The idea that too many vaccines overwhelm a baby's immune system sounds logical, but it is pretty much an urban legend. No evidence supports this belief, which gained popularity at a time when autism rates and the number of baby vaccines had both risen. But of course, coincidental timing does not prove cause!
Baby Vaccines: Then vs. Now
While babies do get more vaccines today, they actually don't have more "stuff" injected into their bodies. In 1980, the DPT shot was a blenderized bacteria soup of around 1,000 different illness particles or antigens. And, the polio vaccine babies used to get was a live virus that actually triggered a minute case of the disease to prevent a more serious one.
Today, vaccines are way, way more purified. The current DPT vaccine contains only 3 bacterial antigens and the polio vaccine no longer includes any live virus. These advances create a win-win situation: vaccines guard kids against many more illnesses AND even though the number of vaccines has increased, the number of illness particles being injected into their bodies…is lower than ever before!
What Can a Baby's Body Handle?
Some parents worry that a baby can't handle several vaccines given at once. That's hardly the case. The immune system is a superb, multitasking, fighting machine! Every day thousands of threats strike at our little ones: from bacterial invaders to swarms of viruses to offending dietary proteins, damaged cells, irritating pollen, and even tiny cancers. The ability to thwart many mild attacks concurrently—including tolerating multiple vaccinations—is exactly what the immune system was built to do.
In fact, a new theory suggests that allergies and asthma may be on the rise in part because we’ve made the world TOO clean. It makes sense if you think about it. Early “exercise” helps a baby's immune system achieve tip-top fighting condition!