by Dr. Sarah Wylie, N.D., Naturopathic Physician and Midwife
A 17-month-old child was draped over her mother's shoulder after
the struggle from her ear exam was over. The mother writhed as she
stated, "the worst thing for me about parenting is this
vaccination issue. I feel I may be harming her with the shots, and
yet I fear the diseases just as much. I just don't know what to
do." As parents this is what you fear the most–doing harm to your
beloved child, especially when you think you are protecting them!
As in all of your parenting choices there is no "right" roadmap for
all. You need to make some tough decisions, and today, vaccines
are one of them.
You may be one of those parents struggling to make the right
decision. If you are refusing to follow the CDC guidelines, you
may be doing so with great apprehension as you withdraw from the
safety of the authority. If you are vaccinating, you may be plagued
by the reports of the possible side effects of vaccinations. This
issue serves to remind us that despite the taming of our
environment, we cannot guarantee a long healthy life for all
creatures. We can only do our best, in the moment we have, to make
our best choices and move on.
We have to understand that MD pediatricians are taught that
achieving vaccination of young children is the single most valuable
thing a doctor can do. We also need to know that public health
authorities don't have supernatural knowledge of the future, and in
some cases, even the science of immunology! In our current health
care system, most pediatricians don't have the time necessary to
adequately address your concerns regarding vaccines. As the
relationship between your doctor and you deteriorates, you are left
feeling bewildered and anxious. You don't know whom to trust, and
the blur of letters representing each vaccine feels like a tangled
mass of weeds and thorns in the back corner of your garden…IPV,
MMR, Hib, PCV, DPT…You try not to think if it until it's time to
go to the doctor again for more shots.
Many parents continue to follow the CDC vaccine schedule, and feel
conflicted with every shot. Conviction for how to vaccinate is the
element missing from most parents I meet. Deciding to withdraw from
the herd requires courage, self-sufficiency and a degree of
conviction. To meet this issue properly, you need time and patience
It is a fact that fifty years ago 1 in 10,000 children suffered
from autism, and today that number is approximately 1 in 150
children, 1 in 98 boys. However, autism is a multi-factorial
condition, and cannot be solely linked to vaccine injury. On the
other hand, there exists data to suggest vaccination to the current
CDC guidelines is not safe for children for many reasons.
If you are feeling anxious about vaccinating your child, first you
must determine why. The vague-ness of "vaccines are associated with
autism" will plague you. Although you may feel pressured to
vaccinate on schedule, you have the right to pause.
You will want to read books and websites by a few authors,
representing various positions on the argument. Cast your net wide.
Read the CDC website (conservative), read Dr. Sears' Vaccine Guide
(pro-vaccine but sensibly cautious), and explore Generation Rescue
website (my favorite website for critical thinkers). See where
those places take you, and reflect upon which information resonates
with you. Write down your specific concerns about vaccinating your
child and leaving your child unvaccinated.
Next, evaluate the diseases. Take each vaccine and learn about the
infection. Ask yourself, "How likely is it that your child will
become exposed to it? Is it deadly, does it cause disability, or
does it just keep you home with a sick child for 2-6 weeks?" Keep a
notebook and journal with all schedules, questions, records of
Third, evaluate your individual situation: for example:
– Are there digestive problems, allergies, asthma, autoimmune
diseases or other children in your extended family with autism? If
so, you will want to decrease the number of vaccinations.
– Will you breastfeed for 2-3 years? If so, you are protecting
your child from infection.
– Does your child have to attend a daycare with more than 5
children per adult? If so, your child has greater exposure to
infection and more stress.
– How much time and interest do you have in cooking and eating the
freshest foods? Google search the "Body Ecology Diet" and the
"Weston Price Foundation" for ideas on what I think constitutes a
healthy diet. Another article will follow on this topic.
