Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Vaccines and Autism: A Rational Discussion

As a non-parent, I can't say that I know the helpless feeling of watching a child suffer with some horrible disease like measels or polio or rotavirus. Nor do I know the anguish of having a child with autism. My heart goes out to those families.

And I'm sure it must be powerfully convincing evidence that something must be wrong with vaccinations when these parents take their children to the doctor to be vaccinated, and soon after that, they are diagnosed with autism.

It is entirely rational to look for a link between the two. And it's understandable that parents want something to point to and say "This caused the horrible thing that happened to my child."

However, every study has consistently shown that there is no causal relationship between vaccinations and autism. None. But both sides are yelling and calling the other side stupid and often refusing to sit down and just talk.

Scientists have listened to parents' concerns. In fact, they spent millions of dollars doing study after study after study looking for some causal relationship, just in case there was something there to be found. It's just that scientist-types find it so very difficult to talk to people instead of over their heads, so their calm message of "there's no way vaccines cause autism" fall on deaf ears when emotional parents know what they saw.

Enter Dr. Ginger Campbell. She has a podcast called Books and Ideas. This month's episode features an interview with Dr. Paul A. Offit, author of "Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure." Dr. Campbell interviews him about the issues surrounding this "controversy." You'll learn that eating tuna will put more mercury in your system than a vaccine, even before they removed the thimerosal. You'll learn why mercury-bearing thimerosal was removed from vaccines in the early 2000's, and why it was there in the first place. But mostly, you'll learn how very dangerous it is for children today to remain unvaccinated.

If you have any curiosity about the issue or just wonder what all the brouhaha is about, I urge you to listen to this episode with an open mind.

Please. It's just one hour out of your busy schedule. You'll probably learn something. I know I did.

Just click on the title of this post and it'll take you to the podcast, and you can listen to it right there at the website.