Autism

I went to the doctor the other day, and she asked if I was immune to Rubella. I said, “I don’t know. I got all those shots when I was younger. I think that was one of them.” She said if I was planning on having kids at some point, I should make sure I’m immune to Rubella because it can cause defects and problems during pregnancy. I asked if this was common, and she said it is becoming more common because many parents have chosen not to vaccinate their children for Rubella because they believe it causes Autism.

I had never heard this, but apparently it is a fairly widely held belief among many parents. Not having kids, I hadn’t considered any implications of vaccines for children or various health problems that an infant might have. After the nurse told me this, though, I was curious and did some searching.

Apparently, it is not simply the Rubella shot that many feel causes Autism. It is the combination of the measles, mumps, Rubella vaccine, along with DTaP (diptheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis) and tons more (a surprisingly long list of them all here) that some parents feel caused their child’s autism. Their child was completely fine and normal until they had those vaccines. Promptly following the vaccines (particularly MMR and DTaP), the child began displaying symptoms of autism and was eventually diagnosed.

In considering this cause, I read and watched news on both sides of the argument. One article in The New Yorker reaffirmed the need for vaccines and the overwhelming benefits they offer to society.

Some other articles seemed to suggest that not just the particular vaccine, but the combination of several vaccines administered all at once to a very young child can affect children whose genetic makeup make them predisposed to autism under certain conditions. A series of videos from PBS provides a very deep look at the problem, including possibilities for varied causes.

After researching all of this, I am now of the conclusion that when and if I do have children, I will insist that vaccines be staggered over a long period of time and will try to hold off on giving vaccines until the child is at least 3 months old. A doctor may convince me otherwise, but based on what I’ve read so far, that seems like a safer way to go than zapping a newborn baby full of every vaccine under the sun.

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