Vaccine Case: Proof That There is a Link Between Autism and Immunizations?

photo of nurse giving a shot immunization causes autism vintage pictures black and white photos

I don’t immunize my children.  And before many of you start with the finger wagging, let me tell you: it wasn’t a decision I came to lightly.  After agonizing and weighing the benefits and the risks, I decide against immunizing.  Yep, there are a couple of vaccines that do I allow my kids to receive, but for the most part we are an immunization-free family.

For me, what it came down was the idea that I’m not willing to gamble with the health of my children.  End of story.  I’m okay with other people’s decision to vaccinate.  I’m sure that they weighed their options the same way I did.  And really, I don’t fault them for coming to a different conclusion than I apparently have.   That’s the beauty of America — we don’t have to have the same ideas or practice the same brands of livelihood.

However, there is been a lot of debate as to whether or not the rise in autism has been spurred on by childhood immunizations.  Most people seem to believe that there is no connection. But I think in some cases, there is.  And I’m not the only one, either:  perhaps the recent lawsuit against the federal government in which a family of an …

… autistic child earned a whopping 1.5 million may change a few minds on the topic of whether or not immunizations play a role — no matter how minor — in the childhood development of autism.

At nineteen months Hannah Poling was a normal toddler.  At a doctor’s appointment, her pediatrician noted that she was alert and well-spoken.  That very same day she received 5 different shots containing nine immunizations.

Hannah’s body did not react well.

“My daughter, who had been completely normal until getting nine vaccinations in one day, was suddenly no longer there,” said Terry Poling, Hannah’s mother.

Now, eight years later Hannah has permanent brain damage and autistic-like symptoms.

It appears that Hannah had an underlying cell disorder that her parents and doctor were unaware of.   When coupled with the drugs in the immunizations she received, she was caused irreparable damage.

Though Hannah’s parents may be resenting the fact that they allowed their child to be immunized, it is a victory of sorts for certain people in that this is the first court case that has acknowledged a link between autism and immunizations.  As for me?  I’d say that this is some pretty heavy evidence pointing to the likelihood of the immunization-autism connection in some children.

I’m not arguing that people should stop immunizing — not at all.  My hope and aim is that health officials find a way to diagnose underlying health risks similar to the ones Hannah had.  That way children who are susceptible to having severe side effects from immunizations will be spared.  I really believe this is the answer to avoiding future cases similar to Hannah Poling’s.  No one’s saying to stop certain medical practices — it lies more with making educated decisions than anything else, and really, what’s more important than that?



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121 thoughts on “Vaccine Case: Proof That There is a Link Between Autism and Immunizations?

  1. I have to respectfully disagree. My mother was one of the last wave of children in America to be affected by the polio virus. She was bedridden due to partial paralysis for the better part of a year, but was one of the extraordinarily lucky ones who recover their ability to walk. Who gets polio these days? No one. Why? Vaccinations.

    The reason we see so many more cases of autism these days is not because there ARE more. We see more because our diagnosing of the autism spectrum has broadened to include people who would not have previously been diagnosed.

    There is so much more to fear from the diseases we have all but conquered, and creating little carriers out of children who’s parents refuse to vaccinate them out of what amounts to little more than modern superstition.

  2. “For me, what it came down was the idea that I’m not willing to gamble with the health of my children.”
    You are anyway, whether you want to admit it or not you are gambling with the health of your child by not getting vaccinations, you are taking the bet that your kids won’t get those illnesses or that if they do they will survive, and with no permanent damage.
    .
    I’m sorry that such a horrible thing happened to Hannah, but she had an extremely rare allergic reaction due to an already present condition, she did NOT develop autism, she had brain damage, those are two very different things.
    .
    I’m really trying to be polite here so sorry if this comes off harsh, but I’m gonna go ahead and side with the dozens of studies that have found no “heavy evidence” of any kind to link life saving vaccinations with autism.

    • The autism reaction happens more often than you think, as do allergic reactions. We are continually adding more vaccines, never taking any down from a mandatory status. There is even a required one for chicken pox (in the US). What used to be a right of passage has now become another paycheck for medical supply companies. Did you know that doctor’s make the most profit from giving shots? It’s fast, fairly cheap for them to buy but their pay back after reimbursement from the insurance companies is on % one of the highest. I’m not saying there is some big conspiracy going on with doctors and medical companies in back rooms but it certainly sounds like a big motivator not to buy into the growing concerns parents have. Most doctors reassure their patients with the usual “of course it’s safe, our government wouldn’t allow it if it weren’t.” *cough* deet *cough* Within about a month of the HPV vaccine hitting the shelves there was a bill being pushed to try to make it mandatory (for women only). To date it has been in commercial use for only 4 years! There are other risks associated with vaccines. Allergic reactions resulting in traumatic brain injury, food allergies, and now there is a steep correlation with hyperactivity in boys. A vaccinated boy is 2.5 times more likely to develop ADD. Interesting that boys are also more genetically pre-disposed to autism than girls are. A lot have blamed the mercury in the vaccinations as a cause. The amount per volume has been significantly reduced…although not until fairly recently and not until enough watch guard groups made a big enough deal about it. Funny, we’ve known mercury can be lethal or damaging since the 1800s and yet we put it in shots we administer to infants? Why? Because it’s a cheap filler and having to find another chemical that could act as a stabilizer was too expensive. Vaccines have their purpose. Polio, TB, etc. But we get into dangerous territory when we decide to blindly go with the social norm and have our bodily rights stripped.

      • Good god Sara.
        Do you really believe all of this?
        PLEASE please please – go back – read all of the postings above, go to the links.
        Then sleep on it. Investigate the sources from whence the information came.
        Conspiracy theorists are generally laughed at because they are worthy of scorn. Keep that in mind.

        Pay particular attention to some of the data that anemOne provided, they truly know what they’re talking about.

      • That is such complete bullshit, that I feel bad for you for believing such garbage.
        Vaccinations are not big sources of money for drug companies. You will get one vaccination of any given type once in your lifetime- there is no money in a medical product that is guaranteed to only be needed once. Real pharmaceutical revenue is to be found in repeat drugs- such as Viagra, sleeping pills and Lipator- convenience drugs which the public creates a demand more, and aren’t medically required. The actual mark up in vaccinations is extremely small in comparison to most prescriptions, so if the evil drug companies were looking to steal your money and poison your children, they’d be far more likely to some form of convenience drug that requires refill prescriptions (not to mention, that if there was some evil pharmaceutical kingpin valuing revenue over human life, vaccines would be a horrible business decision.You could make far more money selling drugs to alleviate the symptoms of such communicable diseases than you could in preventing them in the first place).

      • Thimerosal hasn’t been in vaccines in a long time. If you want to blame the mercury for autism, then the rates of autism should be right back down since they stopped using it.
        Wow! that was disproved in seconds!
        Go science!

        • I didn’t say that mercury is causing autism. I did say that it’s unsettling to me that it’s still in vaccines. Yes, today there is still a small amount of it acting as a stabilizer. The FDA is very open about this.

          http://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/safetyavailability/vaccinesafety/ucm096228.htm#t1

          Also, beware. Just because it doesn’t contain Thiomersal (which is not found naturally in nature, it is a compound created in a lab) doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain any other mercury based compounds.

        • Vaccines work for some and don’t work for others. A lot of valid points have been made on both sides of the debate. Do not be fooled mercury is still in some vaccines if not most. Gambling with a childs health is a hard choice to make. Do you live in the “fear factor” there fore vaccinate because you should? I choose to not immunize after studying immunizations and their affects on a small body, so pure. And then we give them the “cocktail”. This summer my boys caught Whooping cough. I felt bad every time they coughed, guilty. Talking to my doctor I learned that there was an outbreak. I heard the comments how I was one of the ones putting the others in jeopardy because I chose to not immunize. This statement confuses me. How am I putting the immunized children at risk if they are immunized. I am only putting my family at risk, right? Knowing the “source” of the whooping cough I asked the mother if she immunized and to my surprise her answer was yes. So she actually put my children at risk, and she immunized. Rather then pointing fingers and judging others for their choices lets just respect one and other. If we are reading this then we all have a commonality-we are trying to be the best mothers we can with no real “rule book.” Research and intuition are our best guides!

