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Body Watch

When You Don't Immunize

June 12, 1996

Failure to properly immunize your child for childhood diseases can lead to serious illness or even death. Yet, only half of California's children are properly immunized by their second birthday. "Many parents believe immunizations are no longer necessary due to modern medical advances. This simply isn't true," says Dr. Thomas McLaughlin, state medical director for Aetna Health Plans. Here's what happens when you miss immunizations.

DIPHTHERIA

Symptoms: A thick coating in the nose, throat or airway

Consequences: Breathing problems, heart failure, paralysis, death

TETANUS

Symptoms: Serious, painful muscle spasms

Consequences: Lockjaw, death

PERTUSSIS

Symptoms: Coughing and choking for several weeks, making it hard for infants to eat, drink or breathe

Consequences: Pneumonia, seizures, brain damage, death

MEASLES

Symptoms: Rash, cough, fever

Consequences: Ear infection, pneumonia, diarrhea, seizures, brain damage, death

MUMPS

Symptoms: Fever, headache, swollen glands under the jaw

Consequences: Hearing loss, meningitis, swollen testicles

RUBELLA

Symptoms: Rash, mild fever, swollen glands, arthritis (mostly in females)

Consequences: Miscarriage; (in babies) deafness, blindness, heart disease, brain damage

HIB (Hemophilus influenza)

Symptoms: Fever, sore throat, cough, earache

Consequences: Pneumonia, sinusitis, pharyngitis, middle ear inflammation

HEPATITIS B

Symptoms: Jaundice, fever, abdominal pain

Consequences: Liver cancer, cirrhosis

POLIO

Symptoms: Fever, flu-like symptoms, muscle ache

Consequences: Paralysis, death

* Source: Aetna.

* For a free copy of the childhood immunization schedule, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope (business size) to American Academy of Pediatrics, Department C: Immunization schedule, P.O. Box 927, Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927. For immunization information in Orange County, call the county health department at (714) 834-8444.

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