Sunday, April 5, 2009

Vaccines vs Autism

There has been a lot of discussion over the last couple of years regarding whether or not childhood vaccinations cause autism. The medical community has been speaking out more vehemently lately, insisting that there is no evidence whatsoever that there is any correlation between the two. In fact, it has recently come out that the doctor who started this theory actually lied in his study.

I am analytical by nature, which means I rarely take things at face value. I'm always questioning, absorbing the facts, and trying to discern a pattern and rational assumption. Therefore I have always been suspicious of the suggested connection between vaccinations and autism. I suspected that the increase in diagnosis of autism was more likely a result of awareness. Autism has been all through the media for the last decade. How many people had even heard of autism twenty years ago? Now we have celebrities talking about their autistic children and people suggesting that Bill Gates has Aspergers. Autism has moved mainstream.

I think part of the problem is the average person's tendency to simplify cause and effect. "My child was vaccinated, and soon after we began to notice signs of autism." People don't stop to think, "Hmmm. Sure, I noticed the autistic symptoms after my child was vaccinated, but that was about the same age when children are commonly diagnosed with autism. Perhaps it was really coincidental. If I had delayed the vaccine, I may have still seen the signs of autism creep up at the same time."

I believe it is more a case of timing than causation. The vaccines aren't causing the autism. The autism is simply being diagnosed along the same timeline as is normally seen. Autism isn't typically diagnosed in babies. Autism is typically diagnosed in children two to three years of age-- right after they would have likely received their MMR vaccinations.

The vaccinations aren't causing the autism, but are simply occurring at the same time as autistic symptoms begin presenting.

Read this article on the blog Field Notes from an Evolutionary Psychologist to see a rational and informative article about this debate (and the debacle surrounding Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who started the fear mongering surrounding vaccinations and autism.)


Kathy said...

We are fortunate to have had good guidance with regard to this 'debate.' Never bought into it...