Flu Vaccines in Pregnancy

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on Flu Vaccines in Pregnancy

First do no harm, the philosophy attributed to Hippocrates, is taught to every medical student in the country. A doctor has two objectives at all times: The obvious objective is to heal, but the overruling objective, before all others, is to do no harm. All interventions carry some risk, and we often accept these risks. A patient with cancer may willingly undergo chemotherapy with full knowledge that there will be serious, even potentially life-threatening side effects.  When the risk of doing nothing is quite high, the risk of any given intervention may be justifiable. But the burden of proof of safety should be far greater for interventions designed to prevent illness, rather than treat it. Vaccinations are such an example. Vaccines are given to healthy individuals in the hope that they will provide protection against infection.  But hope is not science.  We will explore the science. In the case of flu shots given in pregnancy, there are two individuals to consider. If recommended, an influenza vaccine must be safe for both a mother and her unborn child. Many physicians and researchers question this purported safety. In the later stages of pregnancy, the growing baby occupies space normally available for a mother’s diaphragm to expand. This can lead to shortness of breath, even under normal conditions. Because of this physiological change, pregnant women who contract influenza are at greater risk of breathing difficulties and hospitalization than women who contract influenza but are not pregnant. Given this observation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the administration of influenza vaccines to pregnant women in 2004.  Because a mother’s antibodies freely cross the placenta, it was thought that some degree of protection might be provided to her baby as well. The safety and efficacy of flu vaccination in pregnancy are in question, however. In a study published in the May issue of the British Medical Journal, Giuseppe Traversa and colleagues assessed maternal, fetal, and neonatal outcomes of women given the influenza A/H1N1 vaccine. The outcomes of over 86,000 pregnancies revealed that vaccinated women had significantly higher rates of gestational diabetes and eclampsia. Eclampsia is the development of seizures in a woman with severe toxemia (also known as pre-eclampsia), a condition characterized by high blood pressure and protein loss in the urine. Eclampsia is fatal in 2% of women and can result in long-term health problems in those who survive. Fetal complications, including neurological damage and death, are common. Both gestational diabetes and eclampsia are related to inflammation and immune dysregulation, making the connection to the immune stimulation of the flu vaccine very plausible. Do flu vaccines cause inflammation in pregnant women? There has been surprisingly little research in this area, but a study by Christian et al  following pregnant women given a seasonal flu vaccine found an increase in two inflammatory markers, C reactive protein (CRP) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a). Increases in these inflammatory compounds indicate a significant level of inflammation, which was identified during the first two days following vaccination. This increase of inflammation was confirmed in a study published in May 2014 that documented a higher level of post-vaccine immune activation in pregnant women than in non-pregnant controls receiving flu vaccines. An earlier study by Lisa Christian, Ph.D. and her colleagues found that pregnant women suffering from depression developed a more marked inflammatory response to influenza vaccines than women who did not have symptoms of depression. There is reason to be concerned about these findings. A recent study by Alan Brown, M.D. and his colleagues of over 1.2 million pregnant women found that elevations in CRP, the same...

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Dietary and Nutritional Interventions for the Treatment of Autism and Related Disorders

Posted by on Jan 27, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Dietary and Nutritional Interventions for the Treatment of Autism and Related Disorders

Dietary and Nutritional Interventions for the Treatment of Autism and Related Disorders

