Wednesday, April 2, 2008

vaccines and autism

I had written a post about why people latch on to external causes for autism. I have taken some time to think about the issue of vaccines and autism. So here are where my thoughts stand now. There might be some kind of link between autism and mercury and other environmental contaminants. But I still believe that autism is mostly genetic. Also, if kids receiving mercury containing vaccines exhibit symptoms of autism, it doesn't mean they have autism. All it means is that they have symptoms related to mercury toxicity. There are other conditions out there that have similar symptomatology. Unfortunately autism is diagnosed on symptomatology. With other conditions a doctor would say "you have X symptoms so I think you may have Y. So lets run some tests to see if you have Y". If the person turns out not to have Y, then they run tests to see if they have Z. But you can't currently diagnose autism based on blood tests and brain scans. So there isn't a good way to separate genetic autism from mercury toxicity.

Additionally, many of the parents who blame the vaccines may not have noticed autistic symptoms early on. Lack of verbal speech is a big cue for most people that something is going on. If the child is at an age where most children don't speak, then the parent may overlook or not notice the more subtle symptoms. This is especially true if they don't have a neurotypical child to compare to. There used to be a video on YouTube talking about a court case where a mother was suing because vaccines cause her childs autism. She had some pre-vaccine video of her child to show that she was fine prior to being vaccinated. They had an autism expert examine the video. He was able to pick up symptoms of autism from the video. So clearly, in this case anyway, the child was autistic PRIOR to being vaccinated. The mother just never noticed that anything was going on. Now it may be possible that the vaccines did do something. But they certainly didn't make the kid autistic.

All that being said. I am by no means against removing mercury form vaccines or changing vaccine dosage schedules. But I am concerned about people being afraid to vaccinate their children due to all the hysteria surrounding the issue. Even if vaccines can cause autism, autism wont kill you. Diseases CAN kill you. I personally think it's better to have an autistic child than a dead child. Unfortunately some people don't see it that way. They would rather put their child at risk for developing a potentially deadly disease, than risk the possibility of their child being autistic. They seem to be implying that autism is worse than dying of a deadly disease. I would be very upset/angry if I found out that a child died from a preventable illness because the parents refused vaccination because they were afraid of their kid becoming autistic.

So I urge parents to continue to vaccinate your kids. Even if their is a link between autism and vaccines, don't buy into all the hysteria and put your kids life at risk.

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