Numerous studies have debunked the theory that childhood vaccines cause autism, and autism researchers are now, for the most part, focusing on other potential causes of the disorder. But one in five parents still believe that vaccines may cause autism, according to a study released online Sunday in the journal Pediatrics.
The survey of 1,552 parents taken in 2009 paints a portrait of Americans anxious about vaccines that were once heralded for their effect on child health. Ninety percent of the parents agreed that vaccines were a good way to protect children from disease. But 54% said they were concerned about adverse side effects from vaccines and 12% said they had refused at least one vaccine that the doctor had recommended for their child.
Parents were more skeptical of newer vaccines, such as the HPV vaccine that protects against strains of a virus that can cause cervical cancer, than they were of older ones, such as measles-mumps-rubella. The study will appear in the print issue of Pediatrics in April.
How parents feel about vaccines is becoming more important. Outbreaks of diseases that used to be rare, such as mumps and pertussis, have occurred in recent years and are linked to the public's distrust of vaccines.
-- Shari Roan
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