Vaccines caused the autism epidemic

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I want to second the notion that mercury-laden vaccines caused the autism epidemic ["Raising Joshua," November 15]. How can you explain an over 500 percent increase in the number of children with vaccines? My wife and I have four children, two of whom are affected by autism. Our first two children were given all the vaccines recommended by our pediatrician. After our second child was diagnosed with autism (our first son has Asperger's, a milder form of autism) we decided to withhold vaccination for our final two children. Our third, a daughter, and fourth, a son, are completely neurotypical, with excellent language development, creativity and no signs of cognitive problems whatsoever. How do you explain that? I cannot believe our genes have "evolved" to produce 1 in 166 children having autism, especially since the number of vaccines doubled from the late 1980s to 1999, when the mercury-laden preservative thimerosol was taken out of the MMR vaccine. How do you explain the fact that we have two children on the autism spectrum who were vaccinated, and two perfectly normal children who were not? As a father, I am outraged at the denial of legitimate research in this area. But I guess I am not surprised. Why would a multi-billion dollar pharmacy company fund research that would create liability for themselves? I am not looking for a handout from the government, but I think it behooves them to find a cure before this autism generation bankrupts welfare and Social Security. If better treatment, free therapy or some medical cure is not created, a whole generation of children are going to be dependent upon the government to support them. Tommy Bates Prattville, Ala.

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