Pharyngula

A special court has reached a decision: vaccines don’t cause autism. On one side were families with sad and tragic anecdotes of children with serious developmental disabilities, and on the other…

The government argued during the 2007 bench trials that the plaintiffs’ claims linking the vaccines with autism are not supported by “good science.”

Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine have found no credible link between vaccinations and autism.

It does not diminish the pain the families have gone through, but it’s not enough to announce that you suffer, and therefore you get to lash out at a target. The causal relationship has not been discovered to the satisfaction of either science or the law.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    Likewise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Institute of Medicine have found no credible link between vaccinations and autism.

    BIG PHARMA SHILLS!!!!

  2. #2 DGKnipfer
    February 12, 2009

    And yet this will only spur on the Anti-Vax crowd with cries of global conspiracy.

  3. #3 BeamStalk
    February 12, 2009

    Obviously the government is involved in the vaccine conspiracy now.

  4. #4 Glen Davidson
    February 12, 2009

    Was it Judge Jones?

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/6mb592

  5. #5 Ranson
    February 12, 2009

    DGKnipfer:

    Yup, because it’s far easier to believe in a worldwide conspiracy than it is to simply admit that one happens to be wrong.

    No, wait, it isn’t.

    *Sigh*

  6. #6 Matt Heath
    February 12, 2009

    O sure, you can prove anything using facts. The truth of the matter is Jenny McCarthy say there’s a link and she knows because she’s a mother of an autistic kid. QED bitches.

    (The above was not seriously)

  7. #7 tsig
    February 12, 2009

    Following a guru is always easier than taking personal responsibility.

  8. #8 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 12, 2009

    The verdict is shocking I tell you. Isn’t anecdotal testimony supposed to trump a pile of well designed independent statistical studies every time? (Removes tongue from cheek.)

  9. #9 'Tis Himself
    February 12, 2009

    Autism can’t possibly be caused by genetics. That would mean that a child’s autism was the result of being a bad mommy and/or daddy (genetically speaking). So the cause has to be something else.

    Since autism wasn’t noted until the 1940s and thimerosal wasn’t used until the 1930s, the cause is obvious. Big pharma, selling evil vaccines to deal with minor childhood inconveniences like mumps and rubella, invented autism.

    QEfuckingD!!!11!eleventy-one!!1!

  10. #10 Ross Miles
    February 12, 2009

    The decisions and background are at:

    http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/5026

    The U.S. Court of Federal Claims

  11. #11 Holbach
    February 12, 2009

    Madness doesn’t cause religion; religion causes madness.

  12. #12 cactusren
    February 12, 2009

    @9–actually, since autism was first noticed in the 40s, it must be the result of WWII. God’s punishment on humanity for the holocaust, or nuclear bombs, or something. It’s a little unclear which event actually angered God so much that he decided to afflict random children with this disorder, but we cannot question this FACT, as the ways of God are mysterious.

  13. #13 the pro from dover
    February 12, 2009

    Was Joey the Mechanical Boy ever immunized?

  14. #14 True Bob
    February 12, 2009

    I have a 15 yr old son w/Asperger’s, a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder. When we first heard the supposed link, back in the day, it made no difference to us. We knew we could not go back and make changes, you have to play the cards you are dealt. He is what he is, and we work with that. Seeking to blame someone is a coward’s approach. Based on his behavior, it’s got to be genetic (so much is like me and my father before me, and my FIL, just more extreme).

    After seeing a little more about it, it became clear that it was a non-factor (like no ndrop-off in ASD rates post-thimerosal). It’s sad these people want to blame someone, and worse that they think they are entitled to some remuneration. We wouldn’t trade our son’s idiosyncracies for neurotypical behavior, ever. He’s a great and wonderful kid and is much more self-aware than I was at his age. He’s very smart, he loves chimpanzees and young children, and is misanthropic in the extreme.

  15. #15 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    I’m wondering, might this ruling lead to more insurance companies covering vaccinations? Have they been reluctant because they have been concerned about liability?

    It still boggles my mind that insurance companies will not cover vaccinations but will pay for circumcision. One is a treatment that is strongly recommended by every health organization in the world, and the other is a procedure that is not recommended by any of them.

  16. #16 Olowkow
    February 12, 2009

    Sad, I heard Bobby Kennedy, Jr. spouting this nonsense on his podcast “Ring of Fire” the other day. He is a pretty bright guy, but he has this one goofy belief about the link between autism, plus all kinds of other stuff, and vaccines.

  17. #17 John Phillips, FCD
    February 12, 2009

    Rather appropriate that a win for science and the evidence happens on Darwin Day. Happy Monkey indeed.

  18. #18 Lowell
    February 12, 2009

    True Bob #14,

    Thanks for that comment, but are you sure you meant “misanthropic” (i.e., having general contempt for humankind) in your last sentence?

  19. #19 MH
    February 12, 2009

    “He is what he is, and we work with that.” — True Bob

    That’s right, and you could say the same about any child. It’s the difference between a glass ‘half empty’ and a glass ‘half full’.

    One could argue that there is ‘something wrong’ with any child, but focusing on the negatives rather than the positives is unlikely to bring out the full potential of the individual.

    I raise a glass to your wise approach, Bob.

  20. #20 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    One of the most common assertions that you hear from the parents who blame vaccinations for their child’s autism (as opposed to folks like True Bob) is that, “He was fine before the vaccine, and suddenly everything changed.”

    Aside from the obviously post hoc fallacy, there is something I always wanted to ask these people:

    What are the signs of autism before the age of 18 months?

    I wonder, how many of them even know what are the early signs of autism, much less detect them?

    It is often commented that the most obvious symptoms of autism don’t show up until after 18 months or so (coincidentally, the same time as the MMR vaccine!), but it is now recognized that there are early indicators. However, unless you are looking for them, I think they are very easy to miss.

    In short, in order to claim that the autism “suddenly appeared after the vaccinations” you would have to be able to REALLY know that there weren’t early signs that you missed. I doubt these folks were paying close enough attention to notice (and, to be fair, I don’t hold that against them – they weren’t thinking about it; however, they need to recognize that their ignorance regarding early symptoms does not mean their child did not have them)

    BTW, I also wonder about the “sudden onset” of symptoms, and exactly how sudden that was? Was it within a year? A month? A week? A day?

  21. #21 True Bob
    February 12, 2009

    I meant exactly that. He feels humans have really screwed up the planet (and their societies) and that it was a mistake to leave the cover of the trees. It can be a challenge to get him to admit he also is Homo sapiens. He is learning Latin, so he thinks it very presumptuous to include “sapiens” in our species name (especially twice, Homo sapiens sapiens). He’d rather be a chimpanzee or bonobo (although with his…umm…discomfort wrt reproduction and sex, it’s weird he loves bonobos) or other primate.

  22. #22 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    @ Pablo:

    There is a rationale for circumcision of course:
    Phimosis and, as a complication of phimosis, paraphimosis (which can be an emergency as it can lead to gangrene of the glans penis). I would be rather puzzled to find out any health organization discourages circumcision under these circumstances.

    And the WHO recommends circumcision as a tool to prevent HIV-Infections in high-risk countrys, as it seems to reduce a mans chance of catching the disease up to 60%.
    http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/malecircumcision/en/index.html

  23. #23 60613
    February 12, 2009

    I’m of a mixed mind about this controversy.

    It is very similar to how many people feel about doing biopsies on possibly cancerous tumors. Many believe that the cancer “catches fire” if it is exposed to the air we breath. I doubt if that’s true, but I doubt also that it is a wive’s tale.

    And until the science is conclusive, who’s to say?

  24. #24 True Bob
    February 12, 2009

    Another difficulty with early ID of ASDs is that parents don’t know what’s normal at early ages, unless they have lots of experience. At those young ages, you can’t tell even when they are in groups (he seemed right to us, and was verbal on time). We also suffered through misdiagnoses (ADD, then ADHD, oh, let’s add General Anxiety Disorder, then toss in OCD, etc). White courtesy phone for Occam. Occam, please pick up the white courtesy phone.

  25. #25 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    Whereas circumcision is a treatment for phimosis, it is not recommended as a general procedure for newborns.

    And this isn’t about doing or not doing circumcision, it is why circumcision of newborns is covered by insurance whereas vaccinations are not?

  26. #26 recovering catholic
    February 12, 2009

    @18 Often one of the characteristics of children with autism is a sort of misanthropy, as they find it difficult to interact with other people.
    There’s and excellent book written from the point of view of a young autistic man: “The Curious Incident of the Midnight Dog”, by Mark Haddon. I found it helped me understand a bit how an autistic person feels and acts, and why they do so.

  27. #27 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    True Bob, it sounds like you even had trouble diagnosing your son’s autism long after he had it and had grown much older (if you are hearing ADD and ADHD, he is old enough to have social behavioral assessments (like preschool or even later)). If that’s the case, imagine what it is like trying to recognize it in a very young infant?

  28. #28 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    @Pablo:

    Sorry, I think I got you wrong there. I didn’t know your insurances cover it with no medical indication.
    But FWIW, german insurances usually cover homeopathy and stuff. I don’t think you can expect too much of, well, logic regarding what to cover from insurance companys.

  29. #29 JD
    February 12, 2009

    Or so the Germans would have you believe.

  30. #30 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    Would have you believe what exactly? I think I’m missing something there… Help me out.

  31. #31 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    Or so the Germans would have you believe.

    Yeah john. Wtf are you trying to get at here?

  32. #32 True Bob
    February 12, 2009

    recovering catholic @ 26:

    There’s and (sic) excellent book written from the point of view of a young autistic man: “The Curious Incident of the Midnight Dog”, by Mark Haddon.

    An excellent book, as you say. He really catches the sense of autistic kids. Some of it was perhaps stretching credulity (Going alone to the city? I don’t know about that).

    Something to remember, as we say in our groups: When you’ve met one kid with autism, you’ve met one kid with autism. Lots of similarities, but like everyone else, plenty of differences.

    For example, Asperger’s kids usually have a hard time with idioms and such and usually only understand literal meanings. My son gets and uses sarcasm. Really, WTF?

  33. #33 Dianne
    February 12, 2009

    It can be a challenge to get him to admit he also is Homo sapiens.

    Heh. I sympathize with his position. I’m not so sure about other primates, though…chimpanzees are even more heirarchical and intolerant of social failure than humans.

