A recent study that showed improvements in the symptoms of autism after fecal transplant had me thinking about the persistent background chatter of the alternative health world around vaccination and autism and if there is a link with the human microbiome.
Vaccines- Don’t be a freeloader
Let me make this clear out front. I am in favor of vaccinating people against disease. This includes MMR and HPV. The benefits for the aggregate public far outweigh the risks and I think the vast majority of those avoiding these vaccines are operating from positions of fear and privilege. Yes, there is a risk, and yes, your risk from vaccine complications goes to zero if you do not have your children get vaccinated. But you are also being a freeloader pushing those risks onto the rest of the population by 1) having them do the vaccine risk taking to keep the disease at bay and 2) putting others at risk of disease spread because of your fears and privilege.
Let me also make clear that I am not a health expert, not a vaccine expert, not an autism expert. I have no real depth of experience in the subject of autism. I also know that there is considerable controversy among those with autism and their families about holding the idea of autism as a disorder. Many autistic people would not want to be “cured” because they see value to themselves, their families, and society in being exactly who they are now.
So with the link between autism and the microbiome in mind I started doing some research this morning on what might be “out there” for links between vaccinations and the human microbiome. The study of the human microbiome is in its absolute infancy so I did not expect much. But… Much to my surprise a number of items came up.
What I am reading
I was able to read and digest (hahaha, pun intended) three articles this morning. My goal was not a thorough and in-depth understanding of the articles (as in a full analysis of the methods was not done) but also was more than a skim. As such I understand what the background was and what the authors wanted to convey. What I cannot speak to is whether the evidence supports their stance nor weather the methods stand up to scrutiny. So to that end this is not proof, this is conjecture.
This morning’s three articles
- Microbiota, a forgotten relic of vaccination
- Influence of the microbiome on response to vaccination
- Influence of the intestinal microbiota on the immunogenicity of oral rotavirus vaccine given to infants in south India
What surprised me about all the articles, as I read them and began to understand the dialogue, was that all of them were interested in the impact that the body’s microbiome might have on the efficacy of vaccines. As it turns out vaccine dose is not universal with people in developing contexts often needing higher doses (in aggregate) than those in developed context to achieve the same level of efficacy.
Still to be read
I did, however, find one article that may well be about the impact of vaccines on the microbiome. I have not yet had a chance to read this article (but in the interest of getting my day rolling, I needed to post this article). I will follow-up on this post with what I learn from that one.
It is reasonable to research what might be the impact of vaccines on the body’s microbiome. I hope to find (and understand) an article on this subject. In any case, since so little is understood wrt the human biome, whatever finds there are should be considered early leads rather than definitive proof.