DrSears' Blog

Vaccines and Autism

Wow! Today's episode was pretty heated!  I have to tell you that I was totally exhausted, mentally, after this show.  I am soooo tired of not getting an answer to the debate over vaccines and autism.  A lot of valid points were made from both sides in this show, but I'm sure most parents out there are still wondering if it's best to vaccinate or not. 

While I'm not going to get into all the research here (it's just too much information to sift through), I do suggest an excellent book called The Vaccine Book, written by my brother Dr Robert Sears. He offers an excellent review of all the research that has been done on vaccine safety. You will get to see the list of studies that showed no link between vaccines and autism, and you will also see the list of studies that showed a possible link.  None of these studies are absolutely perfect, but I think that there is more evidence to show no link. 

Fortunately, there is going to be more research until we get to the bottom of this.  I like the CDC's (Center for Disease Control) take on this: "Despite the lack of a proven scientific link between vaccines and autism, the CDC feels that ongoing research is needed to take a closer look."

What is autism? It is a brain disorder that begins in early childhood and persists into adulthood.  It affects 3 critical areas of development: communication, social interaction and creativity.

"They just don't connect with other people - they're in their own world."

1 in 150 children have autism - that's over 1 million children in the  United States.

When to suspect your child might have autism:

If your child shows any of the following, you should ask your doctor for a complete evaluation for autism:

·      By age 6 months: your infant is NOT smiling or making joyful expressions.

·      By 9 months: no back and forth interaction with you. This could be verbal or non-verbal – i.e. laughing when you do something funny or when you play peek-a-boo.

·      12 months: no babbling: babababa, gagaga, dadada, mamamama.

·      16 months: no discernable words: mama, dada, hi.

·      24 months: no two-word phrases: hi mama, want cookie, bye dada.

·      Regression of language or social skills at any age: stops smiling, stops making eye contact, stops talking.

·      Doesn't play with toys in a "normal" way: instead of pushing a toy car around, he only likes to spin the wheels or constantly stacks the cars.

·      Constantly walks on his toes

·      Is excessive with certain behaviors like constantly spinning in circles, flapping his hands, banging his head.

If your child is diagnosed with autism, be sure he gets a full evaluation to rule out other problems that can mimic autism. He needs to get several blood tests to check for genetic problems like Fragile X syndrome, and a brain MRI to check for certain brain problems that can look like autism.

There are many therapies for autism, and many parents find that different combinations work for different kids. Jenny McCarthy's book is an excellent resource to guide parents through all the possibilities.  You'll want to join parent support groups, and work with your local early intervention programs.  The biomedical intervention that Dr Jerry Kartzinel helped pioneer has been very successful (I have known Jerry for many years, and think he is doing some great work).

To see more from this episode, click here.


-Dr. Jim

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bthny7

I am a mother of 7 and 2 of my children were diagnosed with austim developmental disorder NOS. I know that doctors are suppose to convince you to take your children and get them vaccinated. I do agree to a point. Dr. Travis got upset about being scrutinized for being a doctor and he got yelled at, but if you were a parent of an autistic child you would be just as upset. I believe there is research out there but not enough. I understand that some people say well i was vaccinated why am i okay. Well I have 2 older children who got the full vaccination schedule and then some and have allergires to things, food. Explain to me how 2 children with no family history of autism have it. Never been sick well child perfectly fine till 2 then no life no communication slowly develpoing. It is very frusrtrating to think that people are so narrow minded that they would push this issue under the rug. If it was strictlyu the food and toxins then litterally everyone would have it. But what I do not understand is how we go from a few people have this diagnosis to 1 in 150. That makes  no sense to me as a parent of 7 children. I vaccinate my 2 and 5 week old childrenbut only allow certain shots. I would like  some answers myself I think more people need to talk about this issue and stop sweeping it under the rug.thank you

Laurus

Dr. Jim,

  Thanks very informative!! And I have to agree with you if parents stop getting their childern vaccinated then we are going to have another whole generation of diseases that we havn't seen in years because of the vaccines.. Oh my I sure hope it doesn't come to that..

