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:
- There is no link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.
- There is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
- There is no link between too many vaccines too soon and autism.
(To see just how much recent research has been done proving that there is no connection between vaccines and autism, take a look at the Autism Science Foundation’s Read the Science page. Get ready to scroll – it’s a lot!)
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
Myth: Thimerosal in vaccines causes autism.
FACT: Thimerosal is no longer used in children’s vaccines and has never been proven to cause autism.
Some myths are more powerful and damaging than others. The myth that thimerosal, a preservative that has mercury in it, causes autism in children is a very powerful myth. It has frightened many Maine parents for too long and has kept them from protecting their children from dangerous diseases with safe, effective vaccines.
A powerful myth is still just a myth. We still don’t know what causes autism. What we do know for a fact is that it isn’t thimerosal in vaccines.
WHAT IS THIMEROSAL?
Thimerosal was added to vaccines 70 years ago as a preservative. Just like the preservatives used in food, thimerosal was added to vaccines to keep them from going bad while they were shipped and stored. Just like eating spoiled food can make us sick, using “spoiled” vaccines can cause serious health problems. The thimerosal in vaccines was a way to keep vaccines safe and at full strength, saving lives.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THIMEROSAL:
Thimerosal was added to vaccines to protect people and that is all it has ever done. But, in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked vaccine manufacturers to remove thimerosal from children’s vaccines. This was not because they believed it caused autism, but as a general push to remove all types of mercury from children’s products.
- Thimerosal has never been shown to be harmful to kids or to cause autism.
Scientists agree that thimerosal does not cause autism:
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reviewed all of the research and declared thimerosal safe.
- In 2010, the CDC and AAP published a new study showing there is no link between thimerosal and autism.
- In 2010, three judges heard all the evidence and ruled in three separate cases that thimerosal does not cause autism.
- There has been no thimerosal in children’s vaccines since 2001.
No thimerosal has been used in children’s vaccines for over ten years as part of a nationwide effort to reduce childhood exposure to mercury—even though a vaccine with thimerosal contains less mercury than a tuna fish sandwich.
Maine parents still unconvinced by all of these studies and court rulings should know that they can vaccinate their children on the CDC-recommended schedule until age six without ever exposing them to thimerosal.
Since thimerosal is proven to be safe and because it works so well as a preservative, it can still be found in some adult doses of the flu vaccine. Parents who are still concerned about thimerosal can ask their healthcare provider for a thimerosal-free dose of the flu vaccine.
The truth is that thimerosal has never caused autism and is no longer found in children’s vaccines. Don’t let a myth keep you from making an informed decision to follow the recommend vaccination schedule for your children.
Vax Maine Kids highly recommends that Maine parents keep their kids on the CDC-recommended vaccination schedule. Is your family up-to-date? Visit our Vaccine Schedules page to find out.