USA Today: UM Poll Shows That 25% of Parents Still Believe Vaccines Cause Autism.

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A report just out in USA Today, reflects that 25% of parents are still concerned that vaccines cause autism.  You are no doubt aware by now that the genesis of this fear was a 1998 article in the leading British journal, The Lancet. The author of  that article,  Dr. Andrew Wakefield, was found earlier this year to have acted dishonestly and unethically by the General Medical Council, the body that regulates doctors in England.  The Lancet retracted the article on February 6, 2010.  Dr. Wakefield presently resides in Texas and is performing research into possible treatments for autism.  In an email to The Los Angeles Times, he has denied that he ever stated a link between vaccinations and autism.

In addition to a whole new body of litigation that arose as a result of this article, a more discouraging event took place –many parents, afraid that there were exposing their children to autism through receiving the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, elected not to have their children vaccinated.  As one example, the USA Today article provides the following:

In 2008, unvaccinated school-age children contributed to measles outbreaks in California, Illinois, Washington, Arizona and New York, said Dr. Melinda Wharton of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirteen percent of the 140 who got sick that year were hospitalized.

USA Today’s report relates to an online survey of parents with children under the age of 17.  There were 1,552 responders.

Twenty-five% of the parents said they agreed “some vaccines cause autism in healthy children.” Among mothers, 29% agreed with that statement; among fathers, it was 17%.

Nearly 12% of the parents said they’d refused a vaccine for their children that a doctor recommended. Of those, 56% said they’d refused the relatively new vaccine against human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. Others refused vaccines against meningococcal disease (32%), chickenpox (32%) and measles-mumps-rubella (18%).

Now that Dr. Wakefield’s study has been retracted, physicians are hoping that as the word spreads, more parents will have their children vaccinated.  Some physicians, however,  are taking a more aggressive approach.  One practice group outside Philadelphia has written a ‘manifesto.’

[It] outlines its doctors’ adamant support for government recommended vaccines and their belief that “vaccines do not cause autism or other developmental disabilities.”

“Furthermore, by not vaccinating your child you are taking selfish advantage of thousands of other who do vaccinate their children … We feel such an attitude to be self-centered and unacceptable,” the statement says, urging those who “absolutely refuse” vaccines to find another physician.

“We call it the manifesto,” said Dr. Bradley Dyer of All Star Pediatrics in Lionville, Pa.

Even though it now appears that Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues are fighting back, it would appear that absent true scientific evidence of a link between autism and vaccinations, parents would be well-advised to be aware of the risks they run by not having their children vaccinated and would be further well-advised to familiarize themselves with the history of the so-called science, now held in disrepute throughout the world, that led to this dangerous avoidance of vaccinations.

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