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In the Vaccine-Autism Debate, What Can Parents Believe?

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Last week, parents were told a British researcher's 1998 report linking the MMR shot to autism was fraudulent -- that this debate about vaccines and autism is now over, and parents should no longer worry about giving their children six vaccines at a single pediatric appointment or 36 by the time they are five years old.

Is that the whole story? Dr. Andrew Wakefield's study of 12 children with autism actually looked at bowel disease, not vaccines. The study's conclusion stated, "We did not prove an association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described [autism]."

Dr. Wakefield did something I wish all doctors would do: he listened to parents and reported what they said. His paper also said that, "Onset of behavioral symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps and rubella vaccination in 8 of the 12 children," and that, "further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome [autism with gut disease] and its possible relation to this vaccine."

Since when is repeating the words of parents and recommending further investigation a crime? As I've learned, the answer is whenever someone questions the safety of any vaccines.

For some reason, parents aren't being told that this "new" information about Dr. Wakefield isn't a medical report, but merely the allegations of a single British journalist named Brian Deer. Why does one journalist's accusations against Dr. Wakefield now mean the vaccine-autism debate is over?

One of the actual parents from the study, who talked to Generation Rescue, wondered the same thing:

How could the BMJ [British Medical Journal, publisher of Brian Deer's article] scrutinize what Brian Deer has said without looking at our children's medical notes which they are not allowed to have? This needs to be challenged.

Another parent of one of the 12 children put things even more strongly:

To hear that my son's gastrointestinal condition has been extensively refuted, by unqualified and ill-informed individuals who have never laid eyes on him, looking at and mis-interpreting scanty medical notes without the courtesy to ask for our version of our son's early childhood, flies in the face of everything that the medical community and its professional bodies seek to represent. This is especially curious as gastrointestinal issues in autism are well recognized and documented and are included in the UK government's own best practice guidelines for early investigation and treatment.


American media, why aren't we hearing from these parents? If Brian Deer's allegations are actually false, if the Lancet 12 parents stand with Dr. Wakefield, then what exactly are moms and dads supposed to think about last week's media circus?

I know children regress after vaccination because it happened to my own son. Why aren't there any tests out there on the safety of how vaccines are administered in the real world, six at a time? Why have only 2 of the 36 shots our kids receive been looked at for their relationship to autism? Why hasn't anyone ever studied completely non-vaccinated children to understand their autism rate?

These missing safety studies are causing many parents to approach vaccines with moderation. Why do other first world countries give children so many fewer vaccines than we do? What if a parent used the vaccine schedule of Denmark, Norway, Japan or Finland -- countries that give one-third the shots we do (12 shots vs. 36 in the U.S.)? Vaccines save lives, but might be harming some children -- is moderation such a terrible idea?

This debate won't end because of one dubious reporter's allegations. I have never met stronger women than the moms of children with autism. Last week, this hoopla made us a little stronger, and even more determined to fight for the truth about what's happening to our kids.