I really appreciate you and your colleagues thank you for all you do :)

emtemd

Dear Dr. Jim,

I wish you would put a link to Jenny McCarthy on your website. I have searched high and low for an email address and can't seem to find one. I am so disappointed with the way people acted on the show today. I have always been a fan of Jenny's and have been inspired by the things she has done with her son but today I saw a different side that I didn't like. As a medical professional in emergency medicine I have seen a lot and most of the time I let my children ages 12 and 16 watch the show and I was truly embarrassed by the way Jenny acted today. To get on national tv and use profanity while talking about children was totally uncalled for. I as much as anyone would like to find the cause of autism but there is no proof that immunizations are the cause and until there is proof then Jenny should be speaking only of finding a cure. She is not a doctor and should not be out there speaking about something she has no facts to back up. If she really wants to do something then she should put her money where her mouth is and stick to funding for a cure. Education is the key to everything and just like every other disease on the planet it takes years of research to learn what causes these things. I am so sorry that you and Dr. Travis were treated so badly by someone who is obviously not educated with facts. Your show is a wonderful thing, please don't let a few bad apples keep you from talking about the things people want to know.

Sincerest Regards

Jamie, Indiana

 

cadencet

I think Jenny is wonderful ,It is our right to do what we believe is best for our children and that includes medically.It is hard to stand up to the medical  dr's and the CDC .The drug companies are making a fortune off our childrens health look at all the drug commercials  on TV it is a joke  I don't believe the drug companies want us to have our children take less vaccinations, they will vaccinate against everything and anything to make a buck and at what cost?  I had many Dr's deny my daughter treatment due to the fact that she is not vaccinated  I even had a dr tell me that  I didnt care if my daughter died ,my husband had to hold me back on that one , they try and scare you into thinking your children can't attend school etc ,my daughter attends school ,I have 7 children 5 are vaccinated ..that was before I got informed ,my children that are not vaccinated do not get sick as often  Iam not sure if that is due to vaccination or not  .I now have a great dr that agrees with me that it is my choice and is fine with it ,don't be bullied parents by people that make you feel like a bad parent etc ,I use to lie to dr's and say that my child was current on all shots then I thought ''Hell with that .

Delaney09

Until you yourself have a child with autism, only then will any doctor be taken seriously. Spreading vaccines out certainly does not hurt. Who says the first 36 have to be given in the first year and a half? Only that of a 150 pound year old man should be established. The link between mercury poisoning and autism is ASTOUNDING. Shame on Dr. Stork for taking it so personally with his outburst. I am embarassed for him.

cadencet

I don't believe  many  Dr's are informed all they know is what they were force fed in med school and are afraid to really look beyond that because it is not popular ,I  also don't like the anthrax vaccine ,my husband had that  vaccine and within a couple days when we were on vacation  we rushed him to the er he had near zero platlets  we are talking  a man that was 35 and physically fit and very  healthy  a fellow soldier had his tongue turn black , he was lucky he had a great dr an ex military dr  that knew that these vaccines that they use on our soldiers as guinea pigs were poison  so he made a case study  in a medical journal on my husbands case . he now has permanent nerve damage in that arm , his health will never again be the same ,I will not  risk being ill informed with my children it was to late for the older ones that I had vaccinated when they were young when I didn't read up on the risks.I won't bash anyones choces they are there own ,but you wouldn't let your young child near poison so atleast look into what these vaccines are made of before making an informed  choice . 

