Vaccines do not cause autism!

By Phil Plait | May 12, 2008 9:51 am

I just can’t make this any clearer. Vaccines do not cause autism. Study after study has shown this, in multiple ways. The removal of the MMR (mumps-measles-rubella) vaccine in Japan did not lead to a decline in the number of cases of autisms diagnosed; instead the number of children falling in the autism spectrum increased.

A study in Denmark (link goes to Science Magazine; subscription required) showed the same thing: long after thimerosal-based vaccines were discontinued, autism-related diagnoses continued to rise:

Now the first big epidemiological studies weigh in. One comes from Denmark, which eliminated thimerosal from childhood vaccines in 1992. A team led by Kreesten Madsen of the Danish Epidemiology Science Centre in Aarhus reasoned that if thimerosal were a major cause of autism, incidence of new cases should drop once it was removed. In the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, they report that, instead of declining, the incidence continued to skyrocket after 1992.

They supply a graph:

<br clear="all"

This graph is a clincher. If they were related in any way, you'd see a decline. Instead it continues to rise. Note that the little dip we see at the end is many many years after thimerosal was stopped; if it were related to autism then the dip would have started years earlier.

The obvious conclusion is that vaccines containing thimerosal have nothing or at best extremely little to do with autism (and note that the MMR vaccine never contained thimerosal!). An obvious hypothesis explaining the continuing rise of cases diagnosed is that we are getting better at identifying it, and/or that the use of the term autism spectrum includes more symptoms that were previously not considered to be related.

This has not stopped the antivaccination people from marching on, however. The Washington Post is reporting that two cases trying to establish a link are being brought to court today. The article says

To win, the attorneys for the two boys, William Mead and Jordan King, will have to show that it’s more likely than not that the vaccine actually caused the injury.

This makes me very unhappy. A judge is not necessarily suited to decide medical science! If it were a case of medical ethics or negligence, or something along those lines, then certainly the judiciary system should be involved, but this is a clear-cut case of scientifically established reality. Vaccines do not cause autism.

As always in situations as delicate as these, let me say that I am a parent, and I love my daughter very much. If she had been diagnosed with some sort of issue like autism, I know I would have been devastated. I also know it is human nature to try to find a cause, some place to lay blame. But sometimes there is no blame.

I also know it’s human nature to take anything that happens after a given event and blame that event for it. I gave my daughter a vaccine, then she turned up with autistic symptoms. Therefore…

But life isn’t always like that. And I very much hope that the judges in this case are familiar with the term post hoc, ergo propter hoc: after this, therefore because of this. It’s a classic logical fallacy, and the antivax contingent is riding it right into the judicial system.

And there is a chilling side to this. Vaccines are among the greatest achievements in human history. This is not hyperbole. Millions upon millions of lives have been saved by vaccines. Smallpox is gone. Polio is gone. A vaccine has been developed to prevent HPV, saving millions of women from the horrors of cervical cancer.

If vaccinations decline, then we will see an increase in mumps, measles, rubella, whooping cough (pertussis), and many more terrible afflictions… problems that are ultimately completely curable. This is stone, cold fact. Worse, these problems are far more severe in children.

Measles kills.

Pertussis kills.

Rubella kills.

So let me make this as clear as I possibly can:

The antivaccination movement purports to try to save children. Instead, if it is successful it may be condemning millions of them to terrible ailments, and a significant fraction of them to death.

It is that simple.

Hat tip to John Keller for sending me the link to the WaPo article.

Comments (457)

Links to this Post

  1. the good old days » Blog Archive » Don’t infect my kids with your diseases | May 12, 2008
  2. Phil Plait is Angry… « Where We Make Our Stand | May 12, 2008
  3. O’DonnellWeb - This is not a homeschooling blog » Blog Archive » links for 2008-05-12 | May 12, 2008
  4. links for 2008-05-13 | Yostivanich.com | May 13, 2008
  5. Martin Baby Blog » Diaper Daily News: Vaccines do not cause autism | May 13, 2008
  6. In Which I Throw Down « Pat’s Daily Grind | May 13, 2008
  7. Why do people demonize what has given them so much? « Lone Wolfs Den | May 14, 2008
  8. Keith du Cros » Blog Archive » Vaccination and concerns about autism. | May 14, 2008
  9. Negligible Knowledge Base | May 15, 2008
  10. Chat Marchet News Digest » Vaccines do not cause autism! | May 15, 2008
  11. Bob’s Junkmail, 201 « xpda | June 9, 2008
  12. CNN’s Empowered Patient spreads more vaccine nonsense « Falty Logic | June 19, 2008
  13. Louis | July 10, 2008
  14. The Last Exit to Babylon » Good for McDonald’s | July 16, 2008
  15. Passionate against vaccines « Vaccines: More questions than answers | November 30, 2008
  16. IT’S FOR THE CHILDREN! | Jeff Hoy, American | January 6, 2009
  17. William K. Wolfrum Chronicles » Blog Archive » Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy want your children to die | April 22, 2009
  18. What Chemicals are in Tap Water? is it Safe to Drink Tap Water? | Chemical Agents | May 23, 2009
  19. Anti-Vaxers « Ashley F. Miller | June 1, 2010
  20. Homeopathie tegen radioactieve besmetting en stralingsziekte: kan het nog gekker? « Cryptocheilus Weblog | March 16, 2011
  21. Autism: A Year In Review | Articled In | December 28, 2011
  22. Autism: A Year In Review – What Is Autism In Children? | December 28, 2011
  23. music and autism | January 3, 2012
  24. American Airlines to air dangerous antivax propaganda | Bad … | Presstitution™ | April 24, 2012
  25. » Motivation Astro Inclined | July 27, 2012
  1. The scientific and mathematical illiteracy of many Americans continues to outrage. I’ve been to several environment/health conferences over the last few years, and none of the scientists or doctors attending back the notion that there’s a vaccine-autism link.

    There still MAY be a heavy metals-autism link, but it’s more likely related to environmental pollution. People need something to blame. It’s easier to blame something specific (like vaccines) than something less specific (pollution).

  2. Very well put as always, Phil. Clear, simple, comprehensible, and above all accurate – as science should be reported.

    Now if we can just train the general public in the practice of thinkign critically about these things, we’d be on to a winner.

  3. Sailor

    In order to keep certain traits (like good eyesight) normal within a population, then those who lack this trait have to be selected against by nature. It seems to me obvious that as we manage to compensate for things like bad eyesight there will be no selection against it, so over years the eyesight of polpulations will get worse. This does not matter as we have other ways of compensating for it. I wonder if something like this is going on with autism? after all in todays society autistic people manage to adapt and do fine.

  4. David D

    How do these unvaccinated kids get enrolled in school? The schools I have had my kids in have all required proof of immunization. Not sure if this is a State or local requirement, but it is there.

  5. MarshallDog

    David D,

    It’s a wonderful little thing called “religious exemption”. *barf*

  6. Michael Campbell

    Laurie Mann,

    Good to hear the rest of the world outside the US is without its crackpots. :-

  7. David D

    It may also be that certain schools don’t require or don’t check for adequate immunization, like the Waldorf schools. I don’t think this is a purely religious issue. A lot of “educated,” middle class folks are swayed by the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Robert Kennedy.I think there are a lot of misinformed people out there, and added to a dose of woo-woo, you have a public health disaster on your hands.

  8. JackC

    Today, a biologically-related post from Dr Plait and an astronomically-related post from PZ (Russel’s Teapot!)

    Are you two in some sort of Clarke-Asimov agreement??

    JC

  9. Sailor.

    How would bad eyesight be selected against precisely?
    Would it mean that people with bad eyesight would either die before they can reproduce because of their handycap, or that people with bad eyesight don’t get to reproduce, because because of their handycap, they would not be able to ‘find’ a mate(y)?

    You make a weird, very weird analogy.

  10. Couldn’t agree more, Phil. Amen, Bro!

  11. If it were just illiteracy, then education would be the cure.

    On one hand we hear Ben Stein say that scientists are murderers (I listened to his interview on TBN). On the other we hear John Duncan call people with academic degrees in health elitist when they think they know something about the subject they study. And, of course, the whole debate that should have been fossilized ages ago Evolution vs Creationism still rages on.

    And it isn’t new. I remember similar issues over the last 30 years, since I was in High School. The usual suspect was literacy: if the population knew more science, they would be better prepared to approach issues from a scientific perspective. It seems that the literacy approach hasn’t worked as well as we would have liked. I wonder if throwing more “literacy” at this phenomenon will have any benefit.

    Just how pervasive has antiscience become in North America? Is it mostly religious or mostly political? What is its genesis?

    I certainly hope that what is happening is that a few voices are just very loud and that the problem is thus perceived as larger than what it really is. Does anybody have links to some solid research in this area?

    http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/04/28/scientists-are-murderers/
    http://atheism.about.com/b/2008/05/03/rep-john-duncan-r-tn-knowledge-science-are-elitist.htm

  12. madge

    in the UK this week a Minister was calling for benefits to be taken from parents who refuse to vaccinate their children and for school places to be refused without proof of immunisation. Daraconian? Maybe, but the decline in uptake of the MMR vacinne puts many more kids at risk than any i-madge-ined increase risk of autism. Well said phil. BOTH my kids were given the MMR because I listened to both sides of the debate, applied some critical thinking, did some research and realised there WAS NO RISK! Well written post Phil. Thanks.

  13. Kirk

    Phil — a nice piece and I agree. Bigger question is “What is behind the increase in autism?” Let’s toss some $$$ at this issue.

    Also, informative short read about US lack of math understanding — John Allen Paulos — “Innumeracy”. Prof of Mathmatics @ Temple Univ in Phila, PA.

  14. Roy McMillion

    Also of note is that the average age of first time mothers has risen, albeit on a different curve than the rate of autism. Of course, correlation is not causation, but it’s a data point for consideration.

    There is a lot of work to be done, but I think we can all put the vaccine hypotheses to rest.

  15. Great post. Now if only we could make Jenny McCarthy read it…

  16. MartinM

    Bigger question is “What is behind the increase in autism?”

    That would be better phrased as “what is behind the increase in reported autism rates?” since it may well be a simple case of broadening diagnostic criteria and increased awareness over time.

  17. Dave

    David D.

    There are a lot of ways kids can get into school without being vaccinated. Where I live, in addition to the previously mentioned religious exemption, a parent can simply opt out for “personal reasons”. Its not quite a religious exemption but its close.

    My own personal history gives another reason: a medical exemption. As an infant, I only received my first round of shots. My parents and doctor decided after that first vaccination, that further shots would be more risk to my health than the risk of catching one of the protected diseases. This was because I had a severe allergic reaction to the first shots!

    That said, I am very thankful that most of the children in my age group were vaccinated; because through their immunity, I was protected as well. I also never hesitated to get my own children vaccinated.

  18. My son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Which I don’t know how many people realize this, but that is a autistic spectrum disorder. The most telling symptoms is that he didn’t start speaking till he was 2 1/2, and he started reading 5 months later. He’s incredibly bright, has an amazing vocabulary for a 6 year old. On the negative side, he doesn’t spell so well, he doesn’t like loud noises or bright lights, and he has a habit of sitting on his classmates when he gets angry. But other than a few extra challenges, he’s fine. 10 years ago, he’d just be another disruptive child who wasn’t living up to his expectations. So you all went to school, How many kids do you remember like this? All the nerds who didn’t quite fit in with any group, even the other nerds.

    Before they were just awkward or shy, or countless other categories that really didn’t fit. Now at least we know what they are. Now we’re at least trying to solve the problem. Though there are so many out there who just can’t handle having a label attached to their child.

    But yeah, it’s not so bad.

    I turned out fine without the label, It was hard, I had to work a bit harder than some. At least he has help. It’s a lot easier teaching a kid how to deal with people who are different, than it is to try to make a kid be something that he’s not.

  19. Cisco

    Let me be clear on something before I say anything else. I My child is properly vacinated, and I intend to do the same with any firther children I have.

    However…

    I was VERY clear with my doctor; My child was not to receive ANY injections with a mercury based preservative, end of story. He argued the point and said I was being paranoid, so i went elseware and found a doctor who was happy to use an EQUALLY effective vaccination that did not use the preservative.

    As was explained to me by a DR: The additive has NO medical value, it is strictly a shelf life extending agent meant for economy, not any medical use.

    On a slightly broader note,
    I wish I shared you faith in modern medicine, I truly do. but I have seen first hand too many cased where politics and arrogance on the part of MDs led to painful and pointless decisions that the patients had to deal with, not the doctors.

