Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of childhood diarrhea here in the US. While most infants and children fight off the infection without difficulty, there is no question that this infection can be deadly due to the dehydration that occurs. In third world countries, the mortality rates can be much higher. As a result, there remains a strong desire to produce an effective vaccine that will lower the risk of infection. The most recent one that was available here in the US (Rotashield) was pulled off the market due to an increased risk of fatal intussusecption, a condition where the intestine telescope in on itself.. Generally not a good thing for a condition here in the US that does not usually result in death.
We’re back at it again. One could make a good argument that, in third world countries, the push to find a new vaccine in light of the vaccine’s history is a worthy effort. However, much like everything else that occurs when money is involved, the altruism stops when profit is involved.
There has been a strong push to make the rotavirus vaccine mandatory here in the US as well for our infants. Keep in mind that prior vaccination for this condition were pulled off the market because children were dying as a result of the vaccination. A vaccine for a condition that is typically self limiting so long as the child stays well hydrated. Here’s an even more important aspect.
Probiotic supplementation has been shown to lower both the incidence and severity of rotatvirus infections. This means that use of antibiotics, C-sections and not nursing will conversely, increase the risk and severity of the infection.
So, rather than promote the presence of healthy bacteria in the gut of our newborns and infants (which we are still not doing in mainstream medicine despite >100 years of published research on their benefit—talk about slow learners!!), we are adding rotavirus vaccination to the continual lengthening list of childhood vaccinations.
Bottom line is to avoid C-sections whenever possible, promote nursing to at last 6 months and probiotic supplementation for both the mom and the infant. These aspects will go a long way towards improving outcomes and risk of rotavirus infections far greater than any vaccination.