Over the last several years, the direct link between vaccinations and autism has been increasingly brought to the forefront. This is because some studies showed how higher amounts of mercury had an impact on if someone would contract various neurological disorders (such as: autism). The result is that numerous theories were developed about the how this contributes to the condition. According to Pallares (2010) this was based upon one two possible scenarios with him saying, "The connection between vaccines and autism rests upon two theories. On the one hand, the anti-measles fraction of the vaccine is attributed with the development of an enteropathy due to malabsorption, which would facilitate the absorption of toxic neuropeptides and the effects of this process on the brain would favor the appearance of autism. The other theory involves thimerosal (a combination of ethylmercury and thiosalicylate), which is used as a preservative in some vaccines, including the MMR. The data in favor of these hypotheses have led to a great amount of social alarm, especially in certain areas that are more inclined to accept 'alternative' therapies and hypotheses." (Pallares, 2010) (Gross, 2009)
These conclusions have contributed to various law suits which are targeting manufacturers based upon these theories. In 2009, the appellate court ruled that there was an overwhelming amount of evidence to oppose these theories put forward by the plaintiffs. (Pallares, 2010) A good example of this can be seen with a study was conducted by Hviid (2003). It sampled different children who were given vaccinations based upon these theories. What researchers concluded is that there was no significant difference in the overall cases of autism. This refuted many of the previous findings about high levels of mercury inside these vaccines. (Hviid, 2003) To fully understand what is happening requires examining the causes of autism and if there is a connection with different immunizations. This will be accomplished by conducting a literature review. Together, these elements will offer specific insights which are showing if there is link. This will support or refute the different conspiracy theories introduced by the various law suits. (Pallares, 2010) (Gross, 2009)
Causes of Autism
Autism is when abnormalities will impact development of the brain. This affects the individual's ability to learn quickly and think logically. It is characterized by the failure to interact socially, communicate and develop normally. Instead, the person will show obvious neurological damage. This will impact how they grow and mature into an adult. (Jick, 2003) (Gross, 2009)
The actual causes of autism are unknown. According to Jick (2003), this is creating confusion among healthcare professionals, researchers and clinicians about the standards of diagnosing the condition. To make matters worse, various theories have been introduced surrounding potential causes. At first, it was believed that genetics played an important part in determining if someone was susceptible to the disease. However, this was proven to be incorrect and scientists kept looking for other causes. In the late 1990s, this led to different studies highlighting how vaccinations were the primary causes of autism. In this case, the combination of different immunizations (such as: measles-mumps-rubella) had higher amounts of mercury. This was believed to impact the child's development of the brain. (Jick, 2003)
However, other studies were conducted later on, which disproved many of these conclusions. Instead, Jick believes that the rise in the number of autism cases were the direct result of shifting diagnosis standards by the American Medical Association. This meant that more people were considered to be autistic in comparison with previous periods. These findings are showing how the causes of the disease are unknown. This is leading to many people using unreliable information to determine if their child is susceptible. (Jick, 2003)
Is there a Connection between Autism and Vaccinations?
The research is showing how there is no direct link between autism and vaccinations. This is because various studies examined if these combinations or frequency were weakening the child's immune system. The results are that there was no connection in the frequency of someone being exposed to potential causes of autism. Instead, they are increasing their vulnerabilities to different outbreaks such as: the flu, measles and chicken pox. (Offit, 2008) (Honey, 2008)
Evidence of this can be seen in a study conducted by Offit (2008). He concluded that there are several factors which are creating fear about autism through vaccinations with him saying, "It is clear that natural infections can exacerbate symptoms of encephalopathy in patients with mitochondrial enzyme deficiencies, no clear evidence exists that vaccines cause similar exacerbations. Indeed, because children with such deficiencies are particularly susceptible to infections, it is recommended that they receive all vaccines. Second, the belief that the administration of multiple vaccines can overwhelm or weaken the immune system of a susceptible child is at variance with the number of immunologic components contained in modern vaccines. A century ago, children received one vaccine, smallpox, which contained about 200 structural and nonstructural viral proteins. Today, thanks to advances in protein purification and recombinant DNA technology, the 14 vaccines given to young children contain a total of about 150 immunologic components. Third, although experts testifying could reasonably argue that development of fever and a varicella-vaccine rash after the administration of nine vaccines was enough to stress a child with mitochondrial enzyme deficiency had other immunologic challenges that were not related to the vaccines. They had frequent episodes of fever and otitis media, eventually necessitating placement of bilateral polyethylene tubes. Nor is such a medical history unusual. Children typically have four to six febrile illnesses each year during their first few years of life; vaccines are a minuscule contributor to this antigenic challenge. Fourth, without data that clearly exonerates vaccines, it could be argued that children with mitochondrial enzyme deficiencies might have a lower risk of exacerbations if vaccines were withheld, delayed, or separated. But such changes would come at a price. Even spacing out vaccinations would increase the period during which children were susceptible to natural infections, giving a theoretical risk from vaccines priority over a known risk from vaccine-preventable diseases. These diseases aren't merely historical: pneumococcus, varicella, and pertussis are still common in the United States. Recent measles outbreaks in California, Arizona, and Wisconsin are among children whose parents had chosen not to vaccinate them show the real risks of public distrust of immunization." (Offit, 2008)
Moreover, many of the previous studies, which were showing a direct link between autism and vaccinations, have been repudiated by the authors. This is because they admitted to falsifying the results from some of their tests and took a liberal approach when analyzing the data. Evidence of this can be seen with observations from Honey (2008) who said, "A study published in The Lancet suggested, but did not prove, a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination and autism. This led to a major health scare that resulted in a dramatic decrease in the proportion of children being given the MMR vaccination, in particular in the United Kingdom. Although the interpretation of the data published in The Lancet article was later retracted by most of the authors and many subsequent studies have indicated no link between the MMR vaccination and autism, a report this year has indicated that the proportion of children in the United Kingdom that received the MMR vaccination in 2007 was still way below that observed before 1998 and that this is largely because parents actively decide not to have their child immunized." (Honey, 2008) This is showing how even though these results were proven to be inaccurate, parents are still fearful. Part of the reason for this, is no one understands the primary causes of autism. Out of caution, more are choosing not immunize their children properly.
The research is illustrating how there are not direct links between…