Thursday, June 3, 2010

Is it worth a shot?

I remember hearing Jenny McCarthy discussing her son's autism on Oprah a few years back. She stated that she believes there is a correlation between mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR) vaccinations, administered during early childhood, and autism (Rosemary Black). Autism is a disorder with a wide range of symptoms including social impairment, difficulty in communicating, repetitive actions, and other behaviors. According to statistics, approximately three to six children out of every thousand will develop autism (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Today, due to the claimed connection between the shots and this disorder and the increased number of autism diagnoses, many parents refrain from having their children vaccinated.

In Timothy Lawson’s text (pg 98 to 101), he discusses autism and its supposed connection to the MMR vaccine. Andrew Wakefield, a British scientist, studied 12 children with intestinal disorders (a symptom for autism) and found that 8 of them also had behavioral problems as well following an MMR shot. Wakefield used this study to suggest a possible connection between autism and MMR shots, however, his theory was not proven.

Lawson also noted a study by Kaye (et. al) which showed no correlation between the amount of MMR shots and autism – as autism diagnoses increased MMR shots remained constant. Lawson states that “if the MMR vaccine were the major cause of the increased reported incidence of autism, then the risk of being diagnosed with autism would be expected to stop rising shortly after the vaccine was instated at its current usage.” He also states that parents often misinterpret symptoms. MMR shots are given at the same age that autism typically manifests. Because of doctors' increasing awareness of autism, the disorder's diagnoses have recently begun increasing as well. Lawson furthers his point by discussing other possible causes for autism such as genetic factors, utero-damage, brain abnormalities, chemical imbalances, and immunological dysfunctions.

In my opinion, this theory could be dangerous and detrimental to a child’s health. Parents are fearful that their child might develop autism, and they believe that avoiding necessary vaccines will benefit them, when in fact, it might actually harm them. These viral infections can actually cause severe complications and even death. They can also cause devastating effects for those who are not vaccinated or those who have never been exposed (Medical News Today). These vaccines really are necessary.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your final paragraph. I personally agree with the study done by Kaye. If autism and MMR shots were correlated, when MMR shots first began being administered we should have seen a rise in autism. Recently there is a rise in autism and like you stated, MMR vaccine rates have stayed the same. I think that children not getting vaccines now because of fear of autism is going to be a even bigger issue. If these diseases that the vaccines have been created for start to appear again, we will have big issues. If all children aren't vaccinated, then other children will be able to pass it along. I think that autism appears to be correlated with MMR because they happen around the same time. But if they have not been able to prove it, then I wouldn't risk my child contracting many of the other life threatening illnesses all the vaccines were made to prevent.