There seems to always be controversy going on in the world. One of the biggest debates happening in our country is the examination on whether a set of vaccinations causes Autism in children. In fact, many parents have refused to vaccinate their children because they are scared that their children will be later diagnosed with Autism. “Another recent survey found that more than 10% of parents of young children refuse or delay vaccinations, with most believing that delaying vaccine doses is safer than providing them in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended vaccination schedule.” (DeStefano, Price, & Weintraub, 2013). However, there is no data that shows a correlation between vaccinations do not cause Autism. (Gerber & Offit, 2009).
There is a prevalent increased rate in children who have been diagnosed with Autism each year. “Despite hundreds of studies, it is still not known why autism incidence increased rapidly during the 1990s and is still increasing in the 2000s” (Neggers 2014). Perhaps the increase of children with Autism encouraged the myth that vaccinations cause Autism, but studies have proven that there is no connection between children receiving vaccinations and Autism. One theory that derived the idea of which Autism is related to vaccinations was a paper written by a gastroenterologist and his colleagues. In February of 1998, Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist, published a study in The Lancet that described a study which showed 8 children whose first symptoms of Autism occurred after receiving an MMR vaccine. He claimed that the MMR vaccine led to intestinal inflammation, which would later affect the brain, thus causing Autism. It was later found that Wakefield fabricated his information, and The Lancet completely retracted the paper (Rao & Andrade, 2011). Unfortunately, some still believe there may be some truth behind this information based on the study article he published in The Lancet (Anderson 2015).
Another idea is that Autism is caused by thimerosal- containing vaccines. “The issue of thimerosal-containing vaccines as a possible cause of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) and neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) has been a controversial topic since 1999.” (Parker, Shwartz, Todd, & Pickering, 2004). Studies have also shown that the exposure to thimerosal in infants has increased in recent years (Hiivid, Stellfield, & Wohlfahrt, 2003). “This has led to the suggestion that childhood vaccination with thimerosal-containing vaccines increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and language and speech delay” (Hiivid 2003). When this theory was proven to be inaccurate, another theory was developed. This theory suggests that “the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines overwhelms or weakens the immune system and creates an interaction with the nervous system that triggers autism in a susceptible host” (Gerber & Offit, 2009). However, multiple vaccines do not annihilate the immune system, nor do they weaken it.
The advancement of modern medicine has helped decrease the number of deaths by infectious diseases. “Infectious diseases were once the leading cause of death in the early 1900s, but, since the advent of vaccines, they currently rank eighth” (Anderson 2015). Anderson also concluded in her studies that vaccinations have improved the number of children who reach their first birthday. It would simply be illogical to resist giving children their vaccinations based on the fear of those vaccines causing Autism because there is no evidence to support that information (Novella 2018). There have been multiple studies performed to try to erase parental fears for vaccinating their children (Gerber & Offit 2009).
Gerber and Offit (2009) state that “autism is not an immune-mediated disease.” They also argue that the “speculation that an exaggerated or inappropriate immune response to vaccination precipitates autism is at variance with current scientific data that address the pathogenesis of autism.” Autism is not caused by an immune defect caused by vaccines because there is no proof of immune stimulation in the central nervous system of people with autism.
In further studies, it has been shown that there is “no association between exposure to antigens from vaccines during infancy and the development of ASD with regression” (DeStefano, Price, & Weintraub, 2013). Furthermore, assuming that vaccination is a cause of Autism is not backed up or proven by any of the multiple studies that have been performed.
There is no scientific evidence that supports the claim that vaccines cause Autism. Vaccines are crucial to the environment. They have helped limit and almost erase the number of deaths by infectious diseases in our country, and this alone should help people understand why they are so crucial for children to receive. Many have tried to conduct research to determine how the occurrence of children with Autism continues to grow; yet, none of the research suggests that vaccines have or will ever cause Autism. Gerber and Offit (2009) recorded that “twenty epidemiologic studies have shown that neither thimerosal nor MMR vaccine causes autism.” They later conclude that the studies they conducted (based in several different countries) have dismissed the theory that vaccines cause Autism. In conclusion, vaccines do not cause Autism. There is no evidence to back this notion; thus, it is incorrect and should be disdained.