Why Were Vaccines Linked To Autism
In the late 1990s, some researchers raised concerns over the amount of thimerosala mercury-containing preservativefound in many children’s vaccines. Although thimerosal had been used as an anti-contamination agent for decades, the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccination was the only thimerosal-containing shot recommended for infants and children until 1991.
The researchers hypothesized that, as more thimerosal-containing vaccines like hepatitis B and Hib were added to the recommended schedule, babies were receiving too much of the chemical in too short a timeframe, which could potentially impact brain development.
In a totally separate issue around this time, another group of researchers lead by a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield theorized that children who received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine were more likely to develop autism than those who did not receive it. By January 2011, however, Dr. Wakefield’s study was discredited by the British Medical Journal.
Today, scientists and experts are confident that vaccines play no role in the onset of this developmental disorder. “More than a dozen studies across researchers, study designs, and populations have all concluded that there’s no relation between vaccines and autism,” says Matthew Daley, M.D.,; a pediatrician for Kaiser Permanente in Colorado and a researcher who studies vaccine topics. Read on to find out more about these studies.;
Why Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism
by Peter Hotez, Public Library of Science
I have a unique perspective on the recent headlines surrounding vaccines and their alleged links to autism. I serve as President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to vaccines and immunization. In that role I am director of its product development partnership based at Baylor College of Medicine the Sabin Vaccine Institute and Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, which makes vaccines for neglected tropical diseases a group of poverty-promoting parasitic and related infections including new vaccines for schistosomiasis, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis, among others.
But I’m also a father of four children, including my adult daughter Rachel who has autism and other mental disabilities. These two parts of my life place me at an interesting nexus in a national discussion of autism and vaccines. My position is firm: there is no link and I also believe there is no plausibility to such a link. My position is mostly based on the scientific literature, together with my perspective as an autism father witnessing first-hand the impact of this condition on Rachel and our family.
- the MMR vaccine,
- trace thimerosal used in some vaccines,
- the close spacing of vaccines.
Papers refuting links between childhood vaccines and autism
The three epidemiological studies are the newest ones in addition to the 21 page list of papers compiled by the American Academy of Pediatrics .
Myth #4: Vaccines Contain Unsafe Toxins
People have concerns over the use of formaldehyde, mercury or aluminum in vaccines. It’s true that these chemicals are toxic to the human body in certain levels, but only trace amounts of these chemicals are used in FDA approved vaccines. In fact, according to the FDA and the CDC, formaldehyde is produced at higher rates by our own metabolic systems and there is no scientific evidence that the low levels of this chemical, mercury or aluminum in vaccines can be harmful. See section III of this guide to review safety information about these chemicals and how they are used in vaccines.
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From Risk To Diagnosis
Genetics only create the risk of autism. Its environment that turns a genetic risk into an actual problem. So what is the environmental catalyst?
Theres no clear answer, but there is a short list of theories that have a growing and credible body of evidence to back them up.
The first is maternal nutrition.
Nutrition is very, very important, maybe even starting before pregnancy, said Wang.
Folic acid is now commonly prescribed to expectant moms to ward off birth defects. It may also help reduce the risk of autism. Interestingly, folic acid may steer developing infants with certain genetic risk profiles safely away from actual autism, while having no effect on those with distinct genetic risks.
After having a child, a mothers store of folic acid falls without a supplement. That may provide a simple explanation for another strange finding on autism: A study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2011 found that children conceived within a year after the birth of an older sibling were more likely to develop autism. The authors thought the most likely reason was maternal nutritional depletion of folic acid, iron, or polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Stress could also be a reason, the study noted. A mothers stress could interfere with normal developmental processes that lead to a healthy newborn
Some researchers also suspect that skyrocketing rates of obesity may be partly to blame for the uptick in ASD.
Myth #3: Natural Immunity Is Better Than Vaccine
In some cases, natural immunity meaning actually catching a disease and getting sick results in a stronger immunity to the disease than a vaccination. However, the dangers of this approach far outweigh the relative benefits. If you wanted to gain immunity to measles, for example, by contracting the disease, you would face a 1 in 500 chance of death from your symptoms. In contrast, the number of people who have had severe allergic reactions from an MMR vaccine, is less than one-in-one million.
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Vaccines Cannot And Do Not Cause Autism There’s No Debate
I’m a pediatrician and physician-scientist with a lifelong passion for developing, producing and testing new vaccines for poverty-related neglected diseases. My wife Ann and I are also the parents of an adult daughter with autism and associated intellectual disabilities.