    In this case, however, if the people are truly arguing the MERCURY based preservative is the issue, then the rest of us can rest easy, because Pharmaceutical companies are, and have been making doses of these inoculations without mercury for years.

    My 2 cents.

    Cisco

    First time Commenter here
    Long time reader of the BA movie reviews
    Man of faith & a fellow Skeptic

  20. It’s hard for someone outside the “autism world” to envision what it’s like on the inside. Let me just say that vaccine believers don’t just mention that they have a theory. They are evangelical on the subject. And while you are able to produce “clear, irrefutable” evidence that vaccines do NOT cause autism, they are able to produce just such evidence on the other side.

    When I say evidence, I don’t mean just anecdotes (of which there are hundreds) which seem to suggest that a child was absolutely healthy until the day after his vaccines. I also mean studies, published in peer-reviewed journals and available as abstracts on PubMed.com. And it’s not just parents making the connection. The studies are conducted by MD’s and PhDs, with legitimate degrees, from various countries around the world.

    It’s certainly true that the studies you cite are bigger and better funded than those refuting their conclusions. BUT – the argument is that these huge studies are epidemiological, and thus miss relatively small but significant groups who are biologically more vulnerable.

    When you say “the likes of JFK Jr.,” you may feel he’s not credible, but many would disagree. And folks who are predisposed to believe in a conspiracy will be very impressed indeed with the Age of Autism series and other investigative projects which seem to suggest that the whole world is in cahoots to support Big Pharma at the expense of public health…

    In short, vaccine believers are not standing out in left field. They’re well-supported, very persuasive, and more than willing to give you all the evidence you can carry in your briefcase!

    Lisa Rudy (about.com guide to autism)

  21. Well, there are crackpots everywhere. The anti-vaccine craze hit England before it hit here. I think they’ve mostly settled down.

    I remember first hearing this vaccine-autism link in the early ’80s, about the time my daughter was getting her shots. Most times, she just screamed when she got the shots. But, when she was about 18 months old, she screamed all night after she got her shots and it was odd. The next day, she was fine.

    She has ADHD, but so have most members of our family for at least four generations, so I can’t blame that on the shots!

  22. I think the anti-vaccine camp has kind of gotten into its own way with this whole mercury/autism thing. Personally I am VERY against vaccines for a multitude of reasons, autism being only one of them. But let me say that any anti-vaccine person who has actually done their research knows that there is way more in a vaccine to worry us than just mercury. That graph showing when thimerisol was eliminated really doesn’t prove anything because while they may have removed ONE of the things that cause problems, they didn’t remove ALL of them… and at the same time they started requiring MORE vaccinations increasing the amount of crap being pumped through an infant’s system and wreaking potential havoc… a vaccine for CHICKEN POX? Are they kidding me?

    Again, any anti-vaccine person who knows what they’re talking about doesn’t (or shouldn’t) say that vaccines CAUSE autism. What they’re saying is that if you have a child who is more genetically disposed to getting autism, the introduction of foreign substances, heavy metals or what have you from ALL sources (not just vaccines) could be the deciding factor in whether or not they actually get it. It’s a holistic thing, which is why most people who don’t vaccinate are also trying to remove as many chemicals from their daily life as possible (detergents, pesticides, etc).

    As to the idea that vaccines have saved millions upon millions of lives, I think that is up for a huge amount of debate. As I’m sure you must know, every disease goes through its own rise and fall of deadliness, usually the span of a generation or two, before its effects lessen. This is due to natural immunity that actually can get passed down to offspring. The example I always like to use is the Black Plague. How many people did that kill. And yet without vaccines you never hear of anybody getting it much less dying of it anymore save for that one in a billion case. If you look at graphs of a lot of these other diseases you mentioned, a lot of them appeared to already be “on their way out” at the time the vaccines were introduced.

  23. MartinM

    a vaccine for CHICKEN POX? Are they kidding me?

    Yeah, who in their right mind would want to prevent a potentially fatal disease?

  24. How would bad eyesight be selected against precisely?
    Would it mean that people with bad eyesight would either die before they can reproduce because of their handycap, or that people with bad eyesight don’t get to reproduce, because because of their handycap, they would not be able to ‘find’ a mate(y)?

    Historically, blind people would, for the most part, be relatively unable to eke out a living and would die in the streets. They’d be less likely to mate, or if they did mate, to support a family.

    Obviously, this has been an ever declining issue for hundreds of years, but the original point is well taken.

    It has been an ethical and moral question for a long time… if medical science advances in ways that allow people, with disabilities and diseases that can be passed on, to survive and reproduce when they wouldn’t before, does the human population as a whole get stronger or weaker? Or does it even matter if the compensating technology exists? Modern thinking would indicate that it doesn’t matter if compensating technology exists.

    Social Darwinism, as Ben Stein likes to bring up, has its roots in this question. It’s a place nobody likes to go because going there always seems to turn out really bad. It’s kind of “Brave New World”-ish.

    There was an article I read a few years back that talked about the increasing incidence of diseases like Alzheimers, and why it was so difficult to find a cause. One of the premises in the article was that it only appears that the incidence of Alzheimers is on the increase because historically, people didn’t live long enough to get Alzheimers but with modern technology people now live to be so old that we get to see diseases and conditions that people simply didn’t survive to get in the past.

  25. “Yeah, who in their right mind would want to prevent a potentially fatal disease?”

    Chicken pox? Fatal? Sure there is that one in a million case of a kid who had other immune issues going on at the time who died of chicken pox. But hell a BLISTER is “potentially fatal” if you don’t take care of it, but I’m not going to inject myself with something JUST IN CASE I buy a new pair of running shoes.

  26. BeWi

    Here is a question, from a soon-to-be father: are there any web sites out there which give a concise (!) summary of which dangers are attributed to which vaccines, and how seriously these claims should be taken? I understand everybody agrees that some vaccines do have some unfortunate side effects, but that most of the alleged dangers, like autism, have no basis in reality. Here in France there is also quite a strong anti-vaccination movement, and I never quite know how to respond to people trying to convert me to this particular subculture (and these people are really evangelical once they learn my girlfriend is pregnant!) I have searched the web for useful info, but the pro-vaccination sites I found talk mostly about the crazy autism claims, which seems like a straw man, and the anti-vaccination sites tend to be rambling and conspiracy- and homeopathy oriented. Surely there must be some fair description of the variety of anti-vaccination claims and a levelheaded discussion of their merits out there. Thanks!

  27. HvP

    Lisa,

    In which case it is up to you to cite those sources you believe support that viewpoint. I went to your about.com page and those links which did cover the possibility of a vaccine link was mostly anecdotal or significantly underwhelming.

  28. Dave

    Brian,

    I really wish that there was a vaccine for chicken pox when I was a child (and that I had not had the allergic reactions to my first vaccinations).

    Why? Because I had no immunity to the disease. For most children that’s not a big issue. They catch chicken pox, get a little sick, some more so than others; but in a couple of weeks they’re fine. But when I caught chicken pox, I nearly died!

    Let me tell you, there is nothing scarier when you are 9 or ten years old than to see your parent cry because they are afraid for you. Or to be unable to lift a Dixie cup full of water because you are too weak. In the end, it took months for me to fully recover. I ended up missing almost all of the fourth grade as a result.

    Childhood diseases kill. I got lucky. When it came time for my sons to be vaccinated, my wife and I did not hesitate. I would not run the risk of my children dieing of a preventable disease!

  29. As to the idea that vaccines have saved millions upon millions of lives, I think that is up for a huge amount of debate.

    No, it’s not, really. Antivaccinationists saying that it is up for debate doesn’t make it so. Perhaps you have evidence to support your side of this “debate”?

    Didn’t think so.

    The black plague, by the way, was primarily transmitted by fleas from rats. It is not so easy to pass the disease from person to person, unlike most diseases for which we vaccinate, although it can be aerosolized as a weapon. Keep people out of contact with rats and other wild animal vectors, and the disease has much less opportunity to spread.

  30. I guess you’re all too young to have paid attention to polio…

    Polio is an interesting case. They found out in the early ’50s that it was the sort of disease almost everyone got. The vast majority of people who got polio presented as a stomach virus or maybe the flu. A small percentage got a severe headache. A small percentage of the people who got the headache became paralyzed. A small percentage of the people of became paralyzed stayed paralyzed permanently (FDR, for example). And a small percentage of the people who got polio died.

    Still, even though most people who got it never even knew they had it, most people got vaccinated for it after April of 1955.

    It’s true that a few hundred people in 1955 got polio from a few lots of the vaccine that one particular company made and hadn’t properly quality-checked. Something like 12 children died (including, ironically, the grandson of a man who’d been the Surgeon General of the United States). But once people figured out that the bad vaccine was from one company, most people got vaccinated. As a result, that last real outbreak of polio in this country was among a group of people who did not vaccinate – the Amish.

    The three things that have saved more lives over time have been:

    clean water
    personal hygiene (especially hand-washing)
    vaccinations

  31. Dave,

    Yes, you’re right, when you catch CP as an adult, it can be deadly. That’s why I think it’s even MORE important to not vaccinate against it. Because when you catch it naturally as a kid, you get a lifelong immunity against it (generally speaking). But vaccines wear off after ten or so years. So even if you got vaccinated as a kid, that doesn’t guarantee anything when you become an adult.

    I’m not a person who thinks vaccines are always bad all the time. I think there are times and places for them. Believe me if I had been in your position as an ADULT, I would have gotten the vaccine too. People going into the Peace Corps where diseases like malaria and the such are still very active, sure I say get your shots. But when we’re shoving vials and vials of stuff into infants with a still developing immune system for diseases that they are unlikely to get, and will most likely have the NATURAL tools to fight off if they DO get it, that’s just silly… especially when most people agree there are potential side effects. I have likened it to walking around wearing a parachute 24 hours a day just in case you fall out of a window yet not wearing a seatbelt in the car.

    I actually wrote a whole essay about this when I was trying to make this decision. If you’re curious it’s here:

    http://www.hey-guess-what.com/essays/archive/2004-06-29-vaccines.htm

  32. Orac,

    A quick search turned up these graphs.

    http://www.healthsentinel.com/graphs.php?id=14&event=graphs_print_list_item

    http://www.alternative-doctor.com/vaccination/obomsawin.html

    http://www.vaclib.org/intro/present/njpage6.gif

    I can post more but they all indicate the same thing. Yes these all come from sites that are clearly in the anti-vaccine camp so who knows, they could have skewed numbers in their favor. Of course then again THEY would try to tell you that the pro-vaccine camp did the same thing to make THEY’RE side more favorable. So who are we to believe. In the end it all comes down to who you think has more to gain by BS-ing you. Either way, there IS still a reason to debate and remain skeptical of what anybody on EITHER side is telling you.

  33. Tom

    Phil, this is an example of you at your best. You took a controversial topic, prevented the facts, and didn’t go all hyperbolic on them.

    It’s posts like these that keep me coming back despite others.

  34. Crux Australis

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. My son and I both have Asperger’s Syndrome, and although we are high on the Autism spectrum, I would rather have AS than measles mumps or rubella. AS isn’t going to kill me; in fact it’s made me a great physics teacher!

  35. Evolution and bad eyesight…

    I would suggest that genetic diversity is one of the best defenses against a catastrophic epidemic. Who knows, perhaps my sort of really bad eyesight might be linked to a gene that confers resistant to some nasty new virus.

    Heterosis and genetic diversity, these are things that make a population genetically stronger, not weaker. Thus our desire to preserve life, to enable individuals to live beyond their genetic conditions, is well placed. Efforts to “purify” the species is not based on science. In fact, the science would direct us in the exact opposite direction – mixed and diverse.

    So… do your species a favor. Make babies with someone outside of your local gene pool and don’t worry about something as easily correctable as eyesight.

  36. Tom

    Unfortunately, Lisa Rudy is not qualified to write about autism science or to judge the quality of published findings. It is truly a shame that About.com does not realize her woeful lack of expertise.

    The “medical literature” purporting to find a causal link between vaccination and autism is published in journals like Medical Hypothesis and authored by unscrupulous and/or third rate investigators who double as expert witnesses in vaccine injury trials.

  37. Becca Stareyes

    Brian, if it’s coming down to a ‘graph versus graph’ situation, I’d check the data from which the graph was drawn. How was it collected, and what controls were used? Anyone can create a study that shows exactly what one wants to see — only in trying to create a fair study can you get at what is going on. Without the information about the data set the graph was drawn from, it’s just a pretty picture.

