Autism And Vaccines In The Media
A Journalists Guide to Covering Outbreaks of Vaccine-Preventable DiseaseFrom the producers of the PBS-NOVA special VaccinesCalling the Shots.
On January 21st, 2011, Dr. Paul Offit was on The Colbert Report speaking about his new book, Deadly Choices: How The Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All..
On September 9, 2014, ASF President Alison Singer was on The Leonard Lopate Show to talk about the risks of not vaccinating.
If we ask the same questions well get the same answers. Weve asked the autism vaccine question over two dozen times and each time we get the same response: no relationship. We need to move on. We need to invest in studying genetics, the brain structures of children with autism, and environmental factors that may be playing a role.
Myth #: Vaccines Cause Autism
The widespread fear that vaccines increase risk of autism originated with a 1997 study published by Andrew Wakefield, a British surgeon. The article was published in The Lancet, a prestigious medical journal, suggesting that the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine was increasing autism in British children.
The paper has since been completely discredited due to serious procedural errors, undisclosed financial conflicts of interest, and ethical violations. Andrew Wakefield lost his medical license and the paper was retracted from The Lancet.
Nonetheless, the hypothesis was taken seriously, and several other major studies were conducted. None of them found a link between any vaccine and the likelihood of developing autism.
Autism Expert: Case Is Rare
A pediatrician who serves on a childhood vaccine advisory committee for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services sees the case differently. “To say mercury causes autism is a giant leap,” says Jaime Deville, MD, a pediatrician at Mattel Children’s Hospital at the University of California Los Angeles.
“Epidemiological studies do not support the hypothesis that mercury in vaccines causes autism in the general population,” he tells WebMD. “However, there might be individual sporadic, or rare cases in which patients have an adverse reaction after a dose of a vaccine that might exacerbate a pre-existing condition.”
That was the contention in Hannah’s case — that Hannah developed a disorder of the mitochondria, the cells’ “power sources,” before developing autism-like symptoms.
In a statement, Chuck Mohan, executive director and CEO of the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation, says science has not linked vaccines to mitochondrial disorders.
Deville worries that parents will again shy away from vaccines. “I would expect parents to start calling pediatricians,” he tells WebMD. But he adds that Hannah’s situation “seems to be an isolated case.”
He also points out: “Once mercury was removed in 2001, autism cases did not decline.”
He doubts that the decision will spur further research into the proposed vaccine-autism link, partly because of a lack of research funding.
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Sarrc’s Message On Vaccines
At SARRC, we believe the ultimate decision to vaccinate a child is a personal choice. If asked, we would recommend vaccinations because dozens of reputable scientific studies have failed to show a link between vaccines and autism, while numerous other studies demonstrate that the risks from the diseases the vaccines are meant to prevent are dangerous to a childs health and well-being. Our research focuses on early identification of autism because it leads to early intensive intervention, which is the most important support we can provide for a child diagnosed with autism at this time.
Read more about autism and vaccines in a Q& A with SARRC’s Vice President and Research Director Christopher J. Smith, PhD, here.
Literature Reviews: Autism And Vaccines
Vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella in children
Annals of Internal MedicineMarch 2019
The Journal of the American Medical AssociationApril 2015
Smith, M and Woods, CJune 2010
Offit, Paul and Gerber, Jeffrey S.February 2009
Institute of MedicineMay 2004
Adverse Effects of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines: A Report of the Committee to Review the Adverse Consequences of Pertussis and Rubella Vaccines
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No Link Between Autism And Childhood Vaccinations
We dont know exactly what causes autism, but there are many theories. Some theories have good evidence, but other theories are unproven, with little or no scientific evidence behind them.
One of these unproven theories is that autism is caused by childhood vaccinations, specifically the measles-mumps-rubella immunisation. Another theory is that the mercury-based preservative that was once used in vaccinations is to blame.
Although these issues were of particular concern in the 1990s and early 2000s, many studies have been conducted since then. We now know that there is no scientific evidence that either the MMR vaccine or mercury is involved in the development of autism.
In other words, vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism.
Theres no one proven answer to the question of what causes autism. But causes might include brain development and genetic factors.
Mercury In Vaccines As A Cause Of Autism And Autism Spectrum Disorders : A Failed Hypothesis
Mercury. It sounds very, very scary, particularly when you learn it was in some vaccines in the form of thimerosal. Fortunately, science tells us that thimerosal does not cause autism or neurologic injury, contrary to what antivaccinationists tell us.
Thimerosal, the molecule that doesnt cause autism.