llabarbera

I am a mother of two boys who are both on the autism spectrum (PDD-NOS).  They were both diagnosed in the summer of 2005.  My older son was diagnosed first and once he was diagnosed, I just knew my younger son had it too.  Needless to say, that was a very difficult time for me and my husband to hear the word autism.  When I was in high school 20+ years ago, I only knew of one person with autism.  Now I know way TOO many kids with autism.  I do believe that vaccines play a part in the rise of autism today.  Children are getting too many vaccines too soon!  Before babies leave the hospital they get the Hepatitis B shot!  Then more vaccines at a 1 month checkup, 2 month, 4 month, etc.  And most pediatricians don't even tell you that you can separate the vaccines or space them out.  Both my boys have been vaccinated (up until age 5), but I will not vaccinate them anymore.  I do believe there are other factors besides vaccines, such as food, environmental toxins, genetics, etc. that cause autism.  I have had my boys on the GFCF (Gluten-Free, Casein-Free) diet for almost a year now, and have seen some positive changes.  I have also removed food colors, high fructose corn syrup, and we try and eat organic whenever possible.  My older son was on medication for his ADHD, and has not taken it since I started this diet. 

riley1319

I must admit I missed much of today's show due to weather updates.  I'm very disappointed because I was very eager to hear your comments.  I did watch the video on the site and am sorry to hear an argument ensued, but not surprised.  It is not impossible to understand how impassioned a parent of an autistic child might feel.  I am the mother of 2 small boys.  One is fully vaccinated, but my 11 month old is not.  I read your brother's book and used his recommendations as a launching pad to make my own decisions regarding my comfort level with him being vaccinated.  The guest seated in the audience (the one who argued with Dr. Stork) made, what I consider, to be valid points regarding the LIMITED research on SELECT vaccinations and SELECT ingredients as they relate to ASD (and other disorders/diseases in children).  In his book, your brother summaries the gaps in research regarding what levels of aluminum is toxic to babies (they have that info for adults) and inconsistencies in policy (like why aluminum toxicity warnings are labeled on all other injectible solutions BUT vaccines).  He states (and I quote), "No one has actually studied vaccine amounts of aluminum in healthy human infants to make sure it is safe."  And that's only one of the additional ingredients. 

Based on the gaps in research and the comparisons in vaccination schedules and ASD rates between the US and other industrialized nations I just can't understand the doctor who feels they can profess with absolute certainty that all vaccines and the current vaccination schedule is completely safe. 

 

 

  

lscheirer

Thank you for your show yesterday!  This debate will not go away, I feel, but it's so important to see both sides of this issue.  Jenny McCarthy has been on other shows speaking out against vaccines, and it's so irresponsible to just show one side.  There are uninformed parents that are going to see her choose not to give their children vaccines without knowing all the facts just because she is a celebrity!

The diseases that we are vaccinating against are highly contagious and often deadly.  It's incredibly irresponsible of a parent to send their child to school without immunizations, and hard for me to believe that someone would think it's alright to do so.  These children share playgrounds, school supplies, sit in the same classrooms day in and day out - whatever one child catches, the others are bound to.  If a parent is not willing to vaccinate, they should be willing to homeschool!

These diseases are PREVENTABLE - and I fear that diseases such as polio which has been dormant for some time, and measles which is also very uncommon, will become common illnesses again.  More than 500,000 children under five years of age die from rotavirus infection each year,  and almost two million more become severely ill

Of course more research needs to be done on our vaccines - more research needs to be done everywhere.  The way that we care for our children is constantly changing.  Car seat safety has changed drastically in the last several years, the foods that we can/cannot give to infants has changed, the position our infants sleep in has changed, and on and on.  When we KNOW BETTER, we DO BETTER!!

