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Autism Retracted: Pointing Fingers Towards a Cure

Autism Retracted: Pointing Fingers Towards a Cure

There has long been a purported link between childhood vaccines (specifically the MMR vaccine) and autism. While the vast majority of parents in the United States still continue to vaccinate their children according to doctor’s orders (as well as CDC recommendations) a strident and vocal minority refuses to subject their children to a vaccine that holds questionable risks as well as results. Much of the fire and credibility of the anti-vaccine debate revolves around a 1998 report co-authored by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that drew a direct connection between the MMR vaccine and autism among children. This report was published to great notoriety in the well-regarded British medical journal The Lancet. This past January, an official British medical investigation found Wakefield’s methods to be, “dishonest and irresponsible.” Among other things, the panel found he handpicked the children used in the study, but Wakefield dismissed the findings. In response, The Lancet issued a rare public retraction this past week, therefore calling Dr. Wakefield’s credibility as well as the whole vaccine/autism link into doubt.

Over the past two or three decades there have been bandied about a countless number of links/causes of autism. I personally have heard all manner of theories from the persuasive to the dubious (one of my personal favorites is the advent of the 24-hour cartoon network). Mercury levels in vaccines surfaced as one of the more credible connections to autism, which prompted the removal of the additive Thimerosal from almost all vaccines. Still autism numbers continue to hold steady: some contest that they are on the rise. Theories aside, 1 in 150 children today land somewhere within the autism spectrum, and regardless of the public flogging of Dr. Wakefield, we are no closer to an answer today about the causes of autism, nor the safety of vaccines, than we were in 1998.

While no one expects miracles (well maybe some of us do) we as parents and generally concerned citizens are obviously growing impatient with the lack of credible answers and the tawdry infighting and politicking surrounding the causes of autism. Should we assume it is environmental? Possibly something chemical resulting in imperceptible levels of toxicity? Maybe it’s something that could be avoided with the right dosage of fish oil and folic acid? While I doubt anyone has the answer, or any answer, I think it is worth a discussion? Do you feel childhood vaccines are undoubtedly safe? Is there a reason to be skeptical of mass immunization, or should we just do it for the greater good?

Feel free to fuel the fire.

Read more: Babies, Children, Conditions, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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11:11AM PDT on Apr 20, 2013

Yes, a cure for autism is wanted. Have a family member who has autism.

9:56AM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

MMR causes autism, proven in Italian court case

4:54PM PDT on Jun 5, 2011

A cure would be great - two autistic sons with autism

11:49AM PDT on Jun 4, 2011

Mari - I think you got that right. It is we who are causing this epidemic. Pollution, plastics, junk food, radiation....

9:35PM PDT on May 11, 2011


3:59PM PST on Jan 28, 2011

Hi everyone! I am trying to raise funds for Autism research. I am a student leader for Autism Speaks U. I create events for fundraising proceeds. Im trying to get 50 supporters. If 50 people donate $1, we would be succeeding and making a difference in the lives of those who can't help themselves. Please visit my student page and help make the difference.

With love,

Stephanie Baker

10:00PM PDT on Nov 4, 2010


4:03PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

Believe it or not, vaccines today are rather safe. I've received all my vaccines without any ill effects whatsoever. I myself am on the autism spectrum, but I do not regard vaccines as being responsible for me being autistic. The autistic brain is anatomically different from the clinically "normal" brain. Different structures in my brain, such as my amygdala (which plays a key role in emotions), are larger. Other parts of my brain are smaller than others, such as the corpus callosum, which lets the two hemispheres of your brain communicate. How do you make brain structures shrink and enlarge in one 24-hour period with a vaccine? It really doesn't make sense to me.

12:31PM PDT on Jun 20, 2010

Thanks for the article

5:05AM PDT on Apr 21, 2010

Stop all the pollutions and poisond that is your cure. You are altering humans, animals and an entire planet with the poisons your sending out.

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