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The Informed Parent

Scanning The Journals: ADHD; Chickenpox

by John H. Samson, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jan. 01, 2000

Practice Parameters for the Assessment and Treatment of Children, Adolescents and Adults with ADHD: Journal of American Academy Children and Adolescent Psychiatry, 36:10, Oct. 1997 p. 855

Don't let the title of the article scare you off. For the parent or relative of an ADHD patient this is a great general review. Some parts are of lesser value to the layman, but it covers the field well and with completeness.

If you want a thorough look at an area of medicine that is currently filled with media generated myths, start here. A parent of an ADHD child must be an informed parent.

Transmission of Varicella-Vaccine Virus (Chickenpox) from a Healthy 12- Month- Old Child to His Pregnant Mother: Journal of Pediatrics, Vol. 131, #1, Part 1, July 1997, p. 151

This is the first case reported of the chickenpox vaccine virus being transmitted from a healthy vaccinated child to a healthy but susceptible household contact. No varicella virus was found in the aborted fetal tissue of this case. There are yet no reports of fetal infection by the chickenpox vaccine virus.

Still we must be cautious when immunizing an infant against chickenpox if the mother is susceptible and less than 20 weeks pregnant.

Now let me confuse you a little. The author points out that the chance of a susceptible household contact contracting chickenpox from a child with natural varicella is 85% and fetal abnormality is seen in 1%-2% of mothers infected with the natural virus. Therefore, if chickenpox is present in the community it might be wiser to immunize the child since the statistics with the vaccine virus are much less threatening than with the natural virus.

Until more is known it would seem prudent to delay the chickenpox immunization of a child if there is a susceptible household contact less than 20 weeks pregnant. Medical decisions are not always clear-cut, even if you study the literature.

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