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Links between autism, vaccines, and pesticides

I know that we all have our own reasons why to vaccinate our children on schedule, do it more slowly than the AAP recommends, or not at all. Many of us know now that the scientific evidence linking rising autism rates to the thimerosal preservative (which contained trace amounts of mercury) has been discarded by nearly every public health professional.

Still, today's news that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, the author of the original (and since retracted) study linking autism to vaccines did not just create a bad study but "an elaborate fraud" is chilling. The British medical journal BMJ conducted an investigation, and the editor told CNN, "in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data." The editorial revealing the results of the study said it had created a long-lasting deleterious effect on public health and, worse, "perhaps as important as the scare's effect on infectious disease is the energy, emotion and money that have been diverted away from efforts to understand the real causes of autism and how to help children and families who live with it."

Speaking of those. No one (as far as I can tell) is calling pesticide exposure a definitive cause of autism -- perhaps the study has created a scientific-community-wide crisis of confidence. But I'm chilled by results of a 12-year study of migrant worker mothers and their children in Salinas, California, the Center for Health Assessment of Mothers and Children of Salinas project. Mothers who had the highest exposure to pesticides had children with poorer attention spans.

""We have very, very high reports by the mother of behaviors consistent with pervasive developmental disorder," UC Berkeley Public Health profession Brenda Eskenazi said in comments at a neurotoxicology conference. "These include signs like the child is afraid to try new things, can't stand anything out of place, and avoid looking others in the eye. This is considered to be autism spectrum behavior."

In my opinion, this is evidence that exposure to pesticides causes -- or at the very least contributes -- to pervasive developmental disorders. And no one is panicking yet or suggesting everyone through out all of agriculture and start over. But maybe that's because we've all become shy of pulling the trigger on causality, thanks to one doctor's inexplicable fraud.

Or, maybe not inexplicable. According to that BMJ editor, "It's always hard to explain fraud and where it affects people to lie in science. But it does seem a financial motive was underlying this, both in terms of payments by lawyers and through legal aid grants that he received but also through financial schemes that he hoped would benefit him through diagnostic and other tests for autism and MMR-related issues."

I don't think there's any statement that could sum up my feelings on that with sufficient disgust and disheartenment. Have you got one?

Comments

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The saddest part about this news is that it isn't really news at all.

Although the results of the BMJ investigation are new today, Wakefield was stripped of his clinical credentials in May 2010. The original study was officially retracted almost a year ago, and was under formal investigation as early as 2006. It's been years since the scientific community arrived at a consensus [based on repeated, conclusive evidence that thoroughly disproved Wakefield's original faked study] that there is absolutely no autism-vaccine link.

This research has been available for years, but publications that cover the "vaccine controversy" often feel obligated to give equal time to anti-vaccine celebrity spokespeople like Jenny McCarthy, even if they have zero scientific credentials.

And many mainstream pediatricians in Portland — and even more alternative medicine practitioners, birth centers, midwives, and naturopaths — continue to fan parent fears by suggesting "alternative schedules" for vaccinations, or at least not questioning or counseling parents who request those schedules.

As the parent of a child with autism [who is fully vaccinated], I always feel deeply insulted when my friends refuse to vaccinate their kids. If the anti-vax movement is all about the (repeatedly, thoroughly, exhaustively disproven) link between vaccines and autism, then these parents are telling me they prefer the risk of suffering or death from a preventable disease to the risk of having a child like my son.

I didn't do much research on vaccines so I am shocked at the latest news. In particular, the last quote in your post is angering. I wonder how this would quell or dissuade those who feel strongly regarding that supposed connection. This has indeed been a heated discussion over the years. All my kids are vaccinated, and I didn't think much about the connection. If felt like the right thing to go from a public health standpoint especially since we'd have relatives from Vietnam who would come to the US with Hepatitis A or other diseases that vaccines help to protect against. As for the pesticides, that's another story.

@Sarah. Well said.

