Vaccines Autism BY 2345 Vaccines Autism 1 Running head: Vaccines Autism Literature Review: The Hypothesis That Immunization Vaccines Are Linked To The Development Of Autism In Children Joe Bremson North Carolina State University Professor Paul Colby English 101 Section 81 December 9, 2010 Vaccines Autism 2 Abstract Four research articles—two research studies and two literature reviews—were compared in this review, all of which consider the legitimacy of the hypothesis that immunization vaccines are correlated with the higher prevalence of autism spectrum disorders.
In short, the scientific disagreement on this issue is reasonably well established—the science repeatedly shows no solid correlation and, in turn, researchers generally do not support the vaccine-autism hypothesis. Since this widely-held scientific disagreement is apparent, my main contention is that education for families on the dangers of not vaccinating their offspring and teaching them to be skeptical of alternative/holistic medicine gurus who still agree with the hypothesis is very important if we are to get a handle on the problem.
This can be done in the form of community service messages or, on a larger scale, healthcare eform in which great improvement is made in the arena of doctor-patient relations. Vaccines Autism 3 The theory that routine vaccines given to babies at birth for immunization correlate with the increased prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has been around for a decade or two. This hypothesis is one that both camps—the camp supporting its legitimacy and the camp denying its legitimacy—debate with great enthusiasm and passion.
However, despite heated debates, extensive research of very reputable quality cannot scientifically prove that there is indeed a correlation. Therefore, ccording to the medical researchers, it is a battle between the most current scientific research disputing the hypothesis and ‘cults’ of alternative health practitioners warning against the ‘dangerous’ vaccines and opting instead for parents to refuse the routine vaccination of their children purely to avoid the possibility they will develop autism.
As one can plainly see, this is a problematic rationale since the vaccines are intended to immune society against lethal pathogens and avoiding the vaccines will only make tne people more susceptlDle to tne Olseases . Ine contention I old, then, is that educating families on the benefit of immunization and teaching them to be skeptical of alternative health practitioners who claim otherwise is of the upmost importance if we are going to come to terms with this problem. For this literature review of the vaccine-autism hypothesis, two research studies and two literature reviews were evaluated.
Three of the four articles—by Halsey, et al; Taylor, et al; Fombonne, et al—pertain to the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine while the other one, a literature review by Miller and Reynolds, pertains to the orrelation between autism and both the MMR vaccine and all vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal (Miller, 2009, p. 166). Overall, the findings for all four studies indicate that Vaccines Autism 4 there is no supporting evidence that this correlation exists or, as one study puts it: “If such an association occurs, it is so rare that it could not be identified in [their] regional sample” (Taylor et al. 1999, p. 2029). The methods involved in both of the research studies are as follows: Taylor’s study identified children living with autism born since 1979 in eight different health istricts in North Thames, I-JK. All of the information was taken from registers for disabilities or “special schools” (Taylor, 1999, p. 2026). It was then determined how their autism history compared to their vaccination records, obtained from a health database with exact dates, to understand a possible correlation between their schedule of the vaccination, if applicable, and their diagnosis of autism (Taylor, 1999, 2026).
In Fombonne’s study, the research was conducted in a similar way. Three sample groups–one of 96 children born between ’92 and ’95 with autism (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Methods section, Para. ) and two other samples from past research (Methods section, Para. 4)—were evaluated to discover a possible link, utilizing research strategies such as the assessment of the child’s age during original parental concern of their possessing the disorder (2001 , Methods section, Para. 7), assessing the presence of the child’s potential ‘regression’—that is, regressing further as a result of their autism (2001, Methods section, Para. ), as well as the potential for a related correlation concerning gastrointestinal dysfunction (2001 , Methods section, Para. 11-12), something common amongst those with autism. Vaccines Autism 5 The two other articles were, as IVe mentioned, both literature reviews. Miller and Reynolds’ review focused on the most current information (published Mar. 2009) concerning the legitimacy of the autism hypothesis for both the MMR vaccine and thimerosal-containing vaccines, as said previously.