Dr. Schneider explains the rationale behind gluten and casein-free diets and other potential treatment options. Individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, PDD-NOS, Asperger syndrome, attention deficit disorders, and Down syndrome have an unusually high rate of food allergies and sensitivities. Many have found that the identification of food sensitivities through laboratory testing and/or elimination diets has alleviated not only the obvious symptoms of allergy such as chronic nasal congestion, recurrent ear infections, asthma, rashes, and diarrhea, but also the core symptoms of their neurological condition. Multiple food allergies are most likely to occur in individuals with increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, which is often associated with symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, abdominal distension, or foul-smelling stools. The absence of gastrointestinal complaints does not rule out the possibility of food allergies or sensitivities, however, and should not preclude a dietary trial or formal diagnostic testing. The most common food allergies in this country include dairy products, wheat, corn, soy, eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, tree nuts, citrus fruits, fish, and shellfish. It is the protein content of these foods and protein fragments called peptides that are most allergenic. Casein, for example, is the major peptide found in all dairy products. Gluten is the primary peptide found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, spelt, and kamut. Under ordinary circumstances, these peptides would be digested down to their amino acid building blocks, which would then be absorbed into the bloodstream and utilized in various parts of the body for the construction of new proteins such as muscle. If only partially digested, they may not only trigger an immune response, but may also be biologically active. In spite of the diverse nature of the foods of their origin, gluten and casein both contain multiple repeats of certain amino acid chains, some of which are nearly identical to morphine. These compounds are often referred to as gliadomorphins and casomorphins and have been proven to cause a morphine-like response when injected into laboratory animals. Just as a person taking morphine or other opioid drugs would be likely to have impairments in concentration, judgment, motor skills, and cognitive reasoning, individuals unable to digest and metabolize gluten and casein may suffer these drug-like effects from seemingly healthy foods in their diet. Many, in fact, appear to be addicted to these foods and are likely to exclude most other nourishment from their diets. This observation has become known as the opioid excess theory, and a growing body of evidence supports this theory. While other foods may also be problematic, strict elimination of all gluten and dairy products will lead to significant improvements in the majority of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, attention deficit disorders, and many other conditions. 3-6 month dietary trial is required to achieve the full benefit of this intervention, as inflammatory changes in the bowel and nervous system will take weeks or months to reverse and allow the process of healing to begin. Even small dietary infractions can reverse this healing process. The elimination of all corn, soy, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and monosodium glutamate (MSG) is also highly recommended, as these are often problematic as well. An additional concern is the finding that antibodies directed against milk, gluten, corn, and eggs have the ability to cross react with brain tissue. In other words, if a person is unfortunate enough to be allergic to these foods, yet chooses to consume them, each exposure may stimulate his or her immune system to produce anti-brain antibodies. In the case of autism, several ant-brain antibodies have been identified both in children with autism and in...

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Childhood Developmental Concerns… Does my child have autism?

Posted by on Jan 18, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Childhood Developmental Concerns… Does my child have autism?

Childhood Developmental Concerns…  Does my child have autism?

Does my child have autism? When parents, grandparents, or caregivers ask this question, it is prudent to seek medical evaluation. In some cases, their fears can be laid to rest. In others, autistic behaviors are simply the result of food allergies or nutritional deficiencies that can easily be addressed. Too often, however, the diagnosis is truly autism. The symptoms of autism may be present from birth or develop at any time prior to age 3. Many children have a period of typical development followed by a plateau or an actual loss of skills. Receptive language, expressive language, social skills, eye contact, and interest in previously enjoyed toys and activities decline, sometimes quite rapidly and dramatically. These changes may occur after an illness, vaccination, toxic exposure, or for no obvious reason. Autism can run in families, but in most cases there is no family history of the condition. It is frequently associated with recurrent ear infections, gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea or constipation, multiple food allergies or sensitivities, abnormal sleep patterns, eating disorders, and obsessive compulsive behaviors. Effective treatments for these symptoms exist and can be very beneficial. Warning signs of a child at risk for autism include the following: Language delays or loss of receptive or expressive language Loss of coordination or motor skills Loss of interest in social interaction Lack of response to name Lack of interest in peers Lack of eye contact Lack of interest in toys Fascination with unusual objects or parts of objects Failure to use gestures such as pointing or waving Repetitive or odd behaviors Insistence on rituals or routines Eating disorders/self-limited diets Excessive intake of gluten or dairy products Hand flapping Toe walking Lack of awareness of danger Sensitivity to noise, touch, or light: easily over-stimulated Erratic sleep pattern Hyperactivity Preference to be alone or apart from others Excessive tantrums Problems with attention, communication, and behavior are often associated with challenges in coordination, balance, muscle tone, strength and/or motor skills. These concerns may be related to nutritional deficiencies, metabolic disorders, chronic intestinal inflammation, toxic exposures, or infections. Please contact us for information regarding assessments and treatment options. Top of...

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