Do Vaccines Cause Autism?
“I hear that vaccines cause autism”, “I’m not vaccinating my children because the risk of developing autism is way too high”, “My friend’s baby developed autism after receiving their vaccines”. As a nurse tasked with vaccinating children, these are some of the most common statements that I have heard from concerned parents. Do vaccines cause autism? The short answer is no.
This myth-turned-fact, all started with one physician and one study. This study, concluded that vaccines do in fact cause autism. Once a british journal published the findings of the study and news began to spread amongst members of the public, so did the notoriety that followed. On one hand, parents started distrusting vaccine safety and the healthcare professionals promoting them. On the other hand, healthcare professionals felt frustrated with the inaccuracies of these so-called findings.
The mayhem and uproar that followed was unequivocally. Put in simple terms, one faulty study almost undid all the good that vaccines had provided for public health and safety. What was even more peculiar, was after the study findings were revoked and the physician deemed fraudulent, people still believed and still do believe that vaccines can cause autism.
As this past week marked “National Immunization Awareness Week”, we here at RN Privée want to do our part in spreading awareness by discussing this very controversial topic. We’ll aim to settle the facts and show once and for all that vaccines do not cause autism.
The Study That Started It All
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield (a gastroenterologist), alongside 12 co-authors, published a case study claiming they found evidence that the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine caused autistic symptoms in 12 children.
The study, stated that the risk of developing autism was due to the fact that the vaccine combined the 3 viruses in one. The study then called for the immediate suspension of the MMR vaccine and instead favored giving a vaccine for each of the viruses separately.
It was then shortly discovered that in 1997, Andrew Wakefield filed for a patent on a single antigen measles vaccine. This proved that financial interest might of been a motivating factor for him to publish this study.
After the study was published, thousands of other researchers tried to replicate the results, but could not. These studies found absolutely no correlation or causation between autism and the MMR vaccine.
In February of 2010, the journal that initially published this study, retracted it and apologized publicly for the damage it caused. Andrew Wakefield was then found guilty of fraudulent research and got his medical license revoked from the british medical authorities.
Since then, no other study has been able to prove a positive correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism.
So why then, after all this time, can one disproven study still convince parents not to vaccinate their kids? The answer, I think, is that people are simply distrustful of vaccines. No matter how many studies are published proving vaccines are safe, this community of people will still have their doubts.
Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism
This 1998 study, caused a distressing amount of doubt amongst parents with small children needing the MMR vaccine. 20 years later, and thousands of publications disproving this study and we still are having the same conversation.
Health care professionals will need to continue educating the public on this matter, and have a duty to do so. Vaccines have saved millions of young lives and have almost eradicated some of the most deadliest diseases of the 20th century. We must also remember that, the only reason why these “ancient” diseases are not as prevalent anymore is because of the immunizations for them. As we’ve seen in the past couple years, epidemics and outbreaks will easily reappear if we make the decision not to vaccinate.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post, please share it with anyone who may have doubts on vaccine safety. For further information click this link and please feel free to comment below with any questions or personal stories 🙂