Monday, June 30, 2008

Autism: New Information

As most Mamas know, there has been a battle raging for quite some time over whether or not vaccinations can cause or trigger Autism in small children. I'm not planning on picking a side here, or stirring the debate further. I simply wanted to draw attention to this article in Saturday's New York Times, by Gardiner Harris, that highlights some new information.

Harris begins with two disturbing cases of children who, shortly after receiving vaccines, showed rapid decline in motor skills, appetite and strength. One child was ultimately diagnosed with Autism, the other child died.

Apparently, both of these children had mitochondrial disorders, which are genetic diseases and, according to Harris, "have received almost no attention from federal health officials." Not much is known about mitochondrial disorders--or Autism, for that matter--and at this point no one is willing to draw a definitive link between the two. As Harris points out, multiple studies have been done to try to show some causal relationship between vaccines and Autism, all of which failed to do so. Many parents of Autistic children, however, believe unequivocally that vaccinations caused their children's illnesses. Perhaps further research on mitochondrial disorders will prove to be the missing link.

At present, there is no definitive test for mitochondrial disorders, which might help identify children at risk for having a devastating reaction to a vaccine. Federal health officials aren't even willing to determine yet that the mitochondrial disorders had anything to do with the terrible consequences for the two children in the article. So while little is known, it is important enough for parents to stay on top of.

For more information on mitochondrial diseases, visit the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. For information on Autism, visit Autism Speaks or the Autism Society of America.

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