The Coastal Post - February 2000

Do Vaccinations Lead To Sudden Infant Deaths?
"All truth goes through three stages. First it is revealed. Then it is violently opposed. Finally it is accepted as self-evident." -Schoepenhouer

By Carol Sterritt

Recently a Marin pediatrician, Dr. William Liebman, has been indicted for the alleged fraud of watering down vaccines. Scores of his patients have rallied to his defense. Meanwhile, the County goes about preparing its case against Doctor Liebman.

This has resulted in heated debate about the pros and cons of childhood vaccination safety. Many of the parents of children whose vaccinations have possibly not been full strength have not had their children re-vaccinated. I began researching the vaccine issue. This research has offered me (perhaps) the final piece of the puzzle created in my May 1999 Coastal Post article. This piece discussed the possibility of a Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and fabric softener connection.

This previous article was largely speculative. It posed the question, "Could the prevalence of overwhelming chemicals in an infant's environment lead to their death?"

In October 1999 I made a presentation to the members of Ecology House in San Rafael on a SIDS-fabric softener link.

Ecology House members all suffer from multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). Each of them find their immune systems overwhelmed by chemicals that most folks take for granted. However a chemical that disturbs one person might not be of any consequence to someone else. One MCS sufferer might not tolerate the gas vapor in a room that comes from the pilot light on a gas stove. Another person might not tolerate the ink in a magic marker. But probably 90% of MCS population has a problem with fabric softeners. "What most people don't realize," said one of the attendees, "is that fabric softeners have surfactants that actually adhere to the surface of your lungs. If the product bothers you, you find yourself in respiratory distress because the fabric softener has coated your lungs and is inside you. And you have no way to get it out of your system."

As I described various facets of my SIDS research, the group remained highly focused. When I told how parents explained their babies' conditions in the final hours before their demise, several people expressed amazement. "Minor respiratory distress, stuffy nose, the beginning of a cold, these are exactly my symptoms before a major MCS flare-up!," one person exclaimed. Almost everyone else nodded in agreement.

This led to heated dialogue. Had I read the book, "Chemical Exposure: Low Levels & High Stakes" by Nicolas Ashford and Claudia Miller. "No," I had to admit although I had indeed talked to Ashford.

"Well, read it," the group insisted. "And keep researching. You are on to something."

My premise goes like this: 5,000 to 7,000 infants die of SIDS each year in The United States. In the early to mid-1990s our government began an education campaign detailing to parents that infants would be at less risk for SIDS if babies were encouraged to sleep on their backs. At the end of several years, there had been a 30% decrease in SIDS' cases each year.

I had no problem with this other than wondering what the real cause of SIDS was. The Ecology House crowd understood my stance. It was something they wondered about themselves. If babies die due in part to the fact that they are sleeping on their tummies, then what exactly is it in their bedding that is so fatally toxic?

In hopes of finding out, I contacted Ruth DeBois, who heads the "Back to Sleep" campaign out of the offices of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. I asked her some general questions, which led her to excitedly describe the success of her program. Then, I asked her my leading question. DeBois giggled nervously. I asked the question again. This made her re-iterate the success of the program.

I explained I had no problem with the results of the campaign. However, a 30 to 40% reduction still meant a lot of babies died. And some of these deaths occurred even though the babies were asleep in the supine position as the government decreed. Right here in Marin County, an infant died about eighteen months ago, while sitting upright in his infant's car seat, and coming home from the doctor (due to what his parents thought was the beginning of a cold.)

DeBois' voice held more than a tinge of discomfort. She indicated her own belief that perhaps an infant's own anatomy was not adequate for tummy-sleeping. To me, her words seemed rather odd. Nature does not design the bodies of an entire species ineffectively. "Oh, come on," I began. "Infants almost universally choose to sleep on their tummies rather than in a supine position."

"No," DeBois countered, "it is not their preference. It is a behavior that their parents taught them."

Upon hearing this, I almost snorted in disgust. My memory of my son's infancy proved her wrong. By the time he was four months old, he went down for a nap on his back lifting his baby bottle to his lips. But the moment that his bottle was finished, he'd toss it from the crib and turn over on his tummy. (Luckily this was two decades before "Back to Sleep.")

Today, many parents I know complain about the difficulty in having their babies comply with the government's program. Parenthood is difficult enough without the added pressure of attempting to re-design a baby's natural sleep configuration.

