Monday, June 14, 2010

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

First things first...my daughter is doing much better and is back at school. Antibiotics can be a wonderful thing. She was even well enough to participate in her dance recital yesterday. She looked really cute and enjoyed performing. I knew she was feeling better on Saturday when she was telling me about molecules. After I asked her if she learned about molecules at school, she said she read about them in her science encyclopedia. Look out first grade!

I found this site call Juice Box Jungle. They have pretty funny videos on parenting, so I spent some time the other day watching them. I thought I'd share this one:

More parenting videos on JuiceBoxJungle



Hey, I tackled one controversial topic on Friday's post, why not do another one? The question of whether vaccines cause autism is a very heated one in the autism community. Some parents will insist they had a perfectly normal baby until they had their one year shots, and the baby was never the same after that. Both my private practitioner and my OB are from other countries, and they both think American doctors give too many shots. Neither the Canadian-born doctor nor the Irish-born doctor feel flu shots are really necessary. They do support vaccinations in general, however.

The first question to ask is "What is autism?" I don't think anyone really knows. People know the symptoms of autism, such as having a difficult time communicating, for example. But is there a single cause or does autism actually consist of many different things that look the same, but aren't? My own personal theory is that autism is not one disorder, but a variety of disorders that actually appear similar, but are not. I base my opinion on the fact that some kids have wonderful success on a casein free, gluten free diet, while it does absolutely nothing for other kids. Also, certain treatments and therapies work great for some kids, but not for others.

I bring up this point to say that maybe some children's autism is caused by an allergic reaction to vaccines or other weird interaction with the central nervous system. However, it is my belief that vaccines do not cause the vast majority of autism cases. A recent study that was published last week found a wide variety of genetic markers which supported the widely-held view that autism is generally genetic. The study found that children whose parents didn't have a family history of autism still had these genetic markers from genetic mutations. It is not uncommon for many families who have autistic children can usually find other family members on the spectrum.

In another recent story, a medical journal retracted a 1998 research study that did link a key vaccine to autism. They did the retraction because the lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research. This study had been the only study to have found a link between vaccines and autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention praised the retraction, saying, "It builds on the overwhelming body of research by the world's leading scientists that concludes there is no link between MMR vaccine and autism."

I belief that vaccines have added to the overall quality of life and are important to continue. However, it might be worth studying to see if the vaccines can be spread out over a longer period of time to decrease any possible adverse reactions that they might be causing with some children.

Also, if cases of autism are being caused by genetic mutations, it might be worth studying what else in the environment might be causing this. There has been a sizable increase, not only of autism, but of allergies and other autoimmune diseases as well. I think studies of other environmental causes is warranted.

12 comments:

  1. You did a fantastic job taking on such a controversial topic! Do you read Adventures in Xtreme Parenting? She has two little boys who have autism and has written about this, too. If you don't read her, you should- I think you'd love her.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great job on finding a neutral zone here. I could wax eloquent on the vagaries of animal vaccines, but it may not cross over to humans. Just suffice it to say, it's an inexact science at best.

    I agree that the whys and wherefores of genetic mutations need further study to determine the causes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We believe in vaccines but we just spread them out. For instance, my daughter never gets more than 2 shots at a time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think more research needs to be done on the genetic and environmental factors. The whole debate over vaccines is taking away attention from other areas of research. My son was always, different, and he didn't even get the usual 1 year vaccines. He is also allergic to milk and wheat so that knocks out that therapy/treatment.

    ReplyDelete
  5. i think its gentic.. my friend has two sons on the spectrum one was vaccinated one wasnt...i have to be honest vaccines in general though freak me out i was the only person in my town whos kids didnt get the swine flu vaccine

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is a topic that gets me. I see the benefit of vaccines (especially when cases of illnesses not seen in a long time are starting to pop up again due to not vaccinating your child). I also don't want to over do it with my kids. The ones that are optional here in Canada my kids don't get.
    I have also known many families with a form of autism in them and can see it playing out in generations. Personally I do believe it is more to do with genetics than vaccines.
    I really do enjoy your blog and the insights that you give. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I don't really think its vaccines either but i don't know everything so i can't say for sure.

