Doctors Say ABC Show Sends Dangerous Health Message - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/31/08- East Texas

Doctors Say ABC Show Sends Dangerous Health Message

He's a lawyer with a vision, including one of George Michael singing "Faith." But not all health officials are finding it funny. You may have seen Thursday night's episode where a lawyer fights and wins a case, claiming a vaccine led to a child's autism.

"Some people may not understand that the television program is fiction and that it's not based on a real case and it's not based on fact," said Kathryn Akin, M.D., Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician at U.T Health Center in Tyler.

The American Academy of Pediatrics wanted the plug pulled, saying the show could scare parents into refusing vaccines for their kids.

"I feel certain that this program Thursday night will unfortunately cause two things: more lawsuits and lower vaccine usage," said Akin. 

Patricia Demoville's 10-year old son Dakota is autistic. Like many other children, Dakota was given a vaccine with the mercury-based preservative "thimerosal." Patricia said after that, her son's condition declined.

"It was just like Dakota didn't even exist anymore. He wouldn't smile."

Childhood vaccines with thimerosal no longer exist. And while Patricia admits children need their shots, it's still difficult to think about.

"I have trust, you know in my doctors and everything. I want to say everything out there is safe but after seeing this and listening to other stories it would be hard."

Doctors want to send a message that vaccines are safe, and in fact, protect children from a number of deadly diseases.

"According to a number of good population-based studies there is no risk of autism associated with childhood vaccines," said Akin.

"Just don't stop fighting for your child," said Demoville.  "Regardless whether it's the vaccines or if it's just that child, don't stop fighting. There's hope."

Bottom line, doctors said enjoy the show, but distinguish fact from fiction.

Before Thursday night's episode ABC did run a disclaimer regarding the storyline.

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com

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