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One Frog's Opinion

It seems that autism and vaccines are back in the news. With another myth debunked. And with yet another "reason" why autism should still be linked to vaccines.

Fact #1: My child has all her vaccines
Fact #2: My child is on the autistic spectrum and the better part of my life for the past 8 years has been spent trying to help her decode the world around her, help her with these too-small-for-official-notice learning disabilities. Except speech. The government was willing to admit she has some speech and language issues. Every other intervention has occurred via private care and parenting.

Some nurses have delayed the dates their own children were given vaccines, spread them out more. Some parents refuse to give their children vaccines believing that a healthier immune system is built from going through the disease itself. There are other parents and other reasons and other actions and to the parents, the reasons seem valid.

One of my biggest fears as a parent is that I caused her autism. Vaccines are one of the things I took at face value and did as I was told by her pediatrician, signed on the dotted line to give her the shots as recommended. She had far more vaccines than I ever did, at least twice as many, and she had them far younger than I ever did. Heck, the polio vaccine on a sugar cube was invented when I was already in elementary school, the measles vaccine when I was in third grade and I never had a mumps or rubella vaccine, let alone chicken pox. But I had all the diseases I wasn't vaccinated for at one time or another, I'm pretty sure.

The problem is we don't know if vaccines have caused autism in anyone. At least, I haven't seen any proof of that yet. And we won't know if it was something previously in the vaccines until sufficient statistical data exists to show that autism has declined as a result of changes made. Which will take one heck of a lot of data collection. For years. At least a decade, if not two decades. Because, like, we can't do controlled experiments on babies trying to INDUCE autism. We just have to collect data and try to isolate the various potential triggers, eliminating them one after the other, until we determine once and for all that it couldn't have been the vaccines or the vaccine schedule. It was something else. Or maybe we'll stumble over that 'something else.'

I would like to take issue with folks who've never had children declaring that my child should be vaccinated and that there's no danger in the vaccines or the vaccine schedule.

I would like to remind them that they don't live with my fear, that I caused this. This is the fear a parent has. We can rationalize it, we can dismiss it, but we still have to find a way to live with it.

And maybe it was because I was over forty and I should have known better than to have a baby so late in life because the incidence of autism increases dramatically. Only...do I have statistics on that?

Frog Out



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 12th, 2011 05:26 pm (UTC)
May. 12th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
Oh hugs back. Do you ever wonder? Or have you learned to accept that you'll never know?

What I liked about one of your descriptions is how, because they're twins, they have their own shared world. And that sometimes you get a visa to pay a visit there. It was never that severe with my daughter. And that made various administrators claim that nothing was wrong, despite expert opinion to the contrary.
May. 12th, 2011 07:51 pm (UTC)
We try not to think about it. After all, it's not like it would change anything.

Back in 1997, when the girls had their combined MMR vaccine in the UK, they still used mercury to combine the three - though we didn't know it at the time.

Despite if being glaringly obvious that the girls had a problem, we still had the "Give it six months and it might just go away by itself" nonsense. Here in New Jersey, the attitude towards autism (and the facilities for helping those who suffer from it) are about twenty years ahead of what we had in the UK.

I do wonder if the same doctors and experts who tell us there's no 'proof' that particular combination triggers autism would let someone inject mercury into their own kids' bloodstream, but then, I've always been cynical.
May. 12th, 2011 07:56 pm (UTC)
I think you're right. You can go nuts if you think about it too much. Some recent events just sort of boiled it back up in me again. As Judy (and it would seem, Farah too) says below, it might well be all in the genes.
May. 12th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
I think good parents all fear that they've caused all the problems their children have. That's what a GOOD parent does. Your child is better off with you than she'd have been with almost any other mother. Believe me.
May. 12th, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
I know, I know. And partly that's because I *get* her.

I'm not entirely sure if people starting a family really get how much responsibility they're taking on. I thought I did. And then it turned out to be so much more!
May. 12th, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC)
If you like, you could talk to my friend the MD. He's a pediatrician, has many parents with similar concerns to yours. And a set of observations over decades that would interest you.

One of them that may be relevant here is that he often sees highly intelligent parents with specific traits. These particular traits are intensified in the children. After a couple of generations, you're into the autism spectrum.

People with these traits include scientists, engineers, mathematicians and statisticians. They tend to be strong-willed, and hold strong opinions. The intelligence level is very, very high.

He has patients in this category who, when their first child is diagnosed with autism, refuse to vaccinate the second child. The second child will also turn out to be autistic. No difference in severity between the first and the second.

There may be an underlying environmental/chemical/industrial toxic trigger that hasn't been identified yet (which is also a theory as to why cancer has become so prevalent), and there's a definite component of this has always been around but now there's a label for it, but the most clearly observable cause, in the cases he sees, is genetic.

He has kids of his own on top of a 20-year pediatric practice, and a reputation for thinking well out of the box, which presumably adds to his qualifications.
May. 12th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
The traits would be intensified from both genetics and environment. Weatherdude and I really prefer to stay home and live quietly.

Your MD is one more piece of the puzzle that needs to be solved. Or if not solved, better understood.
May. 12th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
My brother is on the autistic spectrum. He has all his vaccines. I approve vehemently.

MMR covers two very serious illnesses. One of them can cause deaf/blindness in children, or miscarriage. Another causes sterility in men.

I believe very firmly that anyone who does not wish to vaccinate their children should take out third party insurance.

In the meantime, try Ben Goldacre's Bad Science which will take you through all the material. If you are waiting for hard "proof" you will wait forever, because it is not possible to prove a negative. It is possible to do lots and lots of studies and all the statistical data you say here you are asking for, shows no connection at all.

Furthermore, Dr Wakefield has been struck off and is now considered to have acted criminally, making extremely dangerous tests on children to no benefit to them, and without explaining the risks to the parents.

*if* there is a link between measles in the gut and autism (and the evidence now is he even faked that data) is it more likely linked to the greater tendency of autistics to have one of the inflammatory diseases ie it may be no coincidence at all that I have celiac as does much of my Dad's family, and that we have three boys (one aged 50, one 35 and my brother at 24) who all have autism.
May. 14th, 2011 04:24 pm (UTC)
I don't know if this helps, or is even relevant, but after my second miscarriage I did a lot of reading - it can be difficult to get information on miscarriage and this was pre-internet - and discovered the history of the Advice to Mothers genre. Which can be summarised as 'it's all your fault, and if you only lived right none of this would happen'. Which is bullshit, because the hard fact is that we control only the barest minimum of our lives, and almost nothing of our (and our children's) health conditions. Everyone knows people who have taken immense care over their food, exercise, environment, and still got sick, but we don't apply that knowledge to our own guilt.

As parents we want to make things safe and happy for our kids, and that same thing kicks in, that if only we did something / everything right, it would work out. But most of life is out of our control, and sometimes it seems that no one will admit that.

I mean, I think the consensus in the Western world has been that it's less frightening to blame ourselves for not keeping our children safe than to accept that we can't effectively keep our children safe.

Agh. Sorry for the teal deer.
May. 14th, 2011 10:20 pm (UTC)

May. 18th, 2011 11:14 pm (UTC)
specific suspect?
We skipped a few vaccinations for W, and delayed all of them by about 6 mos. We figured we'd stick to the regular schedule for baby #2, barring any unforeseen newborn health issues, but is there a specific vaccination you are suspicious of? Or the age at vaccination, or what? W doesn't have his MMR or chicken pox vaccine yet, but we were planning on getting that done later this year.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )