Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

8 02 2017

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

I’ve been saying this for 20+ years. I’m not a scientist, and I don’t think any parent should embrace my statement based solely on my opinion.

My statement is based on the work of scientists who’ve studied vaccinated and non-vaccinated children in multiple countries, and they say: vaccines don’t cause autism.

It would be easier for researchers of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) if vaccines caused autism, but they don’t. After all, if vaccines did cause ASD, then researchers and research funding could all focus on vaccines.

But, vaccines don’t cause autism. In a way, it’s good to know that, because funders can save their money by not investing in yet more studies that will conclude that vaccines don’t cause autism.

And researchers can spend their time zeroing in on the (probably) many causes of ASD without spending a moment more on vaccines as a research subject.

If you are a parent of a baby or child about to be immunized, be prepared for the young one to have a sore arm, fever, swelling at the site of injection, or many other minor and short-term side effects of vaccination.

These are not fun for the child, and are worrisome for mom and dad, but you don’t have to worry about ASD as a side effect of vaccination because—

Vaccines don’t cause autism.

Please make an appointment with your child’s healthcare provider to discuss any questions you have about vaccines. You are the parent, and you should never feel that you can’t ask questions.

As you browse the Internet for information, I encourage you to follow the science, not the personal stories that sound scary. There are so many websites, blogs, bulletin boards, listservs, Facebook pages, tweets, and so on that say this and that, it’s hard not to be swayed by a good tale.

But this is your child, and you don’t want to guess. You want to know. Peer-reviewed studies help us determine what’s safe and what’s not safe for our child.

After 20+ years, this I know: vaccines don’t cause autism.


by Trish Parnell

Reporters – Follow The Science (Please!)

12 12 2012

Immunizations are a perpetually hot topic. We’ve been getting questions from reporters for over a decade about the need for vaccines, the efficacy of vaccines, and invariably the safety of vaccines.

Reporters have been doing stories on vaccines for a lot longer than a decade, but I remember 1999 as the year that things kicked off on the national scene. The television program ‘20/20′ ran shows featuring parents who claimed that various vaccines caused SIDS, multiple sclerosis, autism, and a variety of other illnesses in themselves or their children.

All these years later, when study after study after hundreds of studies have proven the safety of vaccines, many reporters still insist on representing the “other” side of the story when the subject is vaccine safety.

When I get a call from a reporter asking to speak to a parent whose child has been affected by a vaccine-preventable disease, I ask if they are also speaking to parents who believe their child has been adversely affected by a vaccine.

The answer is always yes.

The reporter will say that he or she just wants to present a balanced story.

After all of these years, and after all of these studies, I can’t help but wonder what their definition of balanced may be.

When I read a story about the importance of wearing a helmet when riding a bicycle or a motorcycle, there is often included in the story an anecdote about someone not wearing a helmet while riding who was consequently harmed by the lack of said helmet.

Never, in the same story, do I read about riders who were saved from harm by not wearing helmets, although I’m sure there are people in this world who believe it is safer to ride without helmets. For some reason, reporters don’t feel the need to present the anti-helmet point of view in order to have a balanced story.

The use of seat belts in cars has been mandatory in all states since the 1980s. When writing about car accidents, reporters frequently include stories about the injuries sustained when so-and-so was not wearing a seat belt.

I don’t believe I’ve ever read such a story where the reporter also highlighted incidents of those saved from harm by not wearing seat belts. I know of at least one person who firmly believes that not wearing a seat belt is safer than wearing one, but I have not yet seen her anti-seat belt view used to provide balance in a car accident story.

Reporters who include opinions from parents who believe their children were adversely affected by vaccines, and who include junk science from those pretending to be scientists, all in the name of having a “balanced” piece on vaccines, simply haven’t done their homework.

They are behind on the science, and the stories they write end up creating fear and confusion on the part of parents.

If a reporter feels that it is important to present views not substantiated by science, they should do an opinion piece rather than a news story.

At PKIDs, we sincerely appreciate those writers who look for and use the facts. As parents of children affected by disease, it’s easy for us to have lab work done and determine by the results that our child is infected with a particular disease.

If there is a vaccine to prevent that particular disease, we can say that it’s probable that, had our child been vaccinated, he or she would not have become infected. But, since not all vaccines work for everyone, we cannot say for certain. We can only talk about what vaccine-preventable diseases have done to our families.

We’re not painting all reporters with the same brush. Many reporters follow the science and come back with a fact-based story.

For those who do not, we ask that you make clear in your next story which parts are unsubstantiated, and which are based on fact.

Let’s stop the unnecessary scaremongering of the public.

By Trish Parnell

Autism Science Foundation

19 09 2011

[Autism Science Foundation is the place to go if you have questions about autism. We’re running their latest press release here to show our support for their work.]

Launch of NEW Website: Online Autism Research Destination for Parents, Individuals with Autism, Scientists and Teachers

(September 19, 2011—New York, NY)— The Autism Science Foundation (ASF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting and funding autism research, announced today that it has re-launched its website as an enhanced, interactive resource for parents, individuals with autism, teachers, scientists and other autism stakeholders.

The website is the central distribution point for the latest in autism science and research. The site features:

Over the next few weeks, ASF’s team will be adding more features to the site including autism research sorted by topic area and a section about autism research studies seeking participants.

“It’s crucial that families, educators and scientists have access to up-to-date information that they know has been peer-reviewed or vetted by ASF’s Scientific Advisory Board,” said ASF co-founder Karen London. “Since ASF’s inception in 2009, we have aimed to be a central and trusted source of rigorous science information for the autism community.”

