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An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All

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Amy Wallace, freelance writer and editor-at-large at Los Angeles Magazine, has published a in-depth feature in Wired exploring why many Americans shun vaccinations and place trust in the pseudoscience around topics such as autism, H1N1 and many other illnesses. While a good chunk of this article focuses on Paul Offit, coinventor of a rotavirus vaccine, another interesting perspective is Wallace's take on the Autism One conference, a group built around the strongly held belief that autism is caused by vaccines.

"At this year’s Autism One conference in Chicago, I flashed more than once on Carl Sagan’s idea of the power of an “unsatisfied medical need.” Because a massive research effort has yet to reveal the precise causes of autism, pseudo-science has stepped aggressively into the void. In the hallways of the Westin O’Hare hotel, helpful salespeople strove to catch my eye as I walked past a long line of booths pitching everything from vitamins and supplements to gluten-free cookies (some believe a gluten-free diet alleviates the symptoms of autism), hyperbaric chambers, and neuro-feedback machines.

To a one, the speakers told parents not to despair. Vitamin D would help, said one doctor and supplement salesman who projected the equation “No vaccines + more vitamin d = no autism” onto a huge screen during his presentation. (If only it were that simple.) Others talked of the powers of enzymes, enemas, infrared saunas, glutathione drips, chelation therapy (the controversial — and risky — administration of certain chemicals that leech metals from the body), and Lupron (a medicine that shuts down testosterone synthesis)."

There are also several shorter side stories by others that provide information like, "A Short History of Vaccine Panic" and "How to Win an Argument About Vaccines."

The article's staunch pro-vaccination stance has resulted in being one of Wired's most commented on stories and Amy Wallace is now chronicling the best emails and comments she's received from both pro and anti-vaccination camps.

Click "source" to read the entire piece.
 
 

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