Monday, June 25, 2012

Autism and bogus science

OK, one of the things that most annoys me in this world is crappy science that is then used to scare people or deliberately mislead them. Intelligent design is bogus.  You do not have thyroid problems because of a lack of iodine in your diet unless you live in a third world country.  Anthropogenic global warming is not  happening.

And MMR does NOT cause autism.

I have been seeing 'don't give your child vaccines because it can cause autism' crap on FB again, and frankly, this is the sort of things that pushes my very personal and unique Aspie buttons and leaves me just enraged.  I despise, hate, abhor bad science.  Thank you, Jenny McCarthy.  And to my friends who posted this and may believe it, well, I do the research and call it as I see it.

Let's all take a step back from panic land for a second and look at the root causes of Autism.  I wrote this post about the genetic cause of Autism last year.  A quick search on the same topic showed this fascinating news from April of this year about the discovery of a gene mutation that seems to cause autism.  I'll reiterate and reemphasize:  You are BORN with this.  It CAN'T be cured.  It is NOT a chemical imbalance.  Moms and dads, you are NOT RESPONSIBLE for your kid having autism.

It is true that there seem to be some environmental factors to autism, but none of them are the ones we hear about.  This article, while being honest enough to say that environmental triggers weren't specifically studied, nonetheless mentions some of the ones that have long been understood.  The age of the parent--older parents do have a higher tendency to have autistic children.  Multiple births, low birth weight, any medications the mother takes while pregnant.  In other words, all environmental factors that happen while the child is in embryo.  Not vaccines.

Yes, some kids have bad reactions to some vaccines (though the vast, vast majority don't).  We've heard the horror stories.  It's awful, it is sad, but it isn't why your child is autistic.  And for those who say that their child was fine until after his vaccines when he was two or three?  Well, please note this list of child development benchmarks for age 2.  You'll notice that the areas that are affected by Autism don't even become apparent until the child is at least that age.  Before then, you would never notice.

Don't believe me yet?  Try this 2011 article.  Or this.

But more importantly, think about it logically.  We see that autism is a genetic disorder.  Ergo, it isn't chemical in nature.  Ergo again, nothing you do can change that.  And in fact MMR DID cause autism, wouldn't pretty much every child in the civilized world have it?

To conclude this vehement, link filled, and perhaps a bit disjointed post, I just want to warn parents to actually look at the good science underneath the shock science.  To know that the studies you see sprawled over the newspapers and the main stream media are almost never accurate, and are cherry picked to scare (and, shock, bring in viewers, readers, thus money).  More importantly, this sort of things feeds on the basic nature of a caring, nurturing mother plagued with guilt because they think they might have done something to cause their child to be autistic.  And to take advantage of the emotional state of truly wonderful mothers--I have an aunt with an autistic child who is a perfect example of this--really, truly bugs me.  It isn't fair to make these parents feel worse because you might sell one more book or get one more big advertiser for the 5:00 news slot.

Again, parents, you are NOT to blame.  And God bless all parents of Autistic kids and special needs kids in general for the great and good work that you do.

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