An article published by the New York Times this week, reported that a new study found that although most parents believe that vaccines protect their children against disease, one in four think some vaccines cause autism in healthy children. Additionally, nearly one in eight have refused at least one recommended vaccine.
Vaccines are necessary — and effective, says Maria Tupas, M.D., medical director of the CHOC Primary Care Clinics. “For more than 50 years, vaccines have saved the lives of millions of children,” she says. “Most childhood vaccines are 90 percent to 99 percent effective in preventing disease. And if a vaccinated child does get the disease, the symptoms are usually far less serious.”
Dr. Tupas explains that the alleged link between the MMR vaccine and autism has been vigorously studied and disproved by extensive and well controlled studies, including those by the Institute of Medicine and Centers for Disease Control. Current research on autism points to multiple factors, including the possibility of a genetic component or exposure to toxins or viruses during pregnancy. The increase in autism diagnoses may be at least partially attributed to pediatricians simply becoming better at recognizing symptoms at earlier ages.
As children with autism spectrum disorders benefit from early intervention and behavior modification, Dr. Tupas advises parents concerned about possible symptoms to contact their pediatrician.