  38. No argument there, SE. I’m pretty positive that for as many graphs and stats as I produce, you could produce an equal number, and vice-versa. Pretty much anyone can make numbers work in their favor with minimal thought. Didn’t somebody say, “The number don’t lie but they can confuse”. or words to that effect.

    A little devil’s advocate on the graph you produced though, the CDC is talking simply about “cases” of measles. But if they’re worried about people dying from the disease, you’d think they would have used a graph that showed the decline in deaths after the vaccine was introduced. Because sure, there are going to be CASES of any given disease all the time. The real question we’re discussing is whether or not getting the disease will lead to your death.

    Honestly though we could go round and round.

  39. (Disclaimer: I just spend a bunch of time writing a thoughtful and thorough response, only to have Firefox swallow it whole. That’ll teach me to trust anything but a text editor. My apologies if this is a bit terse.)

    I’m a science nerd, a believer in critical thinking, and a dad. If it was a simple matter of some definitive study determining whether I should be concerned about the effect of vaccination, then I’d happily go along with it.

    However, medicine isn’t just science, and vaccination isn’t something you toggle from “no, thanks” to “yes, please.” There are schedules, combined vaccines, expiration dates, regional appropriateness, and enough free variables to make my head swim. Pediatricians and parents are on the front lines, but there are the amassed forces of drug companies, epidemiologists, school boards, and so forth all trying to optimize the rules to their own ends.

    So what’s a reasonable dad to do? Should I expect that my pediatrician has all the facts, weighed them against my son’s specific needs, and ignored all other influences? Or do I evaluate those facts based on my experience and take a conservative approach, weighing the possibility of a childhood disease against the possibility of a vaccine-induced ailment?

    It’s easy to fall into saying “all X are bad” or “all X are good,” but I’d much rather take the time to ask, “What is this particular vaccine protecting him against? How likely is that disease? How many cases were reported locally in the last decade? Is the vaccine scheduled now for medical reasons, or epidemiological reasons? Can it be scheduled in a more medically-appropriate way if I know he’ll be coming back for them all?”

    A concrete example: until just recently, measles was exeptionally uncommon in my neck of the woods, so the Geeklet wasn’t vaccinated. As soon as cases were reported, though, he was. At age 4 instead of age 6 months. Did the three years make a difference? Maybe. As with anything else, I made the call as a parent.

    Basically, I’m saying it is NOT that simple. Just shouting “OMG your son will die of disease!1!!” is (to me) as unhelpful as shouting “OMG your son will get injected with the evil autism mercury!1!!” Relaying the facts and giving options (as in the first part of the article) is much preferred to browbeating those who choose to hold back a little (as at the end of the article.)

  40. I can post more but they all indicate the same thing. Yes these all come from sites that are clearly in the anti-vaccine camp so who knows, they could have skewed numbers in their favor.

    I notice that all of your graphs list death rates from these diseases, which is of course typical for antivaxers. Death rates decreased because of better treatment and support before vaccines became available. Whooping cough could be treated with antibiotics, for example, after the 1930s. Polio was treated with supportive care an iron lungs; a horrible fate but patients didn’t die of respiratory failure at the rate that they did before. What you really need is to look at case rates. For example, when MMR uptake fell in the U.K. in the wake of the MMR scare (due to Andrew Wakefield’s shoddy science claiming the MMR was linked with autism), measles and mumps rates increased. Thanks to an aggressive vaccination campaign in Africa, both measles case rates and death rates fell precipitously. There are numerous more examples.

    As for your essay, I hate to tell you this, but it’s so full of antivax canards that I could easily do a whole series of blog posts fisking it because one would end up having to be just too long. Certainly debunking all the misinformation and logical fallacies there would be too big a project for the comments of this blog. Maybe I’ll put it in my list of future topics…

  41. Yossarian

    In this case, I’d be prepared to bet that the judges (the term “special master” as used in this story means, effectively, judge) are likely to require a strong showing of causation.

  42. Becca Stareyes

    That’s why the BA linked to the places where he got the graphs, which give some descriptions of the methodology used to gather the data. In the future, when making arguments, I suggest you do the same — one’s argument is only as credible as the facts one draws it from.

  43. Nuno

    Brian,

    “In the end it all comes down to who you think has more to gain by BS-ing you”

    Actually, in the end it all comes down to what the evidence tells us.
    Take a look at what is happening in Africa. Even a few years ago thousands if not millions of people were dying every year from diseases that were pretty much eradicated in many western countries.
    After many African countries began vaccination programs the number of deaths fell drastically and in some cases, like polio, the diseases were simply eradicated.
    People in Africa didn’t magically acquire immunization against these diseases. It was the direct result of the vaccination programs.

  44. SonOfSLJ

    Brian said:

    “So who are we to believe. In the end it all comes down to who you think has more to gain by BS-ing you.”

    Incorrect. When presented with two sets of data that lead to contradictory conclusions, one of the sets of data, or one of the inferences gathered from the data, is incorrect.

    Therefore, in the end it still all comes down to rigorously analyzing the data and drawing proper inferences – NOT throwing one’s hands up in the air and pleading one’s case through ascribed motives.

  45. Kev

    First time commenter :)

    My name’s Kev, I run an autism related blog called Left brain/Right Brain and I am father to a severely autistic 8 year old girl with whats called ‘leaning disabilities’ in the UK and ‘retardation’ in North America.

    I started my blog five years ago when my daughter was diagnosed and I was convinced that the DTP vaccine caused her autism.

    However, over time, I stopped reading websites such as Brain lists above and started reading science. I quickly realised I was wrong. No vaccine caused my daughters autism. Her autism was just the way she was.

    The difference is between peer reviewed, journal published science that is hopefully replicated or is at least transparent enough to be replicated and diatribes posted on websites that utilise bad science, bad methodologies and come to bad conclusions. I would urge all parents or soon-to-be parents to study the science. Not the websites. the science.

    Chris Radcliffe above says:

    It’s easy to fall into saying “all X are bad” or “all X are good,” but I’d much rather take the time to ask, “What is this particular vaccine protecting him against? How likely is that disease? How many cases were reported locally in the last decade? Is the vaccine scheduled now for medical reasons, or epidemiological reasons? Can it be scheduled in a more medically-appropriate way if I know he’ll be coming back for them all?”

    A concrete example: until just recently, measles was exeptionally uncommon in my neck of the woods, so the Geeklet wasn’t vaccinated. As soon as cases were reported, though, he was. At age 4 instead of age 6 months. Did the three years make a difference? Maybe. As with anything else, I made the call as a parent.

    With all due respect that opinion and decision (not to vaccinate until you are personally affected) has no doubt led to the proliferation of measles in your area you are now obliged to vaccine your child against. Less vaccination = less herd immunity.

    I would simply all your questions to two:

    1) Are vaccines very largely positive or negative in effect?
    2) Will not vaccinating have both a personal and societal impact?
    3) Is there any decent science to support the view that vaccines in any way cause autism?

    To me, there is no ambiguity to any of the answers. To that end, I can see no reason to not vaccinate and plenty of reasons that not vaccinating is a bad idea.

  46. Kev

    Apologies ‘simply’ should read ‘simplify’ and ‘two’ should be ‘three’.

  47. Quiet_Desperation

    In order to keep certain traits (like good eyesight) normal within a population, then those who lack this trait have to be selected against by nature.

    As someone with bad eyesight, gee, thanks for *that*. :-P

    Well just toss out over a century of eyeglass, contact lens and Lasik technology just for you. And well stop all stem cell research, which has shown it can actually regenerate retinas.

    Oh, and, FYI, there is some contention that myopia is a completely genetic trait.

  48. Daffy

    Brian,

    You are obviously too young to remember the polio outbreaks that crippled so many kids. It’s easy to ignore the value of vaccines when you never saw what things were like before they existed.

  49. Blaidd Drwg

    Brian,

    According to WebMD and the WHO childhood mortality from chicken pox is between 50-100 deaths per year in the US. (Much higher in undeveloped countries). 4 million children get CP in the US per year, (more than 1/100,000 – not huge, but how do you justify to your spouse that your child was ‘just unlucky because you didn’t have him/her vaccinated when it was available’?) 1 in 100,000 sounds like a small risk, but consider that it is 1000X your odds of winning the lottery. Additionally, a significant number of people who contract CP as children suffer through shingles later in life – very low mortality, though frequently agonizing.

    In addition, my niece is a microbiology researcher, and it appears (very early – but ‘interesting’) that there may be a link between herpes infections (including CP) and Alzheimers’ syndrome.

  50. Calli Arcale

    “As was explained to me by a DR: The additive has NO medical value, it is strictly a shelf life extending agent meant for economy, not any medical use”

    This is actually a medical value — extending the shelf life. Seriously. The purpose of the preservative (whether thimerosal or another) is to protect the patient against septicemia. You really really really REALLY don’t want bacteria growing in a substance which is going to be injected into somebody’s body.

    And don’t underestimate the importance of economy. Consider for a moment that a great many people lack health coverage, and a great many of those are in tight corners financially yet do not qualify for assistance. If they have to pay out of pocket for their children to be vaccinated, the cost of the vaccine makes a huge difference. (After all, if you have to choose between a vaccine and Now, we *could* subsidize vaccines further, perhaps even to the point where they are free to all. But the funding will have to come out of the taxpayers’ pockets, and there has historically been considerable resistance to that.

    Me, I’m in favor of health care cost reduction, as long as it doesn’t compromise safety too much. (Is there an acceptable amount of compromise with regards to safety? Yes. That may sound horrible, but truthfully, it just reflects on the fact that nothing can ever be 100% safe, so insisting on total safety may mean paralyzing one’s decision-making process. At some point, ya gotta fish or cut bait.)

  51. Todd W.

    @BeWi

    For information on the side effects expected from vaccines, take a look at the US Food and Drug Administration’s web sites, as well as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

  52. Tom Marking

    The largest autism advocacy organization in the United States is ASA (Autism Society of America). Here is what they have to say about vaccines and autism:

    http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=mmrvaccine

    “ASA Statement on May 2004 IOM Report on Vaccines and Autism
    A national panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) charged with advising the government on the safety of vaccines released their final report today concluding that there is no causal link between vaccines and autism. The Autism Society of America has reviewed the report and does not support the conclusions drawn and is calling for more credible research into the issue.

    The IOM report, “Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism,” is based on a meeting conducted in February 2004 in Washington, DC, during which more than a dozen researchers presented evidence related to a proposed link between certain childhood vaccines specifically, those with the mercury-based preservative thimerosal and autism.

    ASA has had difficulty supporting the conclusions reached by the committee because research on the affected group needed to draw such a conclusion has not been conducted. ASA is calling on the government to launch biological and clinical studies that look at the subgroup of individuals with autism who may be genetically susceptible to the effects of vaccines and/or thimerosal before putting the issue to rest.

    Moreover, the ASA agrees and supports the IOM’s own recommendation made in 2001 that biological and clinical studies be conducted to answer the question of a link. ASA also supports many of the points raised by Congressman Dave Weldon (FL) as well as others who believe the IOM report is incomplete and premature.

    .
    .
    .

  53. Phil, if you want to inject Mercury into the Little Astronomer, go right ahead.

  54. Phil, if you want to inject Mercury into the Little Astronomer, go right ahead.

    Ed, if you want to make a false dichotomy, and misrepresent vaccinations, go right ahead

  55. Ray C.

    Polio isn’t quite gone, thanks to some Nigerian clown who thumped on his Qur’an while shouting “The American infidel dogs are out to sterilize yo’ wimmenfolk with their vaccines!” (It’s always about threats to yo’ wimmenfolk.) Combine this with that little annual shindig in Mecca and you have polio coming back in other places as well.

  56. There is a rare mitochondrial disorder associated with chromosome 16 which can be triggered by a vaccination and potentially cause autism. This is however, extremely rare to see. But this, I think, is where most of the public worry comes about. When the Autism Consortium study, released online by the New England Journal of Medicine was published, which had results linking autism to a rare, random genetic disorder which could potentially be triggered by a vaccine came out — well, the public latched onto it, and over-reacted, as the public is wont to do (especially with sensationalist media).

    There is a tiny link — an extremely tiny link. And even if your child has this mitochondrial disorder and gets a vaccination, that doesn’t mean that they will get autism. It’s not just the vaccine, which is something that some people have a really hard time wrapping their heads around. It’s the vaccine + your genes + your environment. Vaccine + genome + epi-genome.

