Baby, Misc.

What Do We Know About Baby Immunization Shots?

A lot, actually. And I mean that as a society, not as my individual family. With Internet access and resources like PubMed open to the public, society has a lot of access to information that can be confusing. We’re going to discuss some facts, myths, and history in this post. Keep reading to learn more about the supposed association between vaccines and autism.

My Journey

When I was a kid, there was never any doubt about vaccines. At least, not in the social circles I was in. Then when I was a young teenager, my nephew was diagnosed with Autism. I did not know anything about Autism at the time. I just heard someone say vaccines were the cause.

As years went by, I’d had the doubt for so long; I began to see it as truth. Then I met my husband. Vaccines came up during a conversation, and I learned that he believed differently.

Disagreeing about vaccines is a big deal for any couple planning to have kids. I didn’t take it too seriously at the time, but I know this could have ended badly. If we had had our little girl without being on the same page about such a controversial topic, we would be at odds.

Thankfully, over the following couple of years of that initial conversation, accurate information got pushed on me without me having to search for it. It’s hard to know what to believe and what not to believe when so many sources present conflicting information. I didn’t know what I could trust, or what was true.

Autism

Autism is the biggest concern for most who are anti-vaccine.

MMR

The first major publication was back in 1998 by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. He published an article, along with 12 other individuals, claiming a link between Autism and the combined vaccine for measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) in the Lancet.

Actually, it’s more accurate to say that their article said they could not find a causal relationship (meaning they had no proof that MMR caused Autism). But they went on to publish a video that said there was. The recommendation was to use the single vaccine instead.

According to their claim, the single dose was harmless. Interestingly enough, Dr. Wakefield had applied for a patent of a version of the single dose vaccine a few years before.

If people were afraid of using the combined MMR, they would flood to using the single dose instead, including his patented version. His published article gave him a monetary gain.

Understandably, the public reacted to his findings. The idea that a vaccine can adversely affect your children is frightening.

The article was published in a renowned medical journal. There was no reason to doubt it.

But in the world of research, every finding must be checked. So researchers set out to conduct their own studies. For research to be considered reliable, the results need to be reproducible.

Reliability is an important factor to determine how trustworthy research is. The other determining factor is validity. You can read more about the two factors here.

The research community set out to determine the reliability of Dr. Wakefield’s results.

Turns out,

it’s reliability was zero.

No one could reproduce his results. People tried for a decade, but they had to come to the conclusion that his research was wrong.

Most of the individuals who published the article with him retracted on their claims. In 2010, the Lancet retracted the paper itself.

Within a few months of the retraction, Dr. Wakefield was barred from practicing medicine in Britain. It had been uncovered that his research was funded by people planning to sue vaccine manufacturers by lawyers representing parents of Autistic children.

In other words, he was paid to publish there was a link between MMR and Autism. With an article in a well-known medical journal claiming a link, the lawyers had grounds to fight on. Without it, they did not have a case.

The following year, a British journalist examined the research. He found that what was published did not match the data of the study. Twelve children were studied. The claim was made that eight of them showed signs of Autism or other issues following a vaccine.

When the journalist checked the data, he found that only two of the children showed signs of symptoms. He also found that at least two of the children in the study were already marked in their records as being delayed before they received vaccines.

Dr. Wakefield picked children who could produce the results he wanted. His research was biased and flawed.

Source: The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. 2018. “Do Vaccines Cause Autism?” History of Vaccines. Retrieved November 6, 2018 (https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/do-vaccines-cause-autism).

Thimerosal

Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative. We all know mercury is bad. Pregnant women avoid eating too much fish during pregnancy because the mercury levels could harm their babies. Thimerosal was never used in live vaccines like the MMR.

So why is it allowed in other vaccines? Why do vaccines even need a preservative?

A need for preservatives in vaccines was found in the early 20th century. People were dying from contaminated vaccines across the globe. With no preservative to protect against contamination, vaccines were turning out to be more harmful than helpful.

Preservatives before thimerosal would decrease the effectiveness of the vaccine by reducing potency. Thimerosal maintained potency.

Thimerosal was used because of the type of mercury it is. It is ethylmercury, not methylmercury. Methylmercury is what’s found in fish. It does not absorb and excrete well in the human body. Ethylmercury does.

Researchers had found that people could withstand a high dosage of ethylmercury without negative effects and thimerosal worked well as a preservative. It was deemed safe to use in vaccines.

