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What causes autism? I don’t know. But I wanted to find out.
First stop: vaccines.
Do vaccines given to children cause autism?
Aaron Carroll says “No.”
Aaron says, “It’s not vaccines!” In the video (above) he cites a dozen or so studies that show no proven link between vaccines and autism. Aaron goes on to explain that the initial vaccine/autism outbreak is a well known hoax – which you can read about in the MMR vaccine controversy, or watch Health Care Triage to learn more.
I believed this theory for a while. But after watching the documentary Trace Amounts, I’m torn.
Trace Amounts argues that not all vaccines cause autism, rather it’s the vaccines which contain thimerosal (which contains mercury) that are causing autism. The film advocates that everyone should opt out of taking vaccines that include thimerosal.
The film’s call to action asks for the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines, including flu shots, in the U.S. and abroad. And asks that if you must take vaccines, you request vaccines that don’t include thimerosal.
Leaving me even more confused.
Which brought me to ask my doctor…
I chatted with him about whether he believes mercury is linked to autism.
He asked that I not use his name, for legal reasons (which is also why I’m sharing this with you, because so much good information doesn’t get shared because “of legal reasons.”)
He hadn’t seen the movie, but here’s our conversation:
Do you believe there’s a link between vaccines and autism?
“It hasn’t been proven that vaccines are linked to autism”
Does mercury in the vaccines cause autism?
“Mercury could have something to do with it, but mercury is just one of many other things that COULD have to do with autism. What about pollution? What about the chemicals in the food we’re eating? EMF from iPhones? There are a host of things about there that were introduced in the past 30 years, so we can’t for certain say it’s mercury and vaccines”
Legally do you have to vaccinate your child?
“Many vaccines these days are mercury free, or at least you can get mercury free options. It’s not the law that everyone has to have a vaccine”
It’s not the law?
“No, but if you want your kid to go to public schools, then yes by law they will need a vaccine.”
So, it is the law!
No, you could do homeschool, or potentially a private school
On March 8th, I posted this blog post on my Facebook Wall…
Which led me to this Harper’s piece, that basically says: The argument for vaccines causing autism is weak, AND we should be paying just as much attention to the chemicals we ingest through our environment
Here’s an excerpt:
If we do not yet know exactly what the presence of a vast range of chemicals in umbilical-cord blood and breast milk might mean for the future of our children’s health, we do at least know that we are no cleaner, even at birth, than our environment at large – Sentimental Medicine: Why we still fear vaccines [Harpers]
My conclusion regarding vaccines and autism:
- We don’t know the answer to what is causing autism
- Likely it’s not vaccines, but either way, we can’t do away with vaccines – To quote my doctor, “Measles is a real thing, kids risk the chance of dying from measles (and other diseases) if they don’t have the vaccines.” Although, I plan to avoid superfluous vaccines such as the annual flu shot.
- Everyone should probably get vaccinated, and when you do ask your doctor not to give you vaccines that include thimerosal (aka. with mercury) if possible
- We should be wary of overusing everyday industrial chemicals. My doctor told me, “Too much of anything industrial COULD be linked to autism. The truth is: We don’t know.” He cited a myriad possibilities: chemicals in our food, carrying our iPhone around with us all day, pollution in the air, and/or being in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day. (A similar theory was explored in the documentary The Human Experiment and is worth watching if you’d like to learn more). For me, to be safer I try to limit my food to “organic”, I avoid wearing shoes in the house, and I choose the non-toxic cleaners.
If you disagree, let me know in the comments so I can continue to improve my thinking on this.