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Parents Exposing Children To Risks By Refusing Recommended Vaccinations

Why are parents deciding not to have their children vaccinated, and what are some of the health risks caused by not vaccinating? According to a recent article in The Inquirer, many parents are mistakenly concerned that routine childhood vaccines such as the MMR vaccine (which is designed to prevent measles, mumps, and rubella infections) may cause autism or autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Where did this fear come from, and is it the only reason that parents are now avoiding vaccines? And should the risks of failing to have a child vaccinated overcome any concerns about vaccines causing ASD, regardless of the veracity in such claims?

Children with ASD More Likely to Develop Serious Infections

A study published in March of this year reported that children with ASD, as well as their younger siblings, are at risk for potentially fatal infections. Up until this point, researchers knew that some groups of children were at higher risk of developing serious infections that ultimately could become fatal. For instance, the article notes that some groups of children were identified who are at a higher risk, including those born with dysfunctional immune systems, or children receiving chemotherapy for their cancers or immunosuppressive treatment for their rheumatologic diseases, among others.

But why are kids with autism—as well as younger brothers and sisters of those kids—showing similar risk of developing serious illnesses? In short, according to the authors of the study, children who have ASD are much less likely to receive vaccinations than children who do not have ASD. The researchers determined the same information about younger siblings of kids with autism. Why are parents avoiding vaccines for these kids? A 1998 study reported that the MMR vaccine could cause autism. Researchers have since shown that the study’s conclusions were incorrect, but fears about vaccines and autism have remained. And the results of such unfounded fears are that kids with autism and their younger siblings are not being vaccinated against preventable diseases.

According to Dr. Paul Offit, the author of the article, by not vaccinating children with ASD, parents aren’t diminishing their children’s symptoms. Rather, as Offit clarifies, they are simply raising the chance that their children will suffer preventable and potentially devastating infections.

Parents Need to Understand the Risks of Not Vaccinating Children

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that there are risks and responsibilities associated with not vaccinating your children, including but not limited to the following:

  • Your child may develop a vaccine-preventable disease (VPD);
  • Your child may spread a VPD to others, particularly infants, who have not yet been vaccinated, as well as to individuals with weakened immune systems;
  • It could be too late to have your child vaccinated when a vaccine-preventable disease spreads throughout your community; and
  • Your child may not be able to travel by public transportation, such as plane, train, or bus if symptoms occur.

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have questions about issues covering medical negligence, a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer can help. Contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth for more information.

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