I was going to respond to the author's use of "discarded" rather than "debunked" in her statement that "Many of 'us' know now the scientific evidence linking rising autism rates to the thimerosal preservative . . . has been discarded by nearly every public health professional" but your post is elegant enough to cover all bases.

Thank you so much for this post.

re: discarded vs. bebunked, please don't read too much into my individual word choices. while it is very important to me to use the right word when I'm writing creatively, my writing for urbanmamas tends to be published in the midst of frequent interruptions by boys who are hungry/having potty accidents/arguing loudly, so should not be taken as layered with meaning behind meaning.

Sarah, while I surely understand your feelings (as you know, I'm currently undergoing the process of getting my five-year-old diagnosed -- his teachers agree that ASD is likely), I'd hesitate before taking it personally. word of mouth is especially powerful, and, because of exactly the sort of emotional celebrity opinion you bring up, and the financial motivations pointed out in the end of this latest news, there is among many mothers a profound distrust of just about every bit of scientific media. is autism the worst fate I can imagine for any child? of course not -- but the guilt I'd feel if I knew my actions could have prevented it would be awful.

when I ask myself, 'why do people still refuse vaccinations in the face of all this evidence?' I get the same answer I get when I ask myself, 'why do other mothers get so angry in comment threads on the internet?' (not this one, of course) and it is this: we are all, with the instincts forged from our variously functional families of origin, a widely differing skill in scientific inquiry, a deep well of maternal emotion, societal fear and guilt, media messages from leading pregnancy books saying that all every calorie we eat, every toenail we paint, is directly and profoundly affecting our child's future, and an economy in which we have seen enormous corporations worth billions of dollars rise and fall on the weight of lies and personal vendettas: well, of course we're making decisions inexpertly, and if those decisions are questioned we are going to defend them with all the passion and vitriol of our considerable inertia.

there are certainly enough problems facing our kids these days for some of them to have been caused by just about anything we do, from hair coloring to vaccinations to walking down the street.

Sarah

You're right —I didn't mean to imply that parents who don't vaccinate were intentionally insulting me. I completely agree that we're all doing the best we can.

I was just trying to point out that the part of the collateral damage done by Wakefield and McCarthy and the mainstream media coverage of vaccines is the reinforcement of the idea that autism is a worse fate than polio.

If people really stopped to think about this, most of them would disagree. [Except for McCarthy, who said "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f___ing measles."] Unfortunately, parents rarely have the luxury of "stopping to think" or reading peer-reviewed research when faced with vaccine decisions. Instead, we decide based on the information that's available to us at the time, which often comes from mainstream media hell-bent on giving equal time to "both sides" of the debate.

The problem is, science is not a democracy. The "other side" of the vaccine/autism debate is just plain wrong. And journalists looking for the "golden mean" between two extreme opinions have settled on an equally untrue middle ground. The louder one side yells, the further the mean gets tugged toward it, and the further we get from the truth.

So I apologize if my anger seemed to be directed at parents — it ought to be directed at journalists and at autism organizations that ran with the autism/vaccine link in the face of all the evidence.

But I stand by my criticism of pediatricians and alternative medicine practitioners, who have a responsibility to parents and to public health. Yes, parents make decisions inexpertly, but we depend on experts for guidance. And some of these experts have failed us.

wow, Sarah, McCarthy said that? it's really sad how she's become such a touchstone in this debate, when really, her perspective is *all* passion, no reason. I agree fully with your perspective on the media and autism organizations: they, indeed, have failed by striving to maintain the unbiased view that, in the end, only prevents us from seeing the truth by muddying the waters.

My son is not fully vaccinated? Why? Because he had a really serious reaction to the Pertussis and has a permanent medical exemption. It made us rethink a lot about vaccination. He likely had more reactions than we realized to the other vaccines as well. He also has sensitivities to food dyes, preservatives and many other non "natural" things. I think there can be a genetic predisposition to specific things, including vaccine reactions and autism. I don't believe vaccines cause autism but I do think that the current vaccine schedule is too extreme. My son does in fact have autism and I'll always have to wonder if the seriousness of his reaction to Pertussis contributed to it. My daughter is on an alternative vaccine schedule and some we're actually skipping totally. If that in some way offends you or makes it so that pediatricians are "fanning the flames of my parent fears" than so be it. I think that you're unfairly suggesting people like me are idiots when in fact some of us feel like it's the only way we can choose to vaccinate. Unless your child has had a serious vaccine reaction then judging others isn't really appropriate.

