What is to blame for Autism?

Following reports in the media, ‘the triple measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was yesterday given the all clear by experts’ after nearly eight years of worry.  Because of what the experts have said in the past about it causing autism, parents have feared letting their children have the MMR injection.  Research suggests that levels of autism have increased over the last ten years, but nobody really knows why there has been such an increase or what is causing it.

Autism is a condition that starts in childhood usually between the child’s first and second birthday, and continues throughout adult life.  It is a developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and interacts with other people.  Reality to an autistic person is a confusing interacting mass of events, people, places, sounds and sights.  Many autistic children have exceptional skills, such as drawing, mathematics or playing an instrument, whereas others tend to spend a lot of time alone and become obsessed with objects or routines.  About one in 2,000 people have an autistic disorder.  Boys are four times more likely to be affected than girls, although some research suggests that when girls have the condition they may be more severely affected. 

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So what is causing autism?  A paper was published by a Dr. Andrew Wakefield in the medical journal The Lancet in 1998, where he wrote a report on the connection between the combined MMR vaccine and autism.  MMR is a live vaccine which contains measles, mumps and rubella viruses that have been modified.  The vaccination was developed to give children protection against these three diseases.  Before the MMR vaccine, measles killed and disabled thousands of children; mumps was the biggest cause of meningitis in children and rubella caused hundreds of babies to be born with disabilities.  

The link between MMR ...

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