At present, the causes of autism have not been accurately determined. This question still remains a subject of many studies. However, there are many stereotypes and misconceptions about this issue. In particular, one should discuss the belief that vaccination leads to this neural disorder.
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On the whole, it is possible to argue that this concern is not justified because there is no verified evidence which can demonstrate the connection between these phenomena. Moreover, current studies indicate that this disease might be triggered by genetic causes or infections. These are the issues that should be discussed more closely.
To a great extent, this false belief can be traced back to the notorious MMR vaccine controversy in 1998. In particular, there were several studies which indicated that the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella could cause various types of autism (Mesmere, 2007, p. 95).
Since that time, many parents became very suspicious of vaccines. Nevertheless, later research showed that these findings were inaccurate or even fraudulent (Mesmere, 2007, p. 95). These findings could be attributed to the misinterpretation of statistical data or the flaws of research methodology (Mesmere, 2007, p. 95).
Researchers also note that parents often detect the signs of autism when their child reaches the age of 18 months. In turn, the vaccination is performed at the age of approximately 15 months (Mesmere, 2007, p. 95). This temporal association between the two events is probably the main reason why parents are so concerned about the risks of vaccination.
However, the main problem is that this association or correlation does not imply that autism is triggered by a vaccine. This is the main issue that should not be overlooked. At present, scientists and medical workers hypothesize that there can be multiple causes of autism. It is believed that this disorder can sometimes be explained by a combination of different factors (Ratajczak, 2011, p. 68).
As a rule, they mention viral infections, genetic mutations, and encephalitis (Ratajczak, 2011, p. 68). Moreover, it is possible to speak about a mother’s immune response during pregnancy (Ratajczak, 2011, p. 68). One of the arguments made by researchers is that post-natal cause of autism is unlikely (Taylor, 2006, p. 511).
Currently, medical workers cannot find any biological markers that can be used to diagnose autism. This is why this disorder is detected only through the observation of a child’s behavior. However, there is no theoretical or empirical model which can show that a person develops autism because of vaccination.
Overall, false beliefs regarding the causes of autism are of great concern to medical workers because many parents do not want their children to be vaccination. However, in this way, they expose them to greater risks since children can become vulnerable to various diseases such as rubella or even hepatitis.
Thus, the task of healthcare professionals is to refute the stereotypes regarding the causes of autism. This discussion suggests that the false beliefs about vaccines as the cause of autism can largely be explained by the inability of some people to interpret scientific findings. In particular, temporal association can often be confused with causation.
Certainly, researchers still try to understand and describe the exact mechanisms that trigger autistic disorders. Nonetheless, it is not reasonable to reject vaccination since it is a powerful tool that can protect a child from many diseases. This is the main argument that can be put forward.
Mesmere, B. (2007). New Autism Research Developments. New York, NY: Nova Publishers.
Ratajczak, H. (2011). Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes–A review. Journal Of Immunotoxicology, 8(1), 68-79.
Taylor, B. (2006). Vaccines and the changing epidemiology of autism. Child: Care, Health & Development, 32(5), 511-519.