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Measles Infections Up Due to Autism Fears

Authorities (other than Amanda Peet) are blaming parents' fear of autism for a recent surge in measles. The rate of measle infections this year beats every other year since 1996.

Parents increasingly opt out of vaccination because they believe vaccines cause autism. Most of the measles cases this year involve people who were unvaccinated, or unsure if they had been vaccinate. Two-thirds of the infected in the US were not vaccinated because of their parents' religious or philosophical beliefs. Such beliefs trigger an exemption to mandatory vaccination laws.

The rise in measles could be an unhealthy harbinger. When vaccination levels decrease, measles, an aggressively contagious disease, manifests itself before other illnesses. Scientific studies say vaccinations are safe, but many parents feel strongly about their connection to autism. Should these parents be allowed to follow their instincts and make an important parenting decision, or are they putting modern society at risk for a widespread disease thought to be eradicated?


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sigint sigint 8 years
Most articles on the causes of Autism fail to discuss how recent MMR vaccines also include the Chicken Pox vaccine, often given at 'much higher' dosages than if given separately. Until more is known, parents who choose to give their children the MMR and Chicken Pox vaccines should opt for safety and make sure these vaccines are broken up and given separately over a longer period of time.
Roarman Roarman 8 years
"Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger, with the exception of inactivated influenza vaccine." Thimerosal was removed starting in 1999. My step mother told me about a professor her daughter had who was against vaccination and did not have his children vaccinated. His son has severe autism. I don't see a link. But I also am not 100% comfortable with the government forcing parents to do something to there children that they are not comfortable doing. I am torn on this issue. I talk to older people who say that these parents not vaccinating there children would think twice if they lived through the polio epidemic. We have never experienced first hand a disease ravaging so many young children. When that vaccine became available there was no question that parents would get their children vaccinated as many of them had lost a child already. In a previous post someone on here said that there have only been like 167 cases of measles reported and it has been around 431 in the first 7 months this year, three times what it was last year.Four of those cases being infants younger than six months who would not have been innoculated yet. At the height of measles, it was killing some 400 children a year. That may not sound huge compared to other diseases, but I would hate to think of my child being in that group.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Hey, my flagged post finally showed up! LOL!
CoralAmber CoralAmber 8 years
I knew a family that was really against a lot of preventative medicine because they didn't trust the government. They were against vaccines (they got to cite religious beliefs but I believe they thought they were a government conspiracy), dental x-rays, and in some cases going to the hospital. I was friends with their son and in college he had a tooth ache and it ended up being a huge cavity that could have been prevented if he had allowed them to take x-rays. I know parents are choosing what they think is best protecting their child, but sometimes they could be doing more harm than good. In a book by a neuroscientist, The Brain that Changes Itself, the author has done research on autism and brain development in infants that has led him to believe that environmental factors as simple as constant loud construction noise affects the developing brain and can lead to autism.
Athena123987 Athena123987 8 years
MartiniLush is right about the link between changing definitions and increased diagnoses, and I very much agree with facin8me about government regulation of vaccines. Communicable disease is a safety issue, and not one necessarily related to a person's own actions. Your neighbor with the weak immune system can't catch bad nutrition from you, but they can catch measles or polio (which are more dangerous than many seem to think.) Additionally, not everyone's immune system produces antibodies to the vaccine; a very small percentage of the population won't react with long-lasting antibodies to every vaccine, and those people are relying on the immunity of everyone else to not come into contact with the disease. When someone doesn't vaccinate their children, they aren't just increasing the risk of those diseases to their own children, but to others around them.
facin8me facin8me 8 years
lilruck, I know you feel strongly about the vaccination issue, but I take issue with your minimization of communicable diseases. Dehydration, heart disease- these aren't things we pass on from one person to another. Measles, mumps, pertussis- these are things that can be passed around so the government has the right to regulate this. In one of your previous comments, you wrote that you felt mandatory vaccinations were unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has held that the right of the states to regulate public health is particularly strong. After all, there is no liberty without life. The right of states to control public health is one that predates the constitution and is part of the police powers that each state holds. The freedom from restraint is not absolute. So to answer the original question: no, I do not think parents have the right to decline vaccines.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 8 years
I couldn't agree with you more, that it's a parent's decision :)
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
GRRR flagged again! Oh, well....maybe they will show up someday! LOL!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Oh, LilRuck, you didn't upset anyone --- I am just annoyed that I found this really interesting tidbit to share with everyone and it got flagged, for no apparent reason. I am hoping it shows up soon.... I agree that it is a parent's decision on whether to vaccinate or not, I just didn't understand where you were going with your last comment. But parents have been given exceptions from vaccinating their children for many years for a variety of reasons. I don't know why an exception based on vaccine safety would cause such consternation....let me see if I can repost my flagged comment in a different way... :P
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 8 years
I don't want to upset anyone MartiniLush!
