Measles Outbreak Renews Vaccine Controversy and Puts Autism in the Spotlight

A measles outbreak traced to the Disneyland theme park in California is putting the debate over vaccinations back in the spotlight. More and more parents are opting out of vaccinations for their children for diseases like measles, mumps and rubella. Some of those parents make that choice for religious reasons, but many do so because of a fear that vaccinations cause autism and other developmental disorders.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the current measles outbreak involves over 100 cases spread across 14 states. The majority of affected children were not vaccinated against the disease.

Outbreaks on the Rise

There were 23 outbreaks of measles in 2014, but the most significant of those was among unvaccinated Amish children. Most of the other cases were linked to Filipino visitors, as the Philippines suffered a major outbreak. 2013 saw 11 outbreaks, and only three consisted of more than 20 cases. The Disneyland outbreak shows just how quickly low statistics can change.

According to many experts such as Dr. Randall Knott, an assistant pediatrics professor at the University of New Mexico, there is absolutely no evidence of a link between vaccination and autism link. A single study that purportedly linked the two has since been discredited, he said. However, celebrities like Jenny McCarthy continue to speak out against vaccinating children.

Autism Causes Are Still a Mystery

The CDC reports that one in 68 children have Autism Spectrum Disorder. The number of children diagnosed with autism is increasing rapidly and researchers have yet to identify a cause. The latest research is focused inside the brain.

Though the majority of American parents continue to vaccinate their children, a growing minority are choosing not to, some for compelling religious or evidence-based reasons, others because of myths addressed by this videoIf you have children, the decision on whether to vaccinate them is a very personal one that should be made in collaboration with your family physician rather than media hype on either side of the debate. If you have a child with autism, there are many helpful resources and support groups. This video offers helpful tips on raising a child with autism.