A study published in the March 2013 Journal of Pediatrics validates vaccine advocates and pediatricians regarding the safety of vaccines. The study looked at a large number of children with and without autism with respect to the number of vaccines they received in the first two years of life. The researchers concluded that the timing and number of vaccines these children received had nothing to do with their risk of developing autism.
Many parents question whether too many vaccines are administered to children today, especially combination vaccines given to very young children. Unfortunately, altering the recommended vaccine schedule is dangerous because it increases the period of time that children are vulnerable to these devastating diseases, not to mention increasing the cost of an already expensive process. As far as I know, no significant, valid scientific study has linked any vaccines to an increased incidence of autism. Despite this fact, many parents worry that vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they prevent.
Autism seems to have a genetic rather than an immune basis. In other words, genetic mutations and their subsequent expression provide the best explanation of why a particular child is autistic. The events that lead to an individual child developing autism probably existed before the child was even born. This latest study confirms that an unusual immune reaction to a vaccine does not explain what triggers autism in children. In my opinion, the most important thing a pediatrician does for the children he or she cares for is to administer vaccines, especially when they are very young and vulnerable to the horrible infectious diseases that can ravage their little bodies. I continue to urge my patients to vaccinate their children, and, fortunately, most do.
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“Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism,” by Frank DeStefano, MD, MPH, Cristofer S. Price, ScM, and Eric S. Weintraub, MPH, appears in The Journal of Pediatrics (www.jpeds.com), DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001, published by Elsevier.
Written by Dr. Paul Smolen May 2013
In today’s world, we sit on top of the shoulders of all who preceded us. Without Dr. Pasteur, our children would suffer far more food-borne disease, as well as fear that the bite of a dog would be a fatal event. Without Dr. Koch, diphtheria would kill many of our youngest children. Without Drs. Salk and Sabin, polio would wreak devastation as it did in our Grandmother’s time. Well, you get the idea: we are not the creators of the modern world, simply the fortunate beneficiaries of the truly inspired genius of those who lived before us.
I was reminded of this fact on my recent vacation to Portugal. My wife and I were fortunate to go to Lisbon for some sightseeing. On our first day, as we were touring the port at Belem from which the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their journeys into the unknown, our guide did an “Oh by the way, there is the …” while we drove past something called the “Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown.” The Centre for the Unknown, how cool is that? Wouldn’t you love to work there? They don’t sell anything, make anything, or have any of the constraints the rest of the world works under. They go to work everyday to discover the unknown, They go to work to break new boundaries and unlock new secret findings in the fields of neuroscience and oncology. I was immediately taken by the idea.
Knowing that these and other bright, young, energetic minds are hard at work in the neurosciences and cancer research reminded me to have hope that some of our children’s great plagues, such as cancer and autism, may soon be unraveled. I truly hope that in 20 years, some of these obscure scientists’ names will become known by everyone for their great contributions to humankind. We are constantly reminded in our media about destructive, evil forces all over the world. It was great to encounter on my vacation what I consider to be true goodness in a place called the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown!