If you have a child between the ages of 9 and 26, your pediatrician may want to discuss Gardasil, which is a vaccine that helps protect the body from four types of human papillomavirus, or HPV.  If you could reduce your child's risk of cervical cancer by up to 75 percent, wouldn't you?

If you have a child between the ages of 9 and 26, your pediatrician may want to discuss Gardasil.


Gardasil is a vaccine that helps protect the body from four types of human papillomavirus, or HPV.


HPV is a virus that causes cervical cancer as well as benign, precancerous and cancerous genital lesions of the vagina and vulva in women and genital warts in women and men.


There are over 100 types of HPV virus, but only four types (the four types covered by the vaccine) cause up to 75 percent of cervical cancers in women and up to 90 percent of genital warts in women and men. Cancerous lesions of the penis related to HPV in men are very rare.


HPV is transmitted through any type of genital contact. HPV is so common, it is now believed to affect up to 80 percent of people at some point in their lifetime.


The vaccine is now available for girls and boys ages 9-26. The vaccine should ideally be given prior to any sexual activity for maximum benefit; however, it can be given even after sexual activity has begun and may protect an individual from acquiring new infections.


Gardasil does not treat HPV infections that may already be present, but it can prevent new infections from occurring. It is given in three separate injections over a six-month time period.


Most common side effects include pain, swelling and redness at the injection site, headache and fever. Rarely, dizziness, breathing problems and fainting can occur.


Remember, Gardasil does not replace the need for cervical cancer screening with Pap smears. All women should start screening with Pap smears at age 21 and at specific intervals following. How frequently Pap smears will be recommended will depend on your history and risk factors.


See your gynecologist for the new screening recommendations, or visit our website www.sogababy.com.


If you could reduce your child's risk of cervical cancer by up to 75 percent, wouldn't you?


For more information or questions, visit the Center for Disease Control website  or www.gardasil.com.


Dr. Lucinda Hany is with Springfield (Ill.) Clinic Obstetrics and Gynecology. This column was originally featured on the Springfieldmoms.org website. 


-- Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)