Measles vaccine and autism
THE World Health Organisation has announced measles as an alarming outbreak in Pakistan, because of the death toll that is increasing day by day. More than 100 innocent children have died in the last four weeks because of post-measles complications such as pneumonia, post-measles encephalitis and diarrhoea.
Some parents do not let their children get vaccinated because of unfounded fears that the MMR vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, can cause autism. Large studies of thousands of children have found no connection between this vaccine and autism.
According to researchers, there is no increased risk of autism spectrum disorder for infants exposed to ethyl-mercury from vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations containing the preservative thimerosal.
Thus children who are not vaccinated can lead to outbreaks of measles, mumps, and rubella — all of which are potentially serious diseases of childhood. Vaccine fears persist in part because parents often notice the first autism symptoms around age two when many childhood vaccines are given.
Most autism experts believe this is purely coincidental and that in many cases parents have missed subtle signs of autism—like a baby’s failure to point or use other gestures to communicate — that may have emerged before vaccination.
DR HASSAN ANJUM SHAHID