Autism and immunizations: No connection

For many years now, some families have been worried about a possible connection between autism and childhood immunizations. One small study many years ago raised the question. But since then, better-designed and more extensive research has found no connection between autism and immunizations.

This is how science works. One study leads to another and then another, until we have a better understanding of what’s going on.

Despite the newer studies, the debate continues. Meanwhile, if children aren’t immunized, they and their communities face the risk of very serious, even life-threatening diseases like diphtheria and measles.

The actress and mother Amanda Peet is speaking out, urging parents to immunize their kids. She’s joined forces with Dr. Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

On December 11, Ms. Peet and Dr. Offit spoke to National Public Radio. Give a listen. To learn more about autism and what scientists know about the causes, read the March of Dimes fact sheet.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the March of Dimes recommend that children be immunized.

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16 Responses to “Autism and immunizations: No connection”

  1. Tim Welsh Says:

    As a parent of a vaccine injured child please do your homework. There are vaccines that should wait in my opinion. Ask your Doctor what the shot is for, when and how would my child catch this disease that it is trying to prevent. Then decide after you know all the facts if it is right for your child. Do your homework.
    Be informed Be Safe.
    http://www.causecast.org/member/tanners-dad

  2. You Are Parenting » Autism and immunizations: No connection-Pregnancy, Babies, Birth tips information and more Says:

    […] Autism and immunizations: No connection […]

  3. Gail Says:

    I have a 14 month old, and I am trying like the dickens to find any actual studies that CONFIRM that there is absolutely no link between autism and immunizations.

    All I get is people and sites saying “studies, many studies have shown.” But, I am unable to actually locate ANY studies that show this. Please guide me to the place where they are so that I may make the correct decision for my baby.

  4. Pam Says:

    Hi, Gail: Good question. The major study in this area was done by the National Institute of Medicine. The title is Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Here is a link: http://www.iom.edu/CMS/3793/4705/20155.aspx. The link summarizes the study, and the full report is for sale. You may be able to get a copy through your public library.

    The researchers examined existing research, the strength and weakness of various study designs, and then reached their conclusion: that vaccines do not cause autism.

    Here is another link that may be of help: Vaccines and Autism from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/vaccines.htm

    I hope this information helps you make your decision. With best wishes,
    Pam

  5. Trudy Says:

    Pam,
    I would like to call your bluff on this one. The CDC has thrown out this study (The Denmark study) because there are too many holes in it. That is documented and reported in the news media. As a mother with a child that was vaccine injured and coincidently diagnosed with autism directly after being diagnosed as being injured by 11 viruses in one day, I can personally say that vaccines DO cause autism. We have documented and scientific proof that our doctors concur with that these vaccines caused my childs autism and we no longer see the doctor that shot my child up with 11 viruses in one day. Actually, we are suing him.
    The CDC and the IOM have also admitted that the VSD-Vaccine Safety Datasheet that they use as the GOLD STANDARD of vaccine safety is absolutely useless. It was actually generated by a computer system with no medical background to it. This announcement was made on June 18 th 2008 by one Dr Julie Gerberding…you might recall she is the current head of the CDC???
    So putting these particular websites up as a reference for a mom with real fears about her child, causes me great concern that you haven’t done any of your home work and you are extremely behind on current news. Please refrain from siting these web sites until the government (IOM and CDC) decide what message they are tuly trying to convey.
    To the mom that has questions and concerns about vaccines, I suggest you visit a reputable site call generationrescue.org. This site will answer your questions and also give (if you choose to vaccinate) a slower and more gentle schedule to use for your child.
    With better wishes,
    Trudy

  6. Kevin Says:

    Hi Gail, Be very wary of the “studies” as Pam provides. For example the first link examines the connection primarily between the MMR and Thermisol in 2004. Newer studies have been shown to prove the COMBINATION of vaccines to possibly cause the injury (autism). I’m at work now, but look for the University of Pennsylvania study using monkeys that shows the possible relation of the combination of vaccines that cause the “injury”. Also, dig into who is on this “committee” that made their “opinion”. AAP, CDC, NIH, IOM and others have historically been on the side of pharma (even Autism Speaks!).

