When Richard Dodd first broached the issue of a link between a drug used to prevent premature birth and Autism Spectrum Disorder, I had reservations.
The CDC had just reported 17 outbreaks nationwide of measles, a disease that in 2000 the CDC declared “eliminated” in the U.S. Experts attributed the spike to parents opting their children out of routine childhood vaccinations because of a questionable study linking Autism Spectrum Disorder and routine childhood vaccinations.
From the time that article was published in 1998, other researchers were unable to replicate those results; the CDC throughout the period maintained its vaccination recommendations.
But a vocal following fueled the notion of a causal link between MMR and autism – prompting many parents to forgo providing their children with routine vaccinations that include MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella). This unvaccinated population was ripe for infection from travelers entering the country from parts of the world in which measles is still active.
Great Britain’s General Medical Council ruled in 2010 that the original results published in The Lancet were dishonest. The British medical research journal afterwards retracted the article.
Subsequently, many parents in the U.S. failed to provide their children routine vaccinations. In 2011, 86 percent of those who contracted measles either had not been vaccinated or their vaccination status was unknown.
Having spent much of my career as a health writer and earning my Master’s of Public Health in 2009, I realized the consequences of giving voice to questionable research.
After our conversation about terbutaline and autism, I spent six weeks reading peer-reviewed studies while perusing the web to find out if this was indeed a topic of concern to parents.
I discovered some prominent researchers from distinguished institutions were behind the research. I also found that – yes, indeed – parents had questions. And most answers readily available were found in peer-reviewed studies written by academicians for academicians.
From my perspective as a health writer, this seemed a topic that had generally escaped the mainstream media. From my perspective as a mother whose son was born with a birth defect (surgically corrected), I ached for these parents. I saw an opportunity to provide them accurate information written in non-technical language citing peer-reviewed articles.
Having already visited with parents and their autistic children, the attorneys knew their parents wanted answers, and wondered how many other people might also be seeking information.
To address those concerns, we launched the Autistic Fraternal Twins Resource Center.
Articles are written in lay language using information from peer-reviewed studies and other authoritative material; sources are cited at the end of each article. Attorneys add the firm’s perspective in the Analysis section, which is comparable to a newspaper’s opinion page.
I approach the articles trying to answer the kinds of questions that I would want to know as a mom who discovered that a drug administered during pregnancy might have been a trigger for ASD. Please contact me with comments or specific questions you have about this research; I will try to find peer-reviewed research that might bring you answers.
This web site is growing, so feel free to use the contacts page to suggest topics, pose questions, or raise concerns.
Marilyn K. Hauk, MPH
Do you have autistic fraternal twins
or higher-order multiples whose mother was treated with terbutaline for preterm labor?
Click here for a free assessment, or call: