Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Here we go again...

Every few weeks or so- the EXTREMELY controversial topic about vaccines and Autism resurfaces to wreak hell and havoc.   I have written about this before, and I am sure will write about it a dozen more times, and I don't expect everyone to agree with me,  I just ask if you disagree- keep it civil.

I am tired of the fighting that goes along with this subject. I am not a doctor, I am not a scientist. What I am is the mom of a child with High Functioning Autism, and there is a part of me that believes that vaccines played a role in it.  There is also a part of me that thinks that because I had gestational diabetes and gave myself insulin shots several times a day is a factor. There is also a part of me that thinks something just didn't develop right when I was growing him. Then- there is the part of me that just doesn't give a shit anymore- because he is doing great, and I am blessed to have a child on the high functioning end of the spectrum, and he is awesome The End.

There has been so much damn confusion on this issue.The now infamous Wakefield saga that began in 1997, where the media reported “Vaccine cause autism!” Since then, there have been accusation, retractions, lawsuits, and more. I blame the media in large part, because they confuse the issue,by claiming that the question has been resolved “once and for all,” and any alternate viewpoints are shot down, and parents that are worried, mad and confused are called "Anti Vaccine Nuts"  How come no mention is ever made on any other studies? What were the conclusions (if any) of  them?  It is so crazy and confusing, and at this point most parents just choose a side and stay with it.  Of course this is dependent on so many things, whether or not you have a child with autism, whether or not you saw a regression, whether or not this, that everything else.  But it really isn't black and white, and unfortunately battles rage on.

The media  reports the Wakefield study as the only reason that parents refuse vaccines, talks about how the findings of The Lancet Study were deemed fraudulent, and then uses the situation to stir up anger and fear towards those who don’t vaccinate. How is this helpful to ANYONE??   How does this do anything to help find out how to prevent the numbers from skyrocketing?  It doesn't.
We don’t know if vaccines cause autism. We do not have a final and definitive answer. We have no idea what causes autism- AT ALL! But you can bet your ass there is more than ONE cause, environmental, hereditary- it's all just white noise because of the bickering. 

Let me start by saying- that Wakefield’s paper DID NOT CONCLUDE THAT THE MMR, OR ANY VACCINE, CAUSED AUTISM. 

In Wakefield’s conclusions, he noted the correlation between autism and bowel disease, and also reported finding the measles virus. His final thoughts on the matter? That there was no possible way to say if the MMR vaccine was in any way involved in autism; it was merely an interesting side note, one that bore further research.

The media, as it often does ran with it.“MMR Causes Autism!” How irresponsible was this? It was the cause of  panic, and yes, many parents stopped vaccinating their children without doing any further research. I have NEVER recommended this to anyone who has asked me about vaccinations.  I firmly believe that parents do what they feel is best for their children- and if parents have concerns over vaccinating - RESEARCH!!  My mantra- Educate before you vaccinate!

In 2010, the matter again surfaced as more (false) accusations were brought against Dr. Wakefield, and they were forced to retract the entire paper. Which is  ridiculous, since  the purpose of the paper was to show a correlation between autism and bowel disease, and had nothing at all to do with vaccines. The relationship between autism and bowel disease still exists. But sadly, no one remembers, or even cares what the paper was initially about anyway. 

Parents are reassured over and over that there is “no link” based on “many studies.” At this point, most official media makes  parents who don’t vaccinate look like psychos hell bent on bringing back childhood diseases.  “First they blamed the MMR, but that’s not related. Then they blamed thimerosal, but it’s been removed and autism rates and still rising. Now they’re grasping at straws by trying to say that the vaccine schedule as a whole is causing it. Ridiculous.” Yes- parents have been called everything from, ridiculous, to stupid, to terrorists! Are you fucking kidding me??   

Honest concerns parents have about their child’s health and safety are completely ignored. It is disgusting that public officials are so non-responsive, evasive and blatantly hostile to parents that are asking important and intelligent questions.  And now, parents who do question vaccine safety are ridiculed and  labeled as "crazy", and doctors are literally "firing" parents who have the audacity to ask. 

After much digging I found this site Fourteen Studies.  There HAVE been many studies completed,  at least 19 that the media frequently cites. Pay attention, several of the studies are reviews, do not ask any relevant questions, and are written primarily by those with huge conflicts of interest (CDC employees, pharmaceutical employees in the vaccine division). For example, one study looks at differences between children who received all the same vaccines, but at different times. This does not  assess the effect of vaccines on childrens’ immune systems. These studies are primarily used to “prove” that there is no association, but they really deserve a second, third and fourth look.

There are 34 PUBLISHED studies suggesting there MAY be a link between vaccines and autism, but you NEVER hear about them do you? The point is — there are a lot of studies that have been done, and the conclusions currently support both sides of the issue. 

There is absolutely no way that anyone can say the question is completely settled, because it is  not. There are zillions of questions that haven’t even been asked yet. To date, there are no published studies comparing completely unvaccinated children with vaccinated children. There are no studies that look at the safety of the vaccine schedule as a whole. There are no studies that look at individual vaccines beyond a 6-week period. There are no studies that compare vaccines to a placebo, only to previously manufactured vaccines.
So parents are left  in a very difficult and frightening position, to try to make a decision about what is best for their children without all the information they need and nowhere to get it!

 It all really boils down to doing what we feel is best for OUR kids.  Parents need to feel safe asking questions about vaccinating, not made to feel like they are crazy, or bad. And until we all stop relying on everything the news tells us as gospel truth- there is no end in sight.