Respectful Insolence

Thanks, Andrew Wakefield

Thanks, Andrew Wakefield.

Thanks for bringing the measles back to the U.K. with your shoddy, litigation- and profit-driven pseudoscience:

Fourteen years after the local transmission of measles was halted in the United Kingdom (UK), the disease has once again become endemic, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the public health body of England and Wales. In an update on measles cases in its weekly bulletin last week, the agency stated that, as a result of almost a decade of low mumps-measles-rubella (MMR) vaccination coverage across the UK, ‘the number of children susceptible to measles is now sufficient to support the continuous spread of measles’ [1].

In an earlier update, the HPA reported that all recent indigenously-acquired cases with a genotype in England and Wales had been found to have the same D4 sequence (MVs/Enfield.GBR/14.07), a genotype first identified in April 2007 and which is now endemic in the UK [2]. In May, a 17-year-old with underlying congenital immunodeficiency died of acute measles infection, the first such fatality in the UK since 2006. The strain was also MVs/Enfield.GBR/14.07, genotype D4. The total number of confirmed measles cases in England and Wales so far this year is 461. In Scotland, there have been 68 cases of measles reported in 2008, of which 51 have been laboratory-confirmed [3]. All of the cases in Scotland were either not immunised or of unknown immunisation status. Only two of the cases were imported from abroad, both from Pakistan.

Unfortunately, with useful celebrity idiots Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey being used by Generation Rescue and other antivaccination groups to fire up antivaccinationists in the United States, our fair shores could soon be in similar straits. We’ve already seen signs of resurgences of measles in the form of localized outbreaks in areas with low levels of vaccination. I fear that a decade from now (or even less) we in the U.S. will likely be “thanking” Jenny McCarthy for the measles too.

Of course, by then she’ll probably be back into “Indigo Child” woo.

Comments

  1. #1 BB
    July 8, 2008

    I almost died of measles at age 7. I may have made medical history in surviving a high fever (107 F) for as long as I did during it. No child should ever have to go through any disease with such terrible sequelae. It ain’t a scraped knee and it ain’t the common cold.

  2. #2 TheProbe
    July 8, 2008

    What is striking to me, at least, is the rapidity of the resurgence of measles and just how virulent it is. I am old enough to remember having measles, and wishing I did not. I had, what my doctor who made housecalls said, was a ‘mild case’. I surely would not want to have a more serious case.

    With AIDS as widespread as it is, I am surprised that there have not been more deaths.

    Wakefield should fry.

  3. #3 sophia8
    July 8, 2008

    As a child in the 50s, I remember clinics were full to bursting with children qeueing up to be vaccinated against all these “harmless childhood infections”; parents then could clearly remember when these diseases killed children in their neighbourhoods and their families, so they welcomed vaccinations. I don’t remember hearing of any parent who refused to let their child have their ‘jabs’.
    It’s awful to think that it’s going to take some of the kids of these anti-vax nuts dying or being permanently injured by measles, rubella, etc. before the tide turns again.

  4. #4 Tracy Stewart
    July 8, 2008

    Wakefield and his co-authors suggested a potential link that needed more investigation. period. If you can’t handle someone investigating autism, even if it looks at vaccines, you do not belong in research.

    I don’t care how bad the measles is-this research should (and will) continue. You don’t stop researching because you don’t like the possibility of what it may find. I have a severely affected autistic child, and if you were in my shoes, you might agree that this research is important and no topic is too holy to be touched.

    You quote someone dying with an immune deficiency because of measles. Guess how many people die because of their autism every year, drowning, getting lost, or getting hit by cars because they have little awareness? A lot. Several in the past couple weeks alone. AUTISM KILLS TOO. A little 6 year old girl with autism died in a swimming pool over memorial day weekend. A 9-yr old boy drowned this week. Autism is a serious disease. Research is needed. IF measles or any other vaccine is involved, I for one want to know.

    What is needed most for effective research is a way to determine which kids have underlying immunological differences, a biomarker. With a biomarker, you can segment your population to test the effect on vaccines. It is well established that unusual immune system behavior accompanies autism (go to pubmed and type autism and immune). No biomarker is known, but certain cytokines may be feasible.

    It is possible that a very small subset of children could have a reaction to vaccines that could trigger autism. We need to do more research to identify this group if it exists. The studies done to date do not have the power to find a relationship between vaccines and autism if a vulnerable subgroup of children exists; hence, the question remains unanswered, for measles and other vaccines including DTaP. How dumb will you feel if a small group of children is revealed to have a sensitivity to vaccines unlike other 99+% of all children? This is possible, and has not been determined by any study. I find your comments and your lack of appreciation of the seriousness and difficulty of autism to be disgusting and appauling.

  5. #5 Alexis
    July 8, 2008

    In some areas, the problem is even worse than stated. Hackney & City PCT reported 300 cases in only a few months last year. Hackney has a population that’s absolutely ripe for problems: non-English-speaking immigrants, a yummy-mummy community, and the Orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill (for some reason, opposition to vaccines is a belief of some Orthodox sects; measles statistics in Israel are poor because of this).

  6. #6 DavidCT
    July 8, 2008

    Last heard Andrew Wakefield was doing research in the US. If you offer him enough you might be able to persuade him to come to your medical school to be the director of your department of Woo (integrated medicine). If you don’t have such a department I’m sure he could set one up. He certainly knows how to do the research. He might even be able to get a bigger grant than yours.

    Try not to throw up on your shoes!

  7. #7 Michelle
    July 8, 2008

    I wonder how many of those parents have been to the funeral of a child who died from measles? When I was 10, seeing the body of my little sister’s friend lying in a casket was pretty formative. She died of measles encephalitis.

    You can be sure my children have been vaccinated.

  8. #8 Orac
    July 8, 2008

    Wakefield and his co-authors suggested a potential link that needed more investigation. period. If you can’t handle someone investigating autism, even if it looks at vaccines, you do not belong in research.

    Read the link in the post. Wakefield’s research was finance- and litigation-driven. He had a design for a competing vaccine, and trial lawyers paid him £435,643 plus £3,910 expenses. His work for litigants started two years before he published his execrable Lancet paper. Moreover, evidence and testimony presented during the Autism Omnibus demonstrated without a doubt just how incompetent Wakefield was. His “results,” such as they were, were all false positives due to plasmid contamination.

    Indeed, his work was so bad that most of the authors asked to have their names removed from the paper.

  9. #9 Dave
    July 8, 2008

    Tracy Stewart says “Wakefield and his co-authors suggested a potential link that needed more investigation.”

    They did no such thing. Wakefield’s sloppy lab results (which he was, by the way, informed about before publication) wrongly showed the presence of measles virus in the guts of autistic children. The sloppy lab work (the whole lab was contaminated) meant the results were bogus.

    So there was NO ACTUAL REASON to suspect the MMR at all, and Wakefield’s whole “theory” was crap from the get-go.

  10. #10 notmercury
    July 8, 2008

    Tracy Stewart Said: “You don’t stop researching because you don’t like the possibility of what it may find. I have a severely affected autistic child, and if you were in my shoes, you might agree that this research is important and no topic is too holy to be touched.”

    Tracy, it’s because I am a parent of autistic children that I am against spending more time and money looking for measles in the guts of autistic children. I don’t need to try on your shoes to agree that “no topic is too holy to be touched” but Wakefield has been wrong about nearly every claim he has made.

    Don’t assume that Orac or his readers are unable to appreciate and understand the difficulties associated with raising autistic children. Some of those difficulties are compounded by myths like those you perpetuate.

  11. #11 Ms. Clark
    July 8, 2008

    The endemic strain of measles virus is called, MVs/Enfield.GBR/14.07.

    Do you suppose they could rename it to something like MVs/Thx2/Wakefield ?

  12. #12 Katharine
    July 8, 2008

    Please, please, please ignore the uneducated trolls.

    Ms. Stewart, we are more inclined to trust researchers than we are inclined to trust mothers who probably do not know shit about what actually happens in people with autism. Please keep your dumb trollery to yourself.

  13. #13 HCN
    July 8, 2008

    Oh, wow… Tracy Stewart… here is a newsflash for you:

    The leading cause of death in ALL children between the ages of 1 and 24 (sorry, that last one is the one that includes 15 year old) are accidents. Mostly motor vehicle accidents. See the tables at http://www.disastercenter.com/cdc/

    1-4 years All causes 5,947 38.3/100000
    1 Accidents and adverse effects 2,155 13.9/100000
    . . . Motor vehicle accidents 834 5.4
    . . . All other accidents and adverse effects 1,321 8.5/100000

    5-14 years All causes 8,465 22/100000
    1 Accidents and adverse effects 3,521 9.2/100000
    . . . Motor vehicle accidents 2,002 5.2/100000
    . . . All other accidents and adverse effects 1,519 4/100000

    15-24 years All causes 32,699 90.3/100000
    1 Accidents and adverse effects 13,872 38.3/100000
    . . . Motor vehicle accidents 10,624 29.3/100000
    . . . All other accidents and adverse effects 3,248 9/100000

    Now the death rate for measles from the last major outbreak in the USA was over 1 in 1000 (from J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S69-77. Acute measles mortality in the United States, 1987-2002.Gindler J, Tinker S, Markowitz L, Atkinson W, Dales L, Papania MJ.) Which of those accidental death rates come near that?

    Why are you not crying about more research into motor vehicle safety?

  14. #14 Orac
    July 8, 2008

    By the way, this appears to be Tracy Stewart:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/04/the-vaccine-saf.html

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2008/04/florida-autism.html

    Yep, she’s had her writing published in AoA. Her ignorance regarding the utter incompetence and dishonesty of Andrew Wakefield appears to be explained.

  15. #15 liz
    July 8, 2008

    Let’s suppose the MMR is harmless (I don’t think it is, but let’s go with that premise for the sake of argument). If parents are concerned, they should have the option to break up the vaccines – afterall parents should have some say in the medical treatment their children receive. So now Merck has announced they are not making any single does Mumps vaccines until 2009 (news released today). So parent who want to vaccinate, but want to try to space out the vaccines and possibly separate them (erring on the side of caution) are now being told NO by the vaccine manufacturer (who also by the way makes the MMR). So now the pharmaceutical companies dictate how we immunize our kids???? Does anyone believe this will help improve the vaccination rates? It is disgusting.

  16. #16 Liz Ditz
    July 8, 2008

    For clarity’s sake,the previous liz is not me.

  17. #17 RJ
    July 8, 2008

    Several in the past couple weeks alone. AUTISM KILLS TOO. A little 6 year old girl with autism died in a swimming pool over memorial day weekend. A 9-yr old boy drowned this week.”

    That’s not autism that kills. That’s bad parenting. Regardless of the condition, children need to be kept away from pools without supervision. And if their children have a disability, there is absolutely no excuse!

