Former Playboy playmate and actress Jenny McCarthy has been a high-profile and controversial voice speaking out about autism and what she believes may cause it after her son was diagnosed with the disorder. McCarthy has said for years that her child’s autism may have been caused by childhood vaccines, a belief that has no scientific evidence supporting it. McCarthy advocates that the number of childhood vaccines as well as the ingredients in them should be reduced to prevent autism. She also believes that her son’s autism was cured after he underwent chelation therapy and she changed his diet to be gluten and casein free.
A study by British researcher Andrew Wakefield published in the journal Lancet first implicated the combination measle, mump, and rubella vaccine as a cause of colitis as well as autism spectrum disorders. The findings led to a sharp decline in vaccination rates. However, a closer review by a British journalist as well as the scientific community in 2004 found that the evidence in the study had been falsified. As a result, Wakefield was stripped of his license to practice medicine. While McCarthy has stayed true to her beliefs about the link between autism and vaccines, there is no scientific evidence that links vaccines to the development of autism. There is also no scientifically recognized cure for autism.
ABC Television announced in July 2013 that McCarthy would join its popular talk show, “The View.” Her appointment has sparked heated reaction from MD Mama blogger, pediatrician Dr. Claire McCarthy, and others in the medical community about how Jenny McCarthy’s views on vaccines could lead many mothers not to vaccinate their children.
For more information on autism and vaccines, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website
Read more about other celebrities who have made controversial statements through the years about health topics.