospital before I started co-sleeping.  She was inside me for 42 weeks; there was no way I could sleep with her in a plastic tub, even right next to my bed.  So we started co-sleeping for my own security, and once I figured out how to lay down and breastfeed it was a done deal.  Given a choice between adjusting a little and attaching a baby while still half asleep or waking up, getting her out of her bassinet, nursing her, and putting her back to sleep all before going back to sleep myself, seemed like a no-brainer.  In addition to getting more sleep, cosleeping made the adjustment back to work easier, because I knew she was spending every possible moment with me while not at the babysitter’s house.  Because it was so easy to nurse her in our bed throughout the night, I never felt that bothered by her waking or had any reason to try to change her body’s natural rhythm.  We happily co-slept for the first nine months of Nora’s life. Continue reading

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The Mother’s Role in a Not-So-Perfect Birth

This is a follow up on my post about Rixa Freeze’s birth story, and my OB friend Megan’s comment on the post.  In that post, I quoted a midwife blogger who found Inga’s resuscitation to be less “jarring” and more gentle than a hospital resuscitation would have been.

I first have to stipulate a few things:

  1. As far as resuscitation goes, I don’t know anything about it.  A long, long time ago I was certified in infant CPR, but that’s where my knowledge stops.  I have no idea if Rixa did it “right” or just “well enough” to get her baby breathing.  (And to be honest, I’ve wondered if Inga would have started breathing on her own if she had been rubbed/dried with a towel after being pulled out of the water, which she was not, but that’s neither here nor there.)
  2. I would never try to argue that all resuscitation’s (or reasons for needing resuscitation) are the same and should be treated the same.
  3. I will agree that there are cases in which the resuscitation experience doesn’t matter; if the outcome is the loss of the baby otherwise, then obviously 5-10 minutes (or hours/days) of a less than ideal experience ( a “jarring” experience, even) is a welcome trade-off for a healthy baby.
  4. I will also never say that I think hospitals are awful, evil places; I don’t think that in the least — I think they can provide excellent and needed care in some pretty harrowing circumstances.

Source: John Giammatteo

That said, I find Tatiana’s point about the naturalness of it all (Rixa’s response, Inga being resuscitated in her mother’s arms by her mother, cord still attached) an interesting one, as far as how we view the first minutes after birth and the role of the mother.  I think we need to ask ourselves, is the mother a passive patient being delivered of the baby by the doctor/midwife, or is she actively birthing her baby with a doctor/midwife available if needed? This question is one of the great dividing lines in obstetric/midwifery care.

I fall in the latter group, which believes that women can happily and healthily birth babies with minimal intervention.  I think support is very important – I couldn’t imagine birthing alone or even with just my husband.  Doulas are incredibly wonderful birth support, and it would be great to have a care provider who is able/willing to play a support role as well (as opposed to just coming in and catching).  I would never intentionally have an unassisted birth, nor would I advocate for unassisted birth; I do believe it’s important to have an adequately trained person present in case of emergent situations.  I recognize that things do happen (rarely) and someone needs to be prepared for that possibility.  BUT I don’t think that always means resuscitation away from the mother. Continue reading

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Saturday Surfing

Looking though my hundreds of unread posts in Google Reader last week, I couldn’t help but marvel at how interests evolve, so I thought I would do something a little different this Saturday and build links into an actual post.

I follow a few “mom blogs,” like Kelle Hampton’s Enjoying the Small Things whose second daughter’s birth story I’ve linked to before, I Am Momma Hear Me Roar which has super cute and easy crafts, two adorable boys, and an author who just seems nice, and A Peine For Your Thoughts, which is a hilarious and sarcastic almost-mom blog (she’s going to have twins any moment).  I follow craft blogs like Grosgrain which has amazing sewing and lots of upcycling directions, Prudent Baby which is almost all kid-related, and One Charming Party which is about, you guessed it, throwing parties.  There’s a few random blogs of my friends, a blog or two about home decorating, and a handful of cooking and food-related blogs, my favorites of which are Spoonfed and Smitten Kitchen.  I tend to prefer blogs with lots of original photography.  But most of the blogs I follow?  Most of them are because of her:

Blogs about parenting (Alternative Mama, Authentic Parenting, Peaceful Parenting, Simple Mom, Sustainable Mothering), blogs about breastfeeding (Breastfeeding Medicine, Mama is…), and blogs about birth (Stand and Deliver, The Man-Nurse Diaries, The Unnecesarean).  I am so incredibly absorbed in and excited by these subjects, something I never would have expected even two years ago. Continue reading

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