Why indeed? The use of this precautionary measure, which to health officials seemed prudent at that time, as justification for attacking the safety of vaccines is as good an example of how no good deed goes unpunished as Ive ever seen. Many parents, faced with the enormous challenge of raising autistic children, not unreasonably wondered whether there was something wrong with vaccines in the first place.
Noting that, with the exception of studies conducted by a single pair of authors , all studies done have thus far failed to find a link between TCVs and autism, Fombonne continues:
He then postulates an explanation that I happen to agree with:
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Disease Outbreaks And Deaths
Preventable disease outbreaks have caused deaths in the wake of the anti-vaccine movement. Anti-Vaccine Body Count lists the number of preventable deaths from June 2007-July 2015 to be 9028, and the number of preventable illnesses to be 152,763. A measles outbreak in Disneyland in California was blamed on the poor vaccination rates.
Unvaccinated children are not the only ones at risk. Parents’ decisions not to vaccinate endanger infants and young children who have not yet been fully vaccinated, immunocompromised people such as cancer patients who cannot be safely vaccinated, and the rare percentage of people for whom their vaccines did not take hold. The concept of herd immunity relies heavily on a high percentage of vaccinations in any given community.
Do Vaccines Cause Autism
Some parents of children with ASD wonder whether a link exists between autism and vaccines. The concern first started with the MMR vaccine, an immunization against measles, mumps, and rubella. Some parents believe this vaccine causes the onset of autism. Despite these strongly held beliefs by proponents of the vaccine theory, there is no scientific proof that the MMR vaccineor any other vaccinecauses autism.
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Are Vaccines Linked To Autism
The topic of childhood vaccines leading to autism spectrum disorder is one that never seems to fades away.
Concerns about vaccines leading to autism surfaced in 1999 and initially involved the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine.
Because the MMR vaccine is usually given at age 12 to 15 months, and the first signs of autism often appear at this time, concerns were raised about a link between the MMR vaccine and the development of autism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has conducted 9 studies that have found no association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and ASD, or between the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and ASD in children.
In 2019, in the largest study ever published on this topic, investigators found no evidence that the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine causes autism when looking at over 650,000 Danish children. This result held true even when researchers focused on children at greater risk for developing autism. The results were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Unfortunately researchers are skeptical the new data will change the mind of so-called “anti-vaxxers”. However, they feel the large study might provide reassurance to certain parents who are willing to listen to science.
Nichd Autism Research Information
The US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development is one of many federal entities involved in autism spectrum disorder research. NICHD’s portfolio covers a variety of topics in autism, including autism etiology, epidemiology, treatment, and screening. The institute also supports professional training and the development of research infrastructure that will facilitate research in ASD and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.
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Doctor Says Vaccines May Cause Autism
A leading doctor who backed vaccine safety has signed a sworn statement saying inoculations can cause autism in some cases.
US paediatric neurologist Dr Andrew Zimmerman says vaccine fever and immune stimulation could cause autism in a subset of children with a mitochondrial dysfunction.
Dr Andrew Zimmerman, who believes the MMR vaccine can cause autism in children with a mitochondrial dysfunction
Zimmerman, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, says throughout his career he has vigorously defended vaccines.
Vaccine link to autism
But in his affidavit he says he told lawyers of the link to autism in 2007.
John Fletcher is a member of Justice, Awareness and Basic Support , a UK self-help group.
The group supports families who believe their children have been damaged by vaccines.
Fletcher called the development in the US very significant.
The UK government awarded him and his wife Jackie £90,000 after the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine gave their 27-year-old son Robert brain damage.
Robert now has epileptic fits, is unable to talk, stand unaided or feed himself. However, he does not have autism.
A jury made up of a judge and two doctors awarded the compensation. They said the ruling had no relevance to the question of a link between the vaccine and autism.
Zimmerman says he told US Department of Justice lawyers of the case at a federal court hearing.
Autism based on genetics
Mercury In Vaccines Not Linked To Autism New Study Finds
A new government study adds to the evidence that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative until recently found in many vaccines, does not increase children’s risk of autism.
It shows kids who had been exposed as babies to high levels of the preservative — through vaccines they received or their mothers received while pregnant — were no more likely to develop autism, including two distinct subtypes of the condition.
“This study should reassure parents about following the recommended immunization schedule,” said Dr. Frank Destefano, director of the Immunization Safety Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and the study’s senior author.
Concerns about a link between vaccines and autism were first raised more than a decade ago by British physician Andrew Wakefield.
His report, based on 12 children, has since been discredited and was retracted earlier this year by the journal that published it. In the meantime, it sparked a fierce worldwide debate among scientists and a health scare that caused many parents to shy away from recommended vaccines like the one against measles, mumps and rubella.
Outbreaks of all three diseases followed.