  18. #18 Zurama
    July 8, 2008

    My son is vaccine injured and he has Severe autism. He has Autistic Enterocolitis as described by Dr. Andrew Wakefield. He had the Jab on his first birthday and developed severe digestive inflammation, that he lives with, till this day.

    We have become a society who worship vaccines and allow pharmaceutical companies to bully and scare us us into vaccinating our kids, with a one size fits all serious of shots, full of dangerous toxins, without screening each child and make sure their immune system can handle the assault.

    For us, the ones on the side of Dr. Wakefield, the parents of the vaccine injured, the mercury moms as they call us. We are left to pick up the pieces of what is left of our affected children.It would appear that some would like to silence us-well forget it! We will not be silenced and we will not go quietly into the night. Our children are not collateral damage.

    Let them attack Dr. Wakefield all they want, after all, they are just scared and they know that they can’t stop us.

  19. #19 Liz Ditz
    July 8, 2008

    And I disavow her sentiments

    From the UK Daily Mail
    Parents who choose to reject the MMR jab could soon have no alternative as the single injection vaccine for mumps may soon run out in the UK.

    British clinics say current stocks are running low and have been told they will not receive new supplies for up to 12 months after the world’s only supplier of the medicine halted production.

    The drug, Mumpsvax, is used to vaccinate children whose parents opt out of the triple vaccination MMR jab which has faced controversy over suspected links to autism and bowel disease.

    But yesterday it was revealed that the world’s only Mumpsvax manufacturer, American pharmaceutical giant Merck, has ceased production of the drug until at least 2009.

    The firm – which also supplies the UK with the MMR vaccine – has stopped making the drug twice before, but never for more than three months at a time.

    From the Telegraph

    The American company which makes the single mumps vaccination, Mumpsvax, has discontinued production until early next year.

    The company says there is not enough demand for a single vaccination and that most people choose to take the triple MMR vaccine, for measles, mumps and rubella.

    [snip]

    Because Mumpsvax is not prescribed by the NHS there are no official figures for how many patients opt to use it every year.

    However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said that only a small number of patients chose single vaccines instead of MMR.

  20. #20 RJ
    July 8, 2008

    “So parent who want to vaccinate, but want to try to space out the vaccines and possibly separate them (erring on the side of caution) are now being told NO by the vaccine manufacturer (who also by the way makes the MMR). So now the pharmaceutical companies dictate how we immunize our kids???? ”

    1. Should Ford be held accountable because Ford no longer makes purple trucks, because I believe that purple trucks are involved in fewer accidents and I want to have fewer accidents?

    2. If only a small percentage of people are asking for divided vaccines and it is no longer cost effective for a private company to make the divided vaccines, why should they foot the bill to accommodate a few people? Are you willing to pay, out of your pocket, upwards of $250/dose for what is a specialty item? And, of course, this is all based on the (unsubstantiated) premise that the divided vaccine schedule is “safer”.

    BTW, how many antigens do you think you were exposed today from eating, drinking, breathing, and touching (and whatever else you and your significant other may do)? I bet it is at least 100 fold fewer than what is found in a multi-valent vaccine. Since when did the natural environment just become sterile and bacteria, fungi, and viruses just disappear? This makes no sense.

  21. #21 alison Macneil
    July 8, 2008

    my poor son was vaccinated and not only is he autistic he has measles in his gut!He has paid a big price for other kids herd immunity, I hope they are enjoying it because he is miserable!

  22. #22 RJ
    July 8, 2008

    Sorry….100 fold MORE than in a multi-valent vaccine. Orac, how about an edit function?
    See, these idiots get me all riled up!

  23. #23 HCN
    July 8, 2008

    How do you know he has “measles in his gut”?

    What kind of test does that involve?

    Considering that is was brought out in the Federal Autism Omnibus Court that the tests Wakefield claimed found measles were flawed, contaminated and he ignored being told this (see http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/Autism_omnibus_trial#Measles_detected_in_the_GI_tract )… How do you really know?

    What real evidence do any of you have, other than Wakefield, that MMR has anything to do with autism? Why didn’t autism start increasing in 1971 when it was introduced in the USA? What peer reviewed papers replicate Wakefield’s withdrawn Lancet paper? What peer reviewed paper even show the existence of this thing called “Autistic Enterocolitis?”

  24. #24 jk
    July 8, 2008

    The autism/vaccine debate has already been settled. The coverup has been documented.

    “the number of dose related relationships [between mercury and autism] are linear and statistically significant. You can play with this all you want. They are linear. They are statistically significant.” – Dr. William Weil, American Academy of Pediatrics. Simpsonwood, GA, June 7, 2000

    See the rest of the breathtaking smoking-gun admissions from government scientists and pharma representatives:

    http://putchildrenfirst.org/media/2.6.pdf

  25. #25 K-Bob
    July 8, 2008

    As a father of both an autistic child and a typical child I can unequivocally state that give me measles any day of the week over autism. A disease like the measles with a mortality rate of approx. 1 in 5,000 contracted cases (from the CDC) which in the vast majority of cases is a temporary condition vs a lifelong heartbreaking condition like autism is a no-brainer. Now I am not saying that the two or correlated and nobody knows for sure. But if you think that vaccines are anything but a money machine scare tactic from big pharma you are living a fantasy. The companies that manufacture these items don’t give a rat’s ass about you or me, they just found out a way to extract more than twice the revenue than would be generated from treatment of the disease in the form of a vaccine for the disease. (From Harvard University’s Bureau of Economic Research) Also the politics of the research into a link between autism and vaccines are mind-blowing. The study done by the NIH that stated that there is no casual link between autism and vaccines that the CDC and IOM loves to point to was not the initial way that research read. The initial report showed that there was insufficient evidence to conclude either way based on their epidemiological lookback test. However, between the time of this report and the final report a $2 million contribution came to the NIH from the CDC and then the revised report was released. The NIH said this “donation” in no way altered their report’s conclusion. (transcripts of e-mails and reports are on safeminds.org) Obviously I am in no position to know for sure if there is a link between vaccines and autism but I do know that the gov’t conceded that vaccines exacerbated Hannah Poling’s “autism-like symptoms” and that it was blamed on an underlying mitochondrial dysfunction and that up to 2% (1 in 50) may have a similar mitochondrial dysfunction. With current autism rates at 1 in 150 (.67%) and 1 in 88 boys (1.14%) and climbing every year this has to be further explored.

  26. #26 Heraclides
    July 8, 2008

    @Zurama: “they are just scared” — the only thing that “we” are scared of in this issue is the damage to others that people like youself will cause. That’s a big difference compared to what you are implying.

    The measles cases Orac are pointing out are a fine example of just this damage.

  27. #27 Anna Ireland
    July 8, 2008

    How dare you call a mother ignorant. What is ignorant is comments made by people who do not live with autism everyday. A mother knows her child better than any stupid pediatrician. To them, a child falling off the growth chart is soooooo normal. I mean, hey, what is the growth chart for, just a souvenir to look back on.

    “Oh yeah, I remember when Tommy weighed 22 lbs at six years old. That was normal for him. He gained one pound since getting his MMR shot at 18months.”

    I guarantee you that any child raised by their mother is smarter than any child of a MD mom raised by a daycare. Now who is the more intelligent woman? And the least SELFISH.

  28. #28 jk
    July 8, 2008

    “Mercury is hazardous to humans. Its use in medicinal products is undesirable, unnecessary and should be minimized or eliminated entirely. Manufacturers of vaccines and thimerosal, (an ethlymercury compound used in vaccines), have never conducted adequate testing on the safety of thimerosal. The FDA has never required manufacturers to conduct adequate safety testing on thimerosal and ethlymercury compounds…Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is likely related to the autism epidemic. This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding injected thimerosal and the sharp rise of infant exposure to this known neurotoxin. Our public health agencies’ failure to act is indicative of institutional malfeasance for self-protection and misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry” – Mercury In Medicine: Taking Unnecessary Risks, Committee On Government Reform, U.S. House of Representatives, May 21, 2003

  29. #29 Orac
    July 8, 2008

    How dare you call a mother ignorant.

    I don’t know if you’re referring to me or not, but if you’re referring to my characterization of of Jenny McCarthy as a “useful idiot,” I wrote that because Jenny McCarthy is a useful idiot being used by antivaccinationist activists. She’s ignorant. Dangerously, arrogantly, stubbornly, incredibly ignorant. She’s utterly clueless. She has no idea what she’s talking about. None. She knows nothing of how science works but thinks she does. The pseudoscientists of the antivaccination movement have stroked her ego so that she thinks she knows something about biology and medicine in order to use her.

    I could go on, but here’s a taste of McCarthy’s malignant stupidity:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/11/postholiday_the_stupid_it_burns_part_1_j.php

  30. #30 Dave
    July 8, 2008

    jk quotes a report from the House Committee on Government Reform in 2003. At that time, the chairman of that committee was none other than Dan Burton, who had a wee bit of an axe to grind about thimerosal and autism. Hardly an objective source. One of the nice things about the Democrats controlling the House these days is that we are no longer subjected to Burton’s chairmanship and his hobby-horses.

  31. #31 notmercury
    July 8, 2008

    “my poor son was vaccinated and not only is he autistic he has measles in his gut!”

    Your son does not have measles in his gut. You’ve been lied to and that should make you angry.

    “As a father of both an autistic child and a typical child I can unequivocally state that give me measles any day of the week over autism.”

    No one has to make a choice between autism or measles.

    “How dare you call a mother ignorant. What is ignorant is comments made by people who do not live with autism everyday.”

    I live with autism everyday and statements like the above make you look ignorant, mother or not.

    “Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is likely related to the autism epidemic.”

    Not likely at all. Thimerosal gone, autism still here.

  32. #32 Joseph
    July 8, 2008

    It would appear that some would like to silence us-well forget it!

    Can you provide evidence of this claim?

    I do not believe anyone wants to silence you. But unless you have evidence of the plausibility of your claims, we’re inclined to not want to listen to your ramblings.

  33. #33 advosnob
    July 8, 2008

    How do we know these “drownings and accidents” are not parent-inflicted? Maybe we should be checking into why/how there is a disproportionate death-by-drowning in autistic children.

  34. #34 Joseph
    July 8, 2008

    The study done by the NIH that stated that there is no casual link between autism and vaccines that the CDC and IOM loves to point to was not the initial way that research read. The initial report showed that there was insufficient evidence to conclude either way based on their epidemiological lookback test. However, between the time of this report and the final report a $2 million contribution came to the NIH from the CDC and then the revised report was released.

    Link please. I hadn’t heard this before and Google is not turning up anything.

    Either way, if you’re referring to Verstraeten et al., first of all, its conclusion was “neutral” in fact. Verstraeten et al. had its limitations.

