Tag Archives: Vaccination

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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