Vaccines and Autism

There have been several arguments in the last decade over whether or not the current vaccines that most children receive cause autism. There is an incredible amount of hype to this with no solid proof.  While the prevalence of autism has increased in the same time frame, little has changed about the vaccines used in children as part of their regular health checkups and maintenance. One does not necessarily cause the other, i.e., correlation does not equal causation without substantiated proof.

The real problem here is that proof cannot be obtained without exposing healthy infants and toddlers to the suspected vaccines. Medical ethics prohibits this and no mother in her right mind would ever allow  it. It is also a problem because those who believe it is the source of the autism diagnostic rise continue to perpetuate the conspiracy theories and hype such that mothers are declining the vaccines that might  otherwise save their child from needless illnesses that could kill them. Infant mortality rates will also rise because of these unsafe decisions to not vaccinate children, throwing the entire medical community  back one hundred years.

While it is a parent’s right to choose not to vaccinate their child, wouldn’t it be better to err on the side of caution rather than to take the risk of death or hospitalization? After all, it has been proven that there is at least a genetic link to autism that predisposes children born to sets of parents to developing this developmental disorder, and if your child has it, they will develop it anyway. Only parents who might not want to face that possibility might be looking for an excuse to evade it, thinking they can keep their children safe from something that isn’t caught like a disease or introduced to the body as a foreign organism that needs to be fought.

Another flip of the coin, here, is the other theories on how autism occurs. There is a genetic link of some sort in families, as more than one child is affected. Interestingly enough, siblings can be affected,  but apparently first cousins cannot. Scientists are pursuing every avenue as a cause, but have long since dropped the theory that vaccines are responsible. Children whose parents chose not to vaccinate still develop the disorder, and their parents placed them at risk for childhood illnesses because of the fear around vaccines as the probable cause. This has proven that vaccines aren’t to blame, because these children still ended up with autism.

A more recent theory suggests that a mother under extreme stress and duress while pregnant introduces elevated biochemicals to her baby in utero. Our society places a lot of pressure on women to  be superhuman, and when a woman is pregnant, that goes against the human biological nature to just rest and nest. Fetuses that have been lost to miscarriage present with high levels of these chemicals,  suggesting that a woman’s response to stress while pregnant is a matter of self preservation. While this is also just a theory, it does explain the altered brains and the altered brain development of children
with autism a lot better than vaccines as the cause.

Whatever the cause, which is still out for debate, vaccines aren’t it. Until proven otherwise by the medical community, vaccinating your children helps them fight off disease that could kill them or  debilitate them far worse than autism can. Again, it’s still up to individual parents to make that call, but the risks of life versus the highly unlikely risk of autism development seems like a pretty easy call to diary of the daily activity level and moods of your child. After about a month to three months, you can present it to a behavior analyst who works with children with autism. The behavior analyst will be able to tell you even more than a pediatric psychiatrist can tell you about what’s going on with your child.

Other resources to consult on this difficult to diagnose matter, when your child is non-verbal, are the local chapters of NAMI for mental health, as well as the parent support groups. The parent support  groups for autistic children may have a parent or two who has been through a similar situation, and can offer helpful advice on how to deal with your situation.

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