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Medical English / By Tom Secrest

Autism and vaccines – more good news / By Tom Secrest

It was back in the 1990s when a link between autism and childhood vaccines, was suggested. Researchers around the world have been looking for the link ever since. Scientifically the link was always dubious, but dubious or not, it turned into an emotional and heated debated between those who saw the benefits of vaccines and parents who were afraid for the health of their children. The issue was not helped when well-meaning and well-known celebrities championed the cause against vaccinations. While their intentions were good, they were nonetheless easy victims of anecdotal evidence. Study after study has been published in the most respected scientific journals, which repeatedly failed to find a link or a connection between autism and vaccines. However, the voices of celebrities tend to be aired more often and in better time slots than the voices of scientists.

The suspected culprit was a chemical preservative called thimerosal. Thimerosal contains ethylmercury and it was the ethylmercury that became the focal point regarding vaccines and autism. These concerns led the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to recommend removing thimerosal from infant vaccines.

In the 16 September issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Frank DeStefano, MD, who is the director of immunization safety at the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and his fellow researchers from Harvard Medical School and Stanford University, have published their latest results. In what should be considered a definitive study, they concluded that none of the reviewed cases of autism were linked to either the use of prenatal or infant vaccines or immunoglobulins containing thimerosal. Researchers are now more confident than ever that the use of vaccines containing thimerosal and autism are completely unrelated.

Hopefully this will provide some measure of comfort for parents with autistic children who may have felt that their decision to vaccinate their child was in some way responsible for their child’s autism. It appears that nothing could be further from the truth. The choice to vaccinate should be viewed as a responsible decision made by parents trying to protect the health of their child or children. Along with parents, perhaps clinicians who recommended and administered the vaccines can sleep a little easier as well.

Maybe now it is time to leave the blame game behind and move forward toward new and better diagnostics and treatments for autism.


  • suggest – připomenout, naznačit
  • dubious – nejasný, nezřetelný, nejistý
  • nonetheless – nicméně, stejně
  • anecdotal – neoficiální
  • repeatedly – opětovně, znovu a znovu
  • however – nicméně, ať tak nebo onak
  • slot time – časový příděl
  • suspect – podezírat
  • unrelated – nesouvisející, nemající vztah
  • blame – dávat vinu, svádět


About Tom Secrest / Tom Secrest online 



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