I recall being fresh out of my pediatric residency training. It was the summer of 1988, and filled with excitement I was off to Portland Oregon to begin my career in Pediatrics. My first position was at Emanuel Children’s Hospital where I worked teaching residents and medical students, saw patients in their outpatient clinic and was in charge of the Pediatric After hours Clinic. We were still using the DPT vaccine despite knowledge that Japan was using an acellular vaccine with significantly lower side effects.
We knew the DPT was almost universally causing high fevers, sometimes caused seizures and rarely but definitely was associated with deaths. I simply had not made the connection with the DPT and SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) until reading the blog (which you can read here… ) posted by Representative Robert Foley in Maine. We were taught and have read that SIDS is increased when there are smokers in the house, when the house is too hot and when babies are put to sleep on their tummy instead of on their backs. What if most of the SIDS cases were due to a dangerous vaccine, the DPT (whole cell vaccine)?
Rep. Foley writes “In 1990, the SIDS death rate in the United States was 130.3 deaths per 100,000 births, at the same time the whole cell pertussis vaccine was being administered. In the late 1990s, the A-cellular or benign antigens pertussis vaccine began being administered, and the rate of SIDS deaths by 2013 was 39.7 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published April 1, 2015.”
In the USA, out of almost 4 million births a year, we have 23,440 infant deaths or slightly less than 1 in 100. (596 in 100,000 to be exact). If changing from the whole cell DPT vaccine to the acellular vaccine resulted in a decrease of 130-40 = 90 deaths in 100,000, that amounts to 3,600 infant lives saved annually by changing to the DTaP vaccine. We are having some increases in failures of this vaccine, but data for the past decade shows we have less than 20 deaths a year in the US from pertussis. We must not return to the old whole cell DPT, EVER!
Leading causes of infant deaths are:
- Congenital malformations and chromosomal abnormalities
- Pre term and low birth weight
I wonder how many of the remaining SIDS (infant deaths) would disappear if we vaccinated more sensibly?
Learn more about infant mortality rates at the CDC here…