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DPChallenge Forums >> General Discussion >> Can the MMR vaccine cause/trigger autism?
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09/13/2008 09:26:59 PM · #1
As the father of a 5 month old girl, the pros and cons of giving my daughter vaccines are extremely important to me. Specifically, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence from parents that the MMR vaccine caused and/or triggered autism in their child, and that con could easily outweigh the potential benefits when one receives the vaccine.

On a board of which my wife is a member, another user posted this article as proof that the MMR vaccine definitively does not cause autism. After reading it, I remain skeptical. What does anyone else think of this article in particular, and the idea in general? Also, does anyone have anything he/she considers proof one way or the other?
09/13/2008 09:35:42 PM · #2
In mainstream science and medicine, this is a non issue. There is no debate. The vaccines are safe and there is no documented connection between autism and any of their active ingredients or additives/preservatives. There is a small but vocal lobby of anti-vaccinationists (sp) who stir up quite a bit of controversy in the popular press. Do some searching on the mainstream science sites like NY Times, WebMD and others. See what you think.
09/13/2008 09:51:27 PM · #3
there is so much debate over this, but I believe with the mainstream medicine on this and to me it was more of a risk NOT to vaccinate. The chances of your child getting a disease that can potentially be fatal is far greater than getting autism. I would do some research though and see how you feel.

09/13/2008 09:52:22 PM · #4
[quote]Also, does anyone have anything he/she considers proof one way or the other?[/quote]

I was going to say, arent the millions of Americans who DONT get autism from vaccines more proof than not?? :)
09/13/2008 09:58:52 PM · #5
Check here about vaccines.

I have not read everything there but I for one would think again before vaccinating.
09/13/2008 10:08:02 PM · #6
I recently did a HUGE report for a college class on this. If I am to ever have children, yes, I would vaccinate, but I would definately space out the vaccinations- several pieces of reading I came across show that it is the shear number of vaccines in a row at such a young age that cause the problem- not just autism, but possibly SIDs
09/13/2008 10:17:17 PM · #7
Talk with your Pediatrician, don't rely on forums or college papers. For what it's worth, my kids are vaccinated. There are bigger, more likely problems out there.
09/13/2008 10:24:29 PM · #8
Originally posted by slickchik:

Check here about vaccines.

I have not read everything there but I for one would think again before vaccinating.


or here.
09/13/2008 10:28:20 PM · #9
Originally posted by slickchik:

Check here about vaccines.

I have not read everything there but I for one would think again before vaccinating.

Actually, you should start with the disclaimers on this site. Particularly this one:
"The decision regarding whether or not to vaccinate is a personal one. The authors of the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute website are neither health practitioners nor legal advisors, and make no claims in this regard. Therefore, none of the information on this website should be construed as medical or legal advice."

Sure, read everything you can about the subject, learn what the arguments for and against are, but beware of people who are just trying to hype unfounded public hysteria and be sure you're paying attention to what assertions are actually supported by scientific evidence rather than just sharpshooter fallacy laden anecdotal 'evidence'. See the CDC site for some good articles about these things:
//www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/

09/13/2008 10:41:28 PM · #10
There is a lot to be read on this subject, I wouldn't just stick to sound bites on the web. If you are lucky enough to have a naturopath you can trust go and ask about this subject, then visit your MD and take in what he/she has to say. Western medicine has supported numerous vaccines in the past that contained mercury and other toxic substances. I think it is important to read beyond 'mainstream medicine and science' as often the facts change over time. I would not negate western medicine either, just be prepared to encounter compelling information on both sides if you dig deep enough. Most people who try to scare you into believing only their side have not fully researched this subject from different points of view.
09/13/2008 11:00:29 PM · #11
strangeghost: I've done quite a bit of research, and the main problem I'm having is I haven't found definitive proof one way o the other. If it's such a non-issue in mainstream science and medicine, it should be fairly simple to link me to the studies that prove there's no correlation, right?

gwe21: Can you point me to specific numbers regarding contracting a fatal case of measles, mumps, or rubella? If those odds are greater than the odds of getting autism, then what are the odds of getting autism? If the odds of getting autism are greater than 0 when you get this vaccination, then there is a correlation, right?

