Tag: immune system

How Can a Measles Infection Trigger a Growth Spurt in Kids?

Wait, what?

Some folks think that one of the benefits of getting a life-threatening illness is that it can help your kids go through a growth spurt?

How Can a Measles Infection Trigger a Growth Spurt in Kids?

While the theory doesn’t make any sense to me, as a skeptic, I’m going to research it and see what I find.

For one thing, the myth seems to have its origins among anti-vaccine folks who think that measles means “gift from a goddess” in ancient Sanskrit.

It doesn’t.

Most people think that the etymology of the term measles is Dutch

But that isn’t the only reason this theory doesn’t make sense.

We know that a recent measles infection can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to getting sick with other diseases. And this effect can last a long time, for up to three years!

“The measles virus can cause serious disease in children by temporarily suppressing their immune systems. This vulnerability was previously thought to last a month or two; however, a new study shows that children may in fact live in the immunological shadow of measles for up to three years, leaving them highly susceptible to a host of other deadly diseases.”

A deadly shadow: Measles may weaken immune system up to three years

Now I’m thinking that having measles and then having a weakened immune system for up to three years isn’t going to help your rate of growth.

But still, that’s not evidence that it couldn’t happen…

“In Papua New Guinea a different pattern emerged again, with measles having an enormous effect on growth. Skin sores also reduced growth to some extent. The fact that measles was not important in The Gambia was probably due to the policy there of giving measles vaccine routinely.”

Cole on Relating growth rate to environmental factors–methodological problems in the study of growth-infection interaction.

The effect on growth in Papua New Guinea wasn’t positive.

What other evidence is there, besides the fact that we know that folks with measles need a lot of extra energy while they are recovering from their infection, so likely don’t have a lot leftover for a growth spurt?

There’s the fact that precocious puberty can be a complication of some infections, including measles. What happens if your child has precocious or early puberty? An early growth spurt? Yes, actually, but then they stop growing earlier than they should and they end up being shorter than their genetic potential.

Some more indirect evidence against any kind of extra growth spurt from a natural measles infection is that the mean height of young adults today, most of whom were vaccinated and didn’t have measles, isn’t that different from those measured in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Since the first measles vaccines were introduced in the 1960s, the folks in red likely had measles, while those in blue were likely vaccinated. Why aren't the older folks taller because of their measles boost?
Since the first measles vaccines were introduced in the 1960s, the folks in red likely had measles, while those in blue were likely vaccinated. Why aren’t the older folks taller because of their measles boost?

Mean height has gone down a little bit in recent years though.

The explanation?

No, it’s not because we don’t get measles anymore!

It’s because of poor diet choices and that obesity is also up. Genetic factors and immigration are also thought to play a role. And that previous increases because of improvements in nutrition and health conditions have likely leveled off for many people.

“An important number of decelerations was related to infection with measles which provokes initial wasting; later, recuperation was partly through increase of weight and arm circumference, and partly through delayed stunting.”

Growth decelerations among under-5-year-old children in Kasongo (Zaire). I. Occurrence of decelerations and impact of measles on growth

Perhaps the best evidence against the idea of a growth spurt with a measles infection though is an actual study that shows that kids have actual decelerations in their growth during their infection and while recovering.

Some of these kids, those that survived, had a “permanent growth deficit.”

So much for the idea of a growth spurt…

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

More on How Did a Measles Infection Trigger a Growth Spurt in Kids


Can You Prove That Jamie McGuire Books Don’t Make Teens Do Drugs?

Apparently, Jamie McGuire is a best-selling author.

According to Yahoo Lifestyle, she is the “author of 20 books in the New Adult genre (for ages 18-30), including Walking Disaster — which debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists — as well as the apocalyptic thriller Red Hill.”

And she wants everyone to know that she does not consent!

Can You Prove That Jamie McGuire Books Don’t Make Teens Do Drugs?

What does Jamie McGuire not consent to?

Since her whole post is about proving this and that about vaccines, which she seems to think are bad, I am guessing that she does not consent to getting vaccinated or to vaccinating her kids.

The thing is though, no one is trying to force her to vaccinate her kids.

You can just say that you don’t want to vaccinate your kids, coming out as another anti-vaccine pseudo-celebrity, without hijacking “I do not consent” messaging.

Anyway, her concerns about vaccines have been addressed. Indeed, they have been talked about a million times. If she were truly aware, she would stop being misled by anti-vaccine arguments that scare parents away from thinking that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and necessary.

Do we have proof? We have evidence!

And as the title says, can you prove that her books don’t make teens do drugs?

More on Jame McGuire and Consent

Did Dr. Bob Uncover a CDC Plot to Give Adult Flu Shots to Babies?

Have you heard the news?

Uh, the ACIP can't request a license for a vaccine...
Uh, the ACIP can’t request a license for a vaccine…

Dr. Bob and his new podcasting side kick think that the “CDC wants the FDA to approve adult doses of the flu vaccine for babies, because the normal half-doses approved for babies don’t work well enough.”

Did Dr. Bob Uncover a CDC Plot to Give Adult Flu Shots to Babies?

This is likely going to surprise Dr. Bob, but many infants already get the same dose of flu vaccine as adults.

Both FluLaval and Fluarix are given at the same 0.5ml dose, containing 15 µg of HA per vaccine virus, to infants, older children, and adults.

