No Evidence for Autism-Vaccine Link


Autism is one of the most tragic developments parents can see in their children, because it takes a child who appears to be developing normally, with normal interests and joys, and suddenly tears away many of the possibilities for that child. Although autism does not take away the love that parents feel for their children, it often takes away one central component of having a child: hope. Once a child is diagnosed with autism, the hopes that parents have for their children are rapidly diminished. Although many autistic adults can live full and complete lives, it is hard for parents to see this. Because of the tragic nature of the diagnosis of autism in a child, parents ask why, why did this happen. Unfortunately, unlike many developmental disorders, no answers yet exist. It would be nice if, like cerebral palsy, there were a scenario for birth injuries that could give one the consolation of a medical malpractice suit. People reaching for answers often gravitate to the emotionally-significant moment of vaccinating their child as a possible cause. Other than a correspondence between increasing vaccination rates and increasing autism rates, there is no evidence to support the conclusion, and there is a good deal of reason to doubt the conclusion.

One piece of evidence that works against the supposed vaccine-autism connection is that, since the removal of the mercury-containing preservative thimerosal from vaccines, there has been no attendant decrease in autism rates. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, shows that although thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 1999, and the last doses of thimerosal-containing vaccines were used by 2002, autism rates continued to climb through 2007. This means that it is unlikely that thimerosal was a cause of increased autism rates.

Critics of the study have charged that since thimerosal was replaced with another, possibly equally dangerous, preservative, the lack of a decline does not prove that no connection exists. However, another study, published in the American Journal of Medical Genetics, tested whether any positive correlation existed between thimerosal and autism. This study focused on Rh protein shots given to expectant mothers who are Rh-negative, or lacking in the Rh protein on the surface of their red blood cells, a condition that can lead to the death of the newborn. The Rh protein shots that were given to mothers also contained thimerosal. However, research indicated both that children with autism were no more likely to have received Rh protein injections via their mothers and that Rh-injected mothers were no more likely to have autistic children than the general population.

With these two studies, it seems unlikely that thimerosal is a cause of rising autism rates in children. There are two other likely explanations. The first is that the majority of new cases of autism are as a result of new diagnostic guidelines, not a real increase in autism rates at all. The second is that some other, more insidious, environmental factor is to blame.

There are many other circumstances under which your child may suffer injury as a result of medical malpractice. If your child has suffered as a result of the negligence of a doctor, contact today to get in touch with a local lawyer prepared to take your case.