    Check out http://insidevaccines.com/wordpress/ for more information about how some of these studies are flawed.

    Caution on Paul Offit and anything written by him. He sold his patent to pharma and made millions. He called it “like winning the lottery”.

    Even though Thermisol has been removed in most vaccines, I don’t nor have ever believed that this has been the cause. Full disclosure: I have a son with Autism. Personally, my son received 6 vaccines in one day. That night he was up all night with a fever and was unconsolable. Two days later all progress was lost (I have videos of him talking, playing and interacting with others). All he did was spin objects, flap his arms and lost all speech. Now, tell me there’s not a connection. I’ll let you make your own conclusion.

    Also, the FDA just released a notice that Amalgaman (sp?) fillings contain lead that may affect a fetus. My wife had a filling 6 weeks into her pregnancy. Not sure if that matters, but we are going to have them removed and her blood tested before we have another.

    Finally, read http://www.ageofautism.com/ – blog for more info. I’ve grown weary of the study vs. study fights. I’ve drawn my own conclusion based on my own experience. At this point, I believe that it was a combination of all the shots at once that pushed him over the edge. Just look at the vaccine schedule at http://generationrescue.org and see for yourself.

    Ask this of yourself, we didn’t receive this many shots when we were born, why the increase when these ‘infections’ are decreasing? Also, why does my baby need a HepB shot when he’s not even sexually active? Sure, there’s a 2% chance he can catch HepB before he’s 2 but does he really need it before his body gets a chance to grow a little bit (at birth, 1, 4, and 6 months)? Why does he need the DTaP shot so early (at 2, 4, 6, 15, 48 months)? Do a little digging into what the shot is for and find out for yourself.

    Best of luck and be cautious. I wouldn’t wish autism on anyone. The costs are huge. We’ve gone through our savings, 401k, college fund and filed bankruptcy to pay for the costs. I’ve event taken a second job.

    Be cautious and read, read, read. Especially the fine print on the vaccine lables!

  7. Twyla Says:

    For more information on studies, including the IOM studies, also go to http://www.putchildrenfirst.org/ . Some of the studies commonly mentioned as “proving” no link between vaccines and autism actually concluded that the question was still not answered.

    I have no doubt that vaccines can cause autism. I believe that this will soon become common knowledge. There are so many credible parents reporting their toddlers having vaccine reactions (high fevers, seizures, inconsolable crying) followed by loss of verbal and social skills and regression into autism.

    See Dr. Bernadine Healy’s comments at http://health.usnews.com/articles/health/brain-and-behavior/2008/04/10/fighting-the-autism-vaccine-war.html and http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/12/cbsnews_investigates/main4086809.shtml .

    I do believe in the value of some vaccines, but I also believe we are giving too many vaccines too soon, with inadequate testing of toxic ingredients such as aluminum. (See http://www.mothering.com/articles/growing_child/vaccines/aluminum-new-thimerosal.html .)

    The effects of giving so many vaccines at once, including multiple live viruses, is not fully understood. Adverse reactions are summarily denied as “coincidental” instead of being studied. Problems are being swept under the rug instead of addressed.

    Autism is not only about genes and the brain. Many people with autism have immune system issues such as allergies and inflammatory bowel disease. Autopsies of brains of people with autism have found inflammation in the brain. Inflammatory markers have been found in the spinal fluid of people with autism.

    Too many studies are only looking at statistics. We also need to look at individuals.

    Our vaccine program is having unintended consequences on the developing immune, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems of today’s infants and children.

  8. Kevin Says:

    Follow up – check out this site:
    http://jaapa.com/issues/j20060501/articles/letter0506.htm

    And watch out for the Flu vaccine which still has thimerosal in it!