  34. #34 HenryS
    February 12, 2009

    THE doctor who sparked the scare over the safety of the MMR vaccine for children changed and misreported results in his research, creating the appearance of a possible link with autism, a Sunday Times investigation has found.

    Confidential medical documents and interviews with witnesses have established that Andrew Wakefield manipulated patients? data, which triggered fears that the MMR triple vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella was linked to the condition.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article5683671.ece

    In December 2006, the Legal Services Commission revealed that it had paid Ł435,643 in fees to Wakefield[29]?payments which The Sunday Times reported had begun two years before the Lancet paper.[22]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Wakefield

    Wakefield should be prosecuted and the lawyers prosecuted/disbarred. These corrupt POSs have done serious harm. The Lancet editor should have been fired for publishing this garbage.

  35. #35 Evinfuilt
    February 12, 2009

    I love that front page of DailyKos they’re pushing this story, a triumph of science, reason and logic. Happy Birthday Mr. Darwin, science is being celebrated once more.

  36. #36 Steve
    February 12, 2009

    If this case was tried to a jury, the outcomes may well have been different.

  37. #37 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    Keenacat, if you are from Europe, you probably don’t realize routine circumcision is carried out to a very large extent in the States, to the tune of 60% of all males. Most of it is done on newborns (as in, the day they are born). There’s no medical reason for it. The circ supporters will go on about preventing UTIs (indeed, there is reportedly a 10 fold decrease in UTIs in circ’d males in the first year (reported by a circ advocate; I don’t know if it’s been confirmed by an independent study, but no one disputes it much)), but that means it goes from a very small number to an even smaller one. Moreover, as you note, in countries where HIV rates are huge, it has helped lower the spread, but that doesn’t apply to western countries.

    But as I said, this is not about circumcision or not, it is about insurance coverage of it. In the end, while I think it is a bad practice to snip all the peepees, I accept the American Academy of Pediatricians position that they won’t object if you chose to do it. However, that doesn’t mean that my insurance premiums should go to help pay for it. Particularly if the same insurance company won’t cover my baby’s vaccinations.

  38. #38 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    @Pablo:

    I was so not aware of that. 60%? For no proper reason? WTF?
    The mind boggles, indeed.

  39. #39 True Bob
    February 12, 2009

    Hey Dianne,

    My guess is that’s why he prefers paniscusto troglodytes. Much more literature on plain old chimps, though, and he likes that they have cultures and make tools. Bonobos, not so much with the tools.

  40. #40 Uncephalized
    February 12, 2009

    Bob: he sounds quite high-functioning indeed, which is lucky for you guys. My friend’s brother has Asbergers’ and he has a hard time understanding what people mean a lot of the time–he understands perfectly what their words say, but we use all kinds of implications, idioms and tones that overlay the explicit meaning and he doesn’t catch them. it’s actually very interesting what he sometimes trips up on; he’s clearly a smart guy but his brain just isn’t picking up on the nuanced side of expression.

  41. #41 TonyC
    February 12, 2009

    Keenacat, Pablo, et al: from the UN Study

    HIV prevalence is lower in populations that traditionally practice male circumcision than in those parts of Africa or Southeast Asia where most men are
    not circumcised. However, it is unclear to what extent this may be the result of a biological effect of circumcision or whether other factors, including cultural and social ones, may also play a role.

    My emphasis.

    From the studies it was most definitely unclear whether, and by what mechanism, circumcision actually has any effect on HIV transmission. No data was presented to indicate the prevalence of active HIV in the sexual partners of the men in the trials, nor was there any indication as to their other behaviors (use of condoms, multiple partners, anal -v- vaginal -v- oral, etc)

    In all I don’t see the recommendation being necessarily based on great science — it almost looks like a political decision. There seems to be a link so we must be seen to be responding positively

  42. #42 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 12, 2009

    Insurance companies are funny with what they cover and don’t cover. We’ve had insurances that won’t pay for BC pills, but will pay everything for birth, and will cover viagra, but not BC pills. Strange. Rationality is not their forte.

  43. #43 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    I was so not aware of that. 60%? For no proper reason? WTF?

    Indeedy do.

    My 13 week old son is among the minority.

    It’s a cultural thing. Sadly, if you look into the origins of it in the US, it is even sadder. See, the push for circumcision came in the late 1800s, and was led by Kellogg, of the “Kellog’s Cereal” (big cereal company in the US). The reason? It was basically part of the temperance movement. In particular, circumcision was recommended to stop boys from masturbating.

    (Interestingly, circumcision supporters nowadays claim that there is no loss in sexual pleasure with circumcision – completely at odds for the entire reason it was promoted in the first place; now, the science is wishy-washy, and I don’t know who’s right, but still I love the irony)

    Among other things, when I learned that the culture of circumcision came about as a result of a campaign against masturbation, it made me even more opposed to doing it.

  44. #44 Bureaucratus Minimis
    February 12, 2009

    Myers, I congratulate you for taking the moral high ground in your post on this, and for setting a good example for your readers.

  45. #45 Jaycubed
    February 12, 2009

    Autism is a syndrome rather than a disease.

    It is only described symptomatically.

    The symptoms have a very broad range of expression.

    There is no evidence of any single/multiple causation factors.

    The Diagnostic Statistical Manual is an Insurance Co. billing device rather than a medical manual.

    Therefore it is no wonder that vaccinations are not the cause of autism (whatever autism is).

  46. #46 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    @TonyC:

    Well, I didn’t say anything about whether this is based on great science or not. I did not actually get on the topic and didn’t read any of the studys and wasn’t discussing the topic to any extend. I was merely pointing at it in response to Pablo.

  47. #47 bybelknap, FCD
    February 12, 2009

    I worked as a behavior analyst for a dozen years with people of all ages with autism. From the very youngest with a fresh diagnosis, to old folks who were some of the earliest to be diagnosed. They were all individuals. They all had unique families of origin. I did a log of in-home parent training and I met a wonderful assortment of parents and parenting styles. Some not so wonderful too. Some of them bought into woowoo things, and some did not. They all had one thing in common: they needed some help.

    Some of them only needed a little bit. Some of the “training” I did consisted of simply listening with a little bit of empathy to the parents while they talked about their child. Some of them needed Super-Nanny-like wholesale re-invention of their lives. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. In general though, people were at least a little better off after the training, whatever it consisted of.

    It was always nice to get the little kids, because one wasn’t fighting the habits of a lifetime. The hardest were teenagers – raging hormones and a serious disability, often combined with mental health issues – made for a heady mix of interesting times. I always seemed to end up with the kids no one else would work with. I went home with the bites, scratches and bruises to show for it.

    No idea what this has to do with vaccinations. But I’d like to add that if more parents were like True Bob, it would have been a lot easier. Still, it was a rewarding career, if not monetarily, at least in a sense of accomplishment and good will.

  48. #48 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    Tony – I was being conservative. AT BEST, this is what the pro-circ people can claim. Like you, I am not convinced by the HIV transmission studies, either. But even granting them, it makes no difference to babies in the US.

    If we get into a discussion of circumcision in African countries, then I will focus more on the significance of those studies.

  49. #49 True Bob
    February 12, 2009

    Well uncephalized, they all have their points. He drives us mad with his obsessions wrt time/schedule. A few moments late (it could literally be seconds) and his day (and ours, by proximity) gets ruined. He will stress so much, over what most of us wouldn’t think twice about. He, like lots of ASD kids, has comfort items he MUST take with him. If something is misplaced, the world stops until he (and we) finds it. He has all sorts of internal rules, and some (we have no idea how many) of them are known only to him.

  50. #50 Blue Fielder
    February 12, 2009

    And until the science is conclusive, who’s to say?

    Well, gee, I suppose that means that we’re going to have to deny climate change, evolution, gravity, heliocentrism, and a round Earth, because the science isn’t conclusive on any of these, either, so who’s to say?

  51. #51 cervantes
    February 12, 2009

    Actually, not only has the causal relationship not been established, it’s been ruled out, as far as it’s possible to prove a negative proposition.

    As for RFK Jr., he is the lowest form of charlatan and con artist. Not a bright guy at all, but a liar and a thief.

  52. #52 Bureaucratus Minimis
    February 12, 2009

    indeed, there is reportedly a 10 fold decrease in UTIs in circ’d males in the first year (reported by a circ advocate; I don’t know if it’s been confirmed by an independent study, but no one disputes it much

    This is pretty hotly disputed by the anti-circ crowd, both on its own merits and for the following:

    One thing that isn’t mentioned is the reluctance of parents to do proper washing of their uncircumsised sons. So the increase in UTIs among unmutilated infants is due improper hygiene, not foreskins per se. Sad that parents feel obligated to mutilate their kids out of squeamishness about touching their genitals, or for sheer convenience.

    And the financial incentive for the medical community to perform this should never be overlooked.

  53. #53 TonyC
    February 12, 2009

    A follow up (and oops).

    The actual paper for the study on PLoS http://www.who.int/hiv/topics/malecircumcision/PLoSJuly2006.pdf references the fact that the hoopla is based on a SINGLE trial

    randomized controlled trial (RCT) has shown that male circumcision (MC) reduces sexual transmission of HIV from women to men by 60% (32% 76%; 95% CI) offering an intervention of proven efficacy for reducing the sexual spread of HIV.

    The paper also notes that their predictions are based entirely on a model built using this single RCT as the primary input.

    As noted earlier in the abstract – there are also a lot of societal and behavioral reasons for the appearance of a correlation between MC and reduced HIV. Perhaps adults being circumcised are more aware and less risky in their behavior (they have already gone to the effort of having a painful and very personal surgery – this would suggest a greater awareness)

    In any case – this is all supposition, since neither the study referenced, nor its antecedents, actually looked at behaviors or psychology in any detail.

  54. #54 Rev Matt
    February 12, 2009

    @15: What insurance companies don’t cover vaccinations? Every insurance company I’ve been with in the past decade (about 6, including BCBS and UHC, the joys of being a contractor) has covered them

  55. #55 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    My student has UHC and her son’s vaccinations weren’t going to be covered (she went to the clinic and got them for cheap). The default position in my Ped’s office is that vaccinations are NOT covered. I don’t know why they would do that unless they had lots of experience with them not being covered. It could be that the health care program for the local industry (auto industry, mostly UAW workers) doesn’t cover them.

    I have UHC and told the doctor’s office to submit the bill to them. We haven’t heard a response yet.