We must vaccinate our kids! 

riley1319

All due respect to the poster below who stated the following regarding Rotavirus:

"More than 500,000 children under five years of age die from rotavirus infection each year,  and almost two million more become severely ill"

I find this information misleading.  In the US, Rotavirus is responsible for approximately 50,000 - 55,000 hospitalizations, and 20 to 70 deaths annually.  Worldwide, diarrhea illnesses account for about half a million deaths each year.  I consider this an important delineation.  

lscheirer

while i 'm sure there is a lot of different information out there, this is where i got mine...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotavirus

 

princess anne

i think having an autistic child is not that bad after all. here in the philippines they try to teach autistic kids to do normal things like a normal children. althought they need a lot of teacher example on their speach, the way they behave in a large crowd something like that. we should look for a positive and bright side of this matter. i watched the video of their debate. both camp have reasons, both camp have their own views. its for the audience what side do they wanted to believe. is just so hurtfull that others judge the DOCTORS easily. i give my symphaty to DR. TRAVIS i think he only feel that he need to express his side. he's a doctor and he just wanted to help but sad to say that others will not see that. who wanted to have an autistic child in the first place. :(

ShelbyJane

Autism is a struggle, in any of it's forms. I truly do NOT believe that it is curable or possible to overcome it, at least not at this moment in time. I do however, believe it is livable. I have a nephew who has Aspbergers. He is, Thank GOD, on the higher spectrum. We knew early on something was different, as an infant he'd cry and it was hard to comfort him. As he got older, he didn't interact much with anyone. He loved repeative toys, lining up his blocks rather than build. Finally, at the age of three his mom took him to his doctor who refered her over to a specialist. Eventually, after a few months and insistant re-checks by my sister's request, one out of 7 doctors realized and diagnoised him with Aspbergers Syndrome. We heard that it could be caused by vaccines BUT my sister, rather than blame vaccines chose to find a way to help her son. The only problem she seemed to find over and over again is how little was known about Autism by the school systems and how little of a support group there was in our communtiy.  I saw on the show how it was said it is expensive to care for a child with Autism, but it doesn't have to be..  Maybe it is in part that we were raised to be supportive and we rallied together to help out wherever needed to  be  that it doesn't seem to have affected my nephew's way of life. He's 9, lives a realitively regular life, I dare not say normal because "normal" has a different meaning to all. I am grateful that you covered Autsim in a show and regret that you had to be yelled at for allowing them to come on the show and share their views. As I see it if you want to share your opinion you need to be open to hearing a response to it. Take it with a grain of salt as my Grandpa would say.

riley1319

lscheirer,

The wikipedia article you referenced gives their version of the stats for the US immediately following the sentence you quoted.  What the author of that particular wikipedia entry failed to denote is that the statistics you highlighted are worldwide stats.  In my experience it is not uncommon for wikipedia articles to be a bit rough around the edges since they are typically written by laymen.   

The statistics I quoted (which aren't too far off from the wiki entry) come from The Vaccine Book by Dr. Robert Sears and The Parents' Concise Guide to Childhood Vaccinations by Dr. Lauren Feder.   

DonSchindler

It's very different to make these claims when you don't see it happened for yourself.

After our son had his shots, he changed.  He would not look us in the face, would not play with toys but stack or line them up, and would have screaming fits for hours with little to no reason why.  He wasn't the same boy. 

He was not diagnosed officially with autism - thankfully, as soon as we realized there was a problem we researched much ourselves and realized that going to a "disease" doctor would get us a diagnose and no help for a treatment.

We went to a Wellness Doctor who did amazing things for our son.  With a couple of months of treatment - according to the doctor's blood test our boy had high amounts of aluminum - our little boy was back to what he was before the shots.

He still has some issues but it's nothing like it was before.  He smiles, he plays with his sisters, and loves his trains without his crazed obession.

Feel free to call it all crap. That since he wasn't officially diagnosed, there was nothing wrong with him. But I was there and lived through it and I'm thankful we found real help and not a "can't help" shrug from our family doctor.

We all know why the medical community can't admit that there would be something wrong.  It's too late. They've hurt too many kids and to admit anything now would cause an uprising against the medical community that you wouldn't believe.

mellers

I am the parent of a child with autism, a beautiful, wonderful little girl.  The vast majority of our income was spent to get her where she is today--from a child they said might never walk or talk to a bright, brave middle schooler who not only speaks her own language but gets A's in Mandarin Chinese.