Then at the end of the 20th century, people started to get concerned about mercury, and the FDA required everyone to claim the amount of mercury their products contained.

The amount of ethylmercury in vaccines was more than the recommended amount of methylmercury in fish. No one knew if that was a problem. While researchers had deemed it safe to use in the early 20th century, they never really looked into how much was safe to use. They just noticed people had a higher tolerance for it than they expected.

So to be on the safe side, the FDA worked with other groups, like the American Academy of Pediatrics, to call on vaccine manufacturers to eliminate or heavily reduce the amount of ethylmercury in their products.

The problem resulted in people conducting research to determine if thimerosal was harmful. It was found that it wasn’t. Before the research was completed, manufacturers removed thimerosal from their products.

Today, all but a few vaccines are thimerosal-free.

The CDC has a list of other ingredients in vaccines and their purposes.

Sources:

Baker, Jeffrey P. 2008. “Mercury, Vaccines, and Autism One Controversy, Three Histories.” American Journal of Public Health. Retrieved November 6, 2018 (https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2007.113159).

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. 2018. “Do Vaccines Cause Autism?” History of Vaccines. Retrieved November 6, 2018 (https://www.historyofvaccines.org/content/articles/do-vaccines-cause-autism).

Research

I’ve cited two sources of information up to this point. One is an actual research article. The other compiles information from research articles and shortens the read. The latter is shorter and easier to understand. The former is long but full of great information like why it was expected for diagnosis rates of autism to increase.

If this is a subject you are concerned about, I highly recommend reading both of them.

Another source is the Autism Science Foundation. Their organization (and all their money) is dedicated to uncovering the cause of autism. The link is for their page which unravels the connection between vaccines and autism.

They have literally dozens of journal articles ready for you to read to debunk this myth. At the very bottom of the page, there are links to pamphlets that break down the information into an easier to read form.

To Be Continued:

I have more information to talk about on this subject, but this post is already a decent length. My posts on vaccines will be a three-part series. Part 2 and Part 3 are found at these links.

What are your thoughts on this controversial subject?

 

 

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azaliha
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azaliha

Thank you for revealing the truth about vaccines in very easy to understand. Even when there are dozens or articles and journal about this subject, but there they give different views on vaccines. Some say its give more goods but others still write about how vaccines harms the baby. Waiting for your next post for me to understand this subject more. Thank you again.

pmbaluka2016
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pmbaluka2016

Well, I also come from a background where there many myths about vaccines but one thing am sure is that no debate whether vaccines cause autism. At least my background is clear on that. The problem is on the taking vaccines for example, my sister didn’t believe polio vaccine was important for her children. My close neighbourhood was serious at all on BCG vaccines. There are all types of controversy around us but I like what my government did.  A law was passed andenforced that it’s against the law to skip any single vaccine for any given reason.  Thank you… Read more »

Curtis
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Curtis

This has been a very controversial topic for a while and seems to have gotten worse. I personally believe in the vaccinations verses the alternative of my kids getting sick and then making other kids sick. This is one of those areas where we have to trust that the FDA has done their due diligence to protect our kids and their own as well.

I really appreciate all your hard work and research on this subject.

Thank you for this invaluable information, and I hope a lot of parents read it.

Holly
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Holly

It’s unfortunate this topic is so controversial. I have a lot of anti-vaccination friends and it’s frustrating. One friend in particular, her oldest two received vaccines and have some issues, her younger kids did not and don’t…so I’m sure that only affirms it for her. 

But the only reason people have the luxury to skip vaccines is because they count on everyone else to continue getting them so they can benefit from the herd immunity while avoiding any side effects themselves. It’s quite selfish.

