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The always fun topic of autism and vaccines has been in the news again.  Truth is, it never leaves, but this time the whole movement has found new life and hope in the brave, new world of mitochondrial disorders.  It all started when the first ever vaccines caused my child to develop autism case was won in court a few months ago by one of my fellow child neurologists.  Now, with one case in the law books, a second has arrived. I thought I might attempt a look at the issues this brings up.

I am now breaking a vow of silence and entering dangerous territory, the swirling vortex of controversy that is Autism and vaccination.  This is a difficult path for my conflict avoidant self to tread.  The amount of blog space devoted to this subject is long, the tone is invariably impassioned and the feelings involved are raw.  In a way, this is more interesting to me than the question of whether vaccines cause Autism itself.  Why is this such a lightning rod of an issue?

Because they are babies!!!

 

    The answers are actually rather complex, but the biggest factor is dealing with children, whom we subject to multiple needles full of mysteriously weakened viruses and various unknown and frightening substances at regular intervals in our weakest and most vulnerable population.  This undoubtedly requires a great deal of faith and trust in the medical field. I know that we doctors do not always behave in a manner completely worthy of this trust.  The parent child relationship is intense.  Our desires to want the best for them are very real.  There is a very real impulse to take the frustration that comes along when all is not well with the child and direct it at the physician.  I know, because I walk the tightrope associated with this in dealing with the parents of sick children every day.  My hope is that I might allay a fear or two without appearing to be insulting the impassioned opposition.  I have a hard time faulting parents for caring too much.

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