Autism Awareness Month: No Link Between Vaccines and Autism

The advent of immunizations, more than two centuries ago, has led to increased physical wellness for millions of children worldwide. Despite vaccines' proven record of saving lives, many? parents still have concerns about the safety of immunizations, which has resulted in a small sector of society declining to immunize their children.

In recent years, some parents have chosen not to immunize their children because they suspect that the chemical thermisol — a mercury-containing preservative used in some vaccines — causes autism. An often cited 1998 study that linked developmental disorders in children and immunizations was subsequently refuted, and scientists have since redoubled their efforts to assure parents that there is no association between thermisol and autism. Scientists conclude that it is far safer to vaccinate than risk contracting disease.

“Parents should be reassured that all the recommended vaccines have excellent safety profiles and are vitally important for their children's health,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, director and health officer of L.A. County Public Health, and a First 5 LA Commissioner. “Fears associating immunizations with autism are unfounded.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that one in 110 children is born with autism spectrum disorder, the rise of which is seemingly without explanation. Concerned parents are seeking answers, and some continue to assert that their children's autism stems from the vaccines they received.

Last month, 5,000 parents of children with autism, hoping for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund, learned that the judge threw out their case. The trust fund is money designed to compensate families whose children have been injured or who died from receiving a vaccine.

Despite findings that a link between immunizations and autism is unsubstantiated, a number of California parents, mostly middle and upper middle class families, are choosing not to vaccinate, and this is leading to a rise in some diseases, including measles. In 2008, 12 unvaccinated children in San Diego contracted measles. Measles is one of the leading causes of preventable death in children, according to the World Heath Organization.

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