    People need to move beyond that. There was a much more rigorous follow-up, Thompson et al. (2007). They evaluated a portion of the children and looked at 100s of measures. They hired outside consultants and even SafeMinds participated. The results were completely consistent with the null hypothesis. There’s a sister study underway that looks at autism specifically.

  35. #35 D. C. Sessions
    July 8, 2008

    Let them attack Dr. Wakefield all they want, after all, they are just scared and they know that they can’t stop us.

    my poor son was vaccinated and not only is he autistic he has measles in his gut!He has paid a big price for other kids herd immunity, I hope they are enjoying it because he is miserable!

    How dare you call a mother ignorant. What is ignorant is comments made by people who do not live with autism everyday. A mother knows her child better than any stupid pediatrician.

    This is why woo will ulitmately triumph: its adherents are unstoppable. Nothing can stand in their way or sway them from their purpose: not facts, not reason, not the good of their children. They are Nemesis.

  36. #36 Joseph
    July 8, 2008

    Maybe we should be checking into why/how there is a disproportionate death-by-drowning in autistic children.

    Before we do that, I’d suggest checking if there’s actually disproportionate drowning in autistic children. If you google it, it seems that 9,000 people drown every year in the US. Of those, at least many hundreds would have to be children.

  37. #37 K-Bob
    July 8, 2008

    “Not likely at all. Thimerosal gone, autism still here.”

    Not exactly, it’s still present in Rhogam and flu shots. In additon Thimerosal was banned in 2000 and offically declared as removed in 2002. The CDC measures autism rates at age 7. The vast majorty of childhood shots and autism diagnoses are received around or before age 2. We’ll know for sure if the autism rates decrease over the next 2-3 years.

    “the only thing that “we” are scared of in this issue is the damage to others that people like youself will cause”

    If vaccines do their job and prevent you from getting this or any other “vaccine preventible” disease, why do you give a second look to what another person chooses to do? It’s not like the disease has been buried underground and an unvaccinated person dug it up to cause a mass pandemic. The virus/bacteria has always still been around. If you trust the vaccine you have been given why do you have a fucking thing to worry about???

  38. #38 daedalus2u
    July 8, 2008

    Lets be clear. It wasn’t a “mistake” that lead Wakefield to claim he found measles vaccine virus in the gut, it was fraud plain and simple.

    Wakefield was told before the paper was published by the man who used PCR and got positive results that they were all false positives. He knew they were false positives because he sequenced each one.

    Wakefield knew full well that the PCR results were all false positives, and PCR is several orders of magnitude more sensitive and more precise than the immunological tests Wakefield did use.

    It was fraud plain and simple for Wakefield to claim a positive result based on immunology when every single one of the more precise and more sensitive PCR results was negative.

  39. #39 Joseph
    July 8, 2008

    Thimerosal was banned in 2000 and offically declared as removed in 2002. The CDC measures autism rates at age 7. The vast majorty of childhood shots and autism diagnoses are received around or before age 2. We’ll know for sure if the autism rates decrease over the next 2-3 years.

    People have been using the “2-3 years” prediction since 2002 at least, and I think they’ll continue to use it for some time to come. It’s like a zombie hypothesis.

    It’s ridiculous to suppose that the only way to know if autism rates have dropped is to wait for the CDC’s survey of 7 year olds. There are many other ways. See, for example, Schechter & Grether (2008) out of California.

  40. #40 Dave
    July 8, 2008

    So, K-Bob, once another few years go by and autism rates still haven’t dropped, what excuse will you make then so that you can go on blaming vaccines? By the way, thimerosal has been removed from Rhogam also. And if if it is still in flu vaccine (not entirely true, only some fluvax has it), the total exposure from one flu shot per year is still well below what would have been typical for children in the late 90s, yet autism rates are not dropping.

    Start planning now so you can have your next round of explanations lined up when the current set have fallen flat. So far, my money is on blaming aluminum and other “toxins” in the vaccines. That seems to be a growth area just now.

  41. #41 Chuck Darwin
    July 8, 2008

    Mr. K-Bob stated:

    “If vaccines do their job and prevent you from getting this or any other “vaccine preventible” disease, why do you give a second look to what another person chooses to do? It’s not like the disease has been buried underground and an unvaccinated person dug it up to cause a mass pandemic. The virus/bacteria has always still been around. If you trust the vaccine you have been given why do you have a fucking thing to worry about???”

    Sir, your understanding of vaccinology is quite limited. Herd immunity has been gone into in depth on this website – a large percentage (usually 80-90%) of the population must be vaccinated against a certain pathogen in order for it to, for all intents and purposes, cease circulating in the overall population. If only 5% of the populution remains unvaccinated, they and the vaccinated folks are generally protected. However, when the herd immunity threshhold is broken (say 25% go unvaccinated) recirculation of the pathogen becomes a problem. Now, if only the unvaccinated were at risk in this case, then it would be a tolerable problem as they chose to assume the risk (although this leaves out the additional cost of treating the illness versus vaccinating in the first place, as well as the lack of say of children in the matter as to whether a skipping a painful jab is worth a case of mumps). In reality, though, a subset of the vaccinated population will also be susceptible – the vaccine doesn’t “take” in everyone. Thus, your decision to not vaccinate directly impacts those who do.

    I find it funny that the same people who decry the use of the MMR vaccine (too many antigens!) also are usually first in line to rail against the greed and perfidity of the pharma companies. Let’s see, there are marked public health advantages of combining three attenuated viruses in one vaccine formulation. Public health authorities promoted this concept and the pharma companies produce it. If they were so greedy, why wouldn’t they be pushing separate vaccines for all diseases? MMR-DPT – why not six shots instead of two? Hell, Merck can play on the fears already drummed up in the population by Wakefield and cronies with ease, put that Mumps-only vaccine back in production, and the dollars will roll in! I know looking for any consistence in conspiracy theories/woo is a fool’s errand, but I still can’t help but be amazed at the burning nonsense.

  42. #42 Orac
    July 8, 2008

    Start planning now so you can have your next round of explanations lined up when the current set have fallen flat. So far, my money is on blaming aluminum and other “toxins” in the vaccines. That seems to be a growth area just now.

    Indeed.

  43. #43 hardindr
    July 8, 2008

    I don’t think that Andrew Wakefield deserves most of the credit for sowing undeserved doubt on the MMR vaccine. I would place most of the blame on the UK press, who blew the issue way out of proportion in order to sell newspapers and adverts. They could have reported things properly, but they choose to embrace Wakefield’s claims and not do any real reporting. Please see here for an example.

  44. #44 HCN
    July 8, 2008

    jk said :””Mercury is hazardous to humans. Its use in medicinal products is undesirable, unnecessary and should be minimized or eliminated entirely. Manufacturers of vaccines and thimerosal, (an ethlymercury compound used in vaccines), have never conducted adequate testing on the safety of thimerosal. ….”

    K-Bob said “In additon Thimerosal was banned in 2000 and offically declared as removed in 2002. The CDC measures autism rates at age 7. The vast majorty of childhood shots and autism diagnoses are received around or before age 2. We’ll know for sure if the autism rates decrease over the next 2-3 years….”

    notmercury said “”Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is likely related to the autism epidemic.”

    Not likely at all. Thimerosal gone, autism still here.”

    Just a reminder guys:

    This is about measles, and the MMR vaccine. The MMR vaccine was approved for use in the USA in 1971. It is a live virus and has never contained thimerosal.

    Some questions based on the above statements:

    1) What evidence is there that autism increased in the USA starting in 1971?

    2) What in the world does thimerosal have to do with the MMR?

    … oh, and I still want to know how anyone knows that there is “measles in a kid’s gut.”

  45. #45 Zscientist
    July 8, 2008

    Not exactly on topic, because it’s not MMR, but it is autism. From today’s NYT (AP News): http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/health/AP-MED-Autism-Research.html
    NO! NO! NO!

  46. #46 perseveration nation
    July 8, 2008

    It’s not any of the above that cause autism, it’s lyme disease……….(cause I know I let my son play with ticks, and that’s what happened to him)! What will they think of next?
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/113734.php

  47. #47 D. C. Sessions
    July 8, 2008

    Not exactly, it’s still present in Rhogam and flu shots. In additon Thimerosal was banned in 2000 and offically declared as removed in 2002.

    So you’re telling us that autism is markedly more common in Rh+ children of Rh- mothers, and also seasonal (mothers pregnant at a susceptible stage when flu-shot season came around.)

    Those are both easy to check. Please do and get back to us with the numbers.

  48. #48 thoughtcounts Z
    July 8, 2008

    This is really sad. Sort of makes you wonder about the logic behind the policy considerations, though. I was surprised to find that making vaccinations mandatory for school attendance is a controversial proposal rather than current policy in the UK. (Have there been any policy changes since that report?) It’s a really simple way to solve the collective action problem that’s occurring now. If the disease has already been basically eliminated, there’s no incentive for an individual to get vaccinated, so the equilibrium outcome has some occasional incidences of the disease so that most people are still inclined to get immunized.

  49. #49 Patrick Caldon
    July 8, 2008

    “As a father of both an autistic child and a typical child I can unequivocally state that give me measles any day of the week over autism. A disease like the measles with a mortality rate of approx. 1 in 5,000 contracted cases (from the CDC) which in the vast majority of cases is a temporary condition vs a lifelong heartbreaking condition like autism is a no-brainer.”

    About 1 in 4000 kids with measles get severe brain damage from the encephalitis.

    Without vaccination the whole population is virtually guaranteed to get measles, so 1:1000 get encephalitis, with brain damage in a quarter of the cases. Frankly I’d rather not debate you on whether it’s worse to have a child with brain damage or death, but let’s agree that it’s pretty bad either way.

    This is before we consider the massive (and incredibly expensive) longitudinal studies which have been done which show no relationship between vaccination and autism.

    Now we want more study of this “vaccine-autism” link. Every dollar spent on “vaccine-autism” is a dollar not spent on genetic and developmental studies, money not spent on early detection and intervention programs. The sort of research that might help your child and similar children.

  50. #50 jk
    July 8, 2008

    regarding Lyme Disease (one poster mentioned it), Lyme is a big factor in autism. Studies have shown abnormally large percentages of autistic youngers have Lyme, presumably passed on to them at birth from a parent.

  51. #51 Dave
    July 9, 2008

    jk claims a connection between Lyme and autism. Interesting idea, so I went to PubMed — and found exactly one article on the topic, and it was in Medical Hypotheses. Not exactly strong confirmation, is it?

  52. #52 Liesl
    July 9, 2008

    Oh joy, the Lyme contingent is here. I had a fun foray into crazy when I discovered the woo associated with this disease. Good times.

