Tag: food allergies

America’s New Normal: Propaganda About the Unhealthiest Generation

My son started to have migraines when he was about 11 years old.

Must be stress, BPA, poor eating habits, all of the screen time, or vaccines, right?

“Americans spend the least on food, the most on health care, have the most highly vaccinated kids, and have the sickest kids of any industrialized country. More kids than not are now chronically ill, developmentally delayed, and eating or injecting prescription medications from cradle to grave – which is going to be a quicker trip for them than it was for their parents, according to data on life expectancy in the US. We are inured to childhood autism, epilepsy, allergy, asthma, diabetes, obesity, Crohn’s disease and cancer. We are dying younger. We are going backwards.”

Judy Converse on America’s New Normal: Chronically Ill Kids

That likely seems like a young age to get migraines and would fit well with the narrative that kids today are part of the unhealthiest generation ever.

Except that I started to get migraines at about the same age, and so did my mother. Like many of the other conditions that seem to be ballooning today, migraines have a genetic component.

The Unhealthiest Generation?

The CDC has long kept statistics on everything from asthma and cancer rates to diabetes and life expectancy rates and helps folks see how healthy kids really are today.
The CDC has long kept statistics on everything from asthma and cancer rates to diabetes and life expectancy rates and helps folks see how healthy kids really are today.

Who says that today’s kids are part of the unhealthiest generation ever?

Mostly anti-vaccine folks who blame vaccines for making kids unhealthy and alternative medical providers who think their holistic remedies will fix all of the problems they see in our unhealthy kids who they claim are full of “toxins.”

Toxins? If you are going to believe that our kids are all sick, then you have to buy into the narrative that toxins are everywhere, especially in vaccines, and they are making kids sick.

Of course, none of that is true.

Vaccines are safe and work to prevent us from getting sick and there are 2 to 3 million fewer deaths in the world each year because people are vaccinated and protected.

“From developing groundbreaking treatments for deadly chronic diseases to saving babies who are born premature, pediatric researchers have increased the ability of children to live full and fulfilling lives that only a few decades before would have been tragically cut short.”

Sandra G. Hassink, MD on the 7 Great Achievements in Pediatric Research

And today’s kids, all 73.6 million of them in the United States, aren’t the unhealthiest. They are actually a very healthy generation, being born with the lowest child and infant mortality rates ever, low rates of hospitalizations, and one of the highest life expectancies in history.

Our Healthy Kids

How do we know today’s kids are healthy?

One easy way is to compare them to kids in the past…

If you have only been listening to the alarmists who talk about the unhealthiest generation all of the time, you likely wouldn’t know that:

  • while 2.6% of kids were thought to be in fair or poor health in 1991, that is down to just 1.8% today (2015)
  • fewer kids today (4.5%) report having had an asthma attack in the previous year than they did in 1997 (5.4%), and that fewer kids have asthma today (8.5%) than in 2003 (8.7%)
  • since 1997, fewer children, whether or not they have insurance, are visiting the emergency room
  • fewer children are requiring overnight hospital stays, down from 5.5% to just 2.1% today (2015)
  • rates of hay fever or respiratory allergy are down since 1997, from 17.5% of kids to 15.6% of kids today (2015)
  • rates of epilepsy have been stable in children for at least 40 years
  • fewer kids have multiple ear infections since 1997, when 7.1% of kids had 3 or more ear infections, to just 5% of kids today (2015)
  • fewer kids are being prescribed antibiotics
  • childhood cancer rates have been rising, but only slightly, and mortality rates have been declining
  • suicide rates are rising, but only from historic lows – they used to be about the same or higher in the early 1990s

Of course, some conditions are on the rise, including ADHD, type 1 diabetes, food allergies, eczema,  obesity, and most autoimmune diseases.

“A few conditions have decreased because of prevention (eg, lead encephalopathy), a few represent relatively new conditions (eg, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection), and some have increased after dramatic improvements in survival for individually low-prevalence childhood conditions that previously had high fatality rates (eg, leukemia, cystic fibrosis, congenital heart diseases). Most growth, however, reflects dramatic increases in incidence of a few high-prevalence conditions.”

James M. Perrin, MD on The Increase of Childhood Chronic Conditions in the United States

And autism rates have been up, but we mostly know why.

“…the numbers of people born with autism aren’t necessarily increasing dramatically. It’s just that we’re getting better and better at counting them.”

Emily Willingham

Although we don’t know why most other conditions are trending up (it isn’t vaccines), we will hopefully continue to develop new theories and reverse those trends.