I'm not a supporter of Jennie McCarthy and I believe in vaccines, but I also believe in alternative schedules for growing minds and bodies.

Hi JC

I don't think anybody is an idiot. As I said above, I believe all parents are making the best choices we possibly can for our children, based on the information available to us. There are certainly valid reasons to choose an alternative vaccine schedule, and a history of adverse reactions is one of them.

However, protecting our kids from autism is not a good reason to delay or refuse vaccinations. Study after study has confirmed that following the AAP-recommended vaccine schedule in the first year of a child's life has absolutely no link to increased rates of autism. One of those studies, which specifically compares the AAP-recommended schedule to alternative or delayed schedules, is linked here:

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2009-2489v1

The study's conclusion is in its title: "On-time Vaccine Receipt in the First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropsychological Outcomes." The authors used vaccine data from several thousand children. They compared children who followed the recommended vaccination schedule in the first year of life vs. those who did not, and compared neurological outcomes 7-10 years later. The data were unequivocal: there were no significant differences in neurologic problems between the two groups. 

If your child has allergies or has had an adverse vaccine reaction, then you have good reason to adjust his vaccine schedule. But statistically, adverse reactions are extremely rare. The risk of serious illness or death from a vaccine-preventable disease is much greater than the risk of an adverse reaction. For example, the risk of death from measles is 1 in 3000. The risk of death from diphtheria is one in 30. There has never been a death proven from the DTP vaccine, and only one out of every one million doses of the MMR vaccine results in a severe allergic reaction [source: http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/imm/provider/6misconcept.shtml#Vaccinescause ]

None of this matters if you already know your child is sensitive to a vaccine ingredient, and I am not citing these statistics to criticize your decision. I understand why you made it and I would do the same if my child had an adverse reaction to a vaccine.

My point is that for the 999,999 out of 1,000,000 children who will never suffer a severe adverse reaction to a vaccine, it is a very bad idea to delay or refuse protection against potentially deadly diseases. And that's why it frustrates me when pediatricians recommend delayed schedules to everyone, including those who have no elevated risk for adverse reactions. It confuses parents about relative risks, and keeps us from making informed decisions about our children's health.

My husband is one of those who heard vaccines=autism. It created a HUGE rift in our parenting and so early on. I was dead set for it and angry at him for reading a tiny bit and stopping. Making up his mind without more research. Our Dr did say there is no connection. To this day he won’t believe her. I won but I am the one that has to sign the forms, hold my son for the shot tell him it will be better. Husband will have nothing to do with it. Stupid. What so if he is right (which he is not) he can blame me? WTF?? My sister has chosen alternative vac for her daughter nothing till after she is 2 I do not agree with her, but she did her research. That’s her choice. It's each parent’s right to choose. My son was going to day care at 3 months I didn’t want him exposed to all that and take the risk. As parents we educate our self’s to the best of our ability and make what we feel for us is the best decision for our child. As long as you do your research great, know what you are getting in to don't be a sheepull.

Thanks JC for your post. This topic is one that pushes a major button for me so I'm not even going to go there. For the record I have a son with Autism. Also for the record he has been fully vaccinated and we were always on schedule. My son had a very severe, very abnormal reaction to a particular vaccination as well.

Just for the record, the anti-vax movement is not "all about the link between vaccines and autism." But it's almost always portrayed that way in the media, so it's not surprising that there is so much frustration with it, when it's clear that that link has been disproved.

Although I'm not anti-vaccines in the least, I did follow a delayed/selective route. I had many reasons, some of which have been mentioned. The level of awareness about autism these days means that the condition is on a lot of parents' worry lists, whether they vaccinate on schedule or not.