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 8 years
The things I listed offer the human body zero nutrition, stripping your immune system of what it needs to protect you against the contagious diseases we're talking about. I think the banning of trans fats is a good step in the right direction. Hopefully they'll start eliminating the chemicals next.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Grrrr....I tried to post something and it got flagged!! I wasn't swearing and didn't insert a link... :-(
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Lilruck44, dehydration, obesity, heart disease and cancer (which are the main diseases you get from the things you list above) are definitely deadly, but are not contagious. You are comparing apples and oranges here. But, if you want to use that as an example, what about local governments that have stepped in and banned trans fats?
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 8 years
Snowbunny, if the government held themselves responsible to prevent the spread of disease, than grocery stores wouldn't be allowed to carry any products with hydrogenated oils or refined, bleached white flour. How about all those cigarettes! Measles isn't a huge deal, neither is chicken pox, rotavirus, whooping cough, Hepatitis B, where would you draw the line? Sure people could die from these things, but you can also die from dehydration, and you don't see the government mandating people to drink water.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
I was trying to search for a statistic on how many parents choose not to vaccinate their children. You would think this would be realtively easy information to find, since parents have been given the right not to vaccinate their children for a variety of reasons already (such as religious objections). Alas, I found nothing, but I found something very interesting on the ABC News web site: "As researchers from the March of Dimes put it, "improvements in detection and changes in diagnosis account for the observed increase in autism." Their data on autism rates in California showed that the increase in autism diagnoses almost exactly matched a decline in cases of retardation: autism prevalence increased by 9.1 cases per 10,000 children, while mental retardation dropped by 9.3 per 10,000. "People that we once called quirky or geeky or nerdy are now called autistic," said Offit. "Because when you give that label of say, autistic spectrum disorder, you allow that child then to qualify for services which otherwise they wouldn't be qualified to get." I just thought this was very interesting. I still think it is a parent's choice, since we don't know anything definitively, but this tidbit of information gave me pause.
kastarte2 kastarte2 8 years
Umm.. I think there is a slight difference between purposefully infecting (murdering) some one by giving them the AIDS virus and choosing not to vaccinate your child due to autism concerns. Since most of the general population is vaccinated, I don't think it is reasonable to expect a huge deadly outbreak of smallpox. This isn't going to be "Black Plague: The American Version."
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
facin8me- what a nice way to put that. Stephley- I said the studies were linked from wikipedia and that wikipedia should not be an authority. I genuinely do not get how you got so confused by what I said? Lilruck44- people have been prosecuted for knowingly spreading the AIDS virus, people are prosecuted for child neglect and abuse, for feeding their children improper diets. I'm sorry, but no matter what side of the vaccination debate you're on, it's a little silly to say the government doesn't have the authority and responsibility to care about public health concerns. The government does have the responsibility to prevent the spread of disease. And honestly, there are many, many things that citizens do not have the right to do, and the government frequently prevents people from hurting each other. And I don't think parents should have the right to knowingly allow their children to catch infectious diseases that could be prevented. Fine, so measles isn't a huge deal, what about smallpox?
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 8 years
So the debate has turned into -are vaccines safe or not-. The original question was basically do parents have the right to decline vaccines or not? If someone thinks that all people should be vaccinated in order to protect the entire public from catching diseases, please move to China. In America we still have the right to choose.
