Another one of those pseudoscientific tropes from the anti-vaccine religion has reared its ugly Bigfoot head – glyphosate causes autism. And, of course, the anti-vaxxers believe that vaccines are filled with that nasty chemical, so by some weird transitive logic, they think that vaccines cause autism because of glyphosate.
Of course, the belief that “vaccines cause autism” has been thoroughly debunked by powerful, robust, repeated clinical and epidemiological studies. It is “settled science” (and read the link, so that you actually understand what is meant). Now we have the oft-repeated myth that glyphosate causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The evidence that supports that claim is fairly weak, possibly nonexistent.
Even if it did, and most scientists are highly skeptical of the claim, we still know that there is almost no glyphosate in vaccines. And once again, even if there were and even if glyphosate causes autism, we know that there is no link between vaccines and autism. None.
A few years ago, Emily Willingham, Ph.D., whom I consider to be one of the leading ASD scientific experts on this planet, wrote a hysterical and scientifically skeptical article about all of the popular causes of ASD – Dr. Willingham noticed that there were new claims about what causes autism. Parents need to blame someone for their child’s neurodevelopment, so that’s how vaccines got into the crosshairs.
Almost all legitimate science researchers who focused on autism never bought into the vaccines link. Not only was there no evidence of this imaginary link (thanks to the cunning fraud Andrew Wakefield), when scientists went looking for a possible link, they never found one.
However, investigators have been searching for legitimate underlying etiologies for ASD – the hypothesis that genetics cause autism has been the center of research for years.
I have three daughters, and my oldest one, we’ll call her Catherine, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder many years ago. This is our story, one that has little to do with vaccines, except that I never once thought that there was a relationship between her autism and vaccines. Not once.
I have rarely mentioned Catherine online not because I was ashamed of her autism – she deserved her privacy, and I did not want to be someone who used my personal life story as a “cause” for the science of vaccines.
Then, two things happened. First, while commenting on an article I wrote a few years ago, someone said: “you don’t understand autism because you do not have autistic children.” The former statement is false because it doesn’t take having an autistic child to understand autism. The latter statement is also false because I do have a child with autism.
Second, I finally read Peter Hotez’s book, Vaccines did not Cause Rachel’s Autism. For those of you who don’t know Dr. Hotez, he is one of the leading researchers in vaccines, and he has written hundreds of peer-reviewed papers on infectious diseases (and vaccines) along with numerous books on infectious diseases. He is a real authority on vaccines, public health, and vaccine-preventable diseases, and as they said on Wayne’s World, “we are not worthy!”
Predictably, the anti-vaccine mob was resorting to their full-throated screaming mode about these new stats. And of course, even if you are a dispassionate observer of these numbers, you may wonder why the autism diagnosis rate has nearly tripled from 2002 to 2014.