The autism and vaccines debate rages on. And if you're in the middle of the discussion it can become quite heated. Some parents feel strongly their child got autism due to vaccines or due to an ingredient in the vaccine. Other parents will tell you immunizations had nothing to do with their child's ASD, and they'll refute the opposing point-of-view citing the several studies that have been performed. You may hear words like quackery, pseudo science, and big pharma thrown around.
Jenny McCarthy has taken a stance. And the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has taken a stance. Senators have spoke out about it, and doctors have spoke out about it.
In 1998, a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield concluded the Measles Mumps Rubella (MMR) vaccine was the cause of autism spectrum disorders. Today, some people also allege that a preservative in vaccines called Thimerosal, which contains mercury, is a main culprit.
So where should you stand on the issue of autism and vaccines? What it comes down to is that you have to do your homework and make your own decision. There's a lot of information floating around on this topic. There's simply too much out there to read and analyze and cross-reference. But, below are two different views from two different parents, both who have children on the autism spectrum. Hopefully this will give you an idea of where to start.
Vaccines Are a Non-Issue
Routine vaccines prevent illness and death. It's been proven. Could they be better? Sure. Nothing's perfect.
But they don't cause autism and that has also been proven. Not a single valid study has shown any kind of link between mercury and
autism, or MMR and autism - not one. Moreover, no study and nobody has found a cause for ASD at all.
Some people question the credibility of the studies that show no correlation between autism and vaccines. In fact, when studies are made public and open for peer review that's exactly the point, to make sure the study is good and valid. When a study is peer reviewed and found to contain all the proper criteria the argument about whether the findings are valid is a dead issue. Say what you want about how biased the people who performed the study are, but once the study is peer reviewed it's end of story. And that's precisely why this whole issue is a manufactured controversy.
Andrew Wakefield's reckless announcement in 1998 caused a huge stir and quite an uproar. But Dr. Wakefield's study was later found to be terribly flawed and biased. It didn't pass peer review. In fact, Wakefield himself admitted that a lawyer had paid him a substantial amount of money to establish that MMR was the cause of autism.1 And several of the children in Wakefield's study were children of litigants.2 He is a fraud! And today he is barred from practicing medicine in the UK.
The 2005 book Evidence of Harm by David Kirby was an instant best seller despite the fact that no evidence existed to back up his theories. Hollywood saw this scandal getting bigger and bigger and decided to take it to the silver screen. In 2006 Participant Productions who had also turned out Syriana and other movies optioned the movie rights for Evidence of Harm and began production. But the movie would never be completed. By the very next year so many studies were published finding no link between autism and vaccine that Participant Productions dumped Evidence of Harm.
When Thimerosal was largely removed from vaccines
autism rates did not decline - they steadily increased.3 That speaks volumes about the theory of a link between autism and vaccines.
These days anyone can throw up a website and put their opinions out there for everybody to read, including celebrities. Be careful which ideas you lend credibility to, and don't take somebody's word for it - look deeper and peak behind the curtain for yourself.
Also, there are guidelines that credible scientific studies must follow. Before you take the results of a study to be fact, make sure the study was performed in a manner consistent with those guidelines.
No need for a jury (though a 2009 court ruling4also found no causal link) it's clear that no correlation exists between autism and vaccines.
A Serious Issue: Autism and Vaccines
Since the 1970’s, the number of recommended vaccines before school age has jumped from 10 to 36, with the increase in autism following that trajectory. The myth that this increase is due to better diagnosis has been soundly debunked.5 Why the huge leap in the number of shots? It all began in 1986 when a law was enacted shielding vaccine manufacturers from liability. Vaccine makers had threatened to stop producing vaccines due to crippling lawsuits for vaccine injuries and deaths.
The government has awarded nearly $2 billion to families of vaccine-damaged children while telling us vaccines are “safe.” Vaccines are also contributing to the U.S. having one of the highest infant mortality rates of all industrialized nations, with “SIDS” spiking at the same time infants receive their 2-month and 4-month shots.6 The medical establishment calls this “coincidence,” as they do the thousands of reports by parents that their children regressed into autism following vaccines. CDC has never conducted safety studies of multiple vaccines; shots have only been studied singly.
The link between autism and vaccines is so well established by science, approximately 500 peer-reviewed studies show this association – from animal studies in which rats and monkeys show traits of autism after receiving vaccines, to an autopsy study conducted at Harvard which showed mercury in the brains of deceased autistic people. Mercury has long been at the center of the autism and vaccines controversy because a vaccine preservative called Thimerosal is used in most childhood immunizations. Though reduced to “trace amounts” between 2001 and 2003, the flu shot was added to the schedule around that time – recommended annually from infancy through age 18 - with the full 25 mcg's of Thimerosal in most shots - including to pregnant women. Mercury has an affinity for the fetus as well as for the brain and central nervous system. The FDA has never done safety studies of Thimerosal, and a congressional committee concluded the epidemic may have been prevented “had the FDA not been asleep at the switch…indicative of institutional malfeasance for self-protection and misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.”8
Similarities between symptoms of mercury poisoning and autism are too numerous to be coincidental.9 Pharmaceutical companies tout 14 very flawed epidemiological studies showing no link between autism and vaccines - reminiscent of the tobacco companies telling us for 50 years that 23 epidemiological studies showed no link between smoking and lung cancer. Autism has been reversed following chelation of mercury and DAN methods, but the medical community claims such cases were originally misdiagnosed.11
Former CDC Director Gerberding told CNN that vaccines can trigger autism in a susceptible subset of children.12 And Dr. Bernadine Healy, former NIH Director, told CBS News that she thinks that the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the autism and vaccines hypothesis as irrational.13 She said public health officials have intentionally avoided researching whether subsets of children are “susceptible” to vaccine side effects - afraid the answer will scare the public.
We need to follow an alternate vaccine schedule. Educate before you vaccinate!