  9. Pam Says:

    Trudy and Kevin: Thanks for joining the conversation, although the March of Dimes and I disagree with many of your comments. But it’s good that we’re talking to each other. Parents need to gather information and work with their child’s health care provider to make the decisions that are best for them, as Gail said earlier.

    First, a few thoughts about how medical research works: It’s never just about one study. It takes several studies and several different types of studies before medical experts can form an opinion. And rarely is anything “proven.” If anyone tells you something has been “proven,” it’s probably a good idea to be skeptical.

    Sadly, personal experience isn’t enough. We need to look at the experiences of lots of people to understand what’s happening.

    Medical experts look at all that has been learned and make the best conclusions they can based on the research available to them. That’s how the Institute of Medicine report was prepared. That’s also how the March of Dimes decides on our recommendations, too.

    We would all like the answers to medical questions to be simple and clear. But so often, that’s not possible. There is still so much we don’t know.

    Trudy: I don’t know the Danish study you are referring to. The links in my post didn’t point to a specific study done in Denmark. So if you like, please give us more info about the study so we can talk about it.

    I also can’t find Dr. Gerberding’s statement from June of this year. So please provide a link for that if you can, so I can read it.

    When looking at Web sites, please look into who their medical advisors are. Understanding medical research requires training and expertise. Not everyone, including some doctors and nurses, are skillful at doing so.

    Regarding mercury fillings, you may want to read the March of Dimes article on mercury during pregnancy http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/159_15759.asp. It isn’t clear if fillings pose a risk or how serious it might be.

    Also it’s important to know that mercury can be released when a filling is removed. So it may be best to leave a filling alone unless it is broken or damaged.

    About hepatitis B, sexual contact is not the only way this virus can spread. A person can be infected by coming into contact with blood or saliva that contains the virus.

    I want to emphasize one point: Based on what we know now, the March of Dimes and most medical experts do not believe there is a connection between vaccines and autism.

    Good wishes to you and your children. And let’s keep talking.

  10. Pam Says:

    Forgot to talk about flu shots. Some flu vaccines do contain thimerosol. Again, there is no evidence that there is a link to autism. But if you are concerned, ask your child’s health care provider for a thimerosol-free vaccine.

  11. Pam Says:

    Hi, Twyla: Glad to have you in on this discussion. You will be pleased to know that researchers continue to look at vaccines and their safety. In fact, in August, the National Institutes of Health announced a program Research to Advance Vaccine Safety. Dr. Healey supports this effort; she wrote about it earlier this month in U.S. News & World Report.

    A word about the case of Hannah Poling, the young girl who had a serious medical disorder and developed autism after being immunized: Experts have known for many years that people who have some medical conditions, such as cancer or HIV, shouldn’t receive certain vaccines. But for healthy childern, almost all medical experts agree that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks.

  12. Tim Welsh Says:

    DAVID KIRBY ON HUFFPO: NOT ISOLATED, NOT UNUSUAL
    The Next Vaccine-Autism Newsmaker: Not Isolated, Not Unusual

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/the-next-vaccine-autism-n_b_98807.html

    Since that was posted mitochondrial dysfunction has been shown in the poling case and others not a serious or rare disorder. Dr. Poling said there was no maifestation of it before the vaccinations. It has been stated that almost 1 in 200 children have the disposition.

    I thought March of Dimes was in the business of preventing birth defects not continuing a trend to damage our children? I am thankful that you are letting us have a dialog but if you would like the experts to come into the debate we can bring them in. I have only been studying this for six years. I have read many a white paper and many studies. I have seen numbers and data change before my eyes.

    I am sure the March of Dimes is out to protect its base of income as well. Give the latest scandals I doubt you can show me a person in mainstream medical practice without a conflict of interest. Just the fact that you quote Offit and Peet shows lack of creditability.

    Autism Now somewhere between 1 in 70 and 1 in 100. The CDC is operating off 14 year old data??? Is the March of Dimes in denial?

