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John McCain on Autism

Baby Wellness: McCain Enters Autism Debate

Senator John McCain threw his hat into another ring, the autism debate. The Republican presidential candidate commented on the cause of the developmental disorder while in Texas.

According to a recent New York Times article, he said:

“It’s indisputable that autism is on the rise among children,” Senator John McCain said while campaigning recently in Texas. “The question is, What’s causing it? And we go back and forth, and there’s strong evidence that indicates that it’s got to do with a preservative in vaccines.”

To learn about the findings,


There has long been a heated debate between parents and scientists about the preservative, thimerosal. The piece said:

Several large-scale studies have found no evidence of a link between thimerosal and autism, and medical groups including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics have publicly stated as much. In January, California reported an increase in autism cases, despite the removal of thimerosal from most vaccines.

Evidence and parental opinions aside, as moms we have the instinct to protect our offspring.

Would a presidential candidate's commitment to finding the cause and cure for autism sway your vote?


Join The Conversation
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
I think we're going to have to agree to disagree ylatan :) I will say this...and then we can move on...I work with bacteria every day. These organisms aren't going away, in fact they're evolving. They're changing a tiny bit at a time in order to get around our antibiotics and our vaccinations and everything else we've designed to combat them and the destruction they cause. Many of the disease causing bacteria is found all over the place, but they require some kind of opportunity to invade your body. I am well aware that we've become too reliant on antibiotics and vaccinations, and I believe wholeheartedly that we need to come up with new ways to prevent disease. But I definitely don't think we should do away with vaccinations altogether. That just sets us up for a massive outbreak. And that would affect even the people on their computers.
ylatan ylatan 9 years
i don't have much time this morning-but i completely disagree with your last paragraph. if you look at the statistics from the CDC, most diseases were on the decline BEFORE they invented the vaccines. i also want to point out that your statement, "can be fatal if left untreated," doesn't really apply to most people posting here sitting on their computers.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
The problem with your argument ylatan is that all three of the diseases in the DTaP vaccine (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) can be fatal if left untreated. It may not be the most common result, but it can happen. I would also argue that the outbreaks of pertussis in vaccinated children occur because of an incomplete vaccination series, not because of the vaccine itself. Partial vaccination only provides partial immunity. Pertussis is highly contagious, and an undervaccinated child is just as suseptible as a child that has not been vaccinated. Continuing the trend of not vaccinating our children only leaves our society vulnerable to bigger outbreaks. A certain percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated to effectively prevent the rest of the population from becoming infected with these diseases. While it is possible we may be overvaccinating our children, undervaccinating is not the answer. And I do realize that where most of us live, the instances of people being infected with these diseases is uncommon (mostly because of widespread vaccination), but all it takes is a plane ride to a country where the disease is endemic to reinfect our population.
ylatan ylatan 9 years
there are vaccine exemptions in every state. no one HAS to vaccinate if they don't want to. there are plenty of balanced books out there about vaccines, the dangers of their ingredients (formaldehyde and aluminum, anyone?) the risks associated with the vaccines and the actual risks of the diseases-some of them are not as serious as people would think. i think it's really important that no matter what you choose to do, you get educated about them. there is a great, pretty easy to read book by dr. stephanie cave that i felt was pretty balanced and basically lays it out, shot by shot. another problem to consider is that while there are many adverse affects or reactions to vaccines, many of them go unreported because doctors will deny it is happening to you-it happened to my daughter after her four month DTaP shot and when i took her back to the doctor 3 times in 5 days, they told me she had "colic." but this was nothing like colic-she screamed for days and was completely inconsolable, barely nursed or slept. i found out later that that shot can cause swelling of the brain and you can end up with a kid in lots of pain. not cool. the other thing to consider about the DTaP shot is that, while news programs and doctors like to scare the crap out of parents about the risks of those diseases-particularly whooping cough (the P, pertussis) it's actually not that dangerous, especially if your child is breastfed and once they reach age one. the other problem is that when there are little outbreaks of pertussis (for example) it happens mostly in vaccinated children. something to think about.
