Saturday, March 30, 2013

Vaccines Exonerated From Being Involved in Autism, Again

Yet another paper has been released that shows that, yet once again, vaccine have nothing do with with autism.  This paper adds to the piles and piles of studies on this topic that are meant to reassure parents that vaccines have no relation whatsoever to autism.

Unfortunately, this paper appears to be yet another paper that purports to dismiss a link between autism and vaccines without actually addressing the core underlying issues.  Or, to be perfectly honest, I should say that it seems to be yet another paper dismissing the link because I only skimmed it and didn't analyze it in any depth.

I only read enough of the paper to realize that it didn't tackle any of the questions that I have about a potential link between vaccines and autism and repeated some rather obnoxious speculations about how an infant could "theoretically could respond to thousands of vaccines at once" before I lost patience and interest.

If you are interested, the full text of the paper is available here and I encourage you to read it and form your own opinion.

I don't think that anybody (rational) would argue that a healthy child *should* be able to easily take a single vaccine or even a few of them at a time, although I would not go anywhere near Dr. Offit's claims a child can handle the equivalent of thousands of shots at once.  I don't think most (again rational) people would argue that vaccines aren't a good thing.

Just to be perfectly clear here in case someone wants to try and misinterpret what I am saying, vaccines = good.  You should vaccinate your children although you should do so in a manner that is consistent with your child's well-being and not simply because some schedule says that it must happen on this date.  I will elaborate on that last bit in a minute.

But getting back to the core issue, one that I don't think I have ever seen tackled directly by mainstream medicine, is whether there is something different about the children who (theoretically) develop autism after vaccinations or whether it is whatever else if going on at the same time or immediately after that causes the problem.

Is it the stress of vaccination or the resulting fever on the body that exacerbates some underlying issue ala Hanna Polling, is it the constant use of acetaminophen to treat resulting fevers that depletes potentially scarce supplies of glutathione leading to other biological disruptions, is it the extra stress on an already disregulated immune system, is it a combination of all of these or something else entirely, or it just figment of parents' imaginations?

I know from my own experiences with my twin daughters that medical practitioners sometimes seem more concerned with giving vaccines on a rather arbitrary and predefined schedule rather than when it is in the child's best interest.  The twins, at one year old, had just both been through a rather nasty cold/flu, rotavirus, an ear infection, and several rounds of antibiotics within a few short weeks when they received the MMRV at a routine visit.

Before this time period they were developing slowly but within normal parameters for twins but afterwards they lost some skills and their development stalled for years.  I certainly don't think the vaccine "caused" their autism as their younger sister also went on to develop a milder form of autism but I certainly think it did add stress when they could least handle it.  It certainly wasn't a medically prudent time to be giving them a vaccine.

But here we have yet another paper suggesting that parents like me are just imagining things without actually taking the time to look at specific children to see what else might be going on that could change a routine, safe, and necessary medical procedure into something else.

I am getting rather sick and tired of papers trying to absolve something of responsibility when we can't even be sure what the thing is.  I completely understand that the existing body of literature shows that there isn't a simple causative relationship between vaccines and autism.  But it is a large jump from that statement to the presumption that vaccines play no role whatsoever in autism.

Before we can completely clear vaccines of any involvement in autism, we have to first understand what autism is and what can cause it.  Only then will we be able to analyze whether there is some involvement or not.

So how about we spend more time doing basic research into the biology of autism and investigating the scores of biological abnormalities seen in people with autism and less time beating a dead horse.  The only way to convince people who have questions is to actually answer those questions, not to keep repeating the same thing over and over again.

Sorry, I will get off the soapbox now.

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