A few months ago, I noticed a Facebook status that read something along these lines: “Stop trying to cure autism, and just accept and love people with autism just the way they are. If you agree with this, post this as your status update for the day.” I did NOT re-post this as my status update, not only because I refuse to use my FB status update as a way to take a stand for things, but also because I simply didn’t agree with the statement.
This past week, the British medical journal The Lancet formally retracted an influential 1998 paper that had claimed a link between mercury (thimerosol) in vaccines and autism. This retraction caused many vaccine proponents to once again point fingers at those who question vaccines and proclaim science to be on their side once again. However, I remain unconvinced.
As I wrote on a friend’s Facebook page:
I have a dear friend whose son developed autism after getting a big dose of vaccinations. I’ve also heard plenty of other similar stories via the internet. I know that “correlation is not causation,” but it does give one reason to be cautious.
Autism rates are skyrocketing (along with allergies and asthma issues in kids, and juvenille cancer and diabetes, too), and no one knows why. To me, it seems prudent to reconsider everything that we are putting into our children’s bodies, including vaccines, to make sure that it isn’t causing unintended consequences.
For the record, I also think that, as a society, we need to review the safety of many things: flame-retardent clothing for infants and young children, chemicals in plastics (although it seems like the FDA is finally realizing this danger), electro-magnetic pollution, pesticides in food, and the effects of medications a mother takes during pregnancy and childbirth. And, of course, vaccinations. I don’t think any one particular thing causes all the problems, but I think that for some kids with certain genetic makeups, some kind of toxin pushes them over the edge into autism….
It’s a scary, polluted world out there, and I can’t shield my children from all of the toxins. But, I protect them from what I can.
I know that the majority of American parents today have, or at least attempt to have, their children vaccinated according to the CDC’s and AAP’s recommended schedule. But, to me, that seems like a high number of vaccines at a young age. When I was a child 30-ish years ago, the schedule didn’t call for nearly as many shots as it does now. It now seems that vaccines have become the preferred way to stay healthy, because apparently eating right (including breastfeeding infants) and getting enough sleep and exercise aren’t enough. And don’t get me started on the flu vaccine…
Despite how I may sound, truthfully I’m not completely anti-vaccines. But, I do wonder if they’re being used more than they should be. I wonder if, because vaccines worked so well at eliminating deadly diseases like polio, that the template of “Find a Vaccine for Every Disease” is being utilized, rather than seeing if there’s a better way. (And, I wonder if we really need vaccines for diseases like HPV and chickenpox. Too many people in third-world countries are dying of malaria, tuberculosis, and similar diseases that occur with not regard for human behavior or choice. If the vaccine manufacturers really want to do some good, how about coming up with good vaccines that fight those diseases that are killing multitudes of people every day, rather than focusing on diseases that one can very easily avoid getting (HPV) or that aren’t a big deal (chickenpox)? And AIDS – should we be spending so much time and money to find a cure for AIDS when there is a very simple, obvious way to avoid getting AIDS??? I know it’s not politically correct to say that, but it’s true. Americans think they should be free to live however they want and not experience consequences for their behavior, which makes the paradigm of vaccines all the more attractive.)
Modern medicine is constantly changing. What was considered “good medicine” 100 years ago is often no longer considered good medicine now. Being one who is very interested in natural childbirth, I could list numerous examples of how doctors made childbirth worse for both mothers and babies once they became involved. Childbirth works best (in the majority of births) when doctors are the least involved. Look back further in history and you’ll remember that doctors used to do things like blood-letting and other practices that we now consider barbaric and bizarre. But, one doesn’t have to look far back at all to see that medicine is constantly changing. Simply recall how many drugs approved by the FDA in recent years have later been pulled off the market when they were realized to have potentially fatal side effects.
I believe that autism is a huge problem for a generation of our nation’s children. At least one in every 150 children is diagnosed with autism. One can argue that “the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorders has expanded greatly since the 40s, diagnostic tools are increasingly fine-tuned and accurate, and public awarenes of ASD is at an all time high,” but even if that’s true, that doesn’t change the fact that there are a LOT of kids with autism in our world today. Just because autism was (theoretically) under-diagnosed in the past doesn’t make a diagnosis of autism less important now. To be sure, autism does seem to have a genetic component, but we also know that genes can mutate and malfunction. Is a genetic tendency towards autism inherited or caused by outside factors? I think it prudent to investigate both of those aspects.
I am not a scientist, and I am not an expert on autism. I’m simply a mother to two young children who likes to blog. But, I do know these facts:
- Many, many children (far too many, in my opinion) are being diagnosed with autism today.
- No one knows what causes autism.
- More cases of autism are diagnosed in American than anywhere else in the world.
- The United States’s AAP and CDC recommend more vaccinations for children than practically any other country in the world.
- American children are exposed to many more possible contaminants than children have ever been exposed to in the past.
- While many “typical childhood illnesses” are on the decline, many more serious illnesses, illnesses that have usually been considered adult problems, are on the rise.
- There is a lot of money to be made from vaccines, and many of those who are in charge of vaccine-making companies also hold positions of power in the CDC.
None of those statements prove anything. But, for me, they give me a reason to be cautious. They give me a reason to think twice before putting anything into, or even on, my child’s body. Because no one knows, I choose to be cautious of everything. Therefore, I cook from scratch and cook organic as much as possible, am careful about what lotions and shampoos I put on my children, try to use fewer plastics at home, try to use few excess and unnecessary chemicals of any kind in my house, and am wary of allowing my child to receive vaccinations.
You may call that foolish and risky, you may prefer to believe everything your doctor tells you (and believe me, so would I – it’s a pain to research things on your own), but for me, this is what my intellect and my heart tell me is right. I firmly believe that in 50 years from now, our grandchildren will be vaccinated totally differently than our children are being vaccinated today. I think the causes of autism will be figured out, and I think a generation of our children will need apologies for being subjected to this disease.
Meanwhile, I’m going to do whatever I can and whatever seems right and logical to me to keep my children as healthy as I can. Thank God I live in a free country where I can raise my children as I see fit, and I hope the government stays out of my health care choices in the future.