For the past decade there has been a heated debate over the link between the Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccine and instances of autism. A new study adds further weight to the argument that there is no link between the two, but like all prior studies, does nothing to definitely disprove the opposing view.
The new study was done by researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Columbia University and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. In it they tried to duplicate prior findings that showed the MMR vaccine caused autism, but were unable to do so. As has happened with many other medical studies, this recent one found no evidence that the MMR vaccine caused harm or was in any way linked to autism.
However, those who believe that autism is directly linked to the MMR vaccine are not convinced that the lack of a causal link in this recent study scientifically proves that they are not related. Many of the proponents of the vaccine causing theory have directly witnessed the development in autism in their child after they received the MMR vaccine. For these people nothing short of evidence that refutes the link beyond a shadow of a doubt will do.
Why Do People Think There’s A Link Between Vaccines and Autism?
Many parents began to notice that their children began to display autistic symptoms around the same time they received multiple vaccines. Additionally, a British study by Wakefield et al developed the theory that the MMR vaccine did in fact cause autism. However, it is important to note that it has seen come out that the Wakefield study could have been compromised because the lead researcher had a conflict of interest- part of the study was funding by a legal group involved in bringing cases against drug companies that distributed the MMR vaccine.
But again, while the medical community has not come up with any definitive evidence to refute this link, they have not come up with any evidence to support it. To explain why autism developments following administration of the MMR vaccine, scientists have suggested that the symptoms of autism manifest themselves around the same time that children receive these vaccines.
Regardless of which side of the debate you are on it is clear that too little is known about the cause of autism. Research should be directed at finding what leads to autism and how it can be prevented or cured.
Should My Child Receive Vaccines?
Because of the debate surrounding the MMR vaccine many parents have begun to question whether their child should receive vaccines. While the decision to vaccinate your child ultimately rests with you, it is an important decision and should not be taken lightly.
The MMR vaccine prevents measles, mumps and rubella. Measles is life-threatening and spreads extremely quickly. If untreated it can lead to pneumonia, seizures or swelling of the brain. Mumps causes deafness in children and is extremely life-threatening for adults, leading to paralysis, seizures, and fluid in the brain. Rubella primarily affects pregnant women and their babies and can lead to heart defects, mental retardation, and deafness.
Another important factor to consider when considering whether to vaccinate is that your child’s health can influence the effect of the vaccine. If your child has allergies, immune system diseases, or some other illnesses then it can not only make the vaccine less effective, but could cause other health problems. Also, a sick or feverish child should not be administered a vaccine until they are better. Be sure to notify your doctor of any relevant health information when preparing for a vaccine.
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