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Top 10 Myths About Vaccines and Autism

By    |   Tuesday, 10 March 2015 04:39 PM

Concerns about vaccines and autism received international attention following the 1998 publication of a paper in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal. The article focused on a 1997 study that suggested a link between the measles-mumps-rubella, or MMR, vaccine and autism.

In the years that followed, the study was thoroughly discredited because of errors and conflicts of interest. The paper was eventually retracted in 2010, but parents still feared a connection between vaccines and autism, a disorder involving psychological development for children.

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Here are 10 myths about vaccines and autism that have developed over the years.

1. Vaccines cause autism: Several studies conducted since the 1997 study show no relationship between vaccines and the development of autism. Symptoms of autism often occur before children receive MMR vaccines, and the disorder could even begin in the womb, according to PublicHealth.

2. Too many vaccines early in a child's life increase the risk of autism: Researchers have found that the number antigens, which indicate the presence of antibodies to fight disease, are the same for children with and without autism. The number has been decreasing since the late 1990s, according to a study published in the March 29, 2013 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3. Mercury in the preservative thimerosal for vaccines might trigger the development of autism: Medical researchers found no link between mercury or thimerosal and autism, though thimerosal was phased out of childhood vaccines in the U.S. beginning in 2001.

4. Vaccines for children cause febrile seizures and high fever: Febrile seizures associated with high fever occur in one of 20 children at some point in their young lives. The MMR vaccine may slightly increase the risk for febrile seizures, but the seizures usually occur when a child is sick rather than after a vaccination, according to the CDC.

5. Regardless of recent studies, vaccines aren't worth the risk of side effects: A severe reaction to a vaccine occurs about once every one to 2 million injections. Credible studies have not linked vaccines to long-term health conditions. The incidence of death is so small it can't be calculated, according to PublicHealth.

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6. Vaccines can cause the disease it tries to prevent: Mild symptoms that mimic those of the disease may occur following vaccination, but it indicates the body's immune response to the vaccine and not to the disease.

7. Vaccines aren't needed in the U.S. because infection rates have become so low: If too many parents don't vaccinate their children, it can increase the risk of viruses and bacteria spreading rapidly. International travel has become so common that a disease from another country threatens people who aren't vaccinated, according to the CDC.

8. Natural immunity works better than immunity from vaccines: The body can develop immunity from exposure, but you also risk dangers from the disease. An unvaccinated person who contracts measles faces a one in 500 chance of death from the symptoms.

9. Good hygiene and sanitation, instead of vaccines, decreases infections: Cleanliness helps, but vaccines are often needed. Rates of measles dropped from 400,000 a year in 1963 when the measles vaccine was introduced in the U.S. to 25,000 cases by 1970.

10. Vaccines contain dangerous toxins: The use of formaldehyde or aluminum and other chemicals in vaccines only include trace amounts. The levels are so low the vaccines are not harmful, according to PublicHealth.

This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.

VOTE NOW: Should Vaccinations for Children Be the Parents' Decision?

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Concerns about vaccines and autism received international attention following the 1998 publication of a paper in The Lancet, a prestigious British medical journal.
Vaccines, Autism, Myths, Health
Tuesday, 10 March 2015 04:39 PM
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