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Babies, In the News (or not), Parenting, Preschool, School Years

This Just In: Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

Once again, the debate has been stirred over the possible link between vaccines and autism. There are firm believers on both sides of this argument, but I am not one them. I have yet to see any research to answer the many questions that swirl around the efficacy of vaccines or their safety. But this newest study leaves me with a lot more questions than answers.

Here is a news report detailing the claims of the study:

New study finds no link between ‘too many vaccines’ and autism

Many people will read articles such as the above and leave it at that. I don’t trust a reporter’s take on a study or even a researcher’s interpretation of their study. I want to see the study for myself. If you do too, you can read it here:

Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism

Now, at first glance, it seems that the researchers do, in fact, conclude that “too many vaccines” do not have an association with or causal link to autism. However, I like to always check a few specific parts of any study. And this one, in my opinion, has some serious flaws.

©UnnecessaryWisdom.wordpress.com 2013

©UnnecessaryWisdom.wordpress.com 2013

First of all, they used a relatively small sample: only 256 children with autism and 756 controls. I question why they had more than double the number of controls compared to the children with autism. Next, when looking at their discussion of the study, they admit several flaws that I absolutely agree with. They did not specifically measure the antigenic loads of the vaccines. They only estimated the total antigens and polysaccharides, not taking into account that variations in vaccines might cause a greater or lesser immune response. I also question the fact that they did not utilize any measures to effectively prevent bias. Both the researchers and the participants were fully aware of the intent of the study. Only the assessors were blinded. Everyone should be blinded to protect the validity of the results.

This takes me to the most troubling information I uncovered—the funding. The CDC initiated this study. It was contracted to an organization called Abt Associates. When you look at this company, they list the CDC and other government agencies as their clients. They also have a researcher in their employ who has published two other studies refuting the link between autism and vaccines. This is the very same researcher who conducted and published the study we are discussing today. This bothers me because this is a man with an agenda. He embarked on this study, not to find an answer, but to prove a point. What if he had found a different answer? Would that have been published?

Then, we see an additional source of funding: AHIP aka America’s Health Insurance Plans. They are the national trade association that represents the health insurance industry. Now, surely they have a dog in this fight. If, somehow, research emerged that vaccines were harmful in some way and people stopped utilizing them, do they not stand to lose money? Well, of course they do.

What does the federal government stand to lose? Quite a bit more than just a good public health policy. There are contracts with private companies to administer vaccines for one. Then, there is this:

National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program

Did you know that the federal government has maintained a large trust fund for children who have been injured by vaccines, since 1988? If vaccines are so completely and utterly safe, then why in the world does this fund exist?

When it comes to the ongoing research being initiated by the federal government, check out the years of claims against the fund for vaccine-related injuries as it relates to autism. The government has continued to litigate and subsequently deny these claims.

I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here. I am saying that both sides have legitimate claims. Those who distrust vaccines have every right to distrust them. They are not 100% safe and children are permanently injured or killed by vaccines every year. Scientists, doctors and public health officials who fail to be less than honest about this indisputable fact do not help their position when promoting vaccine efficacy by failing to disclose the risks to parents who are trying to make an informed decision. And while there is evidence that vaccines cause harm, there is no conclusive evidence which vaccines and what harm that might be, as it relates to a variety of disorders that are currently being studied.

Ultimately, we as parents, have a right to make informed decisions. To have scare tactics from either side is unfair. We deserve unbiased and accurate science to guide us when it comes to protecting our children. There are no easy answers.

For me, I like science that has proven itself. I don’t mind a vaccine that has been around for a while and that plenty of people have survived. I’m not a big fan of new drugs. I don’t want my kids to be guinea pigs. How many new drugs have we seen introduced to the market only to have problems 10 or 20 years later? While I don’t want my children to suffer a terrible disease, I do have to weigh the risks of the disease against the risks of preventing it. I don’t distrust all vaccines. I treat each one as an individual intervention. I look at how the immune system was designed to work and develop and ask if I should interfere with that and do the benefits outweigh the risks? In some cases, that means a vaccine is warranted. In other cases, it does not.

As far as autism goes, I am certain that something is causing this in our children. Something that we have done differently in the last twenty years is altering our kids’ development and we need to investigate every possible cause. If that means honestly looking at vaccines, then we need to do so. Our kids depend on us to make these decisions for them. I just wish science would catch up with itself. Don’t our children deserve that?