“We are pleased to be able to offer the autism community a broad and deep source of evidence-based information that integrates more interactive features and that reorganizes information to make it more useful and easier to find, in response to community feedback,” said Jonathan Carter, ASF’s operations manager. “The site offers ways for everyone who has a connection to autism to get involved in this important issue.”

ASF began funding research grants in 2009, its first year of operations, and has increased its funding levels each year. Since 2009, it has funded nearly half a million dollars in research grants. The organization was recently named the number one startup nonprofit in the “Disabilities” category by Philanthropedia/Guidestar.

ASF is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Its mission is to support autism research by providing funding to scientists and organizations conducting autism research. ASF also provides information about autism to the general public and serves to increase awareness of autism spectrum disorders and the needs of individuals and families affected by autism. To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation or to make a donation visit

Contact Info:
Dawn Crawford
Autism Science Foundation

Just the Facts, Please

12 05 2011

Usually, the facts are the facts, right? Maybe not. Everything depends on the language we use to frame a given issue. That might sound kind of dry, but take a look at this:

Who would hire THAT babysitter?!

The same thing happens sometimes when people talk about vaccines. Even real facts can look alarming when they’re not presented in an accurate context. Watch how it works.

CBS News: “Ratajczak also looks at a factor that hasn’t been widely discussed: human DNA contained in vaccines. That’s right, human DNA.”

Notice how the reporter repeats “human DNA,” suggesting there’s something shocking about it. Yes, there is human DNA in vaccines that are cultured using human cells. They are a biological product that can’t just be cooked up out of inert materials, and if being exposed to foreign DNA were dangerous, it’d be baaaaad news for anyone who’s ever breathed around an animal.

Also, if it were this easy for one organism’s DNA to hijack the biology of another, kindergarteners could do gene therapy.

Fox News, on how the Court of Federal Claims is dealing with cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding now that all of the vaccines-cause-autism theories have been conclusively rejected: “It sounds like they’re making these families jump through almost impossible legal hoops. They want them to go out and somehow drum up their own medical expert, pay for it themselves, come up with a new medical theory…why are they making it so tough?”

Yes, the families who had cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding are now being asked to speak up if there’s any reason to believe their child’s case is different from the six test cases the Court heard. And yes, it is almost impossible any of them will prevail. Why? Not because, as the reporter insinuates, there’s some dark conspiracy to suppress information. It’s because the Omnibus Autism Proceeding was exhaustive. If there were any possibility that the vaccines-cause-autism theories held water, the test cases provided every chance in the world to prove it—but they couldn’t.

See how easy it is? Start with something harmless, pour on some spooky music, whip to a frothy doomsday conclusion, and . . . voila! You’ve got yourself a delectable morsel of Pernicious Urban Legend! Unfortunately, many consumers don’t know to beware before digging in.

Vaccine Court Decisions

20 02 2009

At PKIDs, we believe that it’s important to use vaccines as part of one’s arsenal against disease.  Many of our parents have children who were not vaccinated, for various reasons, and who were subsequently unnecessarily infected with a preventable disease.  Some of these children have fully recovered, some have life-long health problems due to their infections, and some children have died.

Vaccines aren’t perfect.  They don’t always provide full protection and, in just a few people, they can cause harm.  For instance, the oral polio vaccine (OPV), being a live virus, mutated in very rare cases to cause polio itself, resulting in about 10 cases of paralytic polio each year among the millions immunized and their contacts, according to William Egan, Ph.D., one-time deputy director of CBER’s Office of Vaccine Research and Review. Once epidemic polio was under control and the more effective OPV wasn’t needed, the government switched to the inactivated polio vaccine, eliminating the risk of paralysis.  Some felt the switch wasn’t made soon enough.

In the past year, the science of vaccines has collided with the vaccine courts.  The vaccine courts are part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) set up by the government.  If you feel you’ve been injured by a vaccine, you can’t just sue the vaccine manufacturer; you first have to go through a vaccine court. 

The vaccine courts started out by requiring a preponderance of scientific evidence to prove the petitioner’s case, but now, if one can identify a biologically plausible mechanism by which a vaccine could cause harm to an individual, then the courts feel that’s good enough.

One day, about a year ago, a family whose young daughter began exhibiting neurologic signs of an autism spectrum disorder sued for compensation under the VICP and won, based on the biologically plausible mechanism theory.

The girl’s parents, and certain others in the autism community, felt this court’s decision proved what they’d been saying all along – vaccines cause autism.  It didn’t matter that there is an overwhelming body of scientific evidence which says there is no connection between vaccines and autism.

Most of us didn’t know what to think.  The U.S. public health officials had told us that vaccines didn’t cause autism, and then a vaccine court said they did cause autism.

Just a few days ago, for another case, Special Master George L. Hastings Jr. of the vaccine court wrote in his ruling, “The evidence advanced by the petitioners has fallen far short of demonstrating such a link” between autism and vaccinations.

Confused, I asked Paul Offit, MD, to help me understand the conflicting rulings so that I could get it down on paper (or at least virtual paper).  Dr. Offit is a noted vaccinologist, a co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, and he is somewhat famous for his ability to translate complex medical issues into a more palatable language for non-scientists.

In response to my asking him which of the courts’ rulings we should heed, he said, “I think that we shouldn’t depend on the courts for either.  These are scientific questions that can only be answered in a scientific venue.  Sometimes the court supports the science.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  But when the court doesn’t support the science, that doesn’t change the science, it just makes it more difficult for the public to understand what’s going on.”

I agree with this.  A legal ruling doesn’t determine if science is or is not correct.  As a parent, following the science to determine what is safe for my family seems the reasonable action to me.

You might find help in understanding the courts’ rulings by reading these two articles written by Dr. Offit: Inoculated Against Facts, and Vaccines and Autism Revisited – The Hannah Poling Case,