Monday, March 10, 2008


Autism and Vaccines

I recently heard yet another report about this. Do y'all think there is a link?

It seems to me that this might be a classic case of correlation not implying causation: autism symptoms show up at around the same time as vaccinations, so people tend to link the two.

But what is responsible for the up-surge in autism rates? It could be that here too we have correlation: the same factors (increased, although still insufficient, access to early child-hood health care, etc) allowing for increased vaccination rates also allow for people who otherwise would just be "eccentric" to be diagnosed (for better -- better interventions, etc. -- as well as for worse -- the effect of labeling) as "autistic"?

But if there is a more causal link, here's my guess: it isn't Hg, it isn't some immune system shock (if so, then kids who had childhood diseases all at once, which would sometimes happen in the absense of vaccination, would also tend to have autism) but rather just general PTSD. I imagine giving a bunch of injections to a younger/pre-fully-verbal toddler is bound to be quite traumatic. And I wouldn't be surprised if some toddlers just can't cope, due to genetic differences. And certainly, many of the symptoms of autism (the need for ritualized actions for comfort, etc.) are PTSD-like.

Perhaps one mechanism leading to autism is the response of genetically succeptible pre-verbal kids to trauma? And by giving kids more vaccines, we're increasing the likelihood that genetically succeptable members of the population (who otherwise would go through life OK ... growing out of the succeptability for autism before any triggering sort of trauma would occur) reach a tipping point and become autistic? Maybe we should think more carefully about how we give vaccines (schedules, injection methods, etc) to avoid this?

Maybe I should try to study and publish this? ...

The evidence for vaccines causing autism is weak at best. The surge in rates is simply a surge in diagnostics, much like ADD. People who would otherwise be classified as "mentally retarded" are now properly diagnosed as "lower functioning autistic", while some people who would have been misdiagnosed as ADD are properly diagnosed as "higher functioning Autism", ect.

There is actually stronger evidence of genetic mutation causing autism. One theory in this field is that since the last 100 years of industrialism of our lives, that autism might be a natural attempt at couping with its requirements. Another theory is that it's been around forever, and just like there are differences in how people learn (visual learners vs. auditory learners) there are differences in how some people's brains function and think.

Autism research on the whole has been nil until recently, due in part because of the link autism research and NAZI Germany (Dr. Ausperger).
Hmmm ... some things to think about ...

Didn't know that about Dr. Asperger.
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