Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Autism & Vaccinations: A Test Case

Many parents are convinced that the MMR vaccine caused their child's autism. This case has huge implications for drug companies, government policy, and care for the afflicted.

If there is a sacred cow in medicine, it's vaccinations. While the science has thus far failed to find a link between the vaccine and autism, parents are equally convinced by their own experience. For years, doctors and scientists believed parents were exaggerating their child's normal development up until 15 to 24 months, or flat-out misreporting it. Recent research vindicates parents, however. (More here.)

Clearly, there is some environmental contributor to autism. I do not ascribe to the theory that children are being diagnosed in greater numbers due to changes in diagnostic criteria. Do you remember a typically autistic child in school when you were a kid? I don't either. Something has changed. I don't know if this legal case will help families find the truth, or at least financial help, but the case is important.


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Anonymous said...

Oh wow, I'm convinced! I'll order it right now!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this legal case will help families find the truth, or at least financial help...

But lawyers will get rich off of it, which is What's Important.

David said...

"sacred cow"...are you sugesting that vaccination is not necessary?

Melissa Clouthier said...


I'm suggesting that the medical profession does not like looking critically at beloved practices--especially ones they believe in so completely like vaccination. Thus, it takes many years to penetrate the dogma to change practices, even scientifically discarded or questionable ones.

I'm also suggesting that parents not be dismissed out-of-hand when they see what looks like a causal relationship. There are not one or two parents alleging this. It numbers in the thousands.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but I'm not sure there isn't an increase in diagnosis too. I have two nephews who are diagnosed as "high functioning autistic" who wouldn't strike a stranger as autistic. When the school tried to diagnose me with Asperger's in the 70s, my mother refused the diagnosis and changed my school. Now, my sister-in-law was pushing for a diagnosis so that her kids would qualify for ADA assistance.

What I haven't seen are numbers for how much of the increase in autism diagnoses are for mild forms versus extreme autism.

Also, when we were in school, typically autistic and other special ed kids were off in their own classes (often only one or two classes per district), so you'd never see them in a normal class.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the numbers are clear that there's no real increase in severe autism (*real* autism, if you'll forgive me for pointing out that ASD is a much bigger label than "plain" autism).

What's clearly increased is the number of minor cases. There are, however, some good reasons to believe that a good deal of that -- _possibly_ almost all of it -- is due to more aggressive attempts to label the kids. The schools get more money if they can tick enough boxes to represent kids with behavioral oddities.

The oldest teachers at my school do not seem to think there's been much of an increase in young (PK-2) kids who behave strangely. They do see an increase in the number of kids who've been to the doctor over behavior, and they definitely see an increase in the number of unusual kids who aren't being segregated in a special classroom. They do complain about having to cope with the kid who does train switching maneuvers in the classroom, but they seem to think that the major difference is that 20 years ago, this kid was in someone else's classroom -- not that his counterpart didn't exist.