Parents Have No Reason to Fear Childhood Vaccination Schedule
During the first two years of childhood, parents are asked to subject their children to many vaccines. Unfortunately, there are many families who are choosing to delay or even forgo the recommended vaccination schedule for fear of unwanted health effects, such as an increased risk of autism. These fears are largely unnecessary; as yet another study has found that multiple immunizations in the first two years of life do not increase autism risk.
A fear of autism from vaccinations was believed to be a primary cause for the record-breaking number of measles cases in the US in 2011. The tragedy of this, of course, is that while measles is a preventable disease, it can be quite dangerous if contracted as there is no cure. Even more tragic is that those children who were not immunized were placed at risk for such a contagious and painful disease for no good reason, as there have now been multiple studies that show that the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps and rubella) is not linked to an increased risk for autism.
The increase in parents delaying or skipping vaccinations is thought to have also contributed to last year’s whopping cough epidemic, the worst the US has seen in 50 years.
The most recent study examining vaccination schedules and autism risk was conducted by Dr. Frank DeStafano MD MPH of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Immunization Safety Office. Using data from 256 children with an ASD and 752 healthy controls collected between 1994 and 1999, the team found that multiple vaccinations, even on the same day, do not increase the risk of an autism spectrum disorder.
“This study looked into the concern that receiving too many vaccines at one doctor’s visit or too many vaccines during the first two years of life may be linked to the development of autism,” said Dr. DeStefano. “We found they’re not related.”
Furthermore, "the possibility that immunologic stimulation from vaccines during the first 1 to 2 years of life could be related to the development of ASD is not well supported by the known neurobiology of ASD, which tends to be genetically determined with origins in prenatal development.”
Hopefully, parents will take comfort that these studies are being conducted to protect children against the world’s most contagious and deadly diseases and keep their children on the recommended vaccination schedule set forth by the CDC.
Dr. Tanya Altmann, an assistant clinical professor at Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA says, “The bottom line for parents is that these outbreaks are real and they will come back. These are serious illnesses, meningitis, whooping cough. This study is just one more piece of evidence to reassure parents that vaccines are safe.”
Dr. DeStefano adds, “The number of vaccines in the current immunization schedule is what’s needed to protect children. It’s not too many for a child’s immune system.”
DeStefano F, et al "Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism" J Pediatr 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001.