Vaccines and Autism Correlation
February 28th, 1998, a British gastroenterologist named Andrew Wakefield published his paper in
The Lancet. The Lancet
is a medical journal that is in the United Kingdom. His work suggested that there were 8 children who first showed signs of autism 1 month after they were given a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). From results of an endoscopy, Wakefield assumed that the MMR vaccine was in connection with autism (Plotkin, et al., 2009). It was not until 12 years later that
recanted Wakefield’s work. Even though the paper was taken down because it was proven false, this is what started the ball rolling with the anti-vaccination development and more and more people would start to look into it.
How to Help Eliminate the Hidden Enemy That Triggers Autism
is an article by Dr. Mercola (2011). This is where Mercola draws attention to Helen Ratajczak’s work,
Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes – A review
to point out to his audience that children are being given a lot more vaccinations now, in a shorter amount of time, than they were 30 years ago. It is here that we see that the rise of the vaccinations that children are getting these days is generating the big rise in autism that we are seeing now.
Mercola’s Base Argument: Rising Rates of Autism As a Result of More Vaccinations
Mercola tells us in her article that the incline of cases of autism has made a breathtaking leap from just 2 in 10.000 to only 1 in 500 within in the years of 1983 and 1990. Mercola contends that Ratajczak’s report says the leap in cases of autism is not because autism has been reclassified, that we are testing things differently, or any other improved technology where we can screen for these things earlier. It is noted that the jump of diagnoses of autism happened generally around the time that the MMR-II vaccine was released. Mercola also says that we would have seen large jumps in other catergories, such as mental retardation and languge and speach impairments if the MMR-II vaccine was truly at fault.
Mercola goes on to show us that a large number of recent cases of autism could be due to how many vaccinations that are being given to children in such a short amount of time. “In 1983, before the autism epidemic began, children received 10 vaccinations before entering school. Today, they are receiving 24 vaccines before the end of their first year—and 36 by the time they start school” (2010). Russel Blaylock had a theroy that children who have autism happens to get triggered by a drawn-out activation of the brain’s immune system from various vaccines. When the brain has access to so many different chemicals, the brain gets hurt. Since kids brains are still heavily in the development stages of life, it is extra dangerous to their brains and their fragile, underdeveloped immune systems. The parts of the brain that these chemicals alter are the ones that are responsible for their social skills and communication, therefore causing the autism. Because there are holes in his theory, they need to be heavily researched and retested to find all the correct answers and reasons why this is all happening.
Issues Presented with Mercola’s Ideas
Mercola is a smart individual, but we cannot just assume that everything that he is saying is correct. There are a few holes in his ideas that need further research and explanation. Mercola is speculating that other disorders that are in the same family as autism have also had different methods to be tested, but the numbers have generally stayed the same, and have nowhere near jumped as high as that of the autistic results. Since there are different branches of autism, such as Asperger’s (Harker & Stone, 2014), this branch could tell us why the leap is so high in the autism category.
Another idea that Mercola (2011) presents, is that our genetics are just a mere 1 or maybe 2 percent to blame for autism today. He tells us that research has been done, but researchers have not been able to find a gene that is the cause of autism, but they do know that a combination of different mutations and genes are what kicks autism into gear. Since there has yet to find the specific genes and mutations that are the cause of this condition, genetics are not able to be the fault for autism. Also, since there is not just one gene responsible, it cannot be considered a large part of autism.
Mercola is assuming that the MMR-II vaccine is to blame for the rise in these autism numbers. Just because the MMR-II happened to be released around the same time that the jump happened, does not directly mean that it is solely to blame.
Comments on Ratajczak’s Review
Mercola says that Ratajczak took a look at a group of research concerning autism. Since it first came to be in the 1940s, things have changed. Her research is outdated, seeing how this was a lifetime ago. Since things are always changing in science and life in general, clearly the research cannot be completely authentic when trying to say things are the same today as they were multiple years ago. It is also worth noting that neither Ratajczak or Mercola have sources from the opposing point of view. This is where we see that their articles are one-sided, and since we are not presented with the opposing side, we are not being given all the applicable evidence needed to make a solid confirmation that vaccines are responsible for the rise in autism.
Mercola (2011) is fully confident that the rise in vaccines in such a small amount of time is what is to blame for the high rise in autism rates. He draws us to Ratajczak’s paper to back up his claims but gives us no arguments on the opposing side, which would be very beneficial for a clear understanding of the matter. From all the above evidence we are given, people are sure to think that this is correct, but not having the other side of the argument is harmful seeing as new parents could see this, assume he is right, and not vaccinate their kids, which could have very negative repercussions.
Since research is never done and we can always learn more, there is still a lot to learn about autism and what is the leading cause of it. Research needs to be done with both the pros and cons to eliminate bias so there is a clear outcome of results.
- Harker, C. M., & Stone, W. L. (2014). Comparison of the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder across DSM-5, DSM-IV-TR, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Definition of autism. Retrieved from Vanderbilt University, The Iris Center: http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/ASD-Comparison0922141.pdf
- Mercola, J. (2011). How to help eliminate the hidden enemy that triggers autism. Retrieved from
- Plotkin, Gerber, S., J., Offit, A., P., & Stanley. (2009, February 15). Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses. Retrieved January 5, 2019, from https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/48/4/456/284219