There has been a major concern about whether vaccines play a role in causing autism. The rate of developing autism has been on the increase recently compared to the 1990s. Whether this was brought about by the increasing number of vaccinations or other causes, it pushed scientists into carrying out more research to show the truth. Fortunately, after years of research, conclusions rule out the chance of a connection between vaccines and autism.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition defined by challenges in speech, social interaction, and behavior. As a result, people with ASD usually have a different way of interacting or communicating.
Recent estimates from the U.S. CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) put the figures of people with ASD at 1 in every 59 children. The CDC has allocated resources into the research of causes and risk factors of autism to enable the detection and care of autism as early as possible.
Facts About Autism
Autism mainly affects young children, usually around two years. It’s a life-long brain disorder where patients lose the ability to speak or interact like normal kids. Hence, autistic kids develop varied abnormal behaviors, and they require care and patience. Autism is a biological disorder whose causes still remain a mystery. However, scientists pinpoint genetics to be the largest contributor as well as other exposures such as rubella infection and exposure to thalidomide and valproic acid among other factors.
There is No Connection Between Vaccines and Autism
About a decade ago, researchers and scientists agreed that there was a need to investigate a connection between vaccines and autism. The reason behind was that the number of vaccines that children were receiving was increasing, and at the same time, there were increased reports of autism. Several studies try to figure out if there is a link between vaccines and autism.
Luckily, studies have shown that vaccines are not connected to autism in any way. At this moment, children receive about 25 shots of vaccines during the first 15 months of their lives. A group of parents feared that the shots were too many for a child’s body to handle, and claimed it could be the possible cause of autism.
The Ingredients in Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
According to anti-vaccine advocates, there are three ideas to support their claims:
The measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine increased the risk of autism. They claimed that MMR vaccines damaged intestinal lining which permeated the entrance of encephalopathic proteins.
Multiple vaccinations being administered weakens the immune system of young children.
Thimerosal, a preservative containing ethylmercury and used in some vaccines, is toxic and directly affects the central nervous system.
Fears of children developing autism from MMR vaccines stemmed from the now-retracted study of 12 children which was published in the British Medical Journal Lancet by Andrew Wakefield. His study was later found to have been falsified and had no scientific evidence. This led him to be barred from practicing medicine and his license was revoked.
Despite full retraction of the report, worried parents still didn’t trust the MMR vaccines and refused to vaccinate their children. However, a report by the CDC, which compared groups of children who received vaccines and those who didn’t or whose vaccines indicated that there was no difference in autism rate between the groups.
A Large Study Disapproves the Link Between Vaccines and Autism
In one of the largest studies to be carried out, researchers examined and analyzed the health records of 95,727 children. Among them, 15,000 children aged 2 and above had not been vaccinated, 8,000 above 5 years were unvaccinated, and 2,000 were considered to have a high risk of developing autism (because one of their family members already had autism).
The report, which was published in the Journal of American Medical Association, concluded that neither one or two doses of MMR vaccine were associated with increased risks of ASD, even in “children who had other siblings with ASD”. The study didn’t find any risk of autism with immunization at any age. Numerous studies now prove that the onset of ASD is not determined by vaccines, but unknown causes. Likewise, the severity or cause of ASD doesn’t differ between vaccinated and unvaccinated children.
Based on these, we can state that vaccines are not linked to the increased rate of autism in children. To put an end to the long debate, the Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine published a 200-page report that looked at all the studies about vaccines and autism. There was no evidence to support these claims. Hence, we can state that vaccines are safe and are important in the development of a child.