    Unfortunately, testing for the mitochondrial disorder is very expensive (in the states, anyways). So parents don’t test for until after their child is diagnosed — and even if the child does autism, it cannot be 100% proven that it was caused by the disorder.

    Reading the media coverage on this gives me premature gray hairs.

    We recently talked about this in my Applied Human Development class at college. Luckily for me, I have sane, respectable psychologist professor for that class who recognizes the merits of evolution.

  57. David D

    Do the Scientologists believe in childhood vaccination, or does Xenu prohibit it?

  58. Well, detection rate continues to rise. It’s remotely possible that autism “contraction” rates did decline, but since our “detection” methods improve, the apparent number of autism cases continues to rise. I’m not saying I believe this, I’m saying I want to know if there’s any way to rule this possibility out.

  59. Ed Minchau, maybe I’m a little dense today, but what precisely do you mean by that comment?

  60. Tom Marking

    http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/cc-exem.htm

    48 states have vaccination exemptions based on religion – only Mississippi and West Virginia do not

    The following 21 states have vaccination exemptions based on personal belief:
    Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

    Thus, if the American public turned away from vaccinations in large numbers there is not a thing legally anyone could do about it. Herd immunity would rapidly disappear.

  61. Todd W.

    @Brian and Tom Marking

    If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look at the Brian Deer web page. He goes into pretty great detail about the MMR-vaccine flap started by Andrew Wakefield.

    Next, see if you can get a hold of the Skeptical Inquirer issue that deals with vaccines and autism. I believe it is the November/December 2007 issue. An article there by Dr. Steven Novella has a number of studies referenced that examined the supposed link.

    From an ethics/logic perspective, the benefits of vaccination generally outweigh arguments against them. The odds of serious injury or death from the diseases they protect against are much higher than the odds of serious adverse events from the vaccinations themselves. Also, on the concept of community immunity (aka herd immunity), every person that refuses to get vaccinated decreases the protection afforded the community, particularly those who do not get vaccinated because they have medical conditions that preclude vaccination. So, the vaccination decision is not just a personal issue. It does have ramifications for the larger population.

    I agree that there should be more investigation into vaccines and the negative effects they may have on health, but as the research currently stands, there is little credible evidence that there is a link between vaccines and autism and a great deal of evidence suggesting that there is no link. The course of the argument for a link shifted from the MMR-autism link and the thimerosal-autism link to MMR-thimerosal-autism link to “it must be something else in the vaccine” argument as each theory lost credibility (though they have all held on rather tenaciously). This line of argumentation sounds very strongly of the “need to believe” style of thinking, which is understandable considering the devastation that a diagnosis of autism brings.

    As a final thought, around the same time that the vaccination schedule expanded, so, too, did the Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis. Tools for diagnosis also improved, as did awareness of autism. These factors all contribute to an increase in diagnoses (though not necessarily a true rise in the number of cases).

    As someone mentioned above, research needs to look into what has caused the apparent increase in the number of cases, and whether it has truly increased or, as I suspect, is likely an artifact of improved diagnosis and expanded definition.

  62. DavidCT

    Brian

    So you think Chicken Pox is no big deal. Tell that to the people suffering from “shingles” in later life as a result of the Herpes Zoster still living in their nerves. This suffering is now vaccine preventable. I wish that the vaccine had been available when I was a kid – if it had been I would not be at risk now.

  63. CammoBlammo

    Phil, if you want to inject Mercury into the Little Astronomer, go right ahead.

    Ed, if you want to make a false dichotomy, and misrepresent vaccinations, go right ahead

    No, you’ve got it wrong, see? This is an astronomy site, and Ed spelt Mercury with a capitl ‘M’.

    I’d hate to see the size of that needle…

  64. I agree that there should be more investigation into vaccines and the negative effects they may have on health, but as the research currently stands, there is little credible evidence that there is a link between vaccines and autism and a great deal of evidence suggesting that there is no link. The course of the argument for a link shifted from the MMR-autism link and the thimerosal-autism link to MMR-thimerosal-autism link to “it must be something else in the vaccine” argument as each theory lost credibility (though they have all held on rather tenaciously). This line of argumentation sounds very strongly of the “need to believe” style of thinking, which is understandable considering the devastation that a diagnosis of autism brings.

    You hit it right on the head. As study after study exonerate thimerosal in vaccines as a cause of autism, now antivaccinationists are turning to other ingredients in vaccines and then starting to refer to innumerable permutations and combinations of these vaccines as the “real” cause of autism. Antivaccinationists are, if nothing else, very–shall we say?–flexible about what hypotheses of autism causation they will accept. The only absolute requirement they have for such hypotheses, of course, is that the hypothesis must somehow blame vaccines for autism, no matter how tangentially. Anything else is negotiable. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous or scientifically implausible (remember the Geiers’ concept of “testosterone sheets” binding vaccine-derived mercury in autistic children and making it “more difficult to chelate,” for example) or how many high quality studies refute it (the concept that mercury in the thimerosal preservative that used to be in most childhood vaccines, for example), as long as the hypothesis somehow blames vaccines for autism, antivaccinationists will credulously gobble it up. It doesn’t even matter if the hypotheses they champion are mutually contradictory of each other. To them, as long as a hypothesis of autism causation somehow, some way allows them to blame vaccines for autism, to antivaccinationists it’s all good.

  65. Brian's Mom

    Polio isn’t quite gone, thanks to some Nigerian clown who thumped on his Qur’an while shouting “The American infidel dogs are out to sterilize yo’ wimmenfolk with their vaccines!” (It’s always about threats to yo’ wimmenfolk.) Combine this with that little annual shindig in Mecca and you have polio coming back in other places as well.

    That’s funny, David Ayoub doesn’t look Nigerian.

  66. There is a rare mitochondrial disorder associated with chromosome 16 which can be triggered by a vaccination and potentially cause autism. This is however, extremely rare to see. But this, I think, is where most of the public worry comes about. When the Autism Consortium study, released online by the New England Journal of Medicine was published, which had results linking autism to a rare, random genetic disorder which could potentially be triggered by a vaccine came out — well, the public latched onto it, and over-reacted, as the public is wont to do (especially with sensationalist media).

    There is a tiny link — an extremely tiny link. And even if your child has this mitochondrial disorder and gets a vaccination, that doesn’t mean that they will get autism. It’s not just the vaccine, which is something that some people have a really hard time wrapping their heads around. It’s the vaccine + your genes + your environment. Vaccine + genome + epi-genome.

    Close, but not quite. It’s in reality any source of fever that can aggravate the specific mitochondrial disorder from which Hannah Poling suffered, and it caused encephalopathy “with autism-like symptoms,” not autism itself.

    The way antivaccinationists have latched on to this case shows just how desperate they’ve become to find a way to blame vaccines for autism.

  67. Tom Marking

    “Tools for diagnosis also improved, as did awareness of autism.”

    What tools would these be? Have you ever had a child in your family diagnosed with autism? Probably not. Otherwise you would be aware that there are no fancy medical gadgets for diagnosing autism, no blood tests, no DNA screens (there is such a thing for FragileX syndrome but that’s a different story), no brain MRIs, etc., etc. There is no specific medical test at all. Instead there is something called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) but don’t let the acronym fool you. It is nothing fancy – just a doctor sitting down and observing your child for about 15 minutes and also asking the parents questions. That’s the state of the art in terms of autism “diagnosis”.

    “… and expanded definition.”

    Also, the main definition of autism comes from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders) version IV which was last updated in 1994. It would be hard to account for Phil’s autism curve from 1994 onward due to expanded definition when the definition hasn’t really changed.

  68. Ken

    I had a zoster outbreak two years ago, and I’d never felt such pain. I still have a spot on my chin where the nerves haven’t come back. Brian keeps talking about deaths from measles, deaths from chicken pox, etc. But these diseases can also leave a person maimed for life – deafness, brain damage, sterility. It’s scary that somebody could be that misinformed and have any influence on public health. I thought creationists were bad when they start rewriting textbooks. Brian and his friends are reinterpreting the physical world, based on their subjective experience and the words of some equally misinformed claims makers. This is not only foolish, but potentially disastrous.

  69. Calli Arcale

    It’s in reality any source of fever that can aggravate the specific mitochondrial disorder from which Hannah Poling suffered, and it caused encephalopathy “with autism-like symptoms,” not autism itself.

    Which, ironically, means that had she not been vaccinated, she’d probably be a *greater* risk of high fever, since she’d be vulnerable to every childhood pathogen that comes along, and much more likely to develop serious consequences from things like chicken pox, rubella, measles, influenza etc. I saw a blog comment from a parent of a child with the same mitochondrial condition, talking about how it is actually MORE important to vaccinate these children, not less.

    The anti-vaccinationists have the wrong end of the stick completely with this one. There are only two possibilities: either they are not thinking things through very well, or they believe that death or severe disability is preferable to autism.

  70. Will. M

    Myopia (nearsightedness) could be both a genetic trait – associated with a defective PAX6 gene, and environmentally caused – as a result of diet, too much light, or stress, according to Wikipedia (I don’t know how to insert links in these posts).

    I was diagnosed with nearsightedness at the age of six or seven when my fourth grade teacher noticed that my class work declined and tested my reading of the chalkboard from the back of the room (where I usually sat) and the front.

    I suspect this problem has more to do with genetics than anything else; I have two brothers, only one of whom doesn’t have myopia (but he has developed far-sightedness in middle age). My dad was near-sighted, my mother wasn’t; both our grandparents on my dad’s side had no vision problems by the time of their deaths (of heart disease) in their early ’60s. There is no data available for my mom’s parents. So, anecdotally at least, it would seem that my problem is parent-related on my dad’s side of the family. And two of us brothers inherited heart trouble (but not the brother with good eyesight!).

    I once read a science article which said that all Chinese in China would eventually have to wear glasses because of their increasingly narrowing gene pool. The conjecture didn’t apply to folks who intermarried with non-Chinese – clearly a premise based upon a genetic theory. The overwhelming size of the population of China was a large factor in the projection as well; there was a shrinking gene pool of variables from which to select. So, if we just keep mixing up the gene pool (and ignore the proscriptions of the various religions against such mixing), perhaps the need for glasses, laser surgery and the like will eventually disappear – or perhaps the stem cell-retinal injections will have a positive genetic effect on the next generation.

    As for vaccinations: I had to suffer through measles as a kid. When a vaccine for Polio was discovered by Dr. Jonas Salk, my mom was among the first in our neighborhood to sign me up. I think I must have been right on the edge of the life-altering discoveries of the last century: penicillin – which was a relatively new “miracle” drug – saved me from a life-threatening bout of asthma; I was one of the last kids to be anesthetized with ether (for a broken arm); I was one of the first kids in our neighborhood crew to have my teeth put in braces. And later, when I had a heart attack at the age of 40, the newest batteries of drugs along with suggested changes in diet and behavior have kept me alive well past the age when my dad died of heart disease at 59.

    So, I trust science and the medical profession pretty much big-time. Without these advances in medicine I’d have had a much shorter – and probably poorer quality – of life.

  71. As I’ve said before, some folks will always be riding the “Vaccine-Autism” bandwagon because they smell a big, fat lawsuit.

    I couldn’t care less about a cure for Autism. Even if they did come out with a cure, my daughter can’t have back the first three years of life to develop neurotypically. She’s the way she is, and I love her that way. The days can be rough, but some days I’d take her over my other, “normal” kids. :)

  72. Kev

    <blockquote.There is a rare mitochondrial disorder associated with chromosome 16 which can be triggered by a vaccination and potentially cause autism.

    No, that is not accurate. I blogged this here.

  73. Tom,

    The DSM is not the only source for diagnostic criteria. It’s not like diagnoses are static for 14 years because another version of the DSM has not come out. There are still published papers and evolving standards occurring all the time.

    The definition of autism has been expanded to autism spectrum disorders – this is indisputable.

    In terms of better diagnosis – this is not due to a new diagnostic tool, but expanded surveillance and better recognition among clinicians.

    for more info: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=95

  74. No, you’ve got it wrong, see? This is an astronomy site, and Ed spelt Mercury with a capitl ‘M’.

    I’d hate to see the size of that needle…

    My apologies to Ed then for missing that!

  75. Mary

    @BeWi:

    Here are a couple that I find are clear and explain the risks of not vaccinating really well:

    What Would Happen If We Stopped Vaccinations?
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/whatifstop.htm

    And this one, about popular misconceptions:
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm

  76. Dutch

    Black Swans exist!!!

