Austism and Vaccines

A controversy that was big a couple of years ago was whether or not vaccines cause autism. Jenny McCarthy, a big name celebrity, used to spend time in the spotlight speaking out against vaccines, claiming that they caused autism in her son. The idea of stopping vaccines to prevent autism is worrisome for many doctors because all of the devastating diseases that have been eradicated by vaccines have the potential to come back, like polio for example.

The issue came about when in 1998, a medical journal named The Lancet, released a paper claiming that vaccines can cause autism in growing children. It was later found that this writer changed his findings, was completely biased, and unethically conducted research. This might seem plausible because children receive the suspected vaccines around the time they should be starting to talk/walk. So, when the children don’t begin to talk or walk, it seems like vaccines could be the cause. Therefore, despite the completely unreliable study, it is still a worry of many confused parents. This goes to show that one study can completely change the public’s opinion about a topic which can be severely detrimental to us, if we are wrongly informed.

Loads of studies have been done to see if there is a link between the disease with no known cause and vaccines. It was at one point thought that mercury-containing thimerosal causes the developmental issues so it was removed from vaccines. However, if this actually caused autism, there should have been a decrease in autism rates. There was no drop in the rates, so that adds a point in the favor of vaccines.

Studies to find evidence on the issue can be based on children who get vaccines and seeing their development in the years after. Many studies such as this have been done by the CDC and show no causal link between autism development and vaccinations. It might not be ethical to try studies such as a double-blind placebo trial.  We have established that vaccines prevent often-deadly diseases, so to randomly prevent children in a trial from getting them would be silly and potentially dangerous. It would be different if the vaccines were something like a controversial new cancer treatment, but we have pretty much decided that vaccines are good, so it would be of poor decision to deny children them.

Considering all of the studies done in favor of vaccines, and only one super-biased report against them, I, along with most scientists, would conclude that vaccines are safe and should be administered because there is no link between them and autism.


4 thoughts on “Austism and Vaccines

  1. Ann

    Many parents struggle with the choice of vaccination and how much medication is too much. Personally, I think if the vaccine is available, and is proven to prevent widespread disease, then it should be administered for the good of the child and society. Many children also HAVE to get vaccinated due to preexisting conditions such as asthma ( Doctors have been promoting vaccinations for so long, and they help so many that it is difficult to believe any physician would promote the vaccine if it truly caused autism.

  2. Katherine Jane Ballantyne Post author

    I can definitely sympathize for the families of children who develop autism, it must be so confusing and heartbreaking not knowing the cause. So, understandably, it’s nice to have somewhere to put the blame and hopefully prevent other parents from their same struggles. However, the CDC has pretty much concluded (as close as you can get in science,) that vaccines don’t cause autism.

  3. Alexandra Elizabeth Brooks

    In a recent episode of House that I have watched (I think this is scientifically correct what he was arguing) a couple brought their newborn into the hospital because he was sick, but they wouldn’t get him vaccinated because they didn’t want him to become autistic. House told the new parents they were idiots, and that they needed to get their child vaccinated so he would become healthy again. I completely agree with your argument, and the idea to me just seems silly. I think when parents are told their child has autism, they are very, very upset, and are looking for something to blame for the child’s genetic inefficiency. Although it’s sad children develop/ are born with autism, vaccines are not to blame for their misfortunes.

  4. Kaitlin A Kemmerer

    I found this blog post very interesting. One of my best friend’s brother has autism and her mom is completely against vaccinations. Even though scientists conclude that vaccines are not causing autism, I can’t help but question whether there is an underlying affect that is being missed because of all the controversy that arises when there is a new vaccine.

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