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Can Childhood Vaccines Cause Autism by morgossi7a4

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									Nov 9, 2005 6:49 pm US/Eastern
Can Childhood Vaccines Cause Autism?

Scott Wahle
Reporting

(CBS4) The debate is heating up over the cause of an alarming increase in the
number of childen with autism. Some parents blame childhood vaccines, but federal
health officials say there's no scientific proof of any connection.
Michaela Blaxill's parents say she was a normal baby, but that changed. "Sometime
between her first and second year of life she slipped away, sort of quietly," says
Michaela's father Mark Blaxill. "She lost the speech she had begun to acquire, she
started disconnecting socially," he adds. Michaela was diagnosed with autism. Mark
Blaxill says a form of mercury used as a preservative in childhood vaccines may be
to blame. "I think the mercury in vaccines could trigger autism. It's a very plausible
hypothesis," says Blaxill.
The preservative is called thimerosal. Critics say when the government required
more childhood shots in the nineties, kids received unsafe levels of mercury. At the
same time the number of autism cases skyrocketed. By 2001 mercury was taken out
of childhood vaccines except for some flu shots. Despite that, the debate recently
took on a renewed intensity.
A new book called "Evidence of Harm" by David Kirby raises alarming questions
about thimerosal, and a controversial article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. charges the
medical establishment with covering up the effects of mercury in vaccines. "The
science connecting brain damage to thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming," says
Kennedy.
But many doctors and scientists say that charge is nonsense. "I don't believe there's
any relationship between autism and thimerosal in vaccines, period," says Dr.
Edward Bailey, the head of Pediatrics at North Shore Children's Hospital and a board
member of the Academy of Pediatrics. He says the issue has been studied over and
over. According to Dr. Bailey, "There is no scientific basis to come to the conclusion
and say that vaccines are anything other than a miracle."
But Mark Blaxill, vice president of Safe Minds, an organization demanding more
research, says there are conflicts of interest at work. "A lot of these studies have
been conducted and carried out by people who either have an ideological stake in the
game, or a financial stake in the game, or a career stake in the outcome," according
to Blaxill.
The medical community dismisses charges of conflicts or cover ups, and worries that
fears about vaccines could result in parents not immunizing their children. According
to pediatrician Dr. Edward Bailey, "For those people who have never seen meningitis
or for those for whom polio is a strange disease out of the past, they could all come
back."
There's one thing both sides in this controversy agree on. If the mercury
preservative is responsible for triggering autism, we should see a dramatic drop in
new cases over the next few years since thimerosal is now out of almost all
childhood vaccines.

								
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