    • Thank you Copa. This made my blood boil. Siobhan IS gambling with her children’s health. No question. Hannah’s case was a settlement, and it was not widely heralded by the immunology/ID community as reflective of reality. The field was trying to minimize the damage from publicity. The longer the case went on, the larger the soapbox for these anti-vaccine loons became. It didn’t matter that they were being contradicted by experts at every turn. As you correctly pointed out, she did NOT develop autism. Her case was tragic, but so are the cases of the 9 (NINE!!!) children who have died of pertussis in California this summer alone. The vaccine “debate” literally makes my brain hurt, because it isn’t a real conversation. It’s my profession trying to tell people what we find, and a gaggle of overinflated fools posing as experts and causing people to make dumb decisions.

  3. I agree. My brother developed autism after being vaccinated, and his case is so severe that he can’t be left along for even a minute. It completely changed not only his life, but the lives of our whole entire family. We’ve had to move because of him, we’ve given up traveling, and my sister and I had to get jobs at the age of fourteen and start contributing paychecks to the family so we could get him somekind of help. I’m not saying immunizations are bad, but I would never ever immunize any of my children until some sort of system for seeing who has those underlying medical conditions so that THOSE people could not be immunized.

    • Correlation is not causation. Autism typically shows up at a certain time. That time happens to be similar in time as when shots are given.
      This does not mean that one causes the other, any more than ice cream sales cause drownings.

  4. Wasn’t the doctor who initially found the link between immunizations and Autism completely discredited? I’m pretty sure they even pulled his license. There are risks for adverse reactions to immunizations, yes, but those are well known. As far as Autism goes, credible studies have not been able to find a link. I would say it’s a bigger risk to expose children to these more common, and preventable diseases without any protection.

    • Yes Natalie, that doctor was completely discredited and his reputation was squashed into the ground. But I wonder if this was just one way of shutting him up. He was causing quite a stir and possible panic within this field. It’s interesting that after all of the lawsuits that were quashed that this one is going through. Just makes me wonder a little.

      • Thank you jeneria. I didn’t follow the case, just heard that it was discredited. Didn’t realize it was due to fabricating data.

        • His study was discredited for fabricating results, ethical violations, and a complete lack of science. The journal has officially repudiated it, and he has now lost his license for malpractice.
          Sadly, this has done nothing to change the mind of the determined.

        • …and cost several children their lives (and inflicted guilt and regret on their parents). It also places undue blame (and guilt and regret) on the parents of autistic children who chose vaccination. All this because he wanted to be famous…special seat in Hell for this guy.

  5. First of all, I hate the idea that “5 different shots containing nine immunizations” are administered all at one time. I think that in itself can be a recipe for disaster.
    .
    I do think that there is a coalition with the measles/mumps vac and autism, but do not feel that stopping the immunizations is the solution. The risk of developing one of the diseases the immunizations protect against is far more greater than the risk of causing autism. Not to mention how far greater the risk is of infecting an area with an outbreak of such diseases.
    .
    Every drug we put into our body to control or cure one problem can potentially can cause another form of disease or even death. One must outway the benefits vs the consequences.
    .
    Knowing a few close relatives and friends with autistic children, I do hope that further studies are done in this area to either prove or disprove the coalition, but for now, my personal feelings are for the immunizations.

  6. Vaccines have been linked ADD, epilepsy, blindness, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, CNS disorders, and depression, to list just a few. So yes, I feel strongly that by giving my kids every single vaccine out there I’m gambling with their health.

    I lost my dad to brain cancer. If I can avoid exposing my children to anything neurotoxic I will. I stand behind that decision. Judge away, I’m comfortable with my choice.

    • I’m not judging. It’s your choice. But realize that most of those illnesses are incredibly new diagnoses and that there is always a rush to “explain” how something comes to be. I remember cancer was caused by charred meat, swallowing your own fingernails, and peanuts. There might be a correlation or it may be just medicine struggling to find a quick and easy cause and effect so that they look like they know what they’re doing.

      I know a few who haven’t immunized their kids and so far no has contracted polio or rubella. But they are horribly sick during flu season, so I stay away despite my flu vaccine.

  7. People who don’t immunize their kids also put many other people at risk, especially the elderly or those with compromised immune systems. I guess it’s that consideration that annoys me when people talk about how they don’t immunize. They act like their actions won’t have any repercussions outside of their own home.

    • It’s called herd-immunity and we need it to protect people who can’t get vaccinated. In areas where there are low vaccination rates infants who are too young to be vaccinated and adults whose immunity has worn off become susceptible. There have been clear cases of infants losing their lives because they caught a disease that they were too young to be vaccinated for and they caught it from an unvaccinated older child. By not vaccinating your children you put the whole community at risk.

      What’s wrong with the delayed vaccination schedule? It’s better than nothing.

      Screening for and understanding of autism has increased, and symptoms typically show up around the same age that vaccinations occur… I can see how it’s easy to want to make a connection, but for most kids it’s probably just a coincidence of timing and that’s what the scientific studies show.

      • Where I live – Pennsylvania – children are not allowed to enter school without proof of immunizations.

        My daughter’s college does not accept students unless they have those same immunizations, plus a couple more.

  8. Siobahn, you are foolish.
    You are one of the people riding on the “herd immunity” that Kai brought up in a different post.

    I can remember classmates DYING from measles when I was a kid. Are you ready to return to that?

    You get immunizations for your kids to protect them their entire life. If enough people think as you do, we will see young children dying from these “cured” diseases.

    Or, how about this. Say you have a son – don’t vaccinate him. He reaches puberty, is a young man with his entire life ahead of him. Suppose he is exposed to another kid who has a mother who thinks just like you – BUT her kid contracts mumps. Your young adult son may not only die from this, he will most definitely be made sterile. I guarantee it.

    I have to agree that 5 shots at once is a bit much. They certainly could have been stretched out.

    As far as the danger from the MMR vaccine, it was a concern in the 80′s and 90′s because of a preservative – Thimeresol(spelling?) – that had mercury in it. They discontinued using that in 1995, I believe.

    Here is a question for you – are you going to get your daughters the Gardisil immunization?
    Or, are you okay with HPV and cervical cancer, too?
    You are playing a dangerous, foolish game. The only thing saving your ass is the people who care enough to vaccinate their kids.

    • I completely agree, Blurry. By not vaccinating you’re relying on everyone else vaccinating their children so your precious little angels don’t die of polio; huge fucking hypocrite much?

      Also, the vaccines didn’t cause the brain damage with Hannah. She already had a cell disorder, and the vaccines TRIGGERED it. I don’t know what disorder it was, but I’m sure many other things could have triggered it over the course of her life.

      Also, stop listening to Jenny McCarthy. She’s an idiot.

  9. I’ve refused a lot of vaccines for my son. For instance, I decided that he didn’t need to get a Hep B vaccine the day he was born. I also don’t think he needs to be vaccinated against chicken pox. Actually contracting chicken pox will give you life long immunization for that and a few other illnesses that are similar. The vaccine only gives you a few years, and then you’re not protected as an adult, which is the worst time to get it.
    I also don’t think it’s a good idea to get the MMR all at the same time. I’d rather pay more to get each vaccine separately.

    The thing that hasn’t been investigated, the thing they won’t investigate, is whether or not the increased number of vaccines (and the earlier ages of administration) has anything to do with the rising numbers of autism cases.
    I understand that there are new screening guidelines, but that alone does not account for the increase in autism.

    My husband and I have both got more than one close relative (i have a daughter) with children on the Autism Spectrum.
    Considering that most doctors agree that there is a combination of hereditary and environmental factors that contribute to autism, I’m really not comfortable the current vaccine schedule for my son.
    And my son’s pediatrician agrees with me. We’ve worked out a different schedule that eliminates certain vaccines and delays others.
    Not everybody who chooses not to follow the recommended vaccine schedule is doing it blindly or without the guidance of medical professionals.
    Not all doctors agree that there is absolutely no correlation between vaccines and autism. And I’m not talking about the doctors that make their living off of this subject. There are normal, everyday doctors and nurses who haven’t been convinced and would like more thorough studies to be done.

    • I would agree that vaccines such as the one for chicken pox are pretty ridiculously unnecessary. I never get the flu shot, either. I’m perfectly healthy, so getting the flu shouldn’t hurt me. Certainly, it might be unpleasant like my kindergarten case of the chicken pox, but it’s not worth a shot for a disease that isn’t lethal.

      • See, I have Chronic Fatigue (at least that’s what they’re calling it, it’s more like never ending mono) so I have to get a flu shot every year, especially since I teach college and those kids are like petri dishes.

