We must be careful here. I argued against the link between MMR and autism, but Trump believes that the amount of shots we give our children is the problem. Does the amount of shots we give our children put them at risk for autism?
Before we answer this question let’s ask what happens if we are not immunized.
What happens when a child is not vaccinated?
There was a spike in instances of measles in 2014. The Centers for Disease Control declared the measles eradicated in 2000, but in 2014 there were 667 cases of the measles in 27 states. Whooping cough (pertusis) made a comeback as well. A study was conducted in order to learn the causes of the outbreaks. The paper is titled “Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States.” The findings are:
We identified 18 published measles studies (9 annual summaries and 9 outbreak reports), which described 1416 measles cases (individual age range, 2 weeks-84 years; 178 cases younger than 12 months) and more than half (56.8%) had no history of measles vaccination. Of the 970 measles cases with detailed vaccination data, 574 cases were unvaccinated despite being vaccine eligible and 405 (70.6%) of these had nonmedical exemptions (eg, exemptions for religious or philosophical reasons, as opposed to medical contraindications; 41.8% of total). Among 32 reports of pertussis outbreaks, which included 10 609 individuals for whom vaccination status was reported (age range, 10 days-87 years), the 5 largest statewide epidemics had substantial proportions (range, 24%-45%) of unvaccinated or undervaccinated individuals. However, several pertussis outbreaks also occurred in highly vaccinated populations, indicating waning immunity. Nine reports (describing 12 outbreaks) provided detailed vaccination data on unimmunized cases; among 8 of these outbreaks from 59% through 93% of unvaccinated individuals were intentionally unvaccinated.
Their conclusion is “[a] substantial proportion of the US measles cases in the era after elimination were intentionally unvaccinated. The phenomenon of vaccine refusal was associated with an increased risk for measles among people who refuse vaccines and among fully vaccinated individuals. Although pertussis resurgence has been attributed to waning immunity and other factors, vaccine refusal was still associated with an increased risk for pertussis in some populations.”
Refusal to get immunized, and lowered immunity is a result of vaccine refusal and makes outbreaks more probable.
Are we giving children too many vaccinations?
The paper titled “Vaccines and Autism: A Tale of Shifting Hypotheses” by Stanley Plokin, Jeffrey S. and Gerber Paul A. Offit answers this question:
Multiple vaccinations do not weaken the immune system. Vaccinated and unvaccinated children do not differ in their susceptibility to infections not prevented by vaccines . In other words, vaccination does not suppress the immune system in a clinically relevant manner. However, infections with some vaccine-preventable diseases predispose children to severe, invasive infections with other pathogens [36, 37]. Therefore, the available data suggest that vaccines do not weaken the immune system.
Autism is not an immune-mediated disease. Unlike autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, there is no evidence of immune activation or inflammatory lesions in the CNS of people with autism . In fact, current data suggest that genetic variation in neuronal circuitry that affects synaptic development might in part account for autistic behavior . Thus, speculation that an exaggerated or inappropriate immune response to vaccination precipitates autism is at variance with current scientific data that address the pathogenesis of autism.
As you can see, autism is probably caused by differences in neuronal circuitry and not by the weakening of the immune system.
We should be heartened by the fact that Tom Price, Trump’s head of Health and Human Services (HHS), rejects the claim that vaccines cause autism. This optimism is chastened by Trump’s expressed promise to “save our children” and his desire to moderate the pace of immunizations because he believes our current immunization schedule causes autism in children.