The Corner

The one and only.



…for all the fascinating autism e-mails. It seems to be a mixed bag, and too complicated for me really to delve into at the moment, but I may have been too categorical when I briefly discussed this on C-SPAN. Here are two representative e-mails (sorry for the long post):

There is a body of work initiated by a British researcher who contends that the increased incidence of autism does originate with injections–attributed to the toxicity of the mercury-based preservatives used in MMR vaccine. MMR is administered to young children near the time of onset of speech, and symptoms of autism are typically observed shortly after that time. I have a 30 year old son with autism (his is due to Fragile-X syndrome). My wife is also a professional who provides support to families seeking services, so I am relatively familiar with this area. Some facts that bear on this issue: 1) autism is a terribly debilitating disorder, so the emotional intensity attached to the diagnosis are extremely high.

2) Diagnosis of autism has been increasing rapidly, and the cause is uncertain. Part of the reason is that many fewer children with severe developmental problems are institutionalized, so more families actively seek to understand the nature of their problems…. The overwhelming majority of autism (as well as most other diseases) is probably genetic in origin. But, autism is more of a set of disorders in developmental and neurological function as opposed to a single organic disorder (unlike, polio, for example)–so a variety of sources of damage may be responsible for a particular case….It is possible that the vaccine or other environmental factors interact with genetic predisposition to produce the disorder in some cases.”

I went through this with my wife when we had our baby’s first shots.
Much of the stink is made by the trial lawyers who are suing drugmakers over their vaccines and vaccine additives (themerisol is the cause de jour). Also, the organic crowd is against them (the way they are against birthing drugs, pesticides, etc…) As to government paranoia, remember the flak at the end of the last congress about the rider that tried to protect LIlly from lawsuits if their vaccines were widely distributed for homeland security reasons.
But a big Danish study came out in the NEJournal of Medicine that said there was no link between autism and the most commonly given vaccines. . News reports suggested it was pretty definitive. Critics respond those vaccines were themerisol free, so it wasn’t conclusive. Personally i think it’s all b.s., but, from personal experience, it has definitely succeeded in scaring young mothers.”


Sign up for free NRO e-mails today:

Subscribe to National Review