Friday, January 7, 2011

Autism & Vaccines

So yesterday, or maybe even the day before, Dr. Andrew Wakefield's research linking autism with vaccines was found to be an "elaborate fraud."

Forgive me for being out of the loop, but I thought this was determined months ago, if not longer.

At any rate, I have to say the new findings please me. While I do believe the anecdotal reports of parents who have seen their childrens' behavior change after they received a vaccination, I do not believe it is the vaccine itself causing the problem.

What is frustrating and heartbreaking to so many of us is that it is not likely that autism truly has a singular cause. I think a combination of a number of genetic factors as well as environmental ones create something of a perfect storm in a child probably born with a brain already predisposed to neurological anomalies.

In other words, I see the development of autism something like a gun, a bullet, and a trigger finger. Separately they cannot do damage. Put the three together, however, and you have an entirely different story.

Additionally, here is something the scientific community and lay people alike tend to overlook when trying to explain the rise in autism.  In fact, I've never heard anyone mention this, but thirty some years ago the world's population was about 3 billion. Now we are pushing 7 billion.

Scientists now know that autistic people get married. They have children. It therefore stands to reason that if the world's population is growing, so is the population of autistic children. Even if parents are not autistic themselves, I would be anxious to see if at least one of them has ADD or perhaps other neurological issues such as dyslexia or narcolepsy. Combined with the genes of the other parent, I think these conditions can worsen in the next generation, even if it is just one parent with a diagnosed neurological disorder.

I am not indicting anyone here. I want you all to know that. Also, I am not opposed to science in any way whatsoever. The issue here, concerning vaccines, is that even if Dr. Wakefield had been a little (or a lot) more credible, his experiment (which really had nothing to do with vaccines) still should never have been considered valid. The sample size in his study was simply much too small. It never should have been published.

Unfortunately, science is not immune to pride or greed. There is a race to find a cause and a cure for autism, and in this case the person or people who are able to do that will go down in history. They most certainly will be some of the most famous scientists to have ever lived.

Try to keep these things in mind when looking over the newest research. I'm not saying to avoid feeling encouraged if you see something that can be helpful for your children. Just remember to guard your heart and your child's heart, too. Sometimes the treatments and therapies can be as traumatic as the condition itself.

Be blessed today. I know this is hard and perhaps you don't feel like you will ever get out of the desert. My heart is with you. I am still wandering in it, too.

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