  53. #53 Liz Ditz
    July 9, 2008

    jk wrote:

    regarding Lyme Disease (one poster mentioned it), Lyme is a big factor in autism. Studies have shown abnormally large percentages of autistic youngers have Lyme, presumably passed on to them at birth from a parent.

    jk, this is a science blog. So we don’t just babble on about “Lyme disease” and “studies have shown”.

    We define terms and cite studies, and elucidate the evidence.

    As to the autism=Lyme disease hypothesis–there’s exactly one paper indexed in PubMed:

    Bransfield RC, Wulfman JS, Harvey WT, Usman AI.

    The association between tick-borne infections, Lyme borreliosis and autism spectrum disorders.
    Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(5):967-74. Epub 2007 Nov 5.
    PMID: 17980971 [PubMed - in process]

    Please note it was published in the fringe journal Medical Hypotheses. Various papers published in Medical Hypotheses, as well as the editorial approach of the journal, have been widely criticized for lack of scientific rigor — indeed, its denial of the need of scientific rigor– by (among others) Empirical Insanity, Neurocritic, the blog Denialism, Autism News Beat, Autism Street, Bad Science, and Anthony Cox’s Black Triangle, to name the easier-to-find critiques.

    Show me some real science on the autism-Borrelia burgdorferi infection hypothesis, and I’ll pay it some mind. Until you have real science to show, stop spreading misinformation.

  54. #54 trrll
    July 9, 2008

    Not exactly, it’s still present in Rhogam and flu shots. In additon Thimerosal was banned in 2000 and offically declared as removed in 2002. The CDC measures autism rates at age 7. The vast majorty of childhood shots and autism diagnoses are received around or before age 2. We’ll know for sure if the autism rates decrease over the next 2-3 years.

    You can’t rescue your beloved mercury whipping boy by pointing at the few vaccines that still use thimerosal. Neither of the vaccines you mention are universally administered. Many, many fewer people are receiving vaccines with thimerosal, and the small minority who receive any at all are receiving less. Fewer people receiving less mercury should mean a big reduction in the incidence of autism, if mercury is a major causative factor in autism. It hasn’t happened. Not here, and not in any of the other countries in which the number of vaccines with thimerosal has been drastically reduced.

    Scientifically speaking, the mercury notion is dead and buried.

  55. #55 HCN
    July 9, 2008

    jk said “regarding Lyme Disease (one poster mentioned it), Lyme is a big factor in autism.”

    So does that mean autism covers the same geographic area that Lyme Disease does? Lyme is mostly on the American East Coast, with very little in the American Southwest. So are you telling us that Arizona has a low number of autistic kids?

    Also, Oregon only has a few Lyme cases per year… why are they among the highest in autism reports? Are you going to claim that is because most of the people from Oregon were born on the East Coast? Do you have the data, numbers and statistics to back that up?

    (oh, and by the way… I am a native of the Pacific Northwest by well over a century and three generations, choose your words very very very carefully)

  56. #56 Liz Duffy
    July 9, 2008

    Why can’t the medical issues of autism be kept out of politics? Autism is in epidemic proportions, and causes and treatments need to be meticulously investigated. The rise in autism coincides with the increase in vaccines given to children. The vaccine schedule needs to be investigated as causing neurodevelopmental conditions. Why so much arguement over this? All sorts of things need to be researched. Let’s prove this to be a medical condition so that insurance companies will pay for the medical expenses so that these kids can get better. It’s too much of a burden on the families. Please, lets work together for our children!

  57. #57 DLC
    July 9, 2008

    Bah! Everyone knows autism is caused by the Greys!

  58. #58 LInda Betzold
    July 9, 2008

    No one wants a child to get measles, and no one wants a child to get autism. Vaccination is not a simple issue. Vaccinating a child can cause huge problems, and not vaccinating a child can cause huge problems. We have to look at the vaccination question with eyes wide open. All research is welcome. The truth is the truth regardless of whether or not it is comfortable or convenient. Vaccination must be made as safe as possible. Toxins must be removed. The schedule must be much less aggressive. Long-term studies must be done on vaccines before allowing them to be on the pediatric schedule. Vaccination must not be looked at as a “one size fits all” kind of program. Until these issues are addressed, parents will be afraid to vaccinate. A measles outbreak is not caused by Dr. Wakefield’s research. It is caused by agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH, AAP) denying there is a problem and not facing the vaccine questions head on. Parents have lost faith in these groups to protect their children, and so they do not vaccinate. If they want public trust, they must find the answers to the autism epidemic.

    Yes, I have an autistic child. Without Dr. Wakefield, my son would still be screaming in pain from the severe inflammatory bowel disease that was destroying his GI tract just a few years ago. Thank God for Dr. Wakefield. God bless him every day.

  59. #59 RJ
    July 9, 2008

    First it’s MMR.

    Then it’s Thimerosal.

    Then it’s “too many vaccinations”.

    None of which is substantiated by research. Only the internet.

    What’s the one thing in common…fear of shots and parents looking to place the blame.

    How sad. Makes me want socialism (even though I detest the idea). To let a minority of idiots have even some say in policies that affect all of us…based on their ignorance. Yeah, really sad.

    Has anyone here with even the least bit of scientific training found any of these “arguments” from these people compelling? At all? I certainly haven’t.

  60. #60 HCN
    July 9, 2008

    Linda Betzold said “Vaccinating a child can cause huge problems, and not vaccinating a child can cause huge problems. We have to look at the vaccination question with eyes wide open.”

    Okay… What are the risks of the MMR vaccine (which has been in use in the USA since 1971) versus measles, mumps and rubella? Knowing that in the most recent outbreak in the USA the death rate for measles was more than one in 1000 (from J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S69-77. Acute measles mortality in the United States, 1987-2002.Gindler J, Tinker S, Markowitz L, Atkinson W, Dales L, Papania MJ.), and that at least four people became deaf and over two dozen young men became sterile during a mumps outbreak in the American Midwest in 2006 (w w w .cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm55d518a1.htm).

    Also, what about the effects of the MMR noted here:
    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/160/3/302 … where it says “We assumed that approximately 1 in 5000 cases of measles leads to MR.” (MR = mental retardation)

    She continues ” …. A measles outbreak is not caused by Dr. Wakefield’s research. It is caused by agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH, AAP) denying there is a problem and not facing the vaccine questions head on.”

    Ummm… the outbreak is in the United Kingdom. That is in Europe, and includes England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and of course, this is Great Britain. Last I checked the CDC, NIH and AAP were in the United States of America. How are those AMERICAN groups (and only two are federal… the AAP is the AMERICAN Academy of Pediatrics) causing a problem in a European country?

  61. #61 HCN
    July 9, 2008

    ooops, too late at night… when Linda Betzold blurted about “CDC, FDA, NIH, AAP”… actually, only THREE are federal. Obviously, I need to count my alphabet better.

    So which of these are influencing the NHS? And how?

  62. #62 Arcata
    July 9, 2008

    Could autistic kids in areas where Lyme disease is prevalent be more likely to contract the disease than non-autistic kids because they’d be less likely to tell their parents they had a tick on them? Maybe parents of autistic children should be more diligent about inspecting for ticks after kids go out, play with dogs, etc.

    Likewise, could autistic kids be more likely to drown without yelling for help? Not that parents should *ever* let children swim unsupervised, of course–and maybe extend that supervision to older ages for children with disabilities.

  63. #63 Pedro Homero
    July 9, 2008

    This, right here, is why alternative medicine and magical thinking have to be *banished* from mankind! Grrrrr! I’m pissed off!

    Goddam alties!

  64. #64 Patrick Caldon
    July 9, 2008

    If Lyme disease and autism are associated, why are the autism rates in Australia commensurable with the rest of the developed world but Lyme disease practically absent?

  65. #65 Patrick Caldon
    July 9, 2008

    “Autism is in epidemic proportions, and causes and treatments need to be meticulously investigated. ”

    Agreed. Vaccines of course have been meticulously investigated.

    “The rise in autism coincides with the increase in vaccines given to children.”

    When you look at the data, kids who get vaccines get autism precisely as often as kids who don’t. Numbers of very large (expensive) studies confirm this.

    “The vaccine schedule needs to be investigated as causing neurodevelopmental conditions.”

    It has been. A bejeezus-load of cash has been spent looking at this and not come up with anything.

    “Why so much arguement over this?”

    Because a bejeezus-load of cash has been spent on this and come up with nothing. Now your proposal seems to be to spend another bejeezus-load of cash on the same thing. Meanwhile, kids with autism don’t have effective treatments because we’re spending the research dollars on spurious vaccine stuff, and other kids are getting sick and dying from infectious disease.

    These kinds of things (dead kids; suffering kids) tend to raise one’s passions, hence the argument.

  66. #66 SubLyminal
    July 9, 2008

    Ignorant mothers? Ignorant fathers? You bet. They are all over the Internet spreading ignnorance like Zurama who thinks she’s going to cure Mickie with biomed. Zurama you have an autistic kid, get used to it. Don’t torture him with stupid therapies to try to cure him. He isn’t going to be cured. Just like Rick Rollens son was supposed to be autistic from the MMR and his son is still autistic after years of therapies. For more evidence of ingnorance just look at the ignorant “lyme-ees” who have invaded Orac’s blog. There about as dumb as rocks. One reason they think that Lyme is an issue in autism is that they haven’t been totally suckered by the vaccine thing for some reason. Instead of being suckered by the vaccine thing they are suckered by the Lyme thing. The main reason that they have been suckered by the “Lyme Induced Autism” game is that there are laboratories who will find evidence of Lyme disease in every person they test. If you are breathing you are suffering from Lyme disease, even if you and your mother and grandmother were born and raised in a tick-proof bubble in Antartica. Claiming to find Lyme disease is very profitable. It is similar to the way fraudulent laboratories find that everyone who sends in a urine sample is “heavy metal toxic”. Also similar to the lab results that Jenny McCarthy got saying her son has “yeast” in his “gut.” Jenny McCarthy’s little indigo friend Lisa Ackerman of Talk About Curing Autism Now is a fan of Lyme Induced Autism. So how does Lyme cause autism? And do tell us, there must be a cure that costs some tens of thousands of dollars a year and is being sold by some guy in a white coat with charisma and an offshore medical degree.

  67. #67 Dianne
    July 9, 2008

    I’m mildly autistic (asperger’s syndrome: my ability to read emotion from facial expression is almost nonexistent). My sister is also, although she is more competent in reading emotion because she studied facial expressions and learned to compensate for flaky mirror cell function. We were both minimally vaccinated in the 1970s (just the basic MMR, DTP, polio.) All four of our more heavily vaccinated children are decidedly neurotypical. Two are actually social butterflies. Clearly, the LACK of vaccination causes autism and we should vaccinate more.

  68. #68 Better safe
    July 9, 2008

    “The rise in autism coincides with the increase in vaccines given to children.”

