It is a debate that I thought had been settled a while ago and something we no longer needed to be concerned over – but recent reports have caused this hot topic (and tempers on both sides of the debate) to flare up again.
For those of you that are hearing about this for the first time, I’ll just give a short version of the events to date to bring you up to speed:
In 1996 , an American doctor named Dr Andrew Wakefield suggested that there might be a link between Autism and stomach disorders – and after some more research a link between stomach disorders, autism and the MMR (Measles Mumps Rubella) Vaccine. Many parents, including celebrity mom Jenny McCarthy came forward and claimed that their children started presenting with signs of Autism shortly after they received the vaccination.
Medical experts across the world discredited this notion and attributed the presence of these symptoms to the simple fact that the vaccine is generally given round about at the age that autistic signs became most apparent in children (i.e. they were autistic before the vaccine but only become diagnosable round about the same time). The experts – rightly so – raised their concern that NOT taking children for the MMR vaccine could lead to the uncontrolled spread of these serious (potentially life threatening) illnesses throughout schools and communities.
But recent reports have surfaced stating that several court rulings have found in favour of families claiming that the MMR vaccinations caused “severe and debilitating injuries” to their children’s brains and that they were diagnosed with “Autism Spectrum Disorder” after receiving the vaccination. The reports claim that these rulings have been hushed by large drug companies who stand to loose billions of Dollars if the MMR-vaccine programme were to be canceled.
I am completely confused as to what to believe at this stage. My first reaction is to stand on the side of logic and science – to believe the experts when they tell us that there is absolutely no link between the MMR and autism, but I can’t seem to get rid of that nagging worry at the back of my head that keeps saying “what if they’re wrong?”. Remember Thalidomide?
Luckily, if all goes well I’ll still have a good couple of years before I have to make this decision but my heart goes out to every mother that currently find herself at this crossroads. I would recommend that you read up about this topic as much as you possibly can before making this decision and be sure that you don’t just rely solely on reading material from the internet, as many of the websites I came across were shamefully guilty of sensationalism. Speak to your Pediatrician or GP about it and perhaps even get a second and third opinion on this subject. Most primary schools (understandably) insist that children are up to date on all their vaccinations before allowing them to enroll at the school, which doesn’t leave parents too many options. Dr Wakefield has also suggested that the single vaccines (separate vaccines each for Mumps, then Measles and later Rubella) do not seem to pose the same risk. If you feel uncomfortable with having the combined MMR-vaccine administered, find out from your doctor whether the single vaccines are available.