It’s time for me to bring up an issue which a whole slew of people are likely to start a firestorm over. Namely, the vaccines-cause-autism debate.
I’m sorry if you don’t agree with my opinion on this. If you find my research to be flawed, then, by all means, do your own and prove me differently. I am happy to receive criticism, though I do ask that you back up your own argument with research.
So, here goes:
28 September, 2016
Vaccines and Autism:
It has been an ongoing debate for some time now that vaccines are one of the leading causes of autism in young children. Many studies and articles are offered to the public from both sides, and the evidence presented by each position seems compelling. The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is widely blamed for causing autism. Parents who object to the vaccination of their children often bring up the presence of toxins in vaccines and the relation between said toxins and a variety of disorders, including autism. Two of the toxins referenced are mercury and aluminum. Many parents worry that their child receiving too many vaccines, too early in life, can weaken the child’s immune system, causing them to be susceptible to becoming autistic. There is evidence disproving that autism in a result of any of the above factors. The question now becomes where such evidence may be found. However, many of the arguments for vaccine caused autism have certain flaws in their argumentation, are based on outdated research, or while making a valid point, have left out key details which would otherwise show the lack of evidence to support them.
The well-known MMR vaccine is one of those popularly accused of causing autism. Many studies have been conducted to ascertain whether this vaccine is actually related to autism or any other of a host of health issues for which it is blamed. The conclusion which most of these studies have presented is that the MMR vaccine is not related to the health issues it is blamed for. There has been some evidence suggesting that the vaccine is associated with the rise of autism diagnoses between the years 1980 and 1994. However, the association between the two is not well established. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
There is evidence to suggest that mercury exposure is related to autism, as well. Mercury can come from many environmental sources, this type being of a chemical composition known as methylmercury, and is toxic to humans at concentrated levels. (Dufault, Renee) Vaccines are often blamed for being such a source of mercury. While it is true that vaccines contain some mercury, this is a component of the preservative thimerosal. The chemical nature of the mercury contained within vaccines, ethylmercury, is harmless to the human body unless administered at an extremely high dose. Much higher than that at which methylmercury becomes toxic. However, because of parental concerns that the mercury in thimerosal could cause autism, thimerosal was removed from many common vaccines in 2001. The influenza vaccine, which does still contain thimerosal, is offered in both thimerosal-containing and thimerosal-free doses. (“Thimerosal in Vaccines”)
Aluminum is considered a neurotoxin and is associated with various cognitive disorders. Aluminum is added to vaccines as an adjuvant – an immune system stimulant which heightens the body’s response to the vaccine – and because of this and the neurotoxicity of aluminum at high levels, it is thought that the aluminum in vaccines contributes to autism. (Mercola, Joseph) However, aluminum is only harmful to a person when long-term exposure to high amounts occurs. The amount of aluminum in a vaccine is so small it cannot be detected in a person’s bloodstream even immediately after the injection takes place. In truth, aluminum is naturally occurring in many foods, in water, and in breast milk. A breastfed baby, over the first six months of life, will ingest approximately 7 mg. of aluminum from its mother’s milk, while only receiving around 4.4 mg. of aluminum from standard vaccines. (“What Goes Into a Vaccine?”)
Concerned parents are often worried that giving so many vaccines so early in life will compromise their child’s immune system, causing them to be susceptible to contracting autism. However, the belief that autism can be caused by one particular factor, as well as the idea that autism can be somehow contracted by a previously perfectly healthy child, have been disproven. Researchers have concluded that there are several rare gene mutations which are responsible for establishing autism risk initially, while many environmental factors, usually concerning the health and age of both parents and the health of the mother during pregnancy, contribute to this risk. Only around 15% of autism cases have a confirmed genetic cause for autism, with most cases being a result of combined genetic and environmental factors. In contrast, said environmental factors are not capable of inducing autistic behavior on their own. These factors usually affect the child indirectly through the parents’ genetics and/or the health of the mother while pregnant, rather than affecting the child after birth. Concerning the strength of a child’s immune system; babies are capable of immune response to antigens before birth. The protection from pathogens transferred from mother to child only protects from pathogens to which the mother is immune and only lasts a few months after birth. Babies have their own ability to generate immune responses to pathogens at birth, meaning that their bodies can protect them from the pathogens in vaccines from this time forward. Also, children with immunodeficiency have been found to respond better to live viruses in some vaccines than to the wild-type pathogens they would otherwise develop immunity to. Children who are ill are not affected adversely by vaccination, as the immune response to the specific pathogens contained within vaccines is comparable to that of healthy children. Additionally, infants have an overwhelming capacity for antigen response, and there are actually less total antigens contained in today’s vaccines than in those of previous years. This makes the argument that the increased number of vaccines given to children in the past decade is overwhelming children’s immune systems invalid. (Offit, Paul A.)
Given the evidence, vaccines are not as dangerous to children as some may paint them to be. Certainly, some of the most touted arguments for vaccines causing autism are provably invalid. While vaccines may be dangerous in many ways not within the scope of this document, the theory that vaccines cause autism has holes in it, as the top arguments in favor of said theory are easily disproven with evidence to the contrary from respected and knowledgeable sources. The MMR vaccine has been proven, over multiple studies, to not be related to autism. The toxins in vaccines are either no longer in use in modern vaccines, or are in such negligible amounts that natural environmental producers of such toxins are much more likely to cause health issues than vaccines containing them. And the argument that vaccines given in too large a quantity can compromise a child’s immune system is unscientific, given the strength of the infant immune system from birth. Proof that one should not believe every bit of information presented on a subject without thorough research.
American Academy of Pediatrics, comp “Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence” (2013): 4-15, Apr. 2013, Web, 28 Sept. 2016
Dufault, Renee. “Mercury Exposure: Nutritional Deficiencies and Metabolic Disruptions May
Affect Learning in Children” Behavioral and Brain Functions BioMed Central, 27 Oct. 2009 Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
Mercola, Joseph. “Aluminum in Vaccines May Be More Dangerous than Mercury.” Mercola.com. Joseph Mercola, 21 Sept. 2011. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
Offit, Paul A. “Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the
Infant’s Immune System?” Pediatrics 109.1 (2002): n. pag. Aappublications.org.American Association of Pediatrics, 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
“Thimerosal in Vaccines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
“What Goes Into a Vaccine?” PublicHealth.org. PublicHealth, 27 May 2016. Web. 28 Sept. 2016.
Okay have fun reading and commenting, guys. Like I said, if you want to debate my position, you can. I would be interested in some friendly banter.
See you all next blog.