Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump implied that vaccines cause autism during Wednesday’s GOP debates, rehashing disagreements over a potential link between vaccines and the mental disorder.
“We had so many instances, people that work for me, just the other day, two years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic,” said Trump.
Trump’s remarks drew ire from across the medical and scientific community.
“Claims that vaccines are linked to autism, or are unsafe when administered according to the recommended schedule, have been disproven by a robust body of medical literature,” the American Academy of Pediatrics states.
Autism scientists also didn’t agree with Trump’s comments. “What happened last night [at the GOP debates] put many children at risk,” Alison Springer, President of the Autism Science Foundation told New York Daily News. “The CDC guidelines aren’t willy-nilly. Infants are at greater risk of complications from these diseases. That’s why we give the vaccinations to infants.”
The Center for Disease Control (CDC), the authority on recommending vaccines for Americans, says there is no link between autism and vaccines. Yet, concern persists about thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative found in many vaccines.
Mercury is a known toxin that can be poisonous, but the CDC assures Americans the amount of thimerosal in vaccines is harmless and isn’t causing autism.
Yet, progressive radio host Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who’s had all of his children vaccinated, thinks vaccines containing thimerosal could cause autism. In his book, Thimerosal: Let the Science Speak, Kennedy points out 39 peer-reviewed studies linking thimerosal to autism.
In 2014, senior CDC vaccine scientist William Thompson claimed the CDC had buried data linking vaccines to autism. Thompson, an author of a CDC study that discredits the link between vaccines and autism, said his superiors told him to lie and manipulate data around the safety of vaccines.
“Because the CDC has not been transparent, we’ve missed 10 years of research,” said Thompson. “I have a boss who’s asking me to lie. If it comes to legitimate channels and I’m forced to answer questions I’m not going to lie.”
In 1992, Denmark became one of the first European countries to ban thimerosal in vaccines. Autism has gone down in Denmark by 30-percent between 1994 and 2004, according to a study published in JAMA.
If you’re concerned about thimerosal in vaccines, you can always request a thimerosal-free vaccine. Today, most vaccines regulated by the CDC have a thimerosal-free version.
[Image via Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]