    You’re right. In fact, there’s a whole host of things that correlate with that time period, and we need to investigate them all to ensure there’s no link. I have a short list; perhaps others could add to it?

    – Increase of ownership of home PCs.
    – Increase in number of homes owning a second car.
    – Increase in popularity of professional wrestling.
    – Decrease in number of (nautical) pirates worldwide.
    – Increase in number of times UK soap “Coronation Street” is shown each week.

    Needless to say, we should shun anything and everything that could be correlated with autism, regardless of the potential outcomes. For the children!

  69. #69 carpworld
    July 9, 2008

    Damn it Orac, why didn’t you immunise this blog against Troll-disease?!

  70. #70 Dianne
    July 9, 2008

    It’s not even clear that the true incidence of autism is increasing over time. Is the incidence of the disease (or diseases) increasing or is better detection resulting in more accurate diagnosis? This article suggests that “diagnostic substitution” is responsible for most or all of the apparent increase in autism in recent years (that is, children are now diagnosed with autism who would have been called mentally retarded or given some other diagnosis in the past.)

  71. #71 Orac
    July 9, 2008

    Damn it Orac, why didn’t you immunise this blog against Troll-disease?!

    It’s not possible unless I were to start moderating comments…

  72. #72 daedalus2u
    July 9, 2008

    Allowing trolls to post is just like vaccination.

    If you have a strong enough immune system (blog author and blog commenters well versed in science and logic), trolls can only cause irritation and in some cases inflammation. The “antigen” (the trolls’ pseudoscientific nonsense) is quickly dealt with, and the blog is then “immunized” against the bogus argument for as long as the immune “memory” persists (commenters who remember the bogus argument and the antibody counter argument).

    It is the anti-vax blogs that censor all dissent, like David Kirby’s blog. They have no one well versed in science or logic, so they are completely susceptible to what ever nonsense is posted. They are exactly trying to spread the disease of irrationality. Why? So the parasites such as Wakefield, Kirby and the Geiers can make a good living exploiting the gullible and stupid.

  73. #73 carpworld
    July 9, 2008

    So in fact, having low levels of exposure to trolls stimulates the immune system (the rest of us) and ensures we can fight off full infection. Nice!

  74. #74 Better safe
    July 9, 2008

    “It’s not even clear that the true incidence of autism is increasing over time.”

    Whatever Dianne. Next you’ll be telling me that nautical piracy hasn’t decreased, and that the perceived decrease is due to large corporations not reporting piracy for insurance reasons! Or that it’s due to raids happening in developing countries where such incidents are seldom picked up on! How gullible do you think we are?

  75. #75 Wes
    July 9, 2008

    “It’s not even clear that the true incidence of autism is increasing over time.”

    Whatever Dianne. Next you’ll be telling me that nautical piracy hasn’t decreased, and that the perceived decrease is due to large corporations not reporting piracy for insurance reasons! Or that it’s due to raids happening in developing countries where such incidents are seldom picked up on! How gullible do you think we are?

    Posted by: Better safe | July 9, 2008 7:33 AM

    And, since global warming has increased ever since nautical piracy decreased, it clearly follows that a shortage of pirates causes global warming.

    RAmen.

  76. #76 trrll
    July 9, 2008

    Next you’ll be telling me that nautical piracy hasn’t decreased, and that the perceived decrease is due to large corporations not reporting piracy for insurance reasons! Or that it’s due to raids happening in developing countries where such incidents are seldom picked up on!

    These are the sorts of hypotheses that a scientist (or indeed, any rational person) must consider when attempting to relate correlation to causality, however tempting it may be to latch onto the explanation that matches one’s personal prejudices and dismiss out of hand the ones that do not. Is there any actual evidence for large corporations not reporting piracy, as there is for diagnostic substitution in autism? And so forth.

    A big problem with trying to come up with an external explanation for autism is the extraordinarily high correlation in autism between identical twins as compared to fraternal, which indicates that the overwhelming determinant of who gets autism is genetics. This does not entirely eliminate an environmental cause (and indeed, the correlation is not quite 100%, but that could be simply a small number of other conditions being misdiagnosed as autism–Hanna Poling, for example, may not really but autistic, but have a type of brain damage with some autistic features–but If there is an environmental cause, it would have to be something that is ubiquitous. Mercury in vaccines was once upon a time a candidate, but it fails because (a) it is no longer ubiquitous, and hasn’t been for some time, yet the incidence of autism has not fallen, and (b) there are plenty of cases in which a family had an autistic child, chose not to vaccinate a second child for that reason, and had that child turn out to be autistic anyway. So if there is an environmental cause, and it is not merely changing diagnosis patterns, you have to spread a much, much wider net. Think of all the industrial chemicals that children are more exposed to today–plasticizers, insecticides, over-the-counter drugs, gasoline additives, not to mention the possibility of the emergence of a viral strain that causes brain damage–it’s a long, long list indeed.

  77. #77 trrll
    July 9, 2008

    Vaccination must be made as safe as possible. Toxins must be removed.

    Here’s a good indicator–anytime somebody starts vaguely referring to undifferentiated “toxins,” you know immediately that they either don’t know what they are talking about, or else they are trying to trick you. Biologists and physicians roll their eyes when they hear the word, because they know that almost everything is toxic at some dose–and that the vast majority of those “toxins” are utterly harmless at a lower dose.

  78. #78 Phoenix Woman
    July 9, 2008

    To all those people whining about being “called ignorant”:

    What’s worse, your child getting brain damaged (or killed) from measles or “chelation therapy”, or your poor widdle precious ego getting smacked around by reality?

    That’s what it comes down to, folks. Whenever you hear somebody in this debate whine that being given the most politely presented evidence-based truth about Andrew Wakefield and his money-driven madness is somehow picking on mommies and calling them ignorant, that’s Whiner-Speak for “My ego is more important than my kids’ health and lives. I would rather they died than admit I was wrong or was conned by some snake-oil salesman.”

    Meanwhile, I don’t mind the trolls showing up, because they drive the troll fighters to post useful links and info. For instance, when one person claimed that Rhogam still had thimerosal, another person popped up to say that thimerosal was removed from Rhogam a while ago (2001, as even the anti-vaccination bloggers admit). The efforts to smear Rhogam have failed in court when evidence-based research is introduced into the proceedings:

    A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a couple who claimed that RhoGAM shots the mother received during pregnancy and shortly after delivery had caused their child to become autistic. (RhoGAM is used to prevent destruction of the newborn’s red blood cells due to an Rh-factor incompatibility between mother and child.) The couple charged that the mercury preservative (thimerosal) in the shots was responsible. There is no scientific evidence that mercury is a causative factor, but the parents hoped to establish a connection through testimony by Mark R. Gieier, M.D., Ph.D., who has testified in about 100 cases of alleged vaccine injury that that thimerosal in vaccines caused autism. However, the judge concluded:

    * When subjected to extensive cross-examination, Geier could not point to a single study that conclusively determined that any amount of mercury could cause the specific neurological disorder of autism.

    * Geier’s conclusion that the peer-reviewed literature he has relied upon supports his theory that autism can be caused by thimerosal is flatly contradicted by all of the epidemiological studies available at this time.

    * Geier’s testimony was excluded or accorded little or no weight in more than ten of the vaccine cases. In one case, the special master who presided over the case referred to him as “intellectually dishonest.” In another case, the special master referred to him as “a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience.”

    The judge then ruled (below) that since the parents could not establish causation, the RhoGAM case could not proceed.

  79. #79 liz
    July 9, 2008

    “When you look at the data, kids who get vaccines get autism precisely as often as kids who don’t. Numbers of very large (expensive) studies confirm this.”

    Please Patrick point me to these studies….I have never seen a study comparing vaxed to unvaxed kids.

  80. #80 Katharine
    July 9, 2008

    Shit, I wonder if any of these wacky parents have ever heard of genetics and polygenetic heredity. Maybe some of them have family members who are part of the broader autism phenotype or have another ASD.

    I’ll call mothers and fathers ignorant if they’re ignorant, and a whole bunch of them are ignorant.

  81. #81 Dangerous Bacon
    July 9, 2008

    “The rise in autism coincides with the increase in vaccines given to children. The vaccine schedule needs to be investigated as causing neurodevelopmental conditions. Why so much arguement over this? All sorts of things need to be researched. Let’s prove this to be a medical condition so that insurance companies will pay for the medical expenses so that these kids can get better.”

    And there you have a major reason that the targeting of vaccines continues. The government and vaccine makers have deep pockets, let ‘em pay for autism treatment! Do research that proves our claims, or else it’s a coverup! This mindset is immune to all the research and good evidence vindicating vaccines, and ignores all the children who’ll pay because of antivax nonsense.

  82. #82 liz
    July 9, 2008

    Anyone who believes ASD rates can go from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 thru better diagnosis is truly ignorant. And please show me the science on any 100 fold increase in any disorder, over such a short period of time that is COMPLETELY genetic? Come on people, something other than genetics and better diagnosis is behind this. There has got to be some external environmental factor at work here. There are not too many scientist that argue against some external influence. A genetic susceptibility and an environmental exposure combined seems to be the general concensus.

    And there are still too many unanswered questions on what combination of genes and environment might push a child over the edge. Look at Hannah Poling – an underlying MT condition COUPLED with the trigger (9 vaccines) caused her autism. And don’t give me the “autism-like-symptoms” argument – Autism is diagnosed based soley on “symptoms” – so how someone can have “autism-like-symptoms” and not have autism is just cover-your-ass double speak.

    Interesting that among all the arguments made against any connection to vaccines no one is talking about Hanna Poling. K-Bob’s comments get sliced and diced…but no one touches the topic of Hanna…..wonder why?

  83. #83 Phoenix Woman
    July 9, 2008

    Shit, I wonder if any of these wacky parents have ever heard of genetics and polygenetic heredity. Maybe some of them have family members who are part of the broader autism phenotype or have another ASD.

    Exactly. The main reason for the increase in autism diagnoses is almost certainly the expansion in definition in recent years of the constituent parts of the autistic spectrum. Conditions that once would have been written off as “just plain weird” or “paranoid schizophrenia” in decades past now have names and places under the autism umbrella. (Asperger syndrome, for instance, only became a standard WHO diagnosis in 1992, and there is still some question as to where it fits in the autistic universe.)

    I’ll call mothers and fathers ignorant if they’re ignorant, and a whole bunch of them are ignorant.

    The thing is that it doesn’t matter how polite you are: Simply pointing out that all the evidence-based research shows that they are wrong will elicit “How dare you call me ignorant!” screeches. In other words, they would rather jeopardize their kids’ health than admit they are wrong or were duped. Their precious egoes outweigh their childrens’ well-being.