  56. #56 Tom
    February 12, 2009

    I have a question below about autism. But first, infants who sleep on their backs compared to infants who sleep on their stomachs have increased rates of:

    – Social skills delays at 6 months (Dewey, Fleming, et al, 1998)
    – Motor skills delays at 6 months (Dewey, Fleming, et al, 1998)
    – Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) (Corvaglia, 2007)
    – Milestone delays (Davis, Moon, et al., 1998)
    – Plagiocephaly, torticollis, strabismus, etc. etc. etc…

    My question is:

    If a doctor was presented with a baby that had social skills delays, motor skills delays, and gastroesophageal reflux what would a doctor say if a child had these three things but not too bad. The doctor might tell the parent to be patient and that different kids develop differently. But, what if the case was more severe – what if the kids social skills were worse? The doctor might diagnose him with ADHD. But, what if the kids delays were really far behind – that is the kid had very large delays in social skills and motor skills? The doctor might diagnose him with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I think part (if not all) of the Autism Epidemic is caused by the SIDS Back to Sleep campaign. This is totally unrelated to plagiocephaly only that plagiocephaly could be used as a marker for how well the parents followed the SIDS Back to Sleep advice. My guess is that for every 30 boys who slept in the supine position and have plagiocephaly then 5 will be diagnosed with ADHD and 1 will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My guess is that for every 210 girls put to sleep in the supine position that 5 will eventually be diagnosed with ADHD and 1 will be diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is just my theory.

    BTW, the theoretical reason why back sleep prevents SIDS is because back sleep (aka supine sleep) does not allow an infant to get Deep Sleep (Stage 3/4 NREM sleep) which is when Babies primarily die of SIDS. Stage 3/4 NREM sleep is also when much of a babies plasticity and memory consolidation takes place. This interference with Slow Wave Sleep (SWS) may be the reason why so many infants today have social skills delays and motor skills delays.

  57. #57 LeeLeeOne
    February 12, 2009

    #7 – you get it, personal responsibility.

    how many understand this?

    personal responsibility

    personal (person)

    person (self)

    self.

    “…personal responsibility…”

    responsibility (responsible)

    responsible (response)

    “…personal responsibility…”

    self response

    “… personal responsibility…”

    self-ownership is so self-empowering!

    but how many understand this?

  58. #58 TonyC
    February 12, 2009

    Pablo: I agree – the prevalence of circumcision in the US has always been a mystery to me.

    I remember as a kid in Scotland being very confused by drawings of penises – because they were always based on a circumcised dick, versus the uncircumcised version familiar to me and most of my peers of the time! I thought I must be abnormal – my glans isn’t like that!

    But to get somewhat on topic — it’s great to see that a completely nonsensical, non-science populist movement denied validity for the simple reason that it’s claims are not supported by science.

    regarding the HIV / MC correlation in Africa – I’d need to see more definitive studies. Given the prevalence of HIV in Africa I am entirely in favor of ANY approach that reduces the incidence and spread of that dread disease. I just don’t like to see ersatz science touted as the real thing. The summary was reasonable: It seems to do some good, and we can’t see it doing any harm, so let’s try it.

  59. #59 Lowell
    February 12, 2009

    True Bob #21,

    Okay, thanks for the clairification.

  60. #60 raven
    February 12, 2009

    We’ve known what causes autism for a long time. It has a very high genetic component. The number of genes involved and what they do isn’t real clear but some studies indicate up to 100 different genes, most with small effects.

    Same thing with SZ.

  61. #61 funda62
    February 12, 2009

    Great week for vaccine supporters! While I know this will not change the view of hard line opposition I hope that people on the fence will now vax.

  62. #62 TonyC
    February 12, 2009

    regarding insurance coverage:

    I am constantly pissed off at the insane and byzantine coverage rules for most US insurance carriers (I’ve moved around a lot and have changed both job and locale many times).

    Almost every carrier supports some form of woo (why!!!!). As stated upthread, many will support viagra (whoo hoo!). You can often get support for expensive fertility treatments, but not (rarely) for fertility control. You can get support for birth, but not termination.

    In general – there seems to be a ‘go forth and multiply’ bias to what is supported and what is not.

    Make babies: good!
    No make babies: bad!

    [sarcasm]It’s a Xianist plot, I tell ya![/sarcasm]

  63. #63 Knockgoats
    February 12, 2009

    There’s and excellent book written from the point of view of a young autistic man: “The Curious Incident of the Midnight Dog”, by Mark Haddon.

    It’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” – recovering catholic

    The title is a quote from “Silver Blaze”, a Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle. I can’t find my copy, so I’m quoting from memory:

    “Is there anything else to which you would wish to draw my attention?”, asked the inspector.

    “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

    “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

    “That was the curious incident”, said Sherlock Holmes.

    /Sherlock Holmes buff

  64. #64 bofors
    February 12, 2009

    I find it interesting how the media totally misrepresents the Court’s ruling:

    Here are some headlines:

    “Vaccines didn’t cause autism, court rules” – CNN
    “Court Rules Autism Not Caused by Childhood Vaccines” – Washington Post
    “Court says vaccine is not to blame for autism” – The Associated Press 

    Contrast that with reality, the Court actual ruled that the Plaintiffs failed to prove their cases and has no idea what actually caused the autism cases in question. That is no trivial difference either, it one thing to say “failure to prove” and quite to say “did not cause”.

    Why do you ostensibly educated people tolerate or even encourage these types of serious misrepresentations by the media?

    Do you really like being lied too?

    ~bofors

    PS: Bankers own Obama and 9/11 was an Inside Job.

    AE911Truth.org
    911Blogger.com
    Infowars.com

  65. #65 SocraticGadfly
    February 12, 2009

    Per my blog, as linked by Bob Carroll at Skeptics? Dictionary, the rise in autism is probably largely due to a renaming of a syndrome in the Diagnostic and Standard Manual of Mental Disorders between DSM-III and DSM-IV.

    DSM-III has ?schizoid disorder with childhood onset.? DSM-IV has, with almost exactly the same symptoms, ?Asperger?s disorder.?

    Connect the dots from Asperger?s to autism and there you go. My blog has details.

  66. #66 bob
    February 12, 2009

    Is comment #64 for real? I forgot my tinfoil hat …

  67. #67 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    @ #64:

    Yeah, and the earth is flat after all. And lying on the back of a huuuuuuuuuuge turtle.
    Cool, huh?

  68. #68 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    I remember as a kid in Scotland being very confused by drawings of penises – because they were always based on a circumcised dick, versus the uncircumcised version familiar to me and most of my peers of the time! I thought I must be abnormal – my glans isn’t like that!

    You should hear some of the arguments that go on about circumcision here. My favorite: “Women think it looks funny.”

    Seriously, that argument has been made, and it is offensive on so many levels.

    1) That is _American_ women think it looks funny. It is clearly a cultural issue, and you won’t find this attitude in Europe (see Tony’s comments)
    2) The reason American women think it looks funny is because that is what they are used to. So basically it turns into a process of perpetuating the practice because it is the common practice. That argument doesn’t work for racial discrimination, so why should it work here? The behavior needs to be assessed on its own merits, and not just because everyone else does it.
    3) Lastly, and most signficantly, it is a very immature response. When our kids are growing up, we teach them that it is not right to judge people based on physical features they are born with. The best example I can come up with is red hair. Is it right to make fun of redheads for having red hair? Kids will do that, in fact, and when they do, we don’t respond by cutting off the red hair; we teach kids that it is not appropriate behaviour. This argument for circumcision, “Women think it looks funny” is basically a grade school approach of making fun of natural physical features. It is no more an argument for circumcision than grade school bullying is an argument for shaving the head of a red haired child (btw, we don’t even do that despite the fact that hair grows back).

  69. #69 cervantes
    February 12, 2009

    It wasn’t up to the court to decide what causes autism, so why would you expect them to make any declaration about that question? Of course they only ruled on the question before them. But the plaintiffs did not, in fact, have to prove their case to prevail, they only needed to show that it was more likely than not. Which they failed to do. But the court’s language does go beyond that and say that it is “speculative” and completely lacks evidence. Which is true. In fact, the evidence against the proposition is conclusive, but the court didn’t say so because it wasn’t asked.

    Doofus.

  70. #70 TonyC
    February 12, 2009

    Pablo – re being uncircumcised…

    I came to terms with it eventually – my perspective is that since I still have my foreskin, I can legitimately say that my penis is bigger than any (equivalent) American penis

  71. #71 Katkinkate
    February 12, 2009

    Posted by: True Bob @ 14 “He’s very smart, he loves chimpanzees and young children, and is misanthropic in the extreme.”

    Perhaps you mean philanthropic? A lover of people, rather than a hater of people.

    Hasn’t autism/aspergers been linked to high IQ families. I thought I heard a radio program that talked of evidence of a higher rates of this in families of scientists, engineers and computer specialists, which suggested it was closely linked to high IQ or high mathmatic ability and probably X chromosome linked cause more boys than girls get it.

  72. #72 TonyC
    February 12, 2009

    Pablo – re American attitudes & red hair.

    My 13 year old has red hair and is uncircumcised! Maybe we should just dip him in an acid bath to satisfy all the unthinking idiots? [/snark]

  73. #73 awise
    February 12, 2009

    Regardless of any connection between autism and vaccines in general, isn’t thimerosal highly toxic, particularly in infants who cannot metabolize it at all? Why is it that when mercury is an active ingredient, the medication requires extensive warning labeling, but not when it is used as a preservative? It’s possible to trust the practice and principle of childhood vaccination while remaining skeptical about the conscientiousness of the pharmaceutical industry.

    Research remains generally inconclusive on any link between cell phone use and brain cancer. There are legit studies on both sides. Some indicate that tumors begin to grow from the outside in. Others dismiss any connection. I would really like to know more about this.

    The situation with GM foods is similar. It is one thing to modify maize to improve crop yields, quite another to start monocropping that variety, and another still to alter maize to produce a drug. Cross contamination has and is occurring in places.

    In short, I think it’s not unreasonable to be generally wary about the profit motive behind any scientific advance and the potential for long term repercussions from any sudden, widespread change. I remember when shoe stores had x-ray machines so that you could check your fit.

  74. #74 Helfrick
    February 12, 2009

    @bofors

    It must be because we are sheeple.

    Crawl back under your bridge troll.

  75. #75 Blue Fielder
    February 12, 2009

    I call Poe (or whatever the tin-hat equivalent is) on #64.

  76. #76 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    #64 forgot to tell us about the Lizard People that are controlling the Zionist world domination plot.

