Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Autism Controversy Clouds Immunization Decisions; the Potential Link Has Parents Questioning the Safety of the Shot Series

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Autism Controversy Clouds Immunization Decisions; the Potential Link Has Parents Questioning the Safety of the Shot Series

Article excerpt

Byline: JAKE ARMSTRONG

ATLANTA - Childhood vaccinations have helped stamp out a number of debilitating infectious diseases.

For most parents, protecting children from polio or measles is as easy as a few trips to the doctor's office.

But as the federal and state governments press to improve vaccination rates, especially this week during National Infant Immunization Week, the cloud of controversy hovering over a potential link between vaccines and autism in children may have some parents questioning whether the doctor's needle is a double-edged sword.

While statistics show the prevalence of autism is higher than previously thought - one in 150 children had some form of the developmental disorder in 2007, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - research has yet to definitively prove or disprove a tie between routine child vaccinations and the rise in autism rates.

A healthy dose of questions for doctors should accompany more research, suggests Terry Poling, an Athens mother who believes her daughter Hannah's autism developed after multiple vaccinations administered during a single doctor's visit in 2000 aggravated a latent disorder in her mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells.

Poling said she is concerned the salvo of shots most children receive at an early age may be too much too soon for developing immune systems.

"We might be bombarding their bodies," Poling said.

A child can receive about 20 shots by age 1, according to CDC vaccination schedules. CDC officials did not respond to a request for comment on altering vaccination schedules.

Hannah Poling, now 9, is among the first people compensated from a federal vaccine injury fund due to her development of autism. The federal government maintains vaccines are safe.

Poling said parents should talk with their child's doctor about altering the vaccination schedule if the parent is concerned. …

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