Originally posted by gwe21:

I was going to say, arent the millions of Americans who DONT get autism from vaccines more proof than not?? :)


No. If millions of Americans aren't allergic to peanut butter, does that guarantee that you are also not allergic to peanut butter?

slickchik: We're looking at both sides of the issue, and so far we haven't vaccinated our daughter. Is there any particular information on that site you would consider proof one way or the other?

amathiasphoto: Can you point me to these readings? Would you consider what you've read to be definitive proof one way or the other?

bspurgeon: Our pediatrician recommends vaccinations, yet she also hasn't provided us with any definitive proof one way or the other.

JMart: My impression of the goal of the CDC is to maintain a healthy society, not necessarily to maintain a healthy individual. They state that there are very few serious side effects, which, as far as percentages go, means that most kids will be okay. But what about my kid? Where are the specific studies showing the exact correlation (or lack thereof) between autism and the MMR vaccine?

I've read a lot of stuff, and I've seen a lot of arguments for and against, but I really have yet to see any documented evidence either way. That's really what I'm looking for.

Also, has anyone read the article I linked to? If so, what is your opinion of it?
09/13/2008 11:10:57 PM · #12
mmr decision aid

uk national health service mmr info

WHO on mmr and autism

Message edited by author 2008-09-13 23:18:35.
09/13/2008 11:19:33 PM · #13
We are fortunate in that our pediatrician does not force us either way. He tells me what the vaccine is for, the risks with it, etc. then leaves it up to me.

Not vaccinating has kinda been a trend in this area for a few years, now. Not surprisingly, we have also had a rise in reported cases of measles, mumps, chicken pox, and most recently (like last month) whooping cough, which, unless I am way off base, had at least one child die.

As far as documented evidence one way or the other, DrAchoo may be able to point you to something. I seem to remember when a discussion similar to this came up before, he may have had some info. If he doesn't chime in here, I would send him a PM and just ask if he can point you to some sources of documentation.
09/13/2008 11:31:32 PM · #14
Originally posted by freakin_hilarious:

strangeghost: I've done quite a bit of research, and the main problem I'm having is I haven't found definitive proof one way o the other. If it's such a non-issue in mainstream science and medicine, it should be fairly simple to link me to the studies that prove there's no correlation, right?


This stuff is very easy to find if you have the patience to wade through all the anti-vaccinationist noise that's out there on the web. This is just the page on MMR from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health page. They link to the specific studies (and abstracts where available). There is lots of info on this site.

Part of the issue you raise is the matter of "definitive proof." Everyone will have their own threshold of what they accept as definitive. Again, I'm not trying to make a believer out of you. Just trying to help you wade through the morass. This is a highly emotional issue, but there is good scientific information available. Good luck seeing it and best of luck with your decision.
09/13/2008 11:32:41 PM · #15
Around 20 years ago I worked with autistic children. At the time I met a woman who's son was 5, she was convinced the vaccine was the catalyst for her son changing from what she perceived to be a 'normal' little boy - to the autistic child I worked with.

It was the first time I'd heard the theory and I was skeptical.

As a Mama of two - I tend to think we may be predisposed to certain diseases and disorders that may be triggered by life changes. In the case of this child, the vaccine. In the case of my ex-boyfriends mother - she developed MS almost immediately after the death of one of her sons.

Was it always there? Was it always going to present? How will we ever know?

We decided to vaccinate both of our children, but not without some concern. However neither children (age 9 & nearly 6 now) ever had an adverse reaction.

I hope you can find peace with the decision you have to make.

Being a parent pulls at your heart like nothing else - SMILE!
09/13/2008 11:36:34 PM · #16
This is a man I know is anti-vaccines - he's lovely, and alternate healer - so be aware his bias is strong - but there may be information of interest to you.

Immunisation Issue
09/14/2008 12:02:23 AM · #17
Originally posted by iamwoman:

This is a man I know is anti-vaccines - he's lovely, and alternate healer - so be aware his bias is strong - but there may be information of interest to you.

