Childhood Vaccinations Vs. Autism
Author: Denise Daniels
Published: 2010-06-06 : (Rev. 2015-06-15)
Synopsis and Key Points:
Scientific and medical communities agree further research needs to be conducted before possible autism vaccination link be dismissed.
Although no scientific evidence has yet to prove a link between autism and vaccinations, both scientific and medical communities agree that further research needs to be conducted before the possible link can be completely dismissed.
As a parent of four children, I still remember vividly the apprehension I had regarding having my children vaccinated - not because of the link between vaccinations and autism - No - this was well before the rumors started about the possible link between the two.
My apprehension was in that my child would have to suffer even the smallest amount of pain from the needle that would inject this unknown substance into my child, that would, by all known accounts, protect them from the harm of devastating diseases.
I remember weeks before the appointment, that I would prepare myself and my husband for that "fateful day" when I would have to hear them scream out in pain, and look up at me with those big brown eyes and silently ask, "why did you let them do this to me" But I also recall, after a small dose of baby Tylenol and a lot of hugs and kisses, my child, after each doctor's visit, would drift off into blissful sleep, almost as if the dreaded shot had never happened.
While those were very distressful days, with the onset of growing evidence that there may indeed be a link between vaccinations and autism, I find myself longing for those simple days where my only concern was a small pinprick into my child's precious skin, and a few minutes of pain. Because, as all parents were told, the responsible thing is to have your children vaccinated, and there was no doubt about it. But that was then - this is now.
My husband and I married in 1980, with the future hope of having children. Before 1980, autism was diagnosed in just 1 out of every 10,000 children.
Twenty-eight years later, the National Institute of Health reported that autism disorders affect one in every 250 children, and that number is estimated to increase 10% each year. My son, born in 1984, was diagnosed with autism at the age of 5. My daughter and youngest child was born in 1990, and was also diagnosed with autism when she was four years old. At the time, the questions that they kept asking me about "did you have any unusual things happened during the birth of your child" and "did you have your children vaccinated" were strange questions, but due to my lack of knowledge regarding autism, the shock of finding out that my children "had it", I answered the questions blindly, and honestly in hopes that they would tell me that there was a reasonable explanation as to why two of my four children had it, but two of them did not.
Although no scientific evidence has yet to prove a link between autism and vaccinations, both scientific and medical communities agree that further research needs to be conducted before the possible link can be completely dismissed. With the rumors of autism and vaccinations growing, and with more and more families coming out about their children having autism, including celebrity parents, many families are opting for alternative vaccination schedules or no vaccinations at all. The dangers of those decisions are frightening, however, as a parent of two autistic children, I do understand the dilemma. What exactly is the link between autism and vaccinations
Autism and Thimerosal The first connection with autism and vaccinations come through a preservative called Thimerosal.
Thimerosal is a preservative found in many vaccinations. Thimerosal contains 46.9% ethyl mercury. Mercury is the second most harmful natural substance to humans, next to uranium. Mercury has been proven to cause neurological damage, among other ailments, and pregnant women are warned against the ingestion of mercury, such as eating fish. Autism and autistic spectrum disorders are neurological disorders. Although the CDC claims that vaccinations no longer contain Thimerosal, it must be noted that pharmaceutical companies were not prohibited, but strongly encouraged, to reduce the amount found in certain vaccinations. Seventeen vaccinations contain Thimerosal, including the flu shot. Although new vaccinations are being created without thimerosal, vaccinations containing the preservative are still being administered throughout the country.
Another suspicion linking vaccinations to autism comes from the amount of vaccinations children now receive.
In 1985, when my son who has now been diagnosed with autism was one year old, infants received four vaccinations that contained thimerosal. In 1991, when my daughter now diagnosed with autism was one year old and when the rate of autism began to increase, infants were receiving eleven vaccinations containing Thimerosal.
One physician, requesting to remain anonymous, states, "In the 80s, children received eight vaccinations in early childhood. They now receive thirty. Why thirty
With each public health scare, like Smallpox or Anthrax, that number is going to inevitably increase. Twenty years from now, children could easily be receiving forty vaccinations and because some people in the medical community endorse this, parents will vaccinate without knowing the risks. I tell my patients not to take my word for it. Not to take the word of the CDC or the APA, but to research themselves. It falls in the same myth that un-vaccinated children cannot attend public school. Few people read the fine print and even fewer will inform them of it." I was a parent, like many, who never read the fine print regarding the affects of the needle prick through my children's precious skin. I assumed like the large majority of parents, that it was vital for my children to have the shots, to protect not only them, but other children from deadly disease.
While I find myself in a peculiar position regarding the controversy regarding vaccination vs. autism, I do not take either position - I do not fall on either side of the controversy. I fall on the side of parents who love their children and want the best for them. Now, autism is not a fear I have, it is a reality that I face each day. While I no longer have to feel the anxiety of having to see my children suffer physical pain due to a vaccination shot, I see the painful hurdles they must face in this fast paced world, that seemingly has no time to slow down to accommodate those children who cannot keep up the pace and who have to take alternative paths in life.
I have been told that my child would never be able to sit in a classroom, at the tender age of five.
I was told that my children with autism would never be able to hold down a job, earn a living, live on their own or have families. So my function as a parent of special needs children was to break down those barriers and those stereotypes and to help my children succeed - NOT to the level of the mainstream - but to the level of their individual ability and desire. The son that was told he would never sit in a classroom graduated from high school with honors and attended community college until he decided he wanted a job. He found a job that suits him, he has his driver's license and has the support of many friends, teachers, counselors and especially family, who have seen his struggles, but have seem him grow to be a fine young man. While my daughter has more intense developmental issues, she is a kind, thoughtful, and extremely talented writer, who has vowed to become a better writer than the author of Harry Potter books.
Leaving the Final Decision To The Experts Yes, as parents, my husband and I have our struggles with the disease, and I feel much empathy for the parents of young children who have to decide whether to take the risk of not having their children vaccinated, or take the risk of having them vaccinated. At the time our children were vaccinated, we were unaware of the link between autism and vaccinations.
Vaccinations have been proven to be of benefit in decreasing the likelihood of many childhood diseases, that fact is not in question.
The best advice that I can give to parents is to do your research. Ask questions, read the fine print on the medication that your child is being given, if you decide to go that route.
Leaving the decision to the medical experts is not the best idea. Their job is to do what they were medically taught to do - provide the best medical care for your children that they know how. The ultimate decision should be made by the child's experts and best advocates - their loving parents.
- 1 - Risk of Autism Among Younger Siblings of a Child with Autism : Autism Speaks (2011/08/15)
- 2 - Autism Risk in Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders : IntegraGen (2012/05/17)
- 3 - Social Benefits of Being a Girl with Autism : Yale University (2016/02/09)
- 4 - Sounds Help Children with Autism Develop Speech and Gestures : University of Gothenburg (2016/02/25)
- 5 - Accessing Services a Huge Problem for Parents of Children with Autism : Queen Mary, University of London (2016/03/15)
- 6 - Obesity Rate Difference in Children With and Without Autism : Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus (2016/10/17)
- 7 - Shakespeare Helps Children with Autism Communicate : Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center (2016/10/13)
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