Education & Learning

Autism and Vaccines

In the United States, 1 in every 68 children will be diagnosed with autism, and autism remains the fastest growing developmental disability in the United States.  While there was significant growth in the diagnosed cases of autism for a few years, the growth seems to have stopped according to a CDC Community Report on Autism published this year.  The true cause of autism remains a mystery, but many people point to vaccines, and the preservatives they contain, as the culprit.

In the past, thimerosal was a commonly used preservative in children’s vaccines … and thimerosal contains mercury, which many believe is a contributing factor to development of autism in children.  Thimerosal contains the type of mercury which is not believed to cause harm to the human body, but the FDA has stopped its use as a preservative in children’s vaccines.  The FDA also points out that the incidence of autism continued to rise even after thimerosal was discontinued in children’s vaccines.

Thimerosal is still used in flu vaccines, but you can ask for a non-thimerosal preparation.  You can also find a list of vaccines and how much thimerosal they may contain at this link, and a summary of worldwide research on thimerosal and autism at this link.

Some people have claimed that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccines have been tied to an increased incidence of autism in children.  This claim is based on the fact that autism symptoms tend to show up after children have received this vaccination.  Scientist counter that the vaccination is given at the time when autism symptoms first show up, regardless of the cause.  It’s merely a coincidental.

For the present, scientists will continue to debate whether there exists a link between childhood vaccinations and autism.  Some parents choose to not have their children vaccinated for fear of their child developing autism, but there are definite risks involved.  The main reason that doctors and health officials argue for vaccinations is to protect your child against potentially fatal or disabling diseases.  Vaccines help their body fight off the disease better.  The ability of childhood vaccines to help protect children has been demonstrated over many years, so there is little doubt of the good that they can do.

There are diseases that have been practically eradicated in the United States; however, because so many people enter the United States from other parts of the world, those diseases remain a very real threat to the non-vaccinated public.  If you choose to not vaccinate your child, you are leaving them susceptible to these kinds of diseases, which could take the life of your child.

Are vaccines, or the ingredients they contain, the cause of so many cases autism in the United States?  We don’t have a concrete answer that everyone can agree upon.  Many doctors, health professionals, and pharmaceutical companies insist that the there is no link, while other independent researchers still believe there is.  It may be many years before we know for sure which side is correct.  Until then, the choice is up to you, the parent.

Mimi Rothschild is a veteran homeschooling mother of 8, writer of a series of books called Cyberspace for Kids, and passionate advocate for children and education that is truly worthy of them. In 2001, Mimi and her late husband founded Learning By Grace, a leading provider of online Christian homeschooling Academies.

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