HEALTHATON: Question 2: Vaccines and Autism

 

2. Vaccines, what are your thoughts on them, and what if anything should we be doing?

 

Dr. Kari Miller:

Currently, there is not a proven link between vaccines or mercury and autism.  We simply don’t know what is triggering the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder.

 

Any vaccine may be harmful to any given child, but in terms of being a cause of autism, this has not been proven.  Some experts speculate that the appearance of autism symptoms may simply coincide with the standard timetable for administering particular vaccines; in other words, it may be a coincidence.

 

It’s very important to continue to vaccinate your child against serious diseases.  The risk of developing a life-altering or fatal illness is too great when a child is not vaccinated.  It’s also important to carefully monitor the frequency of vaccination.

 

Even though there is no indisputable evidence of the cause, or causes of autism, it is wise to follow a common sense approach to living in a world of chemicals, fast foods, ….etc. and to limit exposure to risk factors.

 

While the evidence is by no means conclusive, we should limit exposure to lead, household chemicals, chemicals used to treat food or kill pests, and food additives.  We simply don’t have enough information about how they affect our children.  We need to err on the side of caution and live as green and simple a life as we are capable of living.

 

Amy Hummel:

Statement by Autism Speaks Regarding February 12 Vaccine Court Decision

 

Today the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program ruled that the combination MMR vaccine — with and without the preservative thimerosal — did not contribute to three particular children’s autism. These latest rulings are limited, and do not mitigate the need for further scientific investigation.

 

The causes of autism remain poorly understood. Autism Speaks funds an aggressive program of research on the causes and best treatments for autism. We will continue to support authoritative research that addresses unanswered questions about whether certain subgroups of individuals with particular underlying medical or genetic conditions may be more vulnerable to adverse effects of vaccines. While large scale studies have not shown a link between vaccines and autism, there are lingering legitimate questions about the safety of vaccines that must be addressed. Our families deserve nothing less than an exhaustive search using a rigorous scientific approach.

 

The millions of Americans affected by autism continue to seek answers to a wide array of critical questions, from what genetic and environmental factors may contribute to autism to how we can develop better treatments and effective methods for early diagnosis. Their everyday struggles and frustrations continue, as they fight for insurance coverage, services and access to education, while also bearing tremendous financial and emotional burdens.

 

 

 

Information About Vaccines and Autism

 

January 3, 2010

 

Many studies have been conducted on large populations of individuals to determine if a link exists between vaccination–specifically the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and thimerosal-containing vaccines–and increases in the prevalence of autism. These epidemiologic studies provide evidence against the hypothesis that either the MMR vaccine or thimerosal is linked to the increased prevalence of autism. Thus, given the present state of the science, the proven benefits of vaccinating a child to protect them against serious diseases outweigh the hypothesized risk that vaccinations might cause autism.

 

We recognize, however, that some parents may still have concerns, especially those parents who already have a child or relative with an autism spectrum disorder, and who believe that siblings may therefore be at increased risk. Because it remains possible that specific genetic or medical factors present in a small minority of the general population might lead to an adverse vaccine response, Autism Speaks and other advocacy organizations are investing in research to determine whether subsets of individuals might be at increased risk for developing autism symptoms following vaccination. In parallel, it is important to make a sustained investment in monitoring and optimizing vaccine safety relating to variations in manufacture, new vaccines, and new combinations of vaccines.

 

Because parents and guardians differ in their sensitivity and concern about this issue, we urge parents to find a pediatrician or health practitioner who will partner with them to consider their concerns, and help them ensure the optimal well-being of their child. We recommend that the decision of when and how to vaccinate be made after a thoughtful and thorough review of all the options, benefits, and risks in consultation with their own pediatrician. For example, while to date no published studies have evaluated the efficacy of alternative vaccine schedules, some parents are choosing to use these schedules in consultation with their child’s physician.

 

More information for physicians regarding exploring acceptable options can be found on the CDC website.

 

Ultimately, ensuring that open communication, flexibility and trust are hallmarks of your relationship with your doctor is your best strategy for making appropriate choices concerning vaccination and your child’s health.

 

Read an interview with Dr. Geri Dawson, Chief Science Officer, Autism Speaks, about the organization’s position on vaccines and autism.

 

Abby Twyman:

There is no evidence to support the hypothesis that vaccines have any relation to the autism diagnosis. There have been multiple studies (see links below) which have disproven this hypothesis. While parents always reserve the right to choose whether or not to get their children vaccinated, I believe this is a dangerous choice. The advent of vaccines have eliminated or drastically reduced occurrences of many fatal diseases. When children do not get vaccinated to prevent these diseases their health and the health of others with compromised immune systems (i.e. infants who have not yet been vaccinated, the elderly, etc.) are at risk. This is socially irresponsible and can cause irreparable harm to their child and others.

 

Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association

 

MMR and autism: further evidence against a causal association

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