Autism and Vaccinations

Two popular theories link autism and vaccinations.

1. The MMR vaccine contains three live viruses and is given to children at the age when autism usually becomes evident. The theory is that certain children have a predisposition to immune issues and environmental toxins begin to attack the child's immune system early on. As the immune system grows weaker, autoimmune reactions start. Then a lot of children experience a catastrophic event, caused either by a significant illness or a live virus vaccine. The immune system is overwhelmed and the parents observe a deterioration in their child’s health and behavior.

Many children seem to develop autism after a particular event, such as a hospital stay or they get an MMR shot and they’re never the same again. The conclusion is that autism is the end result of this developing series of autoimmune reactions.

In 1998, a British doctor, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, suggested there was a connection between childhood MMR (Mumps/Measles/Rubella) immunization, bowel disease and autism. He proposed the interaction between the three viruses could:

- have a negative impact on a child’s immune system - lead to persistent infection in the gastrointestinal tract - lead, in the long run, to possible brain damage and autism.

Later the study was considered “fatally flawed.” He had studied children who had originally experienced gastrointestinal problems -- hardly a random sample. Also, the group he studied was very small which offered no conclusive proof the measles virus found in autistic childrens’ intestines was connected to their autism.

Dr. Wakefield was asked to leave his position in Britain, and later retracted some of the study outcomes. Larger studies in the US and Denmark seemed to disprove Wakefield’s initial findings linking autism and vaccinations.

Despite later results disproving the connection, Wakefield’s theories have kept the controversy alive within the autism community. One reason for this is the fact that autism usually becomes obvious between the age of two and three, the same time that children receive the combined MMR (Mumps-Measles-Rubella) vaccine. Some parents claim that they saw their child react directly to the vaccine with autistic regression.

Other research occurring in 1998 by the University of Michigan researchers Dr. Vijendra Singh and Dr. Victor Yang seemed to show another coconnection between the MMR and brain injury. According to an article produced by the University of Michigan, their findings suggest "exposure to the measles virus may trigger an autoimmune response that interferes with the development of myelin, a protein found in the protective sheaths around nerve fibers in the brain. If myelin in the brain doesn’t develop properly, nerve fibers won’t work as they should. This could be one way that the brain abnormalities associated with autism arise."

More evidence of the live-virus/autism link has been raised more recently in the magazine and website Science Daily. According to their research, "Children in families with problematic reactions to chickenpox virus may be at risk for developing autism if they get that live-virus immunization too close to other live-virus vaccines."

If you are concerned about the MMR vaccine and you have not yet had it administered to your child, there is an option. The multi-dose shot can be divided into three separate shots over a period of months rather than a single MMR shot.

2. Thimerosal is the second issue relating to autism and vaccinations. Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative which was used in many vaccines between the 1980’s and 2003. Normally this type of mercury is cleared from the body within six weeks of introduction which would make it harmless. The theory is that some children are unable to clear the doses of mercury from their bodies and there is about a 20 year window when children could have been damaged by thimerosal.

The National Autism Association has a fact sheet and compares autism symptoms with mercury poisoning characteristics.

Thimerosal-free vaccines are available across the board. So . . . if thimerosal was the culprit, the number of new cases of autism spectrum disorders should begin to decline.

The official perspective of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is that there is no proven connection between autism and vaccinations.

See proposed causes other than autism and vaccinations

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