    genetics? maybe. probably. I only have one with autism though and 5 others without...I guess he got the lucky genes. There is defnately add/hd on their genes though and they probably all have that but varying degrees.

    environmental? maybe. James was born in CA too and there were 4 other kids living in close proximity to us that i knew that had autism/aspergers. i read an article once about proximity and how it was common for neighbors to have it but they don't know why and an another article about autism clusters and how a great amount was in CA..mostly in san diego and those areas and another cluster in san mateo/santa clara which is where we lived when James was born until he was 18mo....you can google it if u want...I kinda think its true just from the number of people that I know from those places with aspergers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND WITH 4 BOYS...3 ARE AUTISTIC, 1 ASPERGERS AND THE TWINS ARE SERVERLY AUTISTIC AND HER YOUNGEST SHOWS NO SIGNS AND HE'S 5. THEY ARE AN AMAZING FAMILY AND I SUPPORT THEM ANYWAY I CAN! PERSONALLY I THINK IT'S JUST AN ENVIORMENTAL ISSUE OR MAYBE THERE WERE ALWAYS MORE CHALLEGED PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BUT THEY WERE HIDDEN OR MAYBE WE HAVE FINALLY LEARNED THAT PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE AND IT'S OUR JOB TO TAKE CARE OF THEN REGARDLESS OF THERE NEEDS.
    PERSONALLY I AM ALWAYS INTESTED TO HEAR HOW OTHER VIEW SPECIAL NEEDS ACROSS THE SPECTRUM.
    SORRY ABOUT THE CAPS...I PROMISE I AM NOT YELLING BUT I WAS HALFWAY THRU WHEN I REALAIZED IT WAS ON!
    HAVE A GREAT DAY

    ReplyDelete
  9. Vaccines do cause Autism. The condition is caused by the pathogens that are present in each vial. What lies in your family's genes will determine what condition your child will be left with after their shots. Certain viruses and heavy metals cause gene mutations (hint-hint vaccines). The Vaccine Program is the biggest crime against humanity. The damaging effects will be seen for generations to come - regardless of whether you vaccinate or not. If you want to know what they have done to humanity, either google "vaccine contamination" or read, "Fear of the Invisible" by Janine Roberts.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I think that the most controversial thing you can say on this topic is "I don't know". Everyone in the autism community wants you to take a side.

    My autistic daughter did not regress after MMR, but rather had issues from day 1. BUT I had rhogam shots and a flu vaccination while I was pregnant. Who knows if that caused her autism. I feel that the focus on MMR distracts from researching other potential causes, like these other shots, like other pharmaceuticals, environmental toxins, etc.

    Having said all of that, we did not do the kindergarten boosters...because I JUST DON'T KNOW!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just found your blog and will be coming back! I'm a behavior therapist at an early intervention center but also a new mama to a 7 month old, so the vaccine issue definitely came up in my mind. I considered delaying her vaccines as I heard from others that this could help decrease potential side effects. I've worked with many parents who are sure that vaccines caused their childs' autism, but I believe in the science behind the reality that vaccines do not cause autism. Here is a study regarding a delayed vaccine schedule you might find interesting: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2009-2489v1

    I too agree that more research needs to be done regarding environmental and genetic factors. It seems like an issue that has somehow become celebratized, maybe due to Jenny McCarthy "curing" her son, I don't know.

    Anyway, love your writing, just wanted to throw my 2 cents in!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I have written about this a little on my blog after reading a couple of Jenny McCarthy's books about her son. I don't believe that vaccines cause autism. I think that maybe if a child ALREADY has the gene or is predisposed, it might TRIGGER it sooner than it would happen naturally, but I think that any child who ends up autistic was going to end up that way eventually. I definitely think that it would be much more valuable to consider environmental factors as well as the possibility that autism is being overdiagnosed. As with McCarthy's son, I think there are probably a lot of kids out there with other neurological conditions that are being thrown onto the autistic spectrum because it's kind of a big thing currently. Great post!

    ReplyDelete