  77. #77 Katkinkate
    February 12, 2009

    Sorry True Bob, I missed your later post first scan through.

  78. #78 B
    February 12, 2009

    this is the lone comment from the Paging Dr. Gupta blog. it’s really sad on a lot of levels. this woman is basically guaranteeing herself a lifetime of resentment and what-ifs. i guess this is the emotional side of the issue that the antivaxers exploited.

    “Peter my son has autism and I do believe that the vaccines are to blame for his autism.
    This is why: Have you ever taken a medication for High Blood Pressure or an infection, have you read the information packet that comes with the medication. All medications have a risk for a possible side effect. So why do they continue to say that the vaccines have no possible side effects, I find that hard to believe. No amount of money will give me back my child so I will never put my sons name behind a law suit.
    All I want is for them to find a way that no other parent will have to go thru what my daughter and I go thru on a day to day basis. Having a family member with autism is not an easy life.
    Somebody has to stop this. If not for my family but for the family who is today being blessed with the most precious gift of all a son or a daughter.
    Thank You For Letting Me Have My Say On This Matter”

  79. #79 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    So why do they continue to say that the vaccines have no possible side effects,

    It is sad, but she’s a great example of people only hearing what they want to hear. NO ONE says that vaccines have zero possible side effects. It’s just that one of the possible side effect is not Autism. At least as far as every piece of evidence based research shows.

    Yet that’s what she is hearing.

  80. #80 WRMartin
    February 12, 2009

    Cervantes, I believe you misspelled ?Doofus? ? it should be ?bofors?.
    Bofors, if you aren?t a Poe then what Helfrick said. If you are then you should be clearer next time. 9/11 truthers morons bofors won?t get much respect here. Take it back to whatever bridge or ditch you?re from.

    P.S. Who gave the crazy, talking to themselves on the street, asylum escapees Internet access anyway?

  81. #81 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    Who says vaccines have no possible side effects?

    Man, when my baby was vaccinated a couple of weeks ago, we got a whole list of things to watch out for. Fortunately, aside from a couple hours of low-grade fever (below 100 F), he was fine. Didn’t even seem to have tenderness near the injection site.

  82. #82 Dianne
    February 12, 2009

    Why is it that when mercury is an active ingredient, the medication requires extensive warning labeling,

    Erm, medications containing mercury as an active ingredient? Which ones? I’m not aware of any medications currently in use containing a significant amount of mercury. Apart from the occasional ‘traditional chinese medicine’, of course.

  83. #83 SEF
    February 12, 2009

    Regardless of any connection between autism and vaccines in general, isn’t thimerosal highly toxic

    Thimerosal was removed from pediatric vaccines. Rates of autism did not subsequently go down. Ergo it was never the thimerosal. Ditto places which never had such vaccines.

    It has been clearly established that the key factor was merely the invention of autism as something people could be said to have at all. Before the invention of autism, no-one “had” autism. Before that, people would variously have been thick, stupid, slow or whatever their village might like to label them as being.

    Incidentally, on the reality-based side of a multi-factorial genetic cause, it’s not until relatively recently in human societies that smart people got so much opportunity to identify, marry and breed with other smart people. So more high risk genes could be meeting each other than ever before.

  84. #84 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    Regardless of any connection between autism and vaccines in general, isn’t thimerosal highly toxic, particularly in infants who cannot metabolize it at all?

    Citation needed. And the dose makes the poison awise. EVERYTHING is poisonous at the right (or wrong) dose.

    Why is it that when mercury is an active ingredient, the medication requires extensive warning labeling, but not when it is used as a preservative?

    Citation needed again.

  85. #85 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 12, 2009

    The whole thimerosal discussion is essentially over. Other than flu vaccines, they have been removed from childhood vaccines. And guess what. No change in reported autism. Case closed.

  86. #86 Kate
    February 12, 2009

    Re: Circumcision

    I think they look funny with their turtle-necks off…

    Oddly enough, though I live in North America (Canada), most of my partners have been born in Europe. The first time I saw a man who had been “cut”, I expressed disappointment and sympathy.

    The guy just didn’t get it, and thought I was a “freak” for preferring the natural penis to one that had been butchered unnecessarily. I explained that he had had his genital mutilated, and that some very sensitive and fun-to-play-with parts of his anatomy had been stolen from him.

    He still thought I was weird. *shrug*

  87. #87 Benzion N. Chinn
    February 12, 2009

    I am someone with Asperger Syndrome and over the past few years I have become involved with autism advocacy. Fighting against those who claim that vaccinations cause autism is a major issue on my front. There are many things on this blog that I would disagree with, but I do wish to thank you for this post.

  88. #88 JWC
    February 12, 2009

    #22 Keenacat:

    Phimosis is treatable with steroid creams (firsthand experience here). Also, there are less intrusive options for treatment of more extreme cases. Circumcision may have been the best way to prevent it 100 years ago but, like so many things, there’s new ways of doing it. Circumcision is way to overused and phimosis isn’t something that’s guaranteed to happen. Your logic would have us removing the appendix of every newborn and without anesthetic I might add.

  89. #89 Pablo
    February 12, 2009

    JWC – Keenacat wasn’t suggesting prophylactic circumcision, but just as treatment (the comparison to preventative appendicitis isn’t fair to him). I’m glad to hear there are topical treatments, too.

  90. #90 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    @ JWC:
    Ok, there are two options:
    Either, my english is still so bad that I’m unable to express myself properly or you didn’t read the whole dialogue with Pablo.

    I NEVER advocated circumsizing every newborn (in fact, I didn’t even get the idea that this is actually common in the US). I merely got Pablo totally wrong assuming he thought circumcision was never, ever an option and pointed him to phimosis as an indication for said procedure (and, as an interesting side note, to the WHO-campaign regarding HIV). I’m not saying every case of phimosis should be circumcised, much less am I saying this should be in any way mandatory for preventing it. That would be bollocks anyway since phimosis and the fusion of glans and preputium are natural for newborns and usually loosen until puberty.
    Paraphimosis with blood flow impairment on the other hand should be treated immediately.

    You got me so wrong, its almost painful.

  91. #91 Keenacat
    February 12, 2009

    (Besides, I’m a girl. And I’m with Kate some way up.)

  92. #92 Robert
    February 12, 2009

    It’s nice to see science and evidence trumping emotional appeals. Still, I am very sorry for the parents.

    I have twin children with autism. They were immunised, as per Australian medical recommendations, several times over their first four years. Every time I hear a story on “vaccines cause autism”, my first immediate and overwhelming reaction is guilt.

    I know the science and believe the science. My second reaction is annoyance at myself and anger for the media company putting their spin on the story. But I can’t stop that guilt feeling.

    If I was less educated, or anti-science already, so that I didn’t trust the science, then I think that guilt would drive me to lash out the way those parents did. I fully understand where they are coming from, and urge them to move on from the guilt.

    (A religious viewpoint here doesn’t help, I think; look it from a fundie view: Either God caused the autism (to punish me), or those Big Nasty Satanic Scientists did. So it’s either my fault or theirs, and I don’t want it to be my fault! I’m a good person! And in a universe controlled by a deity who condemns people to hell for masturbation, there’s no chance of accident.)

    About all I can suggest for those parents is – just let go of the guilt. It won’t help.

    I’m a parent of autistic children, and vaccines do not cause autism.

  93. #93 SocraticGadfly
    February 12, 2009

    Big Dumb Chimp @ 84:

    Source?
    1. Civic religion;
    2. Archives of the Bildebergers (C’mon, EVERYbody knows thimerosal is part of the takeover plot!);
    3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (you just need to buy some Utah-made supplements.).
    4. The Spanish Inquisition!

  94. #94 rgz
    February 12, 2009

    It completely bafles me that someone can be against vaccines.

  95. #95 JWC
    February 12, 2009

    #90 Keenacat:

    You’re right, I read too much into that. Sorry you felt bad about it! Newborn circumcision is so common here, I just assumed. I’m sure there are situations where circumcision is required, hopefully as a last resort. Newborn circumcision just ticks me off. The HIV thing is suspect to me; I’ve not read much about it but I think HIV research has plenty of bad science in it. There’s two great ways to get science funding in the past 20 years: say it is about global warming or HIV.

  96. #96 Azkyroth
    February 12, 2009

    @18 Often one of the characteristics of children with autism is a sort of misanthropy, as they find it difficult to interact with other people.
    There’s and excellent book written from the point of view of a young autistic man: “The Curious Incident of the Midnight Dog”, by Mark Haddon. I found it helped me understand a bit how an autistic person feels and acts, and why they do so.

    It doesn’t help when you aren’t properly diagnosed until you’re 23, therefore you default to “they’re stupid and shallow” as an explanation for why the people around you can’t keep up with your explanations of complicated subjects and consider specific permutations of various weird ritual gestures to be overwhelmingly important.

    Someday I’m going to write a book…I’m still working on the title, but it’s going to be something about “Understanding” and “Early Infantile Neurotypicalism.”

  97. #97 JWC
    February 12, 2009

    #92 Robert: Unfortunately it’s very easy to make parents of kids with any sort of problem (cancer, autism, hell even broken limbs) feel guilty about not being omniscient. Wish people (esp. the media) would be a little more aware of that and not spout out unfounded BS. People are sensitive about their kids.

  98. #98 Mu
    February 12, 2009

    Robert,

    I can so feel with you. Even being fully aware of the uselessness of the debate, knowing the science and the data, I nearly jumped all over my wife when she took our 2 year old for a standard, thimerasol containing flue shot. The nagging “what if it’s true after all” feeling is so hard to fight.
    So maybe I could make the argument that, since one can of tuna has more mercury than all the vaccinations combined, we shouldn’t have tuna salad for lunch anymore. There has to be a plus side.

  99. #99 Pocket Nerd
    February 12, 2009

    I’m sure the anti-vaxxers will respond the same way the DI did to the Dover defeat: “Science is not done by judicial fiat!!” Cue whining about activist judges with an agenda, et c.

  100. #100 BA
    February 12, 2009

    As to age of diagnosis and early appearance of symptoms, researchers in Italy showed that early signs (e.g., joint attention deficits, receptive language deficits) were present in first birthday party home videos. Even earlier signs have been detected by a group at Yale. They show that children as young as 6 months, who are subsequently diagnosed with autism, differentially attend to mouths rather than eyes. I think many, if not all, of these children in the Yale research are at risk of developing autism via having an affected sibling. So early signs are there and speculation that a child is born with differences that are only detected later in development is probably warranted.

