Friday, April 4, 2008

Vaccine - Autism Link Afterall?

Further adding to the controversy:

Officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have agreed that vaccines administered to a 9-year old girl contributed to her condition. Hannah Poling of Athens, GA, and her family may be receiving compensation from the federal vaccine fund, although the exact amount of the award is not yet known. The girl began presenting with signs of autism three months after receiving series of routine shots administered to her at the age of 19 months. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the document provided by the government does not suggest a clear-cut link between vaccines and autism, but rather admits that childhood immunizations further aggravated the girl’s underlying mitochondrial disorder, which evolved in a condition “with features of autism spectrum disorder.” Autism and other autism spectrum disorders are permanent neurological disorders characterized by altered social interaction and communication. It is estimated that 1 in 150 children may be affected by autism or related disorders.

The case of Hannah Poling will likely reignite the debate over possible link between vaccines and autism. While the exact cause of autism is not known to science, some argue that a mercury-based vaccine preservative, thimerosal (also known as thiomersal), may be responsible for the development of autism in some children. Since 2001, thimerosal has been removed from most vaccines in the U.S. and the European Union. Some of the vaccines which may still contain thimerosal, include inactivated influenza vaccine, tetanus toxoid, diphtheria and tetanus (DT) and tetanus and diphtheria (Td). Of these, only inactivated influenza vaccine is commonly recommended for use in children. Thiomersal is still being used in vaccines in countries around the world, most likely due to the fact that the World Health Organization has stated that there is no evidence of any link between thiomersal and the development of autism.While some public figures and celebrities advocate the link between vaccines and autism, pediatricians worry that some children may not receive valuable shots, because of parental concerns over vaccine-autism link. The final decision about vaccinating their children belongs to the parents, it only seems responsible that they discuss their concerns with their physicians and weigh the risks and benefits of either action.

Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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