There is a constant debate about the possible link of vaccines and autism. Lawmakers, doctors, medical researchers and parents just cannot seem to agree whether vaccinations, which are supposed to protect children from serious, often life-threatening, diseases, instead make children develop autism.
What is autism? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disability that is caused by differences in how the brain functions. People with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in different ways.” CDC also notes that one in every 68 children in the US are diagnosed with autism currently, which is a statistic higher than anytime before in history.
The symptoms of autism include avoiding eye contact, wanting to be alone, difficulty relating to others, repeating actions and words, appearing to be unaware when spoken to, aversion to being touched, difficulty adapting to a changing routine, and trouble expressing needs. Some parents claim that they witnessed immediate side effects after injections, while others believe that there is no truth to the link between vaccines and autism. There are two main hypotheses for how vaccinations may cause autism: due to toxic ingredients, such as thimerosal, and administration of multiple vaccines at once, particularly the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.
Possible Toxic Vaccine Ingredient: Thimerosal
Thimerosal is a preservative that is used to help vaccinations last longer. The fact that it contains the element mercury is what sparked the fear regarding vaccine dangers. Questions regarding the safety of this additive arose back in the 1970’s, prompted by the rise in awareness about mercury poisoning and its relation to neural impairment, says the National Center for Biological Innovation. Certain types of mercury are known to cause neurological damage that can manifest as blindness, tremors, unsteady gait, memory issues, seizures and death. Generally, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid exposure to this compound, as it is thought to cause irreparable damage to the developing brain of the fetus. Some theorize that this damage leads to autism spectrum disorder.
Thimerosal was developed after the First World War, and is used as a germicide to kill harmful bacteria. Multiple studies have been conducted to determine if thimerosal is linked to autism and other cognitive deficits, with inconclusive results. The preservative has been reduced to trace amounts in vaccinations for children under six years old; they contain one microgram or less of mercury per dose, states the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Still, many parents and other individuals are incredibly wary of providing any amounts of mercury, no matter how small, to children, believing that it can cause the development of autism.
Possible Dangers of Combination Vaccines
It has been argued that vaccine dangers are exacerbated when multiple vaccinations are administered at one time. At this point, there are 16 inoculations recommended for children by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Often, a combination vaccine will be given, one that contains more than one preventative treatment. Some people are of the belief that introducing multiple traces of viruses at once disrupts a child’s developing immune system, leading to autism and other complications.
The measles-mumps-rubella inoculation has been the combination drug to receive the most criticism regarding the potential link between autism and vaccines. The argument surrounding this drug is that it destroys intestinal lining, allowing encephalopathic proteins to enter the body (potentially leading to ASD).
There has been much debate in recent years over vaccine dangers. With a one in 68 chance of a child being born with autism spectrum disorder, it is no wonder that parents and other concerned members of society are cautious about exposing children to potentially harmful substances. Results remain inconclusive, though the percentage of this ingredient in injections has been decreased to trace amounts for those six and under. As well, injections containing multiple disease-preventing treatments are thought, by some, to be linked to ASD.
While there is no conclusive evidence that is recognized by the mainstream medical community on the possible dangers of vaccines, parents should do their own research. A great book to read by a medical doctor about vaccines is The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears. He provides an unbiased list of ingredients and advice about a possible delayed vaccine schedule to help parents assuage the fears associated with vaccinations.