Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

writing for parents of the bravest hearts

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe

green writing for parents

Being clear about vaccines and autism

Recently, I heard from a reader who thought one of the take-away messages from See Sam Run was that I believed vaccinations caused Sam’s autism.

I don’t believe that. I believe Sam’s autism began during pregnancy and he showed signs of it as a newborn — so much so that my father picked up on it in Sam’s first week of life. I doubt our family will ever know what caused the autism. But I am glad that researchers are looking both at genetics and environmental triggers. Chances are, we are going to learn that it isn’t the “dose that makes the poison,” but that some women and their babies are more susceptible to endocrine disruption. 
Although, a concept in Florence Williams’ new book, “Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History,” gave me pause. She outlined research that has shown women bodies will unload their chemical burden on their first babies. It’s awful to think that is possible, but I know what I was exposed to as a teenager, and in my 20s, and neither were ideal baby-making environments.
For parents who have read a lot on the vaccine topic, I recommend weighing all that online “research” against the summary of research in Paul Offit’s “Autism’s False Prophets.”
And, to put your mind at ease about vaccines for your baby, you can ask your pediatrician space them out and that they be given without thimerosal, that mercury preservative.
All our children were vaccinated with everything. I wouldn’t dare take a chance. I’m so sad that people aren’t vaccinating — either for fear of autism or because they are too poor for good preventive health care. Babies are dying of whooping cough. That’s just so preventable.
Really.

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