A newly released study has determined a link between influenza and high fevers during pregnancy to children with autism.
As if we needed another theory.
A since-debunked but long-held theory supposed that autism was caused by distant mothers. Since then, we've managed to link autism to:
- Diesel exhaust
- Flame retardants
- Prenatal Stress
And now? The flu.
I'm left to wonder what doesn't cause autism.
Predictably, the internet is going insane with rampant conspiracy theory and in-fighting between the anti/pro vaccine crowd.
I'll clarify that I do not have a foot in the anti-vaccine camp. I am supportive of parents who choose not to vaccinate or to selectively vaccinate their children, but I hope that those parents understand clearly the risk of not having certain vaccines administered to their children. Thanks to research, many diseases which used to have incredibly high fatality rates are now a distant memory. However, bacteria and viruses like to evolve, requiring the scientific community to continue to study and to stay ahead of potential outbreaks with newer vaccines.
I'm a parent who believes that exposure to lots of things helps to limit the number of things that will actually make us sick. I think there's "good" dirt and there's "bad" dirt. "Good" dirt has any normal number of bacteria and allergens in it. For the average child or adult, contact with "good" dirt exposes them to just enough of what's out there for them to develop an immune response. For healthy adults, this acquired immunity is enough to keep them mostly healthy. Children, who are more susceptible to viral and bacterial outbreaks, will develop enough of an immunity to either keep them healthy or at least keep their active stage minimal.
What's "bad" dirt? Dirt that's got measurably high amounts of toxins, environmental or man-made. Fertilizer. The manure pile. Anything on the property of a manufacturing plant. DON'T EAT THAT SHIT, KIDS.
Vaccinations recommended for children today cover a wide range of potential diseases. While they are all truly optional, there is plenty of evidence to support administering them to as much of the population as possible, particularly to children. The current standards recommend childhood vaccines for:
- Hepatits A
- Hepatitis B
- Pneumococcal disease
Newer guidelines recommend inoculating girls against Human Papilloma Virus at age 11.
Now I'm not going to tell you which of these disesases you oughtto vaccinate against. Presumably you're all adults and presumably you either already know what these diseases do and what they affect and what the case-mortality rates are, and even if you don't you surely know how to use Google and Wikipedia. I simply wish to illustrate that though there is theory that vaccines cause harm, what gets lost in that argument is what amazing things vaccines have done, such as pretty much eradicating smallpox, which killed about 30% of the Native American population on the West Coast in the 1700's, and killed somewhere between 300 and 500 million peopleduring the 20th century. Today the only known smallpox viruses in the world are in petri dishes in labs somewhere. We hope, anyway. The important thing to know, though, is that inoculations do an incredible amount of good.
Do drug companies have a responsibility to do everything possible to insure their procucts are safe? Absolutely.
There are those that believe that vaccines cause autism and there are those that don't. I fall into the category of "it hasn't been proven but it could be possible but at the same time there are big risks and small risks and I don't want my kid to get polio" camp. There was a time when vaccines were stabilized using a mercury based substance known as Thimerosal, and this is the most often cited reason why "vaccines are bad." Now, my son has autism, and none of his vaccines were stabilized with Thimerosal. In fact, Thimerosal is being phased out of most vaccine programs in the US and Europe simply because people do not really want to have microsopic amounts of mercury being shot into them along with their vaccines. The vaccines my children received were stabilized with egg protein. The thing is, vaccines DO need to be protected against infection growth. In 1928, 21 children recieved vaccines that had been placed in a preservative and of those 21 children, 12 died of a staph infection.
Do we really need vaccines? I think so, but only you can decide that for yourself and your children. But vaccines aren't the only thing being blamed for autism. If you really want to prevent autism, so far as I can tell, you pretty much need to stop breathing, eating, drinking, driving, walking outside and living in your home, because all of these things/environments have been linked to autism at some point.
So here's my point and its one I've made before but God knows I love repeating myself (just ask my husband and children):
To all the people who are now going to send me articles about how my prenatal influenza (which I didn't have, by the way) or the chemicals in the chewing gum or the vaccines or the WHATEVERTHEFUCKANYTHING caused my son's autism? Please JUST DON'T.
Let the science community work on finding the causes of autism and begin to form programs to help prevent it.
MY interest is not in the why of autism, but in the how, as in, how to support my child with autism. How to make sure he gets all the classroom- and home-based assistance possible in order to be the best self that he can possibly be. To do all of the possible interventions to help drive down the likelihood that he will become dependent on alcohol or drugs to cope with his condition. To normalize autism for the rest of the world so that they see my son as a person, not as a thing. To advocate for children and adults with autism and spread awareness that there are many, many people among us whose behaviors we might not understand but who have amazing minds and amazing abilities. To help others recognize the breathtaking beauty in the simplest of developmental gains for people who are affected with autism. To be a support system for other parents who are coping with autism in their lives.
That's the important stuff, right there, folks.