        The flu shot isn’t 100% but I haven’t had the flu in 10 years with the shot, so I keep getting it.

        And getting the chicken pox is a good thing, I didn’t know they vaccinated against it? I know if you’ve had the chicken pox and are over 55 (or something) you should get vaccinated against shingles.

        Are we supposed to be worried about H1N1 again?

      • Except it can be lethal to those you pass it on to.
        There are millions of people who have compromised immune systems, who are unable to get vaccines and who are at an increased risk of dying from such common diseases as the flu and chicken pox.

        • Erin, you may very well be contagious before you show any symptoms of a number of infectious diseases. That’s why people get infected from the perfectly innocent looking unvaccinated kids at school who have nary a runny nose between them.

    • A statement was released recently that certain brands of swine flu vaccines are linked to narcolepsy cases in children.

      I don’t have kids of my own yet, so thankfully I’ve never had to make the choice to vaccinate them or not.

      But when it comes to something like the flu, or chickenpox… something that most likely would just be uncomfortable for a week or two, I don’t know if vaccination is a good idea. I guess it comes down to picking your battles.

      It seems like serious side effects from vaccines are overlooked and dismissed as “coincidental”, or thought of as collateral damage. I would hope with the idea of covering all the bases, that side effects of vaccines would be looked into a little bit more, and be taken more seriously.

      The thing that bothers me the most is that Mercury is the chief preservative in vaccines, and it’s a known neurotoxin. Isn’t there something else we could use in it’s place? And is possible that it is not replaced because the manufacturers don’t want to draw attention to it, or admit fault, for fear of lawsuits?

      • @ vchilds
        Do you mean me? Because I know my position is not a popular one, but I swear to God I am not one of those people who let’s Jenny Freakin’ McCarthy dictate anything concerning my child’s health.

        • Yeah alzaetia you! :) You have done your research, reached a conculsion with your husband, discussed your concerns with your pediatrician and are not taking an “all or nothing attitude. Your are not throwing caution to the wind, but are addressing your concerns and doing something about it. (spacing out the time frame of the immunizations)
          .
          I also agree with your what you stated, “The thing that hasn’t been investigated, the thing they won’t investigate, is whether or not the increased number of vaccines (and the earlier ages of administration) has anything to do with the rising numbers of autism cases. ” Again, not saying this is true, but further studies are warranted.

        • *relieved sigh*
          Honestly, you guys, that means a lot to me.
          I like it when older (than me) women that I admire don’t think I’m a dumb ass.

    • Your response mirrors precisely where I stand – what I’ve done, and what I’ve not done. With the (potentially significant exception of the Hep B vaccine – which I accepted without question because that happened BEFORE I became aware of the explosive controversies on this subject)

      I am dismayed to see that, in all of these posts, I have yet to read one that puts a focus on the “FILLERS” in the vaccinations. Instead, we are focusing on a DO or DO NOT argument. For instance, whatever someone’s favorite food might be, they won’t want it if it is on a filthy plate and peppered with dead bugs or something else. My point is that perhaps some of the vaccines DO have merit, but perhaps the other bits of the formula do come with known and unknown risks. With the million dollar question being – why not use something else – something that transcends debate – something that is KNOWN and PROVEN to be, truly, safe.

  10. The real problem here is herd immunity. A few people choose to not immunize their kids, nothing bad happens, so their conclusion is that vaccines are unnecessary and if they could be dangerous, why gamble with your child’s health? But, if the number of people vaccinating their children drops below the herd immunity threshold, these disease start coming back in force. Most of us are a few generations removed from the time when vaccination wasn’t wide-spread yet, it’s very easy to forget just how devastation these diseases are.

    There is not actual scientific evidence for vaccines having anything to do with autism (I’m sorry, but courts just don’t decide science), but even if you believe that there is, the link between not vaccinating and measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and meningitis is much, much (much) stronger.

    And yes, the whole “the CDC is evil and is trying to kill my children” attitude (not talking about anyone here, it’s just a general feature of the anti-vaccine “movement”) doesn’t really help credibility, either.

  11. Without the booster shot, there would have been approximately 8,600,000 more children affected by Diphtheria, 8,000,000 affected by Pertussis, and 8,500,000 more people affected by Tetanus. Without the polio vaccine, there would be approximately 83,820,000 people in the US affected with the disease. In the past 150 years, over 200 million people have died from the measles.
    THESE are risks. Real, tangible, measurable risks to your unvaccinated children. The pseduo-scientific, fear driven belief that vaccines are anything but perfectly safe, is a massive risk to the health of North Americans. And in ‘protecting’ your children, you are not only putting them at risk of these diseases, but you are risking the lives of others who may not be vaccinated. The risk of contracting a communicable disease could shoot through the roof and put an entire population of people at risk. The risk is a new apocalypse, which in my opinion far outweighs the risk of an increasing autistic population (of which there is still no proof that vaccines cause autism- invalidating the whole point to me).
    I do sympathise with people who are frustrated at having to live with a person afflicted by autism (as I am one of those people). I understand how frustrating it is to not have an answer for why someone is the way they are; especially when you’ve having to deal with things like wrestling them off of you while they try to cut your throat with a set of keys. But blaming vaccinations, which occur around the same time as autistic characteristics will start to appear in children, is not the answer. There is no scientific grounding to suggest that vaccines, or a cocktail of vaccines, causes any sort of disease, whether that be autism or something else (I have also heard claims that diabetes is caused by vaccines). Your child could still become autistic without being vaccinated- but you are confirming the fact that they will now be at risk to a multitude of diseases that you thought were preferable to autism.
    I will 100% be vaccinating my children against everything and anything that there is a reasonable risk for them to contract. Yes, there is a very small chance that my children may have a lethal reaction to a vaccine. But there is also a risk they may die from exposure to Tylenol, from taking gravol, from eating new foods. And I wouldn’t deny my children these things based on a very limited risk.
    I find it incredibly frustrating that people can be so mistrusting of science. Actual, documented scientific research which is attempting to save lives can just be thrown out the window due to cultural based fears of what cannot be easily understood.

    Since there was no link in the article to the evidence that autism is linked to vaccinations, here is a link to some an interview with one of the inventors of the vaccination for the rotavirus.
    http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience/all/1

    • Eloquently stated. Could not have said this better myself. I work in the medical field and though I do not have children yet, I am 100% sure I will be vaccinating them. When I was in college, I was involved in some Autism research- and now, as then, there is NO LINK between it and vaccines. NONE. And as an aside- I get my flu shot every year- not for myself, but so I do not pass the flu onto those who may die by contraction of the virus. I have also been immunized with Gardasil. I am up to date on TDaP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis). I have been immunized against Hepatitis B. I believe in vaccines- because the risk of the possible diseases far outweighs the very rare side effects of vaccines.

  12. I would like to point out that Hannah does not actually have autism. She has a rare mitochondrial disorder that was triggered by the vaccines administered and has experienced brain damage that has caused autistic-like symptoms. The key words here to remember are: autistic-like. I would also like to point out that underlying disorders can be triggered by a whole host of environmental cues, and it would be impossible to shelter and protect someone from all the possible environmental cues. Another thing I would like to point out is that a court case does not demonstrate any sort of proof for a link between autism and vaccines. I have seen very very little reputable research that shows any sort of causal relationship between autism and vaccines, and correlational data does not establish a true causal relationship. The fact that autism develops around the time that vaccines are administered also has no real bearing. The age that vaccines are administered could also be the same age that a gene is turned off or on.

    Because most disorders have a certain amount of nature vs. nuture, I would be willing to concede that environmental factors such as vaccines could be a trigger for the onset of autism. However, there has been no research that shows that vaccines trigger the onset of autism.

    My personal opinion is that it is incredibly foolish and irresponsible to not vaccinate children. I would rather my child have autism than have a potential dangerous disease that could result in death. It is also dangerous for others they are around.

  13. I am a MPH, and one of the things I researched the most in school was vaccines. It’s something I feel very, very strongly about. I would say that vaccines are one of the most major leaps forward in health practices that we’ve ever made–right up there with germ theory!

    A number of people have already pointed out the herd immunity aspect of the vaccination discussion. The funny thing about it is that the anti-vaccine people’s children are protected by the very herd immunity that, if the anti-vaccine cause were to be truly successful, would no longer protect them.

    The originator of the theory that vaccines cause autism has been soundly denounced both in Britain and the US, from sources like the CDC and Lancet (where his study was published). He’s been caught in some unbelievably unethical conduct. His medical license was stripped in Britain. If you want a good read, read anything the Lancet (like JAMA, only in Britain) wrote about his discrediting. The degree to which he has been unethical is mindblowing.

