Association Found Between Autism Prevalence and Childhood Vaccination

A study published in the May 11, 2011, issue of the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health shows that in the US there is a state by state link between the proportion of infants and toddlers receiving recommended vaccines and the autism rate for that state. Interestingly enough, the study was only covered by one news outlet, being reported on in the July 08, 2011, issue of the Baltimore Sun.

The authors of the study start off by noting, “The reason for the rapid rise of autism in the United States that began in the 1990s is a mystery. Although individuals probably have a genetic predisposition to develop autism, researchers suspect that one or more environmental triggers are also needed. One of those triggers might be the battery of vaccinations that young children receive.”

The author of the Baltimore Sun article, Margaret Dunkle, is a senior research scientist at the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University and director of the Early Identification and Intervention Collaborative for Los Angeles County. Her article is titled, “We don’t know enough about childhood vaccines. Researcher asks: Are 36 doses of vaccine by age 2 too much, too little, or just right?” She reports that the federal government recommends 36 doses of vaccine, addressing 14 different diseases, for every US child under age two.

Dunkle reports that the vaccine ingredients could be an issue. She noted that vaccines contain adjuvants designed to boost vaccine potency. One of the more common adjuvants is aluminum. Dunkle also noted that thimerosal, which is almost 50 percent mercury and has been removed from most child vaccines, is still present in flu vaccines. Additionally, the carcinogen formaldehyde is also present in a number of the vaccines. All these are in addition to stabilizers such as gelatin, eggs or other proteins.

Whether the ingredients are the problem, or the sheer number of vaccines given in the first two years of life, the amount of research done on the short and long term effects of the multiple vaccines is negligible. Dunkle states, “While testing is routine for individual vaccines as they are licensed, research on the both short and long-term effects of multiple doses of vaccine administered to very young children during the critical birth-to-2 developmental window is sparse to nonexistent.”

The researchers concluded their study by stating, “A positive and statistically significant relationship was found: The higher the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations, the higher was the prevalence of autism or speech or language impairment.” The researchers noted that neither parental behavior or access to healthcare played a role in the study results. They also noted that no other type of disability was statistically related to the proportion of children receiving recommended vaccinations. From their research, they clearly state, “The results suggest that although mercury has been removed from many vaccines, other culprits may link vaccines to autism. Further study into the relationship between vaccines and autism is warranted.”

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