Donna Curless’s three children were born and spent their early years in Brick Township, a mid-size, middle income New Jersey city whose rate of children with autism (one in 160) then seemed so off the charts that it became the quoted statistic for quite a few years. Looking for possible causes, government and independent investigators found the water supply polluted with a mixture of industrial chemicals from local manufacturing plants, to which chlorine had been added as a disinfectant, as it is in so many American cities and towns. (Chlorine can combine with other chemicals to produce a toxic byproduct.)
Yet Donna is sure that her own children’s autism was the result of vaccinations. It’s possible she’s right. Although Dr. Philip Landrigan, the ‘father’ of environmental pediatrics says there’s no evidence to link vaccines and autism, some in the scientific and medical community have found evidence to the contrary.
The unsettled debate involves two questions:
1. Might there be a subset of children who are likely, or at least more likely, to react badly to the current vaccination program?
2. Aren’t there circumstances in which any child might have a bad response?
There’s enough research to suggest that both premises are plausible but not enough for a definitive answer. Given this unsettled debate, parents could follow a better-safe-than-sorry plan of action while research, which will undoubtedly take a really long time, figures out just what does cause autism spectrum disorders, not to mention asthma and other allergies which are also on a disconcerting rise. And birth defects; and cancer.
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