    In regards people saying that vaccines caused their child’s autism because the two happened so close together, that correlation does not equal causation. The example given most frequently in classes is that ice cream sales go up sharply in the summer, as do violent crimes; therefore, the sale of ice cream is linked to violent crime. Just because two things happen at similar times does not mean that one causes the other.

    • Julie, I’m assuming since you are a MPH you also have a medical degree. (as some countries require) In your personal studies have you found any possible link between anything and autism/aspergers?
      .
      For instances, having quite a few auto immune diseases in my family there are studies out there that take the genegic link out of the equation and find a coalation between poly vinyl chloride and scleroderma. There is still a huge augument with this theory, but some of the data is quite interesting.

  14. I just wanted to clarify that I have an 11-year-old son. I made the decision not to vaccinate back in 1999, long before Jenny McCarthy started spouting off about autism.

  15. It really annoys me when people say, “so and so got autism after getting immunizations.” Well, guess what? Babies get their first immunization either in the hospital within the first two days of birth or at their 2 week check up. They do not usually start showing signs of autism until 12 months or later. So, yeah, they’d have had lots of immunizations by then. It doesn’t mean that there is any connection.
    Hannah’s condition was extremely rare and does not prove much of anything, since brain damage and autism are two completely different things.

    You are most certainly gambling with your child’s health if you do not get her immunized. Lots of people have a problem with giving their children as many as 5 immunizations at once, and there are pediatricians that will space them out more if you don’t mind making the extra visits. A few people have already brought up herd immunity, so their is little point in reiterating. But you are not only risking YOUR child’s health, but that of many other children.

    As for Jenny McCarthy, her son is not even autistic. He has Landau–Kleffner syndrome. She is a very naive and gullible individual, and she is using her platform of fame to endanger millions of children.

  16. the title of this article is funny because the answer, as taken from the text, is: No. The girl mentioned didn’t even have autism. Awesome proof.

  17. I’m fairly certain that there are kids out there who’ve net been given vaccines because they “cause autism” but ended up on the spectrum anyway.

  18. The only people I know who didn’t immunize their kids is a family at my dad’s church who have seven children who are all home-schooled and extremely sheltered. They believe it is just a way for the government to keep track of people?
    I’m not reading the comments right now because I arrived in London the other day and I now have a life again, so I can’t be bothered.
    But I’m guessing there are those for and against.
    I’m for it, but of course I think that any parent who can thoroughly test their child for any condition which could be complicated with certain medications, should. But the reality is, in this country you can’t always afford it. Let alone in other countries. I believe that many public school systems require immunizations (as do colleges)… and paying for the immunizations is cheaper than paying for private school or not going to work and schooling your child yourself. I think that that is how that works- let me know if I’m wrong. At least in my county you had to be immunized.

  19. Also, I wanted to say that many children with autism actually appear normal- if not even gifted. They are like little Rainmen! Things that appear kind of OCD and perfectionistic are actually signs of autism, which is weird.

  20. The first thing I learned in my stats classes was that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. The more churches there are in a given area, the higher the crime rate (positive correlation). Pedophile priests and extremist nutcases aside, the reason for the increased crime rate is because the number of churches increases as the population density does (this is a positive correlation as well) You need to control for confounding variables and all of the trials testing the vaccines cause autism hypothesis that were well designed and adequately controlled even those with enriched study designs (skewing the study in favor of proving the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism) have not supported the hypothesis.

  21. As the mother of an autistic child, there is nothing more frustrating to me than the fact that everyone can tell me what does not cause autism, but no one can tell me what DOES cause autism. I mean really, if you all know for sure that vaccines do not cause autism, then please tell me what does. Clearly you all must know.
    For the record, my child is fully vaccinated.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm

    Check out some of the additives & preservatives used in pediatric immunizations: aluminum, formaldehyde and yes, according to the cdc thimerosol (but only in trace amounts….as if that makes it ok).

    • I know you want an answer. There isn’t one — at least, not yet. Science hasn’t figured it out, but it appears to be a complex disorder that arises from many factors, primarily genetic.

      Science has, however, found absolutely no link between vaccines and autism. None.

      Suggesting that those who understand that there’s no causal relation between vaccines and your son’s disorder must know the actual correct answer is an emotional argument and a logical fallacy; it’s akin to asking an agnostic who finds no possibility that Zeus exists what deities truly exist.

      Yes, the additives and preservatives are, at first glance, worrisome. If you’re worried about trace amounts of those substances, though, I defy you to find anything in this modern day and age that isn’t contaminated. Tap water in Chicago, for instance, has trace amounts of Teflon, Scotchgard, and so on.
      http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-04-17/news/0804170384_1_bottled-water-nestle-waters-north-america-safe-drinking-water-act

      After a certain point, when the data has conclusively ruled out certain things as a cause, it’s time to start looking for other sources.

  22. Thankfully, I don’t live in Chicago. And the expert we went to told us that Autism is rarely found to be genetic.
    Trace amounts in one vaccine may be harmless, but say your child gets 9 vaccines at once, plus many others throughout their first years of life. Not to mention the vaccines I myself was given not long before getting pregnant- plus the the aluminum found in pots & pans among other places.
    Everyone is different, different things are going to have different effects on different people. Maybe there should be testing done before immunizations are administered to determine if that child can handle 9 vaccinations at once or if that would likely cause that child damage.

    If you don’t know what DOES cause it, how can you know for sure what does NOT? That seems illogical to me.

    • I don’t see how someone could even call themselves an expert on autism. If people want to test their children for incredibly incredibly incredibly rare conditions which might possibly have a remote chance of reacting badly with standard immunizations, then they can go for it. But the majority of people could not afford to do that. And making testing for such rare conditions (which still likely are not related to autism, but other medical problems) has no chance of becoming standard procedure with such low incidence of issue. Sure scientists should continue to work on improving medications and standards and doctors should give as much information as they can, but the vaccines do far more good than harm. Following anem0ne’s analogy: Your claim that “If you don’t know what DOES cause it, how can you know for sure what does NOT? That seems illogical to me.” Would come out to be, “If an agnostic knows Zeus is not god (as empirically proved by going to Mt Olympus and not seeing him on his throne), but does not know who god is, then how does he know that Zeus is not god?” Well he already knows Zeus is not god. But he has a vested interest in finding out the fate of his soul and so he orders a bunch of young hikers to keep searching for Zeus, so he covers his bases, while he goes and investigates other options, so he doesn’t grow old and die before figuring out the meaning of life.

    • The water study is only to illuminate that nothing these days is truly pure. I don’t know where you live, nor does it matter; the Chicago Tribune merely paid for that study, and naturally, it had a local bent.

      By primarily genetic, I’m not ruling out environmental factors; however, I *am* still of the mindset that there is no correlative data suggesting that vaccines have anything to do with it.

      As far as aluminum. If concentration of aluminum ions did, in fact, have anything to do with autism, why does chelation therapy often do more harm to the child, with no actual improvement to the autistic condition? I’m not ruling it out, I’m just saying there’s very paltry evidence suggesting that there’s a connection.

      ===

      The “everyone is different” argument. Yes. We’re all unique snowflakes. But do you honestly think that these vaccines, these medicines get released without rigorous testing? It’s the FDA’s job to make sure they have scads of empirical data when they release them. How else do you think they find out about all of the possible side effects, know what kinds of people probably shouldn’t be taking them?

      Did you want things to be 100% perfect, where they have 100% certainty? Because that’s an impossibility. It’s the way things are.

      Modern medicine isn’t at the level of Star Trek, where you never see side effects. We’re still a lot closer to bloodlettings and homeopathic nonsense than we are to where they can wave a magic stick over someone, press a button, and then have that person fixed.

      ===

      Finally, that last sentence doesn’t even make sense; here’s are two counterexamples:
      I don’t know what causes homosexuality, but I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with mercury, vaccines, Christianity, liberalism, watching Disney films, or Christmas.

      I don’t know who murdered Jimmy Hoffa, but I can guarantee that Miley Cyrus had nothing to do with it.

      Why is your argument wrong? You’re essentially saying that just because we don’t know what causes A, we can’t rule out B; if that were the case, then progress could never be made.