  101. #101 Pocket Nerd
    February 12, 2009

    I’m sure the anti-vaxxers will respond the same way the DI did to the Dover defeat: “Science is not done by judicial fiat!!” Cue whining about activist judges with an agenda, et c.

  102. #102 Dr.James LaPuke
    February 12, 2009

    This is great! Can we now get back to injecting infants with levels of organic mercury hundreds of times higher than all government safety limits? I hope so. My profits have really takena hit.

  103. #103 Steve_C
    February 12, 2009

    There’s more mercury in breast milk if the mother eats fish consistently.

  104. #104 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    This is great! Can we now get back to injecting infants with levels of organic mercury hundreds of times higher than all government safety limits? I hope so. My profits have really takena hit.

    Once again, sigh

    Citation please

  105. #105 John Phillips, FCD
    February 12, 2009

    Dr. James LaPuke: How would you plan to go about that. After all, apart from some flu shots only for use on those over two years old, no paediatric vaccines have any Thiomersal in them nowadays. It having been removed around the turn of the Century in the US and yet Autism rates have not fallen after the removal, irrespective of which country you care to look at.

  106. #106 Natalie
    February 12, 2009

    102 – new trolls please. Obviously debunked arguments are boring. Spice up my workday, damnit!

  107. #107 awise
    February 12, 2009

    Thanks for the replies. Having done more reading, I see that I was confused between methylmercury (which cannot be metabolized by infants under six months because the liver develops in that time) and ethylmercury (which results from thimerosal and leaves the body faster). There’s a relevant article here: http://children.webmd.com/vaccines/news/20080130/vaccine-mercury-leaves-blood-fast but note that there’s still a bit of equivocation because the mechanism is not well understood.

    Mercury has been an active ingredient in various skin care products, antiseptics, eye drops, laxatives, contraceptives: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/121498e.txt but there has been a big push to stop using it, including in dentistry, because of its (neuro)toxicity. Of course, that was known well before 1994, and preservatives are largely unnecessary for many vaccines since they are typically used immediately after opening. Causes autism? No. Good to have used it in vaccines in the first place? No.

  108. #108 SEF
    February 12, 2009

    you default to “they’re stupid and shallow” as an explanation for why the people around you can’t keep up …

    But they are stupid and shallow – at least the vast majority are to an extent which is so significant that it serves very well as a first approximation default.

  109. #109 clinteas
    February 12, 2009

    PZ,I love your anti-vax threats,they bring out the best wooists by far…..

  110. #110 Dave
    February 12, 2009

    I have an autistic 16 year old son. My wife and I would do anything to help him. We try very hard along with wonderful teachers to give him an education that will alow him to survive healthy and happy in this world. Along with that we love him just as he is.
    Everything about him, his pacing, rocking, humming and absurdly “literal” questions that just about drive me mad. He is the best part of my day. He is also one of the most cheerful funny people I know and he also can beat his Dad at chess without any difficulty.
    One of the things they teach my son at his school is to know and accept himself as he is. I am always amazed with the bravery, humor and dignity the kids have have in that respect. They are far stronger than the parents. There are things he can do and things he has trouble with. Thats life and that’s true of all of us.
    It’s important to love your kids not look for someone to blame. Your kids are who they are. Face up to it.

  111. #111 Africangenesis
    February 12, 2009

    Dave#110,

    What chess openings does he play? Does he study chess books?

  112. #112 Azkyroth
    February 12, 2009

    But they are stupid and shallow – at least the vast majority are to an extent which is so significant that it serves very well as a first approximation default.

    Yes, but it’s kind of like getting lost, stopping to ask for directions, and being told that your present location is “in a minivan.” Even if it’s true, it doesn’t tell you anything useful.

  113. #113 Azkyroth
    February 12, 2009

    Let me just throw in a plug for early childhood intervention and ABA therapy. This is a child who was completely nonverbal and who refused to be held by anyone but her mother at 21 months.

  114. #114 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 12, 2009

    Awise

    Of course, that was known well before 1994, and preservatives are largely unnecessary for many vaccines since they are typically used immediately after opening.

    I’m not sure where you keep pulling this information from.

    From the FDA

    Preservatives are compounds that kill or prevent the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungi. They are used in vaccines to prevent bacterial or fungal growth in the event that the vaccine is accidentally contaminated, as might occur with repeated puncture of multi-dose vials. Vaccines, both in the United States and throughout other parts of the world, are commonly packaged in multi-dose vials. In some cases, preservatives are added during manufacture to prevent microbial growth; with changes in manufacturing technology, however, the need to add preservatives during the manufacturing process has decreased markedly.
    Preservatives have been used in vaccines for over 70 years. The requirement for a preservative in multi-dose, multi-entry vials was placed into the Code of Federal Regulations (21 CFR 610.15) in January 1968. There are exceptions to this requirement for preservative, primarily involving the live-attenuated viral vaccines.
    The general need for preservatives in multi-dose vials has been underscored by cases in which multi-dose vials that did not contain preservatives become contaminated during use and caused fatal infections in vaccine recipients; cf. the Narrative Section on Thimerosal.

    Seems that while the need is reduced they are still needed and not really for the reason you stated above.

    Causes autism? No. Good to have used it in vaccines in the first place? No.

    Again, the dose makes the poison.

    Available data has been reviewed in several public forums including the Workshop on Thimerosal, held in Bethesda in August 1999 and sponsored by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, two meetings of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the CDC, held in October 1999 and June 2000, and by the Institute of Medicine’s Immunization Safety Review Committee in July 2001 and February 2004. Data reviewed did not demonstrate convincing evidence of toxicity from doses of thimerosal used in vaccines. In case reports of accidental high-dose exposures in humans to thimerosal or ethyl mercury toxicity was demonstrated only at exposures that were 100 or 1000 times that found in vaccines.

    ——————-

    In 2004, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee again examined the hypothesis that vaccines, specifically the MMR vaccines and thimerosal containing vaccines, are causally associated with autism. In this report, the committee incorporated new epidemiological evidence from the U.S., Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, and studies of biologic mechanisms related to vaccines and autism that had become available since its report in 2001. The committee concluded that this body of evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism, and that hypotheses generated to date concerning a biological mechanism for such causality are theoretical only. Further, the committee stated that the benefits of vaccination are proven and the hypothesis of susceptible populations is presently speculative, and that widespread rejection of vaccines would lead to increases in incidences of serious infectious diseases like measles, whooping cough and Hib bacterial meningitis

    Looks like the motivating factor here is not the thimerosol but the worry that people will unnecessarily freak out about the scare of mercury in vaccines and refuse to vaccinate their kids leading to outbreaks in the very things that the vaccinations protect against. Something that has proven to be true. Unfortunately it has also been proven true that it isn’t about the mercury as the anti-vax morons continually shift what they claim is the cause of autism from the vaccines. Mercury > schedule > aluminum > etc…

  115. #115 DLC
    February 12, 2009

    I’m reminded of the “It’s not Lupus” mashup from Fox Tv’s “House” that someone posted on Youtube.
    someone: “It’s the vaccine”
    House: “It’s not the vaccine”
    repeat.

  116. #116 Ichthyic
    February 12, 2009

    Mercury has been an active ingredient in various skin care products, antiseptics, eye drops, laxatives, contraceptives: http://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/121498e.txt but there has been a big push to stop using it, including in dentistry, because of its (neuro)toxicity. Of course, that was known well before 1994, and preservatives are largely unnecessary for many vaccines since they are typically used immediately after opening. Causes autism? No. Good to have used it in vaccines in the first place? No.

    you’re gonna be REALLY freaked out when you start researching the neurotoxicity of lead compounds.

    hurry! go scare yourself some more!

    then come back here so we can chuckle and give you the next heavy metal scare to research.

    your inevitable conclusion will be:

    living is bad for your health.

  117. #117 awise
    February 13, 2009

    I’m sure all of that is perfectly correct. I’m just saying that anti-vax is not like other woo. There really are objective problems involved.
    – Pharmaceutical companies and governments can lie. It’s been known to happen.
    – Infants do not yet have all their systems in place, may have undiagnosed allergies, may already have elevated levels of heavy metals for whatever reason. (For toxicity, the method of administration can be more important than the dosage.)
    – The mechanisms and pathways of mercury poisoning are still poorly understood.
    – The fact that mercury has largely been phased out of medicine demonstrates that it wasn’t necessary in those products. Single dose vials can be recycled. Doctors using multi-dose vials should maintain proper sterile technique or discard the unused doses.

    It’s not the same as, “I had a funny feeling just now… a ghost/goblin/god must be watching me.” Same with the Truthers (though less so). I can sort of sympathize because there was that ignored “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” memo, all that color-coded alert nonsense, the absurd lies about Iraq, and so forth. No, they didn’t blow up the WTC, but given what a nasty bunch of scoundrels they are, it takes less hyperbole to suggest such a thing than I’m comfortable with.

    Anti-vax is wrong but not at the level of, “All the fossils are fakes!” or, “Magical Jesus can be your special friend, too!” It’s good to be skeptical about medical science, which, in its way, is vastly more complex than even quantum mechanics. At least conditions for qm experiments can be reliably replicated. In medicine, each patient is subtly different. Anti-vax is symptomatic of the much larger problem about transparency in the course of the public good, and not dismissible as merely stupid people being stupid.

  118. #118 clinteas
    February 13, 2009

    @ 117,

    I’m just saying that anti-vax is not like other woo

    Incorrect.Anti-vaxxers exhibit exactly the same traits as creationists ,namely the conscious lying and distorting,shifting goalposts,refusing evidence.

    Anti-vax is wrong but not at the level of, “All the fossils are fakes!

    Yes,exactly at that level.And put forth with the same religious fervor.

    It’s good to be skeptical about medical science, which, in its way, is vastly more complex than even quantum mechanics

    Rubbish.

    The mechanisms and pathways of mercury poisoning are still poorly understood.

    Incorrect.Took 2 seconds of googling.
    http://rais.ornl.gov/tox/profiles/mercury_c_V1.shtml

    Do you have a point here awise?

  119. #119 Azkyroth
    February 13, 2009

    awise

    [Citation Needed]

  120. #120 swangeese
    February 13, 2009

    @26

    I think that a better phrasing might be a lack of empathy.

    I’m an Aspie and while I can understand my own emotions, for some reason I can’t translate that over to other people. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I don’t understand it. My brain cannot process it at all.

