Monday, February 22, 2010
Autism Week: Vaccines
If you look at the number of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, there is a huge jump starting with kids about my 17 year old son's age. My son's age cohort was one of the first to get the HepB vaccine and the HIB had only been out a couple years when he was born. Prior to that, the "baby shots" had been the same for a generation. It is no wonder that parents started to question whether all these new shots were having an effect on their children. First, there were those who said that they symptoms of autism were similar to those of mercury poisoning, and that many of the shots contained thimerisol, a preservative made with mercury. Though never a an accepted standard care, some doctors used chelation treatments on autistic children, and many parents felt they got good results. Due to public outcry (and probably the threat of litigation) thimerisol was removed from most vaccines, yet the autism rate did not decrease.
Several years ago a study was published in a prestigious medical journal linking autism and the MMR shot. Though the study was discredited rather quickly, and finally, this year, withdrawn, it has had the effect of markedly decreasing the number of children who receive the MMR vaccine.
The number of vaccines continues to climb, as does parental concern about injecting all that stuff into such a small baby. Maybe, some have postulated, there is nothing wrong with the (fill in the blank) vaccine; the problem is giving them all at once overloads the immune system and causes autism, or auto-immune disease or....
My youngest is twelve years younger than my oldest. With my two big kids, I showed up at the doctor as scheduled, signed the shot papers after a quick glance (it wasn't like I really had a choice about shots, was it?) and got them what they were supposed to have more or less when they were supposed to get it. By the time my youngest showed up, my son had already been diagnosed and I had already spent lots of hours researching autism, including reading about the shots. Needless to say, I wasn't near as enthusiastic about vaccines as I had been years before. I refused to sign for the HepB (or was it C) in the hospital. I checked all the shot papers for mention of thimerisol, always wrote "NO THIMERISOL" on them before signing. I delayed shots, but given the lack of evidence in the mainstream press for vaccines causing autism, I didn't refuse them completely. We'll never know if my attitude toward shots was a factor in my baby not being autistic, but the fact of the matter is, she's not, and that's a good thing.
So, my question for you today is whether the stories relating autism and vaccines have had any effect on the medical choices you make for your children. Why or why not?