All sorts of arguments are thrown around to persuade parents that shots threaten their children with autism. I’d like to discuss 4 of the commonly repeated concerns, 3 flawed…and 1 that I think has merit.
1) Too many shots can overwhelm a child and cause autism. No!
Babies get more vaccines today than 30 years ago, but if you think that means more things are injected into their young bodies…you’d be wrong! That’s because immunizations today are much more purified than those of the past.
For example, in 1980, the DPT shot (Diphtheria/Pertussis/Tetanus) was made from a soup of blendarized bacteria (over 1000 different illness particles – antigens – all mixed together). And, the polio vaccine had live virus that actually protected children by triggering a minute case of…polio! Today, our modern DPT vaccine is highly purified, containing only 3-5 bacterial antigens and the polio shot has absolutely no live virus.
Actually, the current trend to give kids more shots is a win-win for them. They win because they’re protected from many more illnesses and because they have fewer antigens put into their bodies.
But, some still worry, “Can too many shots overwhelm a baby’s immature immune system?” That idea is pretty close to a baby urban legend.
The immune system is a superb multitasking, fighting machine. Every day, babies are bombarded by thousands of threats: irritating pollen; colonic microbes; bacterial invaders from the skin, eyes, nose, mouth; viral swarms; offending dietary proteins; damaged cells; even tiny, little cancers. The immune system’s magnificent ability to protect against many, mild attacks at one time is exactly why most babies tolerate several shots at once with no reaction whatsoever. (In fact, a new theory suggests that allergies and asthma may be on the rise in part because we have made the world so clean it doesn’t exercise a baby’s immune system enough!)
2) Shots hurt the brains of extra-sensitive children. No!
Each of us has special sensitivities. Some have peanut allergies…some get lots of strep throat….and a very, very few get serious reactions to vaccines. I wish we had a test to detect which infants are susceptible to severe measles or big vaccine reactions, but no such test exists.
The good news, however, is that shot risks are tiny compared to the risks of full-blown illness. For example, influenza and chicken pox hammer the immune system 100-1000 tim