    I can just imagine all the rationalizing and posturing that will occur a few years from now.

  77. Amanda

    The ASA isn’t a science-based organization, it’s an advocacy organization that has long had an explicit policy not to make judgments about any “treatment” a parent might choose, however outlandish or harmful it might be.

    This is why they used to support (may still support) places like the Judge Rotenberg Center, an institution which uses cattle-prod-like devices and other forms of torture on autistic (among other) children to encourage obedience, and which has been responsible for some deaths of disabled people living there. That is the lack of limitation they have generally had on outlandish and cruel things, as long as they call themselves “treatments”.

    So their position statement on vaccination is as meaningless as if it came from any random person. All it reflects is particular parents’ opinions, not science.

  78. Moreover, the ASA agrees and supports the IOM’s own recommendation made in 2001

    Which was supplanted by the IOM’s recommendation in 2004. And by all means, do let’s give more credence to an advocacy organization–because if it’s the biggest, it must be the best–over our country’s national academy of medicine.

    Not.

    not a thing legally anyone could do about it. Herd immunity would rapidly disappear

    One could strive to get laws changed in the 21 states that permit exemptions based on an inability to understand medicine and public health. Herd immunity would certainly be endangered, but it’s plain that you’re not very concerned about that.

    Have you ever had a child in your family diagnosed with autism? Probably not.

    I have. Can I comment now?

    There were multiple changes in the DSM, not just some grand unifying change in 1994. Awareness has been increasing at a rate that is not measurable–in fact, awareness is probably a concept that’s difficult to quantify without resorting to softer science methodologies.

    And it’s not like the change in the DSM criteria was an on/off switch–it didn’t instantly affect incidence. It’s quite obvious that there’s an increase in the slope from 1994-1996.

  79. culvercitycynic

    @ Lisa Rudy:

    Don’t know if this was mentioned yet, but the Kennedy earlier referred to, was recovering heroin addict Bobby Jr, not the late John Jr as you wrote here: “When you say “the likes of JFK Jr.,” you may feel he’s not credible, but many would disagree.”

  80. Tom Marking

    “The ASA isn’t a science-based organization, it’s an advocacy organization that has long had an explicit policy not to make judgments about any “treatment” a parent might choose, however outlandish or harmful it might be.”

    Yes, the reason I bring it up is that it is frequently claimed that when Hillary or Obama or McCain make some kind of autism-vaccine statement that they are pandering to a few distraught parents of autistic kids. They may be, but they are also pandering to the largest autism advocacy group in the country which just happens to be pushing the autism-vaccination linkage.

  81. @Orac
    “Close, but not quite. It’s in reality any source of fever that can aggravate the specific mitochondrial disorder from which Hannah Poling suffered, and it caused encephalopathy “with autism-like symptoms,” not autism itself.”

    Sorry for the confusion there, I was trying to use that as example of how people freaked out over autism-causing vaccines when they really don’t need to, because if the child has that mitochondrial disorder, it’s just going to suck no matter what when it comes to things medical.

    I really should be more careful at proof-reading what I post when I’ve only had 1 hour of sleep.

  82. Long time reader, not often commenter … blah, blah. But what’s important is that I’m a supporter: the anti-vaccination crowd are ignorant criminals who, at least, should hide their heads in shame; at worst be jailed for the pain and misery they’ve caused so many people.

  83. Tom Marking

    “One could strive to get laws changed in the 21 states that permit exemptions based on an inability to understand medicine and public health. Herd immunity would certainly be endangered, but it’s plain that you’re not very concerned about that.”

    Yes, I suggest you strive very, very hard in your own home state to get those laws changed. As to my concern or lack thereof, I suggest you search back to Phil’s Jenny McCarthy post and you can see for yourself my opinion about the anti-vaccination crowd.

    “Awareness has been increasing at a rate that is not measurable–in fact, awareness is probably a concept that’s difficult to quantify without resorting to softer science methodologies.”

    I don’t buy the whole increasing awareness of autism for the following reason. If your kid isn’t talking by the time he reaches kindergarten age then it’s obvious. There is no awareness involved. It would have been just as obvious in 1960 as it was in 1970 as it was in 1980 as it was in 1990 as it is now. The kid’s not talking, he’s flapping his hands – this does not take some rocket scientist to figure out. Awareness is not needed in this case.

    Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology_of_autism

    “Attention has been focused on whether the prevalence of autism is increasing with time. Earlier prevalence estimates were lower, centering at about 0.5 per 1,000 for autism during the 1960s and 1970s and about 1 per 1,000 in the 1980s, as opposed to today’s 1–2 per 1,000.”

    This is hard-core autism they’re talking about in these numbers, not ASD. The prevalence went from 0.5 per 1,000 in the 1960′s to 1-2 per 1,000 today. Widening the net for ASD does not really affect the statistics for autism-proper.

  84. Will

    Well, this could just be our next stage of evolution. Once herd immunity drops, and these diseases resurge, there will be a strong selection toward the “having gotten vaccinated” behavior, and the “anti-vaccine” behavior will die out with its adherents.

  85. From now one, every time I hear an anti-vaccination person speak, I will think of this article…

    http://bluecollarscientist.com/2008/05/09/autism-linked-to-parents-mental-illness/

    “In another sign pointing to an inherited component to autism, a study released on Monday found that having a schizophrenic parent or a mother with psychiatric problems roughly doubled a child’s risk of being autistic.”

    It’s not the mercury, people; it’s the crazy people having kids that’s doing it.

  86. Kevin

    I think people should keep an open mind.

    I’m not saying you should or shouldn’t vaccinate your kids (I don’t have any, never plan on having any, so it doesn’t affect me and my life personally). All I’m saying is keep an open, scientifically-based mind.

    Is it a scientific law that vaccines don’t affect medical disorders (you notice I didn’t say “cause”)? We believe in physical laws, like gravity. But theories, even though they have stood up to attacks by experimentation for decades, could possibly be changed or overturned if there is new, proven data found.

    To say that vaccines do not cause autism, measles, mumps, polio, wanting to watch American Gladiators is – I think – close-minded.

    History is rife with instances of someone saying “this is the way it is, and how it will be” and then a discovery is made refuting it. Who here can positively say that sometime in the future (near or far) that there won’t be a link discovered between vaccines and certain diseases (there’s no hope for the viewers of “American Gladiators” though).

    I’m not defending Jenny McCarthy or other like her. But is everyone her so arrogant that they can’t be a tiny teeny bit open-minded that there might be something out there?

    We rant and rave against the ID’ers and the narrow and close-minded people who believe the universe is 6000 years old, or have intense religious beliefs. The Discovery Institute is taken to task for their beliefs daily, the movie “expelled” is cursed by the critical thinking crowd. But while you chide and berate these people for their narrow minded thinking, aren’t you guilty of the same thing when it comes to this topic?

    Is everyone really, really sure? 125% positive? Without a shadow of a doubt?

    I don’t think so.

    Ms. McCarthy, and others like her, might be wrong about their approach, and perhaps have shoddy data. But it seems they are more open-minded than many scientists, who stop their feet, shout them down, and say “you are wrong – you are killing your children!!”

    Just think about it. Keep an open mind.

    I’d hate to have something show up five or ten years from now that makes Phil and the rest of the scientific community look bad because they – in the year 2008 – were “100% convinced” of their beliefs.

    So… if you are absolutely, completely, without a shadow of a doubt CERTAIN you are correct, list your names so that if – and I’m not saying it will happen, but I’m at least open-minded enough to imagine it might happen – years from now a link is established, everyone can know who was really wrong. Are you all willing to do that? To stake your names and reputations on this? I know I’m not.

    Critical thinking is good. It’s necessary. But don’t be so critical to be close-minded and blind to the possibilities.

  87. If we could eradicate Polio, etc., it would save us money here in the US — in the short term. We spend alot on our vaccinations. The payback period is very short. Astronomically short. The first world should pay to make this happen in the third world, if only for self interest. I know a guy who claims to be the last American infected with Polio. One arm is limited by what the nerves can still do. I’d say he got away lucky.

    So, if you don’t do vaccinations for religeous reasons, who does it hurt? Does it take these people out of the gene pool? Probably not. It does increase the chances of infection for the rest of us. Many vaccines are not 100% effective. So, say 20% might get infected anyway. But if 80% of your peers can’t be infected, you are MUCH less likely to be infected, even if you aren’t immune yourself.

    One thing that has been linked to Autism. TV. We should ban TV. While we’re there, we could save some 45,000 deaths per year in the US alone by banning cars. Each of us has a 1% chance of death by car over our lifetimes. Is that acceptible risk?

    A parent could ban TV for their own kids, without affecting the rest of us.

    TV also affects attention span. My attention span is now so short, i can’t make it through a TV program. And most of you didn’t make it to the end of this comment. Right?

  88. Gil

    I think it might be better to say, “SOME vaccines do not cause autism”.

    Sorry, Phil, you haven’t done your homework on this one.

    There have been links discovered in peer reviewed biology papers between certain vaccines and autism, among other serious negative side effects, including DEATH.

    See the Journal Nature, New England Journal of Medicine, university level theses.

    You may be a great astronomer, skeptic and debunker of rouge asteroids, but you aren’t a catch-all scientist. You can’t get a doctorate in everything.

  89. I think it might be better to say, “SOME vaccines do not cause autism”.

    No, it is quite correct to say that vaccines do not cause autism. At least there is no credible scientific evidence that any of them do and lots of good scientific and epidemiological evidence that they do not.

    But, hey, maybe I missed something in my studies in this area. I doubt it, but it’s possible. Perhaps you could point me to papers in Nature or NEJM that support a link between vaccines and autism. After all, that’s what you seem to be implying, that there are peer-reviewed papers in these prestigious journals supporting your contention.

  90. Andrew

    The BA writes:

    “Ed Minchau, maybe I’m a little dense today, but what precisely do you mean by that comment?”

    Let me translate: Ed wishes people to confuse the properties of a chemical compound which contains mercury with the properties of mercury itself, which is equivalent to worrying that salting food will cause it to explode, because sodium is explosive.

    Andrew

  91. culvercitycynic

    @Kevin

    “Is everyone really, really sure? 125% positive? Without a shadow of a doubt? I don’t think so.”

    Please keep an open mind and REVERSE your query: Are you willing to tell an autistic child/teen/adult that they are “poisoned”; a “toxic train wreck” (terms used by McCarthy and crew) … without a shadow of a doubt? Because this is precisely what’s going on. And you’re calling that tactic “more open-minded than many scientists” learned opinions? Sorry, but it’s patently abusive.

  92. Is it a scientific law that vaccines don’t affect medical disorders (you notice I didn’t say “cause”)? We believe in physical laws, like gravity. But theories, even though they have stood up to attacks by experimentation for decades, could possibly be changed or overturned if there is new, proven data found.

    Where to start? First off, there is not really any such thing as biological “laws” as they are understood in physics and the physical sciences. There are theories, like the theory of evolution, but laws are mainly for physics, and then they are relatively few. Moreover, physical laws have stood the test of time that the chances of them ever being overturned is vanishingly small. If you’re going to liken the contention that vaccines don’t cause autism to a scientific law, you’re basically saying that the odds are overwhelmingly against this contention ever being overturned.

    Your appeal to the “open mind” produces the sort of mind that’s so open your brains fall out. Critical thinking tells us that the evidence that there is no link between vaccines and autism is very, very strong, while the studies that claim otherwise are invariably very, very weak. (And I’ve read virtually all of the studies that claim to support a link. I have yet to find one that isn’t seriously flawed from a scientific or study design standpoint.) The evidence is quite strong, and although it’s not impossible that someday some sort of link will be found the evidence today is such that it would be highly unlikely that it would be a strong link. If there were a strong link that affected any more than a very small minority of the population, it would have been found already in the multiple studies done on this issue.

    We rant and rave against the ID’ers and the narrow and close-minded people who believe the universe is 6000 years old, or have intense religious beliefs. The Discovery Institute is taken to task for their beliefs daily, the movie “expelled” is cursed by the critical thinking crowd. But while you chide and berate these people for their narrow minded thinking, aren’t you guilty of the same thing when it comes to this topic?

    Is everyone really, really sure? 125% positive? Without a shadow of a doubt?

    I don’t think so.

