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Immunizations protect your baby against many dangerous childhood diseases. Your pediatrician will advise you when to schedule appointments for your baby's vaccinations. Here's what you should know about your baby's vaccines

Early childhood immunizations are an important safe-guard against serious illnesses for your baby. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that children be immunized against eleven different diseases during the first two years. While it may be difficult to hear baby cry when she gets a shot, remember the pain only lasts seconds but the benefits will last a lifetime. Here is a brief rundown of each of the vaccines your baby needs:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine
    Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver that's caused by a virus and can result in liver damage or failure. Some babies can develop Hepatitis B if their mothers are infected with it before or during pregnancy. If mom tests positive for Hepatitis B or her status is unknown, baby may be given the vaccine in the hospital right after birth. If baby doesn't receive the vaccine in the hospital, this vaccination should be given within the first 2 months. Two additional doses also are recommended within baby's first year.
  • Diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTaP) vaccine
    This vaccine protects against three diseases -- diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis or whooping cough:
    • Diphtheria is a serious infectious disease caused by bacteria that produce toxins which inflame the nervous system and heart and can result in heart failure and paralysis.
    • Tetanus results from bacteria that grow in wounds and that produce a toxin which affects the nervous system and causes muscle spasms and paralysis, especially in the jaw area. It's also called lockjaw.
    • Pertussis or whooping cough, another infectious disease caused by bacteria, is especially dangerous for babies under the age of 1. It's most well-known symptom is a debilitating racking cough.

    This vaccine comes in two forms -- the DTP form, which includes diphtheria, tetanus, and whole cell pertussis vaccines, and the DTaP form, which includes diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis vaccines. In 1997, the American Academy of Pediatrics began recommending the DTaP vaccine as the preferred form of the vaccine because it's less likely to cause a reaction in baby. The vaccine should be given in five doses at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, around 18 months, and before your child enters school, between 4 and 6 years of age. A sixth dose of diphtheria and tetanus vaccine is recommended between 11 and 16 years of age.

    Baby may have a mild reaction to this vaccine including a slight fever (under 102 degrees F), fussiness, and redness in the thigh area where the shot is given. These symptoms typically last up to 2 days and your baby's doctor may suggest giving baby acetaminophen to your child to ease the fever.

  • Haemophilus influenzae type B (HIB) vaccine
    Haemophilus influenzae type B isn't the viral infection that everybody calls the flu. Instead, it's a fast-moving bacterial infection that can cause baby to have ear and bronchial infections. HIB also can lead to meningitis in children under the age of 2, so it is important that you protect your child with three doses of the HIB vaccine during the first year -- at age 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. Experts also recommend that a fourth dose be given before your child's second birthday.
  • Polio vaccine
    Polio, short for poliomyelitis, is a serious viral disease that starts with a fever and can lead to paralysis, muscle atrophy, and permanent disability. In its most severe forms, polio can cause death. Polio vaccine comes in two forms, IPV (inactivated polio vaccine) which is given by injection and OPV (oral polio vaccine) which is given by mouth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving the vaccine at 2 months, 4 months, 12 to 18 months, and between 4 and 6 years of age. You and your baby's doctor can decide whether a schedule of all-OPV, all-IPV, or a combination of both forms is best for your baby.
  • Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
    This vaccine provides coverage for three diseases in a single shot -- measles, mumps, and rubella or German measles:
    • Measles is a viral infection that causes distinctive red spots and is characterized by cold-like symptoms and a high fever.
    • Mumps is an infectious viral disease that results in swelling of the parotid gland that's just in front of the ear and the salivary glands. The swelling can occur on the sides of one or both cheeks. Mumps usually is accompanied by a fever and pain when the patient opens his mouth or eats.
    • Rubella or German measles is similar to measles in that it's a viral infection that results in a fever, swollen glands, and a rash.

    The first MMR vaccine is usually given when baby is between 12 and 15 months and seldom has any serious side effects. The second shot (booster) is recommended between 4 to 6 years of age. Baby, however, may be more sleepy than usual and have a mild rash, slight fever, or slight swelling in the neck or diaper area.

  • Varicella vaccine
    This vaccine protects against chicken pox, a viral infection which is highly contagious and results in a blisterlike rash that's very itchy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children receive the varicella vaccine between the ages of 12 and 18 months. A second dose also is recommended at between 11 and 12 years of age.

(by Editors of Your Baby Today - Baby.TopResource.NET Reference)



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