FAQ: Children's Vaccines
Do vaccines cause autism?
The answer is NO.
This question has vexed parents since it was first raised over a decade ago. After all, we suspect there is some trigger of autism in genetically susceptible kids, but no one knows what that trigger might be.
Additionally, some parents noticed the autistic symptoms following immunizations. In such cases, it's hard not to assume the vaccines (or some additive in the vaccines) were responsible for the symptoms.
This was a reasonable hypothesis, but it turns out that subsequent research has debunked it. For example,
- Large studies in Scandinavia (where they keep exhaustive records) demonstrated no association at all with administration of vaccines and the onset of autism.
- Despite the elimination of one worrisome additive (thimerosal) from almost all vaccines, the incidence of autism continues to climb.
- In 2010, the British medical journal The Lancet retracted the paper linking the MMR vaccine to autism, due to the fact that the researchers falsified their data.
Alas, we don't know what might trigger autism, but it doesn't look like immunizations are the culprit. Rather, it's very likely a coincidence: Autism symptoms generally emerge in the second year, and since there are so many immunizations given at that time, the symptoms may show up in close proximity to an immunization.
The research in this area continues, so keep your eyes open. But all scientific data points against this fear being a reality.
: Don't let the fear of autism prevent you from fully immunizing your child!
Is it dangerous to get so many vaccinations at once?
No. Many studies have evaluated the effects of administering combinations of vaccines simultaneously and they have shown that vaccines are equally effective in combination as they are alone. There is a slightly greater risk of having a febrile seizure after being vaccinated with a combined MMR and varicella vaccine vs. getting MMR and varicella separately. However, the risk is slight either way; only 1 in 2,000 children vaccinated get a febrile seizure.
Remember, the moment babies are born, they are exposed to whole slew of bacteria and viruses on a daily basis. Just eating and drinking results in exposure to bacterial, viral, and fungal antigens. Consider this; a cold exposes a child to 4-10 antigens alone. So an infant with a normal immune system won’t have any difficulty managing the few antigens introduced by vaccination.
What if my child misses a vaccination?
The risk of missing an immunization is that your child will have insufficient immunity to fight off the infection at that time.
Since these diseases are now rare thanks in large part to immunizations, that's unlikely to happen. So you can simply pick up where you left off on the schedule at that time.
Should your child be very behind in receiving immunizations, the CDC has a helpful way to figure out the "catch-up" schedule: www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/scheduler/catchup.htm.