    Oh, please. Give me a break with the appeal to ignorance logical fallacy Let’s put it this way: The evidence is such that I’m 99.99% positive that there is no correlation. So are virtually all the scientists who study this issue. Even if it’s only 99%, the level of uncertainty is far lower than it is for almost any other medical question out there, so low that the antivaccination hysteria whipped up by the “vaccines-cause-autism” crowd and aided and abetted by credulous “open-minded” people like you is simply not justified.

    As for ten years from now wondering if a link will be found, let’s put it this way: Scientists have been looking for a link for at least a decade now; every well-designed large clinical trial and epidemiological study has failed to find one. Given that autism is usually diagnosed between the ages of 3-5, that’s plenty of time to have found a link if one existed.

  93. Yes, I suggest you strive very, very hard in your own home state to get those laws changed. As to my concern or lack thereof, I suggest you search back to Phil’s Jenny McCarthy post and you can see for yourself my opinion about the anti-vaccination crowd.

    My state doesn’t have a personal belief law.

    I do apologize if I mischaracterized your general belief about vaccinations. If what you say is true, I offer the defense that you walk like a duck (figuratively). That defense aside, I apologize if apology is warranted (limited time for back-checking, I’ll choose to assume your good faith).

    As to the epidemiology, the 1 in 150 prevalence of legend covers all autism spectrum diagnoses, not just the ones you’re selecting. Regardless of which diagnoses you consider relevant, the “awareness” discussion also goes to diagnoses that would now be relevant, that were formerly classified as “retardation” or other archaic terms.

    And I really don’t mean this to be as snide as it’s probably going to sound, but you want me to accept Wikipedia as an authoritative source on autism epidemiology? Uhm…I’ll choose to take that as a subtle jest. And to laugh at it good-naturedly. And to enjoy the remainder of my day, as I hope you will do with yours.

  94. CammoBlammo, it is quite proper to capitalize the name of a chemical element.

    BA, I was a little over the top there, because I figured that the shock might make you sit up and take notice; I don’t think for a second that you would ever knowingly do harm to the Little Astronomer. I also have no problem with vaccines per se. I do have a problem with the doses of vaccine being separated by a drop of Mercury.

  95. David

    I’m a microbiology major in college and Brian’s comments about the plague and diseases weakening over time really bugged me. I’ve been taking a microbial evolution and ecology class and we actually talked about this although I never heard anyone try to use Yersinia pestis (Black Plague).
    I quickly checked the black plague on wikipedia to find the estimated death tole. 75 million people globally (the world population at the time was 450million, but I don’t know if either take the Americas into account since they weren’t involved). 25-50 million died in Europe. That’s an obscene 30-60% of the European population.
    Do you really want to argue against vaccines with that data. That risk would make me want to get a vaccine even if there was a 10% chance of death. Instead, you have a flimsy set of anecdotal evidence and questionable research. I have no clue why you would want to use the plague.
    On top of that your anecdote is based on poor interpretation of microbial ecology. Yes, SOME bacteria and viruses decrease in virulence overtime. The common cold is often cited although there is no evidence to indicate it ever was a mass killer. The Ebola virus is also often used. It does massive damage then puffs out of existence for a while ’till a new bat infects someone. It’s not equipped to survive in a human population for a long time right now (thankfully).
    This argument fall apart when you look at something like tuberculosis. It has been around for an incredibly long time. I don’t remember the play, but Shakespeare wrote about it. It is also one of the top killers in the world, granted economic conditions, malaria, HIV play a part in this. That said, its virulence hasn’t gone down and its making a resurgence in the USA.
    Influenza also kills your argument, since a new strain comes out of Asia every year. Some years its stronger than others, but its not going down.
    Brains argument only works if you assume we are evolving at the same rate as bacteria and viruses. Thanks to their absurdly fast doubling time that is nowhere near true. You can grow up more bacteria in culture from one single cell overnight than there are people in the world. The plague faded away, because it started to run out of people to kill since densely populated areas were abandoned.
    On a side note I bet the Native Americans, Inca, and Aztecs would have loved a small pox vaccine. Their populations were decimated by it.

  96. LaCreption

    Modern society probably most probably causes quite some cases of autism. That is, if somebody is not mainstream he/she gets a tag easily.

    We all take it for granted that everybody is multifunctional, multitasking and obeys time schedules and rules set by others. As if that is human nature.

    People are tagged too easily. At least from my own experiences and what I have seen amongst children of friends. A child is different? Well, it must be autism.

  97. As a guy with an open mind, here’s what I want to know. Perhaps Orac and Phil can get together and write up a response to my question…

    Do vaccines cause black holes, or what?

    Don’t be closed-minded, look at the data, and let’s remember that everyone’s views are valid.

    So? Do they cause black holes, or has someone been BSing me?

  98. Joe Shmoe

    Has anyone brought up the fact that you quoted from a debunked study out of Denmark? The Danish autism studies cannot be used to prove your point about the safety of vaccinations (in particular thimerosal-containing vaccines) as the studies were shown to be fatally flawed back in 2003. Good job keeping up with the science… LOL!

  99. Holy crap, I walk away for a couple hours and this place goes APE SH—! I just started subscribing to this feed a few days ago. Are ALL the discussions this lively? :-)

    Okay, way way WAY too many people calling me to task to respond individually. Though I’ve got to say there seem to be quite a few people in the pro-vaccine camp who want to accuse me and other anti-vax people of plugging our ears and willfully ignoring anything that might sway our decision… and yet it seems as though a lot of those people are doing the very same thing, refusing to even indulge the idea that vaccines MIGHT be more damaging than good. I think the blog that sparked this whole debate is indicative of that overeagerness to be right. “Vaccines do not Cause Autism.” Really? You’re going to close the book on the discussion based on one new study?
    We can go round and round presenting graphs and arguing about how one side presents the numbers, or telling the horror stories of what happened to somebody who did or did not get the vaccine. But the mere fact that there IS still a question about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it seems like a group of so-called scientists would at least keep an open mind on the matter. You can accuse “our side” of bad science all you want but if you’ve closed yourself off to the idea that you might be wrong, I’d say that’s pretty bad science too…. and again, as a group of scientists, aren’t you supposed to know better than that? :-)

    In the end, honestly all I really care about is keeping the dialogue open so that the laws don’t become totalitarian because I still DO have a concern about vaccines and don’t want any state legislature saying I have to do anything medically to my kids that I don’t feel comfortable with. As near as I see it the only people that I am potentially affecting are MY OWN kids (which of course i don’t believe I am). But YOUR kids who have been vaccinated, if you’re so sure about the efficacy of those vaccines, they shouldn’t be in any danger should my kid come down with the measles. Right?

    Orac, if you do end up doing a blog about all the things I screwed up in my essay, please let me know. I’d be very eager to read it and perhaps go another round over on your site. :-)

  100. Mary

    We are 125% certain that not vaccinating kids will lead to illness and deaths. For example, in the case of diphtheria, when the Soviet Union fell apart and vaccination programs were not pursued, we see:

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

    After the breakup of the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s, vaccination rates in its constituent countries fell so low that there was an explosion of diphtheria cases. In 1991 there were 2,000 cases of diphtheria in the USSR. By 1998, according to Red Cross estimates, there were as many as 200,000 cases in the Commonwealth of Independent States, with 5,000 deaths. This was so great an increase that diphtheria was cited in the Guinness Book of World Records as “most resurgent disease”.

    That isn’t hard to predict. It will be hard to watch. And this is just one of the diseases that could re-surge here.

  101. DLC

    For the BA. Good article.
    I continue to hope that reason will out.

    I guess that makes me an optimist.

  102. HCN

    Brian said “But YOUR kids who have been vaccinated, if you’re so sure about the efficacy of those vaccines, they shouldn’t be in any danger should my kid come down with the measles. Right? ”

    Unfortunately during the measles outbreak in San Diego several babies who were too young to get the MMR were infected with measles. This happened when an unvaccinated child traveled to Switzerland and came home with measles. His parents took him to the doctor’s office where he/she subsequently infected other kids, many of them under a year old (the reason this is important is that the MMR is only given AFTER a child’s first birthday).

    Also, and I know that this will just fly over your head: some people actually have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccines. This also means that when they get the actual diseases, it can be very bad. Tell us how one could have prevented the outcome that these two young men suffered, and why they deserved what happened to them:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

    Also, the MMR is about 95% effective after the second dose. This means at anytime in a highly vaccinated population, about 1 out of 20 are not immune to measles. Look this concept up: herd immunity.

    Here is the thing, sure it is fine for you to not vaccinate your children. Just please keep them out of medical facilities, away from schools and generally away from public. This means all the time, because measles is infectious before there are any symptoms.

  103. But the mere fact that there IS still a question about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, it seems like a group of so-called scientists would at least keep an open mind on the matter.

    Brian, do you keep an open mind about the distinct possibility that vaccines and autism are unrelated, and that vaccines are so safe that someone is more likely to be harmed by lightning than a vaccine?

  104. Kevin

    @culvercitycynic

    I never said I thought Ms. McCarthy and her like are correct. They are more than likely wrong on all counts.

    @Orac

    You are 99.99% certain right now, at this time. I seem to remember that centuries ago all of the greatest minds on the planet were 99.99% sure the earth was the center of the universe, the Earth was flat, more recently man would never fly.

    I’m 99.99% sure I’ll be flamed.

    I’m 99.99% sure Phil lives in Colorado.

  105. Has anyone brought up the fact that you quoted from a debunked study out of Denmark?

    Joe Schmoe is no doubt Sue, a troll who frequents Orac’s.

    The Danish studies are in fact the punching bag of the mercury militia. They found some limitations and confounds of one of the studies at least, that, on the surface, appear to be legitimate concerns. I haven’t taken the time to verify that though.

    Either way, you can simply replace the Danish graph with one from California (requires access to full text). Problem solved.

  106. scottb

    Kevin wrote:

    I seem to remember that centuries ago all of the greatest minds on the planet were 99.99% sure the earth was the center of the universe, the Earth was flat, more recently man would never fly.

    1) You should do some research on logical fallacies because this is a big one.

    2) Science isn’t about “keeping an open mind”. Science is about study and research and evaluating results. When the results disprove a theory, you reject or modify the theory and move on.

  107. Families make case for vaccine link to autism
    By KEVIN FREKING
    The Associated Press
    Monday, May 12, 2008; 6:25 PM

    WASHINGTON — Parents claiming that childhood vaccines cause autism should not be rewarded by the courts when the scientific community has already rejected any link, government lawyers argued Monday on the first day of a hearing in federal court.

    Overall, nearly 4,900 families have filed claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children. Lawyers for the families are presenting three different theories of how vaccines caused autism. The theory at issue Monday was whether vaccines containing the preservative thimerosal caused autism.

    Lynn Ricciardella, a Justice Department lawyer, said that theory has not moved beyond the realm of speculation. She said that the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have rejected any link between thimerosal and autism.

    “There is no scientific debate,” Ricciardella said. “The debate is over.”

    Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Medical experts don’t have a comprehensive understanding of what causes autism, but they do know there is a strong hereditary component.

    Thimerosal has been removed in recent years from standard childhood vaccines, except flu vaccines that are not packaged in single doses. The CDC says single-dose flu shots currently are available only in limited quantities.

    Under a two-decades-old program, individuals claiming injury from a vaccine must file a petition for “no-fault” compensation with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The secretary of Health and Human Services replaces the vaccine manufacturer or vaccine administrator to defend the claim.

    Two 10-year-old boys from Portland, Ore., will serve as test cases to determine whether thousands of families can be compensated. Attorneys for the boys will try to show they were happy, healthy and developing normally _ but, after being exposed to vaccines with thimerosal, they began to regress.

    To win, the attorneys for the two boys, William Mead and Jordan King, will have to show that it’s more likely than not that the vaccine actually caused the injury, which they described as regressive autism.

    Tom Powers, one of the boys’ attorneys, acknowledged that the evidence showing thimerosal led to regressive autism was indirect and circumstantial. Still, it’s clear in the case of the two boys that they did not show any symptoms of autism until after they had received all their immunizations.

    “Each of them had developed normally and typically well after their first year in life,” Powers said.

    The attorneys for the two boys said that a study in monkeys showed that mercury could ignite “neuroinflammation” in the brain, and such inflammation is the hallmark of somebody with autism. They also noted that previous studies of thimerosal were focused on autism, rather than on a more rare, specific form of the disorder that they described as regressive autism.

    The first witness for the families, Sander Greenland, a professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, said published studies he reviewed failed to separate regressive autism from other types of autism when looking at thimerosal, thus they allow for a substantial association of the vaccines with clearly regressive autism.

