Samantha and Dave are expecting their first child. They areexcited for the baby to arrive, but they are nervous as well. Willthe baby be healthy? Will they be good parents? In addition tothese big concerns, it seems like there are a million decisions tobe made. Will Samantha breastfeed or will they use formula? Willthey buy a crib or let the baby sleep in their bed?

Samantha goes online to try to find some answers. She finds awebsite from an author who writes books on parenting. On this site,she reads an article that argues that children should not be givenmany of the standard childhood vaccines, including the measles,mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.

The article claims that the MMR vaccine has been proven tocause autism and gives examples of three children who came downwith autism-like symptoms shortly after their first MMR vaccinationat one year of age. The author believes that the recent increase inthe incidence of children diagnosed with autism-spectrum disordersis due to the fact that the number of vaccinations given inchildhood has increased.

Samantha is concerned. She does not want to create lifelongchallenges for her child. Besides, aren’t diseases like measles,mumps, and rubella basically eradicated by now? Why should she riskthe health of her baby by injecting him with vaccines for diseasesthat are a thing of the past?

Once baby James is born, Samantha brings him to thepediatrician’s office. Dr. Rodriguez says James needs some shots.Samantha is reluctant, and shares what she has read online. Dr.Rodriguez assures Samantha that the study that originally claimed alink between the MMR vaccine and autism has been found to befraudulent, and that vaccines have repeatedly been demonstrated tobe safe and effective in peer-reviewed studies.

Although Samantha trusts her doctor, she is not fullyconvinced. What about the increase in the number of children withautism and the cases where symptoms of autism appeared after MMRvaccination?

Samantha has a tough decision to make, but a betterunderstanding of science can help her. In this chapter, you willlearn about what science is (and what it is not), how it works, andhow it relates to human health.

As you read this chapter, think about the followingquestions:

What do you think about the quality of Samantha’s onlinesource of information about vaccines compared to Dr. Rodriguez’ssources?
Do you think the arguments presented here that claim that theMMR vaccine causes autism are scientifically valid? Could there bealternative explanations for the observations?
Why do you think diseases like measles, polio, and mumps arerare these days and why are we still vaccinating for thesediseases?

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Nelly Stracke
Nelly StrackeLv2
28 Sep 2019

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