Half of all parents believe vaccines caused their child's autism

A survey of parents of children with autism found that a staggering 49% believed that vaccines contributed to their child's autism. Of the 198 parents responding to the telephone survey in the USA a third (32%) felt sure that vaccines had contributed to their child's autism and a further 17% (one sixth) felt that vaccines had possibly contributed. The vaccine singled out by nearly half of parents as being the culprit was, unsurprisingly, the triple MMR vaccine. The next most common suspected cause was 'multiple vaccines' referring to the large vaccine load most young children now receive. More than half of these parents, understandably, went on to change or discontinue the vaccines given to their child and subsequent children.

Instead of showing concern that at least some of this intelligent group of parents may be right, the authors argue that the survey demonstrates a 'communication barrier' between doctors and parents. They suggest that educational tools should be designed to help doctors when discussing vaccines with parents of children with autism so that doctors can effectively 'explain why vaccines are not related to [autism]'.

However this was an intelligent group of parents, two thirds of whom were college graduates. In the fact there was an association between the level of education achieved and the belief that vaccines caused autism, in other words the higher your level of education the more likely it is that you believe that vaccines caused your child's autism. It is difficult to imagine how 'better education' of these parents could result in a change ion their views.

This research demonstrates to me how blind professionals have become to the possibility that vaccines can cause autism. The official line is straightforward: vaccines do not cause autism. Yet here we have a group of highly intelligent parents, half of whom feel that vaccines probably did contribute to their child's autism. I find it hard to accept that all these parents are wrong; in fact I suspect that most of them are right. If only half of them are right, then vaccines are contributing to a quarter of all cases of autism and that is a lot of children. In the UK alone that would amount to over 2,0000 children a year. Now that is a scary thought.

Added 14 Aug 2012