Something that I wanted to mention and forgot to in my post, is that part of the reason for alternative schedules is so that if you're only giving 1-2 vaccines at a time you can recognize better if there are reactions or not. By giving five at a time it's hard to decide WHICH vaccine caused the big issue. In our case we started with Hib and had zero reaction. So we added the Tdap the next time and my daughter had some definite issues, though nothing compared to what my son went through. Had we given five at a time rather than just the two, we would have had to guess which one caused her minor reaction. The thing is, since you mentioned that these reactions are "rare," they're less rare than we realize because unless a child has permanent damage from a reaction, many physicians don't report. When I went back and questioned if they reported my son's they hadn't. When I asked why they said he appeared to have recovered. That was shocking to me--we ended up in the ER with his reaction! But my point is that by starting out slower you're more likely to catch potential reactions rather than play the guessing game or making the potential reaction(s) worse by giving five at a time. And as the other person pointed out, it's not all about autism, it's about bombarding kids with vaccines at a very young age. Vaccines are FILLED (i.e. made with) with a lot of awful stuff, so what's the harm in spreading them out one per month rather than five every few months? When my son had the reaction and we altered our vaccine schedule, autism was the last thing on my mind. Four years later, when he was diagnosed I really had to wonder if the extent of his reaction contributed (i.e. not caused but contributed).

The reason the schedules are the way they are is in part due to what insurance will pay for in terms of well baby visits, etc. Doctors cram them in because otherwise they fear parents won't follow through. It's not like the schedules are there because it's ideal to give them that way.

Ask your vet why they give vaccines to dogs and cats all at once rather then individually--they'll tell you it's because most owners aren't willing to pay for subsequent visits so they do it all at once. It's a convenience/financial issue! Same with kids!

I wonder why anybody would take a medical advice from Jennie McCarthy. What are her credentials in this field? Her good looks, especially from pre-child life, are her only "credentials" I can think of.
Also, if you could go back in time and offer vaccines to children of parents from, say 200 years ago, when vaccines were not available and children were dying from today preventable diseases, they all would be lining up for the vaccines. Today's parents just don't remember any more.

Not vaccinating your child is irresponsible. You are doing an injustice to your child and especially to those with weakened immune systems liken cancer patients.

As a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, I constantly advocate for vaccines with parents... but it can become exhausting if they have resistance. We only have ~20 minutes per patient... I can't spend 10 minutes of that pleading the case for vaccines with every patient. My hope is that the large organizations (CDC, Public Health Depts) can do that for me, in large part.

I am lucky enough to work with immigrants mostly (mainly Mexico), who practically demand vaccines on schedule. Poor little kids are brought in right on their birth days frequently!
Those parents are much closer to the ramifications of inadequate vaccination-- they've seen tetanus, etc.

THANK YOU ZINEMAMA!

The "anti-vax" movement is certainly NOT all about autism.

Please be aware that vaccination is NOT immunization. 2 different things. They don't work every time, and for every human, they don't always last forever, and yet the risk remains the same.

Did you know that hundreds of thousands of children are on a waiting list with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, waiting to be compensated for their vaccine-induced injuries? It's certainly no where near one out of a million! In addition, even the CDC and FDA report that vaccine-induced injuries are drastically under-reported. These injuries are not just autism; these children have gone blind, lost their ability to speak, endure long-term seizures, have permanent brain damage and/or significant neurological issues.

Why do we vaccinate? For the greater good of the 'herd'. So it should come as no surprise that many parents (new mothers especially) are not willing to risk their child's life and well-being for the greater good of your children.

The AAP recommends over 30 vaccines before the age of SIX years old! That's outrageous, and concerning when it blows every other country in the world out of the water.

I stopped vaxing my child at about 2 months due to vaccine-induced seizures. I was a SAHM with no other children so I didn't feel we were at as much risk as other children. We started back up at about age 2, one vax at a time, and not ALL vaxes.

