A Reflux Parent's Guide to Immunizations
As the school year begins, it is important that your child has his or her immunizations up to date. Vaccines safeguard children from illnesses and death caused by infectious diseases. However, some children with acid reflux have a weakened immune system, or allergic reactions that may create a potential for an adverse reaction associated with the vaccine. These side effects of the immunizations may be more of an exception than rule, but none-the-less, below are 5 things which may be helpful to know if your child is due for immunizations.
Published schedules of recommended immunizations are easy to find on the internet. For example, the Centers for Disease Control publish a schedule for all individuals, birth to adult at (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/default.htm). Or just for children, you can visit the website by the American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.cispimmunize.org/).
The Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control reject the belief that a mercury based preservative found in some vaccines causes autism in children. This has been an extremely hot topic over the past ten years. Some parents believe increased exposure to the preservative thimerosal (from the addition of new vaccines recommended for children) is to blame for the increased prevalence in Autism in recent years. If this is a topic you are concerned about for your own child, the CDC provides a brief summary of a timeline of the debate and what research is currently underway (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal_timeline.htm)
Some believe immunizations make reflux (at least temporarily) worse in infants and children. If you cruise through chat rooms of reflux support groups, there is always some discussion about how reflux symptoms worsen for some children after immunizations. While there is little published documentation on this topic, it makes perfect sense for several reasons. For example, immunizations often cause a baby to cry, and crying can increase reflux. Another reason is that many babies and children with reflux already have weakened immune systems, so any additional stress to the system has the potential to make things worse, at least temporarily.
Some vaccines contain traces of food your child may be allergic to. Some children have "allergic reflux." Their acid reflux occurs as their body's mechanism of rejecting a food they are unable to tolerate, either because of a food sensitivity or food allergy. Egg, gelatin, and baker's yeast may all be present in small amounts in routine childhood vaccines. (For a list of foods commonly related to food intolerance and acid reflux click here)
Talk to your child's doctor if any of these issues are a concern for you or your child. Our own son just had his 6 year check up. Typically, our doctor gives children four vaccines at these visits. However, knowing about our son's reflux, he postponed the vaccines for a week or two, until he has a chance to check in with our gastroenterologist, about any specific concerns.
Vaccines are vital - however, if your infant or child has reflux, a little extra effort may be needed to make sure your child feels as well as possible afterwards.