The medical profession debunked vaccines as a cause of autism years ago. Now the topic has entered the political arena on Wednesday night, September 16, 2015 when Donald Trump weighed in on the relationship. This blog will give you the medical facts on vaccines and that they are not implicated in the cause of autism.
Donald Trump, a real estate mogul with no medical background, confidently strode on stage Wednesday night and explained to millions of Americans on live television his version of the heart-rending science of why so many children are being diagnosed with autism these days.
“We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, 2 years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.” That’s hardly a scientific study when he reports on one child and one family.
In 1998, a well-respected medical journal published a paper by researcher Andrew Wakefield and 12 of his colleagues linking a standard measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. Despite its tiny sample size of 12 and its speculative conclusions, the study was publicized far and wide — launching a global movement involving celebrities like Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey (and of course Trump) who warned parents to stop vaccinating their children. The result was what public health officials reported was a dangerous drop in MMR vaccinations.
On further scrutiny by medical experts, the study was an elaborate fraud and riddled with flaws
Editors of the Lancet, a highly respected medical publication from England, which published the original piece, discovered that Wakefield had been funded by attorneys for parents who were pursuing lawsuits against vaccine companies and that a number of elements of the paper were misreported.
In February 2010, Lancet retracted the piece, and in 2011 an investigative piece appeared in the British Medical Journal and found even more errors and mistakes in the way the study was conducted. Some parents of children in the study reported by Wakefield to have autism said they did not, and others who were listed in the study as having no problems before the children received the vaccine actually had had developmental issues.
The issue became so controversial back then that dozens of studies were launched to address the question Wakefield posed.
The research, published in top journals including Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, is consistent and confident in its conclusions: There’s NO link between autism and vaccines.
One of the largest was published in JAMA in April 2015 and looked at 96,000 children in the United States and analyzed which ones got the shot and which ones were diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. They found “no harmful association” between the two.
Another large study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002, involved a half-million children in Denmark’s health registry. Its takeaway: “This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism.”
On Thursday, medical associations and patient advocacy groups criticized Trump’s remarks as false and potentially dangerous. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that “claims that vaccines are linked to autism, or are unsafe when administered according to the recommended schedule, have been disproven by a robust body of medical literature.” Autism Speaks, a science and advocacy group, expressed similar sentiments noting that “extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism.”
“The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism,” the organization said in a statement.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explicitly states that there is no link between vaccines and autism, that vaccine ingredients do not cause autism and that vaccines in general are very safe.
It cites numerous studies, including a 2013 study that looked at the substances in vaccines that cause the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies, showed that the total amount from vaccines received was the same between children with autism and those without.
The CDC said it has looked specifically into thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative used in multidose vials of vaccines that has been a source of concern among those who believe in an autism-vaccine link, and found no link. A review in 2004 by the Institute of Medicine concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”
Today, most scientists believe that autism has no single cause, but that genetics and abnormalities in brain structure or function may play a role.
Bottom Line: I believe that vaccines and autism is not a topic for Donald Trump to discuss especially when there were two physicians, Dr. Ben Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon, and Dr. Rand Paul, an eye surgeon, would be far more qualified to discuss the subject. So what are young parents to do? Speak to your pediatrician and discuss the minimal risks of the MMR vaccine vs. the risks of getting measles, mumps and rubella.