Most people think that once a baby gets their shots they are protected against illness and can go out in public. Wrong…. The shots that are given to infants only cover Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophyllis Influenzae B, Pneumococcus, Hepatitis B, Polio, Rotavirus, etc. Still out there in your community are millions of germs just waiting for your sweet little baby.
Infants have not had the opportunity to build up immunity because you have to have an illness (or an immunization) in order to make antibodies to protect you from becoming ill. Consequently, infants become ill with just about anything they become exposed to and is usually quite significant. In some cases, infants become so ill that they need to be hospitalized. Most medical providers that work regularly with infants know how sick an infant can become and how fast it occurs. Also, infants are more susceptible to meningitis and blood infections because of their immature immune system.
The other factor that does not help infants fight infection is their immune system. If an infant is born full term, they have the benefit of “placental immunity” or the passing of antibodies from the mother to the infant in the last four weeks of pregnancy. This immunity last for 4-6 months. Another way that immunity is elevated is if the infant is breast fed. Many illnesses the mother has had herself is reflected in the mother’s antibodies and therefore, transferred in the breast milk to her infant.
The lowest time in an infant’s immune system is between 6-12 months. This is both natural and normal because of the wearing off of placental immunity. This is also a time when parents begin to feel safe taking their infants out in public. So think about where you are taking your infant and decrease the risk of them becoming ill by avoiding crowded places.
Ann Lewis, ARNP, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Certified Life Coach (CTA), Mental Health Counseling Student, Expert Author, Blog: Child’s Play Parenting http://childsplayparenting.blogspot.com