Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is There a Link Between Vaccines and Autism?

It’s a nightmare scenario for concerned parents—a routine vaccination triggers a lifelong developmental disorder that can impair communication and social function. But is it a genuine risk, or is it just the wild paranoia of conspiracy theorists with tinfoil hats?

As any self-respecting scientist will tell you, absolutely anything is possible. What seems stark-raving bonkers today just might become the cornerstone of new discoveries tomorrow. That said, scientists have spent a solid decade searching for a link between vaccines and autism, and to date, a great deal of peer-reviewed research has conclusively found no relationship. The removal of a much-feared mercury additive from vaccines has had no effect on rates of autism. And promising new lines of research suggest that the roots of autism may be set by birth, and possibly influenced by events in the womb.

Today most scientists attribute the rise in autism rates to increased reporting—in other words, now that the disorder has a name and a clear identity, parents and doctors are quicker to spot it. One thing is clear: While avoiding vaccines is unlikely to protect against autism, it does roll the dice on an unsettling collection of childhood illnesses. Many of these diseases can kill or cause debilitating effects that last a lifetime—a fact that has slipped out of modern consciousness as the last people who faced those diseases die of old age.

Furthermore, it’s important to realize that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children have it relatively easy today, because the most likely avenues of infection—other people—are themselves mostly immunized. But there comes a critical point where a community has enough non-immunized people to sustain a deadly infection and pass it around. In Britain, where the immunization rate has recently dipped to 85 percent, a young boy who had not been given the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine achieved a dubious distinction: He became the first British citizen to die of measles in 14 years.

Source of Information : Oreilly - Your Body Missing Manual

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