Autism and Vaccines, is there a connection?
The following article was reprinted with permission from Baby 411: Smart Tips & Clear Advice For Your Baby?s First Year by Denise Fields and Ari Brown, M.D., ($12.95). Available in bookstores or online at http://www.baby411.com
Vaccines. Autism. Controversy. As a new parent (or parent-to-be), it's hard not to hear the great debate in parenting circles - do vaccines cause autism? If not, what causes autism? Why is it on the rise? And what is autism anyway?
This special excerpt from Baby 411 answers these questions and more, with advice from Dr. Ari Brown, pediatrician, parent and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Let's start at the beginning "just what is autism"
Q. What is autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
is really a collection of several disorders that have three abnormal areas in common: social skills, communication skills, and repetitive or obsessive traits. There's a broad range from mildly to severely affected. Specialists use the terms ASD and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) interchangeably. And, to get even more confusing, Asperger's syndrome, and "pervasive developmental disorder, not otherwise specified" (PDD-NOS) are other categories that fall under the ASD heading.
Here is a brief explanation of each:
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD):
These terms describe the entire group of conditions that include autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and PDD-NOS:
These children are the most severely impaired. They have little or no social and communication skills and have repetitive, obsessive behaviors.
These children have normal intelligence and language development but have trouble reading social cues and making conversation. Asperger's kids often obsess about certain interests.
PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder "Not Otherwise Specified")
is the default diagnosis for a child who has problems with social and communication skills, but does not fit into either of the above categories.
Autism affects one in 150 children. It is four times more common in males, and seems to run in families.
Q. I've heard autism is on the rise. Why?
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To answer succinctly the essence of the rest of the article written by Dr's Fields, is that while there may be some possible genetic markers that have been associated with autism, there are no studies which give any real evidence of an association between autism and vaccines, as much as we would like to believe that there is a causal or even a correlational relationship. There may be many factors, as in many disorders, that might be responsible for a child's autism, however, it wouldn't seem as if vaccines are the reason.