Vaccines and Autism
How do you argue with a mom whose child has autism? You can't win that debate, especially if you have not walked in her shoes. Colleen and I are lucky enough to have four children who have never had any serious medical issues. Jenny McCarthy has a son who was diagnosed as autistic, and like any parent, was hell bent on doing whatever she could for him. She has been a guiding light for so many parents with autistic children and given hope to many people who may have been beyond despair. Her Generation Rescue group opened the Teach2Talk Academy in California, and early-intervention program.
But for all the good Jenny has done for parents with autism, especially shining a brighter light on the issue, her tactics and beliefs have possibly harmed other children. Jenny is the most visible advocate for the belief that autism can be caused by vaccinations. In interviews with Time Magazine over the past couple of years she stated her position as being that she doesn't think it's only the vaccines causing the problems, but she does believe they are dangerous and she will never have her son vaccinated again.
But just this week the study that launched the whole autism-vaccine connection was thoroughly discredited, showing that Dr. Andrew Wakefield, who led the research, in some way misrepresented the medical records of all 12 children in his study. His work has now been called, "an elaborate fraud."
Despite all of the scientific studies that have showed vaccines to be safe, Jenny and others kept talking about the dangers of these vaccines. In the meantime enough people have stopped following vaccination guidelines that some diseases like measles and meningitis have re-emerged. Time Magazine reported that non-vaccination rates among kindergartners in some California counties are up to 10%.
McCarthy told Time, "I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe. If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f** fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's sh**. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism."
Unfortunately, the term "safe" doesn't seem to have an exact definition in this scenario.
Autism has risen at alarming rates and clearly money and time need to be devoted to finding out why this is happening. Everything should be looked at: cell phone usage, artificial sweeteners, vaccines, there are probably a hundred things we put into our bodies today that we didn't 30 years ago. But when we choose something, that in our heart we believe to be the cause, scream from the mountain-tops to the point that people decide it's better to put their children at risk to other diseases - all based on information that wasn't credible, where does that leave everyone?