  13. Jack Says:

    Pam,
    You say this, “A word about the case of Hannah Poling, the young girl who had a serious medical disorder and developed autism after being immunized: Experts have known for many years that people who have some medical conditions, such as cancer or HIV, shouldn’t receive certain vaccines. But for healthy childern, almost all medical experts agree that the benefits of vaccines far outweigh the risks.”

    So, let me ask…how are we assessing the health of a one-day infant? Or a two-month old? Given the 2, 4 and 6 months schedule how often are sick children being vaccinated while on antibiotics? Does the school discuss with each individual child the risk-benefit of the chicken pox vaccine for that individual child, or does the school say you have 30 days to get it or be expelled?

    I think we all agree the health of the individual child should be taken into account before vaccinating, including an assessement of family history of auto-immune disease and maybe some testing for mito disorder.

    Having seen my kids through a long stint in a NICU I’ve been a long time supporter of MoD and am disappointed to see this affliation. The Peanut Board I let slide, but this just isn’t serving the best interest of women or children. You’re on the wrong side of science this time.

  14. Chris Says:

    Jack is right; Hannah Poling is not as “rare” as once thought. So how do we figure out which children are like her when we are vaccinating at one day old?

    I have five children total. My oldest and my second child were both vaccinated fully on schedule. My second child is pretty profoundly autistic; she was actually overvaccinated; I found out later that she actually got the MMR twice by mistake. My oldest is not autistic, but as a toddler, she had ear infections, a bladder infection, and pneumonia one winter and has needed antibiotics several times.

    My third, fourth, and fifth children have all had their vaccines delayed and there are some we choose not to do at all. None of them have ever needed antibiotics and all of them have been AHEAD of schedule on neurological development. I talk to so many families where there are four or five children or so who changed their minds about the vaccine schedule on the second or third child and they all say the same thing – that their unvaccinated/partially vaccinated children are much healthier and robust than their fully vaccinated ones. I’m definitely sticking with what I am doing in regards to my own kids. I should also add we have ZERO history on either side of the family of autism.

    And FWIW, my MIL is a polio survivor who completely supports my decision with my children. No one wants to see a return of infectious disease, but it is not acceptable to trade infectious disease for chronic disease, especially if our children are paying the price. I am so tired of seeing so little attention paid to why this generation of children is so sick and learning-disabled. Genes do not account one hundred percent for the rise in asthma, allergies, childhood diabetes, autism,, etc. You cannot have genetic epidemics.

  15. Lisa Says:

    I used to support March of Dimes, because my child was briefly in the NICU after a difficult delivery, and MoD was all over the place. My child was diagnosed with and austism spectrum disorder, relatively late: age 5 – after he regressed at age 4 after a flu shot. When I got his medical records I was stunned to see he received 2 MMR vaccines back to back by accident.

    There is NO good reason to vaccinate a newborn, on day ONE or Two of his/her life, against HepB – a sexually transmitted disease.

    I say “used to” support MoD because if you are going to use Dr. Offit as your “expert” then I want nothing to do with MoD. This man makes a FORTUNE off his vaccine patents. Golly gee willackers, wonder why he supports more and more vaccines for babies born perfectly healthy?

    My child has mercury and aluminum poisoning. I have the tests that show it. I hope the pro-life groups finally wake up and jump on the anti-vaccine band wagon when they realize that aborted fetal material is used in vaccine making! DO YOUR RESEARCH PEOPLE!

  16. Tim Welsh Says:

    Autism and Healthcare twitter day December 23rd all day #HHS
    Tom Daschele invited Tanners Dad / Tim Welsh will be the Autism / Healthcare Community Discussion Host and Moderator. Sign onto twitter. Search for #HHS and post your comments
    and answers to questions.

    No prizes no games no tinsel Just a conversation for families fighting for children with Autism. Be There Tues Dec 23 ALL DAY Obama wants to know.

    http://www.causecast.org/member/tanners-dad