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Vaccinations For Your Baby: MMR

Apr 23, 2008
By the time that your child is one year old, you are familiar with most of the vaccination shots that they have already received, most of these being performed in multiple doses spread out over a period of time. Suddenly you notice a new vaccination on your child's vaccination schedule: MMR. There is no need to worry. MMR is just an abbreviation for the vaccine that fights measles, mumps, and rubella (German measles).

Everyone has heard of measles although they may not be aware of what causes them. Measles disease is caused by a virus in the respiratory system. It is a highly contagious disease that can be spread through contact with an infected person. It is so contagious that anyone who has not been vaccinated for it will eventually come down with it. Some of the symptoms of measles include a rash, high fever, cough, runny nose, and red, watery eyes. The complications can include diarrhea, ear infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, seizures, and death. Children and adults over twenty suffer from more complications than teenagers do. Measles can cause ear infections in one out of every ten children who get it, while one out of every twenty gets pneumonia. One out of every one thousand children who get measles will suffer from encephalitis, which can lead to deafness or mental retardation. This disease can also cause pregnant women to miscarry or to have a premature birth.

Mumps are also a disease that is relatively familiar to most people. It is defined as an acute viral illness caused by the mumps virus. There are various symptoms connected with this disease. These include fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and a loss of appetite. In its later stages, the disease causes the swelling of the salivary glands. While severe complications rarely occur with mumps, the disease has been known to cause deafness (usually permanent), miscarriages, encephalitis, meningitis, oophoritis (inflammation of the ovaries), mastitis (inflammation of the breasts), and orchitis (inflammation of the testicles). The disease is transmitted through respiratory fluids and saliva. The infected person is contagious beginning three days before the symptoms appear until nine days after they appear. After a person has been exposed to the mumps, it can take up to eighteen days for any symptoms to become known.

Rubella or German measles as it is commonly referred to is the result of a viral infection and is considered a mild disease in children and young adults due to the fact that it only causes a rash and a fever. This disease is spread through sneezing and coughing, or by having contact with an infected person. For pregnant women, however, the complications can be severe. Rubella can cause a number of birth defects in unborn children. These include deafness, cataracts, heart effects, mental retardation, and liver and spleen damage.

MMR is the vaccination that fends off these diseases and is given in two doses. The first dose can be given between the ages of one year to eighteen months. This dose is followed by a second one that is given between four and six years of age.

Vaccinations are an important tool to ensure that our children lead healthy lives. Parents who do not have their children vaccinated could be considered to be guilty of neglect and even endangerment.
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