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Vaccinations - easing discomfort

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This week is National Infant Immunization Week. Experts state that giving babies the recommended immunizations by age two is the best way to protect them from 14 serious childhood diseases, like whooping cough and measles. Illnesses, like whooping cough have become prevalent again in this country, reaching epidemic proportions in California in 2010 and resulting in 10 infant deaths. Yet, vaccinations remain such a confusing issues for families. Parents should talk openly with their healthcare professional about their concerns, including the benefits and potential risks of immunizations.

Aside from the decision of whether or not to vaccinate, many parents are anxious about discomfort their baby might experience during and after the injections. A recent study demonstrated the benefits of a non-pharmecuetical technique for easing baby's discomfort. Dr. Karp, a pediatrician in California and author of The Happiest Baby on the Block, pioneered his 5 S's technique over a decade ago. Since then, thousands of parents have used his methods to effectively calm and comfort their infant. Dr. Karp's 5 S's, Swaddling, Side-position, Sushing, Swinging, and Sucking, are easy for parents to learn and can help trigger baby's calming reflex. This recent study published in the May journal Pediatrics, divided 230 babies, aged 2 months and 4 months, into 2 groups following injections. One group of babies received the 5 S's, the other group did not. According to Dr. John Harrington, principle investigator for the study, babies who received the '5 S's' interventions stopped crying much sooner than the infants who received traditional 'comfort care' from their parents. Their pain scores were also much lower.

How can parents learn the 5 S's? Some baby care classes at Chicago maternity centers, such as the ones offered Swedish Covenat Hospital, provide this education as a standard part of their class. Parents can also search for a trained educator or purchase Dr. Karp's books/DVDs to teach themselves.

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