Vaccines Still Don’t Cause Autism

Image courtesy The Morgue Files

Image courtesy The Morgue Files

People who think vaccines cause autism are hard to convince otherwise. Over the years they’ve come up with many reasons they think vaccines could cause autism, and when one cause is scientifically tested and rejected, the most stubbornly anti-vaccine just come up with another reason. When it turned out not to be caused by the MMR vaccine, the ethyl-mercury based preservative in some vaccines was blamed. When the preservative was removed, the goalpost was moved to the harder to test, “too many, too soon” complaint.

Under the “too many, too soon” hypothesis, it wasn’t a specific vaccine that caused autism but rather the increasing number of recommended childhood vaccines. Some parents used this to justify delaying vaccines instead of using the recommended schedule with the idea that it gave the immune system a chance to recover. Delaying vaccines is actually a bad idea, because it increases the window of vulnerability for children. That, in turn, endangers babies too young for vaccines.

Well rest assured. Following the recommended schedule does not put your kids at an increased risk for autism. There’s no link between the number of vaccines a child receives and their chance of later developing autism.

Instead of chasing after a cause for autism that’s been disproven time and time again, can we start focusing some of this energy and research on improving the lives of individuals with autism?

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Marziah

Marziah Karch is an instructional designer, book author, About.com Expert, grad student, and digital broad. She lives in sunny Portland, Oregon with her family. She enjoys keeping it weird, biking in the rain, and dodging Wesen.
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  • mable

    I respectfully disagree. While I agree that vaccines in and of themselves, are not the cause autism – in a normal healthy person… I have seen first hand the effects of vaxing a person with serious (and sometimes undetected, until its too late) autoimmune disorders. The results are devastating!

    • http://www.digitalbroads.com Marziah

      If vaccines caused autism in even a very small number of individuals, the results would show up in epidemiological studies, and then the job of medical researchers would be to find out why — whether it was undetected immune disorders or certain ingredients, or some other cause.

      It turns out that the vaccinated children aren’t any more likely to develop autism than the unvaccinated children in this study.

  • Sue

    Thank you! I have three sons with high-functioning autism, and I’m honestly so disgusted with the fringe element that keeps causing time and money to be *wasted* on a supposed connection between autism and vaccines. You could just as well claim that *not* being vaccinated might cause autism because, even though the number of children whose parents are declining/delaying vaccines has increase (resulting in fewer children in the population who’ve had vaccines), the incidence of autism is going way up. *Something* is causing autism to increase, but it’s not vaccines. Let’s spend our money figuring out what the real culprit is. (And before we play the evil-vaccine-manufactures-funded/influenced-the-study-findings card, consider whether there wouldn’t be plenty of researchers who want the glory of finding the cause of autism more than they want the money? Heck, there might even be a Nobel Prize for Medicine in it. You can’t tell me that reputable researchers would pass up that sort of recognition.)

    • http://www.digitalbroads.com Marziah

      I’ve got a son with autism myself, and I share your worry about all the wasted resources.

  • Anny

    Not to mention, that I know and love many people with autism. Do parents who refuse to vaccinate really believe that having your child die of a vaccine prevantable illness is better than having a child with autism?

    • http://www.TechyDad.com/ TechyDad

      That’s always my response and one that Penn and Teller used quite effectively: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfdZTZQvuCo (Warning, NSFW language but a very well crafted visual aid.)

    • http://www.digitalbroads.com Marziah

      I think they just underestimate their child’s chances of getting sick while overestimating their chances of adverse reactions to the vaccine.

  • asdmom

    AMEN!!!

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