However, I feel it is dreadfully irresponsible of Jenny McCarthy to promote dangerous practices like failing to immunize your children, and chelation therapy with its terrible side effects.  Her son is receiving as much speech therapy as my daughter did in her youth, and that, I strongly suspect, is what's effecting his good progress.  It was the most effective treatment available at that time, and it did, indeed, work wonders.  I also think it was irresponsible of the doctors to give her a platform.  She's an actress, not a medical professional.

The science is clear, vaccines don't cause autism.  That being said, whatever causes or caused it, if you have an autistic child you simply have to deal with it.  Make sure they get lots of speech therapy, look into teaching techniques like TEACCH or ADA, and help them to become the best person they can be.  Love them like crazy.  Don't look to an already disproven cause.

mellers

I am the parent of a child with autism, a beautiful, wonderful little girl.  The vast majority of our income was spent to get her where she is today--from a child they said might never walk or talk to a bright, brave middle schooler who not only speaks her own language but gets A's in Mandarin Chinese.

However, I feel it is dreadfully irresponsible of Jenny McCarthy to promote dangerous practices like failing to immunize your children, and chelation therapy with its terrible side effects.  Her son is receiving as much speech therapy as my daughter did in her youth, and that, I strongly suspect, is what's effecting his good progress.  It was the most effective treatment available at that time, and it did, indeed, work wonders.  I also think it was irresponsible of the doctors to give her a platform.  She's an actress, not a medical professional.

The science is clear, vaccines don't cause autism.  That being said, whatever causes or caused it, if you have an autistic child you simply have to deal with it.  Make sure they get lots of speech therapy, look into teaching techniques like TEACCH or ADA, and help them to become the best person they can be.  Love them like crazy.  Don't look to an already disproven cause.

milanaxc

Dear Dr. Jim,

your show was very informative! from my perspective, i believe parents have the right not to vaccinte their children. but the have to know that fact that by not vaccinating their children, they can put other poeple at risk for a disease if their child gets infected with it. therefore if someone's child didn't get vaccinated and gets a disease and passes it on and a person dies from the disease that could have been prevented with a vaccine, the parent of the child is responsible for their death.

-milana 

18soccer

Wow! What a show! I was disappointed to not hear anything about structural differences in the brain's of people with autism. I recently read an article stating that the amygdala of autisitic brains are markedly larger than normal. Any ideas on this?

MelaniMom

I am a mom to two boys, ages 3 and 5.  My five year old was diagnosed at age 2 with PDD-nos, Autism Spectrum Disorder.  I think there is enough reasonable doubt in favor of a more sensible vaccination schedule.  When we introduce a new food to babies, we introduce one at a time, because that food is a foreign protein.  I think the same is true with the vaccines.  So many vaccines given together overwhelms the immune systems of some kids.  Add to that the preservatives like the thimerosal, and that is an added insult to a developing nervous system and immune system.  These kids can then not deal with the environmental challenges to their bodies.  My son has responded well to early intervention therapies.  He has made tremendous improvements since starting the GFCF diet.  He no longer has a blank expression, and his spontaneous conversation has greatly improved on the biomedical intervention.  My son is beautiful, and I am fighting this with everything I can, to give him the best life he can possibly have.  From the time we got the diagnosis, I have read everything I could find on autism to educate myself.  The vaccination schedule needs to be spread out, and given in single doses.  Between our environmental pollution, processed foods, poisonous preservatives in our vaccines, and the sheer overload of vaccines given in combination, we have a "perfect storm" that has hurt a generation of kids.  The debate is heated...that's what happens when you care deeply about something.  That something is our precious babies, and unless you deal with this too, you can't know what it is like.