    Under the vaccine compensation program, officials titled special masters serve as the trial judges. The hearing that began Monday involved three special masters who will hear the evidence and determine whether thimerosal belongs on the list of causes for regressive autism. The rulings are appealable to the Court of Federal Claims.

    If the families are successful, they could be entitled to damages that cover lost income after one turns 18 and up to $250,000 for pain and suffering.

    Many members of the medical community are skeptical of the families’ claims. They worry that the claims about the dangers of vaccines could cause some people to forgo vaccines that prevent illness.

    Ricciardella argued that a marketing consultant fanned publicity about the supposed link between thimerosal and autism in a journal called Medical Hypothesis. She described the journal as willing to publish radical ideas, so long as they are coherent. She also said the authors pay to have the article published.

    But Powers said those questioning conventional wisdom in the case cannot be easily dismissed.

    “These are doctors who are willing to challenge the establishment on behalf of their patients,” Powers said.

    The court Web site says more than 12,500 claims have been filed since creation of the program in 1987, including more than 5,300 autism cases, and more than $1.7 billion has been paid in claims. It says there is now more than $2.7 billion in a trust fund supported by an excise tax on each dose of vaccine covered by the program.

    ___

    On the Net:

    Background on thimerosal trial: http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/node/4428

  108. Julia

    Vaccines do not cause autism. Great post, Phil.

    Whenever someone in a discussion like this says, “There’s data to support both sides, and we could sit here showing each other graphs until we’re blue in the face. We just have to realize that it could be true that my side is right” — you can bet that their side is *not* the one actually producing any “graphs” or data of any kind. Repeating that mantra is a slick way to create the illusion that the data actually are balanced. Yet all the press conferences and public appearances of people pushing the anti-vaccination agenda that I’ve read about have been full of misinformation, deliberately or accidentally, and I haven’t seen a single piece of trustworthy evidence that might lead me to side with them.

    Maybe you’d like a scapegoat, because you have trouble loving your autistic children for who they are. Don’t force your guilt and confusion on the rest of society — you’re convincing other uninformed people to put their children in mortal danger in order to avoid your fabricated fears.

  109. HCN

    Kevin said “You are 99.99% certain right now, at this time. I seem to remember that centuries ago all of the greatest minds on the planet were 99.99% sure the earth was the center of the universe, the Earth was flat, more recently man would never fly.”

    I am 99.99% certain that you are wrong. Try reading Phil’s book, and you will learn why. In any case, the ancient Greeks had actually calculated the circumference of the earth. Most educated people in the 15th century knew the shape of the earth, and even the Ancient Greeks postulated on heliocentrism. Even before Copernicus (you know who he was, right?). Columbus’ big mistake was getting the distance he had to travel wrong.

    How recent is recent for man flying. Because man first flew in 1783. And if you need to look up the history of aeronautics do a search on “George Cayley”.

    What next? Are you going to tell us that “scientists claim that the bumblebee cannot fly”?

    Kevin said “I’m 99.99% sure I’ll be flamed.”

    Uh, yeah, when you post on an astronomy blog the above myths.

  110. Manduca

    Kevin says “that centuries ago all of the greatest minds on the planet were 99.99% sure the earth was the center of the universe, the Earth was flat”.

    No, they didn’t.

    As I’m sure BA can confirm, no educated person has thought the earth was flat for over 2000 years.

    The ancient Greeks not only understood that the earth was a sphere, they measured its circumference.

    The “epidemic” of autism has been shown to be a result of changing diagnostic criteria. It’s possible to revisit cases from years ago and realize that they would have been labeled autistic today, but were called something else, e.g., “retarded” at the time. See, for example:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/117/4/1028

    (I don’t know why Orac hasn’t brought it up yet.)

    I don’t know why the vaccines-cause-autism meme won’t die. Autism diagnoses have never tracked the changes in age at immunization or percent of children immunized in any study.

    P.S. For whatever extra credibility it gives me, I am the parent of a child with Asperger’s.

  111. Someone above asked for a resource…here’s one for ya

    http://www.immunize.org

  112. You are 99.99% certain right now, at this time. I seem to remember that centuries ago all of the greatest minds on the planet were 99.99% sure the earth was the center of the universe, the Earth was flat, more recently man would never fly.

    I’m 99.99% sure I’ll be flamed.

    No need to flame; your appeal to “science was wrong beforelogical fallacy is so completely lame and predictable that it’s really not worth the effort it would take to think of a decent flame.

    Show some convincing positive evidence that the science now might be wrong (and crappy studies from pseudoscientists published in either non-peer-reviewed journals like the Journal of American Physicians and Scientists or bottom-feeding peer-reviewed journals won’t do when weighed against the quality and quantity of evidence that argues against a link between vaccines and autism), and you might convince me to take you more seriously than a poseur using logical fallacies to support pseudoscience. Fail that, I don’t even take you as seriously as that. Respect is earned, and as they say: “Data talks, B.S. walks.”

  113. Okay, way way WAY too many people calling me to task to respond individually. Though I’ve got to say there seem to be quite a few people in the pro-vaccine camp who want to accuse me and other anti-vax people of plugging our ears and willfully ignoring anything that might sway our decision… and yet it seems as though a lot of those people are doing the very same thing, refusing to even indulge the idea that vaccines MIGHT be more damaging than good. I think the blog that sparked this whole debate is indicative of that overeagerness to be right. “Vaccines do not Cause Autism.” Really? You’re going to close the book on the discussion based on one new study?

    My goodness, but you are full of straw men, aren’t you?

    No one ever said we should “close the book” on one study. What I say is that the current weight of the evidence overwhelmingly rejects the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. It just does. Moreover, it’s so strong that, if vaccines do indeed cause or contribute to autism, we can conclude right now that it’s an incredibly weak effect because if it were a strong contributor the current studies would already have shown it. I also say that appeals to “science was wrong before” are lame in the extreme; it’s not for nothing that it’s considered a logical fallacy. Ditto the appeal to “open-mindedness.” Science is a balance between being open to new evidence and not being so open-minded that our brains fall out. It involves critical thinking, something you don’t appear able to apply to vaccines.

  114. Andrew

    Ed:

    >I do have a problem with the doses of vaccine being separated by a >drop of Mercury.

    I’d have a problem with that too, but since it’s not true, we both can relax.

    Andrew

  115. Brian, some vaccinations require boosters at regular intervals. My understanding is that until the course of vaccinations is complete there is some chance a child can contract the disease being vaccinated against if the child comes into contact with a carrier. So your decision to not vaccinate your children can impact my children – herd immunity. If your children are not vaccinated keep them the hell away from the rational portion of the community that chooses to do the sensible thing.

    On polio. Talk to people who grew up in the 40′s and 50′s about their experience at school. Almost everyone will have a story about Joe Bloggs who died, or Joe Schmoe who didn’t come back to school because they were paralysed, or little Tommy Smith who disappeared for months but eventually came back to school on crutches and callipers. Don’t see much of that now do you?

  116. Ryan

    Phil, this statement is not logical:

    “This graph is a clincher. If they were related in any way, you’d see a decline..if it were related to autism then the dip would have started years earlier.”

    How on Earth can you conclude that? It’s one thing to conclude from this relationship that the vaccine is not the dominant cause, but to claim based upon this evidence that they are not related “in any way” is just drinking the koolaid you already know tastes good.

    I agree with your general point, but I just thought I’d point this out because it does not help your case to make such a sloppy leap of logic, especially so early in the article.

  117. Gillian

    I wonder if part of the reason that more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has nothing at all to do with how many children have autism spectrum disorders and more to do with the fact that screening techniques for autism have become more sensitive and thorough as these conditions are becoming better and better understood.

    I know adults who certainly would be diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger’s Syndrome had they been evaluated as children with today’s diagnostic criteria, but 50 years ago, those diagnostic criteria simply didn’t exist.

    I intend to vaccinate my children, but I intend to do it very selectively and under the supervision of our pediatrician. I would like to stagger monovalent vaccines, rather than using the polyvalent vaccine combos all at once, because I had rare (non-autism-related) adverse reactions to a number of routine childhood vaccines.

  118. NCE

    I’ve been reading your anti-vaccination posts very closely lately. As the son of a chiropractor, and an aspiring chiropractor myself, I obviously disagreed with your stance about the correlation with autism at first. After going through many of the articles you’ve linked to, and some of my own research, it seems pretty clear that there isn’t a relation between the two.

    However, I’m not sure I’m ready to say that eliminating thimerosal was a poor decision. Yes, it is only a compound consisting of Hg and not actually mercury, but it is toxic, and it breaks down into other mercury heavy compounds. I’ve yet to see any studies suggesting that thimerosal is so beneficial as to risk using it over other antiseptic agents.

    I’m also not quite ready to bash the anti-vaccination crowd. You’re frequently too fast to criticize anyone that doesn’t agree with “Science” as anti-science and teh stupid. While they may be wrong, they’re not trying to tear down Science or hold back humanity, they’re trying to identify problems and find solutions. You and PZ and others may be involved in some kind of Science war, and I’m sure you have your counterparts in the anti-vac community, but for the most part it’s just people trying to help, trying to do what they think is best for their kids.

    As someone who wasn’t as well informed as I could/should have been I can tell you the insults aren’t helping you reach anyone that isn’t already pating you on the back. If I hadn’t fallen in love with the blog for the astronomy posts I probably wouldn’t have put up with your other ones long enough to change my mind.

  119. I wonder if part of the reason that more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has nothing at all to do with how many children have autism spectrum disorders and more to do with the fact that screening techniques for autism have become more sensitive and thorough as these conditions are becoming better and better understood.

    Bingo!

    A couple of explanatory posts:

    1. The Increase in Autism Diagnoses: Two Hypotheses
    2. Evidence against an “autism epidemic”

    The “autism epidemic” is not an epidemic at all, but rather primarily the result of better recognition, a widening of the diagnostic criteria in the early 1990s, increased access to services, and diagnostic substitution. Diagnostic substitution is when the increase in one diagnosis is accompanied by a decrease in another diagnosis because the new diagnosis is “substituting” for the old diagnosis. Indeed, there is good evidence that, as the number of autism diagnoses increased, the number of diagnoses of mental retardation and various other learning disorders decreased. Also, in the 1980s, there was just autism; in the 1990s, the whole category of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) was added.

  120. I wonder if part of the reason that more children are being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders has nothing at all to do with how many children have autism spectrum disorders and more to do with the fact that screening techniques for autism have become more sensitive and thorough as these conditions are becoming better and better understood.

    The criteria for diagnosing autism changed just before the 1990s and changed again in 1994. It should also be noted that the movie Rain Man came out in 1987. (The internet grew considerably in the 1990s, and this is plausibly a source of greater awareness as well.) It’s not simply changes in criteria that matter. The prevalence did not reach current levels the year after the DSM-IV was published. It’s more of a gradual cultural shift that continues to this day. Also, autism is diagnosed much more often in urban areas than rural areas.

    The evidence is quite compelling, though, that: (1) Autism was underrecognized in the past; (2) Autistic people were labeled differently in the past; and (3) There are changes in the characteristics of autistic people as time moves forward, i.e. as a group they have less mental retardation and less of various medical comorbidities than in the past.

    I explore some of these topics here:

    http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2006/08/no-autism-epidemic-update.html

  121. Becky

    I have a colleague who’s into the chiropractic school of thought. She actually believes vaccines do not work. DO NOT WORK!?! How can anyone believe this!? Much less a woman half-way to a PhD! I have been waiting to rant this. Thank you.

  122. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to say that eliminating thimerosal was a poor decision. Yes, it is only a compound consisting of Hg and not actually mercury, but it is toxic, and it breaks down into other mercury heavy compounds. I’ve yet to see any studies suggesting that thimerosal is so beneficial as to risk using it over other antiseptic agents.

    It’s all in the dose.

  123. I notice that even the open-minded “vaccines-cause-autism” folks are ignoring my post. You’re not really all that open-minded if you won’t consider my hypothesis. So let’s have at it!

    Do vaccines cause black holes or not?

    I notice that there were no black holes observed prior to the introduction of vaccines in the 1800s…

    Science was wrong before, have an open mind, you can’t be 100% sure my hypothesis is wrong, give me a grant to study this! (Do you think I should apply to the NCCAM or to the NSF?)

