In 1994, Peter Hotez’s nineteen-month-old daughter, Rachel, was diagnosed with autism. Dr. Hotez, a pediatrician-scientist who develops vaccines for neglected tropical diseases affecting the world’s poorest people, became troubled by the decades-long rise of the influential anti-vaccine community and their inescapable narrative around childhood vaccines and autism. The alleged link between the two was first espoused in a fraudulent scientific paper, long since retracted, but the story shows no signs of letting up. As a result, we’ve seen deadly and disabling outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases around the country, and Texas, where Hotez lives, is at particular risk.
In Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism, Hotez draws on his experiences as a pediatrician, vaccine scientist, and father of an autistic child. Outlining the arguments on both sides of the debate, he examines the science that refutes the concerns of the anti-vaccine movement, debunks current conspiracy theories alleging a cover-up by the CDC, and critiques the scientific community’s failure to effectively communicate the facts about vaccines and autism to the general public, all while sharing his very personal story of raising a now-adult daughter with autism.
A uniquely authoritative account, Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism persuasively provides evidence for the genetic basis of autism and illustrates how the neurodevelopmental pathways of autism are underway even before a newborn receives vaccines. Dr. Hotez reminds readers of the many victories of vaccines over disease while warning about the growing dangers of the anti-vaccine movement, especially in the United States and Europe. A former US Science Envoy for the Department of State, he also explains what’s at stake if the movement continues to gain ground. Opening with a foreword by leading medical ethicist Arthur L. Caplan, this book is a must-read for parent groups, child advocates, teachers, health-care providers, government policymakers, health and science policy experts, and anyone caring for a family member or friend with autism.
"When Peter Hotez—an erudite, highly trained scientist who is a true hero for his work in saving the world’s poor and downtrodden—shares his knowledge and clinical insights along with his parental experience, when his beliefs in the value of what he does are put to the test of a life guiding his own child’s challenges, then you must pay attention. You should. This book brings to an end the link between autism and vaccination."—from the foreword by Arthur L. Caplan, NYU School of Medicine
"Drawing on his substantial professional experience with vaccine development and evaluation, as well as his personal experiences with his autistic child and his commitment to applying the principles of 'Science Tikkun' to improve public knowledge about complex medical issues, Dr. Hotez speaks effectively and simultaneously to parents, medical and public health authorities, and proponents of the anti-vaccine movement."
— Rodney Hoff, University of Washington School of Public Health
"Compelling! Fascinating! Engaging! A must-read! This courageous book, by one of the world’s leading physician-scientists, is about vaccines, autism, and the very personal impact of having an autistic child on the author, his family, and his career."
— Eugene D. Shapiro, MD, Yale University
About the Author:
Peter J. Hotez, MD, PhD, is the Texas Children’s Hospital Endowed Chair in Tropical Pediatrics and the director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development at Baylor College of Medicine, where he is also the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine. He is the author of Blue Marble Health: An Innovative Plan to Fight Diseases of the Poor amid Wealth.