      For the longest time, people didn’t know that germs caused diseases. Then they found microbes, and some had the wild idea that maybe those microbes had something to do with it. They didn’t rule out that maybe spirits came and affected the humors right away, but as more and more data came in, as more and more research was done, they were perfectly confident in ruling out any other theories other than germs. They might not have know what microbes exactly were causing the infections, but they knew what it wasn’t.

      Science, and by extension, actual medicine, is an iterative process. No, we don’t know what causes Autism, but they’re doing research; with every additional study, with every additional data point, they’re finding no causative relation between autism and vaccines. They’re finding additional pointers that suggest there is a genetic component in a good many cases diagnosed in the autism spectrum.

      When the weight of empirical data comes wholly on the side of ruling something out, is it not folly to then ignore it?

      If expanding knowledge and a reduction of ignorance provides you strong suggestions of an answer, is it not logical to then pursue those suggestions?

  23. I never said vaccinations cause Autism, I never even said that that was my belief. If that was my belief my children would not be fully vaccinated as I stated they are. I am only saying until someone can tell me what does cause autism, I am not going to rule anything out. Honestly, if it was determined that vaccines do contribute to developmental disorders, I don’t think the government would publicize that & risk the return of all the horrible diseases they have worked to eradicate.
    I find it interesting too, that you don’t know where I am, but you mentioned my son…..never said I had a son…..are you assuming that? Assumptions are a dangerous thing.

  24. - “I am only saying until someone can tell me what does cause autism, I am not going to rule anything out.”
    While it’s good to have an open mind, this incapacity or unwillingness to rule out things which have been conclusively proven false is problematic. It’s simple: either scientific evidence means something and has value, or it doesn’t.

    By refusing to admit that the scientific evidence says one thing, you are essentially saying that no matter what proof is given, it will not matter one whit: your opinion has been made.

    And yes, there are scientific studies which suggest that people cling to certain beliefs, regardless of truths, so as to avoid cognitive dissonance.

    ===

    Regardless of whether the government would publicize a risk or not is immaterial. Science is, and should be, apolitical. If there *were* a risk, it would be incumbent on the researchers to announce this. That they have not done so, that there is no record suggests a couple of explanations: 1. there’s a vast conspiracy to keep this under wraps, involving hundreds, if not thousands, of researchers, doctors, and untold millions of pages of data, or 2. there’s paltry evidence that the risks from vaccinations cause any major problems in aggregate.

    Believe what you will, but in this case, Occam’s Razor is a very useful tool to have.

    ===

    As far as the “assuming you have a son” argument. We’ve gotten to that now? Unable or unwilling to debate any of my other salient points, you seek to cast aspersions on me for making a mistaken assumption several posts ago?

    Here’s why I said “son”. The commenters Blurry, Alzaetia, the writer Siobhan, and the referred to Jenny McCarthy all spoke of “sons”. The autistic spectrum is diagnosed in at least four times as many sons as daughters.

    So forgive me, if I made a brief, relatively harmless, assumption when replying, when more likely it was just misattribution and confusion of whom I was replying instead.

    • I’m not sure what you’re trying to say with that.

      Surely you can’t be stooping so low as to suggest that because it’s been wrong before, everything else it’s done must be wrong. Science once told us we only had four elements. Science once told us that the Earth was the center of the universe.

      But guess what? Science *then* came along and said, “Okay, now that we understand more things, we know there’s more than four elements,” and “Now that we’ve done more research, we know that the Earth is very far from the center of the universe.”

      Every time science “has been wrong”, it’s been *science* that has corrected the misunderstandings, the falsehoods, the errors.

      If *science* came around and suggested that yes, vaccines had something to do with autism, I’d change my mind. There *is no verifiable evidence*, however, that suggests there’s any relation, and they have *tried*. Therefore, reason and logic dictate that vaccines probably have little to do with autism diagnosis.

      But if you’re so ready to cast off the scientific method and logic, of the desire to use reason and empirical evidence to find truth, I hope you have something else that works better to replace it with.

      That would, after all, be in the spirit of science.

  25. I’d like to add – vaccines protect us from stuff that is coming back. At the age of 17 I was diagnosed tuberculosis — the doctor didn’t believe it, I had medicine students doing their job placement in the hospital coming to see my charts. They had *never* seen someone my age with TB, only old people who had suffered it decades ago (TB never actually leaves your body, only stays dormant and can come back tomorrow, next year, next decade or never again). We don’t get jabs for TB any more in rich countries, and immigrants coming from 3rd world countries are bringing it back.

  26. This is long but before anyone else comments on my original post please read all of this:

    I do not believe that any of this is a planned conspiracy by our government. I do however believe it has been part of a continuing, long history of neglect, laziness, stupidity and cheapness. Do you believe that the FDA is right 100% of the time? If so I recommend you read up on “deet” and definitely find some archival footage from the 40s and 50s of the US Army spraying it on children as they run through the hoses as if they’re playing in the sprinklers on a hot summers day to say “hey look everyone, it’s SO safe, we’re willing to do this to prove how sure we are.” Anyone still remember the “epidemic” of swine flu? US citizens practically rioted to get the vaccine. Cut to current day, the US is stuck having to store the thousands of vials that didn’t get used once the frenzy died down. Wasted millions of dollars on it. Turns out the same number of people died from it that have died from flu in previous years. Also, they discovered that the genes of the virus didn’t originate in Mexico but rather a hog farm in North Carolina that continued to supply meat for 3 years after the original strain was flagged by a number of veterinarians as being really friggin’ weird and concerning. Good job US. Way to follow through on good solid research and think things through before jumping to hasty decisions. Oh and listening to specialists? Man, you guys are stellar at that too!

    I did not say that pharm. companies make an astounding profit on vaccines. Although I can’t help but mention the fact that women actually inject themselves with botulinum toxin (botulism – yes that is indeed what Botox is made from) to get rid of wrinkles because they’ve been TOLD it’s safe. Really?! Are we sure there’s NO way that could go wrong? Like oh you know, a batch that isn’t sufficiently killed? Again, no common sense. It’s a cash cow. Many private practice doctors have begun offering it because it’s helping them to keep above bankrupsy.

    I did NOT say I wouldn’t vaccine my child, I would however pick and choose what was absolutely necessary. Chicken pox? No thanks. Polio, yep! HPV, not so much, especially because I find it odd that men, who are the predominate spreaders of it, aren’t being told to get it!! This is yet again another example where common sense is continually being left out of the conversation AND THAT IS WHAT BOTHERS ME. Mercury is a known toxin. We’re warned about it in our fish consumption and yet it’s OK to be in the drugs we inject in tiny growing bodies? It just simply doesn’t sit right with me and that’s why I refuse to nod my head as my doctor tells me “It’s perfectly safe.” Perfectly suggests 100% which is simply false. Yes, few children suffer damaging side effects but for those that do, I suggest you speak with their families about it. I think the current FDA is also afraid of the ramifications of hinting at the possibility of vaccinations because we Americans love to over-react and go nuts over things. Hello Atkins diet. If they were to suggest that vaccines may be unsafe, tons of new mothers would opt out, which isn’t safe or a acceptable alternative. What IS a good idea is to demand more research. Yes, vaccines save lives but for many parents with injured and altered children, the vaccine was not worth it. How about we find ways to better predict what children will or will not have a problem? How about insurance companies cover the cost of genetic testing so the children who do have the gene for autism will be made aware and can decide if vaccinating their child is worth a potential risk. Not all children with the gene will end up with the disorder. There are thousands of anecdotal stories of mother and fathers who have seen their children altered, seemingly overnight after having vaccines. I went to school with an autistic boy. I remember him before his vaccines and I remember him after. His mother believed the 8 vaccines he received at his check-up caused it. She was told it was perfectly safe to have it done all at once and would save her son from the prolonged pain of having them done in multiple rounds. (Also, it is way cheaper for the insurance companies if you have them done at once.) She later decided she didn’t want her two other sons to be vaccinated because of what happened to her first. The public school said she had to or they could not attend. Ironically they had also been complaining about how much her first son was costing the school district because he required so many additional resources. All three sons tested positive for the gene that causes autism. Only the first actually developed it as she decided to keep the other two vaccine free. It’s an anecdotal story to you and me but to her and her family and her son, it’s not.

