Monday, February 22, 2010

Autism Week: Vaccines

To shoot or not to shoot, that is the question. Whether tis better to vaccinate your child against the panoply of diseases we can now prevent them from getting, or to avoid the needle for fear of autism or other ills?

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  Though the study was discredited rather quickly, and finally, this year, withdrawn, it has had the effect of markedly decreasing the number of children who receive the MMR vaccine.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?


  1. There's no substantial or reliable evidence to suggest that vaccine has any effect on autism.

    It is clear however that there is a genetic component.

    The decision to use (or not) of vaccines in children needs to be made by parents accepting the real and documented risks.

    There are enough of these to give many parents second thoughts without inventing myths about autism.

  2. My kids have had vaccines on schedule. The only one we avoided was chicken pox but that was because a doc friend said he didn't trust it would work longterm..... and I trusted a Yale med school graduate. All my kids had chicken pox and were fine with the illness.
    I wonder if autism/adhd/etc are not truly more prevalent but just more diagnosed. Kids used to be quirky and so be it. Kids used to be hyper and so be it... they may have had labels as being odd or difficult children but they didn't have a diagnosis..... I really do'nt know but I do wonder

  3. My daughter has "stretched" the vaccinations- eliminating the Hep C.
    I am becoming more convinced that plastics in baby bottles that are microwaved could be a source of problem- just a gut feeling.

  4. This is a tough one. My step-daughter's (Beachbrights) son was adopted from Russia. He was double vaccinated because the US does not recognize the immunizations from Russia. That was a tough one to swallow.

    My family believes in immunizing but DELAYING immunizations until a child is older.

    Anyway...I could go on and on...this is a very passionate subject for many.

    Thanks for your post :)


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