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Comments about ‘Letters: Parents on autism’

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Published: Wednesday, May 29 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Sal
Provo, UT

Bravo! Excellent rebuttal to those who think the connection between autism and vaccines is a closed case. It isn't. There is a definite link for the susceptible. The susceptible have not been identified. The FDA recommends way too many vaccines in one shot. They are even vaccinating newborn babies right out of the chute for Hepatitis. They can't racial profile and give it to the most susceptible group (Latins) so they give it to every baby. Parents can and should refuse.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

Excellent letter Terrell!

There is simply too much anecdotal evidence here to ignore. It is likely that some scientists and perhaps the CDC knows there is some link here, but that vaccines only act as a trigger on those kids who have a genetic predisposition.

And since it is as of now impossible to identify who is vulnerable, the lesser of two evil decisions has been made (to vaccinate and protect against diseases despite the harm to a small percentage of children).

Until we know more - despite what many believe, there are scant few long term properly designed studies done on this – it is not at all unreasonable to spread out your child’s vaccinations and to delay the more controversial ones (MMR, etc…).

Hemlock
Salt Lake City, UT

A parent's understandable angst, "impossible to identify," "the susceptible have not been identified" and other anecdotal remarks are unfortunately not a sound basis for immunization policy. Blaming physicians for their adherence to evidence-based decisions on vaccines and autism is counterproductive. Is there evidence that the autism rate in Utah is linked to a higher vaccination rate? If people are sincere, organize yourselves, formulate a scientifically valid protocol that is ethical (Do not include my children in the non-vaccinated control group.) and HIPPA (You will learn of the difficulty in conducting research in today's social-legal environment.) compliant, obtain the large amount of funding required and then do the difficult task of scientific research. Report back. Remember, data wins.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

Hasn't this issue been studied, restudied, and restudied again?

Hemlock is correct. Data wins. If there is a causal link, it should be able to be found via an appropriately configured study. Do that study. Then follow the data.

Noodlekaboodle
Poplar Grove, UT

My question to the anti vaccine crowd is if they have ever been to a 3rd world country where kids die every day from these diseases? If you actually saw a child dying of polio or measles you would change your mind about vaccines pretty quickly. Not to mention that multiple studies have been done on vaccines and autism and no corollary has ever been found. The only items i've seen that science has found to be risk factors for autism are environmental pollutants and having an older father(over 50). The only "study" ever done that indicated vaccines cause autism was done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who falsified the study, can't reproduce the results and, oh ya, was paid to do the study by a law firm looking to file a class action lawsuit against vaccine makers. So if you want to believe the law firm shill and Jenny McCarthy that's your right. But personally i'd rather my kid doesn't get whooping cough, mumps or polio.

JKR
Holladay, UT

Too bad we can't time transport these people who think vaccines (or their timing or whatever) cause autism back 100 years. There c. 1913 they could watch many children die of diphtheria, measles, smallpox, and H. flu meningitis. To maximize the benefit and protect the most vulnerable, vaccines are administered to young children. It is young children who also start showing signs of autism -- that's just when the disease is manifest, at the time kids begin to talk and interact more as their brains develop. These two things are true, true, and unrelated.

Anecdotes count for nothing in medicine because they are often wrong. Our brains are wired for anecdotes, however, making it hard for people to give them up. I agree, the data wins. That's why my patients and my kids get vaccinated.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@JKR – “they could watch many children die of diphtheria, measles, smallpox, and H. flu meningitis”

It strikes me as more than a little ironic that the most hysterical comments on this issue are typically from the “vaccines are 100% harmless” side.

First - who on this forum has ever advocated never vaccinating children? I haven’t seen it…

Second – when there have been literally thousands of parents who have reported a perfectly normal toddler one day followed by dramatic changes hours or a few days after receiving a vaccine series, your “correlation but no causation” hypothesis begins to ring hallow.

Question Dr. – if a parent comes to you reporting this scenario, do you have a medical instrument that can measure and analyze precisely what is going on in the child’s brain (at the cellular/neural level) and provide an answer as to the cause? I didn’t think so…

Until you do, please forgive us uneducated bumpkins our questions & caution.

@Twin Lights

I completely agree with your 2nd point and have never argued otherwise, but when we researched this a few years back, I did not find your 1st statement to be the case.

Noodlekaboodle
Poplar Grove, UT

@Tyler D
I had my kid vaccinated on the normal vaccine schedule. The day after her MMR vaccine was the day she took her first steps. Clearly that proves that the MMR vaccine helped her learn how to walk. Or, it's because she was around a year old, and that's when kids learn to walk. Also, most autism spectrum disorders start to become noticeable between 1-2 years old, when the majority of vaccines are administered. If you look at the website vaccinateyourbaby.org you will find 6 peer reviewed, scientific studies, that can't find a correlation between autism and vaccines. But, i'm sure your smarter than scientists who devote their whole life to studying this stuff.

casual observer
Salt Lake City, UT

Few things are 100% harmless and vaccinations are a risk:reward proposition. The immunization reward is huge compared to the very small risk. The fact is, there is no valid research linking vaccinations and autism. For true vaccination complications such as vaccinial encephalitis, etc. there is a no-fault compensation fund that is usually thoughtfully distributed according to valid evidence. The compensation is determined by medical scientists, not plaintiff lawyers. They have stopped awards to autistic children who have had vaccinations.

Hemlock
Salt Lake City, UT

Tyler,
"do you have a medical instrument that can measure and analyze precisely what is going on in the child’s brain (at the cellular/neural level) and provide an answer as to the cause? I didn’t think so…"

That would be a wonderful scientific breakthrough. The NIH would subject your thoughts to a rigorous review. Until that happens, replacing our knowledge gap with patently false ideations causes further emotional trauma to aggrieved families and does not advance medial science.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

@Noodlekaboodle – “The day after her MMR vaccine was the day she took her first steps”

Wow! You mean your baby showed no motor skills whatsoever (i.e., infant in a bassinet) and then started walking the day after her MMR shot? That would have to be the case if your reverse analogy is relevant.

Sorry, but I’ve read too many accounts of perfectly normal babies (i.e., good eye contact, verbalizing, calm temperaments, etc…) doing a complete 180 shortly after a vaccine series.

And to suggest this is “normal development” is not accurate. Mild autism spectrum disorder can develop this way but full blown autistic children usually show signs very early on (e.g., poor eye contact, highly agitated, long bouts of hard crying, etc…).

I will look at those studies though, but in the mean time I am only recommending that parents educate themselves and make informed choices. And science has been known to be wrong only to correct itself (sometimes) years later - a cursory look at drugs once approved and later pulled from the market will demonstrate this fact.

Curious what you have against spreading vaccines out?

Lew Scannon
Provo, UT

I got eight shots before traveling to the Philippines a few years ago. The next spring, I had no hay fever for the first time ever. I'm sure there was a connection.

Zadruga Guy
West Jordan, UT

We have a severely autistic son. This summer, he will be ten. He hasn't talked since he was about three and has never (yet) become potty trained. But his autism did not begin when he quit talking. He was ALWAYS autistic.

So I sympathize with those other parents who are looking for a simple answer. But I am convinced that vaccination is not the reason for our son's autism. And neither is gluten, or anything else relating to his diet.

Funding to discover the biological causes of autism is inadequate as it is. Those precious dollars need to be spent wisely, not used to further study something that has been thoroughly studied already -- and proven to be a research dead end.

procuradorfiscal
Tooele, UT

Re: "Remember, data wins."

Not in interest-based, industry-funded research, it doesn't.

Doctors should be reminded of their oath -- "first, do no harm."

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