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Autism and Vaccine Safety?

Historically, vaccines have been credited for saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Despite the closure of hospital wards dedicated to the treatment of polio, and meningitis victims recently the practice of immunization has come under increasing scrutiny.

The Controversy

A common misconception occurs with MMR vaccination. In 1998 a study of poor quality suggested that MMR vaccine causes the development of autism through a persistent infection in the intestinal tract. This study is very limited. 1. Poor sample size: The study only contained 12 children, this is too few cases to make any conclusions. 2. Retraction: In 2004, 10 of the 13 authors of the study stated that the study data was not of sufficient quality to establish a causal link between MMR vaccination and Autism.

The Evidence for Safety

Contrasting this 1998 study of limited quality are numerous, well designed studies with large sample sizes that demonstrate that the MMR Vaccine is Safe. Although there are many studies, we will cite a few for illustration. 1. UK 1998 study of appoximate 500 children followed for 20 years showed no associated between MMR vaccination and autism. 2. 1998 Lancet (Vol 351, P1327) study which followed children for 14 years showed no link between autism with MMR vaccination. 3. 2002 Denmark study (NEJM, Vol 347, p 1477) of 100,000 children showed no link between MMR vaccination and autism. 4. 2004 Pediatrics study studied 1824 children who did get MMR vaccine, and 624 who did not. There was no increase in autism in the children who received the vaccination. Additionally this study also showed that the age of vaccination did not increase the risk autism. 5. Pediatrics 2006 study (v118(1), p 139) is another Canadian study that concludes that there is no association between MMR vaccination and Autism. The bottom line is that the CDC, the Institute of Medicine, the Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Family Practice, the National Institute of Child Health Development and the National Institute of Health have all published statements stating that MMR vaccination is safe.

The Thimerosal Issue

Thimerosal is a mercury containing perservative in vaccines since the 1930's. According to the CDC, "there is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site." Despite this most vaccines currently available do not contain thimerosal. 1. 1991 English study of 14,541 children actually showed that children given vaccines containing thimerosal actually had fewer behavioraly concerns compared to controls. 2. 2003 Pediatrics Study of 124,170 HMO patients showed no evidence of any evidence of thimerosal injury. 3. Pediatrics 2006 study (v118(1), p 139) is another Canadian study that concludes that there is no association between thimerosal exposure and Autism. In fact it is the second study that found higher levels of behavioral abnormalities in infants NOT exposed to thimerosal. The bottom line is that the study showed no evidence of any harmful effect of thimerosal containing vaccines on neurologic or psychological outcome.

The Bottom Line

There is clear and convincing evidence that thousands of lives have been saved from crippling Polio and overwhelming bacterial pneumonia, epiglottitis (life threatening croup), and meningitis. There is lack of data showing that vaccines do harm in excess of these benefits.

What is Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome ( sometimes thought of highly functional autistic children), Rett Sydrome (genetic basis affecting females), and PDD (not specified)

What should I look for?

Autistic symptoms are subdivided into problems with 1) social interactions, 2) communication, 3) Repetitive unique behaviours. As these are abilities typically seen in 2 year old children, it is very difficult to diagnose Autism in a child less than 18months with any certainty.

* No babbling or gesturing by 12 months
* No words by 15 months
* Less than 5 words, or two word phrases by 2 years.
* Inability to respond to a names, communicate desires, or respond to commands
* Hearing concerns, poor eye contact, or lack of smiling
* Any loss of a previous ability to communicate
* Isolated to the exclusion of toys, siblings, people

Alternative Treatments for Autism

* Autism is a diverse spectrum of different medical conditions. As such, it is very difficult to study treatments as each child may have a different basis for their situation. Integrative treatments are often not approved by FDA and as such no claims can be made regarding their efficacy or safety. That said, individual children can respond to a variety of investigations and treatments. Consider using the Autism360 website as a guide.
* Non standard allergy testing.
* Applied behavioral therapies - Skills - A website that teaches you to give your child ABT at home.
* Supplementation with specific vitamens and supplements
* Homeopathic or acupuncture treatment protocols.
* Hyperbaric oxygen treatments.
* Neurotransmitter testing

Supplements should be taken with great care under direct supervision of a physician.

Digestive enzymes (Digestzyme V, or DPP4)
Probiotics (Perque Digestaguard, Orthomolecular Orthobiotic, S Boulardii)