Paul Offit Confronts the Antivaccine Crusade

Today’s New York Times had an article about Dr. Paul Offit’s new book Autism’s False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure, and the frequently heated debate about the possible link between autism and vaccines.

Dr. Offit, the chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, has been an advocate for children’s health and stressed the importance of vaccination as a way of protecting children from disease. Not surprisingly, his position on vaccines has won him the enmity of the antivaccinationists but as the New York Times article states:

Dr. Offit’s book, published in September by Columbia University Press, has been widely endorsed by pediatricians, autism researchers, vaccine companies and medical journalists who say it sums up, in layman’s language, the scientific evidence for vaccines and forcefully argues that vulnerable parents are being manipulated by doctors promoting false cures and lawyers filing class-action suits.

In addition to their fears about autism, some individuals have also argued that the number of vaccines can overwhelm babies’ immune system. Again, this has been refuted by Dr. Offit and other scientists and doctors:

To the newer argument that vaccines overwhelm babies’ immune systems, Dr. Offit notes that current shots against 14 diseases contain 153 proteins, while babies cope with thousands of new foreign proteins daily in food, dirt and animal hair, and that the smallpox vaccine that nearly every American over age 30 got as a child contained 200 proteins.

For more on Autism’s False Prophets you can also read an excerpt or watch the following video of Dr. Offit discussing the book:

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