    It’s kind of like going into a foreign country. You have a few phrases in the local language memorized or you have a book, but when something goes off script you are lost.

    And when I get frustrated I have a tendency to state my opinion in the strongest way possible. Which usually makes people go “uh ok” and back away slowly. It doesn’t help that I also love shocking neurotypicals because their reactions amuse me.

    Anyway to add to the ancedotal evidence pile, my mom didn’t notice a difference after vaccination.

    I do wish that people wouldn’t be so patronizing to autistic people. I’m different, not broken.

  121. #121 Azkyroth
    February 13, 2009

    I’m an Aspie and while I can understand my own emotions, for some reason I can’t translate that over to other people. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I don’t understand it. My brain cannot process it at all.

    My observation has been that “how would I feel/what would I do in the same situation” offers little to no insight into how Neuromajoritals are likely to respond to what I say or do.

  122. #122 Ichthyic
    February 13, 2009

    Pharmaceutical companies and governments can lie. It’s been known to happen.
    – Infants do not yet have all their systems in place, may have undiagnosed allergies, may already have elevated levels of heavy metals for whatever reason. (For toxicity, the method of administration can be more important than the dosage.)
    – The mechanisms and pathways of mercury poisoning are still poorly understood.
    – The fact that mercury has largely been phased out of medicine demonstrates that it wasn’t necessary in those products. Single dose vials can be recycled. Doctors using multi-dose vials should maintain proper sterile technique or discard the unused doses.

    try this on for size:

    just because something is POSSIBLE, does not mean it is PLAUSIBLE.

    and:

    CORRELATION != CAUSATION

    get past those two, and we’ll talk.

  123. #123 awise
    February 13, 2009

    I hope it’s clear to all that I have not in any way been defending anti-vax on its merits. RAIS is a great site. Note though the number of times it reports “no data” or “unavailable.” I was referring specifically to the lack of information about mechanics that may lead to neurological exposure in infants as mentioned in the first article at #107. If that is now well understood, I haven’t seen anything about it.

    But I was only making this one point:

    Show me a reasonable, intelligent person with a modern high school level science education. Have that person read Genesis for the first time ever and then ask them if they think any of it is true. The answer has to be “no.”

    Now give that same person this article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/ and ask how much of it is true. I am saying this person will find that answer less than immediately obvious for reasons stated earlier.

  124. #124 libbyblue
    February 13, 2009

    @BA #100:

    can you provide citations for that? as an aspie adult with autistic cousins, i can think of several people who would be interested in those findings. unfortunately, my school does not have access to many medical journals, so i can’t easily browse for non-public info. :-/

    for the record, i’m good with idioms and written language. it’s the talking, the body language, the intentional head-fuckery so many people practice that give me trouble. give me one or two tolerably-intelligent, forthright people, and i can communicate quite well. (a lot of people who think they’re stupid are smarter than they think, so this is more an indictment of dissemblers than of those who can’t talk pretty.) add more people, more lying, or more sensory input and i can’t think anymore. some days i definitely have my christopher (curious incident main character) moments when i try to deal with the subway.

  125. #125 MartinM
    February 13, 2009

    Show me a reasonable, intelligent person with a modern high school level science education. Have that person read Genesis for the first time ever and then ask them if they think any of it is true. The answer has to be “no.”

    Now give that same person this article: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/ and ask how much of it is true. I am saying this person will find that answer less than immediately obvious for reasons stated earlier.

    Give the same person an article on ID, and I wonder what the results will be.

  126. #126 MartinM
    February 13, 2009

    I do wish that people wouldn’t be so patronizing to autistic people. I’m different, not broken.

    Not to mention my personal favourite, those wonderful parents (typically anti-vax) who talk of how their perfect, precious child was ‘stolen.’ So who’s the little bugger standing right next to you, you daft sods?

    Oh, BTW, can anyone tell me if vaccines are covered by health insurance in the US?

  127. #127 Monado
    February 13, 2009

    I was completely amazed and disgusted to be offered insurance coverage that excluded acts of war, riot, natural disaster, etc. — and anything to do with pregnancy! I felt it was just part of a misogynistic attitude that made anything to do with women abnormal and requiring “special privileges” — as if pregnancy were an Act of God and not a normal part of life. Why not exclude everything to do with cars or plastic surgery or skiing or handling dogs?

    During the same era I was working in an organization that was reluctant to hire women because they would get pregnant, but found nothing odd in having a company ski chalet where men could (and did!) break a bone and have to take time off to recover.

  128. #128 Natalie
    February 13, 2009

    Martin M @ 126, it depends on the insurance policy and insurance provider, and also depends on the vaccine. Some insurance companies will cover all vaccines, some will cover certain ones and not others, some will cover vaccines for children only, and so on. As far as I’m aware, there is a federal program or perhaps a combination of federal and state programs that provide standard childhood vaccines to children whose parents can’t afford them.

  129. #129 Peter Ashby
    February 13, 2009

    Tom your point about infants sleeping on their backs was interesting. i was not aware that it worked by stopping the entry to deep sleep, do you have a ref for that?

    As for it being responsible for a rise in autism, I would have thought the timing was all wrong. Our two were both born prior to the injunction to sleep them on their backs. I remember watching the eldest asleep in here first week, on her front and seeing her lift her head and move from facing left to facing right. All the child development books and tables said that was not possible.

    I would agree that stopping infants entering stage3/4 sleep would seem to be a bad thing, if it’s true.

  130. #130 Pablo
    February 13, 2009

    I would agree that stopping infants entering stage3/4 sleep would seem to be a bad thing, if it’s true.

    So what to do? Put them back on their tummies and risk a 5 times increase in the number of SIDS?

    That’s right – since moving to sleeping on their backs, the incidence of SIDS has dropped by 80%

    BTW, Tom wasn’t suggesting that sleeping on their back led to autism, just to slower development that could be confused with signs of autism.

  131. #131 Peter Ashby
    February 13, 2009

    So what to do? Put them back on their tummies and risk a 5 times increase in the number of SIDS?

    No, find other interventions that are not in themselves harmful or research better testing to detect those at risk of SCIDS. This does not have to be a zero sum game.

  132. #132 BA
    February 13, 2009

    For Libbyblue:

    As a tip to get access to published studies if you have no access to a journal, I’ve found that most authors are willing to send an reprint with a politely worded request for one. I always try and reply promptly to such requests as do most researchers I’ve contacted.

    The Yale work has not yet been published but I’ve seen the data in oral presentations. I believe the work is currently being written up. It was primarily carried out by Ami Klin and Warren Jones at the Yale Child Study Center. I’ve pasted in an abstract to an earlier study with 2 year olds:

    Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008 Aug;65(8):946-54. Links
    Absence of preferential looking to the eyes of approaching adults predicts level of social disability in 2-year-old toddlers with autism spectrum disorder.Jones W, Carr K, Klin A.
    Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, 230 S Frontage Rd, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

    CONTEXT: Within the first week of life, typical human newborns give preferential attention to the eyes of others. Similar findings in other species suggest that attention to the eyes is a highly conserved phylogenetic mechanism of social development. For children with autism, however, diminished and aberrant eye contact is a lifelong hallmark of disability. OBJECTIVE: To quantify preferential attention to the eyes of others at what is presently the earliest point of diagnosis in autism. DESIGN: We presented the children with 10 videos. Each video showed an actress looking directly into the camera, playing the role of caregiver, and engaging the viewer (playing pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, etc). Children’s visual fixation patterns were measured by eye tracking. PARTICIPANTS: Fifteen 2-year-old children with autism were compared with 36 typically developing children and with 15 developmentally delayed but nonautistic children. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE: Preferential attention was measured as percentage of visual fixation time to 4 regions of interest: eyes, mouth, body, and object. Level of social disability was assessed by the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. RESULTS: Looking at the eyes of others was significantly decreased in 2-year-old children with autism (P < .001), while looking at mouths was increased (P < .01) in comparison with both control groups. The 2 control groups were not distinguishable on the basis of fixation patterns. In addition, fixation on eyes by the children with autism correlated with their level of social disability; less fixation on eyes predicted greater social disability (r = -0.669, P < .01). CONCLUSIONS: Looking at the eyes of others is important in early social development and in social adaptation throughout one’s life span. Our results indicate that in 2-year-old children with autism, this behavior is already derailed, suggesting critical consequences for development but also offering a potential biomarker for quantifying syndrome manifestation at this early age.

    PMID: 18678799 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    There are a few studies with the home movies, here are two of the more recent ones, they cite all the old work:

    Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006 Jan;113(1):68-72. Links
    A view to regressive autism through home movies. Is early development really normal?Maestro S, Muratori F, Cesari A, Pecini C, Apicella F, Stern D.
    Department of Developmental Neurosciences, Scientific Institute Stella Maris, University of Pisa, Calambrone (Pisa), Italy.

    OBJECTIVE: To describe early development of children with regressive autism. METHOD: Home movies from the first 18 months of life of three groups of children with early onset autism (EOA), regressive autism (RA) and typical development (TD) were rated through the Grid for Attention in Infants in three age ranges. Different ANOVA and post hoc-tests were conducted on frequencies of behaviours. RESULTS: Differently from TD, for both RA and EOA non-social attention is higher than social attention across ages. While EOA is characterized by an early deficit in social attention, in RA social attention increases until the first birthday when its decrease proceeds at the same rate as the increase of non-social attention. CONCLUSION: We hypothesize that the intense interest towards objects can be the first sign of an atypical development also in RA; this distinguishing feature lead us to believe that regression, based on the assumption of a previous normal development, is only apparent.

    PMID: 16390373 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Psychopathology. 2005 Jan-Feb;38(1):26-31. Epub 2005 Feb 15. Links
    Course of autism signs in the first year of life.Maestro S, Muratori F, Cesari A, Cavallaro MC, Paziente A, Pecini C, Grassi C, Manfredi A, Sommario C.
    Division of Child Neuropsychiatry, Scientific Institute Stella Maris, Pisa University, Pisa, Italy.

    Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are thought to be present right from birth, even if a minority of children displays a normal course during infancy followed by a regression during the second year of life. However, established criteria are not yet available to differentiate these different courses of ASD, and data coming from different sources have not yet been organized into a clear definition. The aim of this study was to elucidate the time of onset, as well as type, frequency and stability of symptoms during the first year of life in ASD. The behavioral summarized evaluation scale, applied to 40 home movies of children later diagnosed as having ASD, showed that most of the subjects (87.5%) display symptoms within the first year of life, when only a small group (12.5%) is completely symptom free. A group of more rated symptoms was found, constituting a typical pattern characterized by being withdrawn, and displaying poor social initiative, hypoactivity, and lack of emotional modulation. The importance of these findings is discussed in relation to early diagnosis and treatment.