  84. #84 John C. Welch
    July 9, 2008

    And, since global warming has increased ever since nautical piracy decreased, it clearly follows that a shortage of pirates causes global warming.

    But…we have more global warming…and more autism…OMG! WARM TEMPS CAUSE AUTISM! WE MUST ALL COOL DOWN, OR TEH AWT1ZM WILL GET US!

    I see this as a mandate to drink more cold beer. Lots more.

    Hmm…maybe Autism has good side effects…

  85. #85 Joseph
    July 9, 2008

    Anyone who believes ASD rates can go from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 thru better diagnosis is truly ignorant.

    How come? Do you have indisputable evidence of a non-cultural increase?

    And please show me the science on any 100 fold increase in any disorder, over such a short period of time that is COMPLETELY genetic?

    That’s pretty silly. All genetic disorders have basically an infinite-fold increase in diagnoses rate over a relatively short period of time. Consider, for example, Angelman’s syndrome.

  86. #86 Dianne
    July 9, 2008

    Anyone who believes ASD rates can go from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 thru better diagnosis is truly ignorant.

    10/10 for ad hom insult quality, but 0/10 for evidence base. If you find a flaw in the studies that suggest that improved diagnosis is a major factor in the apparent increase in autism, point it out. No publication is perfect and it may be that some there is some major flaw in the data or conclusion.

    There is clear reason to believe that the diagnosis of some types of autism has increased due to increased detection. To give the most obvsious example, consider Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s paper, describing this type of autism, wasn’t translated into english until the 1990s. Americans rarely read foreign language journals (and even if they do, don’t generally spend much time wandering through random journals from the 1940s.) Therefore, the number of American children diagnosed with Asperger’s before the 1990s is likely to have been minimal to nonexistant. Do you think that the syndrome appeared, full blown, in the US in the 1990s? It was described in Austria in the 1940s (pre-most vaccines). What kept it out of the US for 50 years or so? Here’s a clue: nothing! It was there, just unrecognized. Needless to say, now that it is known of, the apparent incidence has risen percipitously. Has the actual incidence risen? Who knows. A few decades of uniform diagnostic reporting and we might get some idea. As of now…almost impossible to say.

    So, what was that you were saying about how it is just not possible for improvements in diagnosis to cause major changes in the apparent incidence (or prevalence) of a condition?

  87. #87 ozzy
    July 9, 2008

    “A genetic susceptibility and an environmental exposure combined seems to be the general concensus”

    Liz you are wrong. The vast majority of scientists who study autism, not parent advocacy groups cherading as anti-vaccination groups, believe that autism is primarily a genetic disease and that a large portion of the supposed increase is due to the vast broadening of the diagnostic criteria. Read the Shattuck paper and the others looking at diagnostic substitution.

    I remember a presentation at a Society of Toxicology meeting a few years back (can’t remember the presenter’s name) that explained some research looking at why some autistic kids have increased GI problems by focusing on some of the genetic mutations linked to autism. In particular, one mutation linked to autism was shown to alter the function of neurons as well as result in macrophage dysfunction.(I believe it was in a gene encoding an ion channel, but as was the case before starting to read this blog, unfortunately I threw out my notes.) As is the case with many proteins, the activity associated with this protein has one effect in neurons and another in macrophages possibly explaining some of the co-morbidities associated with autism. This is just one mutation and many other mutations have been associated with autism. This is a much more scientifically plausible explanation for the GI issues present in some autistic kid as opposed to the presence of non-existent measles virus in the gut.

  88. #88 Katharine
    July 9, 2008

    “And there are still too many unanswered questions on what combination of genes and environment might push a child over the edge. Look at Hannah Poling – an underlying MT condition COUPLED with the trigger (9 vaccines) caused her autism. And don’t give me the “autism-like-symptoms” argument – Autism is diagnosed based soley on “symptoms” – so how someone can have “autism-like-symptoms” and not have autism is just cover-your-ass double speak. ”

    EVIDENCE PLZ

    (A little harshness is warranted from time to time just to tell the wackjobs what we think of them.)

  89. #89 Joseph
    July 9, 2008

    The rise in autism coincides with the increase in vaccines given to children.

    Here’s some news for you. The rise in autism coincides with the increase of just about everything in the world.

    I’ve suggested a way to discount coincidence in these types of correlations, and I’ll be writing more about that soon.

  90. #90 Orac
    July 9, 2008

    Interesting that among all the arguments made against any connection to vaccines no one is talking about Hanna Poling. K-Bob’s comments get sliced and diced…but no one touches the topic of Hanna…..wonder why?

    Wrong:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/the_hannah_poling_case_and_the_rebrandin.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/02/incredible_shrinking_causation_claim.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/the_new_strategy_of_the_antivaccination.php
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/03/antivaccination_propaganda_about_the_pol.php

  91. #91 Phoenix Woman
    July 9, 2008

    Liz, if thimerosal causes autism, then how come autism diagnoses have continued to increase long after it’s been pulled from even Rhogam?

    Remember, the diagnosis increase is world-wide: The Danes pulled thimerosal (also known as ethylmercury) from vaccines in 1992. Their autism diagnoses have gone UP since then.

    The reason that thimerosal was removed from vaccines worldwide starting in the early 1990s was that it was assumed that thimerosal, aks ethyl mercury, behaved in a similar fashion to methyl mercury, the form of mercury most associated with mercury poisoning. However, subsequent research shows that thimerosal has a shorter “half-life” in the body — that is, it leaves the body much faster than does methyl mercury (less than a week versus 1.5 months for methyl mercury), and is readily excreted via our digestive tracts with no problems at all.

    Meanwhile, chelation therapy, the “treatment” most favored for the heavy-metal poisoning alleged but never proven to be the key cause in the rise of autism diagnoses, is itself a dangerous practice that has killed at least one child:

    One of the drugs used for chelation, DMSA, can cause side effects including rashes and low white blood cell count. And there is evidence chelation may redistribute metals in the body, perhaps even into the central nervous system.

    [...]

    Dr. Susan Swedo, who heads the federal institute’s in-house autism research and wants to study chelation, gained notoriety by theorizing that strep throat had caused some cases of obsessive compulsive disorder. The theory was never proved.

    She proposed recruiting 120 autistic children ages 4 to 10 and giving half DMSA and the other half a dummy pill. The 12-week test would measure before-and-after blood mercury levels and autism symptoms.

    The study outline says that failing to find a difference between the two groups would counteract “anecdotal reports and widespread belief” that chelation works.

    But the study was put on hold for safety concerns after an animal study, published last year, linked DMSA to lasting brain problems in rats. It remains under review, Insel told the AP.

    [...]

    Of the several drugs used in chelation, the only one recommended for intravenous use in children is edetate calcium disodium. Mixups with another drug with a similar name, edetate disodium, have led to three deaths, including one autistic child.

    A 5-year-old autistic boy went into cardiac arrest and died after he was given IV chelation therapy in 2005. A Pennsylvania doctor is being sued by the boy’s parents for allegedly giving the wrong drug and using a risky technique.

  92. #92 Dianne
    July 9, 2008

    Zurama you have an autistic kid, get used to it. Don’t torture him with stupid therapies to try to cure him. He isn’t going to be cured.

    Yeah, that’s the thing. Parents of autistic children who get into all the “therapies” all seem to think that their kid will suddenly turn into the completely neurotypical child of their dreams if they just give enough chelation or whatever. Forget it. It’s not happening. Behavioral therapy can help autistic children cope with the world and kids with Asperger’s can learn to act more or less “normal” by learning the rules by rote. But that child you’re dreaming of? He or she doesn’t exist. Learn to love and–more to the point–accept the child you have. Mourn the loss of the imaginary neurotypical child if you must and move on. Stop making your kid miserable with demands that he or she is never going to be able to meet.

  93. #93 Stephanie Toole
    July 9, 2008

    Honestly, you don’t know what it is living with the vaccine injured child. 24 hours per day 365 days per year we must be on game. I watched my beautiful, perfect child slip away over night, literally. I am a well educated person who had never even heard the word autism before it took over my life. Don’t berate us for speaking out about what happened after MMR dosing, wouldn’t you? Do you have children? Just google autism, watch a few videos, read some parent testimonials, and only then try to put yourselves in that position. You WILL NOT completely understand but at least have your eyes open.

    Stephanie Toole RN GNC(c) CHPCN PL

  94. #94 Natalie
    July 9, 2008

    Liz, I’m going to use small words: “Look at Hannah Poling – an underlying MT condition COUPLED with the trigger (9 vaccines) caused her autism.”

    Any thing that caused a fever in Hannah Poling would have had the exact same result. Fevers are a well documented reaction to vaccines, and in most people they are not a serious problem. In this case it happened to be different, but it was the fever, not the vaccines, that caused the brain damage. If she had gotten a vaccine-preventable disease which caused a fever, the exact same thing would have happened.

  95. #95 Matt Penfold
    July 9, 2008

    Stephanie Toole,

    So essentially you want to be given the right lie and to push dangerous ignorance ? There is NO evidence that links MMR with autism. Those who claim otherwise are either lying, ignorant or stupid. Having an autistic child does not mean you get to be dishonest, and nor does it mean you get to spout off your ignorance without being corrected. You do not get to avoid behaving like a responsible adult either. Those parents of autisitc children who blame MMR are actually doing their children a disservice. There is much worthwhile research to be done into the causes and treatment of autism. Those who blame MMR are activily hindering that research, and are putting people at harm.

  96. #96 Katharine
    July 9, 2008

    Stephanie Toole:

    Your alphabet soup does not help you if you apparently don’t even know what those significantly more educated than you are saying.

    And you’ve got a career in healthcare – I would think that you know how to read some articles!

    And no, what you think happened after MMR dosing didn’t happen. Your child is not vaccine-addled, he is autistic as a result of his genetics.

    Googling autism, watching a few videos, and reading a few worthless and scientifically nearly useless parent testimonials does not prove a thing – well, it proves you have no idea what the scientific process entails.

  97. #97 Phoenix Woman
    July 9, 2008

    Stephanie Toole:

    1) Correlation does not imply causation. Autism’s signs vary, but they typically don’t manifest immediately upon birth. In fact, onset coincidentally often occurs around the time of a child’s first vaccinations, or the time a child first learns to speak or walk.

    2) In cases where autism is believed to have a teratogenic (chemical) and not a genetic cause , the effect is indicated by evidence-based research to have occurred during the early weeks of the mother’s pregnancy, not as a result of anything the mother did once the child was born. In other words, whether genetic or not, the seeds of autism were sown well before a child leaves the womb: It isn’t caused by anything that happens afterwards.

  98. #98 D. C. Sessions
    July 9, 2008

    I am a well educated person who had never even heard the word autism before it took over my life. Don’t berate us for speaking out about what happened after MMR dosing, wouldn’t you?