    The medication Accutane is a great metaphor for what I find wrong with health care today. It’s a prescription medication used to treat severe acne. A bunch of kids starting complaining of feelings of depression. Doctors thought nothing of it. Eh, can’t be the acne medication, thought the doctors. That just doesn’t make sense. Then a lot of kids started killing themselves. Pft, no way an acne medication is causing this, thought the doctors. Then SEVERE birth defects starting showing up. Can’t be the acne medication, thought the doctors. Finally enough cases cropped up and the pharm. company sent out a “Dr. Doctor Letter” warning doctors that woops, turns out there likely is a link. They had a number of cases during their pre-clinical trials so in the round of trials that the FDA would use to approve or unapproved it, they excluded pregnant women. Yes, they excluded pregnant women because they knew what would show up if they included them. Now that the secret was out they begged the FDA not to tell anyone that they previously knew because then they’d have to completely pull it from the shelves and lose their stellar reputation. Now in present day you are required to sign about a million forms promising you’ll be on two forms of birth control when taking it (oh and if you do get pregnant and end up with a deaf and/or mentally disabled and/or physically disabled baby you cannot sue them) and you must cycle on and off every 6 months to make sure you don’t develop manic depression and commit suicide. The FDA basically kept their secret quiet, probably to simply save face. Why hasn’t this drug been completely stripped from commercial use?! NO COMMON SENSE. [There are some great research papers done on this topic. I recommend “Babies, Blemishes and FDA” by Julia Green.]

    I know I go off topic in this post but I’m hoping to illustrate that the FDA kind of sort of sucks which is the basis of why I am overly cautious about vaccinations. In summary, IN MY OWN PERSONAL OPINION, I believe that the current FDA and US government lacks enough common sense and willingness to shell out the money to be thorough in their research so I’d rather play it safe and give my children the least amount of exposure to drugs and vaccines as I can.

    • @Sara (no H) I tend to agree with a lot of which you posted. The demand is on the FDA to get these new miracle drugs onto the market ASAP. Some of been live savers, others not. I absouletely agree with the botox, not enough studies have been done to determine if there is any long term health risks. And yes, due to over reacting, panic and finanacial ruin, a lot of pharm companies and FDA are under pressure.
      .
      I don’t believe this means that we are believing in a planned conspiracy by our government. History and science can back quite a few blunders along with the benefits.

  27. Say what you will, the FDA is the world wide standard. The USA has the most rigorous testing requirements in the world.

    Face it, unexpected things will happen.
    That, is life. Get used to it.

    As far as your “anecdotal tale” about the boy that you went to school with?
    Bullshit. Total bullshit.
    Let’s do bullet points, shall we?

    1. NO school would ever “complain(ing) about how much her first son was costing the school district because he required so many additional resources. Total lie. If they did complain, neither YOU, not the Mom would ever hear of it.
    2. Your assertion that “all 3 of the brothers tested positive for the Autism Gene”. This gene was only discovered this past summer. If we are to take you at your word, you are still in primary school.
    You write very well for a 10 year old. Please see the following link:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/06/more_evidence_for_a_genetic_basis_for_mo.php

    4. When Accutane was brought out, ANYONE who was put on it was asked to go on birth control. The dangers to a fetus was not truly known. Do you know why? Because it is NOT considered ethical to have pregnant women participate in trial studies for new medications. Please see the link below:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2261297/

    In short, your argument is specious, at best.

    • So just because the FDA is perceived to be the best around it must be incredible? I don’t buy that logic. You’re comparing it to other countries rather than looking at it alone and deciding whether they are affective. The median review time of the FDA on any one drug is 13 months. I don’t believe you can fully capture the benefits vs. possible side effects in such a short amount of time. That’s just the median and for drugs that are not on fasttrack status.

      Most people claim stories like that are BS and that’s fine because you didn’t know him and I don’t expect you to take it at full face value. I remember the day he wandered over to us in my friend’s yard and the chills I got. It was like an episode of the body snatchers.

      1. Do you work in education in the US? His IEP (individualized education plan) was extremely bare bones. This child could not walk down the hallway by himself, literally, and yet he was not given an aid until his family sued (This is the appropriate action in the US. It’s actually part of the process. If you don’t like what they are telling you your child needs your course of action is to bring it to court. She was not sue happy and nearly went broke having to pay for laywers and be out of work to compile an accurate case). When left alone in the hallway without an aid he would often stand against the brick walls and hit his head. She had to FIGHT to get someone to keep him safe. He was denied an aid in Math class (she would simply get up and leave as soon as the teacher changed the subject matter to math) because he was stellar at math and his grades were great. However, the stress of being alone in the classroom without her was detrimental. He would start ritualized his actions to cope and when he couldn’t he would start screaming. I was in his class and it really disturbed us all. The sad truth is that our education system is broke. Did you know that in the US when a child is referred to have special services they will often send out one specialist to do the full evaluation. So you could have an OT administering all the tests a PT, DC and SLP would do even though they are required to have NO formal training in those other areas?

      2. You’re 100% right. It’s been around since 2004 however she didn’t vaccinate the other 2 boys on a hunch that it might happen to them. She had the testing done in 2005/06 and her fears were realized that the other two had had a predisposition for it. She’s now thanking her lucky stars that she went with her gut and said no to the shots. Who knows, maybe they would have been fine but the point I attempted to but to her it was not worth the risk. Parents are not given appropriate tools to decide if vaccines are right for their kid.

      4. I recommend you read up on accutane a bit more. You’re right, it isn’t ethical to test on pregnant women however in their pre-clinical trials a couple women did get pregnant and their babies were born with severe defects and they didn’t report this. EVERYTHING warns that you should consult a doctor if you’re pregnant. Aspirin, vitamin pills, nasonex, coconut oil, etc. It’s one thing to say you shouldn’t be pregnant when taking this. It’s another to say, if you are taking this medication you need to step up your birth control methods because if you do get pregnant your baby will almost definitely be born with severe and honestly disturbing birth defects. Many drugs have that warning simply because they haven’t tested if it’s safe for preg. women so they want to be cautious. In this case however, they saw the defects because they accidentally tested on pregnant girls. They were asked to go on birth control when it first came out but the absolute necessity of this wasn’t expressed. I ask, why not? BC is not 100% and they didn’t bother to fully educate women on what the defects would look like. So the patient was never given the opportunity to decide. There is a chance they could still get pregnant, does the benefit of not having acne anymore out weigh what an accidental pregnancy would cause. Maybe if they had seen pictures of the babies born on it they would have decided to abstain completely. Or maybe they’d decide that the side effects are too horrifying and question how badly they need the meds. Again, we as consumers aren’t given enough information.

      • Please.
        Step back. Do some research. Do you realize that it usually takes 8 years BEFORE a drug is even eligible to participate in clinical studies involving humans?

        I don’t know where you are getting your information from, but I suspect that it is ALL anecdotal.

        I will not argue with you, Sara.
        I will tell you that you remind me of my Mom.
        Do you believe all of those chain emails that claim Obama is a Muslim who isn’t a US citizen, too?

        • PLEASE OH PLEASE DEAR GOD PLEASE don’t bring Obama into this. I of course do not believe he is a Muslim (and even if he was I wouldn’t give a damn). What does that have to do with anything anyway? My mother almost peed herself laughing when I read that to her, as she knows my political views and what organizations I support. I’d be offended but it was just too darn funny about. You appear to think I am someone I am not so please don’t imagine me to be anyone you’ve ever known or come in contact with or even seen on TV. I am me and only me. We are all snowflakes. I have arrived at my beliefs from a mix of research and academia reading, college coursework in education studies, books, both mainstream and not ones that made the bestseller’s list, and yes, some anecdotal stories because that’s often what finally forces our government agencies to take a look at what’s going on. Ex: google search toxic chronium 6 or do a search of “tooth pitting and fluoride.”

          A median time of 13 months FOR ME is not enough reassurance that the FDA has done all their homework on the matter. They are overloaded with medications all the time and are pressured by the drug companies to let things through because time is money. I’m unwilling to be spoon fed reassurances by ANYONE simply because thinking otherwise would make people apparently believe that I thought it was all a government conspiracy. There is a big area between questioning authority and being paranoid. I do not like the fact that my doctor is legally allowed to be invited to places like Las Vegas by drug companies as part of their educational seminars. Doesn’t make sense and doesn’t feel appropriate to me. I do not like that my PCP has resorted to selling botox because he’s on the brink of bankrupsy. I do not like the fact that my pharmacist has the right to decline a request for Plan B on religious grounds yet shelling out viagra left and right raises no eyebrows. These have all contributed to my skeptical and wary nature when it comes to drugs. If you believe politics and money have 100% no impact on the drugs on our shelves then I am supremely jealous and wish I could live in your trusting world.