This past weekend the journalist, Sharyl Attkisson, wrote an op-ed piece in The Hill claiming that a “debate” about vaccines and autism has just reopened. She further states that Robert F Kennedy Jr.’s recently launched Children’s Health Defense has accused U.S. Department of Justice attorneys of “alleged cover-up and misrepresentations” about vaccine-autism links and calls on the United States Congress, “for the sake of children,” to “re-examine both sides of the medical science.”
Since the start of the modern anti-vaccine movement 21 years ago, I have given a lot of thought to its major tenet claiming links between vaccines and autism, and in response, I just wrote a new book, “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.”
The book refutes those links while explaining the science of vaccines and autism and our very personal story about Rachel. I wrote it in response to serious declines in vaccine coverage in both the U.S. and Europe, resulting in a number of breakthrough outbreaks of measles , childhood deaths from influenza and poor uptake of the cervical cancer vaccine. Rachel herself is quite proud of the book and is excited about her contribution to science.
Vaccines do not cause autism
The Mmr Vaccine And Autism
Many people confuse the controversy over the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella with that of thimerosal, but the two have always been totally separate issues. In fact, MMR vaccines have never even contained thimerosal.
The link between MMR and autism gained traction following the publication of a very small British study published in a British medical journal, The Lancet. The study was lead by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and it concluded that children developed autism soon after they received the MMR vaccine. The theory: The measles portion of the shot causes inflammation and infection of the intestines, which can then spread dangerous proteins to the brain, causing damage that may lead to autism.
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Vaccines Dont Cause Autism
More than two decades ago, a doctor published a study claiming that vaccines can cause autism.
Now, a massive study of more than half a million children has confirmed what those in the medical community have been saying for two decades: vaccines dont cause autism.
But in an era when fringe theories can continue to spread online in spite of overwhelming counter-evidence,;some worry that studies alone wont be enough to effectively address the worlds vaccine crisis.
Problems With Herd Immunity
Parents who have relied on herd immunity, which takes place when the vast majority of a population is immune to a highly contagious disease like measles, can no longer do so.
To the parents who don’t trust the AAP, saying it is in the pockets of the vaccine industry, consider this. Of all the medical societies, it is the one which consistently lobbies for the benefit of moneyless patients: children. It doesn’t lobby for the pediatricians. Like child psychologists and psychiatrists, pediatricians have the best interests of the child, not the vaccine company, at heart. The huge amount of time they spend trying to convince parents to have their children vaccinated is unreimbursed. The amount they are paid for administering a vaccine is negligible.
Even Autism Speaks, a wellknown autism advocacy group which in the past has not helped encourage vaccinations, in 2015 urged parents to vaccinate their children with MMR. Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism, said Bob Ring, Chief Science Officer, in a statement at that time. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.
Myth #2: Infant Immune Systems Can’t Handle So Many Vaccines
Infant immune systems are stronger than you might think. Based on the number of antibodies present in the blood, a baby would theoretically have the ability to respond to around 10,000 vaccines at one time. Even if all 14 scheduled vaccines were given at once, it would only use up slightly more than 0.1% of a baby’s immune capacity. And scientists believe this capacity is purely theoretical. The immune system could never truly be overwhelmed because the cells in the system are constantly being replenished. In reality, babies are exposed to countless bacteria and viruses every day, and immunizations are negligible in comparison.
Though there are more vaccinations than ever before, today’s vaccines are far more efficient. Small children are actually exposed to fewer immunologic components overall than children in past decades.
Myth #1: Vaccines Cause Autism
The widespread fear that vaccines increase risk of autism originated with a 1997 study published by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon. The article was published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, suggesting that the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine was increasing autism in British children.
The paper has since been completely discredited due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet.
Nonetheless, the hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism.
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Getting The Flu Shot While Pregnant
This is one more study that can help provide peace of mind to people who are pregnant, said Dr. Christine Carlan Greves, a board certified OB-GYN at Orlando Health Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Florida.
Greves says theres no conclusive evidence that the flu shot causes autism, but with parental guilt, she does understand being concerned when parents see different reports on social media.
We all want to do the best we can as mama bear for our baby, she told Healthline. In no way would I recommend something unless I see the studies that show its benefits and that its not harmful.
Dr. Kevin Ban, chief medical officer at Walgreens, told Healthline that this finding, among other scientific studies shared by the CDC further reinforces that getting a flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy.