Fluzone, on the other hand, is still given at a 0.25ml dose, containing 7.5 µg of HA per vaccine virus, to children between the ages of 6 months to three years, and a larger 0.5ml dose to older kids and adults.

Why the differences?

“In a randomized trial comparing immunogenicity and safety of 0.5 mL FluLaval Quadrivalent with 0.25 mL Fluzone Quadrivalent, safety and reactogenicity were similar between the two vaccines.”

Prevention and Control of Seasonal Influenza with Vaccines: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices—United States, 2018–19 Influenza Season

Because they are just as safe at the lower doses and might actually work better.

Then why did we ever use a lower dose for infants?

That recommendation was based on the older, whole-virus version of the flu shot, which did cause more side effects for infants when given at a full dose. We now use split-virus flu shots that don’t have this problem.

And now, the manufacturer of Fluzone has done a study, and not surprisingly, they have also found that “safety profile of a 0.5 ml (full-dose) is similar to 0.25 ml (half-dose) and may be more immunogenic.”

So they are submitting a BLA to the FDA for the use of the 0.5ml dose of their flu vaccine for infants.

What about the idea of an “adult dose of mercury” for infants?

Over 80% of flu vaccines were thimerosal free this year. You almost have to go out of your way to get your kids a flu vaccine with thimerosal, so no, this won’t mean an “adult dose of mercury” for your infant.

Most importantly though, if you understand how vaccines work, you know that the dose of vaccines for kids and adults is not calibrated by weight or age, so none of this really matters. The immune reaction that helps antibodies travel all through your body starts locally, near where the vaccine was given, so a 20-pound infant and a 200-pound adult can get the same dose of flu shot and both can be protected.

More on Dr. Bob’s CDC Plot to Give Adult Flu Shots to Babies

Is Surgery a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated?

There are some situations in which it is very important to think about vaccines before your child has surgery.

“Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13, Prevnar 13, Pfizer), Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (Hib), meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenACWY), and meningococcal B vaccine should be given 14 days before splenectomy, if possible.”

Ask the Experts about Scheduling Vaccines

A splenectomy leaves your child at extra risk for many vaccine-preventable diseases, so it is a good idea to get vaccinated and protected well in advance of a planned splenectomy, if possible.

This doesn’t mean that these vaccines won’t work after the surgery, but just that you don’t want your child to be unprotected while he remains unvaccinated.

Is Surgery a Contraindication to Getting Vaccinated?

What about other surgeries?

Some kids are put on an aspirin regimen after cardiac surgery and it should be noted that taking aspirin is a contraindication for getting FluMist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, and is considered a precaution for getting the chicken pox vaccine.

“(j)No adverse events associated with the use of aspirin or aspirin-containing products after varicella vaccination have been reported; however, the vaccine manufacturer recommends that vaccine recipients avoid using aspirin or aspirin-containing products for 6 weeks after receiving varicella vaccines because of the association between aspirin use and Reye syndrome after varicella. Vaccination with subsequent close monitoring should be considered for children who have rheumatoid arthritis or other conditions requiring therapeutic aspirin. The risk for serious complications associated with aspirin is likely to be greater in children in whom natural varicella develops than it is in children who receive the vaccine containing attenuated VZV. No association has been documented between Reye syndrome and analgesics or antipyretics that do not contain aspirin.”

Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP

In most other situations, not only is surgery not considered a contraindication to getting vaccinated, but “hospitalization should be used as an opportunity to provide recommended vaccinations.”

“Most studies that have explored the effect of surgery or anesthesia on the immune system were observational, included only infants and children, and were small and indirect, in that they did not look at the immune effect on the response to vaccination specifically. They do not provide convincing evidence that recent anesthesia or surgery significantly affect response to vaccines. Current, recent, or upcoming anesthesia/surgery/hospitalization is not a contraindication to vaccination. Efforts should be made to ensure vaccine administration during the hospitalization or at discharge.”

Vaccine Recommendations and Guidelines of the ACIP

The one possible argument that makes sense to delay a vaccine in few days or weeks before a planned surgery is that if your child has a reaction to the vaccine, even if it is a mild reaction, like a fever or irritability, then it might cause them to delay the surgery.

And you could make the same argument about delaying vaccines in the days or weeks after having surgery. Could mild reactions to a vaccine be confused with complications from the surgery?

Otherwise, your anesthesiologist’s preferences aside, a recent or upcoming surgery is not a true contraindication to getting vaccinated, especially if it is a vaccine that your child is already past due for or needs because of a local outbreak, etc.

nless they are giving these kids the oral polio vaccine or plan on them sharing a room with a bone marrow transplant patient, they don't need to worry about shedding. But that's only one of the reasons that this hospital's recommendations don't follow ACIP guidelines.
Unless they are giving these kids the oral polio vaccine or plan on them sharing a room with a bone marrow transplant patient, they don’t need to worry about shedding. But that’s only one of the reasons that this hospital’s recommendations don’t follow ACIP guidelines.

What happens if you delay getting your child vaccinated because of a planned surgery and they get exposed to someone with measles or chicken pox?

Fortunately, this isn’t usually an issue unless your child is already behind on their vaccines and needs to catch up. After all, there is a lot of flexibility built into the immunization schedule, so that your child could get all of their vaccines on time, even with a planned or unexpected surgery.

More on Surgery and Vaccines