One widespread worry has been that thimerosal might play a role in the development of autism, a condition that affects as many as one in 110 U.S. children, according to the CDC.
Most scientists consider autism a developmental disorder, likely influenced by genes.
Why Ican Claims A Win Against The Cdc
The article from ICAN has a lengthy, and more than a little hyperbolic, description of a line of FOIA requests between ICAN and CDC. To remind readers, in a previous alleged win, ICAN claimed that it won a lawsuit showing the CDC does not have evidence that vaccines cause autism.
In reality, the Department of Justice settled a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by having the CDC put together a list of some studies on vaccines and autism, to make the request go away. As I explained in that post, the claim was a misuse of FOIA, and characterizing the settlement as showing anything about the link between vaccines and autism is incorrect both legally and scientifically.
This new claim is even less convincing. ICAN put the following two screenshots to show that the CDC changed something.
Note that there is one difference here, and one difference only. In the first, the heading is Vaccines Do Not Cause autism. In the second, the heading is Autism and Vaccines.
The text in both is similar, as far as I can tell, and is the current text. It opens with a paragraph describing what autism is. The text then says:
Reminder the language there is no link between vaccines and autism means that vaccines do not cause autism. The statement about research showing that vaccines do not cause ASD repeats that point.
ICAN claims a meaningful win that they are taking credit for. In fact, in an email asking for money they send their email list, they described this as a huge win.
Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
- Some people have had concerns that ASD might be linked to the vaccines children receive, but studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD. The National Academy of Medicine, formerly known as Institute of Medicine, reviewed the safety of 8 vaccines to children and adults. The review found that with rare exceptions, these vaccines are very safe.Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality external icon
- A CDC study published in 2013 added to the research showing that vaccines do not cause ASD. The study focused on the number of antigens given during the first two years of life. Antigens are substances in vaccines that cause the bodys immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies. The results showed that the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with ASD and those that did not have ASD.Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism external icon
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Talking About Vaccines: Autism
Claims that vaccines cause autism have led some parents to delay or refuse vaccines for their children. The most common claims are that autism is caused by MMR vaccine, vaccines that contain thimerosal, or too many vaccines. Many scientific studies have been done to test these claims. None has shown any correlation between vaccines and autism.
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Myth #: We Don’t Need To Vaccinate Because Infection Rates Are Already So Low In The United States
Thanks to “herd immunity,” so long as a large majority of people are immunized in any population, even the unimmunized minority will be protected. With so many people resistant, an infectious disease will never get a chance to establish itself and spread. This is important because there will always be a portion of the population infants, pregnant women, elderly, and those with weakened immune systems that can’t receive vaccines.
But if too many people don’t vaccinate themselves or their children, they contribute to a collective danger, opening up opportunities for viruses and bacteria to establish themselves and spread.
Not to mention, as the Centers for Disease Control warn, international travel is growing quickly, so even if a disease is not a threat in your country, it may be common elsewhere. If someone were to carry in a disease from abroad, an unvaccinated individual will be at far greater risk of getting sick if he or she is exposed.
Vaccines are one of the great pillars of modern medicine. Life used to be especially brutal for children before vaccines, with huge portions being felled by diseases like measles, smallpox, whooping cough, or rubella, to name just a few. Today these ailments can be completely prevented with a simple injection.
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Mercury And Autism Spectrum Disorder: Another Discredited Theory
Blood contains several different chemicals in small amounts. But certain chemicals like mercury can be poisonous if the levels are too high. Some people claim that autism is caused by excess mercury in the blood, which the childs body cant get rid of naturally.
Supporters of this theory also suggest that the excess mercury comes from vaccines. This is because in the past, thiomersal was used as a preservative to make some vaccines. But in any case, the mercury in this preservative was not the type that accumulates in the body and causes difficulties.
Thiomersal-based vaccines are no longer used. None of the National Immunisation Program vaccines used in Australia contain thiomersal. In Australia, thiomersal has been removed from all routine childhood vaccines since 2000.
A large-scale study found that children who had not been exposed to thiomersal had more cases of PDD. Another study found there was no reduction in the rates of autism after thiomersal was removed from vaccines in California.
Vaccination Rates Among Younger Siblings Of Children With Autism
The relationship between adverse reactions to vaccine and autism spectrum disorder has received little attention in research as of this writing. At the public health level, a better understanding of the relationship between perceived adverse reactions to vaccine and autism spectrum disorder is necessary in order to more effectively address concerns about vaccination.
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Reviews recent controversies surrounding immunizations and ASD .
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Le présent article analyse de récentes controverses entourant limmunisation et les troubles envahissants du développment et conclut quaucune donnée nappuie une association entre ces deux éléments.
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