Public Health

Do Vaccines Cause Autism?

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It's not surprising that so many parents are so worried about autism. After all, the disorder strikes about one out of every 115 kids, its prevalence seems to be growing, and its cause or causes remain mysterious.

A 1998 article published in the British medical journal The Lancet generated enormous impact by proposing a link between autism and childhood vaccines. Since then, celebrity activists like Jenny McCarthy have argued that common shots like the measles, mumps, and rubellla vaccine (MMR) trigger autism. Countless media stories have covered the alleged link.

Some parents take to the streets to protest the federal government's vaccine policy and thousands more take the issue to court. Many others, like Kelly Green, who runs AutismHwy and is the mother of an autistic child, feel overwhelmed by the information flooding in from both sides of the debate. Jim Moody, of the think tank Safe Minds, blames the federal government for not being honest about the threat and failing to provide reliable information on the matter. But researchers like UC Santa Barbara's Lynn Koegel say the evidence is overwhelming that vaccines do not cause autism.

Recently, the debate took another turn when The Lancet retracted the 1998 article that did so much to spark the controversy. Will the retraction finally allay parents' worries or will some continue to resist vaccinations?

"Do Vaccines Cause Autism?" is written and produced by Ted Balaker, who also hosts. Producer: Hawk Jensen; Associate Producer: Paul Detrick; Camera: Dan Hayes, Hawk Jensen, and Alex Manning. Approximately 5.50 minutes.

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