Fourth, find allies. I am a Naturopathic physician (ND), and
naturally I believe NDs are well suited to support parents who want
to delay, amend or avoid the CDC vaccine schedule. We are capable
of performing physical exams, evaluating risk, and knowing when to
refer to conventional doctors. I have been educated by a Yale PhD
in immunology, and I can explain why the CDC vaccine schedule does
not make sense. I understand what makes an immune system strong,
how to treat infections with natural remedies, and how to use
There are also conventional doctors who will take the time to
counsel you and support your decisions whether or not you choose to
vaccinate. The Generation Rescue website has a database for such
physicians who are willing to stand outside the "standard of care."
In addition, even if you are committed to natural medicine, I
suggest you find a Primary Care Provider (MD or Nurse-Practitioner
(NP), or ND) with 24 hour on-call status. I have chosen an NP who
has holistic training and also has years of emergency room
experience. I call her when my child is sick and I am at the
threshold of my comfort zone. Knowing there is an ally to help me
navigate worst-case scenarios provides me with the support to make
Fifth, remember that there is somewhere between vaccinating and not
vaccinating. Explore the Danish and Swedish vaccines schedule
found on the Generation Rescue website. Children in the USA
receive 36 vaccines before age 6, whereas Danish children receive
12. Also, consider using the CDC vaccine schedule from 1983 (10
vaccines). Alternatively, Naturopathic doctors in consultation with
Immunologists have created an alternative schedule, which calls for
delaying some shots and avoiding others. It is best not to
procrastinate and then make up your own schedule, because the timing
of shots does matter. Also, some vaccines, like tetanus and
pertussis, work better in combination. If you're going to
vaccinate, don't waste them! If you're going to vaccinate, do the
research and feel good about your choices.
As a doctor, I won't tell a parent not to vaccinate their children.
But I will help the conflicted parent find resources, and create a
Some elements of vaccination that are black and white for me:
– No vaccination before 12 months, preferably 24 months. (According
to current immunological research, the immune system is not mature
enough (without IFN) to react to vaccinations before 12
months without promoting allergies. The brain undergoes most rapid
growth from the 3rd trimester of pregnancy until 24 months of age.
Vaccinating during this period increasing the risk of damage to
brain cells – by overstimulating the microglia, causing
inflammation in the brain.)
– No Hep-B at birth unless mother is Hep-B positive (Hep-B disease
is transmitted by sexual contact, dirty needles or from mother to
baby during birth. No vaccines that contain thimerosal (5 commonly
used in pediatrics)
– No Gardisil – (Gardisil does not have a great safety record, plus
the disease is preventable, easily evaluated by yearly pap smears,
– Expose your child to wild chicken pox, instead of the vaccine. If
your child reaches puberty without getting chicken pox, consider
the vaccine. (The disease is not life threatening and we don't know
how long-lasting the immunity to chicken pox is when created by
vaccination. If risk of death by having chicken pox late in life
is much higher, wouldn't you rather have the old-fashioned
immunity? The CDC website sites worker productivity (parents) as a
major reason for administration of this vaccine…)
– If your child is sick or taking antibiotics, postpone the
vaccine. (The immune system is busy fighting an infection already.)
Whether or not, or how you choose to vaccinate your children, all
children need a healthy immune system. Lack of farm fresh foods,
increased separation from the natural world, and the increase in
toxic chemicals in the environment all work against the development
of the immune system. The focus of my work with children
(including my own!) is to cultivate a strong immune system:
1. Reduce Toxic intake
Make your home a haven from toxic chemicals, as much as possible.
Please, don't use Round-Up on your lawn or driveway…Pay a local
teenager to weed it for you! Air and water purifiers (each in the
$300 range) are a worthy investment. Replace your cleaning agents
with non-toxic varieties. Use cast iron skillets, avoid plastic
containers, and remove the majority of plastic toys.
*PBDEs are man-made toxic flame retardant chemicals found in toys,
electronics, bedding and much more. They are similar to PCBs and
have been banned by some European and Asian countries because they
are now detected in human breast milk.
