Tag Archives: autism

Mythbuster Series: Autism

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Posted on April 9th, 2014

autismMYTH: Vaccines can cause autism.

FACT: Vaccines do not cause autism.

Autism is a very hard diagnosis for doctors to make and an even harder diagnosis for parents to hear. Autism can devastate families, and let feelings overwhelm facts. Parents with autistic children have so many questions, and there is still so much about autism we don’t know.

We do know this: vaccines protect children from dangerous diseases without increasing their risk for autism.

Children do not begin to show signs of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) until they are six to eighteen months old. This is about the same age that children receive many of their recommended vaccines. Some Maine parents may have seen a medical study claiming this timing isn’t a coincidence. They might not know this study has been completely discredited, and many other scientific studies have shown no link between vaccines and autism.

  • THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM
    In 1998, a British physician named Andrew Wakefield published a study of 12 children in the medical journal Lancet. Wakefield claimed these children experienced developmental regression after they received their MMR vaccine. Wakefield did not find a scientific connection between MMR and autism, but he said the vaccine should stop being used anyway.

    Andrew Wakefield’s study got a lot of press and it frightened a lot of parents. This study also had a lot of problems. The research did not stand up to scrutiny, and by 2004 it was clear that the study was a fraud. By 2009, London’s Sunday Times found evidence Wakefield had falsified his data and in 2010 the Lancet agreed, declaring the study false. In 2010 the British Medical Council revoked his medical license and found him guilty of 30 counts of professional misconduct. The British Medical Journal published a three-part investigative series reporting that Wakefield lied in his study as part of a scam to make a million dollars.

    No other medical study anywhere in the world has ever found a link between vaccines and autism. Not one.

  • THERE IS OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE VACCINES DON’T CAUSE AUTISM
    This fraudulent study did a tremendous amount of damage in a short period of time, but it did have one silver lining. It prompted many other scientists to study the connection between vaccines and autism. This avalanche of careful, thorough and ongoing scientific research all came to the same conclusion: there is no link between vaccines and autism.

    When we say “no link”, we mean:

Maine parents don’t need to worry that vaccinating their children on the recommended schedule will increase their risk of autism. We can stop wasting valuable research dollars and focus on finding the real causes of autism.

The truth is, we still don’t know what causes autism. We do know that it isn’t vaccines.

Vax Maine Kids and Kohl’s Vax Kids want Maine parents to keep their kids on the CDC-recommended vaccination schedule. Is your family up-to-date? Visit our Vaccine Schedules page to find out.

Photo Credit: by Beverly & Pack

The Tragedy of the Anti-Vaccination Movement

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Posted on January 28th, 2014

This interactive vaccine-preventable disease outbreak map created by the Council on Foreign Relations has gone viral, showing the impact this topic has on the entire world. The Los Angeles Times recently referred to the graphic as a visual representation of “The toll of the anti-vaccination movement, in one devastating graphic.”

This map (screenshot below) shows the different vaccine-preventable outbreaks that have occurred around the world since 2008 by using different colored dots for each disease.

Screenshot 2014-01-24 09.52.10

Some outbreaks are less surprising than others. Sadly, it is expected that, in underdeveloped countries, where vaccines are much more difficult to get, there are more vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks. That said, the number of red and brown colored dots (red for measles and brown for mumps) in the United States and Europe (largely Great Britain) is startling since these are developed areas where vaccines are much more accessible.

In countries like the US and Great Britain, it is clear that these outbreaks are not a result of access to vaccines, but likely a result of the anti-vaccine movement; more directly, the completely false claim that the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine causes autism. This claim is not new and has shown to be untrue over and over again, year after year, but the fear the claim put into parents’ minds persists.

While there are side effects to vaccines, largely limited to redness, pain, and sometimes a fever, autism is not one of them and never has been. Study after study, with millions of children, has shown absolutely no correlation between vaccines and autism.

Aaron Carroll, MD, MS, a pediatrician and health services researcher at Indiana University School of Medicine, explains why it is so difficult to dispel this myth:

Humans try to make sense of the world by seeing patterns. When they see a disease or condition that tends to appear around the time a child is a year or so old, as autism does, and that is also the age that kids get particular shots, they want to put those things together. Parents watch kids more carefully after they get their shots; sometimes they pick up on symptoms then. But, just because two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean that one thing caused the other.

Dr. Carroll provides an incredibly thorough and clear history of the incorrect MMR-autism link that came from what we now know was a totally falsified study that was later removed from the Lancet Journal, one of the world’s premiere medical journals, and whose lead author’s medical license was revoked for dishonesty and irresponsibility. Dr. Carroll explains this disgrace to science:

This was not a randomized, controlled trial, nor even a scientific study; it was merely a description of a small group of children. To be honest, it’s difficult to imagine that this study could get published in the Lancet today. But, based on the beliefs of the parents of those eight children, a frenzy of fear about vaccines and autism has ensued for more than a decade.

Here at VaxMaineKids, we understand that your child is your most precious possession—you want to do what’s best for them and always keep them healthy. Autism can be scary, and it is natural to be wary of something that someone says could cause it. But since vaccines don’t, you could be putting your child’s health at risk if you buy into the myth that they do.

What will it take for this myth to be squashed once and for all? Graphics like these can show the potential effects of myths like this one on the numbers of life-threatening disease outbreaks worldwide.

We encourage you to check out and share Aaron Carroll’s video—it’s well worth the eight minutes.

And, take a look at this and let us know what you think.

We also recommend you visit our vaccination safety page at www.vaxmainekids.org/vaccination-safety to learn more.

 

Sources:

http://www.cfr.org/interactives/GH_Vaccine_Map/#map

http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/healthcare-triage-vaccines-and-autism/ (Dr. Carroll offers his own references here, too)