ann418 ann418 9 years
Aww, macgirl, don't feel bad about what you think is right for your child. I would have done the exact same thing, as I'm sure every single mom on here does.
Critty Critty 9 years
I am just reading The Vaccine Book by Dr. Sears and I think I am going to use his delayed schedule. It's hard to be a mom in this day and age!
macgirl macgirl 9 years
So every body is just opting out of immunizations? Hmmm, I really thought I was being a good mom for doing what seemed best for my child. Looks like you just can't win.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
They will exempt your child if you fill out the proper forms. In California I believe it's an affidavit. Why vaccination is an opt-out system and not an opt-IN system is beyond me, but I'm just thankful that for now we have the option to get out.
macgirl macgirl 9 years
LILRuck44- I believe in California where I live your child has to have these immunizations to go to school and be enrolled into child care. It's the standard first round of immunizations... At 8 weeks old he's not sexually active or hanging out with infected bleeding people.. but he will need to go to school eventually so he is doing the immunizations.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
macgirl, do you know how Hepatitis B is spread? From exposure to infectious blood or body fluids containing blood. Also through unprotected sex and contaminated needles/syringes. How would a newborn baby contract that? Sure, it can be spread from mother to fetus, but don't you remember being tested for that? I do, and both times I was negative. So unless I'm letting my babies come in contact with someone elses blood who has it... there is no way.
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
sorry I didn't think my first comment posted...sorry for the repeat there.
macgirl macgirl 9 years
Being home on Maternity leave I saw a Montel Williams episode on this (amazing what you'll watch when you're at home alone with a newborn). It really freaked me out so I did some googling and found even more stuff that freaked me out. Unfortunately I wasn't necessarily finding links that I would consider a reliable source. I asked my pediatrician as I was in there for his Hep B shot and he really felt that the numbers weren't there to support this claim. I'm still not 100% sure either way. I definitely think some real, legit, non pharmaceutical company backed research needs to happen.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
The "research" issue is really a matter of whom you trust. Sure we all "do our own research", but where are we going to get the info? Does anyone look at who paid for the study? Whose idea was it to conduct the study in the first place, and where does their interest lie? ufshutterbabe, I am not surprised to know your husband is a medical professional. Medical professionals aren't taught a thing about preventitive care, nutrition, or the like. My mother, an RN, has always been on the vaccine bandwagon, no shocker when she has been taught from day one that vaccines help, not a chance they could hurt. There are dozens of scientifically factual studies linking autism and vaccines, they're just never publicized on any MSM outlet... and you won't find them in any journals who are funded by big pharma. That (novel) being said, I believe that vaccines are one of many possible triggers for autism. If you give 100 kids peanuts, some will be fine, others will not... same with a vaccine, how can we give a one size fits all vaccine to every child?
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
Wow, my perious post got flagged and I'm not sure why, pretty sure I didn't use any curse words. But anyway. I think the reason that there are so many reported cases of autism than in the past is because it hasn't always been diagnosed properly. And I'm sorry but I'd rather risk my kid getting autism from a vaccine as bad as it is than subject him to a potentially fatal disease.
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
The other reason that there is a lot more reported cases than there used to be is because they didn't always diagnose it correctly. They used to sometimes lump autism cases with down syndrome cases and just say that they were mentally retarded it's only recently that they've been diagnosing it better so of course it will seem like there's a lot more. And I'm sorry, but there's no way I'm exposing my kid to measles, mumps, rubella, polio or anything else that serious to save him from autism. Autism sucks and is a lot of work, but I'd rather have a kid with autism than a child that has died from a preventable disease. But that's just my opinion for what it's worth.
michlny michlny 9 years
Bravo to McCain for bringing to light such a MAJOR issue!
ufshutterbabe ufshutterbabe 9 years