    PMID: 15731570 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    Best of luck to you, just remember all those people out there that want to support you doing the best you can for yourself and pay less attention to those that are only looking out for themselves.

  133. #133 Tom
    February 13, 2009

    Pablo wrote:
    “BTW, Tom wasn’t suggesting that sleeping on their back led to autism, just to slower development that could be confused with signs of autism.”
    Exactly. I think there is no commonality (except some similar symptoms) between PDD-NOS Autism and Classical Autism and/or Asperger’s Syndrome. BTW, taking into account that correlation does not equal causality and the expansion of awareness/criteria the following statistics are interesting*:

    8 year olds in the year 2000 (born in 1992) = 10,055 with Autism
    8 year old in the year 2007 (born in 1999) = 24, 669 with Autism (146% Increase)

    Infants that slept on their backs in 1992 = 13.0%
    Infants that slept on their backs in 1999 = 65.7% (405% Increase)

    *IDEA and NISP data

    “Tom your point about infants sleeping on their backs was interesting. i was not aware that it worked by stopping the entry to deep sleep, do you have a ref for that?”

    I have plenty of sources and a quote from Dr. Raphael Pelayo of Stanford below the sources which outlines his concerns too:

    In a currently utilized model that explains the process in which slow wave sleep is involved in memory consolidation the hippocampus acts as a temporary storage facility for new memories which are then transferred to the neocortex during slow wave sleep (SWS) [8]. In this model, acetylcholine acts a feedback loop inhibitor inside the hippocampus during REM sleep and wakefulness. The activity during the high cholinergic wakefulness period is believed to provide an environment which allows for the encoding within the hippocampus of new declarative memories. The low cholinergic environment during SWS is thought to then allow these memories to be transferred from the temporary storage of the hippocampus to their permanent storage environment in the neocortex and for memory consolidation [9, 10].

    A significant way of decreasing slow wave sleep in infants is by changing their sleeping position from prone to supine. It has been shown in studies of preterm infants [11, 12], full-term infants [13, 14], and older infants [15], that they have greater time periods of quiet sleep and also decreased time awake when they are positioned to sleep in the prone position.

    8. Hasselmo, M.E. 1999. Neuromodulation: Acetylcholine and memory consolidation. Trends Cogn. Sci. 3: 351?359.
    9. Buzsáki, G. 1989. Two-stage model of memory trace formation: A role for ?noisy? brain states. Neuroscience 31: 551?570.
    10. Hasselmo, M.E. 1999. Neuromodulation: Acetylcholine and memory consolidation. Trends Cogn. Sci. 3: 351?359.
    11. Myers MM, Fifer WP, Schaeffer L, et al. Effects of sleeping position and time after feeding on the organization of sleep/wake states in prematurely born infants. Sleep 1998;21:343?9.
    12. Sahni R, Saluja D, Schulze KF, et al. Quality of diet, body position, and time after feeding influence behavioral states in low birth weight infants. Pediatr Res 2002;52:399?404.
    13. Brackbill Y, Douthitt TC, West H. Psychophysiologic effects in the neonate of prone versus supine placement. J Pediatr 1973;82:82?4.
    14. Amemiya F, Vos JE, Prechtl HF. Effects of prone and supine position on heart rate, respiratory rate and motor activity in full term infants. Brain Dev 1991;3:148?54.
    15. Kahn A, Rebuffat E, Sottiaux M, et al. Arousal induced by proximal esophageal reflux in infants. Sleep 1991;14:39?42.

    Quote by Dr. Raphael Pelayo of Stanford (source below):
    ?The potential implications of a SIDS risk-reduction strategy
    that is based on a combination of maintaining a low
    arousal threshold and reducing quiet (equivalent to
    slow-wave sleep) in infants must be considered. Because
    SWS is considered the most restorative form
    of sleep and is believed to have a significant role in
    neurocognitive processes and learning, as well as in
    growth, what might be the neurodevelopmental consequences
    of chronically reducing deep sleep in the first
    critical 12 months of life??

    Reply by U.S. SIDS Task Force (source below):
    “MECHANISM OF SIDS AND THE RELATIONSHIP TO SLEEP
    The most current information regarding the etiology of SIDS indicates that, at least for some of these deaths, there is a developmental abnormality in the serotonergic network in the brainstem, which results in the failure to arouse or respond to life-threatening stressors such as asphyxia and hypercapnia when asleep? Although supine sleepers are more likely to attain certain gross motor milestones later than prone sleepers, this delay is within normal limits and is no longer apparent at 1 year of age. In addition, these differences in motor development are not apparent when awake ?tummy time? is used.?

    Bed Sharing With Unimpaired Parents Is Not an Important Risk for Sudden
    Infant Death Syndrome: To the Editor
    DOI: 10.1542/peds.2005-2748
    Pediatrics 2006;117;993-994
    Rafael Pelayo, Judith Owens, Jodi Mindell and Stephen Sheldon
    Infant Death Syndrome: To the Editor

    BTW, Pacifiers also inhibit Slow Wave Sleep. In addition, when the SIDS Task force says that “Tummy Time” mitigates the negative effects they only cite one study. In that study all babies were back sleepers to begin with and then tehy later (at 4 months) compared them. So, it really isn’t a true study.

  134. #134 Tom
    February 13, 2009

    BTW, I have a blog too for anyone interested. Basically, I say part of the Autism Epidemic could possibly be due to 3 main factors coalescing in the 1980’s-1990’s:
    (1) The SIDS Back to Sleep campaign which began in 1992
    (2) *The 500% decrease in tonsillectomies in the U.S. between 1965 and 1985 (CDC data) (From about a million a year prior to 1965 to about 200,000 per year after 1985 – that’s and 800,000 difference year over year and the cumulative impact may be very large)
    (3) The advent of the “Container Culture” which began in the 1980’s/1990’s.

    I could be wrong. But, I think my explanation is more likely to be true than vaccines although I do not totally rule out the vaccine theory for some cases of autism (or autism like syndrome).

    *Children with obstructed breathing due to undiagnosed tonsil issues are often misdiagnosed with ADHD. University of Michigan Study.
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/40958.php

    Pablo wrote:
    “That’s right – since moving to sleeping on their backs, the incidence of SIDS has dropped by 80%”

    ?A lot of us are concerned that the rate (of SIDS) isn?t decreasing significantly, but that a lot of it is just code shifting,? said John Kattwinkel, chairman of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention?s special task force on SIDS.?
    Scripps Howard News Service Interview
    http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=SIDS-10-08-07

    http://tummysleepcentral.blogspot.com/2008/08/post-natal-slow-wave-sleep-inhibition.html

  135. #135 Paul Kemp
    February 13, 2009

    Thank God for the court ruling! Hopefully this damaging myth can be put down for good now. This is the sort of thing used to prey on desperate parents when their child first is diagnosed. Because of the plethora of misinformation that is out there, it’s easy to latch onto a simple solution that will “cure” their child. Alas, there is no cure, nor is there a simple solution. It takes hard work to raise an autistic child, but the rewards are well worth it. I detailed some of these in a book I just had published so other parents know that their hard work will pay off in the long run.

  136. #136 khan
    February 13, 2009

    #124 Posted by: libbyblue | February 13, 2009 3:00 AM

    for the record, i’m good with idioms and written language. it’s the talking, the body language, the intentional head-fuckery so many people practice that give me trouble

    I am much the same. I can not ‘read’ faces and pick up on cues that I am told are there. Can barely remember faces. And don’t get me started on that ‘looking someone in the eye crap’.

    #132 Posted by: BA | February 13, 2009 12:08 PM

    Within the first week of life, typical human newborns give preferential attention to the eyes of others. Similar findings in other species suggest that attention to the eyes is a highly conserved phylogenetic mechanism of social development. For children with autism, however, diminished and aberrant eye contact is a lifelong hallmark of disability.

    Mother remarked on this when I was a child. It has made life difficult.

    I find it wonderful to be able to communicate by internet, where I don’t have to try to pick up nuances of facial expression, tone of voice…

  137. #137 dean
    February 13, 2009

    “Anti-vax is wrong but not at the level of, “All the fossils are fakes!” or, “Magical Jesus can be your special friend, too!””

    No, it is exactly at that level. You are simply choosing one stupid, unsubstantiated bit of woo and lending it the possibility of validity. You can’t claim to be objective, and to agree with the science, then give support to all of the liars who deny the facts. (Well you can, obviously, but it makes zero sense).

  138. #138 MartinM
    February 13, 2009

    Martin M @ 126, it depends on the insurance policy and insurance provider, and also depends on the vaccine. Some insurance companies will cover all vaccines, some will cover certain ones and not others, some will cover vaccines for children only, and so on. As far as I’m aware, there is a federal program or perhaps a combination of federal and state programs that provide standard childhood vaccines to children whose parents can’t afford them.

    Thanks, Natalie. So it would be reasonable to suppose that the insurance companies would have a financial interest in supporting the anti-vax crowd, if only they had any legitimate reason to do so. Should help to counter the ‘Big Pharma is screwing us all’ arguments.

  139. #139 Jaycubed
    February 13, 2009

    “Anti-vax is wrong but not at the level of, “All the fossils are fakes!” or, “Magical Jesus can be your special friend, too!””
    Posted by: awise

    “No, it is exactly at that level. You are simply choosing one stupid, unsubstantiated bit of woo and lending it the possibility of validity. You can’t claim to be objective, and to agree with the science, then give support to all of the liars who deny the facts. (Well you can, obviously, but it makes zero sense).”
    Posted by: dean

    No, it is quite different to make a proposition like “Vaccines can increase risk for or cause autism.” and “All the fossils are fakes.” or “Magical Jesus can be your special friend, too!” Regardless of any evidence for or against the proposition.

    1) “Vaccines can increase risk for or cause autism.” is a realistic question as there is a mechanism proposed. It is a falsifiable proposition in that such mechanism can be examined & tested to see if there is no validity to the statement (no real world propositions are strictly provable
    but many can be shown to be false). The evidence at present shows that the proposition “Vaccines can increase risk for or cause autism”is false.

