In the magazine Mama 2013 there was an article on vaccinations, Vaccine his or her child or not. Mama let Ursula Flatters, a doctor at the Anthroposophical Vidarklinik in Ytterjärna, speak. She said:
“Some parents choose to wait with vaccinations until the child is a little older.
- On the one hand, they feel confident that the young children are protected by breastfeeding and the mothers' antibodies, and on the other, they simply do not want to expose the child's body to the challenge of vaccination before their immune and nervous systems are more mature. The fact that the National Board of Health and Welfare has chosen to delay all vaccinations during the BVC period when the children are young is not only because it is best for the individual, but because it is most practical and best from a socio-economic perspective, says Ursula Flatters ”
This post was originally written in response to Ursula Flatter's article in Mama, but has been updated ever since.
1. The mothers' antibodies protect the baby for the first three to four months, definitely not longer than 6 months.
Mothers' antibodies are transferred to the child during pregnancy, then they are broken down, like all antibodies we ever have and receive, so that none remain at 6 months of age. Already at 3-4 months, most babies have such low levels that they are hardly protected.
In order for mothers to have antibodies to a disease that can be transmitted to the child, they must be either vaccinated or exposed to the infection. Many of the diseases we vaccinate against are not spread in society because so many are vaccinated, so one can be both unvaccinated and uninfected.
2. The antibodies transmitted through breastfeeding do not provide as good protection as vaccination
Certainly, there are antibodies in the breast milk, especially antibodies of the secretory IgA type then. IgA acts locally in the intestinal mucosa and it is quite possible that secretory IgA via the breast milk plays a role in the protection against viral gastric diseases. Namely, children who are breastfed suffer fewer viral stomach illnesses than those fed bottles. But secretory IgA is not the type of antibody that we believe helps in the vaccination context. There we believe more that it is antibodies of the type IgG in the blood that help. (It is the type of antibody that is transmitted via the placenta to the baby's blood).
3. The vaccines in the general child vaccination program are adapted for young children's immune systems
This is most evident in the case of pneumococcal vaccine. We have been giving pneumococcal vaccine for a few years now because invasive pneumococcal infections can cause extremely serious pneumonia, blood poisoning and meningitis. I have met several children with severe pneumococcal infections, and I wish for a comprehensive vaccine so that we avoid such other serious illnesses!
Since children's immune systems cannot form antibodies to the sugar molecules that surround the pneumococci, the pneumococcal vaccine we use for young children has bound the sugar molecules to proteins. We thus offer a specially designed vaccine, specially designed for how young children's immune systems actually work. Call the children's immune system immature if you want Ursula Flatters, but don't say we don't take into account how the children's immune system develops!
4. Just because young children's nervous systems (brains) are immature, they should be protected from illness!
Ursula Flatters believes that one can wait to vaccinate until the baby's brain is more mature. I think that is completely wrong. Just because the young children's brains are growing and developing rapidly, they are extra susceptible to infections and it is extra important that they be protected! Many of the infections that we protect children from with vaccinations in the general child vaccination program run the risk of attacking children's brains. We protect many children every year from brain damage with our vaccination! I'm proud of that!
Why do we give the child vaccinations during the BVC period?
Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B, pneumococci (in Stockholm and also for "at-risk children" in the rest of the country also hepatitis B) are given at three and five months of age
Tetanus is fatal to anyone at any age. We get tetanus through a bacterium found in soil and dirt that enters wounds, for example via sticks. There is every reason to vaccinate against tetanus as early as possible! (If your child gets a dirty wound before the age of 5 months, that is, before the child has received two syringes with tetanus vaccine, seek the pediatrician and ask for a syringe with antibodies to tetanus "Tetagam")
Haemophilus influenzae type B is a rare nasty bacterium that can cause inflammation of the throat (deadly within a few hours, as the baby suffocates). I have only seen this once because vaccination against this bacterium was introduced before I started working as a doctor. However, older colleagues can all tell horror stories about laryngitis. However, I have seen a terrible brain infection caused by this bacterium. Just because infants' immune systems are not as good as older children, they run the risk of becoming even sicker. It is therefore advisable to vaccinate at the age of three months.
Whooping cough vaccine - the more important the younger the child is
Whooping cough is deadly, especially for children under two months. An investigation is currently underway on how to better protect them with possible changes to the vaccination program. Thus, there is rather reason to give pertussis vaccine sooner rather than later.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection that attacks the liver. 95% of all adults who get hepatitis B cure the infection themselves, but 5% get a chronic infection that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Of newborns who receive the infection from the mother, 90% receive chronic infection without treatment. Children who get the infection at 1 year of age run 50% risk of chronic inflammation Infect via blood, sex or from mother to child at birth. There is drug treatment for hepatitis B, but it does not work for everyone and some of the preparations have a lot of side effects.
Even if the risk of infection is small as long as you remain in Sweden and do not live in the same household as someone who has the infection or works in health care, why wait with vaccination when it is effective already for three months babies? Why let the children be susceptible to hepatitis B longer than necessary when the infection is more dangerous the smaller the child is?
Polio and diphtheria are not spread in Sweden. If you absolutely want to wait and are absolutely certain you won't travel abroad with your child, you can probably wait with these vaccines. But why? Why leave them susceptible to dangerous diseases longer than necessary?
Measles, mumps, rubella are given at 18 months and 6-8 years of age
Measles is a highly contagious viral infection that spread in Sweden until the 1970s when vaccination began. Most children managed the disease themselves, but about one in a thousand, ie 100 children in each year, received a brain inflammation that often led to permanent brain damage. Measles has been spread in Järna in recent years, precisely because parents who attend Ursula Flatters Nursing Clinic's Care Center have chosen not to vaccinate.
The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is a live vaccine with attenuated, live, whole viruses. Therefore, you do not want to give it too soon. The main reason is that we want all children with severe immune deficiencies to be detected. These children can get serious infections even from the weakened virus.
The vaccine can be given from 9 months and it is recommended when traveling to countries where measles is spread. Then the protection does not last as long, so you still have to give the 18-month syringe.
Rubella is a disease that is not dangerous for children. But it is dangerous for the fetus if the mother gets it. Then the fetus risks severe brain damage and severe disabilities. In Järna, some parents choose not to vaccinate their girls. If the girl has not received rubella vaccine when she becomes a teenager, she will receive a vaccine. I think that this is a deeply unsolid and selfish reason. Namely, children with rubella can infect unvaccinated pregnant women, for example pregnant women who are immigrants from countries with poor vaccination coverage. These women's children, who are already born to a poor, often low-skilled family without a job, are now also at risk of being harmed by rubella because there are parents who do not want to vaccinate their children until they become teenagers.
Vaccine against cervical cancer we wait until the age of 12 to deliver
Because there is no reason to give it long before anyone reaches puberty. Incidentally, the whole of Ursula Flatters thesis: that we give the vaccinations to young children just because it is most practical and best from a socio-economic perspective. We have a vaccine that is not relevant to give to toddlers and so we don't either. Ok so?
This was a very long post in response to Ursula Flatter's brief statement. But I hope it's helpful.