Immunisation Issue


I'd really check out his claims, such as "No Vaccine has ever been tested with a double blind scientific test"

google on vaccine and double-blind

He claims that SV40 was introduced to humans in vaccine between 1955 and 1961, but
one study found that 12% of a sample of German medical students in 1952 had SV40 antibodies. Yes, unfortunately the virus WAS injected into many via this vaccine but it wasn't the first exposure.

I'm not saying he may not have some truth in there, but I certainly wouldn't take it as gospel.

09/14/2008 12:08:15 AM · #18
One important item to keep in mind is that of risk management. How big is the risk of getting the vaccine compared to that of not getting it. And it's important to remember:

A) Correlation is not the same as causation. A rise in global CO2 levels can be correlated with a rise in crime, but clearly it is not the case the rising CO2 levels caused the rise in crime. This article does a nice job explaining this with regard to vaccines.

B) It's incorrect to believe a claim is true on the basis that it can't be shown to be false (i.e."link me to the studies that prove there's no correlation"). Can you prove there are no leprechauns? Is it possible to prove that taking vitamins will not cause cancer? Well, we have enough evidence on both subjects to say that there probably are no pesky little green men roaming the woods and that there is no serious threat of getting cancer from vitamins. Still, there's no way you can prove these negative claims.

So, you've got to go back to risk management. It is impossible for anyone to give you 100% assurance that your child will be safe with a vaccination and no one can assure you that your child will be safe from the diseases those vaccines are supposed to work against if she does not get the vaccination. Instead, you need to ask how big the risks are in terms of prevalence and severity. I think that is something the CDC and other science based organizations have decent data about.
09/14/2008 12:16:46 AM · #19
Originally posted by BeeCee:

Originally posted by iamwoman:

This is a man I know is anti-vaccines - he's lovely, and alternate healer - so be aware his bias is strong - but there may be information of interest to you.

Immunisation Issue


I'd really check out his claims, such as "No Vaccine has ever been tested with a double blind scientific test"

google on vaccine and double-blind

He claims that SV40 was introduced to humans in vaccine between 1955 and 1961, but
one study found that 12% of a sample of German medical students in 1952 had SV40 antibodies. Yes, unfortunately the virus WAS injected into many via this vaccine but it wasn't the first exposure.

I'm not saying he may not have some truth in there, but I certainly wouldn't take it as gospel.


The most ironic part of the double blind claim is that "alternative healers" tend not to pass double blind tests themselves when it comes to the efficacy of their methods. That's why they are "alternative", when a method or medicine is shown to be effective through things like double blind trials they become "mainstream" medicine. So, "alternative medicine" has always meant "can't actually demonstrate medical effectiveness" in my book.
09/14/2008 12:36:12 AM · #20
The first study in the link strangeghost posted is the same one I originally posted. This is the second time now I've seen it used by the pro-MMR crowd, but I'm still wondering what you guys think of it. Personally, I find it hard to believe that any study that only involves 38 children total "provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent MV RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure" (quoted from the abstract). Is this the kind of evidence I should be basing my decision on?
09/14/2008 01:01:47 AM · #21
Originally posted by JMart:

The most ironic part of the double blind claim is that "alternative healers" tend not to pass double blind tests themselves when it comes to the efficacy of their methods. That's why they are "alternative", when a method or medicine is shown to be effective through things like double blind trials they become "mainstream" medicine. So, "alternative medicine" has always meant "can't actually demonstrate medical effectiveness" in my book.

To be fair, some "alternative" modalities are difficult to test in this fashion; it took some time to invent a way to administer "placebo" acupunture, though the fact that states license and (some) insurance companies pay practitioners of this form of therapy says that what is once "alternative" can indeed become "mainstream" given time and actual open-minded research.

When I was preparing some training materials on pharmacology about thirty years ago, I found that at least 25% of the pharmaceticals listed in the Physician's Desk Reference originally derived from plants or other natural sources, including aspirin, atropine, cocaine, digitalis, the opioid analgesics, and penicillin (and all of the other antibiotics) which so changed the course of human history and evolution. The number of lives saved/prolonged as a consequence of Alexander Fleming's realizing the implications of a culture plate "spoiled" by some mold, rather than just discarding it as usual, is nearly incalculable.

