the vaccine war

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Eileen Costello, M.D.
April 23, 2010 14:27
Eileen Costello M.D.A pediatrician in Boston and co-author of Quirky Kids: Understanding and Helping Your Child Who Doesn't Fit In. She recently completed an autism fellowship at Boston Medical Center and is the mother of three children.

As a pediatric resident in Boston in the 1980's, I spent a lot of time caring for babies and young children with critical infectious diseases that we no longer see.

Two bacterial organisms were especially common, household words among pediatricians: Haemophilus influenza type B (HIB) and Strep pneumonia (Pneumococcus). Both could cause infections in the blood, meningitis, pneumonia, bone infections, and abscesses in the brain and other organs.

If the children were lucky enough to live close to the hospital and come in early in the course of their illness, they might do well with aggressive treatment and antibiotics. If they weren't so lucky, or if their illness seemed at first like a run-of-the-mill childhood illness, they may not do so well. In my practice now, I follow kids who suffered deafness or other long term learning or developmental disorders as a result of these illnesses.

Within a few years of starting practice we began routinely vaccinating babies against these two organisms, and suddenly the practice of pediatrics was so different! Babies with fevers who were fully immunized had a dramatically lower likelihood of a serious bacterial illness, and this was such a relief. Many fewer babies were hospitalized for the possibility that their fever represented a serious and potentially devastating bacterial illness. Perhaps this is why it seems so terribly ironic that parents are refusing these very vaccines.

The Vaccine War is a timely examination of just this paradox, and an issue whose time has come.

posted april 27, 2010

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