The vaccines debate - seriously

The New York Times reports that 1 in 4 parents link autism to vaccines inspite of the consistent scientific evidence that there is no such link.  Autism diagnoses are up radically in the last 30 years and it's reasonable for parents to want to know the cause of this increase.  Because of the timing of vaccination and the timing of autism diagnoses (and often onset), it was a reasonable hypothesis that the two are related.

There's just no science to support it. 

In fact, the study that started the anti-vaccination movement has been thoroughly discredited. 

Autism is a rough road. I'm lucky that I'm not on it so I cannot speak to how rough it actually is. I was impressed by the writing of autistic adults who emphasize that just because they are different does not mean anything except that they bring different perspective to society.  And interventions to help autistic children interact with society have some amazing results.  But it's still a rough road.

To be clear, blindness, deafness, cardiovascular disease, encephalitis, meningitis are also really rough roads some of which can lead to death.  All are potential impacts from contracting a disease that is preventable through vaccinations. And not being vaccinated increases the public health risk for all of us.

As parents, we have to balance different risks. Our instinct to protect our children is wonderful, but sometimes very uninformed.  Newsweek published a long article on the many benefits of vaccines in December - it's worth a read.  There are arguments that vaccines are big-pharma making a lot of money.  I guess that's possible, but the public health benefit has been tremendous.  Vaccines and hygeine have saved millions of children.

There are a lot of potential causes for autism.  I hope we research as many as we can to help parents prevent exposure if it's a preventable thing.  The first step in good research is letting go of the theories that didn't pan out so you can put resources at finding a more viable answer.

My children are vaccinated and we also did H1N1 flu vaccines this year because we estimated it was a better risk after researching the science and talking with our doctors. 

What do you think about the continual emphasis on the autism:vaccine link?