BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Deadly diseases, once nearly wiped out, are making a frightening comeback in Maryland and across the country. Now -- a warning that parents who don't vaccinate their children are putting others at risk.
Linh Bui explores an alarming and controversial trend.
Measles, mumps, whooping cough -- all deadly diseases. Until recently, they were virtually eliminated thanks to vaccines that prevent kids from getting sick.
But now doctors see an alarming trend -- more and more people are coming down with these diseases.
"Kids die from measles on a regular basis. Kids are in hospitals and can die from whooping cough very commonly. So these kids are at risk," said Dr. Scott Krugman, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center.
Here in Maryland, cases of whooping cough are skyrocketing -- tripling from 123 cases in 2011 to nearly 370 last year. Outbreaks of measles and mumps have swept through states across the country.
Just how serious a problem is it when a child gets sick? Summer Robinson experienced it firsthand. Her son, Roarik, was just 3 weeks old when whooping cough put him in intensive care for five days and nearly killed him.
Bui: "When you went to the hospital and he was diagnosed with whooping cough, what went through your mind?"
Robinson: "You worry about, are they going to start breathing again? If they do start breathing, how long have they not been breathing? What are the side effects of that going to be? It's just so scary."
Too young for the recommended vaccine, Roarik was defenseless. He's living proof one contagious person can start an outbreak.
"If your 10-year-old has it and you're in Wal-Mart near my 3-week-old baby, you could essentially kill my 3-week-old baby because you didn't want to vaccinate your child," said Robinson.
So, if these diseases can be prevented by a vaccine, why is a growing number of parents not getting their children the shots? Some fear the vaccines can do more harm than good.
"These vaccines and all of these doses also can be deadly," an Annapolis mom said.
After researching vaccines and talking with doctors, an Annapolis mom decided not to vaccinate her young children. She asked WJZ to hide her identity because other parents are angry her kids could put their kids in danger.
Bui: "What happened that led you to make this decision not to vaccinate your kids?"
Annapolis mom: "It just didn't' make sense to me. I didn't understand why a little human had to get so many drugs at one time."
She believes her family's healthy lifestyle will keep her children from getting sick. But most doctors insist that's not enough.
"It doesn't matter what vitamins they're on, how healthy they are, how natural everything is, everything organic. It's irrelevant. Your child is going to get sick," said Krugman.
"You don't ever want to go through that. You don't ever want to be in an ICU not knowing if your child is going to live, especially over a disease that's supposed to be preventable," Robinson said.
In Maryland, children must be immunized to attend school, but can be exempt for medical or religious reasons.
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