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Entries in autism (1)


In the News: Vaccine Safety!!

A very important study in the world of pediatrics came out this past week in the Journal of Pediatrics. Vaccines and the potential link to autism is a hot topic in the media as well as in the pediatric office, as parents often express concern over vaccine administration and whether or not vaccines contribute to the development of autism. As pediatricians, most of us feel confident that there is no link between the two, and this recent study shows some more powerful evidence to support this.

Dr. Frank DeStefano and team compared vaccine administration in two groups – those with autism and those without. Specifically, they were interested in the part of the vaccine that stimulates the immune system to protect the body from infection (known as the “antigen”). For each child, they counted the number of antigens that were administered via vaccines from birth until age 2. When comparing the groups of autistic children with normal developing children, there was no difference in the number of antigens they had received. This suggests that the effect of these vaccines on the immune system does not contribute to the development of autism. Perhaps even more importantly, it did not seem to matter how many antigens a child received on a specific day, further supporting that children should stick to the recommended schedule. Even Autism Speaks, a prominent autism advocacy organization, acknowledges this study as reassuring, given the good evidence provided.

Another very interesting point that was highlighted in the study is that the number of antigens in vaccines today has decreased drastically compared to those in the 1990’s. Even though children receive more vaccines than they did two decades ago, their immune systems are stimulated even less! Keep in mind that children are exposed to tons of germs on a daily basis – FAR more than what they receive in these vaccines.

NPR and USA Today did excellent stories on this study and hot topic, and I encourage you to check them out for more information (the audio story on NPR is great too).

The reality is that vaccines are one of the best studied areas of medicine today and they have effectively prevented millions of deaths per year! We have significantly decreased (if not almost eradicated) many of the diseases and illnesses that killed children no less than 20 years ago. The more we decrease vaccination rates, the more we run the risk of these awful diseases returning. Vaccines are much like wearing a seatbelt in the car – protect your children (and yourself too) now to prevent deadly consequences later!