Sadly the Orcas in Puget Sound have very high levels of PBDEs in
their bodies. From the OceanFutures.org website of Jean-Michel
Cousteau, "Dr. Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science
Policy Institute noted, "In animal studies, these chemicals cause
scrambling of brain development, attention deficit/hyperactivity
disorder, reproductive abnormalities, diabetes, obesity and cancer.
These are the same conditions that are increasing in our children,
who are highly exposed to fire retardant chemicals. Both human and
killer whale babies are now born with toxic fire retardant
chemicals in their bodies and receive an additional dose from their
mothers' milk." I wonder, could this be a factor in the autism
Ikea, from Sweden where PBDEs are banned, uses other types of
flame-retardants for their furnishings. I was informed that they
use a type of salt for mattresses and avoid chemical
flame-retardants altogether for children's furnishing. Ikea is a
great source of furnishing for the nursery.
*Have your child assessed for tolerance to wheat and dairy. New
research shows that 1 in 133 apparently healthy people have celiac
disease (autoimmune disease active in the presence of wheat
consumption). Most cases of celiac disease are undetected, and this
disease wreaks havoc on the developing immune system.
2. Cultivate Health in the Gut (GI tract)
It turns out, that our bodies consist of more bacteria than human
cells. The intestinal tract is a long tubular forest of bacteria
that can shift over time to be more, or less, symbiotic with the
host. Which specific types of bacteria line our intestines greatly
influences the types of cells that proliferate in our immune
systems. When we are born, the cell types that are prone to
proliferation are the Th2 type (associated with asthma and
allergies). Fighting an infection causes the Th1 cell type to
proliferate, which decreases the Th2 cell type. Exposure to
bacteria through the gut (called oral tolerance, Th3) decreases the
numbers of both Th1 and Th2, decreasing inflammation.
One way to promote "oral tolerance" is to ingest probiotics.
Probiotics are found in capsules, powders, yogurts, kefirs,
non-dairy liquids, and in food! Fermented, cultured vegetables
such as sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables are handed down
to us from our ancestors.
Daily ingestion of probiotics is the best way to create health.
Children today have less exposure to beneficial flora from the
environment and more exposure to antibiotics. The use of
antibiotics kills intestinal flora and creates spaces for
non-beneficial bacteria to grow (dysbiosis).
Children born to women who have had frequent antibiotics and/or
dysbiosis pass this mixture of flora on to their children during
childbirth. Children born via cesarean birth adopt the bacteria
found in the hospital. Probiotics are safe for newborns but be
sure to buy from a reputable company, for infants. (See Sara Hart's
article on the flora within on our website:
*Again, have your child assessed for food intolerance and
allergies. Eating foods that are irritating to the GI tract
weakens the barrier that is the small and large intestine, thus
taxing the immune system.
3. Increase Nutrients
Cultivate a lush forest of beneficial bacteria, and cook freshly
harvested, pesticide-free foods. Limit sugars, juices and sweets.
When both parents work outside the home, the time and energy
required for shopping and cooking decreases. Explore strategies
such as meal planning, so that a busy week can run smoothly and you
can feel secure that your family is eating their medicine.
This article is dense with information! Please consider a
Naturopathic Pediatrician for your children's health and wellness.
If I included a topic in this article that warrants greater
explanation, please send me an email at
firstname.lastname@example.org. I may not have time to respond to
you directly, but you will likely see an article from me expanding
on that question. I also have a blog at
My practice at Kwan Yin Healing Arts
focuses on reproduction and digestion, for women and children.
(Men are welcome, too!) If you have questions or feel a consult is
in order and would like to schedule an appointment, please call our front office at (503) 701-8766.
Dr. Sarah Wylie, ND
Kwan-Yin Healing Arts Center, 2330 NW Flanders Suite #101, Portland, OR 97210, USA
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