Autism and vaccines
Whereas child vaccination is still rampant, some individuals have questioned it and argued that vaccines may lead to autism. Various hypotheses have been developed to support this theory. Nevertheless, there has been no scientifically done research that has proved vaccines cause autism. This paper seeks to explain that vaccines are not the cause of autism.
The argument about vaccines and autism started in 1998 upon the publication of a paper that stated measles-mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine led to autism. This research examined only 12 children and got a lot of exposure. During the same period there was a rapid growth in the number of children diagnosed with autism. The findings of this paper prompted other physicians to conduct their own research to establish the relationship between autism and MMR vaccine. Of all the 12 studies that were conducted, none discovered any evidence that MMR caused autism (Maglione et al., 2014).
Another research conducted in 1998 also revealed a wide range of problems with the way it was done with the journal which had published it finally retracting it. This implied that the publication no longer believed in the results. In addition, there existed other issues as well, and for instance investigators found out that a lawyer seeking for a connection between autism and vaccine had given the leader researcher over 435,000 pounds (equivalent of over 500, 000 dollars) (Maglione et al., 2014).
One year later following the British research, fears concerning a potential vaccine-autism connection changed from MMR to an ingredient used in the vaccines of some children. This ingredient was referred to as thimerosal and had mercury in it. Mercury is harmful to the kidneys and the brain if consumed in high levels. Physicians utilized thimerosal in preventing the growth of fungi and bacteria in vaccines. There existed no proof that the minute amount utilized in the medicines could lead to any harm (Gorini et al., 2014). Nonetheless, it was removed from most vaccines used by children by 2001 upon the recommendations of the US Public Health Service and American Academy of Pediatrics.
To ascertain whether thimerosal was associated with autism, scholars studied children who had been given vaccines that contained the substance. The researchers then made a comparison with the kids that hadn’t received any vaccines. Moreover, the CDC carried out or paid for 9 various studies investigating the link between autism and thimerosal. It found none. Indeed, there was a rise in autism diagnoses even after vaccine makers removed thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines (Gorini et al., 2014). At present, only trace quantities of it remain in the vaccines for protecting against tetanus, diphtheria, as well as pertussis also known as DTaP-Hib and DTaP (Kern et al., 2016).
When research on thimerosal-containing vaccines and MMR vaccine did not indicate any link to autism, other theories came up. The most outstanding theory claims that the instantaneous administration of several vaccines weakens or overwhelms the immune system, creating an interaction with the central nervous system which sets off autism in a vulnerable host. This hypothesis was popularized recently as a result of acknowledgment of a case of nine year old girl suffering from mitochondrial enzyme deficiency and whose encephalopathy comprised aspects of autism spectrum anomaly, was judged to have become worse after receiving numerous vaccines at 19 months (Kern et al., 2016).
The perception that children may be getting so many vaccines too rapidly and that the vaccines produce a pathologic, autism-stimulating autoimmune response or weaken an undeveloped immune system is flawed for numerous reasons: First and foremost, vaccines do not weaken the immune system, and even though an infant’s immune system is reasonably immature, it is instantly able to generate a wide range of protective responses, with conservative approximates forecasting the potential to respond to thousands of vaccines at the same time (Maglione et al., 2014).
Secondly, numerous vaccinations do not overwhelm the immune system. Unvaccinated and vaccinated infants do not fluctuate in their vulnerability to infections not thwarted by vaccines. Vaccines, in other words, do not repress the immune system in a clinically appropriate manner. Nevertheless, infections with some vaccine-preventable ailments incline children to harsh, invasive infections with other disease causing agents. Thus, the data available indicts that vaccines do not compromise the infant’s immune system (Kern et al., 2016).
Lastly, autism is not a disease that is immune-mediated. Unlike other autoimmune ailments like multiple sclerosis, there exists no proof of inflammatory lesions or immune activation in the CNS of individuals suffering from autism. Current data, indeed recommends that genetic distinction in neuronal circuitry which affects synaptic growth may in part be responsible for autistic behavior. Therefore speculation that an inappropriate or exaggerated immune response to vaccines sets off autism is at discrepancy with present scientific data that tackles autism pathogenesis (Plotkin et al., 2010).
In conclusion, 20 epidemiologic research have illustrated that neither MMR vaccine or thimerosal causes autism. This research has been conducted in numerous countries by several different researchers who have used a wide range of statistical and epidemiologic techniques. The big search of the populations studied has afforded a degree of statistical power adequate to detect even associations that are rare (Demicheli et al., 2012). This research, in connection with the biological improbability that vaccinations weaken the immune system of a child, have successfully dismissed the perception that vaccines lead to autism. More research on the cause of autism must concentrate on more hopeful leads.
- Demicheli, V., Rivetti, A., Debalini, M.G., & Pietrantonj,C. (2012). Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 15(2).
- Gorini, F., Muratori, F., & Morales, M.A. (2014). The role of heavy metal pollution in neurobehavioral disorders. Review Journal of Developmental Disorders.
- Kern, J.K., Geier, D.A., Sykes, L.K., Haley, B.E., Geier, M.R. (2016). The relationship between mercury and autism: A comprehensive review and discussion. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 37, 8-24.
- Maglione, M.A., Das, L Raaen, L., Smith, A., Chari, R., Newberry, S., Shanman, R., Perry, T., Goetz, M.B. and Gidengil, C. (2014). Safety of vaccines used for routine immunization of US children: A systematic review. Pediatrics, 134 (2), 1-13.
- Plotkin, S., Gerber, J, Offit, P. (2010). Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 48, Issue 4, , Pages 456–461.