Is there a link between vaccines and child autism? Unfortunately, this is a question with no simple answer at this point.
A number of parents say there is a link between autism and vaccines, because they say their previously normal and healthy child suddenly lose the ability to speak and interact normally after receiving a vaccination.
Medical researchers say there is no link between autism and vaccines, and will point to a number of studies they have done which has proven no link.
Is it possible that a link could exist that researchers have been unable to find? Of course. And if there is no link, what can explain the changes so many families have seen in previously healthy children?
Children today receive far more vaccines than their parents or grandparents ever did. In the 1940s, there was only one vaccination: smallpox.
Now by the time they are 12, most children will have had from 30 to 35 different vaccines. Most of the shots they receive contain multiple vaccines, rather than targeting one specific illness.
There are more children diagnosed with autism today than ever before. Some researchers say that this is because we have become better at recognizing autism, and we define it more broadly than before, including an entire spectrum of autism related disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome.
It doesn’t help that children typically begin to display symptoms of autism around their second birthday, the same time they are receiving the last of the majority of their childhood vaccinations.
Researchers say that the number of cases of autism that appear around this time are a coincidence. Parents whose children have expressed no symptoms previously but then develop them suddenly, often within hours of having been vaccinated, say this is no coincidence.
Until recently, most vaccines contained a mercury-based preservative known as thimerosal. Mercury toxicity symptoms look very much like autism. However, the number of cases of autism continue to grow despite the removal of thimerosal. If there is a link, could it be something else?
Some vaccine opponents say the problem is not in any single vaccine, but in the sheer number of vaccines that are given to children when they are still quite young and their immune systems have not fully developed.
In a child with a predisposition to autism, this vaccinated assault on the immune system could cause increased vulnerability. Could this be the link? Research doesn’t have an answer for us yet.
For now, it is up to each parent to decide what is best for their child. After all, that is the ultimate responsibility of a parent in everything that concerns their child.