Their purpose in presenting the research is to educate nurses in the field of immunization (Miller & Reynolds, 2009, p. 166). Halseys study, on the other hand, is much different in that it is a research article documenting a gathering of researchers and experts in the fields of not only utism spectrum disorders, but also pathogenesis and epidemiology to assess and boil down the research on the possible correlation between autism, the MMR vaccine, and gastrointestinal dysfunction, most notably inflammatory bowel disease (Halsey & Hyman, 2001 , ADstract sectlon, Para. As for the ‘Results’ section, the points of comparison between the two research studies, aside from the literature reviews, will be explained. The first point of comparison is the child’s age at first parental concern, which is found to be mostly around the time of the child’s 18th thru 24th month, “with one exception” (1999, p. 027), in Taylor’s study. In Fombonne’s study, on the other hand, it is said, “in the Stafford sample [the main sample, selected specifically for this study], the mean age at which parents first were concerned was 19. months” (2001, Results section, Para. 5). In Taylor’s study, the statistic was compared to the children’s immunization records and were found to be the following: “Of the 356 cases of core or atypical autism with age at diagnosis of 18 months or greater, 233 received MMR vaccine before this age, 64 never received MMR vaccine, and 59 received MMR vaccine at 18 months or later” (1999, p. Vaccines Autism 6 2028). Fombonne’s study compares their statistic to a set of six predictions (2001 , Results section, Para. 1) that are the basis for their research.
Their first prediction is that, of the samples given the MMR vaccine, the original time of the parent’s concern that their child had autism has changed (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Results section, Para. 3). The findings, however, are that there is no difference (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Results section, Para. 3). The statistic is also compared to the prediction that “parents of children with regression were concerned at a different ge and at an age closer to immunization than those of children without regression” (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Results section, Para. ). The science did not support this prediction either (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001 , Results section, Para. 5). Regression itself was also discussed in the ‘Results’ of both research studies, briefly in Taylor’s study and more in-depth in Fombonne’s study. All that is presented in Taylor’s study is that “regression was recorded for 29% of core autism cases compared with 18% of atypical cases and 6% of those with Asperger’s syndrome” (1999, p. 2027). Fombonne’s article, however, includes theories of the regressive tendency in their set of predictions.
It is discovered that, counter to their theory that regressive autism is becoming more prevalent, “no difference was found in the rates of probable and definite regression” (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001 , Results section, Para. 4). Then, their fourth prediction is that parents with regressive autistic children are concerned at point in time that seems to noticeably coincide with their immunization when compared to their nonregressive counterparts (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Results section, Para. ).
In short, they found that when the two variables were compared, the correlation doesn’t Vaccines Autism 7 seem to be evident (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Results section, Para. 5). Another prediction based on regression is this: “children with regression have a different symptom profile than those without regression” (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001 , Results section, Para. 6). They found for this theory as well that “no statistically significant difference was found” (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001 , Results section, Para. ) Ine last prealctlon mace In tnls study concerning regression Is tnat astrointestinal symptoms are most common for those with regressive autism (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001, Results section, Para. 7). This theory is also quickly concluded to be false—“no association was found between gastrointestinal symptoms and regression” (Fombonne & Chakrabarti, 2001 , Results section, Para. 8). Concerning the two literature reviews, both are relatively straight-forward. Their main purpose is to present information of the ‘background’ sort—to supply much of the basic information on research done and history of the hypotheses.
There is little hat can be directly compared between the two, but I will present the research that can be compared here. Both articles begin with a brief history of autism itself. Halseys article begins with the explanation “ASD is a complex developmental disorder that is behaviorally defined” (Halsey & Hyman, 2001 , Autism Review section, Para. 3). After this brief background, a bullet-point list of three categories diagnostic symptomatology, including relatively underdeveloped social skills, lack of normal communication, and “stereotyped patterns of behavior” (Halsey & Hyman, 2001 , Autism Review section, Para. ). In Miller’s review, the same basic information is stated, with mention to all three of the Vaccines Autism 8 same commonalities of the disorder (Miller & Reynolds, 2009, p. 166). In Miller’s article, it is also mentioned that the vaccine hypothesis originated because of an interest to uncover ‘environmental’ sources for the increase in prevalence of autism’s diagnosis (2009, p. 166). This is also discussed in Halseys review, stating that one of the six theorized explanations for increased prevalence could be “environmental chemicals or infectious agents” (Halsey & Hyman, 2001 , Autism Review section, Para. ), the other five being mostly societal—such as migration of those diagnosed could affect the prevalence in one or more places (Halsey & Hyman, 2001 , Autism Review section, Para. 11). The next point of comparison concerns the MMR vaccine. In Halseys review, it is discovered that “the current epidemiologic data do not support the hypothesis that MMR vaccine is associated with an increased risk of autism” (2001, Autism Review section, Para. 24).
