Autism, Amish, and Outbreaks

Apparently, contrary to urban legends, the unvaccinated Amish do get seizure disorders and autism:

Of course, why trust the New England Journal of Medicine when there are so many "experts" pushing their theories on the Web? I am now accustomed to the anti-vaccination crowd claiming that any research that points to a genetic cause, with minimal environmental triggers, is research bought and paid for by "Big Pharma" or some other conspiracy is at work.

It is ironic that the stories of autism-free Amish appear on thousands of Web sites, while serious research is largely ignored. People want easy answers.

Triggers are not causes. Are there triggers for underlying conditions? Probably. But I wonder if we are asking for trouble as more and more parents avoid vaccines? Hence, recent stories in the New York Times about measles outbreaks. According to the Times, several outbreaks of nearly-eradicated diseases have recently occurred. "[A] 2006 mumps outbreak in Iowa that infected 219 people...."

Will the fear of autism lead to something much worse? That is no small question when states consider mandatory vaccinations — which will always carry risks. I am glad I do not have to perform the risk analysis for parents and overall society.


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