Vaccines don’t cause Autism (are we still doing this?)

Science Pony gets questions from anti-vaxxers from time to time. When they are relativity free from profanities and suggestions on how she could most effectively suicide she does her best to respond. Here is her most recent request:

Ah, the old “Autism is caused by vaccines and Big Pharma has been covering it up since 1978” gambit – a classic. Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Claim 1: “Since the vaccine manufacturers aren’t liable for any “vaccine injuries” since I think 1978 the number of vaccines has gone up significantly. “

  • Kids do get more vaccines now (and are protected against more vaccine-preventable diseases), however the immune system doesn’t count the number of shots, it counts what is in those shots, immune response triggering antigens, the number of which is thousands fewer than it once was – from 3,000 in just one DTP shot they used to get, to just 315 in all of the vaccines that they get by age two years today.
  • It is these antigens that stimulate the immune system. If you are worried about overstimulating your immune system, then that is what you would look at, not the total number of vaccines.
  • Dr. Offit explains how an infant’s “immune system has the capacity to respond to extremely large numbers of antigens,” and “each infant would have the theoretical capacity to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at any one time.” Another way to explain it is to say, as Offit subsequently did, that “if 11 vaccines were given to infants at one time, then about 0.1% of the immune system would be ‘used up.'”
  • It is not true that vaccine manufacturers are not liable for vaccine injuries sustained by intended use of their products, however, before someone can try to sue a the drug company directly, they must first file a claim through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (Vaccine Court). A claimant can file a civil lawsuit against a vaccine manufacturer if their claim is denied or if they reject the compensation offered after their claim is approved.

Claim 2: “Every time the number of vaccines goes up so does the rate of autism. Now I know that since there has been studies to show there’s no link what’s up with the autism rate going up?”

  • There are over 100 good quality studies that show no link between autism and vaccines.QpGSrC1441097484
  • No correlation exists whatsoever between autism and increasing antigen number.
  • Over 60% of the increase is autism spectrum diagnoses can be attributed to secondary
    factors like a change in diagnostic criteria.
  • There is a compelling case to be made that autism rates have not actually risen at all.
  • Correlation =/= causation.
  • If it did then the cause of autism quickly becomes obvious:



3: “Why can’t I find the rate of autism in nonvaxxed children?”

  • Because you are not good at research and should leave it to the professionals.
  • Because the first step in looking for something is opening your eyes.
  • Because you are only interested in confirming your pre-existing bias.

vax-meme-2-300x250I hope this has addressed your queries in a complete and timely manner. If you have any other questions for Science Pony, please feel free to re-submit them. Please remember that if you still put forth the antiquated and illogical idea that autism is caused by vaccines then your science is bad and you should feel bad.

I would also like to take a minute and remind you that autism is not the worst thing that can happen to a child, not by any means. Children die, that is a whole lot worse than being on the spectrum. When they die of vaccine preventable diseases, that is noting short of tragic. Do your part in normalizing autism, and preventing stigmatization for those with the diagnosis by trying not the be such an ableist douchebag.

Cheers and thanks.



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