Autism is in the news again. This time some of the usual suspects are hoping that the public will believe that a child with a pre-existing mitochondrial condition who had a reaction to a vaccine is proof that vaccines cause autism. The NPR report on this has the headline, Case Stokes Debate About Autism, Vaccines.
Julie Gerberding, who heads the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, "The government has made absolutely no statement indicating that vaccines are a cause of autism."
"That is a complete mischaracterization of the findings of the case and a complete mischaracterization of any of the science that we have at our disposal today."
But that remains a hard sell to parents of autistic children, such as Becky Estepp of Poway, Calif. She says the reaction her son Eric had to a hepatitis B vaccine in 1998 was immediate and severe.
That sentence really should read "a small and unrepresentative group of parents of autistic children". I am not one of the crowd hoping to blame autism on Big Government, Big Pharma, or Big Toxins (as the evidence mounts that the previous vaccine villain thimerosal has no connection to autism the focus is shifting to an amorphous "something" or nebulous "toxins" in vaccines). The Polings (the parents of the child in this case), Becky Estepp, David Kirby (a vaccines-causes-autism proponent who made public confidential information from this ruling) and others who insist that vaccines cause autism do not and never will speak for me or my children. Please don't EVER think that people like this EVER speak for me and mine.
The most troubling thing about what people are claiming about this ruling (rather than what the ruling actually says) is that people will use it as an excuse to not vaccinate their children. As I sit here with my 17 week old peanut intermittently going through a gymnastics routine in my belly I have to worry if one of these unvaccinated individuals is going to expose my child to a life threatening disease before he/she can be vaccinated against it.
Not too long ago the World Health Organization and other aid agencies were well on their way to eradicating polio in Africa. Then some idiots started spreading rumors that the polio vaccines were contaminated with the AIDS virus and that the vaccines were making people sterile. They claimed that the evil infidel West was trying to destroy Muslims by infecting them with AIDS and/or sterilizing them.
Vaccination rates dropped and polio out breaks began to kill and cripple (Vaccine boycott spreads polio, Spread of Polio in Africa Makes UN Fear a Major Epidemic). Those who keep pushing the myth that vaccines cause autism are no better than those who spread the rumors that polio vaccines were contaminated with AIDS virus or that they made people sterile. Both have, and will continue to, cost people their good health and their lives.
Informative commentary on the Poling case: