Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are We Satisfied?

Many, many parents of children with Autism believe that an additive in childhood immunizations caused or had a negative influence on the development of their children’s Autism. Over the last several years, there have been many heated debates on the subject. Doctors repeatedly tried to reassure parents that the immunizations did not cause Autism and that the children were at extreme risk by not getting the shots.

Parents had circumstantial evidence – their children were fine before the shots – afterwards they watched their children slowly regress and turn their focus inward. The circumstantial evidence has often been quite compelling.

But on Friday, March 13th, A special federal court ruled that the vaccine additive thimerosal does not cause autism. The ruling, which came in three separate cases, follows a parallel ruling in 2009 that autism is not caused by the combination of thimerosal with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The Wall Street Journal published an editorial that hailed the ruling that dismisses allegations of a link between the shots and the subsequent development of Autism. Here is a small section of that editorial:

The rulings follow the same court’s judgment last year against claims that measles-mumps-rubella shots in combination with other thimerosal-containing vaccines cause autism. And they reinforce many comprehensive scientific studies, including one from the Institute of Medicine, that have ruled out any causal link.

Autism is a frightening diagnosis that puts enormous burdens on families, but blaming vaccines without evidence only harms other families who might be frightened enough not to immunize their children. The fate of children with autism would be far better served if the activists who have devoted their resources to lawsuits would support research to discover its true causes, and to helping those children realize their full human potential.

I have to wonder if any of the folks on the editorial staff have children with Autism, and if not, I wonder if their opinions would be different if they did.

How do you feel? I do worry about parents not immunizing their children, but some of the circumstantial evidence I have seen and read about is compelling. Should there be more studies, or should we all put this immunization/Autism link to rest and concentrate on research as the WSJ editorial suggests?


Queenbuv3 said...

I personally believe Autism is caused by genetic factors. Do vaccines sometimes harm or kill people? Yes. Do vaccines save millions of lives? Yes.

I have found that most people that are looking for someone or something to blame for their child's Autism are the least accepting of the diagnosis and look at their child as a burden and a disappointment. I don't understand how some one can say that they hate Autism and want a cure and still think that they love their children. Autism isn't like a disease that can be eliminated and leave the child the same as they were before the diagnosis. Autism is not an appendage that can be removed. It is pervasive and effects every cell of a person. It is neurological.

This drive by some to find a cure is insane to me. If they put as much energy into making the world a more supportive place for people with Autism and their families and giving their children love and acceptance as they do into pointing fingers and trying to make their children "normal" we would all benefit from it. The people who want to cure it are looking to find a genetic test that can be given prenataly so Autistic babies can be aborted just like 90% of parents already do when they find out their baby has Down Syndrome.

What we need a cure for is hatred and discrimination against people with ALL disabilities. We don't need to eliminate or cure disabilities we need to change how they are looked at and treated. People with disabilities are here for a reason. They enrich our world. I shudder to think what a world of "perfect" people would be like.

I don't care what made Stephen Autistic. He is here and we have loved him from day one and we have focused on helping him make progress but not at the expense of him being happy and feeling loved and accepted. God put him here for a reason. God doesn't make garbage.

I worry more about the side affects of the prescribed drugs my children take and millions of others take every year. We have an epidemic of "pill poppers" in this country.

I'm sure my comments will bring a flood of negativity my way. Oh well, I've never been able to say anything other than what I believe is true even if people hate me for it.

Janet said...

As a parent with a child w/ autism, I really don't know. Luke was born in China and adopted at age 27-months. His autism was obvious then (not to me!). He didn't get any vaccines until he got to US. Thermisol hasn't been in vaccines for quite a few years, but we are still seeing an increase in autism. Lots of questions still to be answered.

I just hope research continues on all fronts. Things are needed to make Luke's life better now. But we also need to know cuase(s), etc.

If I were to have a child today, I would make sure they had all of their vaccines. However, I would slow down when they were given, not give multiple at the same time.

Ashley's Mom said...

Queenbuv3, I agree wholeheartedly with you. My 17 year old son is diagnosed with Autism. Unfortunately, he did not come into my family until he was 12 years old and I know nothing of his early health care.

I think it's time to stop blaming and start looking for more research and increased support.

Janet, I also agree with you. If I had a baby now, I know I would still get the immunizations, but might slow them down just a bit.

Queenbuv3 said...

I have to admit that I did break up my daughter's vaccines just to be on the safe side. With that said, I don't think she would be Autistic if I hadn't done that. Most of us in this country have had vaccines and most of us are healthy and not Autistic.

And I sympathize with parents whose children are severely disabled. However, what makes all people on the spectrum similar is Autism and only those criteria that are used to diagnose it not the other multiple diagnoses that make someone with Autism severly disabled. My son has Autism AND cognitive delays AND sensory intergration disorder AND Epilepsy and that is why he is severely disabled. I often think that parents of children with severe disabilities who have Autism blame everything on the Autism instead of looking at the fact that their child is also severely developmentally delayed and has other "issues" etc. along with an Autism diagnosis.

Am I explaining this correctly or putting my foot in my mouth?

Ashley's Mom said...

I understand completely what you are saying. I do think we somtimes forget the other diagnoses that may or may not be contributing to the issues our children with Autism experience. That's why I hate labels so much. I just want to do the best for my child, regardless of her disability labels.

Unfortunately in society today, a label of Autism can often get more attention and/or resources.

Michelle Morgan-Coole said...

In my mind, it's not just a possible link to autism that is involved with vaccinations. Over 50 years ago my oldest sister got vaccination encephalitis from a small pox vaccination at 9 months of age, went into status seizures and became severely mentally challenged. The drs admitted it was the vaccine to my parents but weren't willing to say so in court.

I am not so sure that the vaccines directly cause autism or any other issues. I do think that there is a good chance that they trigger these conditions in otherwise susceptible individuals. Would the condition have manifested itself anyway? Who knows?

But the Blue Jay's first bout of seizures were three weeks after her MMR needle. She had pretty well non-stop seizures for ten days and then they stopped. She didn't have any more (not one) until three weeks after her 18 month needle. At which point it was another ten day event.

She hasn't had any needles since. And she won't in the future. I don't blame the vaccines for her epilepsy, developmental delay and ASD but I do think they triggered something that was already there - there is a lot of neurological stuff in our family.

For our youngest, I did even more research and gave her all of her shots except for the MMR and pertussis. I did a risk benefit analysis and those two just didn't see worth it.

If I were to have a third (which I won't) I would do the dame thing. YMMV

Ashley's Mom said...

MMC, I am glad that like you I won't have to face these decisions since I won't be giving birth again. But, I think I would have done the same things as you - tons of research and then make a decision based on that and knowing what things were in my family's background.

Are there still shots that contain themarisol? Are they other additives that are also believed to affect and Autism diagnosis? Is this just a problem in the U.S. or other places at well?

Janet said...

Love the discussion!

One interesting thing that research is finding is through the use of home videos. Some folks who felt that the first symtoms of autism came after vaccines -- when experts looked at videos from birth on they were able to see behaviors consistent with autism. Which brings about a few more questions -- in the very young child, can autism symtoms "get worse"? or are vaccines a trigger and/or make things worse?

I love that medical science is able to diagnose much earlier than before, which allows therapy to start earlier. It is a known fact that early intervention can make a big difference.

I tend to think of autism as a very general discription, with the specific catorgories yet to be determined. Kind of like cancer is a general term that describes cell behavior. Cancers have different symptoms, forms, causes, treatment plans.

Ashley's Mom said...

Wow Janet, very interesting about the videos. And I wonder if doctors have considered your point that perhaps the signs were there early on but the vaccines just made them worse - not caused them.

Very interesting...

Michelle Morgan-Coole said...

I remember reading quite a while ago that even though the new thermisol-free vaccines were out, stockpiles of old vaccine that still contained thermisol were still being used. I don't know if that's still true or if those are all used up now.

Trust me, the issue is international. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if a significant portion of vaccines used in other countries are produced in the US.

About other addiditives, many years ago they changed the pertussis vaccine. Made it safer, they say. One doctor, in trying to convince me to give the new vaccine to my youngest, made this analogy. They only wanted to give you the engine but before they had to give you the whole car (additives). However, it was much improved in that now they only had to give you the car's front end. I got his point but it didn't inspire much confidence in me. Not with our family history anyway.

A lot of families have a lot invested in this issue, in believing (knowing) that vaccines injured their children. I can't really picture this issue ever being put to rest, no matter how many studies are done. It will be interesting to see though.

Anonymous said...

My worry about the vaccine/autism thing is that while my daughter may have been born with 'autism' (and i do believe she was), something caused her to become symptomatic around 15-18 months. She lost all language and really regressed. Was it something internal or external - i dont know.
My worry isnt totally whether or not vaccines cause autism in typical children - I kind of feel that there have been a lot of studies on this, and it does look like its not a real causal relationship -, but rather do vaccines or other environmental insults cause children born with 'autism' to develop the symptoms (or have their symptoms agrivated) of autism.
We are planning to have a second child and we worry - if they are also born with the predisposition to developing autism, what can we do to lessen thier challenges. Will we vaccinate? Probably. But not on the reccomended schedule. To me, the research thats missing isnt "Do vaccines cause autism?" but rather "What do vaccines (specifically the amount / timing of our current schedule) do to children with autism?".

Adoption of Jane said...

I believe that that some children are predisposed to Autism and that various things can trigger. Such as Vaccines and Toxins... I was not aware that a bunch of vaccines at once was harmful to my child.. I trusted the doctor. That, I believe was my sons Trigger. I really don't care what government tests say about Vaccines being Safe...because I for one, don't trust the Government. How convienient another bombshell to the Autism Community right BEFORE Autism Awareness month.. Coincidence... NO. They say if you meet one Child with Autism you've met one Child with Autism... I also believe that some can be born that way and some can have Triggers.

Adoption of Jane said...

p.s. and my feeling about Vaccines in no way demeans my son or Autism. I am not searching for a cure or not loving my child as he is by questioning Science. I don't spend hours a day pondering why me. I wouldn't want my son any other way. He is a Gem!! Parents who shouldn't question each other that is what the Government wants. We need to stick together and respect each others opinions. I can't stand J-Mac and I don't do the diet thing but who am I to put down someone else that does.