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Was John McCain Vaccinated Against Logic?

John McCain hopped into the autism/thimerosal debate last week when he related, “It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children….and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.” (Hat tip: Campaign K-12; also see On Special Education’s take on McCain's argument.)

The trouble is that no decent study has ever established a link between autism and thimerosal. For example, consider this article published in JAMA, which compared kids exposed to vaccines with and without thimerosal and concluded, “The risk of autism and other autistic-spectrum disorders did not differ significantly between children vaccinated with thimerosal-containing vaccine and children vaccinated with thimerosal-free vaccine.” Or check out this literature review, published in Pediatrics, which also came to the same conclusion. What’s more, autism rates have continued to increase even after thimerosal was removed from kids’ vaccines.

Despite this body of evidence, advocacy groups like the National Autism Association continue to argue otherwise. They're using a recent ruling in favor of an autistic child's vaccination case to further trumpet this claim; check out their press release entitled, “Government Concludes Vaccines Caused Autism.”

The “autism epidemic” has received enormous press attention, but many reporters have neglected the diagnostic process. Is it possible that children who are now labeled autistic would have been classified as mentally retarded or learning disabled a few decades ago? According to a study published in Pediatrics by the University of Wisconsin’s Paul Shattuck, diagnostic substitution may account for a non-trivial proportion of increasing autism prevalence rates. Another article, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, concluded that diagnostic substitution may account for a third of the increase in autism cases. Shattuck nicely summarized this problem in his op-ed in the New York Times last year:

Most of the more mildly affected children who are considered to be on the spectrum today would never have qualified for an autism diagnosis using older criteria. This expansion of criteria makes it impossible to compare apples to apples when looking at data on long-term trends, because what counts as “autism” is simply quite different today.

Thank you! That's an excellent example of clear thinking on this topic.

There are likely numerous reasons for the rise in autism with the number one reason being better diagnosis. In regards to vaccines, I am a believer that different things can act in chain reaction with other things causing what you might call an environmental trigger.

In regards to vaccines, we get so many more vaccines for our children today than we did as children and I am not sure there is conclusive proof that these new vaccines are truly beneficial.

I also believe that a one vaccine fits all approach is incorrect. Consider when you give a child Tylenol. The instructions explicitly refer to body weight. When your pediatrician gives your child vaccines, have you ever heard him/her say "this amount is appropriate for your child's body weight?"

I also think there may be some significance to multiple vaccines given at the same time. For this reason, my wife and I have decided to separate vaccines into single installments that are specially ordered, which is costing us a great deal more money I might add. The reason for this, is that many vaccines sit in the shelf, are not rotated properly, are not shaken, etc. to ensure that they are maintained properly.

After our first vaccination for this child, we noticed a substantial behavior change for three days, likely due to the vaccination. So we have consulted with our pediatrician, who was very good about it all, and planned a vaccination strategy that ensures our child gets the very important ones, but delays the others where possible and lengthens the time between vaccinations.

Maybe we are crazy, but seeing the reaction from the first one, why we shoot him with three at the same time?

--Non medical common sense Father whose ex-wife is a doctor and that alone makes him question medicine in general.....

While I appreciate your snipe at McCain, don't be so quick to let the drug companies and vaccine produces off the hook. The studies you referred to don't clear them. They only say that there is no proven link. They've pulled thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) out of their vaccines (except those being used in 3rd-world countries) for a reason, I presume. It's not because mercury is really great for little kids.

Larry King Live had a show on about this yesterday with Jenny McCarthy. Did you see it?

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Rebecca: Larry King Live had a show on about this yesterday read more
  • Bernard: While I appreciate your snipe at McCain, don't be so read more
  • Casey: There are likely numerous reasons for the rise in autism read more
  • Dawn: Thank you! That's an excellent example of clear thinking on read more




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