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Do Childhood Vaccinations Cause Autism?

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Do Childhood Vaccinations Cause Autism?
Jennifer Jones
XBCOM / 275
August 24, 2014
Kristine Dunn

Do Childhood Vaccinations Cause Autism?
The idea that autism is caused by childhood vaccinations has been influencing public policy, even though rigorous studies do not support this hypothesis. Legislators are right to take into account the concerns of parent groups and other individuals who are directly affected by autism, but policy decisions should be based on hard evidence rather than unproven ideas. The hypothesis is based on the observation that the number of autism cases increased in the years of the 1980s, coinciding with a push for greater childhood vaccinations, which increased above recommended levels of a child’s exposure to mercury in the vaccine preservative, called thimerosal. The autism diagnosis continued to rise even after thimerosal was removed from the United States childhood vaccines in the year of 2001. A review by the Institute of Medicine, of over 200 studies concluded that there were no links between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism. Autism is no more common among vaccinated children than those children who are unvaccinated, and its incidence has not varied with the presence of thimerosal in vaccines across different times and locations. These findings have not persuaded supporters of the mercury autism link, whose strategies have become more extreme as the evidence against the hypothesis have mounted. Mercury is a known neurotoxin, so even without believing that it causes autism, one might argue for removing thimerosal entirely from vaccines all together. Although, this option is not risk free. Without a reliable preservative within the vaccine, they would need to be dispensed in a single use rather than in multiple use phials, which are more expensive and bulkier. Developing countries may not be able to afford the more...

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