Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pediatrician Update


We recently took Henry to the pediatrician for his two-month check-up. It reminded me that I wanted to talk about two hot topics: vaccinations and circumcision.

I'll start with the easiest decision for us: circumcision. Although Matt is circumcised, neither of us could find a compelling reason to subject our son to having a piece of his skin cut off. When the time comes, we will teach him the importance of keeping it clean. If necessary, we will teach him how to have courage and self-pride, even if he doesn't look like everyone else.

A kindred spirit e-mailed me to say that she didn't want to circumcise her son but her husband did. She asked for advice about what to do in that situation. To that question, I would say, "Ask your partner to watch a youtube video of a circumcision."

The vaccination issue was much, much harder for me. First of all, I tend to have a general distrust when it comes to the U.S. government's responsibility to protect its citizens from harmful products. I once heard the generalization that in Europe, products aren't allowed on the market until they are proven safe. In the U.S., they are allowed on the market until they are proven unsafe.

So, frankly, I am scared about what's in vaccines because I don't trust that the government prioritizes my son's health and wellness above the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.

But on the other hand, I am a firm supporter of public health, and I am willing to do my part to keep our society as healthy as possible. I don't want my son to contract something that could jeopardize his fragile body, nor do I want to contribute to the comeback of certain diseases because I refused to get my son vaccinated. Please keep in mind, however, that I did little to no research on the topic. Although I did talk with several moms who were doing research, I couldn't bring myself to do any. It was so hard for me to find sources that I could trust to be objective.

The alternate vaccine scheduled featured in The Vaccine Book seemed like a good compromise. It spreads out the vaccinations, so that your child is only exposed to a little of the potentially harmful substances at a time. However, your child is still fully vaccinated by the end of the timeline.

In the final analysis, we decided to follow the normal recommended schedule because I didn't want to subject Henry to the trauma of more frequent shots, which is required by the alternative schedule. I also didn't want to bring him to the pediatrician's office more than necessary and risk exposing him to more pathogens.

We did opt out of the hepatitis vaccine at birth, simply because we wanted to spare him from more pricks and prods after all he went through to enter into the world, so he received the first in the series at his last appointment.

And in case you're interested, he's in the 80th percentile for weight, 90th percentile for height, and his head is in the 37the percentile. I think I might start calling him Parsnip Head.

And one last thing: the doctor happened to see a little bit of Henry's poop when he was taking off his diaper, and he said it was a too runny and watery. He diagnosed Henry with a dairy sensitivity and told me to stop eating dairy. Oy vey!



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14 comments:

Laylah said...

Thank you for vaccinating your son. It can be scary to think about, and I know it's difficult to make that sort of decision, especially nowadays when we have more knowledge than we really want at our fingertips (as in, what can go wrong, worst case scenarios, etc). You are doing the responsible thing by making sure he's ultimately protected from diseases and that he won't rely on herd immunity or make others ill. Thank you for publicly stating so. Thank you thank you thank you. Too many people are too afraid to do what's right.

Elizabeth said...

You continue to be an inspiration with your honest sharing - and I 100% agree with Layla! Thank you!

Ashley said...

Nationally, fewer than 40% of children are circumcised. Where I am from its lower than that. As more parents shun the practice we will have to worry less about any teasing an intact boy might face. Statistically speaking we have made huge progress in the last ten years and I look forward to seeing that number drop into the teens or lower in my lifetime.

Anonymous said...

I highly recommend the book, Denialism, it is a fantastic read and he discusses all of the controversy over vaccination.

rachelshoots said...

"I once heard the generalization that in Europe, products aren't allowed on the market until they are proven safe. In the U.S., they are allowed on the market until they are proven unsafe."

In the US, vaccines are subjected to three-phase series of rigorous clinical trial before they can be given to the general public. You can read more about the process here.

http://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/developmentapprovalprocess/biologicslicenseapplicationsblaprocess/ucm133096.htm

Neen said...

