Do Vaccines Cause Autism? More Questions Unanswered.

A group of law researchers sought to answer the question: Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

In fact, a May, 2011 announcement by a group of researchers and the parents of children who were injured by vaccines made a stunning announcement: The federal government has awarded millions of dollars to the victims of childhood vaccines. A statistically large proportion of those children who were awarded financial compensation suffer from autism.

So, not only is the hot topic "Do Vaccines Cause Autism?" rekindled, but a host of other questions have been brought to the foreground.

First, we all want to know: Are Vaccines Safe?

The preliminary review published in Pace Environmental Law Review looks specifically at cases of vaccine-induced brain damage.

Here's the fact: there have been 80+ cases to-date reviewed in this article that the courts have either decided in favor of the children, or that the government has settled out of court to the tune of multi-million dollar settlements... each.

So, the courts and our government seem to have accepted that vaccines cause brain damage in some children. To keep our panic in check, we of course want to know: How often?!?

The Institute of Medicine, which is tasked with collecting and processing data on vaccines (and advising the government), does not offer any information on the cases in which vaccines cause autism on their website. They did, however, assemble a committee in 2008 to review all of the adverse reactions associated with a multitude of vaccines. Those eagerly awaited findings were expected in June 2011.

The Pace Review suggests that the cases identified are the tip of the iceberg, with additional information to come. This study also suggests that the compensated families are only a small fraction of the total number of victims.

In order to be compensated, a very clear line must be made between the time of the vaccine and onset of medical symptoms. Children with delayed onset of symptoms (after all, vaccinations begin within hours of birth), or parents who waited-out the symptoms as "basic side-effects" (first time parents often don't know what to expect, and babies can only communicate by crying), would be less likely to make a compelling case. This means that the total number of cases in which vaccines cause autism - er, sorry, brain damage - is likely to be grossly underestimated if based solely on the number of successful court cases.

So, if we know that vaccines cause brain damage, and we know that an unusually high proportion of the victims that have been granted compensation have autism, why the persistent denial that vaccines are associated with autism? Why can't the biomedical society admit that quite simply, we don't know everything? I am perfectly willing to concede that among the many forms of autism, some cases are definitely not vaccine-related. Can we also concede that it is possible that some cases of autism are perhaps the result of a rare combination of genetics, circumstance and vaccine exposure?

It is becoming more clear that some children are susceptible to vaccine injury, while others are not. According to the families who have received compensation for injury, no follow-up research has been done on their children to try to answer the question:

What Makes Some Children Susceptible to Vaccine Injury?

There are still more questions, and the group has called for a congressional hearing. As a mother, and a scientist, here's my list:

  • Is there a comprehensive epidemiological review of people who have received vaccinations and those who have not?
  • Vaccines have been used for enough years that a longitudinal study correlating medical history with vaccine history is possible. And I'm not talking about only brain damage or autism here. Let's look at cancer (yes, some vaccines are tainted with genetic material that can cause cancer); and autoimmune diseases (is it too unlikely to think that a shot designed to impact the immune system, does in fact, affect the immune system?); to name just a couple.

  • Can we do genetic research on the children who have suffered vaccine injury?
  • What can we do to screen for children who may be susceptible to vaccine injury?
  • What precautions can we take to avoid vaccine reactions? For example, we wait two years to expose our children to peanuts and other allergenic foods; we try small portions the first few times as a precaution.
  • Should we be giving so many vaccines? Should we be giving so many vaccines all at once? Any epidemiological study must take into consideration the number of vaccines that were given over the individual's lifetime and the number of vaccines given at once.
  • Are the identified victims being compensated adequately?
  • Is the vaccine claim legal system fair?
  • Why are the government settlements sealed? Where do we ethically draw the line between public safety and corporate confidentiality?
  • Why are exclusively taxpayers footing the settlement bills? Where are the pharma companies who profit off the government-encouraged (some would say that they are mandated given the requirement by public schools) vaccines?
  • What is being done to change the way we view vaccines? Not many advancements have been made in the past decades to the vaccine protocol itself (other than finding new illnesses to vaccinate against, and using one adjuvant instead of another). What can we do to boost the immune system instead of relying solely on the standard vaccine?

And finally: Why does my pediatrician's office have a poster encouraging the chicken pox vaccine because a girl had a near-fatal infection in one of her sores; but no poster of a child with mental retardation, seizures and autism from said vaccines? I want to know which is more likely: getting a fatal infection in a chicken pock, or having a vaccine cause autism (brain damage)?

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