January 14, 2009

Book Is Rallying Resistance to the Antivaccine Crusade. "Paul A. Offit sees a fiery debate on autism as being hijacked by vaccine opponents peddling false hope."
  • About damn time. The anti-vaccine thing is infuriating and alarming, and causing things like impending measles epidemics.
  • Stop Jenny is a site I wish made t-shirts.
  • I have a friend whose son is autistic. It's kinda weird being around his son, because he gets real intense about his favorite subject: trains. (They live near a light rail line). One night I went to his house and heard the kid howling upstairs. Later I apologized for arriving around his bedtime and his Mom said that actually he was howling about the water running in the tub. Apparently the autistic tend to have very strong feelings about running water.
  • Nature has a way of taking care of stupidity. Batten down for the next pestilence, baby.
  • orococo wrote: "Apparently the autistic tend to have very strong feelings about running water." Hot water burn baby? Also, our neighbor hasn't vaccinated her kid. I don't understand it. Mine is gonna get the jab the second he's out of the womb, if I have anything to say about it.
  • I don't understand it. Devil's advocate: hbs and I were initially very very worried about it -- she has a good friend with an autistic son who is not exactly anti-immunization, but thinks it may have played a role. She concedes that there's a genetic component, but she believes that there's an environmental trigger, which may be true. Added to which you've got a million media sources open to laypeople reporting this issue as if it is a legitimate debate. You've got an otherwise respectable Kennedy going on every talk show that'll have him discussing the link as if it's scientific fact. You've got dear Jenny who, in a bizarre twist of fate, went from America's Favorite Naked Lady to America's Favorite...Mom? going on shows like Ellen, calling immunizations "poison" and claiming that doctors aren't listening to parents of autistic kids. You've got the crippling terror that your kid could become autistic, which is one of the very worst things that could happen you your child and family, and that it could be your fault, which would make it worse. And, more to the point, you have very few doctors speaking publicly and forcefully that this is a bunch of snakeoil bullshit. I'm a pretty level-headed and intelligent guy with a firm grasp of reason and a belief in the need for hard scientific evidence, but there is no fear like the fear of fucking up your child for life. And not hearing a loud and forceful response from the AMA or the Surgeon General, coupled with a big collective shrug in response to the question "Why are autism rates skyrocketing?" doesn't really do much to allay that fear.
  • Honestly? There's no "initially" about my worry. I'm still worried. Read just one parent's description of their very normal 2-year-old suddenly "disappearing" into autism -- yes, that's the exception, I know, but it doesn't make it any less horrifying or irreversible -- and the thought of that happening to my own bright-eyed, laughing, sweet, impish little boy... I'm frankly much more scared of that than I am of measles or mumps or anything he's actually been vaccinated against, because those diseases aren't real to me. I don't know anyone who's had them or lost a child to them. So no, there's no credible scientific evidence that vaccines cause autism. I know that. But there are plenty of things that science has changed its mind about in the past. Why not this? When the stakes are so incredibly high, and permanent, it can be very, very hard to shut off that part of your brain that is ruled by Mama Bear, not reason. Our kid's gotten all his shots on the recommended schedule, but I have held my breath every single time.
  • there is no fear like the fear of fucking up your child for life. Absolutely.
  • I hear you HBS. It's all a matter of weighing the consequences. What do you risk? Me, I get furious at the thought we're poisoning our kids with plastics, herbicides and pesticides, as well as numerous other chemicals such as off gassing from new carpets, air pollution, toxic waste in the earth, air, water etc. etc., screwing their immune systems with antibiotics in their meats, dumping hormones into their foods and even their shampoos... It's not just one thing--perhaps the FDA (those for-sale-to-corporate-lying-bastards)is correct that there is a "safe" level of mercury, but the impact of ALL of these things. Love your children. There are so many that aren't loved.
  • I hear you, BlueHorse - the wife and I have been careful as possible with chemicals during the pregnancy, and careful for years before that (natural cleaning products, healthy food, etc.). Frankly with the chemical assault we launch against our kids, it's amazing that a single fetus anywhere actually manages to develop normally. Developmental biology is surprisingly robust, the genes fight their way through an awful lot of potentially disastrous situations to build a baby, but that doesn't mean we should be testing the limits of our kid's biology. Hell, I get worried about fertility treatments - usually when two people can't get a viable fetus on their own there's a damn good reason for it, and should we actually be putting our own desires to reproduce above the potential danger of producing a child that may have even more trouble because of what we did? What if we end up with an entire generation of kids unable to reproduce without medical intervention? It's a crazy, remote possibility but it still worries me. Glad our kid was a go without any assistance. Glad he's looking healthy so far. Hope it continues. Wish everyone with a kid could worry less, and that all kids could be healthy, but I don't know how to make it so. What I do know is that people who use a parent's fear to sell them expensive, dangerous lies should be confined to a special place in hell.
  • The anti-vaccine thing is infuriating and alarming, and causing things like impending measles epidemics. Measles Cases Triple in U.S., Vaccine Refusal Here and Elsewhere to Blame
  • No. Duh. I would never wish disease on any child, but one can only hope the anti-vac people are seeing it in their kids rather than it being mostly on the rise in auto-immune compromised kids.