I'm one of the lucky few who has an honest pediatrician. When I ask her, "my daughter doesn't even really NEED this vaccine, does she?" And the ped replied, "You're right. Not unless she lives in a 3rd world country or is sexually active." Yeah, my 5-yr-old is neither, so it's not necessary. If it's not necessary, why is it 'recommended' and mandated?

I think I know why. After a ton of reading and research, I discovered it all comes down to... MONEY! Big surprise.

Do a little more digging... find out just how many people of the The Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (the branch of the FDA that approves vaccines) are the SAME PEOPLE who work for Merck and SmithKline? Knowing that this is a $11 billion industry (2008), it shouldn't surprise us that the vaccine industry could possibly be misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, maybe even covering up and suppressing information, and influencing health policy decisions for financial gain.

There's always two sides to the story.

"A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth."
- Albert Einstein

I like many of you agree that vaccinations are necessary but there is no reason to judge families for making individual decisions based on experience. Some of us breast feed, some due formula and there are countless reasons as well.

We did an alternative schedule because we have genetic history or mental health and autism. I am a special education teacher and if my son ends up with autism there are far worse things in life. But for some families I know it can be devastating emotionally, financially etc. My point is there are many factors that are not understood. X does not cause Y, we all get that. But there are environmental, and genetic factors that we don't clearly understand. It's clear that there are critical times in brain development that still aren't completely understood because we individually develop differently. It's is entirely possible that vaccines delivered under the current schedule could be delivered at critical times for some children creating auto-immune responses and potential for impacting brain development with any given unknown or known predisposition due to genetic factors. Neuroscientists are still 20-30 years away from fully understanding the brains development.

Autism is a neurological disorder that impacts 1 in 150 children and their families this is a high incidence disability. It's seems since no one can medically explain what causes it we need to make the best choices we can. I often wonder what the CDC’s response would be if 1 and 150 children had some new disease.

The current vaccination schedule was developed to make sure those children receiving Medicaid, Oregon health plan, etc., received vaccinations economically and efficiently. That's why there are so many in such a short time. Sure it cost my family more because we went in monthly but that was our choice and it worked for us. He has the same vaccines as any 2 almost 3 year old except we are waiting on the MMR until he is 3 and HepB until he is 5. He is pretty much following the vaccination schedule from 3 decades ago when I grew up. I didn't get the HepB until I was 19 and I don't have it.

I know families that have older children with autism and then they didn't vaccinate the siblings and they had development needs but then tested out of special education services. I see the prevalence everyday for varying disabilities and disorders and I can’t help but believe there are many factors we don’t understand and we are all just trying to do the best we can and we all want the world for our children, which is why it is so emotional.

We are all just a series of chemical reactions and we for sure we are what we eat. Totally different topic but I didn’t develop food allergies until after I had my son. How many of you have food allergies or children with food allergies.

I wish we understood how all these factors impact one another but we don’t and until we do we should try not to judge each other but embrace each others perspective for what is real for them.

A couple of thoughts and some recommended reading if you're interested enough to read this deep in the comment thread:

The interplay between environmental chemicals and neurological development is very complex, and there is simply not enough research out there to either confirm or rule out their role in autism. Pesticides, fragrances, plastics in our food containers, cosmetics — we know that all of these disrupt our endocrine systems and have the potential to affect the developing brain. But no single chemical has been studied thoroughly enough to establish a definitive causal relationship with autism. One of the main reasons there has been so little research into other possible causes of autism is that the vaccine controversy continues to siphon away all available research funding — long after the original fraudulent study was disproven. This is one of the most tragic results of the fraud mentioned in the original post. An excellent article for further reading: http://thinkingautismguide.blogspot.com/2010/07/autism-and-environmental-chemicals-call.html

However, the vaccine/autism link [or lack thereof] is literally the most-studied public health issue relating to children in the last two decades. The research on vaccines, in contrast to the research on environmental chemicals, is vast, thorough, and conclusive. The best article I have read summarizing the research [and examining the cultural trends that, in spite all the research, cause 1 in 4 Americans to still believe that vaccines cause autism] is here: http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000114 .