 

©UnnecessaryWisdom.wordpress.com 2013

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Discussion

9 thoughts on “This Just In: Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

  1. My sister in law is on tho kick. I keep trying to tell her that it’s silly. I can tell you with confidence that the number of children with autism isn’t expanding…we expanded. Aspergers, spd, pdd-nos (where my son lies) were NOT considered autism 30 years ago. There was only one type. Classic, nonverbal autism. These kids always had autism but went through their lives with no support or diagnosis. Also, preemie life saving measures weren’t what they are now. My son had an abnormal ultrasound at birth. 31 weeker. So vaccines didn’t do anything…it was not having the full time to develop in utero. This is incredibly common with preemies, too. 25-30 weekers weren’t viable 20 and 30 years ago.

    I don’t think it’s environmental. At all. But that is just me and my experience so please take that with a grain of salt! 🙂

    Posted by Amber Perea | April 28, 2013, 5:26 pm
    • Amber, I appreciate your point of view so much. I don’t have a child with a PDD so I am not as experienced as you. I am concerned with what appears to be a general rise in auto-immune disorders, developmental disorders, anaphylactic allergies and other challenges humans didn’t seem to experience a century ago. Perhaps it is related to better prenatal care. I never considered that idea before. Thank you!

      Posted by unnecessarywisdom | April 28, 2013, 5:33 pm
      • As for the other issues outside of autism, you could very well be correct. Of that, I have no knowledge. I just know from working with children with Autism 20 years ago and what was classified then and what is classified now that the perimeters have greatly, greatly broadened. Many of the adults with Aspbergers that I follow weren’t diagnosed until their teens or adulthood. They were just “weird kids”.

        Also, with developmental disorders, there is tremendous amounts of research being conducted now that show that there are indications in a vast majority of cases with abnormal ultrasounds (receptive speech and motor delays). This isn’t an exact science but it is something that wasn’t considered until quite recently. In fact, my son is only 3 and even then they said an abnormal Ultrasound was nothing to worry about.

        So, I think that the way the brain functions is something that is developed in utero or caused by trauma. I just can’t find any indicative evidence otherwise. 🙂

        Posted by Amber Perea | April 28, 2013, 5:42 pm
        • What you are saying about the increased incidence of diagnosis makes perfect sense. That could potentially be said for a variety of disorders and deserves investigation. I’d love to know more about the research on autism/PDD. What was seen on the ultrasound? Have you or would you write on this?

          Posted by unnecessarywisdom | April 28, 2013, 5:46 pm
      • I’ve written about it before but it has been awhile. I had Chorio which is what kicked my body into labor at exactly 31 weeks. He was under inter uterine distress for X number of days before birth. I was lucky. It’s actually the number one cause of late term still births in the US today. So from either the distress or from the premature birth (it’s common in both) he had a small controlled bleed visible in the ultrasound. They told me it was fine, not to worry, that it didn’t mean anything.

        Starting in 2012 they are now saying that it is a early warning sign of autism or other developmental disorders. This is that recent. It’s so new of a study that nothing about it is hard and fast yet. But I subscribe to a preemie newsletter and that’s how I am pretty current on the research on the subject. My son has a developmental disorder at 31 weeks and was an incredibly healthy preemie with a short NICU stay. Imagine the earlier births and all of the complications that arise from that. Also, there is no way to know what caused the bleed. Not for certain anyway. Any sort of distress could do it, or genetics, it’s hard to say.

        Though the classifications are so much broader now, I promise. We decided to not go the label route for now because outside of some sensory issues and (relatively) serious communication and comprehension issues, he is happy and loving and doing well. Socially, he does struggle, but we are waiting to see where that goes with more communication skills. But he would qualify PDD-NOS which is autism. If you met him you wouldn’t know it until you spent some time with him, either.

        But that’s my point. 20 years ago? He just would have had social issues and been labeled as “learning disabled”.

        Posted by Amber Perea | April 28, 2013, 6:07 pm
        • Amber, thank you so much for sharing your story with me. I would love to hear more about these most recent studies as they become available. I believe you when you say the classifications have broadened in recent years, as they have for many disorders. While I don’t personally have a child with a developmental disorder, my heart is in this. I don’t want to see any child struggle to communicate with their family or their world. Please keep me updated!

          Posted by unnecessarywisdom | April 28, 2013, 6:33 pm
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