Thursday, January 6, 2011
Immunizations and Autism...a closed case?
While I was pumping this morning I turned on the news, and was surprised to see the headlines reporting that the study that linked autism and vaccinations was fraudulent:
Charlie and I were very hesitant to immunize Lydia. I'd never questioned it before moving to Alaska, but along my journey of two years there, I talked to very intelligent and educated people about their decisions not to immunize their children, people whose opinions and beliefs I greatly respected. From one family to another the reasons for not doing so varied, but many were concerned about the amounts of mercury in the vaccines, the rates at which we give vaccines to infants and toddlers, and the actual need for vaccines in modern society. I'm sure there are more qualms as well.
I was amazed to see the vehement defense of non-immunizations from these mothers and fathers. I have yet to find friends who have not eventually vaccinated their children down here in the lower 48. Many families I know have delayed vaccines until they felt their children were old enough, and strong enough, to handle the potency of the vaccinations themselves. Others delayed from an emotional response to vaccines--they couldn't bear to watch their babies being stabbed multiple times with needles (which, from a new mama's perspective, is...well...I'd feel the same about Lydia getting hurt even when she's 30).
The CNN story reported that after Wakefield's study made mainstream media, almost 80% of vaccinations dropped in Britain. The CDC reported similar staggering statistics for the United States. I couldn't find statistics or stories on how far families are delaying vaccines for their children in the amount of time that I wanted to write this blog. Our decision to vaccinate Lydia was not made easily, but in the end I feel we did the right thing for our child. We pushed Lydia's in-hospital vaccine back a couple of days after she was born. I wanted her to remain unscathed and perfect for as long as I could. She received her HepB the day we left, and at two months got her routine vaccinations. I plan on keeping up with a regular immunization schedule throughout her childhood.
Charlie was reamed out by a local health "professional" at the bar where he bartends for immunizing Lydia (I use quotations because I think any sort of shouting or verbal abuse, especially at a bar, isn't "professional"); what good does that do? What good is telling us that our child will suffer mental retardation and various health concerns after the fact? She told him that she could have made Lydia natural vaccines, that we could have done anything but vaccinate our daughter. I applaud her vehemency in what she believes so wholeheartedly in, but verbal attacks are not making her cause stronger. I think that when a person loses their case when they have to resort to screaming or over-heated vocalizing.
So. There you have it, one of the most controversial subjects in parenthood today. I am curious to see how the vaccination statistics will change in the years to come following this study. If the news reported things correctly (ha), I am amazed at the sheer number of professionals and families who put their faith into such a limited case study that could not be replicated. Anecdotal evidence was also key in making a link between autism and vaccines. I remain skeptical of most anything pharmaceutical companies try to tell me, but I will continue to vaccinate Lydia all the same. Thoughts?
Posted by Katie at 6:15 AM