It should be reassuring that many of the trends do show that our kids are indeed healthy.

What to Know About Our Healthy Kids

From gun violence and climate change to the threat of emerging infections, out children do face many threats and are certainly under a lot of stress. There is no evidence that this is the unhealthiest generation though. If anything, they are on track to be one of the healthiest.

More on Our Healthy Kids

Can Vaccines Cause Eczema?

Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, can be hard to control.

That’s one of the things that is so frustrating about it.

It’s also often hard to figure out what exactly is triggering a child’s eczema. Is it the soap you are using, your child’s clothes, or something he eat or drank?

What Causes Kids to Have Eczema?

Another frustrating thing for parents, and pediatricians, is that we really don’t know what usually causes kids to have eczema in the first place.

Was it the soap you are using, your child’s clothes, or something he eat or drank?

“Research suggests that genes are the determining causes of eczema and other atopic diseases. This means that you are more likely to have atopic dermatitis, food allergies, asthma and/or hayfever if your parents or other family members have ever had eczema.”

Mark Boguniewicz, MD on What Causes Eczema

Unfortunately, simply knowing that eczema is genetic doesn’t make it any less frustrating for many people.

“There is emerging evidence that inflammation in atopic dermatitis is associated with immune-mediated and inherited abnormalities in the skin barrier.”

Amy Stanway, MD on Causes of atopic dermatitis

You can avoid likely triggers, including harsh soaps and dry skin, etc., and learn the best ways to care for your baby’s skin though.

Can Vaccines Cause Eczema?

Why do some folks associate vaccines with eczema?

“It is unusual for an infant to be affected with atopic dermatitis before the age of four months but they may suffer from infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis or other rashes prior to this.”

Amy Stanway, MD on Atopic Dermatitis

It’s easy to understand when you realize that 60% of kids with eczema have their first symptoms before their first birthday and for some, the first symptoms start around the time an infant is just over four months old.

Many baby rashes, especially if they started before 4 months, are probably not eczema.
Many baby rashes, especially if they started before 4 months, are probably not eczema. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Did your baby have bad skin before four months?

Many do, but they usually don’t have eczema. In the first week or two, newborn rashes like infantile seborrheic dermatitis and neonatal acne continue to worsen, until they reach a peak at about age six weeks. It isn’t until about three or four months that baby’s begin to have good skin. Unless they start to develop eczema…

So, since the eczema symptoms start after a child’s four or six months shots, then it must be the vaccines, right?

While the correlation is obvious, that obviously doesn’t prove that vaccines cause eczema.

“Vaccinations do NOT cause eczema.”

Amy Paller, MD on Do vaccines cause eczema?

And, not surprisingly, several studies (listed below) prove that they don’t.

A large study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated children, Vaccination Status and Health in Children and Adolescents Findings of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (KiGGS), also found that “the prevalence of allergic diseases and non-specific infections in children and adolescents was not found to depend on vaccination status.”

Can Vaccine Ingredients Trigger Eczema?

Now that we know that vaccines don’t actually cause eczema, what about the idea that vaccines can make a child’s eczema worse?

That’s actually true, but only for the smallpox vaccine.

If someone with eczema gets vaccinated with vaccinia, the smallpox vaccine, or is recently exposed to someone who was vaccinated, they could develop eczema vaccinatum. Fortunately, since smallpox was eradicated, very few people get the smallpox vaccine anymore.

And back before smallpox was eradicated, they actually developed an attenuated version of the smallpox vaccine that could safely be used in kids with eczema!

Other vaccines are not thought to trigger or worsen eczema.

“Parents of atopic children should be encouraged to fully immunize their children.”

Grüber et al on Early atopic disease and early childhood immunization–is there a link?

While many kids with eczema do have food allergies and some vaccines do contain some residual food proteins, including eggs and milk, it is very rare for them to trigger food allergy reactions.

If this has you concerned, remember that even kids with egg allergies can now get the flu shot, and while many kids with eczema have food allergies, the food allergy isn’t usually thought to make their eczema worse. As part of the atopic march, they just have both – food allergies and eczema. Some also have hayfever or asthma.

In addition to your pediatrician, a pediatric allergist can help you with any remaining concerns about eczema and vaccines. A pediatric dermatologist can also be helpful if you are having a hard time getting your child’s eczema under control.

What to Know About Vaccines and Eczema

Vaccines don’t cause eczema and except for the smallpox vaccine, they won’t make your child’s eczema worse. Experts recommend that kids with eczema be fully vaccinated.

