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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Measles Prevention

While measles is a leading cause of death among children worldwide, it's rarely fatal in communities with accessible health care and good public hygiene.

A vaccine exists but parents and doctors alike have questioned whether the risks outweigh the benefits. Fortunately, there are other steps parents can take to help prevent kids from catching the measles, whether they have been immunized or not. I'll share with you my top five tips.

The Disease

Measles infection is caused by a virus and it's very contagious. The symptoms can be easily mistaken for those of other upper respiratory infections (cough, fever, runny nose, red eyes) but what sets this disease apart is a full body rash that even appears inside the mouth. Koplik spots inside the cheek are a distinguishing factor of the measles.

Most cases of measles are mild and well-nourished individuals usually recover with lifelong immunity and no permanent damage. 

The Vaccine

The measles vaccine is available, but only as part of the MMR shot. MMR immunization has been questioned for its
  • Long list of adverse reactions and possible severe reactions
  • Ingredients like live viruses, the antibiotic neomycin, fetal cow blood, and traces of chicken embryo
  • Lack of safety research

The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent and not-for-profit research organization internationally recognized for its evidence-based standards, found that “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate.”

In 95 percent of children, one dose of the vaccine gives immunity for about 12 years.

People who get the vaccine can also get the measles and outbreaks happen even in 100% vaccinated populations.

Disease Prevention

Studies show that measles deaths among children are due to malnutrition, not lack of immunization, and in children who do catch the measles, those who are deficient in vitamin A are much more likely to experience complications such as diarrhea, pneumonia, brain inflammation, and death.

To ensure that your kids are getting everything they need to prevent infections like the measles, take these five steps:

#1  Make sure that kids eat plenty of vitamin-A-rich orange vegetables and organic leafy greens like carrots, pumpkin, squash, yams, spinach, chard, kale, collards, dandelion, and beet greens. At each meal they should also have some kind of healthy fat and a good source of protein. Avoid giving kids sweet foods, sweet drinks (including juice), and processed foods.

#2  Keep kids physically active every day for at least an hour and allow them to play outdoors as much as possible.

#3  Make sure they get at least 10 hours of sleep each night.

#4  Instruct children to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before they eat or touch their face. Avoid antibacterial products and chemical disinfectants.

#5  Ask your doctor to test your child's level of vitamin A. If it's low, supplement according to your doctor's recommendations.

Disease Management

If you see what may be Koplik spots, visit your doctor right away to get tested for the measles.

If the test is positive, see your naturopathic doctor for supportive care. Ask about vitamin A therapy which can decrease the risk of developing eye damage and blindness, even in well-nourished kids, and reduce the risk of death by 50 percent.

Keep sick children home from school to prevent any spread of infection. Also keep them well-hydrated, especially if they have diarrhea. Dehydration can be a serious complication and may require treatment with intravenous fluids.

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