And if we can determine what is exactly the cause of SIDS, then perhaps we can quit trying to re-configure our infants' sleeping habits. I knew from discussing with Dr. Ron Harper of the UCLA Brain Research Laboratory that he thought it was likely that an anaphylactic shock was present in a significant number of SIDS cases. But this theory poses problems of its own. Anaphylactic shock is a life-threatening response to an allergin. I had suffered such an experience myself at the age of nine months when given a shot of penicillin for some minor health problem. The doctor who administered the shot then administered a remedy, and I survived.

But no one experiences such a shock, which is considered a response to a "triggering agent" (in my case the penicillin), without previously being sensitized by an initiating agent. (In my case, perhaps my father's considerable cigarette smoking.) So if fabric softener is indeed an analphylactic shock factor, what is the initiating trigger?

A soon as I undertook my first peek into the vaccination situation, I was awestruck and aware that here was a missing piece of the puzzle. There were pages of Web sites detailing little babies whose lives were brought to an abrupt end by vaccination. And it is assumed that among the population of babies who appear to be unaffected by vaccines, many may have experienced the vaccine exposure as an initiating event.

Some of the statistics presented on various Web sites floored me. At least three separate sites mention that each year, 3,000 to 4,000 babies die within three weeks of a vaccination. And yet, according to the "experts" this indicates "nothing" about the safety of the vaccination process. I find it significant. In general, a well-trained doctor does not vaccinate a child unless that child is in complete health. And of great concern is the cavalier attitude of the doctors whose young charges die within two hours to three weeks of their vaccine injections. On many Web sites, the parents recount the extreme change in their baby's health immediately after the shot was given. Yet again and again, they are told that the vaccination had nothing to do with their child's decline or death. They are told to discount their remembrance of the changes that they observed in their child's response to the vaccines. They are told that all the experiences their child underwent and that they cemented into their memory during those long moments of terror were coincidences rather than anything relevant to a vaccination response.

This flies in the face of science. A scientist is always supposed to pay attention to either his direct observation of a phenomenon, or to those who have made the observations and are recounting them. But modern physicians are so indoctrinated in the idea that vaccination is a flawless procedure with no down-side that they refuse to see hear or think otherwise, and do not want others to add their input.

The particulars of several parents' stories were upsetting. On the National Institute of Vaccine Information's Web site, a story about "Richie" detailed how this two month old suffered and died within thirty three hours of his DPT shot. Yet the doctor who had administered the shot told his family that "Richie" did not die from complications to the vaccine, but due to SIDS. Eventually this family was able to receive monies from a fund set up to compensate families whose children are injured or killed as a result of vaccines.

Recently I was able to speak to Barbara Loe Fisher, who heads up the National Institute of Vaccine Information. Together, we conversed about the idea that vaccinations are responsible in a direct way for a portion of deaths considered to be SIDS. "But, Carol," she continued, "vaccinations are not the only thing that account for SIDS cases. I believe that some SIDS cases are a result of anaphylactic shock."

I explained my belief that even in those cases that were anaphylactic shock, vaccines played a considerable role. I explained about the role that vaccines might play in being the "initiating event" experienced weeks or months before the analphylactic situation.

My final concern over the vaccine issue is this: an infant's vaccination schedule is now an overwhelming, over-reactive series of injections, with more shots planned each season. Babies now as young as two weeks are being immunized with the Hib injection, which is involved in preventing Hepatitis. Then there are the polio series, the MMR shot series, the DPT series, and more and more. For much of past autumn, the media beat a drum about a new vaccine to prevent ear infections. If you read the small print, you became aware that this shot only offers a 33% effectiveness rate. Parents of eleven and twelve year olds are about to be told that these youngsters should undertake a venereal disease vaccination program. And so it goes.

Those doctors and ordinary citizens who are opposing vaccines have accumulated evidence that suggests that possibly many of our auto-immune diseases, the chronic fatigues, the Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes, etc. are results of our immune systems being tampered with beyond repair. But the vaccination industry is just that: an industry with a well-financed foundation, with governmental mandates in the order of not allowing children to attend daycare or school until their vaccination record is complete. The industry has never been worried by the impurities in the mix: the formaldehyde, aluminum, mercury and other agents.

Finally, recently, mercury has been taken out of the formula. In Japan, once the age for vaccinating children was raised from several months to two years old for the DPT shot series, SIDS cases decreased. But in Japan, public health agencies are not monitored by individuals in the pay of the industries they are supposedly overseeing. Here in the States, of the five officials who are overseeing the vaccination in public health issue, two are people receiving considerable sums of money from the pharmaceutical industries.

But the large number of Web sites, privately financed and diligently worked on by loving parents of vaccine victims, all these sites offer me hope. Maybe the vaccine issue will be one case of "when the people lead, the leaders will follow."

Coastal Post Home Page