Letters

Concerns about immunisation

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7253.108 (Published 08 July 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:108

Breast feeding should be promoted

  1. Nikki Lee, faculty member
  1. Center for Breastfeeding, 8 Jan Sebastian Way, Number 13, Sandwich, MA 02563, USA
  2. Department of Sociology, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent ST4 2DE
  3. Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Sydney, Sydney NSW, Australia
  4. Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Institute of Child Health, London WC1N 1EH
  5. St George's Hospital, London SW17 0QT

    EDITOR—Bedford and Elliman make some important statements about immunisation.1 Certainly, millions of lives have been saved. Smallpox has been eradicated, and polio should be eradicated soon. But are routine vaccines safe? Four months after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States recommended that all babies should receive three doses of the rotavirus vaccine, the use of this vaccine was being indefinitely suspended after reports of over 100 cases of intussusception and two deaths resulting from its use.2 The manufacturer voluntarily withdrew the vaccine.

    In July 1999 the US Public Health Service and the American Academy of Pediatrics asked vaccine manufacturers to eliminate the preservative mercury from vaccines because of concern about its cumulative effects.3 Babies who receive the 15 recommended vaccines in the first six months of their lives have a cumulative mercury exposure that exceeds limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. What is the impact when, by the age of 5 years, children have received over two dozen doses of vaccines containing mercury and other toxins?

    Some scientists say that the massive polio immunisation campaign in Zaire and other African countries in the 1950s accelerated the spread of HIV.4 The aerosol vaccine was grown in monkey kidney tissue; that same species of monkey carries a simian immune deficiency virus. The places where the vaccine was administered are the epicentre of the AIDS epidemic. Was the vaccine the vector that carried the immune deficiency virus to humans? The answers to this most important question are inconclusive and controversial.

    It costs millions to develop, research, and market a vaccine. Wouldn't it make more sense to spend that money to protect, promote, and support breast feeding for every baby? There is much evidence that breast feeding reduces the incidence and severity of rotavirus, …

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