Autism and Vaccines: An Unhealthy Association
Jul 21, 2010
By Christine Vara
When I first started contributing to the Shot of Prevention blog, I couldn’t help but feel a bit of frustration. It seemed whenever I read an article about vaccines, there was always some mention of autism. It got to the point where I wondered if the word autism could ever be used in a sentence without it somehow being linked to vaccines. Of course, I quickly became a student of history and science, while also an observer of the enormous amount of misinformation that is disseminated online in regards to a suggested link of autism and vaccines.
The shining light came when I was fortunate enough to discover an organization called the Autism Science Foundation. Recently, they launched the “Autism Science Foundation Channel on YouTube” which features interviews with top autism researchers, ASF grantees, autism book authors, and details the important new autism research being conducted today.
By focusing on the science, this organization’s mission is to “support autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research”. Their efforts are critical in providing information about autism to the general public and their work helps to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism.
What’s important to note, is that their philosophy is based on three sound principles, as summarized below.
- Autism is known to have a strong genetic component. Research must aim to discover the mechanisms of action that trigger autism, as well as safe, effective and novel treatments to enhance the quality of life for children and adults currently affected.
- Early diagnosis and early intervention are critical to helping people with autism reach their potential, but educational, vocational and support services must be applied across the lifespan.
- Vaccines save lives; they do not cause autism. Numerous studies have failed to show a causal link between vaccines and autism. Vaccine safety research should continue to be conducted by the public health system in order to ensure vaccine safety and maintain confidence in our national vaccine program, but further investment of limited autism research dollars is not warranted at this time.
It is comforting to know that there are autism advocates who recognize the fact that vaccines save lives. I commend the Autism Science Foundation for standing firm on this principle. I admire the work they are doing to advance autism research and encourage everyone to check out their new YouTube channel.
Their premise continues to give me hope: Communicating what we do know about what causes autism is often the best way to dispel myths about what doesn’t. Do you agree?
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