Any connection between autism and childhood vaccines?
I don't really "believe" in much unless backed by science. I realize that the connection of vaccines and autism is a touchy subject and that there are opposing viewpoints. Eventually, however, reason must come into the picture and, despite what our opinions are, we need to rely on evidence to guide decision making.
Just last February, The Lancet retracted the study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that had linked vaccines with autism. The medical journal cited flaws and unethical activity in connecting autism with vaccines (1). This was the study that had launched the first wave of groups against vaccines like Jenny MccCarthy's Generation Rescue. And I think everyone needs to all get over this and continue to see vaccines for what they are, life-saving medicines.
I know that just discounting vaccines' role in autism is not enough to appease a lot of people who fear for their children. After all, according to the CDC, 1 in 110 children in the U.S. now have autism. If not vaccines, than what is making this happen?
Vitamin D Theory
I, for one (being the vitamin D nut that I am), have high hopes for what's been dubbed the "Vitamin D Theory". The theory suggests that our autism epidemic began at or around the same time as did our epidemic of vitamin D insufficiency (2). If there is a link, then it would explain why there is a higher rate of autism among blacks and there should be a higher rate among children who are not in the sun for sufficient amounts of time.
According to Dr. John Cannell writing in Vitamin D Council's January newsletter, "The 'all autism is caused from vaccinations' crowd cannot accept the Vitamin D possibility as it threatens their core beliefs. They simply cannot change their minds" (3).
Then again, there's not much yet to support the vitamin D link, but Dr. Cannell adds "...organized medicine would say you should stop the vitamin D and watch your son deteriorate, which is why slavery to evidence based medicine is fine for scientists and unethical for practitioners" (3).
1. CNN. Medical Journal retracts study linking autism to vaccine. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/02/lancet.retraction.autism/index.html
2. Vitamin D Council. http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health/autism/vit-D-theory-autism.shtml
3. Cannell J. Vitamin D Newsletter. 2010 Jan 30.