Should I Vaccinate My Kids? Vaccines and Autism
The History of Anti-Vaccine Thinking
There has been a lot of vaccine controversy in recent years, as some doctors and parents hypothesize the link between childhood vaccines and autism. A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found no link between vaccines and autism, but many still worry, and it is unlikely that the study will have much effect on those who are concerned about vaccines.
The history of the anti-vaccine movement goes back more than ten years. In 1997, the FDA conducted a search for possible sources of mercury in the products that it regulated. Everyone was surprised to find out that childhood vaccines contained higher than expected levels of thimerosal. Thimerosal is a preservative that contains ethyl mercury. Starting in 2001, the FDA began to work with vaccine manufacturers to eliminate thimerosal from vaccines, and now many vaccines are thimerosal-free (but not all). At the same time the thimoseral controversy was rocking the United States, a scientist named Andrew Wakefield in the United Kingdom claimed to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His results have since been found to be tainted with research problems and conflicts of interest, and his results cannot be confirmed as true or false. As a result of these controversies and more, many parents in the United States and across the world are choosing not to vaccinate their children.
Jenny McCarthy's Fight Against Vaccines
Public figures have also contributed to the increased fear of vaccines and autism. Actress Jenny McCarthy, ex-girlfriend of Jim Carrey, is a famous example of an anti-vaccination activist. McCarthy's son Evan was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and McCarthy believed his autism started after vaccination. She has a large following of people concerned about the relationship between autism and vaccination. McCarthy is also dedicated to helping parents find information about alternative treatments for autism through her organization Generation Rescue.
Vaccines in the News
Vaccines have been getting a lot of press lately. Here are a few places you can go to read further:
- NPR article about vaccines and autism (March 23, 2013)
- The Atlantic, article about parents choosing not to give their daughter the cervical cancer vaccine (March 21, 2013)
- On The Media.org, History of Vaccine Controversy
- Autism Speaks: Information about Vaccines and Autism
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Vaccines and Autism page
Read the Full FDA Report about Thimoseral in Vaccines
If you're curious about the thimoseral content of current vaccines, click the link below to read the full FDA report about the thimoseral content of the most common vaccines. The report also contains information about research done on the link between thimoseral and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, ADHD, and more.
Click here to read the full FDA report about thimerosal, mercury, and vaccines.