          I’ve had a multitude of bad experiences with many doctors and their literal enthusiasm of vaccinations and drugs, one involving me physically dodging an HPV vaccine I verbally declined and another of me declining a tetanus shot I didn’t believe I needed as it was within the FDA (irony) regulated time frame that it was proven to be effective. Another shot wouldn’t have hurt me and hey, the financially failing hospital could’ve used the money. It showed up on my bill anyway by accident which actually turned out to be a good thing because I finally got to see how much such a shot costs. $800+ dollars if you’re wondering. If you want to hear them in detail I’d be happy to share but I don’t think you really care as they have not been held under strict environmental controls and therefore must not have happened.

        • I give up.
          Using reasoning, facts and documented studies makes no impression.
          Sarcasm whizzes past you so fast that it astounds even me.
          Yep, you certainly are a snowflake…

      • Bottom Line, every drug we put into our bodies has the potential of causing severe side effects. Look at the new correlation between osteoporosis drugs and esophageal cancer.
        .
        The chemo I received gave me an additional 10% in fighting breast cancer, but the long term damage that is has caused me is an entirely different story. Giving the choice again, I would not have opted for the chemo. But again, my personal decision does not affect the entire population.
        .
        The Mom of the little boy (Aspie) that I am extremely close with, still gets her child immunizated, even though she does believe that immunizations caused the aspergers. She still immunizations her child with the Hep B, flu shots and such. Her outlook is that the effects of her child contracting one of these diseases and the risk to other children far outway the risks of the immunizations.
        .
        Getting this little boy the help he needed in school was next to impossible. But once again, I blame this on the region we live in not the system as a whole. My daughter in law is a special ed teacher who specializes in such cases. The district she works with is exceptional with the IEP’s and evaluations.

  28. For those demanding more and more science to investigate the lack of link between autism and vaccines, consider the problems:
    Every decent study thusfar has come up with not a single chance of any link between them. There has been no sign, and no points that have been in question, and in need of more investigation.
    For all those wanting to know what *does* cause autism, further studies on vaccines is actually counter-productive. As long as scientists keep needing to do more and more to disprove what has already been disproven, funds are being diverted from other possible studies that *could* figure out what causes autism. As long as efforts keep being expended to prove that it’s not vaccines, those efforts cannot be directed towards anything that might actually prove useful

    For your viewing entertainment and edification:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhk7-5eBCrs&feature=related
    This should really illustrate effectively for you.

    The whole episode is available here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aky-sRri-NQ

  29. To the author:
    Not only are you gambling with the lives of your children (you’re not willing to take a nonexistent chance of autism, but you are willing to chance all the other things they are now not protected against?), you are gambling with the lives of everyone else’s children.
    The young, the old, and the immunocompromised are unable to get vaccinated. They depend on the rest of us to keep the diseases without an incubator. Your children are relatively protected thanks to the good actions of your neighbours, but as more and more of you choose not to immunize, both your children and those people who had no choice are put at risk.
    Read the story of one child who lost your gamble:
    http://www.danamccaffery.com/

  30. @ Kai-
    You said, “Thimerosal hasn’t been in vaccines in a long time. If you want to blame the mercury for autism, then the rates of autism should be right back down since they stopped using it.
    Wow! that was disproved in seconds!
    Go science!”

    You may want to do a smidge of research before touting the merits of science (which is based on research, by the way). The majority of flu vaccines currently contain thimerosal. Fluzone is the thimerosal free shot I got last year. Here’s the CDC info: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/thimerosal.htm

    There are still “trace amounts” of thimerosal in some vaccines. Some vaccines can be called mercury free or thimerosal free even if they contain trace amounts (much like a food can be legally list zero grams of trans fat so long as there is less than half a gram of trans fat per serving). The list of vaccines with thimerosal in trace amounts is listed here: http://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/safetyavailability/vaccinesafety/ucm096228.htm#t1 .

    So, “wow!” your uninformed argument was disproved, not in seconds, but in minutes. Now you can go back to glancing at AP article headlines and not bothering to read articles or look into the sources before pronouncing the “truth” to others. Be careful not to fall off of your high horse and hurt yourself though.

  31. @ Gigi
    You said, ” If people want to test their children for incredibly incredibly incredibly rare conditions which might possibly have a remote chance of reacting badly with standard immunizations, then they can go for it. But the majority of people could not afford to do that. And making testing for such rare conditions (which still likely are not related to autism, but other medical problems) has no chance of becoming standard procedure with such low incidence of issue. ”

    Most states in the US require infants to be tested for phenylketonuria, which occurs in 0.01% of people (1 in 10,000-15,000 people). Since it affects so few people, it would certainly be considered rare. However, with a simple blood test it can be identified, thereby eliminating needless suffering and brain damage.

    How rare is the mitochondrial disorder that Hannah Poling had? We have no idea. However, the CDC currently states that 1 in 110 children in the US will be diagnosed with autism. It is probably worth the time and effort to see if it is affecting many children, considering the lifetime expense of raising a person with autism is generally in excess of $1,000,000.

    http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/p/phenylketonuria/prevalence.htm
    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001166.htm

  32. @ Gigi
    You said, “Also, I wanted to say that many children with autism actually appear normal- if not even gifted. They are like little Rainmen! Things that appear kind of OCD and perfectionistic are actually signs of autism, which is weird.”

    I’m not sure what kids with autism you see. Possibly the heartwarming stories of kids with special talents on TV programs. But they are the exception, not the rule.

    Less than one percent of people with autism have “Rainman”-like skills, known to some of us as “splinter skills”. They are called splinter skills because they are usually very focused in one very particular area (photographic memory, perfect pitch, etc). The same person who can pick up just about any music instrument and play like a pro the first time probably can’t function socially or academically at an age appropriate level. They may not be able to feed or dress themselves. But, if you see them when they are exhibiting their gift, you’d think they are fine, albeit probably a bit quirky.

    Roughly 50% of people with autism are non-verbal and will be throughout their lives. The rate of people diagnosed with both autism and mental retardation varies greatly among sources, but a study from Williamette University found that 40-55% was an accurate number. So roughly half of people with autism are also technically mentally retarded. I don’t think you’d call these people “gifted”. I’m certainly not saying that as an insult; my own children fall into this category as well.

    And my children also appear “normal”, at least for a few minutes. Then they’ll do something odd for their age. When we’re in public this is generally interpretted as being brats or rude. And, of course, this leads to the assumption that I am a bad parent. Why else would my “normal” twelve year old be throwing a horrible temper tantrum because I told her she couldn’t have a piece of candy from the vending machine? : )

    I’m guessing you’ve seen more people with Asperger Syndrome than people with autism (although the DSM has put AS under the heading of Autistic Spectrum Disorders now, they are quite different on many points). I have twins with autism, a nephew with autism, friends with children who have autism, and I’ve visited my kids’ classrooms at school over the last 9 years. I’ve also gone to numerous autism-related functions, support groups, and rallies. I’m going to guess that I’ve met many more people, both children and adults, who have autism than you have. I have not met a single “Rainman”-like person face-to-face. I’m estimating that half of the people who have autism that I’ve met will be unable to live independently as adults. They will be unable to drive, manage money, or be trusted to be alone for more than a few minutes at a time. They may not understand danger, how to clean up after themselves without reminders and/or help, and many other things independent adults take for granted. They can live fulfilling lives, but they may need much more help than the higher-functioning people with autism and people who don’t have autism.

    My kids mean the world to me and I love them dearly. I love many people with autism. I feel that when people trivialize the impact autism has on individuals’ lives and the lives of their families they contribute to the harmful stereotypes of autism that make the lives of those affected by autism more difficult. Sorry to proselytize, but it is a topic that is important to me.

    I know I’ve gotten off of the topic of vaccines here, but I think the view of autism you mentioned is a very skewed view of what autism is, how it affects most individuals, and what their lives are like on a day-to-day basis.

    I’m not trying to bash you or be insulting. I just don’t want people to misunderstand what autism is like for the majority of lower-to-moderate functioning individuals.

    • Santa Clause, it can effect generations of children when enough people decide not to vaccinate. That’s why it’s an important argument to have. I intend, for my part, to continue having with with anyone who seems like they might be even the tiniest bit rational, in hopes of changing their minds.

  33. @Siobhan, Andrew Wakefield, who first raised concerns about the possible link between vaccination and autism was indeed struck off. But he never said there was a link. All he ever said was that this was an area which he felt seriously merited further study. And because he stood up to big pharma companies, he eventually got struck off. Some (including me) call it scapegoating.

