A self-proclaimed "anti-vaxxer" from New Zealand revealed on-air that she nearly cost her son his life after she chose not to vaccinate him.
In an interview with radio station The Hits, Ally Edward-Lasenby, who had vaccinated one of her children but decided not to vaccinate her son Cameron, said that she chose not to because she had seen research that linked vaccinations with autism.
"I made what I thought was an informed decision at the time, and I chose not to immunize Cameron," she explained.
When pressed by the radio hosts on what specific study convinced her to do so, Edward-Lasenby did not cite one but expressed her regret at not doing her due diligence in investigating the supposed connection more.
"My biggest mistake ... that I've been sharing since has been that if you make a decision based on the information that you hear at the time, it's really important to revisit that," she said. "I didn't do that, and consequently, my son contracted the measles virus ... It was not a very pleasant experience at all."
Edward-Lasenby said she initially noticed that Cameron exhibited flu-like symptoms and took him to a doctor, who reportedly diagnosed the child with the flu. Three days later, however, her son's condition deteriorated — he became lethargic and was suffering from both a rash and conjunctivitis.
"[The doctors] took one look at him and said, 'You can get him to the hospital first or we can get an ambulance here,'" she recalled.
Edward-Lasenby said she drove "like a madwoman" to get her son to the hospital, where the staff there isolated him and a doctor confirmed that he had the measles.
"Initially, he had white spots on his mouth," she said. "He had conjunctivitis. He was really unwell. He continued to deteriorate, and a rash came all over his body. Then they were talking about brain damage — potential brain damage — and the potential loss of life too because it was quite serious."
Though Cameron was eventually treated, he came down with pneumonia, his mother said.
"We found that his immune system was compromised for 12 months afterwards," Edward-Lasenby said. "He was in and out of school on a regular basis."
When asked whether vaccinations were important, the mother stopped short of encouraging everyone to immunize their children but admitted that she had learned her lesson.
"I played Russian roulette with my son's health, which I'm not proud of," she said. "He understand that I made the best decision at the time."
The measles is a highly contagious virus that can lead to serious health complications for children, especially those under the age of 5, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between one and three out of 1,000 people with measles die every year, the agency further notes. Common symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing, red eyes and a rash.
Although vaccinations can be used to prevent the measles, a number of parents have expressed concerns over the possible link between vaccines and the development of autism. Studies, nevertheless, have repeatedly proven that there is no connection.
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Treatment, preventative care and vaccinations for measles across the world
Treatment, preventative care and vaccinations for measles across the world
A child receives a vaccination against measles by a family physician on April 16, 2018 in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.
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A family physician prepares a measles vaccine during a consultation on April 16, 2018 in the Romanian capital, Bucharest. - Measles still claims young lives in Romania, where nearly 40 children have died in an outbreak that many blame on parents being misled by scare stories that vaccinating them is dangerous. Some 12,000 people have contracted measles since late 2016 in the European Union's second-poorest country, 46 of them died. Among the dead, 39 were children under the age of three who had not been vaccinated, making Romania one of the worst affected countries in the ongoing measles outbreak in Europe. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)
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