Vaccines and Autism
It is important to note that SafeMinds understands and supports the judicious use of safe vaccinations to improve public health. Vaccines have proven important to the eradication of diseases such as smallpox and polio. However, there are legitimate questions as to whether the USA is over-vaccinating children, and there is evidence that vaccines contribute to autism in some children.
Why suspect vaccines as a contributing factor in autism causality?
- The timeline for increases in autism prevalence corresponds closely with the introduction of new vaccines. In particular, the phased introduction of the Hib vaccine in 1985 – 1990 and the universal introduction of the HepB vaccine in 1991 correspond closely with the epidemic increase in autism prevalence. These vaccines injected aluminum and mercury at toxic levels into children at birth, 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months of age (as of 2009, both vaccines still contain high amounts of aluminum). (Click here to see timeline graphs and further details: Correlation between increases in autism prevalence and introduction of new vaccines)
- Biologically, it is highly plausible that several major components in vaccines could cause autism. The major components of vaccines (aluminum adjuvant, mercury preservative, endotoxins, and viral or bacterial antigens) have been shown in research to be individually capable of causing damage to brain and other organs, and synergistic toxicity of these components has not been sufficiently investigated. Interesting recent research has focused on aluminum, which has been increased in the vaccine schedule since 2001 in parallel with mercury being reduced (note: it is not true that mercury has been removed from childhood vaccines, as it is still in most flu vaccines at 25 mcg as well as in <1 mcg amounts in other vaccines). In animals, veterinarians have determined that over-vaccination in animals causes a syndrome they call “vaccinosis”. (Click here for more detailed description of vaccine components: Biological plausibility of vaccine-induced autism)
- Vaccinated children likely have a higher risk of developing autism, in one susceptible sub-group, the risk may be as high as 1 in 7 chance. A 2007 study indicated that vaccines may have been a contributing causal factor in boys born from 1990-1996 in approximately 68% of autism cases and 81% of ADHD cases. It is important to note that this study also indicates that some unvaccinated boys develop autism and ADHD, suggesting that vaccines are not the only factor in autism and ADHD causality. (For more details, see Vaccinated children likely have a higher risk of developing autism).
- Lack of Well-Designed Statistical Research – by design, vaccine-safety research for new and existing vaccines do not allow chronic, slow-to-develop conditions to be counted as vaccine-injury (asthma, ADHD, autism, etc). A few retrospective studies on components of vaccines and autism have been done, but they’ve been performed by organizations with major conflicts of interest and there are significant criticisms with these studies. However even if the studies are taken at face value, the studies have only looked at vaccinated versus vaccinated children with the variation under study being either the timing of one vaccine (the MMR vaccine) or the amount of mercury administered in vaccines (most studies have compared a ‘lower mercury’ group vs ‘higher mercury group’). There has been no retrospective study of overall health outcomes in a vaccinated versus unvaccinated groups, even though the former director of the CDC stated that such a study can and should be done. (for more details, see Lack of Well-Designed Statistical Research)