Parents have a tough job. That’s a fact. However this job is made tougher by two things, 1. Fear for their children’s safety, 2. False information in the media. The first is completely natural and even necessary. The second unfortunately is also natural and is something that arises because of peoples fear.

Part of the reason is that when you are talking about someone’s child then any risk is too much. That is understood and absolutely forgivable, this leads to trouble though when that fear is misinformed and the public does not have the knowledge to decipher the facts for themselves. An inability to rationally weigh the risks also leads to making decisions that can be detrimental to health long term.

The trouble with the current concern over vaccines causing autism is that this is primarily a case of parents being overwhelmed by media coverage that is intended to produce ratings not provide accurate information. It is a recurring theme that the controversial stories are hyped and the factual follow ups are down played or overlooked altogether.

Multiple studies have shown that the putative link between the MMR vaccine and autism does not hold up, some of these are listed below. In addition the rise in autism diagnoses that anti-vaccination groups point to is widely regarded by the scientific community to be an artifact of the inclusion of a wider variety of disorders under the umbrella term of “Autism” in recent decades. Autism is defined by a certain constellation of symptoms being present and their severity. In recent years less severe examples of these symptoms have been added to the diagnosis of the autism spectrum. This allows for a greater number of diagnoses than in the past.

This is a very complex and emotional debate and I have only touched on it briefly here, I recommend reading up on the subject through the resources listed below.

Resources

http://www.cdc.gov/od/science/iso/mmr_autism.htm

http://www.theness.com/articles.asp?id=74

http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=37http://www.immunize.org/mmrautism/

http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2065.htm

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=26561

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/330/7483/112-d

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/324/7334/393