Another important point: there is not actually an autism epidemic. The frequent reference to the "epidemic" in the media is a case of journalists and laypeople confusing a rise in *prevalence* with a rise in *incidence.* For a thorough explanation of the difference, and why it matters, see Dr. James Coplan's No Autism Epidemic series in Psychology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-sense-autistic-spectrum-disorders/201006/007-no-autism-epidemic-part-1 .

Those who are alarmed by the rise in *prevalence* of autism diagnoses should read Roy Richard Grinker’s book Unstrange Minds (http://www.unstrange.com/unstrangesummary.html). The majority of the increase can be explained by the change in the way we define autism. 60 years ago, children with what we would today call severe autism were diagnosed with "childhood schizophrenia" or labeled mentally retarded. Children who would today be diagnosed with Asperger's or mild autism were not diagnosed at all 60 years ago — they were called "quirky" or "nerdy." In the last two decades, access to the Internet, increased cultural awareness, and a decrease in social stigma have opened a path to services for millions of families who would never have sought a diagnosis for their children in the past. Grinker's book is a fascinating read if you're interested in autism.

Sara, it seems like YOU are the one who can't let go of the vaccine/autism connection. How many people have to point out to you that parents are choosing alternative schedules not just due to autism concerns but HEALTH concerns? I think you are perhaps fixating on a subject along the lines of a special interest? Sound familiar? All joking aside, I think you really aren't hearing what people are saying--it's not the autism fear it's much more complex than that and vaccines should not be taken lightly, just as NOT getting them should not be taken lightly. Anyone who has a child full time in daycare really needs to have select vaccines immediately (such as the dreaded Tdap/Dtap) but there is a lot more flexibility for kids who are being breast fed and staying at home. I don't think anyone on here has said that vaccines are wrong or unnecessary, but that we believe flexibility in how they're delivered is important. Again, stopping the standard vaccine schedule with my son had nothing to do with autism, it had to do with his awful reaction. And we're doing the alternate schedule with my daughter not because my son has autism but because we feel it's safer for 100s of reasons in our situation. Advocating an alternative schedule is certainly much better than vaccines being skipped completely so making parents feel like they're "wrong" for wanting to tweak the schedule is counterproductive. I know in our case if we were given an either or option and not allowed to do the alternative schedule we'd have done NO vaccines at all until she was much older. And that is way more risky than alternative schedules.

Hi JC

As I said in an earlier comment, I understand your reasons for spacing out your child's vaccines, and I would do the same if my child had a severe reaction. To be clear, I have never said anything to criticize parents who choose to space them out. I agree with several posters who pointed out that the recommended vaccine schedule was created as a money-saving way to pack multiple vaccines into the smallest number of office visits possible. However, I don't see this as a cynical ploy by Big Pharma to harm our kids — I think it's a common-sense public health measure that makes vaccines accessible to poor people, most of whom simply don't have the luxury of the time and money for multiple office visits.

When I mention "alternative or delayed schedules," I am talking about the choice to forgo vaccines entirely, or to significantly delay them [as opposed to just spacing them out]. And let me say again that I am not judging those parents — every parent makes difficult decisions based on the information they have, and we all believe we are doing the best for our children. I am frustrated by journalists, scientific "experts," and some [certainly not all] pediatricians, who have led many parents to believe that because we don't live in a "third world country" that certain vaccines are not necessary.

There are polio outbreaks right now in several regions in Africa, measles outbreaks in the UK, and pertussis right here at home and in California. Even the polio cases, although they may seem remote, are just one plane ride away. For the average person, the risks of these diseases far outweigh the risk of the vaccines. I know many parents feel otherwise, and parents of children who have had an adverse vaccine reaction are justified in that feeling. I am concerned with the message that because some children react adversely to vaccines that we should throw them out entirely. This concern has nothing to do with anything you have said on this thread — you have been clear that you are not opposed to vaccines. But many people are. Ashland, OR, for example, has the lowest rate of vaccine compliance in the country, and this puts infants and people with compromised immune systems at serious risk. I am commenting here to express my respectful disagreement; not to judge those parents or to make them feel "wrong."