Eli
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Eli

Thanks for sharing this study. Actually, I’ve heard so much of this in my country and the new mothers are concern about this. A lot stop giving shots for their kids. I am also one these mothers. I’m not sure what to believe for I’ve seen babies who never went through vaccines have healthier bodies, not easily get flu and colds, than the ones that had vaccines. I’ll be waiting for your other articles about this for me to understand more. 

fyre
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fyre

I live in a place where the population is split on this subject.  WHile I agree with the right to choose it doesn’t mean I can jump on either side of the subject matter at hand.  I think the changes they have made with the mercury types is satisfying my scientific side for the basic major vaccs for pox & measles.   There is so much information for and against vaccines….for years now.  It’s crazy sifting through it all.  The last few years our area saw whooping cough become an epidemic.  Again, the information on this topic is overwhelming.  There were… Read more »

The Moody Mom
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The Moody Mom

Very interesting topic. I remember I went to school with a number of children who were not vaccinated and I just thought it was the strangest thing. It was just what you did. Now being a mother of two myself, there is so much more controversy surrounding the topic. I have mom friends who have all the books on immunizations, spread them out over longer periods of time, wait until they are older than what is suggested, all to try and prevent anything bad happening.A doctor I work with once told me: You can still hug your child if they… Read more »

Brenda
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Brenda

Hey Nicole 🙂

Wow! What a fantastic article. When I had my son, vaccines were not a debate, it was just done, so I had never really understood why vaccines had been linked to cause autism. Dr. Wakefield’s research was definitely flawed, to say the least. I liked that I was able to refer to some of the studies you indicated in your article. Very informative, but not overwhelming at all…thank you 🙂

Vicki
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Vicki

Hi Nicole It really is such a controversial subject and I live in Zealand and even here the debate is always alive in communities My Daughter in law wouldn’t let me hold my new grandson until I had been vaccinated against hooping cough and I was a bit taken back by this as I hadn’t experienced this type of demand before however I did it so I could meet my new friend. When I was young we had a polio sip, tetanus injection and the rest we just battled through if we contracted anything. Not sure how far this should… Read more »

Jeff
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Jeff

This is a very a touchy subject to a lot of people but very important to discuss. Personally, I am indifferent about immunization shots. In my opinion I think some makes more sense than others. Vaccines are suppose to saves lives but coming from a third world country where people do not get vaccinated and it does not seem to be an issue like it is here in the US. My grandma for example have never been vaccinated she is as healthy as can be at 92 I understand that people immune system are different but I am very skeptical… Read more »

Henry
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Henry

Hi! There has been a lot of controversy concerning vaccines. I personally come from a background where we believed vaccines were necessary. But recently, inside my close family, decisions on this matter have been discussed. You have reaffirmed my point of view. And it is that pediatrics have always considered prevention important. And vaccines play an important role. Morbidity and mortality have been reduced by the use of vaccines. But despite these very positive results, there has always been historically a percentage of parents that raise concerns about them. And these concerns seem to be at its highest at the… Read more »

Vanna Denham
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Vanna Denham

This is such an unfortunate controversy about vaccines for our children.  We should be able to trust the FDA but we can’t.  Citizens are dying every day from drugs the Food and Drug Administration put their stamp on.   I have grandchildren involved in the vaccine dilemma.  I hate coming off as being cynical but the pharmaceutical companies have too much influence with the FDA.  How many times have we seen drug companies pay multi-million dollar law suits.   The sad part about it is that at that point the harm is already done.  We don’t like to believe it… Read more »

TeeTeng
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TeeTeng

Hi, Nicole. A very touching article. I think the onset of autism may be that some children have some unfavorable thoughts after they have been vaccinated, your nephew may be because of this. My idea is that autism is usually due to genetic susceptibility, the age of late parents and other environmental factors, which does not seem to be related to the vaccine, but some people say that vaccines can play a role in the pathogenesis of autism. Perhaps the MMR vaccine you mentioned in the article can have a great relationship with autism.

Matiss
Guest
Matiss

Woooow!!! I absolutely love that you’ve covered such a topical and significant issue with such precision. Me and my wife, we’ve been postponing this same vaccine for our daughter as we weren’t completely sure, if we want to risk inducing for our daughter autism. In my own research I’ve found that autism is most of the time induced by mercury specifically. I had no idea though about the Thimerosal and the two different types of mercury. But even without this information you provided, which essentially seals the deal, I was leaning towards doing the MMR vaccination nonetheless. This is because… Read more »

Veit H. Kölln
Guest

Hey Nicole, I guess you hit it. Being a dad of four and having my youngest (13) diagnosed with Asperger Autism just recently I am glad we got in contact. This diagnose hit us really hard; and with it came a lot of other things that are very hard to take for all of us. And it’s neither our son, nor the diagnose itself. Years ago that I heard others talking about bad side effects of immunization shots. But surely I didn’t know that it is said to be the major cause for Autism. Do you know if it’s reversible?… Read more »