Autism Linked with Vaccinations
Parents of children in today’s society are much different than those of different generations. They have young children present in a time where technology is advancing rapidly and controversies involving these advances been brought to attention. What most parents don’t know, is that even though they are trying to protect their kids by vaccinating them, there are claims that vaccinations can hurt them. Some parents of autistic children believe that the vaccinations that their child received, has caused their disorder. However, many these same parents are using this as a scapegoat to blame for their child’s disorder, since there is no official evidence supporting their claim. There is no relationship between autism and vaccinations. By undergoing any medical procedure, you are at risk for developing symptoms. But, symptoms do not include social disorders that are developed from causes unknown.
Autism is a developmental disorder found early in age that effects the brain, causing social interaction and communication impairments. According to the Center of Disease Control, “…1 out of every 68 children born in the United States in 2002 had autism spectrum disorder…” (“Vaccine Safety”). Unfortunately, there is no cure for autism, only treatments that consist of medications and visits with a behaviorist. There are no definitive medical tests that determine autism, since it is a psychological disorder; the diagnosis comes from observation of the individual’s social interaction, communication, and interests (“Autism Society”). Given that the disorder affects social and communication skills, it’s harder for them to play with other kids and live a normal young life. Parents obviously want the best of their child, and for them to live a long, healthy life, which can make the diagnosis of autism a very hard thing to deal with. One of the major realities that parents are facing is not knowing what the disorder entails and how their child developed it. Since vaccinations are given around the same age that autism can be developed, this is where the speculation came from.
As mentioned before, the ingredient in common vaccinations that is being speculated is Thimersal, a mercury-based component that is harmful to the central nervous system if taken in high doses (“Vaccine Safety”). When mercury is exposed in high measures, it has been known to cause behavior changes, irritability and incoordination, which are similar symptoms of autism. It was removed from all child vaccines in 2001 expect for one type of influenza vaccine in order for research to be conducted (“Vaccine Safety”). However, in 2004, the Immunization Review Safety Committee of the Institute of Medicine rejected the hypothesis of a casual relationship between Thimersal-containing vaccines and autism (Hurley).
This topic wasn’t really brought to media until famous actress and mother, Jenny McCarthy, spoke out about her beliefs regarding vaccinations. McCarthy’s son, Evan, was diagnosed with autism in 2005 after having multiple seizures (Kluger). She became involved in online support groups by trying to find answers to her son’s diagnosis. After finding information about how vaccines with mercury were being speculated, she took her beliefs to the media, explaining her son’s situation. According to McCarthy, she is not “anti-vaccine”, she’s against how many vaccines are given to children at such a young age. There is such thing as a “shot schedule”, which is the arrangement of vaccines given to kids. Over 20 years, the schedule has gone from 10, to 36 shots, which McCarthy believes is “too many, too soon”. Although her son is now recovering from autism, she speaks out to all parents by wanting to make sure that they are aware of what vaccines their children are receiving, and that they do have control in deciding what is acceptable and what’s not.
In 2011 there was a British study that was conducted by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that was retracted and identified as an “elaborate fraud” that has done long lasting damage to public health. The study said that once a child was vaccinated that they started to develop signs of autism days after the vaccination. However, the signs of autism were present before any vaccination was given, which concluded that this study was falsified just to provide some drama in the association between vaccines and autism. This study was considered fraudulent because it was deemed unethical, where the kids were paid to donate blood, specific children were picked for the study, not at random like most credible scientific study. So after this study came to light is when parents stopped vaccinating their kids. But, now that it has been identified as a “medical hoax”, these parents are left wary of what will happen to their children since they didn’t receive this vaccine when they should have (CNN Staff).
Since there is no legitimate evidence supporting these allegations that vaccines cause autism, we need to stop being closed off to vaccinating our kids. There are risks for symptoms with any sort of medical procedure, including getting a simple shot. However, that does not mean that any one shot in particular is going to cause your child to develop autism. As mentioned before, autism is a social disorder that is developed at a young age and takes months of diagnosing and observing to be done before any sort of conclusion is reached. In my opinion, these claims were made by confused and scared parents who wanted something to blame for their child developing this incurable disease. Autism support groups encourage parents everywhere to continue vaccinating their children because they prevent disease and sickness. Yes, the amount of shots that children receive nowadays has increased tremendously over time. But, that is only because of the medical and technological developments that our society has established.
There has been no medical evidence that supports these claims of autism being caused by vaccinations. Arguing against this topic would be pointless because there is no suggestion stating that it is a cause otherwise. As individuals in a new technological era, we have to accept the adjustments that come along with the modern lifestyle.