My last comment was in response to Nicole's [and the original poster's] mention of possible links between other environmental chemicals and autism. My point in bringing up vaccines again was that the reason we know so little about those other chemicals is that the autism/vaccine controversy has dominated scientific research for the last two decades, leaving very little money for anything else. The post that started this thread is about autism, and although many of the comments are about vaccines and NOT autism, that is not what I was responding to in my previous comment.

Yes, autism is a "special interest" of mine, and something that I feel passionately about. My son is autistic, and it has had a huge impact on my life. Since other posters in this thread include some autism parents, I thought they might be interested in reading some of the articles that I linked to.

I have read the research and we have made an informed decision to vaccinate our son on an alternative schedule, one at a time schedule based on our genetic history an the simple fact that vaccines are just one piece of the environmental puzzle. We have have a family history of mental health factors on my side and learning disabilities on my husbands side just like all families we made an informed decision before we decided to have our son. He was no happy accident. Let's face it we are all "unique" and "quirky" in our own ways. Even though are children are educated similarly they all have different learning styles and needs.
The facts are we don't live in bubbles and environmental factors influence our development as due genetic factors. I guess when some scientist publishes the definitive autism study I will recant but then again no 2 children with autism are exactly the same. Yes similar learning style but not same needs or same place in development.
Why be so judgmental towards people who make educated decisions TO VACCINATE that are not the same as yours?

Interesting stuff here.

Here's my 2 cents. I'm the foster mama of an HIV positive child. She can't get vaccines because her immune system can't handle it. It's easy to say that vaccines are an individual decision and we should all just repect everybody's personal choice but it's not that easy. Your choice to not vax or to put them off until later puts my girl at risk. it's a public health issue, not just a personal one. When you vaccinate, you're helping protect people who are vulnerable and don't have that choice.

To the anonymous poster who wrote "Why do we vaccinate? For the greater good of the 'herd'. So it should come as no surprise that many parents (new mothers especially) are not willing to risk their child's life and well-being for the greater good of your children." Well, maybe it should come as no surprise, but it sure does make me sad to hear it. Both that you really believe you are risking your child's life when you vaccinate, and that you care so little about other kids. Your refusal to vaccinate puts my baby at risk. We don't live in a third world country but as another poster pointed out, we are one plane ride away from anywhere in the world. These diseases are contagious and they spread quickly.

Also just a comment on forum etiquette. When you type in ALL CAPS that's the web equivalent of yelling. I read this whole comment section and I seriously don't get why some people keep saying they feel judged. All I see here is people expressing their opinions. The one poster you keep accusing of judging you said several times that she wasn't, she was just stating her opinion, which if you actually read it was agreeing with you! Not everybody is going to have the same opinion, and it's ok to disagree. But if you feel like you need to type something in all caps you should probably take a deep breath and re-read before you click publish. just sayin'.

to each their own but i am thankful that i have the right to implement a delayed vaccine schedule for my children; i also will not give them every vaccine suggested and this is my choice. i am not anti-vaccine; i am just pro-active and encourage every parent to pursue with the zest the positives/negatives to each and every vaccine on the market today before deciding just to "smile & nod" in the presence of their doctor. something i found interesting being that i have great respect for dr. wakefield: http://douglassreport.com/2011/01/10/vaccine-witch-hunt/

I've been a community health nurse for almost 10 years and I spend a lot of tiem talking to parents about vaccines. Sarah thanks for posting the link to that plosbiology article http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000114 I printed it out and shared it with my co-workers. Anybody who works in helath care should read this, it really give some insight into why parents think the way they do.

The best thing I've read lately on this topic is an interview with Seth Mnookin, who wrote The Panic Virus. He said: "Then there are people who ask "What's the harm in spacing out vaccines" which I feel is like saying, "Well, we have a new car. Why don't we start with wearing a seatbelt, and then we'll start using the side airbags in six months, and then the front airbags in a year." These things protect you! Every day you don't have them is another day you're at risk. It's much worse for a one-year-old than a five-year-old to get measles or mumps. The whole point is, you want to protect your kid as young as possible.