In Miller’s study, similar conclusions are drawn: “The [Immunization Safety Review] committee, after performing an in-depth review of the elevant scientific and medical literature, rejected a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and ASD” (2009, p. 168). It is also said in their review that “they found that the autism rate had increased by 373% between 1980 and 1994 but the immunization rate had been fairly constant during that period, increasing by only 14%” (2009, p. 169). Both reviews conclude in the same essential way.
Halseys review states that “the available evidence does not support the hypothesis that MMR vaccine causes autism or associated disorders or IBD” (Halsey & Hyman, 2001 , Conclusions ection, Para. 1). Miller’s review ends the following way: “after reviewing 5000 pages of transcripts, 939 Vaccines Autism 9 mealcal articles, expert reports, ana nearlng testimony Trom 2B experts Court of Federal Claims found] that the MMR and thimerosal-containing vaccines, independently or together, were not causal factors in the development of autism or ASD” (2009, p. 170).
Now, having presented the research conducted on this issue, there remains the problem of many families who reject immunization for their children despite doctors and government warning against such a measure. There are many persons involved in the alternative medicine community who still believe in the legitimacy of the vaccine-autism link despite the scientific research that says otherwise, and many of those groups probably don’t have as thorough an understanding of the dangers involved as medical doctors and those involved in the rigorous research conducted on the issue.
That’s why I say that it’s important to reach out and educate families on the dangers of not immunizing their children and teaching them to be skeptical of those in the alternative health community. Obviously, there is a reason for making immunization a routine health measure. If there wasn’t a reason, there wouldn’t be any immunization. It is because of immunizations that modern medicine is capable of keeping society from being susceptible to many of the dangerous infectious pathogens that made us ill for centuries before vaccines.
Aside from that, though, I would imagine that those who encourage rejection of immunization have some sort of their own agenda, or else they wouldn’t have a reason to encourage rejection. Regardless, something needs to be done if we are to Vaccines Autism 10 eep society as a whole from becoming susceptible to the (potentially lethal) infectious diseases once again. It is a definite possibility to present this family education in the form of community service messages, which could potentially be a start in getting information on this issue out in the public.
Another possibility is to encourage a strengthening of the relations and communication between doctor and patient throughout one’s childbirth, and openly, calmly discussing the benefits and facts about immunization in a comfortable situation. One more possibility in this matter is to strengthen the elations and communication between doctor and patient in general (in all medical situations), which would improve the confidence of patients and, in turn, discourage people to take advice from those in fringy, pseudoscientific medical movements.
Presenting it in the form of a community-service message seems like it would be cost- effective and would potentially reach a wide audience, especially if it is broadcast on major television networks. The popularity of television definitely makes this a feasible possibility. To reach an even wider audience, these could be broadcast on the radio uch as National Public Radio or local stations across the United States. It might even be relatively easy to find funding for this sort of message.
Improving the doctor-patient communication during childbirth for women would be a little harder. It would also be very difficult to generally strengthen the doctor-patient bond. Both of these are more in line with large-scale healthcare reform and would be impossible to change in a short amount of time. However, I do believe that it’s entirely posslDle tnat sucn trus loss of Vaccines Autism 11 t In tne alternatlve nealt n expe ts Is Oue to some 0T socle confidence in dealing with allopathic physicians.
If my theory was correct and we immediately instigated such changes, I think we would notice improvement in that confidence very quickly. As we have seen in this review, all of the experts discussed herein disagree with the basis for the hypothesis. The research solidly does not support the vaccine-autism link. It is because of this well-established conclusion that I believe the next step is education and teaching parents to skeptical of what they hear and read from alternative health practitioners.
Regarding the recommendations IVe made for carrying out this plan, I believe they are worthy of consideration since the hypothesis we’re faced with is potentially dangerous to society and should not be taken lightly. If the changes I have highlighted were made, I not only have much optimism that the issue would be under better control, but I also think we would live in a society that is healthier. Vaccines Autism 12 References Fombonne, E. , & Chakrabarti, S. (2001). No evidence for a new variant of measles- mumps-rubella-induced autism. Pediatrics, 108(4), 58. Halsey, N. A. , & Hyman, S. L. 001). Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autistic spectrum disorder: Report from the New Challenges in Childhood Immunizations Conference convened in Oak Brook, Illinois, June 12-13, 2000. pediatrics, 107(5), 84. Miller, L. , & Reynolds, J. (2009). Autism and Vaccination—The Current Evidence. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 14(3), 166-172. Taylor, B. , Miller, E. , Farrington, C. P. , Petropoulos, M. C. , Favot-Mayaud, 1. , L’, J. , et al…. (1999). Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet, 353(9169), 2026-2029.