More on Vaccines and Eczema

Which Vaccines Are Gluten Free?

Why does gluten sometimes come up in discussions about vaccines?

Is it because a vaccine to treat people with Celiac disease is being tested?

Probably not.

It is more likely that it is because some people worry that vaccines contain gluten.

Which Vaccines Are Gluten-Free?

So which vaccines are gluten-free?

All vaccines are gluten-free. Do they need to labeled 'gluten-free' to convince some vaccine hesitant folks?
All vaccines are gluten-free. Do they need to labeled ‘gluten-free’ to convince some vaccine hesitant folks?

Fortunately, they all are, so you don’t have to worry about skipping or delaying your child’s vaccines if they have Celiac disease, a gluten sensitivity, or if you are simply following a gluten-free diet.

Vaccines and Food Allergies

Non-active components of vaccines can rarely trigger allergic reactions, including antibiotics and latex.

What about non-active vaccine ingredients that might worry someone with food allergies?

There actually are some, including eggs, milk, gelatin, and yeast.

Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric allergist if you are concerned about vaccine allergies. They can review the “Algorithm for treatment of patients with hypersensitivity reactions after vaccines,” which “provides a rational and organized approach for the evaluation and treatment of patients with suspected hypersensitivity.”

This is especially important if you think that your child is allergic to all vaccines, something that is almost unheard of, as vaccines have different components and are made in different ways.

You don’t have to worry about gluten though.

What To Know About Vaccines and Gluten

There is no gluten in vaccines and vaccines are actually in development to treat people with gluten sensitivity.

For More Information on Vaccine Allergies

 

Vaccine Allergies

The Cervarix HPV vaccine lists latex as an ingredient - in the tip caps.
Cervarix tip caps contain natural rubber latex and can be a problem if your child has an anaphylactic reaction to latex.

Can you be allergic to a vaccine?

Of course.

In fact, having a severe, life-threatening allergy to a vaccine is one of the main reasons to not get vaccinated.

Specifically, guidelines usually state that you should not get vaccinated:

  • if you have a severe allergy to any component of the vaccine
  • if you have had had a serious allergic reaction to a previous dose of the vaccine

Fortunately, these types of serious allergic reactions are very rare. In fact, most kids with egg allergies can even get a flu shot, something unheard of just a few years ago.

How rare?

The WHO states that “The rate of anaphylaxis has been documented to be variable, with a rate of 3.5 to 10 per million doses following a measles-containing vaccine.”

Rates of 0.65 to 1.53 cases per million doses have also been reported when including more commonly used vaccines.

Vaccine Allergy Myths

Still, instead of true vaccine allergies leading to problems, it is much more common for misinformation about vaccine allergies to scare parents away from getting their kids vaccinated.

Some of the most common vaccine allergy myths include that:

  • you can’t get vaccinated if you have a history of a penicillin allergy, cephalosporin allergy, or sulfa drug allergy – you can
  • you can’t get vaccinated if you have non-vaccine allergies, have relatives with allergies, or are receiving allergy shots – you can
  • you can’t get vaccinated if you have a latex allergy that is not anaphylactic – you can
  • you can’t get the MMR vaccine if you have an egg allergy – you can
  • you can’t get the flu vaccine if you have an egg allergy – you can, although your pediatrician will observe your child for 30 minutes if he has a severe egg allergy
  • vaccines are causing a peanut allergy epidemic – they aren’t and you can get vaccinated if you have a peanut allergy.

And know that vaccines don’t actually cause allergies.

Also gluten, corn, and peanut oil are not actually components of vaccines, so you don’t have to be concerned about getting your child vaccinated if they have a gluten sensitivity or a corn or peanut allergy.

Allergies and Vaccine Components

Components of vaccines can rarely trigger allergic reactions, including:

  • antibiotics – but these aren’t antibiotics that are commonly used anymore, like Amoxil. Instead, some vaccines contain residual amounts of either gentamicin, neomycin, polymyxin B, or streptomycin. And anyway, the small amounts that could be leftover in the vaccine aren’t known to trigger allergic reactions.
  • eggs – while your child with an egg allergy can get the flu shot, and then being observed as a precaution, the yellow fever vaccine could still be an issue
  • gelatin – some vaccines use gelatin, like in Jell-O, as a stabilizer
  • latex – if your child has a severe (anaphylactic) allergy to latex, you should likely avoid vaccines supplied in vials or syringes that contain natural rubber latex
  • yeast – although they aren’t thought to be an issue for kids with yeast allergies, a few vaccines can have residual amounts of yeast in them
  • milk – very rarely and mainly based on scattered case reports, it is thought that residual casein proteins in DTaP/Tdap vaccines could trigger allergic reactions in some kids with severe milk allergies

