Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Time for some nitty gritty (includes some facts)

It's been a few days since I've posted -- mainly because I have been trying to think of the best way to put this post out there, since it's quite controversial. I still may edit this once or twice as I find better ways of expressing myself, but this post as it stands definitely contains my views.

It's time for me to talk about all of the vaccine theories. I'm going to hold off on my comments on thimerosal for another post. But when I learned that the twins were on the spectrum, the first thing that came to my mind was "Is the MMR vaccine to blame?" (since this seems to be what EVERYONE talks about). I have both friends and family members who have commented to me during the previous year that they are considering NOT vaccinating their kids because of the fear of not knowing which children are "at risk" because, after all, it's common knowledge that vaccines cause autism, isn't it? The answer to that question is ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The phrase "common knowledge" indicates that something is true. This is more a "trope" or a fallacy. There were some studies done in animal models that MIGHT have shown some relationship between immunizations and autism, and other small scale observation human studies. However, these studies are questionable (at best) with their methods. And on NUMEROUS occasions these results have not been supported by larger scale studies that can be generalized to the public (see previous post). As I've mentioned elsewhere, results must be REPRODUCIBLE.

There are two key reasons why I believe people blame vaccines for the onset of autism:

1. People of power (media, politicians, etc.) have jumped on this. It shows a "bad guy" in the pharmaceutical companies and it makes a great story. Many of these groups aren't familiar with medical research or with how studies are conducted. They see something across the news wire and want to be the first to report it. And, as we've learned in 1960 with televised debates between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, people who know how to present themselves on television have a distinct advantage over those who don't possess that talent. Scientists and other researchers are not exactly known for their stage presence. So, even when they stand side by side debating this issue with a career politician or television journalist, the scientific information and explanations can easily be lost.

For the record, I'm not saying that anyone is maliciously misleading the public. We are all passionate about our children and when there is information to be had, the people in a position to inform us of this want to make sure that we, as parents, have the information we need to make informed decisions. However, these individuals are not necessarily in a position to critique these studies in any way guaranteeing that there is full understanding by themselves, and then consequently, to the public.

2. Timing. To the average person, the earliest signs of autism tend to appear when our kids are around 18 months to 2 years of age. This timing coincides with the administration of several vaccines, including the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella). And, to make it more complicated, one of the common side effects of this vaccine, is a fever within 48 hours of its administration. Many parents have claimed that their child just started to vanish after this vaccine was administered. However, when home videos have been reviewed by experts in child development and neurology, they usually see signs of autism as early as 6-10 months of age. Because of the developmental milestones associated with this age, this is just when autism is first recognized in many of these cases.

I just want to remind everyone that just because we see information "out there" doesn't mean we can't just assume that it's correct. This includes information we find in the news, on the internet, or talking to our friends. We need to go back to the source and interview people who understand what these reports are really saying (e.g. a physician or someone in the medical field who is capable of understanding medical research data). Once again, I'm not telling you to blindly follow what someone is telling you (including your doctors) -- I just want to see people becoming informed before making hasty judgments as to what may be happening here (or in any other medical area) and jumping to erroneous conclusions.

All right -- that's enough for now.....lecture is over (for now).......


  1. i have to agree completely here..i've ALWAYS said that you can't "get" autism, or anything that is on the spectrum, you are BORN WITH IT...and the fact that most signs pop up around the time when you start getting those complicated immunizations is pure coincidence, nothing more..if you delayed the immunizations, you'd still see the signs...oh, and dont' get me started on jenny mc carthy and how she has claimed her son is "cured" of the autism!!!

  2. The whole Jenny McCarthy thing has me so teed off. Autism isn't something that is simply "cured" -- we can learn how to draw our kids out and teach them social skills. Honestly, I JUST DON'T BUY IT!!!!!!!

  3. Bravo! As someone who has been in the trenches with parents and kids in the spectrum I have heard many theories on causes. hugs and kisses to you all! keep up the good work!

  4. If you haven't already, you should check out the Primal Health Research database -- lots of fascinating research on the effects later in life of things that happen during the primal period (conception thru 12 months).