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Are vaccines related to increases in autism?

On Aug. 27, 2104, William Thompson, a scientist at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated that critical data in a 2004 study linking autism to the MMR vaccine was suppressed. The data indicated that the population at increased risk for autism was African-American male children less than 24 months of age at the time of vaccination.

MMR vaccinations of baby African-American boys may be a problem
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Thompson was one of ten signers on the study performed for the CDC. He has stated that he did not know that his concerns about the study were being recorded and then released to the public. He has now made his own statements about issues raised regarding the validity of the study and the data that may have been omitted.

Thompson had this to say about vaccinations in his public statement after his concerns were revealed about the CDC study.

I want to be absolutely clear that I believe vaccines have saved and continue to save countless lives. I would never suggest that any parent avoid vaccinating children of any race. Vaccines prevent serious diseases, and the risks associated with their administration are vastly outweighed by their individual and societal benefits.

My concern has been the decision to omit relevant findings in a particular study for a particular sub­ group for a particular vaccine. There have always been recognized risks for vaccination and I believe it is the responsibility of the CDC to properly convey the risks associated with receipt of those vaccines.

The lead author on that study stands behind the findings that there are no links among vaccinations and autism.

Some people claim that the rise in autism is strictly due to increased awareness of the symptoms. Autism and Asperger’s disease are not subtle. Something is causing the rapid increases in autism related diseases, with the current ratio of boys to girls at ~4.5:1 and the incidence of autism relentlessly increasing year to year.

Studies in the UK, Japan and Finland have correlated the rise in autism to the increased exposure to the mercury. Japan had a significant mercury spill in the 1950s with horrific outcomes. The UK and Finnish studies of thimerosal,the mercury based sterilizing agent, did not establish conclusive links of autism to the vaccines or thimerosal levels used to sterilize the vaccines. All of the major vaccines now sold in the US for children immunizations have the thimerosal removed or never had thimerosal in the vaccine.

The FDA has released a list of all vaccines recommended for children under 6 years of age. This information was updated on June 18, 2014. The only vaccines given to children with any amount of thimerosal are the influenza vaccines. Most of these influenza vaccines are also thimerosal free, but two have trace amounts ranging from <1 micrograms of thimerosal per 0.5 ml dose to the other vaccine with 24.5 micrograms of thimerosal per 0.5 ml dose. As a practical matter, insist that any vaccine that you or your child takes is the single dose version. Thimerosal is still used in bulk flu vaccines.

The CDC is going to go back through the statistical analysis of the 2004 study to see if there is higher risk to African American male babies for becoming autistic after taking the MMR vaccine. The outcome is unknown. Studies also need to be related to vaccinations of pregnant mothers to see if their vaccinations during pregnancy are increasing the incidence of autism in their newborn children.

The calculated rated for autism in the US grew by 30% from 2010 to 2012. Something is causing this increase that can justifiably be called an epidemic. If the cause is not the vaccines, then the analysis is going to have to focus on the food mothers and children are eating, the liquids they drink, and the air they breathe.

Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy group, has a formal statement regarding vaccinations.

"We strongly encourage parents to have their children vaccinated for protection against serious disease. We recognize that some parents still have concerns about vaccines, particularly if they have a child or relative with autism. We urge them to find a health practitioner who will consider their concerns and help them ensure the well-being of their child."

The CDC recommeds 10 different vaccines to attempt to prevent specific diseases for children under 6 years of age. Some of the vaccines are administered more than once. If the rise in autism is not directly related to childhood vaccinations, the research must look in other areas to find the causes. The human and economic costs of autism and related diseases are tremendously high.

Parents are alarmed at the possibility of vaccinations causing autism in their child. Public health officials are alarmed at possible epidemics of common diseases if vaccinations are curtailed. Schools are now refusing to admit children without vaccinations and quarantining children that cannot present proof of vaccination if common diseases such as mumps, measles or chicken pox occur.

It is time to stop covering up data and get the best analysis of the causes of the increase in autism. Whatever the causes, the public deserves to know, and the causes need to be eliminated.

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