Every medical specialty dreads hearing certain things from patients.
For the dermatologist it might be, “Doctor, why can't you make this wart go away?”
For the neurologist it may be, “I have had a headache every day now for 10 years.”
For the internist it’s likely, “Why am I tired all the time?"
But one opening statement from a patient puts dread in the hearts of providers of every specialty: “Doctor, I have been doing a little research on the Internet and. . . ”
The anti-vaxxer's main way to communicate is the Internet. Anyone can write anything and make it look very “scientific” with the use of references from bogus sources or from valid sources taken out of context. (Fake news did not start with the current administration.) But I can’t blame it all on the World Wide Web. Bob Sears, MD, has written a widely read book that advocates spacing out the vaccines to reduce the “burden” of aluminum from the vaccines.
The original thimerosal
Mercury in thimerosal, a preservative used in multidose vaccine vials, was purported to be the cause of the increased incidence of autism as children were exposed to more and more vaccines. In an attempt to reduce these fears, all childhood vaccines (with the exception of multidose flu vials) became single dose and thimerosal-free. The incidence of autism continued to climb despite the change. With that straw horse removed, some anti-vaxxers have found a new element to blame for autism: aluminum, which is found in most vaccines that contain an adjuvant. Most inactivated vaccines do contain an aluminum salt that boosts the immune response.
Too much aluminum causes toxicity in 2 settings:
- In preterm infants receiving parental nutrition
- In adults with long standing kidney failure taking large doses of aluminum-containing antacids. (A single dose contains about 1,000 times more aluminum than found in a dose of vaccine.)
Both these groups have poor renal function: most aluminum is removed from the body quickly via the kidneys.
In the first 6 months of life a child receives about 4 mg of aluminum from vaccines. Which of the following statements is incorrect?
A. A newborn has no detectable aluminum in his/her bloodstream
B. A breast-fed baby receives about 10 mg of aluminum in the first 6 months of life
C. A formula-fed baby receives between 40 and 120 mg of aluminum in the first 6 months of life
D. No measurable change in blood aluminum levels is seen after vaccine administration
Please click "next" below for answer and discussion.