Vaccines and autism --?is there a connection?

March 19, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Pediatrician Dr. Lisa Dana shares the latest news for parents on the controversial topic of vaccines and autism.

Autism and Vaccines
Information from Dr. Dana:

1. Autism is a condition in a group of developmental disorders that is part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.(ASD) It is characterized by impaired social interactions, speech delay, and impaired non-verbal communication as well as unusual, repetitive or limited activities/interests. I have personally raised thousands of dollars towards the early diagnosis and treatment of children with Autism and ASD, through the child development center at California Pacific Medical Center. I screen my patients for ASD as early as the one year visit. We have learned that the earlier that these children receive services, the better the outcome.

2. That being said, there is not a link between vaccines and autism. All studies that have been done, have shown no association between childhood vaccines and autism.

3. My screening questions include: does your child point to show you things (does he share his world with you?) children with autism do not share their world. Does he have good eye contact? Does he respond to his name? Does he follow your point. Does he babble and have a few early words?

4. The controversy between vaccines and autism..was started because of fear. Autism is frightening, and parents wanted to find a reason for it. Blame somebody/something. MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) vaccine is given at 1 year. This is also the time when children may start to show signs of autism. Because of this parents began to fear that there was a link. Extensive research has shown that there is no link.

5. When parents ask me about the vaccine, I first remind them that I would NEVER give them anything that would harm their child.

6. If vaccines don't cause autism, what does? ASD is likely caused by both a combination of genetics and environmental triggers. Some children may have a genetic predisposition to autism. In families with a child with autism, the risk of having a second child with autism is 5%. This is a higher percentage than the general population. Researchers are looking into what genes might be associated with ASD.

7. I recommend the traditional vaccine schedule, as recommended by the American Association of Pediatrics. The problem with the alternative schedules, is that our children then fall behind on vaccines. If a child is behind on a vaccine, he/she is at risk of coming down with that illness. Every year, infants die of the whooping cough. The whooping cough is a preventable illness. Just last month there was a health alert for a case of Measles in San Francisco. Complications of measles include pneumonia, encephalitis and death.

8. Infants receive their first vaccine in the hospital or at the first visit to the doctor.This is the Hepatitis B vaccine. The next series of vaccines is started at the 2 month well child visit. At your first visit, you will receive info on vaccines, and have the opportunity to ask questions regarding the vaccine schedule.

About Dr. Lisa Dana:
She was born in Bologna, Italy. She attended University High School in San Francisco and then went on to complete her undergraduate education at the University of California Santa Barbara. She attended Georgetown University for Medical School. She completed her Internship and Residency at the University of California San Francisco. Dr. Dana is on the clinical faculty at UCSF and is a member of the San Francisco Medical Society. She has been in private practice in San Francisco and Mill Valley sTARGET="_blank"ince 1999. Dr. Dana is married and the proud parent of three children. She is a founder and past president of the The Reading Tree Literacy Program.

LINK: Golden Gate Pediatrics


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