First off, just want to say I know that wikipedia isn't the most valid source of information on anything on the internet. However, I am not interested in getting into research wars with anyone. Wikipedia is a good place to start off your search for information on a topic (and please note all the links at the bottom for further reading - great to figure out where to look for more info). LilRuk44 - I don't trust the "big corporations" - I do my own research and obtain information from a variety of resources. I also believe in firm scientific data - the fact is there is no serious data from (what I consider to be)valid sources that support the theory that vaccinations cause autism. My husband is a medical professional, my sister is a behavioral therapist for autistic children - I'm familiar with the topic (not claiming to be a biochemist PhD expert or anything, just saying that I'm exposed to this more than the average person). By the way, its not only the "big corporations" that benefit from vaccines - its the general population that no longer suffers from Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio and Smallpox outbreaks. I've studied journalism, I have a healthy skepticism for what I read, but the autism-vaccinations link just doesn't sit with me.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
ttdcn8, the "journal of american physicians and surgeons" is not a prestigious medical journal by any means- it is not listed in PubMed or the Web of Science. This journal is the publication of a group that is more political than medical in nature- an organization that has far right ties and does not believe in evolution or that HIV causes AIDS. Way more reputable organizations, such as the National Academies of Science, have studied the issue of vaccines and autism and found no link between the two. I agree with wren that the problems that occur with autism are more likely occurring before the children are born, and that they manifest at a later developmental stage. The only two things ever to be scientifically connected to autism are the use of thalidomide and exposure to rubella during the first trimester of pregnancy. Thalidomide use or rubella exposure in the second and third trimesters does not have this same effect. It is possible that there is some kind of environmental substance that women are being exposed to now during the first trimester of pregnancy that women in past generations were not being exposed to that is causing an increase in the numbers of reported cases of autism.
karlorene karlorene 9 years
I think it's great that he's CONCERNED about the issue! We need to research and debate as much as possible to find the answers
DesignRchic DesignRchic 9 years
I've read all of your comments and I must say this is a great and thought-provoking discussion. As a pregnant woman, and one who's married to a chemist who loves reading journal articles, we've been very curious about this issue. Thanks for including links!
wren1 wren1 9 years
I have worked with many autistic children for 8 years. I believe they are born with it, even though it develops after after a few years of age. There are many children who have not been vaccinated who have it. It is such a hot topic right now! I agree ttdcn8, that the drug companies are despicable.
flyinggrip flyinggrip 9 years
As a medical professional I only hope that the public seek out all information on issues reguarding thier health and the health of their children, and to not buy in to media and internet sensationalism. There is a lot of good information out there, but there is also a lot of bad information. We must always be critical of the information we find on the internet. For your consideration, here in an article and an abstract from highly respected medical journals, which clearly state that they were unable to find a causal relationship between autism and vaccinations. Both of these articles were easily found on the internet. ; Pubmed ( is an easily assciable database of journal articles and can be very helpful when trying to find good information on health and science issues.
ttdcn8 ttdcn8 9 years
Interesting article. Let's at least consider the possibility. Do the pros of vaccinating really outweigh the cons? We could go on and on. It is a sensitive subject with very strong opinions. I hope we can all at least agree to make educated, informed decisions for our children's sake. Signing out. Take care, God bless!
ttdcn8 ttdcn8 9 years
Pharmaceutical companies and many government organizations make no money by keeping us healthy. It is in their best interest to keep you sick. Facts are ignored, agendas are made, profit margins are kept, whistleblowers are ostracized while our society is getting sicker and children are suffering only to become a statistic. Obesity, Autism, ADHD, Cancer and Diabetes are becoming epidemics. We all want better "healthcare" but do nothing other than complain. There must be a drastic change in the lifestyle of our society in order to have a healthy population. We bio-accumulate toxins (Vaccines) and deficiencies as we age. This opens the door for an increase in stress hormones, insulin resistance, chronic inflammation, and decreased immunity of which are rising at an alarming rate. These are important topics that must be addressed from a political level. I can guarantee these changes do not come from more or "better" drugs, chemicals, and vaccines plaguing our bodies but to the far contrary.
flyinggrip flyinggrip 9 years
And a comment on the girl in Georgia, she had an underlying mitochondrial disorder which made her more sensitive to the vaccination; this case is not representative of the general population. Also, the vaccination was said to lead to autism-LIKE features, not autism.
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