Although there is much in the media today denying the connection between autism and vaccines, there is simply too much evidence to the contrary. The U.S. government has compensated families for children in whom it has been determined that vaccines were the cause of autism. Still the government denies that vaccines cause autism (see Federal Court Compensation and HSRA Statement below).
Could there be multiple factors that could be contributing to the skyrocketing rates of autism? Of course. But to dismiss vaccines as one of those factors is negligent. The information below contains just some of the evidence that vaccinations are a contributing factor in the rise in autism, which now affects 1 in 50 children in the U.S.
WASHINGTON, May, 2011 PRNewswire
83 Cases of Autism Associated with Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensated in Federal Vaccine Court
Excerpt from the book Vaccine Epidemic - Habakus and Holland, Skyhorse Publishing 2011:
The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) statement on whether or not vaccines could cause autism:
“The government has never compensated, nor has it ever been ordered to compensate, any case based on a determination that autism was actually caused by vaccines. We have compensated cases in which children exhibited an encephalopathy, or general brain disease. Encephalopathy may be accompanied by a medical progression of an array of symptoms including autistic behavior, autism or seizures.
Some children who have been compensated for vaccine injuries may have shown signs of autism before the decision to compensate, or may ultimately end up with autism or autistic symptoms, but we do not track cases on this bases.”
In summary what the government is telling us is that vaccines can cause brain damage that leads to autism, but vaccines don't cause autism.
There has been much in the news lately attempting to clear any connection between vaccinations and autism. In regards to the MMR vaccine, the CDC states that “many carefully performed scientific studies have found no link between MMR vaccine and autism.” (1)
One study in particular, referred to as the Danish Study, looked at more than a half million children for a period of nearly 8 years and showed no link between MMR and autism. (2) This has been the primary study used as evidence that there is no connection between the MMR shot and the disorder.
However, there is also evidence that there were serious flaws in this study. In fact, experts that have analyzed the very same data used to exonerate the MMR vaccine found not only that there was a connection between the vaccine and autism, but also a dramatic increase in the disorder amongst study subjects, where the original authors saw none. (3)
In addition, there are also studies that do show a connection between MMR and autism. However, it has also been study flaws that have been cited to dismiss these studies and the connection, including the study that initially started the investigation into the MMR/Autism link, done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield et al in 1998. The study consisted of case studies of 12 children and saw a possible connection between inflammatory bowel disorder (chronic enterocolitis), regressive developmental disorder, and the MMR vaccine. (4)
The primary criticisms of the paper were that it only consisted of 12 subjects, it had no control group, and it suggested a possible link to the MMR vaccine without sufficient evidence. These criticisms are justified if this study were being touted as the final proof that the MMR shot causes autism, but this was only an initial paper on case studies suggesting further research into the issue. However, so much heat was brought on the authors of the paper to retract their findings that 10 of the 13 authors did just that. (5)
Furthermore, Dr. Wakefield has been continually smeared by health officials and the medical community for not retracting his findings and his continued belief that there is a connection between the MMR vaccine and autism. In February 2009, journalist Brian Deer accused Wakefield of fixing data on the 1998 study. (6)
However, Deer’s story has proven to be false, as Deer himself was the instigator of the accusations, and then reported the story as news. (7) It may also be of interest that Brian Deer’s boss at The Sunday Times, media executive James Murdoch, was recently appointed to the board of MMR vaccine manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline. (8, 9)
So what can we conclude from the all the conflicting studies, the accusations and the political banter that clouds this issue? According to Dr. Paul Offit, vaccine developer and expert, “It has been asked and answered, vaccines don’t cause autism.” (10)
In his book, Autism’s False Prophets, Dr. Offit discredits those who have linked autism with vaccinations, criticizing the science done to show a connection, the tactics used to prove the link, and the cures touted to help the autistic.
To his credit, Offit raises some valid points, but instead of concluding that better science needs to be done and admitting a possibility that there could be a vaccine/autism connection, he simply concludes that vaccines don’t cause autism.
How do we account for the dramatic rise in autism in the past two decades? Dr. Offit offers two possibilities: better diagnosis and genetics. (11)
In a paper published in the Journal of American Physician and Surgeons in 2003, Edward Yazbak, MD states, “The increase cannot be attributed to changes in diagnostic criteria, which have actually become more restrictive.” He goes on to say “In fact, it is probable that autism in the U.S. schools is actually underdiagnosed and that many less severe cases are labeled behavior and communication disorders, in order to avoid the stigma and/or the added cost.” (12)
In regards to a genetic cause of autism, Yazbak states “Genetic disorders have never presented as epidemics, and investing the scant available resources solely in genetic research diverts them from the scientific exploration of more plausible environmental factors.” (12)
So why are there those that are so anxious to close the door on the possibility of a vaccine/autism connection? The answer is somewhat obvious, in that if there is a connection it would mean a lot less people wanting to give their children vaccinations. This was just the case in Europe, where vaccination rates fell due to concerns with the MMR vaccine/autism connection. (13)
Possibly a side effect of this drop in the MMR vaccination rate, a study published in 2009 in Pediatrics looked at a large European population comparing vaccinated to unvaccinated children, and found that vaccinated children were more likely to have allergies. Further analysis also showed that allergies were less likely in children who had a case of measles, but not in those who had been vaccinated against the measles. (14)
A study such as this may not directly contribute to the MMR/Autism debate, but does raise the question of the possible adverse long-term effects that our children may experience by avoiding childhood diseases through vaccination.
It would be convenient if not comforting to say that vaccines such as MMR don’t cause autism. The thought that we have unknowingly thrust an epidemic of autism upon our children could be dismissed, and research for a cause could be devoted to other possibilities.
The truth is, there is an epidemic of autism affecting more than 1 in 50 children in the U.S., and we don’t know for sure the exact cause. There may be several factors involved, and at this time, despite what health officials proclaim, vaccines cannot honestly be dismissed as one of those factors.
11. Autism’s False Prophets, Paul A. Offit, M.D., Columbia University Press, 2008
Vaccines containing Human DNA from aborted fetal tissue and Autism
But I thought they have concluded there is no link between vaccines and autism?
"Fourteen studies have been conducted (both here in the US and abroad), and these tests are reproducible; no matter where they are administered, or who is funding them, the conclusion is the same: there is no association between autism and vaccines."
Amanda Peet, Hollywood Actress, Spokesperson for Sanofi Aventis, a vaccine manufacturer
Problems with the 14 Studies