The myth about vaccination is unfortunately still one of the most popular. And unfortunately, it still operates in society. Although nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the release of falsified research results that linked autism to vaccination, many parents still don't know whether they should vaccinate their children.
It all started with an article published in 1998 in the journalThe Lancet by Andrew Wakefield. It suggested a link between MMR vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella and the autism spectrum. The article caused a panic, with scientists critical of its content and quick to point out the groundlessness of its thesis. The text was a description of a small case series, without a control group, and was based on appealing to parents' memories and beliefs.
Epidemiological studies conducted during the following decade consistently failed to support evidence of a link between vaccination and . The lie was repeatedly exposed, the article was retracted, and Dr. Wakefield himself was disbarred.
The fear of vaccination once entrenched continues to grow in the minds of parents. That's why more studies have been conducted. Those from 2014 on a sample of 1.2 million people found no link between the autism spectrum and vaccinations. Scientists have proven that the causes of autism are neurodevelopmental and go back to the child's prenatal state. And that means we may or may not be born as a person on the spectrum. Reliable research on autism and vaccinations can be consulted on the National Institute of Public Health website.
Also, the American DSM V classification of disorders and the forthcoming ICD 11 international classification of diseases and disorders place autism in the group of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Why do we still believe this?
The first signs of the autism spectrum are noticeable to those around them - including the child's parents or caregivers - most often around 1 year of age. This is the time when the mandatory MMR vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella is administered. That's why some parents to this day link autism to vaccinations. Scientific studies do not confirm this link. The incidence of autism spectrum disorder in vaccinated and unvaccinated children is not statistically different.
A diagnosis of autism can involve strong emotions. Often the diagnosis is accompanied by anger, sadness, the need to search for the cause. But ultimately, with the diagnosis comes relief and understanding. We remember that we are part of the same community. A community where many people go through this stage, on their way to acceptance. Because in the end, all we can do is strive every day to build a better tomorrow for those on the spectrum. To work together to ensure their happy journey to independence and adulthood.