The paper cited work dating back decades from the CDC US (Centre for disease control and prevention). It concluded that African-American boys have a higher risk of autism if they receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine before age 2. This was the result of research conducted back in 2004 which was not validated by the CDC.
Now, we can only speculate as to why the paper was pulled so quickly from a renowned on-line publication. According to many sources the paper was accompanied by a video backing Andrew Wakefield’s claims to the autism and vaccine link. This research was allegedly debunked in 1998.
Why would such a renowned journal publish something that was unfounded and then publicly pull it. Something alerted my spidey senses here.
There is no Scientific proof that autism is caused by vaccinations. Looking at the facts, the MMR vaccine contains live but weakened strains of mumps, measles and rubella. These live viruses have to be preserved, and some specific research has looked into the uses of heavy metals such as Mercury (Thimerosal) in the preservatives. Heavy metals in salt form have an effect on the brain, and the signalling pathways during brain development. But there is no PROOF that these preservatives cause autism.
However, I agree that there are a lot of people out there who strongly believe that their child’s autism was caused by vaccination. Someone posed the question to me once, why there is a court specifically designed for vaccination injuries. To be fair I couldn’t answer them (I assumed that it was due to the sheer volume of cases being put to civil courts) and it wouldn’t be my place to answer that question here. What it signifies to me personally, is that perhaps more research is warranted, especially as people are now choosing not to vaccinate their kids against childhood illnesses that could potentially harm their offspring. Also there have been more epidemics of measles leading to fatalities in the last few years than since the turn of the 20th Century. Immunisation had eradicated deaths from Measles. It’s a parental choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate.
There is a strong correlation however pointing to the fact that autism is hereditary, so there is a strong genetic link. Sibling and cousin studies. I can vouch for this personally, both mine and my sister’s son are on the spectrum. But scientists have recently pinpointed the exact time and exact gene that mutate in a developing embryo which leads to autistic traits post birth. This is long before an immunisation is even thought of.
Environmental issues are always cited also in the long list (ever growing) of what causes autism. Too much pollution, chemicals in pesticides, even race and age of mothers.
What we really need once and for all is an answer. Autism research is reactively new in the grater scheme of things, but if one in two will receive a diagnosis by 2025, isn’t it time we started looking for solid answers and transferring funding in the right direction? If we find a cause though, would we want a cure? Perhaps that is a question for another time.
As an editor, and a journalist, it still puzzles me how this article got through editorial. One person having an off day? Maybe. And the next question- if the editor had committed to running the story, then why the decision to revoke it? We’ll never know the answer, but it’s caused a few raised eyebrows…