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Should Parents Avoid Vaccines to Avoid Autism?

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Updated April 02, 2009

Question: Should Parents Avoid Vaccines to Avoid Autism?
Should parents avoid vaccines to avoid autism? With all the media hype around this issue, many parents are considering the alternatives. There are some options ... but skipping vaccines is not one of them!
Answer: The short answer to this question is NO!

Vaccinations are key to your child's health, and to the public welfare. Lorry Glen Rubin, MD, a pediatrician and specialist in infectious disease, makes the point, "When you vaccinate, you know you're doing it for a good reason: attempting to prevent diseases. When you don't, you're acting on a theoretical hypothesis."

Even those organizations which focus on vaccines as a possible cause of autism do not suggest an end to vaccinations. Thoughtful House, the organization created by Andrew Wakefield, MB, BS, FRCS, was founded on the concept that the MMR vaccine could be a cause of autism. Yet a spokesperson from Thoughtful House answered the question "Is Dr. Wakefield or Thoughtful House antivaccine?" in this way:

    No. The researchers and clinicians at Thoughtful House are searching for answers to the biological origins of childhood developmental disorders. One area of research involves determining if there are children with a genetic predisposition, which makes them more vulnerable to adverse reactions to vaccinations. If so, we need to identify those children and offer them a safer vaccination program.

Generation Rescue, a group which believes strongly that vaccines are the cause of autism, recommends that parents consider an alternative vaccine schedule, but does NOT recommend foregoing vaccines. The alternative schedule includes delaying and/or breaking up multi-dose vaccines, based on the theory that too many vaccines administered too quickly can overload a child's immune system.

It's important to note that there is no good research supporting the idea that changing the vaccine schedule will change a child's risk of autism. In fact, by delaying vaccines parents increase their child's risk of contracting infectious diseases.

Few mainstream pediatricians are likely to actively support an alternative vaccine schedule. Many, though, are willing to help parents sort through conflicting information, and to ensure that their children's vaccines are free of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal (thought by some to be a possible cause of autism). And virtually all responsible pediatricians would recommend an alternative vacine schedule over avoiding vaccinations altogether.

Before making any decisions about your child's vaccination schedule, please consult your own pediatrician. If you have specific concerns, bring them up. By all means, though, do ensure that your child is protected from potentially deadly disease.

Sources:

"Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP." February, 2002.

Miller, Donald W. "A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule." 2004.

Interview with Dr. Lorry Glen Rubin of Schneider Children's Hospital, June, 2007.

Interview with spokesperson from Thoughtful House, 2006.

"On Vaccines" article in Generation Rescue website.

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