Please welcome Dr. Bob Sears back to Metropolitan Mama.
Sears is a nationally known pediatrician, father of three, and author of The Vaccine Book: Making the Right Decision for Your Child. Sears has graciously offered to extend his expertise about vaccines through a monthly column where YOU ask the questions…and he answers them. See the bottom of this post for details about how you can submit a question.
If you want more information now, you should really just buy his book (read my review here). It’s comprehensive, objective, and the only one of its kind on the market.
Today’s question was sent in by Jen.
QUESTION: My question is about vaccines and autism. I have a friend who swears that her daughter became autistic because of her vaccines. (Is that possible?!?) What are your thoughts on the vaccines and autism issue?
ANSWER FROM DR. SEARS: The reason that many families with autism believe that vaccines may play a role is that some seemingly normal and healthy toddlers regress into autism between 12 and 18 months. The problems appear to begin after the MMR vaccine (given at 12 or 15 months). The measles component of this vaccine has been shown by some researchers to cause an intestinal measles infection that they suspect may be a trigger for autism.
This theory has not been proven, and the research that suggests a possible connection has come under a lot of fire and has been discredited by most professionals. No one, however, has repeated this research in order to try to prove that kids with autism don’t have a measles intestinal infection. The problem is, even if we some day do discover measles is a problem in autism, we won’t actually know if the virus is actually a cause of autism or simply happens to be there.
Another theoretical connection between vaccines and autism may have been mercury. But now that mercury is out of all vaccines (as long as you know which brands of the flu shot to stay away from), this is no longer a concern for parents today.
The final possible (but unproven) connection may be an overload of the various chemicals all given together at 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months in the standard vaccine schedule. We just don’t know whether or not this could trigger autism. Researchers are currently working on ways to test every baby’s genetics and immune system at birth to screen out babies that may be susceptible to damage from chemical overload. We can then be more careful with such infants, both with vaccines and other aspects of daily life. This technology is years away, however.
Until we learn more, parents are faced with making a decision based on the information we have now. In The Vaccine Book, Dr. Bob Sears presents all the current research on these issues, and offers parents a variety of ways they can vaccinate their children while minimizing risks and side effects. For more information, and a preview of the book, visit www.TheVaccineBook.com
If you have a question about vaccines for Dr. Sears, send an e-mail with “Ask Dr. Sears” in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.