Breastfed Babies DO Need Vaccines

I’ve recently heard of people declining to vaccinate their babies because they breastfeed.

“My antibodies will protect the baby.  S/He doesn’t need vaccines.”

 

Yes and no.  Breast milk definitely has tons of health benefits to babies.  But it’s not a be-all end-all magic potion of invincibility.

Breast milk primarily passes IgA antibodies.  If you don’t understand what that means, then you are not educated enough about immunology to make the conclusion stated above.  If you do understand what that meant, you most likely already know that vaccines are an amazing, life-saving technology.

 

In case you’re wondering what IgA antibodies are, allow me to explain.  Humans have 5 main isotypes of antibody.  IgA, IgG, IgM, IgE, and IgD.  While all isotypes of antibody are present in breast milk, IgA is far and away the most prominent.  IgA is considered a secretory antibody- it’s secreted into the gut and respiratory mucosae.  While IgA serves a lot of vital functions, a concert of all the antibody isotypes is important for protection against infection.  In addition to an imbalance of antibody isotypes, breast milk only offers temporary protection.  Once the antibodies have passed through baby, the protection is gone.  Vaccines teach the body how to make whatever antibody isotypes are necessary, and they can remain effective for many years.

 

Babies are incredibly susceptible to infection.  Why would you risk your baby’s health when there are so many protective vaccines available?

No, You Did Not “Research” Vaccines

There’s been an outbreak of mumps, a vaccine-preventable illness, in my hometown.  It annoys me because at the center of the outbreak are, most likely, parents that refused to vaccinate their kids.

 

“‘But but but!  My research told me that vaccines are bad!  They cause autism and allow the government to control you and make you more delicious tasting to aliens!”

 

Anyone thinking that, or something similar, I have a message for you:  No.  You did not “research” vaccines.

 

There is a big difference between a Google search, in which you most likely used anti-vax keywords, and actual research.  Research involves being at the lab bench, seeing which B cells are making antibody in response to the vaccine.  Research involves testing vaccines in volunteers.  Research involves following hundreds of thousands of case studies.  Research involves reading scientific papers, understanding the statistical significance reported in clinical trials, and finding real flaws with the trial design.  Research does not involve reading blogs written by random, but vocal, stupid actresses.

It’s World Immunization Week

It’s World Immunization Week!  This is a great time to spread the word that vaccines are GOOD and save lives!  So remember, vaccines are good and save lives!

 

As a Science Momma, I get pretty annoyed by all the anti-vaccination rhetoric.  I’m guessing I won’t change anyone’s mind either way, but it’s still annoying.  People are graduates of the University of Google, and assume that because CrazyHippyMomma.com* says vaccines are bad, they’re clearly bad.  All those doctors and scientists and public health officials are clearly collaborating with the pharmaceutical companies to prevent people from getting debilitating diseases and need lifelong care whose cost would easily outweigh that of the vaccine itself.  Those kids dying in third world countries from diseases that are easily prevented by vaccines here in the US are probably in on it too, right?

That’s just one of the many, many things that bug me.  In general, I don’t like judging people, and I think child-rearing involves a lot of personal decisions.  But ignoring the advice of medical professionals and decades of research based on the opinions of vocal idiots doesn’t just hurt your kid- you can expose a bunch of other people to sickness, too.

 

 

* I’m not sure if there actually is a crazyhippymomma.com anywhere.  I don’t want to offend hippies, crazy or other wise.  I myself, as a cloth diapering momma, could be considered a crazy hippy, so please don’t be offended hippy mommas!

 

http://www.buzzfeed.com/unicef/10-outrageous-things-you-may-have-heard-about-vacc-1ebx

http://www.asm.org/index.php/colloquium-program/browse-all-reports/91319-adultvaccinesfaq

Aquaponics

We recently set up a new fish tank.  It’s the Back to the Roots Water Farm.  It’s really neat.  Our betta fish, Toodles, lives in the water (because, where else would a fish live?).  On top, we can grow plants.  Right now, I’ve got either lettuce, spinach, or Swiss chard.  I can’t remember what seeds I added.

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Toodles.

There is a pump in the tank to bring water up to the growing surface.  The nitrogenous fish waste provides food for the plants.  The plants remove the harmful nitrogen compounds from the water.

It’s billed as a self-cleaning tank.   I’m not convinced that my little plants can handle all of Toodles’ waste yet, so I change about 25% of the water once a week or so.  The other problem we’ve encountered is algae.  Algae grows when the water is exposed to lots of sunlight.  Sunlight is required for my plants to grow, so I can’t just put it someplace dark.  We added a snail, which my daughter named Cinderella.  True to her name, Cinderella the snail works hard to help remove the algae and keep the tank clean.

My daughter has been fascinated watching the plants grow.  We put seeds in, and now we’re getting some sprouts.  She’s really trying to understand how all this is happening, and it’s been a fun way to explore science with her.

The tank holds about 3 gallons.  It’s much nicer than many betta setups, because it is so spacious.  The only addition we have is a heater, since betta are tropical fish.  Toodles is one happy, active, fun fish.  Our family is enjoying watching him and learning from him.

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See my beautiful sprouts?

Blowing Up Balloons with Yeast

Yeast are amazingly talented little organisms.  They make bread, beer, wine, certain dairy products.  Did you know that yeast can also blow up balloons?

 

Here’s another fun experiment to do with the kids:

 

Find a small bottle, like a soda or water bottle.  The smaller the bottle, the better your results will be.

Fill the bottle about 1/2 to 3/4 full of warm water.  It should be about the temperature of nice, warm bath water.  If the water is too cold, this will take a long time.  If it’s too warm, it will kill the yeast.

Add some yeast and some sugar (about a tablespoon-ish of each).  Quickly stretch a balloon over the mouth of the bottle, and make it air-tight with some masking tape.  Give the bottle a bit of a splash/shake to help mix it up, and watch and see what happens.  After juts a few minutes, you should see the balloon start to fill up a bit.

 

What’s happening with this?

Well, the yeast is breaking down the sugar, and using it to get energy.  One of the by-products of this process is Carbon Dioxide.  The Carbon Dioxide is released by the yeast, and fills up the balloon.  That’s also how yeast helps bread rise- by producing air bubbles in the dough.

C UR DNA (See your DNA)

Have you ever wanted to see your own DNA?  It’s actually pretty easy.  Seriously.  You can do it right now with stuff you normally have at home.  Here’s a link for the instructions:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/extract-your-dna.html

 

This is fun to do with older kids.  You can explain how that gooey stuff contains all the information for making them how they are.  Or just enjoy seeing something that normally seems so unimaginably small.

Human Instinct and Oreos

English: Two regular Oreo cookies. Please chec...

English: Two regular Oreo cookies. Please check my Wikimedia User Gallery for all of my public domain works. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tonight, I conducted a highly important scientific study.  I determined, without a shred of doubt, that how Oreo cookies are eaten is part of human instinct.

Roz had Oreo cookies for only the second time in her life tonight.  Prior to her first experiences with Oreos, she had not previously seen us eat them.  Still, she knew exactly how to eat them.  You begin by separating the two parts of the cookies, then eating the creamy filling.  Then, you get rid of the rest of the cookie and start again.

She did eventually eat the rest of the cookie.  I poured her some milk, because we all know it’s against the law to eat Oreos without milk.  The second she saw me pouring the milk, she instinctively knew that you must dip your Oreo in the milk.  She took the rest of the cookie, dipped them, and quickly ate them down.

I believe this highly controlled, scientific study speaks for itself.  Humans are clearly born knowing how to eat Oreo cookies.