My heart broke last week when I was going through my email. A ProMED alert informed me that an infant in Washington State just died from whooping cough. Whooping cough is one of the most preventable diseases in the United States. That is because there is a very good vaccine that protects infants against the organism that causes disease (Bordetalla pertussis). However, it appears that there is a trend in the US that makes it seem as if you are a better mother if you don’t vaccinate your infants. Why is the message out there that vaccine are bad? This mother could have saved her child’s life with a simple vaccination.
The problem? Websites and propaganda that choose to ignore or discredit scientific study after study that REFUTE the link between thimerisol (ethylmercury used as a stabilizing agent in some vaccines) and the onset of autism. The most recent of these was published today in the journal Pediatrics. The comprehensive report compiled by the CDC determined there was NO link with thimerisol exposure either prenatally (via vaccines mothers received while pregnant) or due to vaccinations received after birth. In fact, the study indicates that children with autism commonly had lower exposures to ethylmercury.
This study was carefully constructed. All the children (256 children with autism and 752 healthy controls) were matched with birth year and gender, but more importantly, they came from the same clinical environment. This means that all the children in the study had roughly the same overarching clinical care as they grew up. So in terms of experimental control, all the children in the study essentially received the same standard of care/vaccination protocol. Again, NO link was found.
But it is not just this report. Other past reports have found no link between thimerisol and autism.
The first report by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that detailed a possible link has been RETRACTED by the Lancet (the journal that published the report). Not only were his findings found to be false, the U.K’s General Medical Council determined that Dr. Wakefield’s study was dishonest and irresponsible.
A recent court ruling has concluded that the thimerosol in vaccines does not contribute to autism. A year earlier the same court established that the MMR vaccine also did not contribute to autism. Again, these findings are backed by science.
California has seen a doubling of whooping cough since 2009 in the first three months of this year and two infant deaths from the disease.
Importantly, I am NOT saying there is not an increase in autism, there is. The facts just do not support that vaccines are the villain. As a matter of fact, I find the report out by the University of California, that environmental factors are likely to play a role in autism are much more credible:
Many researchers have theorized that a pregnant woman’s exposure to chemical pollutants, particularly metals and pesticides, could be altering a developing baby’s brain structure, triggering autism.
We have lead in our children’s toys, chemicals on our lawns, and mercury in our tuna. How can these NOT be the real reasons for increasing autism? Vaccines protect your children. They are not the villians.