New Autism Study Makes Me Even More Fearful of Vaccines

Julie Ryan Evans

autism awarenessA new study released Monday provides surprising information contrasting that of previous thinking when it comes to what causes autism. It found that environmental factors, not heredity, are likely the bigger cause of most cases. The study didn't examine which environmental factors were at play, but the fact that ANY may be leaves many more fearful than ever about the possible links between vaccines and the disease. 

Of course it's encouraging too -- that there's something we could do or avoid doing to decrease the rate of autism. But the thought that we may be exposing them to something right now that is thought to be safe, but isn't, is heartbreaking.

Dr. Joachim Hallmayer, study author, told HealthDay:

I was very surprised. The environmental influence is stronger than I thought. It doesn't mean that genes don't play a role, but they may not play as big a role as thought.

Scientists looked at 192 pairs of twins in which at least one of the children had some form of autism. They found that shared genes increased a child's risk of autism by 38 percent, but that environment -- both in the womb and immediately after birth -- increased it by 58 percent.

Vaccines weren't examined in this study, but if other environmental factors can contribute to autism cases, then why not vaccines? According to this study, something we're doing is causing it; it's likely not just genetics at play here. So could vaccines be contributing too?

I have vaccinated my children in the past, but have never felt fully at ease doing so. I do it because I'm scared of the alternatives and have made the best educated guess I can about the right thing to do. But it's just a guess, and when it comes to my children's health, it kills me that I have to make a guess with such enormous possible consequences.

It's amazing to think that there is a way to prevent autism and stop it from harming as many, many of our children as it does -- 1 in 110! Now the question remains: what is it? If not vaccines, is it our air, BPA, our food supply, stress in the womb, medications taken while pregnant, or something we haven't even considered? Whatever it is, we need to figure it out fast because too many families are suffering too much from the toll of autism.

Do you find this new study frightening or encouraging? Or both?

Image via Beverly & Pack/Flickr

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