What about aluminum? Some recent studies, including one in Pediatrics, “Case Report of Subcutaneous Nodules and Sterile Abscesses Due to Delayed Type Hypersensitivity to Aluminum-Containing Vaccines,” do suggest that aluminum can very rarely cause a non-anaphylactic delayed type IV hypersensitivity reaction. These children could have persistent redness and nodules at the site of vaccination for weeks or months when an aluminum containing vaccine is given.

Fortunately, these are mild, non-life-threatening reactions and aren’t a reason to stop vaccinating your child. And, as another study reported, “Unexpected loss of contact allergy to aluminum induced by vaccine,” many of these children outgrow their allergy.

Keep in mind that persistent hard nodules can also be caused by irritation and may not be an allergic reaction at all.

What To Know About Vaccine Allergies

The 2011 IOM report, “Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality,” while concluding that most vaccines, including MMR, varicella, flu, hepatitis B, tetanus, meningococcal, and HPV could cause anaphylaxis,  stated that “It appears likely to the committee that the risk of anaphylaxis caused by vaccines is exceedingly low in the general population.”

Do you think that your child has an allergy keeping him from getting vaccinated?

Talk to your pediatrician or a pediatric allergist. They can review the “Algorithm for treatment of patients with hypersensitivity reactions after vaccines,” which “provides a rational and organized approach for the evaluation and treatment of patients with suspected hypersensitivity.”

This is especially important if you think that your child is allergic to all vaccines, something that is almost unheard of, as vaccines have different components and are made in different ways.

For More Information on Vaccine Allergies

Updated October 14, 2017

Vaccines and Egg Allergies

Which vaccines do you have to skip if you are allergic to eggs?

Many people are surprised that the answer is that you probably don’t have to skip any vaccines.

Although some vaccines are made in eggs and may contain residual egg proteins, the latest studies show that they can safely be given to kids with egg allergies.

That wasn’t always the case though.

Some pediatricians and parents likely still remember when the recommendation for the MMR vaccine was that:

  • Persons with a history of anaphylactic reactions (hives, swelling of the mouth and throat, difficulty in breathing, hypotension, and shock) following egg ingestion should be vaccinated only with extreme caution.(1989 MMR recommendation)

Of course, now, experts say that “Although measles and mumps components of the vaccine are grown in chick embryo fibroblast tissue culture, allergy to egg is not a contraindication to vaccination.”

Similarly, the warnings and recommendations about egg allergies and flu vaccines have changes over the years. From previous warnings about avoiding the flu vaccine, experts now say that:

  • Persons with a history of egg allergy who have experienced only hives after exposure to egg should receive flu vaccine.
  • Persons with a history of a severe egg allergy can still get a flu vaccine, but they should be vaccinated “in an inpatient or outpatient medical setting (including, but not necessarily limited to hospitals, clinics, health departments, and physician offices). Vaccine administration should be supervised by a health care provider who is able to recognize and manage severe allergic conditions.”

Recommendations about the yellow fever vaccine haven’t changed though. Talk to your pediatrician if your child has an egg allergy and needs the yellow fever vaccine for travel. You will likely need to see an allergist to get vaccinated.

For More Information on Vaccines and Egg Allergies:

 

References for Vaccines and Egg Allergies:
Measles Prevention: Recommendations of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee (ACIP) . December 29, 1989 / 38(S-9);1-18.

Chick Embryos and Vaccines

There are no chick embryos in vaccines.

Some vaccines, like MMR, are made or are grown in chick embryo fibroblast cells.

Others, like most flu vaccines and the yellow fever vaccine, are actually grown in the allantoic sacs of chick embryos.

But just like vaccines that are grown in baker’s yeast, most of the egg proteins are removed as the vaccine antigens are removed and purified.

For more information:

Yeast in Vaccines

Yeast in vaccines?

Yes, a few vaccines may contain trace amounts of yeast proteins.

Why?

Those vaccines are actually made in baker’s yeast (the growth medium), kind of like other vaccines are grown in cell cultures, etc. And although most of the yeast proteins are removed as the vaccine antigens are removed and purified, some residual yeast proteins remain in the vaccine.

For more information: