Before I state my opinion I would like to say that this is a very emotional topic because autism is a very emotional issue. It is emotional because the parents and families suffering because a child of theirs has autism can be great. Generally, it is good to be cautious even with vaccines, but it is also important to debunk some of the lies that have been spread by some populists.
Even after 14 years since the publication of Wakefield’s 1998 article in The Lancet linking autism to the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine, many people are still skeptical of getting vaccines. It’s time to address this and move on with our falsely-driven fears.
Andrew Wakefield, a research scientist who is no longer licensed due to gross scientific misconduct and fraudulent actions, hypothesized that the MMR vaccine caused inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. He stated that the injurious inflammatory cells entered the central nervous system and were cause for autism – a far stretch for those of us who have taken any immunology/pathology courses. This was simply scientifically false; there is no link between autism and vaccines.
What got people questioning the validity of Wakefield’s statements instead of just dismissing them was that the MMR vaccine is given around 3-10 years of age, and that is the age children start developing the disease. However, it’s coincidental, and thousands of dollars have been spent on short-term and longitudinal studies just to prove that point. This poorly-spent money could have been used for research on HIV, cystic fibrosis, or a plethora of other debilitating diseases.
Here are two of the many studies published on the topic:
– The American Journal of Preventative Medicine (2003) published a study comparing the incidence of autism in those who were vaccinated with thimerosol in the vaccine, to those who were vaccinated without the thimerosol compound. (Thimerosol was a compound in question; the study was from 1992-2003.) The results showed no difference in autism incidence.
– Pediatrics (2004) published a longitudinal study from 1996 to 2004 comparing the rate of autism in children who had the MMR vaccine and those who did not. There was no difference in incidence.
The Lancet retracted the article, and Andrew Wakefield was tried and found guilty for scientific misconduct. Wakefield’s lies decreased the number of MMR and other routinely given vaccinations significantly in the UK and Ireland and thus increased the incidence of these not yet eradicated diseases. If this is new news to you, do us all a favor and spread the word: vaccines save lives.