The HPV Vaccine Does Not Cause “Mental Retardation”

Bachmann The American Academy of Pediatrics has released a statement that emphasizes that there is no scientific validity to the statement made by presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann in regards to the HPV vaccine. It does not, as the politician believes, cause “mental retardation”. Instead, it protects girls from cervical cancer.

During a Republican presidential debate, Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann argued with Texas Governor Rick Perry about his executive order that mandated that all female students be vaccinated with the HPV vaccine. It is clear that she is against this particular vaccine. Her statements that night included:

“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat-out wrong”. “Little girls who have a potentially dangerous reaction to this drug don’t get a mulligan.” “You don’t get a do-over”.

The next day, Michelle Bachmann appeared on the Today Show, and spoke with Matt Lauer. Bachmann told a story about an unnamed, anonymous, mother, who approached her before the debate started. It seems this mother wanted to tell Bachmann about her daughter’s negative experience after the girl was vaccinated against HPV. On the show, Bachmann’s statements included:

“She told me that her little daughter took that vaccine, that injection. And she suffered from mental retardation thereafter.”

Personally, it bothers me that she used the phrase “mental retardation”. I feel like there must be a more clinically accurate phrase that could have been used instead. How about “mentally delayed”? There have been great efforts made to encourage people to stop using “The R-Word”.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there is “absolutely no scientific validity” to the statement made by Michelle Bachmann that implies that the HPV vaccine can cause “mental retardation.” More than 35 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, and there haven’t been any reported cases of “mental retardation” as a side effect of the vaccine.

The HPV vaccine protects girls from becoming infected with HPV. It is important that girls receive the vaccine when they are 11 or 12 years old for two reasons. This is when the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body. HPV can be sexually transmitted, and it is important that girls get the HPV vaccine before they become sexually active. The vaccine protects girls from developing cervical cancer.

This whole thing reminds me very much of the “debate” about whether or not the M.M.R vaccine “causes” autism. It doesn’t. There isn’t any scientific evidence that the M.M.R vaccine does anything other than protect children from catching measles, mumps, and rubella.

It is understandable that parents will want to do everything they can to prevent their children from developing a special need. Don’t let that fear influence you to take the words of people on television, who have no background in medical science, as facts.

Image by Gage Skidmore on Flickr