    I am deeply suspicious of vaccinations for young babies – what on earth are we doing, loading their undeveloped immune systems with NINE shots on one day? Neither of my two boys had their vaccinations as babies, as I wanted to wait until their bodies were able to cope with it. So they had their jabs just before they started school.

  34. For TS,

    I sympathize greatly with your family. It must be so frustrating not to know what happened to make your child autistic, and even more frustrating not to know how to alleviate his/her signs. The thing is though, despite “anem0ne”‘s lack of tact, s/he is right about one thing: Miley Cyrus didn’t kill Jimmy Hoffa, even though we don’t know who did. That can be demonstrated. I’m not trying to be facetious-it is perfectly scientifically valid to exclude causal factors without including a final one. I get upset about this for 3 reasons:

    1.) As I mentioned in a post directed at “Copa”, who illustrated the very real risks the author was exposing her son to, nine children have died over the past two months from whooping cough in California alone. That’s 18 parents who didn’t have to lose their children. As a mother, I just find that tragic. That is a demonstrable risk-no debating it. Why is that completely invalid to people? I don’t get it.

    2.) One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the dilution of resources. Millions of dollars from Federal grants and private fundraising efforts have been spent discrediting this link, when a whole lot of anecdotal statistics already demonstrated that it was highly improbable to begin with. That’s millions of dollars that WEREN’T spent on studies that could have made progress toward answering your fundamental question: why is my child autistic? Not many people think about the debate this way, but as a person deeply involved in scrapping for grant money I think it’s a major, major concern. Someone with a great idea may have lost out on doing their study because the money went toward, once again, disproving this connection when there was no evidence for it in the first place.

    3.) People are so quick to dismiss the words of scientists such as myself, yet will leap onto the words of a miscreant like Andrew Wakefield without hesitation. I know that doesn’t apply to you specifically, but it’s just a frustration of mine-bruised ego or something, but it just doesn’t make any sense. Isn’t that a bit like giving your money to Bernie Madoff because some of his early clients swear up and down he made them millions?

  35. To Morag:
    It really doesn’t matter whether he said there was a link or whether he said it ‘warranted further study’. He didn’t follow proper procedures, he didn’t blink anything, and he completely made up some of his results.
    It has nothing to do with ‘standing up to big pharma companies’ and everything to do with science. Companies don’t even make great money off of vaccines – if money was everything, they’d be much better off letting the diseases run rampant and selling treatments than a one-shot deal they can’t even usually get a person to pay for twice.
    .
    Despite the lack of merits, this HAS been further studied by many people in many ways. There is no link.
    At this point, further studying of a link between vaccines and autism is just taking money away from being directed at studies that could look for actual possible causes for autism.

  36. Speaking on the pertussis vaccine, here in San Diego 2 out of 3 people who came down with whooping cough had been fully immunized. There were 332 confirmed cases of whooping cough in San Diego county this year, 197 of the people who got sick were up to date on their perussis vaccine.

  37. There are some people in a population for whom a vaccine will never take – either one, or some, or any. These people are normally also protected by herd immunity, and never find out they are lacking.
    I don’t know about whooping cough specifically. I would be interested in the similar immunisation stats on the deaths from it, and the ages of the vaccinated.

  38. Of potential interest to TS, this study follows up on a 2008 paper. I ahve read both journal articles, and personally feel this line of research has GREAT potential to explain some cases of autism development.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39580262/ns/health-kids_and_parenting/

    As for the pertussis outbreak, see a summation of numerous MMWR articles here:
    http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/outbreaks.html

    As Alz pointed out, the infants who have died were not vaccinated or were undervaccinated. In all cases this was due to their age, not any choice by their parents. The point is not that these babies were eligible for vaccination but were not vaccinated, the point is that these vulnerable individuals were exposed because of a relatively high unvaccinated population. In addition, the protection afforded by the acellular pertussis vaccine is not as complete as the whole cell (DTaP vs. DTP). This results in disease for a small number of fully vaccinated individuals. The development of the acellular pertussis vaccine was in response to outcries such as these. Eighteen grieving parents…think long and hard about that.

  39. Here’s what it comes down to for me: when your kid gives my infant whooping cough, I will sue you for every penny you have for not vaccinating your child. Because you ARE gambling with the health of your child, and all babies who are too young to receive vaccinations. You are not just making this decision for your child, you’re making it for every baby your child might be exposed to. If that’s your decision, then you are also responsible for the deaths caused by it. I am terrified by the breakdown of herd immunity caused by selfish parents without any substantial scientific data to back up the claims that vaccines cause autism, because those parents are putting millions of other babies at risk.

  40. “when your kid gives my infant whooping cough, I will sue you for every penny you have for not vaccinating your child.”

    Well, you can’t. Every person in the US has the right to decide whether or not to vaccinate their own children. It isn’t illegal not to vaccinate, and you’d have a hard time proving the malicious intent required to win a lawsuit. Besides that, you can contract the disease even if you’ve been immunized.
    If you’re that terrified, put your kid in a bubble and never leave the house.

  41. Another thing to consider is that in many cases the babies who contracted whooping cough contracted it from their unvaccinated parent or caregiver, not from another child.

  42. Oh, I can sue. I may not be able to successfully complete the process, but filing alone would send a message and probably get into the press. No need to win, or even get to the courtroom. And re: diseased when immunized, that’s why I mentioned “my infant,” by which I meant someone too young to have vaccinations :P

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable for me to worry about the refusal of people to immunize kids now impacting my future children. It’s just really irksome to me that someone would put all other children at risk and erase herd immunity over an unproven claim. The rejection of science in this country is absolutely crazy to me sometimes.

  43. I don’t really understand this herd-immunity idea. Our “herd” has been slowly turning into a weak and immuno-deficient group. I’M NOT SAYING just let the weak die out because that’s not moral in any way. However, I constantly see signs of our hyper-germiphobic society and how it’s slowly ruining our natural, developed-over-billions-of-years-to-get-us-where-we-are-today defenses. Food allergies, for instance, has been linked to us sterilizing the crap out of everything causing our immune systems to become bored so they start freaking out stuff that isn’t an issue. How many of you out there have to take allergy medicine every summer and spring? That’s pretty wacked out. Why in the heck are our immune systems bugging out over pollen? Doesn’t sound very evolutionary to me…

    I used to work in a pre-school in a toddler room and by law we were required to use a very specific concentration of bleach to clean absolutely *everything*. We had to soak toys in it for 2 hours to keep everything totally germ free. We were even required to dump out the left-overs as after 24 hours it becomes less potent (I’m convinced the Clorax company had a hand in writing that mandate but I digress). Needless to say parents starting complaining that their kids were coming home with bleach stains on their clothes and some started developing egzema around their mouths. Time and time again we had to explain that we were using state mandated and researched protocol and they would ask me, “but is that safe?” My instinct was no…so I left it up for my supervisor to reassure them that it was because I wasn’t convinced and refused to pretend. I certainly wouldn’t want my kids sucking on toys that had been soaked for hours in a bleach concentration strong enough to ruin clothes. But apparently that’s safer then letting them ingest germs…?

    It’s pretty likely that someone’s kid got very sick in a state certified day care and so their parents sued the living day lights out of the state and bam, now we have to practically poison our kids because god forbid it happens again. So go ahead, sue. I just hope that if you do and you win that you at least donate the money to some appropriate worthwhile cause because pocketing money from that would be pretty seedy.

    It’s a tragedy and a travesty when a child dies but are we really helping to “protect the herd”? What harm are we causing for millions of generations by going overboard to save a few. How many are going to die because we used extreme and inappropriate measures? AGAIN I’m not promoting the idea we let the weak simply die but perhaps we simply use realistic precautions that won’t have generational repercussions and accept the fact that no matter what we do, lives will be lost. Even if 100% of everyone on the planet were immunized, people who still die from resistant strains or from the flu because every year it mutates and becomes stronger because it to has been designed to adapt. Eventually it’s going to out adapt us and we’re all going to die out because we didn’t ever give our immune systems the chance to grow stronger too.

    I know the bleach thing is off topic but I bring it up to highlight how stupid we can be about protecting ourselves from germs. Vaccinating the living crud out of the entire population, to me, sounds equally moronic. In the end we’re all going to have immune systems that can’t stand up to your generic, run of the mill flu virus.

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