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Good investigative reporting may finally debunk the myth that vaccines cause autism

January 6, 2011
  • By Ann MacDonald, Contributor

About the Author

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Ann MacDonald, Contributor

Ann MacDonald was the editor of the Harvard Mental Health Letter from October 2007 to January 2012. She has also written several editions of the Harvard Medical School Annual Report on Prostate Disease. Before working at … See Full Bio
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October 28, 2011

I’m sorry but, where are your sources? I don’t believe saying “This is a GOOD article, with THOROUGH investigation. It debunks ONE MAN’S article who made stuff up [like we’re doing now]. Thus, there MUST be no link betwixt the two” proves anything whatsoever. It’s more and more of the same statement. ONE study was retracted, among thousands. There’s a reason why this idea has remained afloat.

Let me guess, your paycheck comes from a big pharma, right? Or your vacation packages among other expensive gifts?

Kathy Silverstein
October 3, 2011

I think far too much attention and energy is being paid to debunking this Wakefield study. It is not as if this study wa the only evidence ever that vaccines cause autism. You can debunk it all you want, but you are still never going to “put to bed” the debate over whether or not vaccines cause autism.

Scientific evidence or not, I have heard of too much ancedotal evidence to dismiss the vaccine theory. So many thousands of stories of kids who started to regress right after their shots, or who get very sick after their shots and then started to regress. Too many to ignore. It is possible that some people are genetically susceptible to the levels of vaccines we are giving them, and some are not. It does not mean all vaccines are bad. It just means for some people, they are.

Meanwhile, I hope that people can see that saying some vaccines are dangerous to some people does not mean we have to say all vaccines are dangerous to all people.

Autism Awareness
September 30, 2011

While this debate will go on forever whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, in the mean time we can help children with autism to progress and can even recover by employing strategies such as early intervention,providing extensive therapies such as ABA, biomedical, RDI and several other treatments.
[URL removed by moderator]

Craig Kendall
July 26, 2011

I have to believe that heredity and some environmental factors come into play. But I am glad that, at least, poor parents are not pulling their hair out and punishing themselves for giving their children vaccinations when they were small. It is bad enough having a child with autism but feeling like you were the cause of it because you vaccinated your child makes it almost too much to bear. There is a great article that speaks to the sadness that parents have about this whole issue of vaccines, Conquer any Feelings of Guilt You May Have. I only hope we can put this behind us once and for all.

Susi Irawati
June 7, 2011

Between boy and girl, why is autism happen mostly in boys? Thanks You

Eric Rowland
March 12, 2011

So, what would you say is the cause of autism? Certainly, not heredity, as I never knew of anyone suffering from it prior to the sixties (I am 76 years old and was raised in a big city). Surely, if it tended to be hereditary I would have encountered sufferers somewhere along the line?
The fact that vaccines can contain mercury and aluminium (Thimerosal) might not have anything to do with it, I suppose?

Ann MacDonald
March 14, 2011

Dear Mr. Rowland,

Thanks for writing. The short answer is: we don’t know what the cause of autism spectrum disorders. Genetic changes — sometimes very subtle but cumulative in their damage — account for more than 90% of the risk, according to studies in twins.

I hope we find out what the cause is, and more important, a way to treat these often devastating conditions.

Adrian Meli
January 6, 2011

Very glad Harvard put this out as I am not sure how many people realize the original autism study was so small. The idea that vaccines could cause autism has traveled very far and wide. I had no idea, however, that the original study had fabrications in it. Great post Anne. – Adrian Meli

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