Court Denies Link between Vaccines and Autism
I’m smart enough to know when I’m not smart enough and in the debate about vaccines and disorders they may cause, I have to defer to the experts. I’m just glad that I don’t have to decide about whether my grown children should be vaccinated. But many of you are concerned about the correlation between the numerous vaccines children are practically forced to endure and disorders such as autism. And there are lots of differing opinions.
Recently the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a special vaccine court’s ruling denying a link between vaccines and autism.
Theresa and Michael Cedillo filed the appeal on behalf of their now 16-year-old daughter, Michelle, who suffers from autism. They claim the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine triggered their daughter’s autism at 15 months old after her immune system had been weakened by childhood vaccines containing the mercury-based preservative thimerasol.
The Cedillos filed a claim under the Vaccine Act, which in 1988 established a special federal court to handle claims against vaccines and a tax on them to pay for judgments. The vaccine court consolidated 5,500 families’ cases claiming a vaccine-autism link. The vaccine court chose the Cedillos’ case as one of three test cases representing the entire group.
This court is not the only organization deciding there’s no correlation. Early in 2010, The Lancet retracted a controversial 1998 paper that linked the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism. The lead author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found to have acted unethically in conducting the research.*
How Do We Know What’s Best?
On the other side, there are thousands of parents who believe there is a correlation. So how are we supposed to decide what’s best for our children when so many people disagree?
1. Take a deep breath and do your research before deciding.
2. Choose a healthcare provider who has similar belief systems as your family.
3. Read only articles by trusted sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development/National Institutes of Health.
4. Don’t use only one source for your decision. Find a consensus.
*On January 5, 2011, various news sources reported that the original 1998 study, connecting the MMR vaccine to autism and stomach problems, was a hoax. This original study kept many parents from immunizing their children, which some experts now link to recent outbreaks of illnesses that had once been well under control.
“The MMR [measles-mumps-rubella vaccine] scare was based not on bad science but on a deliberate fraud,” Dr. Fiona Godlee, editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal, which published details of the new investigation on Jan. 5, said in a statement. “Such clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare.”
Dee Litten Whited writes from Virginia
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