Autism Spectrum Disorders are caused by vaccines, right?

With so much news attention lately on the growing number of parents who have become concerned that vaccinations might be linked with autism, I thought it would be fun to spend a few posts on what is known about the neuroscience of autism.

For my first post on this topic, I am going to start with the reason this topic is in the news so much; the belief that vaccines may cause or increase the risk of autism. This is the least interesting aspect of this topic for me because the scientific answer is resoundingly “NO!” and also because there are so many fantastic blogs and articles discussing this (see here, here, and here).  I have nothing to add to what those experts have already said, but because there is so much misinformation and skepticism out there I feel obligated to start any conversation about autism with a discussion on what is known about the link between autism and vaccines. So, here we go. To start, let me unequivocally state that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that receiving vaccinations increases the likelihood of acquiring an autism spectrum disorder. The controversy has mostly come from one paper published in The Lancet which did suggest a possible link in 1998, but a slew of follow-up papers could not replicate those findings. These many follow-up papers have now examined autism rates in over a million children and compared them to their vaccination records, and have found no effect of vaccination. Compare that to the Lancet paper that started this mess, which looked at only 12 children. It turns out there are more problems with that Lancet paper than just a low number of patients; it appears the researcher in question did not randomly sample to get those 12 children and in fact may have selected them in a biased manner. It gets even worse; the researcher’s funding may have come in part by lawyers who were carrying out lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers. Because of these and other problems the Lancet has retracted that study.

There is zero credible evidence that vaccines cause autism. There are now many credible studies suggesting vaccines do not increase the risk of autism.

The sad thing is that all of this fear and mistrust means scientists have to spend precious time and even more precious resources conducting major clinical studies to prove to the public something we already know. Vaccines are not the cause of autism. That means it will take us that much longer to figure out what is causing the harmful disease.

And speaking of harmful diseases, the vaccine in question prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Measles is a horrible, painful and deadly disease. Worldwide 146,000 people die from it each year.It is a tragedy that a fatal disease with a known method of prevention is making a comeback.

So what is this autism disorder causing so many parents to put their children at risk of measles? In my next post in this series, I am going to delve into the question what exactly is an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Politicus Cerebri

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One thought on “Autism Spectrum Disorders are caused by vaccines, right?

  1. Finally! Someone who is actually on the right track. It’s unbelievable even how many parents who DO vaccinate, still state that they are more scared of the illnesses killing their kids then of autism. Meaning they still also believe there is a link between the two. This is something I have never ever believed and as a parent, it scares the heck out of me just how many these days are against vaccinations.

    As a friend to two adorable little girls with CS it scares the heck out of me. These little girls can end up fighting for their lives for something a simple as a cold, whooping cough in Australia is on the rise and these little girls live here. Even vaccinated I am aware a child can get this illness so with more and more unvaccinated children spreading it around – what chance to these little girls have even vaccinated if they do come in contact with it?

    As a parent it scares me now to think, my now 5 year old daughter came with me everywhere because I had no choice. Her father was working, day care centres don’t even take children under 6 weeks of age and of course I had grocery shopping to do. She wouldn’t have been full vaccinated and the youngest she went out with me was a mere 6 days old. I am not the only parent in that situation. What chance to those babies have? The more these diseases are around due to anti-vaxxers the more OTHER children are at risk and they can’t see they are doing wrong. Not only are they putting their own children at risk ( apparently researched. Researched my ass. I am willing to bet not even a quarter of them researched anything but simple followed like little sheep ) but other children who’s parents have no choice.

    Frankly, it’s enough to make any parent these days who cares for the lives of their children, of their babies, insane with worry. As if it’s not hard enough becoming a new parent.

    What is needed spread around are hard facts – like this article.
    Also other articles stating the dangers, clearly, of these diseases that are now on the rise. Including hard figures on the increase in numbers of children contracting them.

    Government conspiracy theories – which are just that, theories, not hard facts. Need to be left to TV programs like the x-files and parents need to wake up to themselves and the risk they are posing.

    Like

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