And, of course, it was Edward Jenner's willingness to investigate the "old wives' tale" of the seeming immunity of lovely milkmaids to disfiguring (or deadly) smallpox which led to the entire concept of vaccination (vaca is the Latin root for "cow") -- protecting against a serious disease by stimulating the body's defenses with a weaker form of the disease (the young women had previously contracted cowpox -- a related but milder virus).
09/14/2008 01:03:13 AM · #22
Originally posted by freakin_hilarious:

The first study in the link strangeghost posted is the same one I originally posted. This is the second time now I've seen it used by the pro-MMR crowd, but I'm still wondering what you guys think of it. Personally, I find it hard to believe that any study that only involves 38 children total "provides strong evidence against association of autism with persistent MV RNA in the GI tract or MMR exposure" (quoted from the abstract). Is this the kind of evidence I should be basing my decision on?


There are several other related articles linked on that page. Did you read them as well?
09/14/2008 01:16:22 AM · #23
I am a parent of an Autistic Child, and I KNOW that his case was not caused by a vaccine. He has Tuberous Sclerosis which genetically links him to Autism. He was predisposed to it from birth. I do not think it is worth the risk of NOT getting a vaccine just to avoid the possibility of Autism. You can just as easily have a child with Autism with or without the vaccine. They are learning more and more about Autism, and I believe more cases are being diagnosed because healthcare is more aware of it.

Autism isn't a death sentence, but that is a risk you 'choose' to take if you elect not to vaccinate. I don't mean that to sound as harsh as it does...but just think about it. I choose to expose my child to a potentially deadly disease and with treatment, he/she could very well survive. Or, I choose to risk the possibility my child has a challenging disorder that with treatment could very well lead to normal growth and development.

Express your concerns with your pediatrician and inquire about staggering the vaccines if you have your reservations. I will say most of the children that I know with Autism, were not a result of getting vaccines. There are only a handful where the parents believe it was vaccines. Could it be that Autism is most commonly recognized right about the age that the vaccines are given (by 18 months of age)? I wish I had a link that would provide the answers you are seeking, but I think you will have a difficult time finding a strong solid argument either way. I have 4 kids and all are fully vaccinated. 1 out of 4 has Autism and it is a result of a genetic predisposition. The odds in my family do not support the theory that vaccines cause Autism. Best of luck to you, and good luck with your research!!
09/14/2008 01:43:46 AM · #24
Journalists blaming themselves?
09/14/2008 01:51:24 AM · #25
The last study done (the one linked) is yet another nail in the coffin of the autism-MMR link hypothesis. Let's face a few facts:

1) Nobody can PROVE a negative. In other words, nobody can ever prove that zero cases of autism have been caused by giving an MMR vaccine.
2) HOWEVER, the odds of getting autism from the MMR shot are now becoming statistically so low as to be a non-factor.
3) What we should be MORE concerned about is how incredibly effective vaccination is for our children.

Let's look at some stats on something we CAN prove:

Disease listed and average deaths per year PRE-vaccine:
Diptheria (1822)
Measles (440)
Mumps (39)
Pertussis (4034)
Polio, acute (1393)
Polio, paralytic (1879)
Rubella (17)
Smallpox (337)
Tetanus (472)
Total: 10,433

In other words, over 10,000 people died each year from these diseases pre-vaccines. This does not take into account morbidity which can also be devestating such as encephalitis for measles or sterility for males in mumps or deafness for mumps (I cannot recall if it was meningitis or mumps that caused Bear_music's deafness).

Now, average deaths POST-vaccine:
Diphtheria (0)
Measles (0)
Mumps (0)
Pertussis (27)
Polio, acute (0)
Polio, paralytic (0)
Rubella (0)
Smallpox (0)
Tetanus (4)
Total: 31

The bottom line is 10,000 people do not die each year because we vaccinate our children. Parents these days who do not vaccinate their children are likely to benefit from the herd immunity of other children but are morally riding the coattails of other responsible parents. Simple as that. There are a few legitimate reasons for not vaccinating (immunosuppression, allergy, a very few religious beliefs), the rest is pure BS. Do I sound emphatic on that? You better believe it.

Most people know I'm an allergist, but I will point out I am also a board certified pediatrician.

Message edited by author 2008-09-14 01:52:40.
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