Saturday, March 15, 2008
John McCain on Autism.
I will be honest. I haven't been following the presidential campaign all that closely, largely because I'm not overly impressed with any of the candidates. Because of this I haven't developed strong feelings one way or the other on any of the runners. However John McCain finally said something that caught my attention. He went on record saying that he believes mercury preservatives in childhood vaccines is causing autism. This is a very touchy subject in the SLP world, one that I can get pretty riled up about. One reason is that it is dangerous to make those claims. Parents end up not giving their children important shots, because of anecdotal claims. Children have been suspended from school, unable to attend class because they haven't received these required shots. While it's true that there have been tests done that show that autism rates tend to be higher in areas with high mercury content in the water, extensive studies have not been done. I could go on a boring scientific rant citing peer reviewed studies, but I won't. There are whole books on the subject of the evils of mercury. While digestive causes for autism cannot be completely ruled out it is unlikely. Autism can be observed in prevaccinated children. However the most damning evidence is that the mercury preservative HAS BEEN TAKEN OUT OF VACCINATIONS! It is no longer being used, and yet we are still reporting new cases of autism. I am a firm believer the the genetics argument, but etiology isn't my area of concern. There is a lot of need for parents to place blame on their child's disorder. Whether they see it as a testament to their own bad genes or they just don't know enough, blaming isn't going to make your child communicate any better. Let's lay off the mercury people. It is so 1990's.