    Are you sure it wasn’t teething that did it:
    Dr. Down described in some detail the unusual features of these cases that simply did not fit the typical clinical picture of mental retardation that he had been accustomed to seeing. In these children the early months of childhood were uneventful and “intelligence dawned in the accustomed way.” But later, around age six or so, ” a change took place in that the child’s look had lost its wonted brightness; it took less notice of those around it; many of its movements became rhythmical and automatic.” There was “cessation of increasing intelligence”, deferred speech and “lessened responsiveness to all the endearments of its friends.” Dr. Down writes “I have had many examples of children who had spoken well and with understanding, but who lost speech at the period of the second dentition, and had also suspension of mental growth.” Dr. Down provides several examples. One was a boy who “attracted no particular attention during the first six years of life” but then “during the period of second dentition” suddenly lost speech. “He heard everything that was said, but never replied to a question.” This child did gradually regain some speech but “afterwards always spoke of himself in the third person.” The other case example was that of two brothers who also “both lost speech at the period of second dentition.”

    Do you have children?

    As a matter of fact, yes — two of them learning disabled. Wonderful kids, once you learn to love them and not hate them for not being someone they will never be.

  99. #99 Lucas McCarty
    July 9, 2008

    HCN suggested Blighty was a European country. We aren’t and never will be and anyone who spreads this lie will have their face savagely eaten off by me.

    Stephanie, are you serious? Plenty of the posters here are either Autistic or have Autistic children. Some of us Autistic adults when we were children were very similiar to the children we get described to us when a hysterical parent claims we are nothing like their children. We are not vaccine-damaged and neither are the children alleged to be.

    You will be berated for spreading a harmful lie which you have no objective proof of. This is an ugly myth that harms people and relies on denying the existence of millions of Autistic adults because it relies on another myth about a non-existent Autism epidemic. We are disabled and can’t get help because of an overwhelming sick message pumped out by anti-vaccination groups and American Autism societies sympathetic to those groups that Autism has exploded among children, which if it were true would make it impossible for there to be millions of Autistic adults of all ages. But most Autistics are adults, there has been no epidemic.

    The testimonials of god-awful parents that that don’t understand what Autism even is doesn’t just affect their own children; it’s contributed to a storm of myths that has destroyed the lives of many adults.

  100. #100 John C. Welch
    July 9, 2008

    I always love the “Do you have children” line. It’s the lamest setup for an attack on the planet, because unless you can show that you have more children, and they’re all more disabled than the questioner’s, then the response will ALWAYS be “See, you don’t know what it’s like, so you can’t question me”

    Funny, how they demand you automatically acquiesce to them just because they have kids who aren’t whatever passes for ‘normal’, but when you tell them they should stop talking stupid because, well, they’re talking *stupid*, and you show them the evidence that actually proves it, they get all huffy because you’re trying to silence them.

    That always amuses me.

  101. #101 trrll
    July 9, 2008

    Anyone who believes ASD rates can go from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 150 thru better diagnosis is truly ignorant. And please show me the science on any 100 fold increase in any disorder, over such a short period of time that is COMPLETELY genetic? Come on people, something other than genetics and better diagnosis is behind this. There has got to be some external environmental factor at work here.

    As Dianne points out, increasing attention to and recognition of a disease can lead to massive increases. Do you imagine that nobody became demented before Alzheimer came along? However, I agree that it is an open question. The fact that in our current environment, autism is determined almost entirely by genetic factors (and the evidence is quite unequivocal on that point) does not exclude a ubiquitous environmental trigger. It does, however, exclude the “usual suspects” like vaccines and mercury. So as I said, you need to consider everything in the environment, rather than being obsessed with vaccination. I suspect that nonbiologists have the notion that being injected with something is somehow more “powerful” than other types of environmental exposure, but there are many, many substances that enter the body just fine without a needle.

    Look at Hannah Poling – an underlying MT condition COUPLED with the trigger (9 vaccines) caused her autism. And don’t give me the “autism-like-symptoms” argument – Autism is diagnosed based soley on “symptoms” – so how someone can have “autism-like-symptoms” and not have autism is just cover-your-ass double speak.

    Yes, autism is diagnosed based on symptoms, but if you believe that autism is a real illness, and not a figment of the imagination of diagnosticians, you must accept the idea that a diagnosis of “autism” is an imperfect description of one or more biological defects. And in fact, we know that there are multiple distinct genetic causes of “autism-like-symptoms.” It is absolutely clear that Rett syndrome is genetic–the gene is known–and that it is associated with autistic symptoms. But it is also readily distinguishable from other forms of autism, which are not associated with the same gene defects, and which have somewhat different clinical symptoms accompanying the behavioral traits of autism. Similar, Hanna Poling’s illness, while having some autistic features, does not look like typical autism, and is likely to have a distinct cause. Of course, we still don’t know for sure whether the vaccination “triggered” her autism. The vaccine court is designed to give the benefit of the doubt to the plaintiff–appropriately so, because vaccination is a huge social good–so the decision was reasonable. However, if she does indeed have a mitochondrial defect, it is very likely that her cells are so fragile some infection or other environmental insult would have triggered her illness even in the absence of vaccination.

    Could it be that there is some very rare genetic condition–Hanna Poling’s for example–that is triggered by vaccinations to result in autism? Absolutely. Very rare conditions can never be entirely excluded by statistical data. However, the evidence is very clear that the overwhelming majority of cases of autism have nothing to do with vaccinations, and that the risk of vaccine-induced autism, if not actually zero, must be very small, on a level comparable with known rare hazards of vaccination.

  102. #102 Phoenix Woman
    July 9, 2008

    By the way, Jennifer in the new thread reminds us that chelation therapy, which is beloved of the anti-vaccination crowd, is probably more likely to hurt children’s brains than to help them:

    Thanks for this. You didn’t mention the series of studies that looked at children with real, moderately high, blood levels of lead (20 and 44 microg/dL). Those children were treated with DMSA chelation, and while their lead levels dropped faster than untreated children, their cognitive performance did not improve more than the placebo group. Indeed, there was some evidence that chelation could impair cognition. And as a consequence, it is no longer recommended that children with these moderate levels of lead in their blood be treated by chelation.

    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/110/4/787

    Of course, children with autism do not have high levels of mercury in their blood. So, the rationale for treatment is very skimpy indeed.

    Posted by: Jennifer | July 9, 2008 10:10 AM

  103. #103 notmercury
    July 9, 2008

    Matt Penfold: “Those parents of autisitc children who blame MMR are actually doing their children a disservice. There is much worthwhile research to be done into the causes and treatment of autism. Those who blame MMR are activily hindering that research, and are putting people at harm.”

    Well said. Thank you Matt!

  104. #104 Patrick Caldon
    July 9, 2008

    For two, this link: http://www.jr2.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/band84/MMR.html describes a 14 year followup of 1.8 million people in Finland. No association found. There’s numbers (and numbers) of other studies, this one for instance, a study of 28000 children in Canada: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/118/1/e139
    found a (not statistically significant) DROP in the autism rate with thimerosal exposure.

    A Cochrane library review found 139 studies of MMR; the “plain language” findings were:

    Plain language summary
    Using the combined vaccine for protection of children against measles, mumps and rubella

    Measles, mumps and rubella are three very dangerous infectious diseases which cause a heavy disease, disability and death burden in the developing world. Researchers from the Cochrane Vaccines Field reviewed 139 studies conducted to assess the effects of the live attenuated combined vaccine to prevent measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) in children. MMR protects children against infections of the upper airways but very rarely may cause a benign form of bleeding under the skin and milder forms of measles, mumps and rubella. No credible evidence of an involvement of MMR with either autism or Crohn’s disease was found. No field studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness were found but the impact of mass immunisation on the elimination of the diseases has been demonstrated worldwide.

  105. #105 Patrick Caldon
    July 9, 2008

    And previous post was for Liz …

  106. #106 BA
    July 9, 2008

    Dianne above mentioned the Shattuck diagnostic substitution paper. It has some flaws (ed. databases not the best source) but I believe the data support the conclusion. There is a new study on the topic.

    Coo et al. (2008) JADD, 38, 1036-46.
    Trends in Autism Prevalence: Diagnostic Substitution Revisited.

    There has been little evidence to support the hypothesis that diagnostic substitution may contribute to increases in the administrative prevalence of autism. We examined trends in assignment of special education codes to British Columbia (BC) school children who had an autism code in at least 1 year between 1996 and 2004, inclusive. The proportion of children with an autism code increased from 12.3/10,000 in 1996 to 43.1/10,000 in 2004; 51.9% of this increase was attributable to children switching from another special education classification to autism (16.0/10,000). Taking into account the reverse situation (children with an autism code switching to another special education category (5.9/10.000)), diagnostic substitution accounted for at least one-third of the increase in autism prevalence over the study period.

    Not perfect but another piece of information supporting the diagnostic substitution idea.

  107. #107 HCN
    July 9, 2008

    Lucas McCarty said “HCN suggested Blighty was a European country. We aren’t and never will be and anyone who spreads this lie will have their face savagely eaten off by me.”

    Okay, I should have said NEAR Europe!

    Would you have rather I let the clueless person still think it was part of the United States of America?

    liz said “Please Patrick point me to these studies….I have never seen a study comparing vaxed to unvaxed kids.”

    Here you go:
    J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2005 Jun;46(6):572-9. No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.Honda H, Shimizu Y, Rutter M.

    Pediatrics. 2006 Jul;118(1):e139-50. Pervasive developmental disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: prevalence and links with immunizations.Fombonne E, Zakarian R, Bennett A, Meng L, McLean-Heywood D.

    Lancet. 2004 Sep 11-17;364(9438):963-9. MMR vaccination and pervasive developmental disorders: a case-control study.Smeeth L, Cook C, Fombonne E, Heavey L, Rodrigues LC, Smith PG, Hall AJ.

    Lancet. 1999 Jun 12;353(9169):2026-9. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association.Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, Petropoulos MC, Favot-Mayaud I, Li J, Waight PA.

    N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 7;347(19):1477-82. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism.Madsen KM, Hviid A, Vestergaard M, Schendel D, Wohlfahrt J, Thorsen P, Olsen J, Melbye M.

    Pediatrics. 2002 Nov;110(5):957-63. Neurologic disorders after measles-mumps-rubella vaccination.Mäkelä A, Nuorti JP, Peltola H.

    And that is just some of them, and ONLY on the MMR vaccine (trying to stay on topic).

  108. #108 hibob
    July 9, 2008

    –INTERMISSION–
    please feel free to get a snack, read some primary peer-reviewed literature, or catch up with your aluminum-cookware-causes-Alzheimer’s-rants.

    dee-de, de de Deee, dee-de, de de …

    ok, back to the show!