TTroop

On this show the subject of gluten and casein allergies came up. It was claimed that the casein allergy actually makes a child feel drugged. I would like to know more about this because my daughter was diagnosed with a casein allergy at age two. (She was always on special formula) This was done by her regular doctor. The allergist we brought her to said the test shouldn't have been done, ignore it. I don't see any signs of autism other than, at times she just stares off, she looks empty and has no idea what's going on around her. These episodes happen at school, kindergarten, and home. They last just about 30 seconds or so. She is behind in learning and speech and seems to have memory retrieval issues. One day she will know the answer to an easy question and the next day she won't. She is seeing a developmental pediatrician next month... in the meantime more info about the casein allergy effects would be great.

Gilyouzer

I am a mother 5 one is on the spectrum one is hearing impaired. I didn't come to the realization something was wrong with my pdd/nos son till around 18 months when his language completely stopped developing and completey regressed. Shortly after a vacination and a case of baby measles. I am a perfect candidate to jump on the anti-vacination bandwagon but I don't. Imuniztions are so important, they prevent diseases and viruses that can cause other life long impairments and death. Having a child with a hearing impairment (that was from birth) is way worse than autism, she has a very hard time adjusting to to the hearing and non hearing world, and her needs are way more costly than my son's. If we dont imunize this happens and worse. When i look back on everything in my son's infant years the signs were there i just didn't know they were, I had the hopeless romantic view that no eye contact was he was looking at his fairy's, and that he was just clumbsy. I would like to thank you for standing up to such ridicoulous uneducated beliefs and sticking to your hypocratic oath to help. Ms McCarthy is quoted as saying let's bring back polio..... that's fine for her, her child is vaccinated. For people who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons that's a death sentence. Autism is a neurological disorder, and everyone with it is different. And why do we have to make autistic people just like the "normal" people.... Why can't we love them and nuture them for who they are. The Asperger's diagnosed man who won the Nobel prize for economics said if it wasn't for his disorder he wouldn't have been able to think outside the box to achieve the greatness he has. Again Thank you for standing up for whats right instead of letting them have their way on national television to corrupt more people into not vaccinating.

MiinaK

I haven`t seen this episode yet(because diffirences in episode schedule on norwegian TV).
I think Autism are very exciting theme and have read a lot about it. Have throughout my job been in contact with children that have autism. Have seen the struggle and frustrations parents have in the situation. Not just in the daily life, but also how to get the resources they are right to have.It can be years of struggle.
Parents, you have my fully respect and admire for the effort/work you do.  
                 

Porof50

Dr Jim,

 I loved the show today with Valerie. When you all were talking about being 40 lbs or more and losing the weight. Also commenting on that due to the show now exercise is a tough thing to do. Maybe having a teadmill back stage or the studio execs like DR Phil and Jay could manage to put in a small gym for some workouts.

 

 I am 50 now  but was a premmie  born at Culver city brotman at three months  developed Hydrocephalus at 6 months or the enlarged head  shhunted at 7 months doing fine evn with the original shunt in place just a revision at 25yr.  Too bad thier was not a show like this back in 1959. Their are not enough DRs or shows willing to talk about Hydro patients they matter too. I have had great Dr's at UCLA all my pediatric life and adult.  I know thier must be parents out there scared to death when they learn about the condtion first.

 

We love the show daily. Hats off to DR phil and jay.

 

Paul orofino LA,ca

Sousou Love

Dr.Sears,

             I really liked this show and i wanna know more informations about autism.

Sousou Love

Dr.Sears,

             I really liked this show and i wanna know more informations about autism.

coopchick

My son is 8 and has Aspergers. He has had problems since he was 18mo old!! We have been pushed around by many local doctors saying it was "maternal concern" and "he's a boy he will develop slower". I wish someone would do somthing to fix this problem and get children like my son and others the help the REALY need!

alliesocks

For more information on autism www.autismspeak.org  to get involved with pending legislation www.autismvotes.org

alliesocks

For more information on autism www.autismspeak.org  to get involved with pending legislation www.autismvotes.org

alliesocks

For more information on autism www.autismspeak.org  to get involved with pending legislation www.autismvotes.org

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