This was an interesting read. And I know I'm coming late to this forum, but thought I'd add my own two cents.

My husband and I have four children. Our oldest, at 5, is fully vaxed, but I intend to opt her out of the Varicella booster. I do not feel it is necessary.

My 4 yr old is already opted out of Varicella. And my 3 and 2 yr olds are delay on MMR and opt out on Varicella.

My 3 yr old has a history of febrile seizures...so for him, receiving the MMR substantially increases his risk of a reaction. Febrile seizures are looked at as fairly benign, but he's had three of them and after his second one, his personality changed from happy, sweet and laid back to moody, sullen and easily agitated. He's never been the same since that 2nd seizure.

I think that I have good reason to be concerned about putting any further chemicals into his body.

Yet, our area pediatricians are refusing to provide care to all of my children because we have chosen an alternate vax schedule.

What good is this? My children are still going to be unvaxed. And they will still play with your children at the playground, at the McD's play place, at church, etc. My children will still be in the community, touching produce at the grocery store (despite my repeated warnings not to), etc. Except now, my children do not have the benefit of having a physician monitoring their health and well-being.

Is that really preferable? Wouldn't you that feel that vax is vitally important prefer that my unvaxed children at least be under the care of a physician?

For my family, it's not about an autism-vax link. Truthfully, I stand firmly in the middle of both sides and I can see both sides putting out obnoxious propaganda and misinformation.

I can't honestly say that I trust any of the studies done by either side of this debate. Think of the financial fall-out that would occur if a vaccine-autism link was proven.

I can't even trust my doctor to give me accurate information because I know my doctor is receiving a financial incentive at the end of each year if she has a certain percentage of her patients fully vaxed. How can I trust that she is providing accurate, unbiased information?

It is a crying shame that parents in this country have to be afraid to trust the information given to them by the entities that we should most be able to trust. But that's where we are!

For us...it's not about autism...it's about questioning the need to pump all of these chemicals into our children's tiny bodies to prevent diseases that for most kids are unlikely to even be contracted, and then if contracted, are generally benign.

A previous poster mentioned that the risk of death from some of these preventable diseases is higher than the risk of death from the vaccine...but the numbers stated did not take into consideration the overall risk of even contracting the disease in today's modern society.

You know why I'm not worried about measles? Because I know it's unlikely my kid would even contract it...and if he or she did, it's then unlikely that he would have serious complications from it.

You know why I'm not worried about chicken pox? Because chicken pox is almost always benign in children...but it's much more complicated in adults and I know that it's unlikely my adult children are going to go get the varicella booster. When's the last time you went and got any of your boosters? For most of us...the answer to that would be an "ummmmmmmmmm."

I don't want my daughter to be in her 30's and pregnant and then be exposed to chicken pox, thinking she's ok because she had the varicella as a 1 yr old, but come to find out, it wore off.

Finally, our bodies were designed with immune systems that were meant to work a certain way. I'm not anti-vax and I see the need for vax against certain illnesses that are very serious. But I think we have taken it too far. When we have school districts that require students to have a flu vaccine, when we have pediatricians refusing medical care to a child simply because that child's parent is trying to do the best she can for her own kids...than it has been taken too far.

One thing is important, it is imperative not to miss any vaccination schedule. This will help you gain a healthy body.

I accidently clicked this link attempting to read a more current one but Crystals post prompted me to add something. One of the things that seperates a doctor's office from a grocery store is that ped offices often include medically fragile children, children undergoing cancer treatment or HIV positive and of course newborns and small infants. These members of the population may not go to the numerous places you mention but must go to the doctor's office and so restrictions have been put in place to protect the most vulnerable. Whooping cough is once again becoming epidemic and although a healthy older child might weather the illness, countless other children and especially infants cannot.

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