  109. #109 Dangerous Bacon
    July 9, 2008

    Stephanie Toole: “Just google autism, watch a few videos, read some parent testimonials…”

    And that’s how an _RN_ thinks we should arrive at a medical diagnosis and treatment?

    This is not only utterly depressing, it’s scary. All those years of training, and the most basic concepts remain unlearned.

  110. #110 Prometheus
    July 9, 2008

    D. Bacon,

    I think that Ms. Toole’s comment merely shows that education and training do not protect against non-rational thinking.

    In fact, medical training may be no more protective than any other education (it may, in fact, be worse) because there is so much “art” (which I define as “We do things this way because we think it works, not because we have any data supporting the practice.”)in medicine.

    Even in the “hard sciences” (physics, chemistry, biology) I encounter people who “believe” things that are either unproven or (worse yet) demonstrably untrue, such as acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic and “the power of prayer”.

    If a medical or scientific education could protect people from non-rational beliefs, Linus Pauling would never have made a fool of himself with the “magic” of vitamin C, Nikolaas Tinbergen would never have over-extended himself from animal behavior to autism and Boyd Haley would have realized that he had nothing meaningful to contribute to the discussion of autism causation.

    Prometheus

  111. #111 khan
    July 9, 2008

    I’m mildly autistic (asperger’s syndrome: my ability to read emotion from facial expression is almost nonexistent). My sister is also, although she is more competent in reading emotion because she studied facial expressions and learned to compensate for flaky mirror cell function. We were both minimally vaccinated in the 1970s (just the basic MMR, DTP, polio.) All four of our more heavily vaccinated children are decidedly neurotypical. Two are actually social butterflies. Clearly, the LACK of vaccination causes autism and we should vaccinate more.

    I was born in 1950. My vacs were smallpox, polio, and DTP. Today I would probably be diagnosed as asperger’s syndrome.

    I can not read emotion from facial expression, but have learned to compensate (although it is stressful).

    The interesting part is I take after my father, who had the same problems.

  112. #112 wfjag
    July 9, 2008

    There is another reason to suspect diagnostic substitution. Until the publication of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual III in 1980, there was no diagnosic category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

    Before that, various diagnostic labels were used. Especially widely used were those developed in 1896 by Kraepelin. He grouped catatonia, hebephrenia and paranoia together as a degenerative disease and used the name of “DEMENTIA PRAECOX”

    “Disorganized schizophrenia” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebephrenia states the diagnostic criteria used for Hebephrenia:

    “Disorganized schizophrenia is a subtype of schizophrenia as defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This type is characterized by prominent disorganized behavior and speech (see formal thought disorder) including word salad, and flat or inappropriate emotion and affect. The criteria for the catatonic subtype of schizophrenia must not have been met as well. This type of schizophrenia is also known as hebephrenia, and is named after the Greek goddess of youth, Hebe, in reference to the typical age of onset in puberty.

    Unlike the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia, delusions and hallucinations are not the most prominent feature[1][2], although fragmentary delusions and hallucinations may be present.

    The emotional responses of people diagnosed with this subtype can often seem strange or inappropriate to the situation. Inappropriate facial responses may be common and behavior is sometimes described as ‘silly’, such as inappropriate laughter. Complete lack of expressed emotion is sometimes seen, as is an apparent indifference, anhedonia (the lack of pleasure), and avolition (a lack of motivation). Some of these features are also present in other types of schizophrenia, but they are most prominent in Disorganized Schizophrenia.”

    So, why no PDD or ASD diagnoses until recently? Neither PDD nor ASD were generally recognized as diagnostic categories until recently. DSM-III recognized that what is now commonly called autism was not a type of schizophrenia. People were diagnosed as having Hebephrenia or Disorganized Schizophrenia. However, even a cursory review of the diagnostic criteria for those diagnoses shows that under DSM-III, III-R and IV criteria, today they would have an ASD diagnosis.

    The whole vaccines (or components of vaccines) argument is based on a linguistic shell game. In 1896, childhood vaccines were uncommon. That did not affect the rates of Hebephrenia and Disorganized Schizophrenia diagnoses. That people now receive ASD diagnoses, instead, is no support for any argument that vaccines are related to the ASD diagnosis.

    And, before you say “You don’t understand because you’re not the parent of an autistic child. My child is my science” – one of my children is diagnosed CDD. That assertion is B.S.

  113. #113 HCN
    July 10, 2008

    Hey! I am still waiting for someone to tell me how they know that their kid has “measles in their gut”! Since they came here whining that their kid was made autistic from the MMR and had measles in their gut… they have not explained how they know!

    Also, they haven’t explained how come this has not been occuring since 1971 when the MMR was first approved for use in the USA.

  114. #114 Prometheus
    July 10, 2008

    HCN, I’d like to second your request.

    We now know – thanks to the Autism Omnibus Hearings – that the PCR-based studies which “found” measles in gut biopsies of autistic children were “tainted” – they “amplified” measles RNA even when the reverse transcriptase was omitted.

    [Note: For those who are not familiar with the wonderful world of genetics, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) can't amplify RNA, so it first has to be reverse-transcribed (by reverse transcriptase) to DNA (cDNA, actually) before the PCR step. Omitting the reverse transcriptase step is routinely used as a quality control measure, to see if there is any contaminating DNA that the PCR step could amplify. "Amplifying" measles RNA without reverse transcriptase is a sure sign of contamination.]

    Given this level of “quality control”, I would refuse to accept any positive (or, for that matter, negative) results from that lab or any lab run by the same folks.

    The earlier immuno-gold studies were less obviously flawed but were equivocal in their own right. We know of cross-reactivity between measles antibodies and nervous tissue and there are reasons to suspect other cross-reactions might occur. The Wakefield et al papers using this technique did not – as I recall – adequately control for this potential error.

    So, apart from “innate knowledge”, how would parents “know” that their child has/had measles virus in their “gut”? As a microbiologist, I would love to know which technique they used.

    Prometheus

  115. #115 wfjag
    July 10, 2008

    And, we also know from the Autism Omnibus Hearings that the type of “measles in the gut” Wakefield “found” was neither the type used in the MMR vaccine nor a wild variety. Rather, it was the type used in his lab. It also came out in testimony in the Hearings that he was told of this before the article was published in Lancet.

  116. #116 Ane C Dote
    July 11, 2008

    “Lucas McCarty said “HCN suggested Blighty was a European country. We aren’t and never will be and anyone who spreads this lie will have their face savagely eaten off by me.”

    Okay, I should have said NEAR Europe!”

    Both of you need geography lessons – (although L.M. may be referring to the political situation)

    So HCN, if UK is NEAR to but not part of Europe, then what continent is it part of?

  117. #117 Mike Kelly
    July 11, 2008

    Ane C Dote

    Wrong perspective: To quote a famous headline “Fog in English Channel; Continent Cut-Off.”

  118. #118 Mary Parsons
    July 11, 2008

    Epiwonk discusses Debendox and quotes another paper:

    Although nearly every scientific study has provided reassuring evidence of the drugs safety, headlines in the news media suggested otherwise.

    The American tragedy was that drug availability was determined by the media, the litigation process, and public response, rather than as a result of careful examination and scientific research. The implications of the Bendectin story are far reaching, indeed. Of major importance is that the adverse affects of severe nausea and vomiting, and any treatment to modify it, are not likely to be optimally studied. In other words, research into developing and marketing products of any type for pregnant women are likely to be curtailed due to a litigious environment.

    Lastly, the Bendectin saga has demonstrated how powerful and detrimental mass media can be in influencing public opinion and health policy.

    In the comments, DT links to an uncanny account of McBride’s fraud and cites it as an example of how one man’s egomania helped fuel that debacle – which seems pertinent. And remarkably sad, given his genuine contribution to the thalidomide case.

    I found the comments on this next post to be interesting as a number of people are arguing that they sustained in utero damage from Debendox/Bendectin although the post author is arguing that the case against the drug was “junk science” (this is, of course, the landmark Daubert ruling).

  119. #119 Lucas McCarty
    July 11, 2008

    Ane C Dote, in Europe and in Britain, Europe is always refered to as ‘the continent’ when talking about any subject related to Britain and Europe. This is because it is widely acknowledged that Britain is without continent just like many pacific islands including New Zealand, which also strongly disagree with the myth that their country is part of the Australasia continent. They are or they aren’t European or Australasian respectiviely depending on what geological definitions are used, so it’s politically sensitive. In Australasia they’re not even sure if Papa New Guinea is part of that continent or south-east Asia.

    Because Britain had it’s hand forced on Ireland issues so many times by European countries, we often whack them with the come-back “If Ireland isn’t geographically Britain, then Britain definately can’t be European”.

    Britain is currently a bit resentful of Europe because of the EU turning into something we didn’t ask for and the re-surfacing of the debate over wether Britain is European. It’s unfortunately allowed some far-right parties to pop up.

  120. #120 Ane C Dote
    July 11, 2008

    “Because Britain had it’s hand forced on Ireland issues so many times by European countries, we often whack them with the come-back “If Ireland isn’t geographically Britain, then Britain definately can’t be European”.”

    What utter drivel!

    “Britain is currently a bit resentful of Europe because of the EU turning into something we didn’t ask for..”

    Lucas is a “little Englander” methinks

    “..and the re-surfacing of the debate over wether[sic] Britain is European.”

    Geographically IT IS part of Europe (like it or not)

  121. #121 Patrick
    July 11, 2008

    Woo hoo, my trollmanella index for the day has been reached, I can now safely progress to the next level of that which does not kill me makes me stronger in the next post.

  122. #122 HCN
    July 11, 2008

    Common Sue said “Geographically IT IS part of Europe (like it or not)”

    And it is still not part of the USA, where the four entities that some clueless clown was blaiming the endemic level of measles for in the UK… by saying “A measles outbreak is not caused by Dr. Wakefield’s research. It is caused by agencies (CDC, FDA, NIH, AAP) denying there is a problem and not facing the vaccine questions head on.”
    ( http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/07/thanks_andrew_wakefield.php#comment-969638 )

  123. #123 Lucas McCarty
    July 11, 2008

    ‘Geography’ is an umbrella that covers a lot of areas, I wonder which specific one Sue(is it Sue again?) chooses to base the claim on and which she excludes?

    ‘Little Englander’ also isn’t appropriate in this case; they identify themselves as English and want to repeal the Act of Union. I identify myself as British.

    As HCN said, whilst Britain’s continental-status has been argued about for centuries, America’s hasn’t.

  124. #124 Sharon H
    September 2, 2008

    I know this thread is long over, but thought some might be interested in a recent JAMA article, stating that the common link in autism may be the interruption of gene expression, see

    http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/300/8/891-c?rss=1

    What causes the interruption? I would hypothesize that there are different causes, which might explain the different presentations of autism.

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