Thursday, April 7, 2011

FAQ #1 - "Do you think immunizations cause autism?"

This is normally the first question any parent asks me when I tell them that my son has autism. I think anyone who has had a child in the last five or so years has spent the first two years of their life worrying about autism kicking in after a routine immunization. This is widely because of a study that was published that said that mercury in the immunizations caused autism. Also around that time Jenny McCarthy's son was diagnosed with autism and she did a very public campaign around the subject of immunizations. My answer is honestly I don't know. I've gone back and forth about it. I know that the CDC has stated that autism does not have a direct link with immunizations; however I'm not sure how much I believe them since stating anything other than that would cause a MASSIVE uproar in the healthcare system. However, I do know from a personal standpoint that JD never experienced any bad reactions after a shot. Many parents with children on the spectrum say that their children were developing normally until a certain age (usually two) and after getting a certain vaccine they began to withdrawal from the world. We never experienced that - from what I remember JD was never on target developmentally. One thing I do question is the use of "cocktail" vaccinations - That's when they put multiple vaccinations into one shot, so if they have to get four vaccines that day, they'll use two shots. Both JD and Ashley had their shots this way until they were two - JD has autism, Ashley does not. However, when we moved and found a new pediatrician, he explained to us that he did not feel comfortable doing shots this way. So with our youngest child we have done each vaccination separately and spread them a few weeks apart. I will say that this makes me feel better, especially since we have one child on the spectrum. I'm a big believer in traditional medicine. I have a doctor who has never steered me wrong. I'm not saying that doctors cannot make mistakes, but I think we have to trust that they are experts in their field. I truly believe that our pediatrician would never do anything to my children if they felt there could even be a remote chance of it causing autism. It's a subject of so much debate and I think there are strong arguments on both sides, but for me I guess I lean toward no - I don't think the shots were the deciding factor on JD's autism. I think it's a genetic disorder that he's had since birth. Only time will tell, I have no doubt that they will continue researching this until long after I'm gone. But I can't live my life wondering so I choose to focus on the here and now.

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