facin8me facin8me 8 years
Snowbunny is correct in saying that the last childhood vaccines containing thimerosal were manufactured in 2001 and expired in 2003. The only recommended childhood vaccine that still contains mercury is the flu vaccine, for which thimerosal-free versions are available. Stephley, the table you saw from 2006 may be for all vaccines, which includes those given to adults which still contain thimerosal. I agree that no scientist should ever turn his or her back on a hypothesis due to fear. That's why when the idea that vaccines may be related to autism appeared, scientists began to look into it. Over and over again, no link could be found. Many people accuse scientists in this country of being crooked big pharma shills and do not believe the results, but that totally discounts all of the studies done in other countries- Sweden, Denmark, England, Japan, and Canada to name a few- that also have not found a link. Yes, the official line is that vaccines are safe. Just like penicillin or acetaminophen, occasionally somebody has a bad reaction. It is quite unfortunate when that occurs, but the difference between a rare event (like an underlying mitochondrial disorder) and thousands of children becoming autistic is the question. The latter has been shown in study after study to not be related to vaccinations. If parents want to delay or space out vaccines, that's fine. Not because there's any science involved in that direction, but because those choices seem to increase the public's trust in vaccination. But overall, kids should still be getting vaccinated.
stephley stephley 8 years
Funny, I just looked at a table of Thimoserol content in vaccines from 2006... While the official line is vaccines are safe, without a formal hearing, the federal government reccently conceded vaccines significantly aggravated Hannah Poling's underlying medical condition. This predisposed Hannah "to deficits in cellular energy metabolism and manifested as a regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder." By admitting that, while refusing to acknowledge or address vaccine safety issues, the government fuels parents' concerns. In an interview on the subject, former NIH Director Bernadine Healy said the scientific community should never turn its back on a hypothesis out of fear for what it might reveal: If you know there is a susceptible group, "you can save those children. If you turn your back on the notion there is a susceptible group ... what can I say?" Wouldn't she know if scientists had absolute proof that the vaccines are safe? And I would NOT turn to wikipedia for this - I'd rather wade through the studies and papers myself.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
And just because a very vocal minority believes that autism is caused by vaccines does not mean that it's based on proof. The government and scientists do NOT believe that autism is caused by vaccines. The fact that some really uneducated people do not agree does not mean that there is some confusion! If you need some info on this, check out wikipedia. While of course it is not an authority, it links to the various studies. The thing is, people believe that vaccines cause autism the way that they believe that evolution did not happen; no amount of proof will change their minds because they are MOMS so they KNOW.
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 8 years
Stephley-Thimoserol was removed from vaccines in 2001. So if diagnoses are still rising...?
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 8 years
"It is too bad that the government doesn't feel that it is important enough to devote more resources into studying this issue." i agree with this. i think everyone would feel better if they were doing all they could to prevent problems related to vaccines. I vaccinated my son, and he had no side effects whatsoever, but I was apprehensive and stressed out each time.
stephley stephley 8 years
I just googled vaccines and autism, but added 'history' for the first time, and Hannah's story was the first thing that popped up - it's interesting that with Jenny McCarthy being all over the place recently that this story hasn't gotten more play. I wonder why the documents are sealed, considering the potential importance. It probably helped that her father is a neurologist and her mother's a lawyer. Since not all children who get vaccines develop autism, it seems very possible that something in the vaccines triggers something in the affected children.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
A neighbor happens to subscribe to Redbook magazine and they have a feature where they are following a family dealing with autism. It was really very interesting to read. They had a section called "Do vaccines cause autism?" which stated something I have never heard before. Families who feel that vaccines have harmed their child can file a petition with HRSA to receive compensation for medical expenses, education costs and therapy. (Their web site is While not specifically autism-related, this program has had 5000 autism-related claims filed in the past 10 years. While the article says that no autism claims have been awarded, there was a case last November where the family of an autistic girl was awarded compensation because vaccines aggravated an underlying disorder that she already had which the government says lead to "brain disease with symptoms of autism." So maybe there is something to the claims? Maybe there are some individuals that are genetically prone to autism and something in the vaccines or the way they are administered tips them over the edge and without them , they wouldn't have developed the disease? I do think that part of the rise in autism is that physicians are much more aware of it now and that they do diagnose more often. Also, I think the range of autism that is diagnosed now is larger, they are seeing more cases where the symptoms are not as bad,whereas before they may not have called it autism except if it was severe. My friend has an autistic son and she has seen such improvement in him through therapy and special programs in the public schools here. He wasn't vaccinated, so I think that we can't say EVERY case of autism is caused by vaccines, but I do think there is enough of a question that we should be pressuring the government to provide more funding to independent researchers who can objectively study the question.
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