Thursday, February 18, 2010

Immunizations and Autism--Editorial

Recently there have been a lot of contradictory stories about the affects of immunizations on young babies and the incidence of autism. The discussion among parents, who are nervous about the side affects of these immunizations, is totally founded because according to findings from medical journals and published health articles, certain vaccinations have played a big part in causing autism.

Autism is a complex disorder and there could be other factors involved in a child diagnosed with this disease but there are too many coincidences to ignore in vaccines. For example, according to Pathways, a community-based not-for-profit healthcare organization, "the California Department of Developmental Services, reported the rate of children diagnosed with full-syndrome autism between 1999 and 2002 nearly doubled from 10,360 to 20,377." Those numbers show a terrible increase and there is much concern for parents to not vaccinate their child at all. Discovered in vaccines during this time is a preservative called Thimerosal which is 49.5 percent ethyl mercury by weight. Mercury is a toxic metal which is known to be very harmful even for adults, imagine what it will do to babies under a year old. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the dose of mercury allowable is 0.1 mcg per kilogram per day. If an average infant received all thimerosal-containing vaccines at a two month visit weighing an average of 11 pounds (5 kilograms) the exposure to the baby in one day would be 62.5 mcg which is 125 times the EPA guidelines.

From Mothering magazine in 2001, a health article reported on the Public Conference of the National Vaccine Information Center where doctors and parents met to discuss vaccines. One parent said: "In the vaccine industry, scientific fraud and conflicts of interest are causing a cycle of deaths and injuries that is being concealed and denied by regulators and vaccine manufacturers."

One of those doctors there reported a link he discovered between the measles viral infection either from measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the actual disease of measles itself and autism. Dr Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist, surgeon and research fellow at the Royal Free medical school in London published his research linking the MMR vaccine to bowel diseases in small children. He had published his findings in February 1998 in the British Medical Journal, Lancet. The team at the Royal Free medical school did hypothesize that the measles virus could conceivably be the link between the bowel disease and autism but Dr. Wakefield was the leading doctor to publish this idea.

Jumping to Japan, a Dr. Kawashima had confirmed in his study that the virus causing this bowel disease does indeed come from the MMR vaccine. An inquiry conducted in Britain on Wakefield's work, which ended on January 28, 2010, concluded that his investigation into the link between the measle-induced bowel disease and autism was a deception. Dr. Wakefield hand picked certain children for the study and was also a paid adviser in certain legal cases by families suing the vaccine manufacturers. So how can parents decide whether to wait until their child is a little older to be vaccinated or follow the prescribed schedule of vaccines by their doctor? It is hard to know.

Thinking of my own experience, I know of two healthy babies who received their MMR vaccine at age 15 months and then suddenly took a turn for the worse and were eventually diagnosed with autism. My own son had a horrendous reaction to the Diptheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DPT) vaccine at one year when he went into convulsions and stopped breathing.

This vaccine fear continues in part because parents often notice the first autism symptoms around the age of two, when many childhood vaccines are given. In my reading, medical doctors believe it is a coincidence and parents still have no assurance their child will not be one of many children already conflicted with autism. We were told in my son's incident that he was allergic to the vaccine and to not give him anymore of that particular dosage.

The bottom line is parents have to decide whether to vaccinate their children or not. Autism is a complex disorder and I don't know if clear conclusive evidence will ever convince the vaccine administrators to change the contents making it completely safe for children. In reports of vaccinations and precautions for parents, there are some suggestions given to prevent vaccine reactions in most children. First, ask yourself if your child is sick the day you planned to have the vaccinations done. Every health care provider will tell you to wait until the child is completely healthy including off of antibiotics before administering any vaccines. Second, give only one shot at a time. This is a significant suggestion because it is easy to overload a small child with too immunizations at one time. If your child has significant reactions, do not repeat the vaccine. Three, save the vaccine manufacturer's name and lot number and finally get the full information on the vaccine's side affects and watch your child closely for the next few days.

If enough doctors studying these side affects can reach those who create the vaccines, maybe sometime in the near future, we will never have to worry about how children will react with immunizations and we will be free of all disease.
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