Article first published as Vaccines and Autism: No Link Found on Technorati.
Yet again, vaccines have been discounted as a direct cause of Autism, as reported by the New York Times. And this isn't a panel of lawyers, a group of activists, this is a report that came from a panel of experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine. The report does site some side-effects and potential risks to vaccines, but nothing suggests that vaccines directly cause Autism, type 1 diabetes, etc.
Why is this so important? Because vaccines are necessary to stave off some of the most deadly and disfiguring diseases of our time. Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, Whooping Cough, etc. were deadly in the United States for years, decimating schools when one child came to school sick. Vaccines have given us a way to protect all our children, both at school and really young children at home, by giving them a defense without the illness.
Some parents talk about the need to remove vaccines as a requirement for attending school. Others say we just need to rethink the schedule of vaccinations for our children. Personally, I'm inclined to say as long as your children are vaccinated, it doesn't really matter. The rise of these highly preventable diseases is reason enough to make sure your children are protected. The fact that vaccines do not directly cause Autism should be seen as a relief for those who are vaccinating their children, and no longer a reason to avoid vaccination.
So what causes Autism? That's a whole different discussion, as Autism is diagnosed through behavioral traits and not medical conditions. So while a number of conditions, both genetic and potentially environmental, can cause Autism or Autism-like traits, vaccines, at least, are not a cause.