But experts say online misinformation and myths about vaccines and autism still pose a threat to vaccination rates.
Its quite possible to see certain things out there that dont give you that sense of peace, and that just rock your heart, and leave you wondering if youre hurting your baby by doing this to protect yourself, said Greves.
The flu shot is the best defense that we have at not getting the flu, she added.
Myth #5: Better Hygiene And Sanitation Are Actually Responsible For Decreased Infections Not Vaccines
Vaccines don’t deserve all the credit for reducing or eliminating rates of infectious disease. Better sanitation, nutrition, and the development of antibiotics helped a lot too. But when these factors are isolated and rates of infectious disease are scrutinized, the role of vaccines cannot be denied.
One example is measles in the United States. When the first measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, rates of infection had been holding steady at around 400,000 cases a year. And while hygienic habits and sanitation didn’t change much over the following decade, the rate of measles infections dropped precipitously following the introduction of the vaccine, with only around 25,000 cases by 1970. Another example is Hib disease. According to CDC data, the incidence rate for this malady plummeted from 20,000 in 1990 to around 1,500 in 1993, following the introduction of the vaccine.
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Why Are Autism Rates Increasing
The biggest question about autism is why the diagnosis rate is increasing so quickly.
It has more than doubled since 2001, now affecting one in 42 boys and one in 189 girls.
Broader diagnostic criteria account for some of that growth, experts say, but not all. In fact, ASD is still probably underdiagnosed in less affluent communities, experts said.
A recent analysis found that changing diagnostic and reporting criteria account for 60 percent of the increase in autism rates. In other words, the disorder may not be increasing quite as fast as the numbers indicate, but it is still on the rise.
We believe that there is a very real increase in autism cases that cannot be fully attributed to changes in diagnosis and awareness, Wang said.
Autism has a genetic component, but genes alone cant account for the increasing prevalence of the disorder. And how exactly autism risk works remains unclear, at least for the layperson.
In about 1 in 3 sets of identical twins, one twin develops autism and the other does not. A recent study found that even in siblings who both have autism, the genetic fingerprints of the disease are not the same.
There must be an environmental component as well, researchers agree but what is it?
What picture of autism can we draw from these seemingly unrelated findings?
Vaccines Dont Cause Autism So What Does
Despite a flurry of research on autism spectrum disorder, the syndrome remains mysterious to most Americans. But experts say the answers are starting to come into focus.
Autism was once considered the kiss of parenting death, as Dr. Lawrence Diller, an expert in childhood developmental disorders and author of the influential book Remembering Ritalin, put it.
Before autism came to be seen as a spectrum of disorders ranging in severity, a diagnosis meant that the parent would have no relationship with their child, Diller said.
Those affected by autism have difficulties communicating and interacting with others.
With milder cases diagnosed as part of autism spectrum disorder , autism isnt a parenting death sentence anymore. But with rates of the developmental disorder doubling over the past decade, would-be parents still dread it. Researchers have hustled to provide some answers.
The discoveries theyve made can, for the nonscientist, seem to increase rather than whittle away at the mystery of autism.
Its due in part to the many unanswered questions about this disorder that debunked research blaming vaccines for autism has continued to sway some parents.
One scientific certainty, reached after reviewing decades of studies on the effects of routine childhood vaccinations, is that the measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR, vaccine is not linked to autism .
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Is There Any Scientific Evidence Of A Connection Between Vaccines And Autism
No. Vaccines in routine use in the United States do not cause autism. There have been 13 methodologically sound, controlled epidemiological studies reporting no association between autism spectrum disorders and receipt of MMR vaccine, thimerosal in vaccine, and simultaneous vaccination with multiple vaccines, in addition to the relevant systematic reviews and one meta-analysis.
The evidence from all studies, including methodologically flawed studies, have been reviewed by the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. All have concluded that vaccines do not cause autism or ASD.
Myth #6: Vaccines Aren’t Worth The Risk
Despite parent concerns, children have been successfully vaccinated for decades. In fact, there has never been a single credible study linking vaccines to long term health conditions.
As for immediate danger from vaccines, in the form of allergic reactions or severe side effects, the incidence of death are so rare they can’t even truly be calculated. For example, only one death was reported to the CDC between 1990 and 1992 that was attributable to a vaccine. The overall incidence rate of severe allergic reaction to vaccines is usually placed around one case for every one or two million injections.
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