William H Ahearn, Ph.D., BCBA  

Specialties: Behavior Analysis, Learning Deficits, Autism

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Autism and vaccines: Jenny McCarthy

Dec 18, 2007 - 6 comments

Former MTV personality and model Jenny McCarthy has recently published a book, and has appeared on numerous television shows, promoting the notion that autism is caused by vaccines.  She claims that vaccines caused her son’s autism and also claims that her son has been cured via chelation, diets, antifungal medication, and various other unsubstantiated therapies.  McCarthy also writes in her book that she “chain smoked” throughout her pregnancy prior to deciding to live a healthier life after her son was born.  Smoking during pregnancy has been well documented as being associated with a higher prevalence of autism and other psychiatric symptoms (e.g., Rizwan et al., 2007).

NECC has closely followed the autism-vaccine hypotheses and research related to it.  As we have reported in the past, the findings of many large scale studies show no link between autism and either thimerosal in vaccines or the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.  (Previous coverage in our Research Newsletter can be accessed at the first link below).  In fact, the September 27th issue of this year’s New England Journal of Medicine contains a study that “does not support a causal association between early exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing and immune globins and deficits in neuropsychological functioning…” (This study can be accessed at the second link below.) Though this study did not specifically investigate autism, it is likely that children with autism would perform poorly on the neuropsychological testing used.  Furthermore, a similar study that specifically tested for autism will be completed and published in the near future.  Despite the accumulating evidence against the link between vaccines and autism, it is likely that people will continue to ignore this scientific evidence in favor of a belief that a link exists.

NECC Research Newsletter:

NEJM article:

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by jeanig, Mar 05, 2009
The reason we will "ignore" the flawed and biased research is that we watched our children morph into autism, developmental, and "neuropyshiatric" disorders from previously healthy children- in many cases within days to months after an office visit for our vaccinations. At least we will not be fooled again. I pity those who must follow in our footsteps. The science is there. My son has lab after lab showing his immune dysfunction, infestation with "bad' gut micro-organisms, and viral problems (linked to vaccine strains- ie measles in the ilea causing gut permeability and food sensitivities), PANDAS, and- amazingly- high levels of mercury... By the way, the Hep B, and Flu shot have how much mercury in them currently? I thought so. One day all the greedy pharma people and doctors who practiced with ther eyes shut will stand before their Maker, and He will not be fooled nor amused at how they caused harm to small children for profit.

by ania89, Sep 30, 2010
I simply DON'T GET IT. Instead of trying to prove that there's no connection between autism and vaccinations, just REMOVE THE MERCURY FROM IT. Even if thiromesal doesn't cause autism, mercury is still highly toxic, injecting it to babies is simply a crime in my opinion. It can cause MANY diseases even in adults.
BTW when it comes to relation between autism and mercury, maybe the studies show that there's none, because it's more about how well the body can excrete mercury, some baby's bodies just can't do it effectively, it's not the case of how much mercury is in the body etc.

by SarahPa, Oct 12, 2010
They have in fact removed thimerosol from most vaccines. Cigarettes also contain mercury, just as do fish. And yet we are not talking about mothers who smoke, even though there is a demonstrated link between maternal smoke and autism. Legitimate medical testing doesn't show any increased mercury levels in vaccinated children, but anti-vaccine alternative therapies are the real evil money making industry here. They know how to create false positives for high mercury levels in someone with ordinary levels, like someone who sometimes eats fish, for example, and they offer dangerous heavy metal removing chelation therapies. One autistic boy is dead from chelation therapy, and for the rest the long term effects are unclear--rats with no heavy metal poisoning who were subjected to unneeded chelation suffered lasting cognitive damage.
Jenny Mccarthy is a modern day Dr. Mengele, promoting unsafe, untested and bizzare treatments on defenseless children and desperate parents and preventing children from getting life saving preventative vaccines, all to keep herself from realizing the impact of her own decision to smoke while pregnant.

The onset of Autism is around same age as a child's first vaccines. That common onset age is the same in groups who have had no vaccines, groups that have had thimerosol and groups that have had vaccines without thimerosol. Vaccines and autism are unrelated. Mercury has legitimate, safe and tested medical uses, in dentistry, for example. It is most dangerous when vapors are inhaled or when it comes from the environment into our food chain as methyl-mercury.

by marshallrobin99, Jan 27, 2011
To be honest im confused by the arguments on vaccines, but i can say that i have autism and because of lost records i was giving three rounds of vaccinations. nonetheless autism seems to be prevelant in my family. so for me if there is any truth to the vaccines then i would be an example for it but i think genetics is a strong factor.

by MelRN1972, May 28, 2011
As far as Jenny McCarthy goes, she has brought a lot of awareness to autism! Whatever she put in her book is her personal journey! All of us with autistic children have our own stories to tell.  She not a dr and doesn't claim to be one-- she's just telling her story!! To compare her to a modern day Dr Mengele is SO BEYOND WORDS, it's absurd-- it's wrong! Do you know the pain of having ur child not connecting with u? Your baby, the love of ur life! Ive talen My Child to every specialist i could find! Mind u that was before all the computers in every home or even everyone having a cell fone! My son will soon b 19! I packed up and moved my family over 6 yrs ago to find the best school system n the state! We lived n a small town and I had teachers, even the special Ed teachers look @ me & say they didn't know anything about autism! I had to fight every step of the way to get My Child the best education possible!
AND Yes I believe the vaccines had something to do with my child developing autism! He may have had some predisposition there but he hit all his milestones early! Walking @ 9 months @ 1 yr, he was starting to put words together! @ 16 mo he was saying momma bob-ba pease, no I didn't spell wrong that's how he said it! He said doggie monkey, we went to the zoo and he loved the monkies! He cud say Barney and of course Daddy! Milk more pease! Apple, I remember all these and more cuz one day he wad talking and the next day after the shots and a raging fever of 104, alt with Tylenol & motrin he still had a fever, he cried all nite! I mean cried and screamed all nite- nothing we done helped! He finally became exhausted and went to sleep! When he woke up, I had a different child! He didn't want us to hold him-- he wudnt talk , I can go on & on but it's water under the bridge! I know one thing-- If I could do that day over, and have him not get those shots!! I would give my life for that trade! That's how much I believe it! I feel it n my heart! So I don't care what anyone believes-- I know!

by cheylL13, Sep 26, 2011
The research of vk singh, an immunologist, shows that it isn't just the mercury in vaccines that causes harm  in autism, but the viruses in them. There were measles autoantibodys found in the teeter of brain cells from autistics. Vaccines may not be the sole cause of autism, but it definately plays a role in autism.

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