Wednesday, March 2, 2011

little bit of dtap...little bit of formaldehyde??

up until now, we have declined vaccinations. i have no negative judgment for those who do choose to vaccinate their children.  it is as simple as: we have to do what we feel is right for our family. we decided that for us, it seemed right to delay them a bit and space them out. there was just something about injecting our small infant with all that stuff (that even the fda refers to as "toxins" that kind of freaked us out.  dr. lauren feder who is a medical doctor as well as a homeopathic doctor states on her website ( some of the pros and cons of vaccinating.  of the cons, she points out that "there are benefits from having an illness like chickenpox, measles mumps or rubella in that there is lifelong immunity following infection." this is not necessarily the case with a vaccination that in time wears off, requiring boosters, etc.

now, don't get me wrong, i understand that vaccines probably played a very big role in the decline and/or disappearance of some very nasty diseases, but i think that there were probably other reasons as well...better sanitation practices, more accurate diagnosis and simply the development of modern medicine.  according to dr. feder, "diseases declined before the vaccinations. the diseases of the 19th century in our society that had high fatality rates were smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, typhoid, diphtheria and influenza (or the flu). as living conditions and hygiene have improved, many of the illnesses have become less severe." she also states, "it is impossible to eradicate all diseases." and she poses the question, "could we be replacing one disease for another?"

i also understand that for each child and for each vaccination, it is necessary to assess the risks versus the benefits.  this analysis is what has led us to our decision of which vaccines to do and which to leave for later...or perhaps never. 

so, now that nolan is a year old and has had time to build up an immune system, we have decided to dip our toe into the vaccination pond.  though, i must say, i'm still not 100% about it.  on monday, at his one year appointment, we chose to begin the process with DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis).  pertussis is apparently on the rise here in southern california (and elsewhere) and we live in a city that is filled year-round with tourists, so we decided that seemed like a logical one to start with.

a receptionist at our pediatrician's office had previously reassured us that all of their vaccines were preservative free, but i decided as the nurse was getting everything ready to ask just one more time.  her answer through me for a loop.  she informed us that while it was certainly thimerosal (mercury) free it did contain...wait for it...FORMALDEHYDE and ALUMINUM! say what?  really?  don't we deserve better than that? (i mean the general "we," not just my family specifically.)  i was so shocked and grossed out that i froze.  i didn't know what to say.  and sadly, i just kept my mouth shut (sort of) and we went through with it.  (note: this pediatrician appointment, in general, was a learning experience for me...please see previous post regarding milk...on standing up for what i believe in.)

according the the website, "the international agency for research on cancer (IARC) classifies formaldehyde as a human carcinogen." well, that's fantastic. 

here is what the fda ( has to say about it. note:  i'm not quite sure how i feel about this.  the fda is trying to convince me that it is okay to add this chemical to the vaccines...but, i don't think i'm sold, much as i'm not sold on a lot of what the fda tells me, but whatever...  
"Why is formaldehyde in some vaccines?"
"Formaldehyde has a long history of use in the manufacture of certain viral and bacterial vaccines.  It is used to inactivate viruses (e.g., influenza, polio) and to detoxify bacterial toxins, such as the toxin [my emphasis] used to make diphtheria vaccine.  Formaldehyde is diluted during the manufacturing process, but residual quantities of formaldehyde may be found in some current vaccines.  The average quantity of formaldehyde to which a young infant could be exposed to at one time through vaccines is very small and is considered [my emphasis] to be safe.  Although high concentrations of formaldehyde can damage DNA (the building block of genes) and cause cancerous changes in cells in the laboratory [again, my emphasis], formaldehyde is an essential component in human metabolism and is required for the synthesis of DNA and amino acids (the building blocks of protein).  Therefore, all humans have detectable quantities of natural [that's me again...somehow i feel there is most likely a very large difference between the naturally occurring form and what they add] formaldehyde in their circulation. In addition, quantities of formaldehyde at least 600-fold greater than that contained in vaccines have been found to be safe in animals."

so, where do we go from here?  quite frankly, i'm not sure.  at this point we have decided to go ahead and finish the dtap series, but that may change and are uncertain if we'll continue the vaccine journey at all.

but, i must say...nolan was absolutely amazing.  he was more upset with the weighing/measuring portion of the visit than the shot.  he didn't even flinch, let alone cry and hasn't had any other big reactions...a little swelling at the injection site, but no fussies, no complaining, no fever...thank god.  also, thank god for arnica cream.  :)

some other interesting articles on the subject of vaccines: 
there is one more that i read a while ago on the hib vaccine that i can't find right if i find it later, i will post it as a comment - emily bartlett, if you're reading this...i believe it was posted by you at some point..little help?

No comments:

Post a Comment