    2) “All the fossils are fakes!” is a realistic proposition since if you could demonstrate that even one fossil was not a fake you can demonstrate the false nature of the statement. There is no falsifiable mechanism proposed for making all the alleged fake fossils (God did it!)

    3) “Magical Jesus can be your special friend, too!” is not a realistic proposition in any way. No evidence in favor of the proposition or way to demonstrate falsifiability is provided. It is a statement of Belief.

  140. #140 awise
    February 13, 2009

    Ok. Anti-vax is not caused by things that go bump in the night, millennia of history, and childhood indoctrination. It is caused by the many people like this guy: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090213/ap_on_re_us/salmonella_outbreak_executive and dishonest politicians, lousy media, and ultimately the honest willingness of the scientific process to second guess itself. ID, for example, is not like this because every creationist talking point can be addressed by mountains of peer corroborated science at sites like talkorigins.

    Serious studies come down on either side of the brain cancer / cell phone question. There are many different varieties of genetically modified food, some of them likely unsafe. How unsafe now and in the potential future? No one knows because no one has been able to study the science nearly enough. Companies patent the genes of plants that were bred for generations (frequently by women) and render them seedless. These sorts of things make people buy into anti-science ideology.

    Suggesting that vaccinations could cause negative effects isn’t crazy because it is the kind of thing that happens. (X-ray machines in shoe stores. Turns out that was a bad idea.) Again, if the Bush administration hadn’t been a great Machiavellian escapade, the whole Truther movement would amount to two website no one ever heard about. When these problems are solved, this brand of woo will evaporate. Until then anti-vaxers have a foundation for their reasoning that is more substantial than simply wishing it was so. Different woo, different solution.

  141. #141 Ichthyic
    February 13, 2009

    Suggesting that vaccinations could cause negative effects isn’t crazy because it is the kind of thing that happens.

    you keep seeming to ignore that all relevant testing has been done numerous times with existing vaccines (those that are at least 10 years old, anyway).

    so, yes, while it indeed seems like it might be worthwhile to test side effects of vaccines “because it is the kind of thing that happens”, it ALREADY has been done.

    It’s like you insist on rehashing a point that was raised and dealt with over 30 years ago.

    The problem with ANTI-vaxers is that they are in denial, simple as that.

    In that sense, they share the same psychological malady as global warming deniers, and creationists.

  142. #142 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 13, 2009

    Awise, here is an exercise for you. Cite the unrefuted scientific literature showing vaccines are bad. I wish you luck in finding any. Quit worrying about possibilities. There is a possibility I (or you) will be in a car accident when I (you) am (are) out running errands tomorrow morning. But I will go out, because I need a haircut and groceries. Will you go out if you need something, knowing you aren’t 100% safe? 100% safe is a fallacy. Risk reduction and management is needed. Vaccines prevent a lot of sickness that would other occur.

  143. #143 Peter Ashby
    February 14, 2009

    Tom thanks for the followup. The refs on sleep stage in infants were interesting and I’m convinced there may be an issue there. However you will need much more than correlations to convince me of the link to autism. I think it significant that one possible influence you neglect to mention is diagnosis creep with kids further and further down the Autism spectrum labelled that would not have been in the past.

  144. #144 Tom
    February 14, 2009

    Peter Ashby wrote:
    “I think it significant that one possible influence you neglect to mention is diagnosis creep with kids further and further down the Autism spectrum labelled that would not have been in the past.”

    (See Reference below for these results)
    Mean Age (Months) for milestone acquisition – Creeps:
    Prone Sleepers = 6.07 +- 1.9
    Mixed Side Sleeper = 6.49 +- 1.9
    Supine Sleepers = 7.23 +- 1.6
    P value for prone sleepers versus supine sleepers=.0002

    Look at Figure 1 in the same Pediatrics article (reference below) I got this data from and it visually shows the delays back sleep causes. The graph compares the following 9 different milestones and their acquisition times. In all 9 cases the supine sleepers are delayed. The authors say that this is ok – I simply disagree with their conclusions.

    Effects of Sleep Position on Infant Motor Development by
    Beth Ellen Davis, Rachel Y. Moon, Hari C. Sachs and Mary C. Ottolini, Pediatrics 1998;102;1135-1140, DOI: 10.1542/peds.102.5.1135

  145. #145 KT
    February 14, 2009

    Tom, re the milestone acquisition, was the fact that many mothers will allow their infants to sleep on their side or tummy once the infant can roll to that position him/herself considered? As a mum of 2 young children, I know this is frequently the case and I would suspect that the infants who roll earlier, leading to earlier sleeping on their tummy or side, are also the infants likely to meet other milestones earlier.

  146. #146 KT
    February 14, 2009

    Yay for the court! I wish I could believe this would make a significant impact on the anti-vaxers, but I’m pretty sure it won’t.

  147. #147 awise
    February 14, 2009

    #141 No kidding. And yet some still have their doubts. It’s almost as though their trust in authorities has been eroded so much it has them thinking irrationally.

    #142 Both of these observations are strawmen, unresponsive to what I’ve been saying, which admittedly has been fairly banal. Though I can understand why someone might raise them anyway. Funny how that was just my point from the start.

  148. #148 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 14, 2009

    Awise, I responded directly to you. Your thinking is so warped you think it is otherwise. Show me 100% percent safety for anything, and I will call you a liar, because you are one. Risks are involved with every activity we do. Managing the risks is all we can do. I regularly handle chemicals you would have a cow over, but I do so safely because proper handling and controls are in place. Overall, vaccines are worthwhile because the amount of disease and resulting impairment/death they avoid are in contrast to the minor issues with the vaccines. If that isn’t the case, it is up to you to prove otherwise with hard data from the medical literature. Something you have avoided to date.

  149. #149 awise
    February 14, 2009

    #148 I work in a hospital, and I don’t disagree with a single thing you’ve said. I regret that I’ve been so horribly unclear that you feel you need to tell me these things. I want the public to have accurate health care information.

    While I can’t understand why someone would think crystals have healing power, I do understand when people tell me they don’t like the idea of thimerosal because they’ve been misled many times before. This doesn’t mean I’d sympathize with an unwillingness to hear the evidence, just that I can see where they’re coming from. The products of science that affect human health and the policies for them will have to become more trustworthy than they are and stay that way for awhile before doubters come around.

  150. #150 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 14, 2009

    Awise, I still don’t feel you are getting it. Now, do you as a health professional understand that thimerosal has been removed from childhood vaccines? If you do, I don’t see your problem. The idiots who keep believing that thimerosal is present need to told otherwise. The FDA web site states that. People don’t trust big pharma? That is their problem, and failure to vaccinate their kids makes them a public health problem, which can become my problem. Why should I feel compassion for people who don’t understand the facts and can be endangering me and my family? I will teach them, but not bow to them.

  151. #151 Adam
    February 14, 2009

    Vaccines definitely don’t cause autism! How can just a stupid vaccine cause a disability like this?? They can only be acquired in utero!

  152. #152 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    February 14, 2009

    Awise, I’m being hard on you than I should be. I grew up during the time that the first polio vaccines became available, and I know the effects that polio can have on its victims. Most of us that lived through that age believe in vaccines. Those who have never seen withered limbs, or hear of kids in iron lungs may not have the same faith in vaccines. They just don’t see the problems of kids dying from measles encephalitis, as one of my classmates did. So some idiots concentrate on the very minor effects of something that isn’t a problem, and it makes my blood boil.
    Oh, if you want to scare somebody, download the MSDS for dihydrogen monoxide (better known as water). You would think if you got within 10 feet of it you would keel over dead.

  153. #153 awise
    February 14, 2009

    Yes, I know the thimerosal is long gone from most vaccines. I should probably also mention that I work with the chaplaincy unit so I see a lot of religious nuttery, but at the same time it’s my job to demonstrate compassion for each patient and family.

    When talking to people I know socially about this sort of issue, they’ll often say, for instance, that they “know” cell phones cause cancer. Or they will cite the respiratory ailments of people who worked at the WTC site after 9/11 when the EPA said everything was ok. In my experience, once the conversation has taken this turn, convincing them otherwise is impossible. It’s frustrating to me that they have these excuses to support a generalized paranoia. Sometimes it’s not that bad, more like the healthy skepticism that we all practice, and that I can support. But either way, I hear the same brand of anti-corporate/government stuff along with hard evidence that they couldn’t be trusted on other matters. Teaching them otherwise is often out of the question because of it.

    Ha! Yes, I’ve seen dihydrogen monoxide before. Like the terrorist manual instructions for deadly clouds of methane.

  154. #154 Tom
    February 15, 2009

    KT Wrote:
    “Tom, re the milestone acquisition, was the fact that many mothers will allow their infants to sleep on their side or tummy once the infant can roll to that position him/herself considered?”

    Babies that initially slept on their backs (supine) but by 4 and 6 months were sleeping on their stomachs had significantly less delay than babies that were still sleeping on their stomach at 4 and 6 months.

    In the Majnemer/Barr article all of the infants initially were put to sleep on their backs as stated in the methodology section of their article:

    “Infants were included if they were born at term, Caucasian,
    and their parents could speak English or French. Infants with torticollis (as noted by the physician) were excluded because this could influence motor performance. Only infants routinely placed in supine to sleep at recruitment were included.”

    They then compared the infants who were still sleeping on their backs (supine) at 4 and 6 months of age to infants who were sleeping on their stomachs (prone):

    “Typically developing infants who were sleeppositioned
    in supine had delayed motor development by age 6
    months, and this was significantly associated with limited
    exposure to awake prone positioning.”

    “Influence of supine sleep positioning on early motor milestone acquisition” by Majnemer and Barr, Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 2005, 47: 370?376

    The interesting thing about this article is that they never compare supine sleepers with adequate tummy time to prone sleepers with adequate tummy time. They just say that the delayed motor development isi “significantly associated with limited exposure to awake prone positioning.” Since, awake prone positioning is associated with sleeping prone position I’m not sure if this proves much.

  155. #155 Holy Prepuce!
    February 20, 2009

    The Vaccine Court’s release of its opinion on Darwin’s 200th birthday was fortuitous, seeing as the vaccine-autism faithful have a good deal in common with religious fundamentalists. They are so invested in their ideas that they ignore or attack any evidence to the contrary, and treat gaps in the opposing evidence as further proof in their favor.

    The obscenity of the “anti-vax” movement is stupefying– a campaign to reinstitute open sewers or ban refrigeration could scarcely threaten greater violence to the public health.

    I have much more to say on this topic here.

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