Vaccination and Autism Link
What are vaccines used for? Is there any link between immunization created by these vaccinations and drastic health outcomes? The belief that there is a link between vaccination and autism is one that is being constantly debated over. To consider these issues several lines of researches were conducted to find any link between the two variables.
[su_quote]The study by Gerber and Offit (2009) proposed the hypothesis that “there is no link between vaccination and autism.”[/su_quote]
The study put forth several pieces of evidence in favor of this hypothesis.
1) The biological causes reported by the hypothesis that “vaccine causes autism by damaging the intestinal lining of an infant”. Subsequently, the hypothesis that “MMR vaccines are found to cause chronic intestinal inflammation became a cause of autism”. “and For the central nervous system the MMR vaccine known as a toxic”. Several lines of researches negate this notion that vaccines cause autism although they affect the immune system. Autism is not a disorder caused by the immune system which would make the association “biologically implausible”
Well if I would debate on it, Despite these concerns in anatomy, the shreds of evidence did not report lack of disturbance in the biological mechanisms (like hormones, brain chemistry) caused by vaccines. The only criticism that I have of this side of the argument is that it doesn’t cover every concern all they did is to prove no association between autism and biological mechanisms. The things that Gerber and Offit need to ponder over, are there other biological possibilities that the research need to rule out?
To generalize our findings in favor of evidence, the study needs to point out several prominent milestones of brain development that coincides with major vaccination periods in infants. Furthermore, environmental and bio-behavioral developmental factors should also be considered. Covariates like child and family characteristics, maternal exposures during pregnancy, childbirth conditions, early childhood health conditions, and maternal healthcare-seeking behavior can affect the results. These should be added in the literature given by Gerber and Offit.
2) Ecological studies were carried out in various populations to compare vaccination rates and autism prevalence. The literature reported no significant difference between vaccinated and non-vaccinated groups in different geographical regions. This is an important issue that needs to be highlighted in the studies but the question arises is that “Do ecological/ geographical region differences cause a change in the effect of the vaccine on the children?” If it is so then the research on these possibilities should be added.
3) Further in the line, of course, a number of prospective and retrospective observational studies it was shown that there really was no difference between the increase in autism in children that have or have not been given vaccines and this information is universally consistent. Cohort studies were also conducted to see the effect of vaccinations on population taken the medical data of children; similar results were obtained.
Well considering such studies, Observational studies are not experimentally sound studies as they lack random assignment of subjects in the groups. Similarly, a Retrospective cohort study showed an absence of data on potential confounding factors because the data was recorded in the past. Hence the findings on the basis of these experimentally weak studies cannot be generalized.
4) Environmental factors adverse effects in the form of Thimerosal and Ethyl Mercury components found in most of the vaccinations arose the concerns for the parents and the authorities. Several studies reported no relationship between thimerosal exposure and autism. The concern was genuine if mercury was so hazardous for our health why an infant gets a huge amount of it.
Or if there is a prominent increase in the occurrence of autism cases since vaccination introduced then the evidence can further lead towards the causal relationship between the two variables. Moreover, literature covers concern that highlights Thimerosal and Ethyl Mercury components. My concern is the other environmental factors that might be hazardous for the child and should be included in the studies.
5) One other hypothesis is that the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms or weakens the immune system and creates an interaction with the nervous system that triggers autism. The implausible notion was negated by many evidence based on vaccinated and unvaccinated children groups, revealed no difference in the susceptibility to infections.
The question arises is autism an autoimmune-mediated disease? What if the child has a weak autoimmune system, in such circumstances is the vast array of vaccination remains helpful? The criticism is to cater to these lacking in the studies or the confounding by conducting control studies on the group who got multiple vaccines and those who did not.
After reviewing this paper, the question arises is Can autism be blamed on a single source? Gerber and Offit report experimentally sound studies compared to the Kennedy study. Considering the literature I think vaccination do not cause autism and the fear that autism is caused by vaccination caused more damage to the children with autoimmune diseases rather than being vaccinated.
Parents need to understand that autism is not an autoimmune-mediated disease rather it is a genetic disease. Studies should be conducted to find sound etiological reasons for autism. Despite all these facts that vaccines cause autism, I assure you one thing, the chance of permanent adverse reactions or death from a vaccine-preventable disease is much higher than from receiving the vaccine.
This controversial issue and the discussion paved a way towards further studies to publicize the safety or consequences of such vaccines and upgrade immunization. In this respect, experimental studies taking control groups and rule out the covariates would prove helpful to generalize the results.
This Article is Written By Anum Farooq
- Co-Founder & Organizer: PsychologyClinix.com
- Clinical Psychologist
- ABA therapist
- Affiliated with NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF MEDICAL SCIENCES and AUTISM RESOURCE CENTER ISLAMABAD
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