Oh my, so you need to become a vegan for as long as your breastfeeding! Whew, that's tough. As you go about adjusting to that, let me recommend incorporating Asian and Middle Eastern-type recipes into your repertoire. They tend to be super flavorful and you don't even notice that they're vegan (unlike most Western or Latin American dishes, where I really miss the cheese!).

Nicole said...

As a future family doc, I want to THANK YOU for vaccinating your kiddo. It makes a huge difference! Also, just out of curiosity, my husband and I think we probably won't circumcise our future son, but the only thing that causes us to scratch our heads a bit is the studies with circumcised men being less prone to STDs (such as HIV) and a decreased incidence of penile cancer. Did those things factor into your decision at all?

Claire said...

Nicole, the HIV thing is pretty ridiculous. Learned about it in nursing school and yes there technically is less risk, but if you continue to have unprotected sex, you will contract it. It's not like a condom. I'd hope that any parent would teach their kids how to practice safe sex with condoms...

inoakpark said...

Unless there is other stuff going on that you didn't mention, I don't think there is any possible way your MD could know your baby is lactose sensitive from once glance at his poop!

I'm sure this isn't news you you, but I thought it should be mentioned!

Anonymous said...

I am also on the thank-you train. I firmly agree with you on the public health aspects, and while it is scary, and I am also a suspicious/cynical person by nature, I really believe you made the most unselfish choice.

Re: the circumcision - I am kind of in the same boat as your "kindred spirit." I do believe the ultimate decision will be my husband's if that day ever comes (although my mind could change on that, but I simply don't have the experience in that arena to make the kinds of assessments someone w/ "boy parts" does), but because we always take each other's opinions into account, would like to think through it together. One of those, we'll burn that bridge when we cross it things. I really respect the decision you guys made and am sure Henry will be just fine with it!

Jessica said...

Sara, you might feel a little better to know that the generalization about safety testing in Europe vs. the U.S. has to do with industrial chemicals, not medical products. Big pharmaceutical companies still have too much power here, but that generally results in fewer products being allowed in the U.S. market (i.e., less competition for the big guys) than in Europe.

Love your blog, BTW! I'm a fellow hyper-planner who enjoyed the 2000dollar wedding blog when I was planning my own wedding. :-) Thanks for sharing!

jes [a mountain bride] said...

I'm not a fan of big pharma either but the generalization you made about the US policy to keep products on the market until proven "unsafe" is a scary statement to make. If anything, our Government puts higher regulations on pharmaceuticals which results in FEWER available products (there are drugs that are widely available in other areas of the world that we can't write scripts for here in the US because they aren't proven safe enough!)

Also, the topic of vaccines is interesting and terrifying. Remember that the media is pumped full of the horrific accounts of vaccination side effects (and lots and lots of misinformation!) - obviously I don't have to remind anyone that the media has a tendency to run with horrific stories (no news is goods is true so often.) Vaccinations have saved countless lives and protected defenseless babies for generations. It's strange that it's becoming "not hip" - I wonder where this will lead.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jes. There is not a single peer-reviewed article (that hasn't been discredited) linking vaccinations with the ill-effects that Jenny MCarthy etc claims (autism etc). This isn't a conspiracy theory with all the scientists wanting to maim babies/children. The data to support these claims is as real as the easter bunny.

I'm glad you're vaccinating Henry and I shudder when I read about parents who "do research" and decide not to vaccinate. I wonder WTF they're reading since I know that there is no sound research to support the anti-vaccine movement...

Sara E. Cotner said...

I'm so sorry that Blogger erased all the comments that you left on Thursday! There was a major problem with the site and they had to take down all the posts from Thursday.

To respond to some of the questions I remember:

1) I, too, felt like a 5-second glance at Henry's poop was not enough to diagnose him with a dairy sensitivity. So, before I stopped eating dairy, I did a poop comparison with my friends' babies and also did a lot of research. In addition to watery and slightly mucousy poop, Henry also has chronic congestion. Because of those two things, I decided to significantly reduce the amount of dairy in my diet and see whether it impacts those two things. If it doesn't have an impact, then I will start eating dairy again and seek a second opinion about the poop situation.

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