A second major medical publication is calling foul on Dr. Andrew Wakefield's 1998 studying linking the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine to autism. In fact, today the BMJ, a leading medical journal in the U.K. reports Wakefield deliberately faked the study that rattled parents worldwide. So, the debate continues: do vaccines cause autism?
It's been a frequent topic of conversation between pedatricians and parents, not to mention in my own family. My sister Dr. Priscilla Bade has worked with autistic children for years and continues to be an advocate for their education and development. I mentioned her in my first blog entry I wrote about this subject a year ago, when "The Lancet", another British medical journal repudiated Wakefield's findings. (Even 10 of his own researchers have debunked his claims of a link). Well, apparently, that was just the first round in what's turned into a boxing match where the gloves have come off.
Wakefield continues to defend his study. And somewhere in the middle of all this...parents, children and parents with autistic children, sit with huge question marks over their heads.
Read below my blog from a year ago...and tell us your thoughts:
If you're like me, when you heard there might even be the slightest chance that children's vaccines could lead to autism, you gave serious thought to what you could be pumping into your child's body. I know with both my kids, I spread out all their vaccines, even though doctors and nurses encouraged me to just get them over with at once. I wasn't comfortable with that. Aside from the study that claimed there could be a link, I just felt it was an awful lot of "stuff" to be putting into such a tiny body. Add that to the fact, that I'm extremely sensitive to medication (I get every "rare" reaction or side effect listed on the label) I just didn't think it was wise considering they have my DNA.
Written February 3, 2010
Now we learn, that study may have been mishandled. Let's face it, the scientific community has never been on the same page about it, primarily because autism is such a mystery. The news story Fox 5 ran February 2nd reports the man in charge of the study claiming to link autism to vaccines... allegedly paid for kids' blood samples and fudged findings in other ways as well. My question is: Even if that's true in this particular study, does that really extinguish the possibility of a link entirely?
My sister, Dr. Priscilla Bade-White worked with autistic children for over a decade, got her doctorate in school psychology, and has written several textbook chapters on autism. I asked her what she thought about this latest controversy. She says first and foremost there are several medical studies looking at autism, and not just it's possible link to vaccines only, but how vaccines can interact with certain children with specific conditions. Take celiac disease, or gluten intolerance or other gut problems. There are some studies that suggest, children with those conditions may be more susceptible or at higher risk of autism if vaccinated. (Keep in mind, this is my brief, layman description of one such theory.)
However, she also points out that there are a lot of parents of autistic children who swear by it. They swear their child was one way before vaccinated, and totally changed after. So who do you listen to when science is still in the works and the jury is still out? I say our guts.... and talk to your doctor about your concerns.
One thing you can do, is what my sister described as asking your physician for "an alternative vaccine schedule". It's what I did with my children, only it wasn't called that back then, and frankly it was kind of frowned upon, but apparently it's more widely accepted now. So, if you are nervous or unsure, that's one option that's changed fairly recently.
I have a nephew who is autistic and he is a sweet, little gem, with his own set of gifts. It's my hope, the medical community can get on the same page, so we can unwrap what's going on inside him and so many other children.
Until then...we journalists will continue to do some digging of our own. Watch for updates...tes...