I feel it is important to write about this because there is a lot of controversay out there surrounding it. There are a lot of parents who are not vaccinating their children because they think there is an increased risk that they will get autism from the vaccine, particularly the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine). Even Oprah last year had Jenny McCarthy on her show because her son who was diagnosed with Autism and "is now in recovery". I know that I can not relate to this because I don't have children and especially because I have not been in a situation where my child has been diagnosed with Autism, however, I do want to discuss what I have learned recently about this subject because I can empathize with families who ARE dealing with this.
First of all, I do not want to say that people shouldn't question what they are their health care providers are putting in their body. I think they SHOULD question and educate themselves. However, knowing WHERE you are getting the information is important. Checking out any book or ANY website on the internet is NOT the answer. The place I recommend researching is the CDC (Center for Disease Control) when researching anything with health. THis is what health care providers use. The website about vaccines is:
The issues surround autism and vaccines started with 2 research articles by Andrew Wakefield that hypothesized that the MMR vaccine caused Autism. To read more about this, go to the AMA (American Medical Assoication):
There are also news articles and 20/20 specials that say these things too. Before accepting all these as fact, it is important to arm yourself with information that is factual. I believe the CDC does a good job of this because they are their own entity, they don't get money from drug reps or other businesses to make certain statements. They research these issues and report the results.
I spoke with a Pediatric Neurologist about this issue who takes care of children with autism. He said there is no substantial research that supports the idea that vaccines are directly related to MMR. He said one issue he has noted is that Autism usually peaks and is diagnosed around the age of 1, the same age that children receive their 1st MMR vaccine. This is why a lot of people make the correlation between the vaccine and Autism.
THe other problem is that there is no definitive cause that has been associated with Autism. It's not like diabetes or heart disease where we know the reasons that cause it.
The bottom line is, parents need to have the facts about these issues before making the decision NOT to vaccinate their children. Vaccines have been created to prevent people from HAVING certain diseases such as Smallpox (no longer an issue), Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella. Many of these diseases are deadly or life altering. Before the decision is made to NOT vaccinate your child, know your facts. Don't make a decision based on a few articles written. If everyone makes the decision NOT to vaccinate their child, it puts others at risk in the long term for HAVING the diseases mentioned above. I don't think anyone wants to see POLIO or RUBELLA as the norm for children again because they haven't been vaccinated.
AGAIN, I want to stress that I empathize with families who are dealing with Autism. It is difficult, but don't automatically jump to the conclusion that vaccines are the only culprit. We all want to know the WHY's and how things are caused, and I suppose blame has to be put somewhere. Sometimes though, we just DON'T know. Although difficult, we have to educate ourselves and know before we assume.
I'll get off my soap box now and as always would love to hear YOUR opinions...