will need a long term holistic program to rebuild their strength. Gentle exercise and swimming (even for 2 year olds); massage over the whole body as well as more specifically over the chest; high quality, easily digestible foods; immune system fortification; plenty of rest and relaxation.
There are several strong arguments against Whooping Cough vaccination. The first is that those at most risk of the disease are babies under 12 months of age. Even after the first few pertussis shots, a child is still susceptible to the disease if exposed before the full vaccination program is complete - at around 18 months. Of all the common vaccination shots these days, the ones for pertussis are those with the highest
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risks of nasty side effects - seizures, fever and high pitched screaming - sometimes for hours at a time. (See "The Issue of Vaccination" page 429). Considering that 50% of all cases of Whooping Cough are in children under the age of 2, and that some 30% of those cases affect children who were either fully or partly vaccinated, there doesn't seem much logic to the argument for across-the-board vaccination. Also, studies have shown that the attendant symptoms of Whooping Cough have become less severe in recent years, even in children not vaccinated at all(44). This is considered to be due to a weakening mutation of the disease, as well as a by-product of improved living standards.
The ways in which parents create and manage the different environments in which their children grow up, very much affect the ways in which our children develop both physically and mentally. For most people (of any age), an increase in understanding usually comes about in relation to what they have previously known - meaning, that ideally there should be a smooth and gradual transition from one level of experience to another, so that there is ample opportunity to integrate what has gone before into what is happening in the now. This is particularly important for babies and young children who have not yet developed the flexibility and fortitude to assimilate a wide variety of challenging experiences. The issue is twofold - there are the kinds of environments to which we expose our children, and then there is how we manage changes between environments which might adversely affect them. I think that too often adults ignore what it must be like to be a sensitive little baby, or an insecure toddler, or a contentedly playing child, as we just pick them up and carry them off into our usual life of sensory bombarding adult activities. Some environments can be of danger to their sensitive bodies and psyches - as well, sudden changes into unfamiliar environments can create confusion, disorienta-tion or, in a worst case, long term trauma. Some examples of when this might happen are:
· the change of environment for a newborn from inside the womb to the outside world. How much less shocking to a baby's system would be a relaxed and dimly lit homebirth to that of a stressed and brightly lit labour ward?
· a young baby who is learning to communicate by listening and speaking being subjected to the noise of a radio or TV playing in their house much of the time
· when a baby wakes out of sleep, how much nicer to arouse gradually and gently in a peaceful bedroom, that to be startled awake in the back of a travelling car by the horn of a nearby bus or truck
· from being in the relaxed, quiet atmosphere around the home to the cacophony of the modern shopping mall
· after being attended to by one's mother for all of the days and nights, suddenly discovering that the new daily regime is to be minded for several days a week by strangers (in a child care centre)
· young children being babysat or entertained by the flickering images of TV for hours on end
· after spending 5 years of fancy-free life around the home with one's parents and siblings, to be made to attend a school of total strangers, to sit at desks for up to 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, 40 weeks a year, for the next 12 years.
These are just some of the sorts of environ-ments and transitions between environments that children go through in their lives. I am not saying that these things should be avoided. I do however believe that in bringing up children we should be continually aware and considerate of the different environments to which we expose them at different stages of their life. We should be sensitive to how they might handle such changes - and wherever possible we should prepare them for the changes that we know may be around the corner for them.