Monday, April 22, 2013

New CDC Autism Study Results

                From the desk of Sofia Shakir, MD
In light of National Autism Month I thought it would be apropos to broach that topic that excites both parents and pediatricians alike- vaccines. Some of you may be scratching your heads wondering why I am mentioning vaccines along with autism. If that is the case then not only am I excited; I am ecstatic. But more than likely you are not surprised at all. Neither is the medical community which is why the federal government is still spending valuable resources, time and tax dollars on looking into any possible relation between vaccines and autism.

Fears of the MMR vaccine really took off after British physician Andrew Wakefield published a small study of 12 children in the journal Lancet in 1998. In the study Wakefield suggested a link between the vaccine and autism. It was later found that the study was deemed to be unethical with improper oversight. The findings have been widely disputed. Co-researchers have removed their names from the study. Multiple studies have been unable to find a link between vaccines and autism. Lancet has since retracted the paper and Dr. Wakefield has had his license to practice medicine revoked.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently released the results of a study which specifically looked at multiple vaccines being given at a single visit and its relation to the diagnosis of autism. Not only did they look at a single visit but also the total number of antigens, or that part of a vaccine that generates and triggers an immune response in the child. All children were between the ages of 0 and 2 years of age, the time when the majority of vaccines are given. They looked at these two parameters because we know that many parents do not outright shun vaccines all together but are apprehensive about the number of vaccines given at one time. One of the good things about the study was that it had a large sample size. The cases of autism or autism spectrum disorder numbered 256 and they were validated through in-person evaluations. In order to reduce the likelihood of under-diagnosing autism in the control group the researchers also combed through thousands of charts to ensure adherence to stringent criteria. Statistical analysis showed absolutely no relationship between vaccines given and the diagnosis of autism.

So that's the good news. The bad news is that real world consequences have unfortunately occurred due to parental fears regarding vaccines. Just last week it was reported in the Wall Street Journal that several regions in England are experiencing a measles outbreak. It is occurring in primarily unvaccinated children, many of whom are school age, 5-14, thereby easing its transmission. "More than 1000 people stood in line over the weekend at vaccination clinics in Wales, where nearly 600 cases have been reported since November."

As pediatricians we believe that vaccines are one of the most important things we can give our children. They are the best way to prevent known communicable diseases, many of which can lead to hospitalization and long term poor outcomes.

Please feel free to visit the following websites for more information.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Interesting Article! Do pediatricians in Columbia MD also feel the same way about vaccines?

-Ava G.

Response: Most pediatricians follow the guidelines of the AAP.

Anonymous said...

Excellent !!! Dr. Shakir you really are a role model , please keep it up! Rosie K.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done, simple and to the point professional opinion. IFANCA an NGO works with vaccine manufacturers to reduce and eliminate porcine ingredients from the vaccines so that the concerned Muslim parents are assured of najs-free vaccines.
Abu S.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking out frankly and candidly about this issue. Parents who immunize as a matter of course are starting to take notice of those who don't and who rely on herd immunity to keep their children safe.

Anonymous said...

I always knew the Wakefield study had been disputed, but I did not realize that his co-authors removed their names, nor did I know that he had his license revoked! As a parent of an about to be kindergartener I often hear a variety of opinions on vaccines, and it is difficult to discern which have validity and which don't. Thank you for speaking about this issue with such clarity! Our daughter will be requiring multiple vaccines next week at her 5 year check-up, and your post really reassures me about my decision to vaccinate. This is a must read for parents!