Autism is a neurological development disorder; observable symptoms of this disability include disruption of speech, difficulty in social exchanges, and demonstration of consistent and compulsive behavior. Controversy has been swirling around this disorder and a possible link between vaccines and autism. The vaccine in question is MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) and what appears to be an increase in the number of diagnosed cases of autism since the inception and use of MMR vaccine.
As with any controversy it is important to gather as much information as possible and then come to a conclusion based on that information. Two considerations regarding the debate over vaccines and autism are the claim of increased cases, and the results of studies that evaluated a possible correlation between vaccines and autism.
Assertion of Increased Cases
Statistics gathered from the State of California suggest a possible correlation between vaccines and autism. The report hints at a marked rise in cases of autism and correlates this increase with an increase in the MMR vaccine being administered. However, the argument can be made that it’s important to take into account other data trends within this timeframe.
For example, it’s important to note that even though there was a rise in diagnosed cases of autism there was also a corresponding rise in the population. The argument could be made that an increase in population alone would increase the number of diagnosed cases of autism. In addition, awareness and education initiatives may be factors that led to the early diagnosis of autism in children, which has resulted in an apparent increase in the number of cases.
A number of studies have been conducted from the mid-1970s to the present time to ascertain any correlation between the administering of vaccines and autism. In addition these studies have been conducted in various countries, researching different variables of the vaccines and autism, as well as by several different research entities.
One study examined the incidences of autism before and after the use of MMR and found no variations. Another study focused on the vaccine itself and found no evidence to substantiate the triggering of autism by MMR. In addition, an additional study looked at autistic children. This study determined that the age of diagnosis was the same whether the MMR vaccine was administered prior to or after 18 months of age.
Studies Suggesting a Correlation – Or Not
There are studies that have been conducted that suggest a relationship between vaccines and autism. These studies imply that the digestive system is affected by a viral infection introduced by the MMR vaccine can lead to autism. Unfortunately, the majority of the studies were suspect when other researchers were unable to reach the same conclusion, showing that the methods of research were flawed. However, one study conducted in 2002 showed a possible link between the MMR vaccine and a developmental disorder. This particular study did go on to say, however, that the reverse could be true in that the developmental disorder caused the viral infection.