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home : opinions : opinions April 30, 2016

2/5/2013 1:18:00 PM
Letter: please research links between vaccines and autism carefully

To the editor:

The article by Danielle Verbrigghe, "Outbreak fears...," from the Jan. 2 paper was informative but was not well-balanced. It was especially weak when it addressed the risks of autism and vaccines. It should have been classified as an editorial.

Ms. Verbrigghe states "A vaccine, like any other medication, isn't completely risk-free." That is an understatement. She goes on to call the link between the MMR vaccine and autism "a perceived link and a myth." Also, notice that Ms. Verbrigghe interviewed no one with direct experience with or knowledge of autism.

Today, autism affects one child in fewer than 100. Now, if young parents ask their grandparents if they even knew of any children with autism when they were young, most will tell you that they never heard of the disorder when they were in school. Sadly, however, we see autism steadily on the rise.

If possible, a parent or caregiver should talk to a parent who has a child with autism to hear how that parent feels about the MMR vaccine's affect on the child. If you heard these parents speak, you would hear countless stories of how a baby was developing typically and then at about 24-30 months old, the toddler was vaccinated with cocktails of vaccines (including the MMR). The toddler then developed a high fever, and after recovery, began to regress in speech and social skills. These are parents' real life events and real stories, not just "a myth" as the article implies.

One solution to the vaccination and autism link question is education. Parents should do their homework. They should immerse themselves in as many resources as possible. They should go to Jenny McCarthy's website and read articles from Dr. James Adams from Arizona State University. One great resource for all parents as well as Ms. Verbrigghe, is a book called "What Your Doctor May NOT Tell You About Children's Vaccinations" by Dr. Stephanie Cave. This book gives an alternative to the standard American Pediatric Association vaccination schedule. The point is, do the research. Some articles will be more radical on both sides. The research is well worth the effort, especially for expecting parents.

When researching, note there are many "causes" of autism. Most articles will note that vaccines are one of the risks, especially the live MMR vaccine, which until the late 1990's was preserved with mercury. Other countries have slower immunization schedules for children, and those countries have much lower incidents of autism.

I am a mother of two children - one with autism and one without. If I could go back and do it again, I would not have vaccinated my child with autism as his pediatrician recommended, especially not the MMR vaccine at age 18 months as recommended. My younger son, who genetically could have also been predisposed to have autism, has developed normally. This is in part I believe due to his father's and my diligence in following the recommendations in the previously mentioned book. My youngest was breastfed exclusively until six months of age, and he did not receive one vaccination until that time as well. Now he is an active and intellectually advanced young five-year-old in advanced programs in a private school.

My advice once again, to all who have involvement with children on the spectrum, is to please read as much material as possible, talk to other parents of children with autism, and make informed decisions. Thank you for reading my reply and best wishes to all parents, grandparents, caretakers and those struggling with autism.

Alicia Lechtenberger-Jividen


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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013
Article comment by: Nanette Castro

Thank you Alicia for a well thought out letter. We also have a child with Autism and would love to be part of a local support group here in Williams...is there one?

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