  124. Benjamin

    NCE said: “I’m also not quite ready to bash the anti-vaccination crowd. You’re frequently too fast to criticize anyone that doesn’t agree with “Science” as anti-science and teh stupid. While they may be wrong, they’re not trying to tear down Science or hold back humanity, they’re trying to identify problems and find solutions. You and PZ and others may be involved in some kind of Science war, and I’m sure you have your counterparts in the anti-vac community, but for the most part it’s just people trying to help, trying to do what they think is best for their kids.”

    This is a false equivalence.

    Those who defend vaccination are motivated by “what is best for kids”. We are not fighting some kind of arcane “Science war”, but using science and logic to support a tremendously successful public health initiative that’s saved countless lives and prevented lifelong disabilities. We remember the fear parents lived through before vaccines (for instance, during the polio epidemic of the ’50s). We don’t want parents and kids put through that again.

    As an aspiring chiropractor, I hope you’ll do your part to improve the profession’s attitude towards immunization. Far too many chiropractors still oppose it and encourage parents to opt out of vaccination based on false propaganda.

  125. Andrew

    I find it inordinately amusing that I was going to step in and call out Ed on conflating elements and compounds containing them, when somebody with my own name already did the same thing.

    Although I prefer the analogy that salting food will simply kill you, because chlorine is poisonous. Deadlier but much less dramatic I’m afraid.

    - Andrew (a different one~)

  126. bernarda

    Brian sez,”People going into the Peace Corps where diseases like malaria and the such are still very active, sure I say get your shots.”

    So Brian, you know of a vaccine against malaria. Maybe you should tell the WHO.

    Well, Brian, have you never had a tetanus shot? Never the DTaP which also protects against diptheria and pertussis? If you are not vaccinated not only are you risking your life at any time, but the lives of others. As to tetanus, the CDC estimates that more than half of the people over 60 don’t have anti-bodies because they have had update shots.

    Your attitude and policy is totally irresponsible.

  127. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    Sorry for the late response to your post. Got a bit busy.

    What tools would these be? Have you ever had a child in your family diagnosed with autism? Probably not. Otherwise you would be aware that there are no fancy medical gadgets for diagnosing autism, no blood tests, no DNA screens (there is such a thing for FragileX syndrome but that’s a different story), no brain MRIs, etc., etc. There is no specific medical test at all. Instead there is something called ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) but don’t let the acronym fool you. It is nothing fancy – just a doctor sitting down and observing your child for about 15 minutes and also asking the parents questions. That’s the state of the art in terms of autism “diagnosis”.

    I have not had anyone in my family who was diagnosed with autism, but I was married to someone who is an applied behavior analyst and who worked with autistic kids on a daily basis. I learned a lot through her. I am quite aware that there are currently no devices or “gadgets” as you call them to diagnose autism. Not all tools are gadgets, though. The questionaires and schedules are also tools, and they have certainly gotten better over time. Also, research papers are tools that help to inform physicians so that they are better able to recognize symptoms.

    Also, the main definition of autism comes from the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders) version IV which was last updated in 1994. It would be hard to account for Phil’s autism curve from 1994 onward due to expanded definition when the definition hasn’t really changed.

    Others have already responded to this, but keep in mind that as the definition and symptoms described have changed, people went from a diagnosis of “retardation” to “autism spectrum disorder,” as well as other possible social, behavioral or psychological diagnoses.

    If I were an epidemiologist, I might be able to provide an example of other illnesses that had an apparent epidemic after diagnosis and awareness improved. Unfortunately, I’m not.

    I think Orac has done a great job responding to a lot of questions and misconceptions that were raised in this thread. Keep up the good work.

  128. Todd W.

    @bernarda

    Tetanus is one of those weird vaccines in that it is the only one that protects against a disease that is not communicable. That said, I still strongly advise people keep up with their tetanus shots, especially if they do gardening or carpentry. It’s not just rusty nails that carry the threat of tetanus, it’s also in dirt, and if you get any little scrapes on your hands or under your fingernails, you’re at risk when gardening. And, quite apart from the fact that tetanus can lock up your joints, it’s also rather fatal.

  129. Children who have been cured of autism by removing the mercury from their brains with chelation prove that you are 100% wrong. Thimerosal causes autism.

    You dopes are trying to parade a red herring around by calling us anti-vaccinationists when we are clearly only opposed to poisoning babies with mercury. Why don’t you all shut up now and support the removal of mercury from all vaccines.

  130. Adrian

    For those of you who are not familiar with John Best from Orac’s blog: don’t bother asking for evidence of his claims. You won’t get it.

  131. You dopes are trying to parade a red herring around by calling us anti-vaccinationists when we are clearly only opposed to poisoning babies with mercury. Why don’t you all shut up now and support the removal of mercury from all vaccines.

    Ah, yes, the old antivax canard known as “toxins” ploy, a.k.a. the “we’re not antivaccine, we’re pro-safe vaccine” lie.

  132. colmcq

    is that the very same John Best from Whale-to?

  133. Orac,
    Yes, I know it’s your job as a quackbuster to persist in assaults on scientists like me who cure the autism that you doctors caused. To call me anti-vaccine is untrue.

    I vaccinated my 3rd child after I learned that my first child had been poisoned by mercury.

    Adrian,
    Your call for evidence requires a long explanation since we have to look at the history of thimerosal. The short version is that there was no such thing as autism before thimerosal and it went from 1 in 10,000 after Eli Lilly invented autism in 1931 to 1 in 150 as more thimerosal was shot into newborns.

    The epidemic continues unabated, even with mercury removed from some vaccines, because the people who have to keep causing autism to try to avoid lawsuits learned that shooting it into fetuses via the flu shot is the best method of causing brain damage. This has the added benefit of babies being born severely brain damaged so that parents never witness a normal child regressing and they believe the lies from con artists who tell them that autism is genetic.

  134. Mike

    My son (now 4) has had all his jabs, despite the risk of ASDs that run on in almost all the males in my father-in-laws family. It was during the Andrew Wakefield mess (I’m from Scotland) and I thought that I should check out the claims of the antivacc crowd. They were hysterical and down right false in many cases and at best lacking any evidence. 30 minutes on Brian Deers website ended any doubt about the validity of Wakefield etc.

    We have another baby due in August and he or she will get vaccinated too.

    I believe vaccination is not only a personal responsibility but a social one too. It protects those who cannot recieve vaccines and in a handful of years could wipe out a dangerous disease for future generations. How grateful would your great-great-grandchildren be living in a world without serious infectious diseases.

    I was 9 when smallpox was finally eradicated. I still remember where I was and the news footage on tv, it gave me great hope for the future and a sense of relief I would never experience such a horrible disease. I am thankful to the scientist and clinicians who won that battle and to all those continuing the fight.

    Great post BA.

  135. Hey Andrew and Andrew, if I’m wrong then I’m wrong, and so be it. Mea culpa, BA.

  136. Jaime

    I appreciate the article and insight. Is it not, however, possible that certain children are likely to have a problem with the vaccine? I don’t mean on a large scale – just some children.

    Also, some of the commentors seem to think that unvaccinated children will affect their vaccinated children in a school setting. If the vaccine works, shouldn’t THEY be confident that they and their children are okay?

    Just a couple of questions… :)

  137. John

    Sure, just tell that to my brother.

    When vaccinated at 6 or 7, he was healthy and smart. Sadly, he immediately went into a coma and stayed comatose for 4 weeks.

    Since he came out of it, he’s been both mentally and physically delayed in significant ways. He’s 19 now, but you’d swear he was 12.

    His life was RUINED by a vaccination. I don’t care what they call it, autism, delayed, etc etc, all I know is the vaccine did it, and did it instantly.

  138. I have two friends in two different states that both has a child that got sick after their son’s 6 months shots and then got accquired Autism. Whether thats “Scientific” or not its pure fact!!! I am not against vaccinations but I am against the Mercury and Thimerosal when these ingredients are proven very dangerous, why would be required to put them in our babies bodies?? For those of you that want to believe the “Science” I certainly hope you dont’ believe in the “Global Warming Scare” because “Science” has proven its all a farce. Remember believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, do your own research

  139. Haggar

    I have two close friends both of which had normal children until they received their vaccinations at 18 months of age. To this day (20+ years later) both of those children have remained at 18 month mentally. To say vaccinations do NOT cause autism is just sticking your head in the sand. These two childrens’ lives have been destroyed by vaccinations. YES they undeniably do cause serious issues.

  140. Troy

    Junk science at its finest. Your graph would be relevant if you got your history right. Thimerosal was, in fact, not removed from the vaccines. The law only required that the makers offered a thimerosal-free version. So your graph is completely bogus. The levels of thimerosal remained in-tact until the true doses were removed because of the link between autism and vaccines. Hmm – sort of when your curve trends downward.

    Secondly, you do not discuss the problems with live-virus vaccines (MMR) which is the second link to autism. Children under the age of 2 are being exposed to hard-core live virus vaccines which is causing big problems.

    You can play with the studies all you want, but the reality is, if you talk to the parents of these kids you see the pattern. One day, they are as happy as clams – babbling and smiling. The day of/after a vaccine, they do a 180. No smiling. No interaction. No talking.

    It isn’t the only cause – but vaccines are most definitely one cause of autism.

    To close – also get your “facts” straight about the anti-vaccine movement. The underlying mantra is not to not vaccinate. It is to: 1) better space the vaccines, 2) wait until they are two years of age to better handle the live-virus vaccines, 3) pay attention to the health on the day of the vaccine. If they are under the weather – NO SHOT. Wait until the immune system can handle the vaccine.

  141. Let me preface this by saying I am not a scientist.

    However, I think your conclusory statement of “[n]ote that the little dip we see at the end is many many years after thimerosal was stopped; if it were related to autism then the dip would have started years earlier” seems a little premature. As a spectrum disorder, many incidents of autism are not diagnosed until years afterward. The fact is it is not necessarily clear that “the dip would have started years earlier” as you suggest.

    The larger point is that these are not “antivaccine people” but parents seeking to find a solution to a disorder that has grown dramatically in the past few years. It may well be true that a larger definition has led to the rise but it isn’t necessarily so. And as far as I can tell they are not anti-vaccine but against the particular preservative used in the vaccine.

    Where’s the harm in this?

  142. Alenna

    I don’t know whether vaccines cause autism and neither do you. The linked articles trying to explain the apparent increase in autism incidence rates say that the definition for autism and the recognition of autistic symptoms have distorted the ‘true’ incidence rate. The chart above, showing an increasing incidence rate, is bad data, and no real conclusions can be drawn from it. Removing thermisol could have caused an actual decrease in the ‘true’ incidence rate that is simply being masked by these other factors inflating the incidence rate.

    But even if vaccines do cause autism, I think it’s pretty clear that accepting vaccinations decreases mortality, while becoming autistic only has decreased quality of life. A controlled study would show this, but given our current understanding, it would be unethical to withhold vaccines from the control group.

    Shrug, either way, a government-enforced mandate to vaccinate would be just as wrong as a government-enforced ban on vaccination. Let people do whatever the hell they want to; sway them by explaining risks/rewards, not by imposing some requirement.

  143. FACTS!!!

    Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative developed in the 1930s that has been used in as many as 50 vaccines. In the 1982 Federal Register, an expert panel at the FDA reviewed thimerosal and found that it was toxic and caused cell death. The FDA called for its removal in over the counter products. Additionally, In 1999, the FDA stated that mercury exposure from vaccines exceeded Federal Safety Guidelines. Government officials admitted they were “asleep at the switch” when they failed to add up the cumulative exposure levels as new vaccines were added to the early infant vaccination schedule in the early1990′s.

    A decade ago, the rate of autism was 1 to 2 per 10,000. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) research now indicates that one in every 150 children now have autism. The dramatic rise in autism rates correlates with the increase in mercury exposure. Thimerosal was first marketed in the mid 1930′s. Autism was first described as a new, never before seen disorder in 1943, in children born in the 1930′s. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism have similar symptoms to those of mercury poisoning.

    Thousands of families have reported that their normally-developing children changed after receiving mercury-containing vaccines and began displaying symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of autism. The symptoms of autism not only mimic those of mercury poisoning, but children with autism have been found to have more mercury in their bodies than typically-developing children.

    In March, 2001, the FDA issued a statement warning pregnant women and young children not to eat fish containing high levels of mercury for fear of causing neurological problems in children. Yet, the CDC’s National Immunization Program has continued to allow these same sensitive populations to be exposed to mercury from routinely administered flu shots which contain more mercury than seafood.

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently closed down schools when it was discovered that air mercury levels were at 30mcg/m. (EPA’s action level in the air is 1mcg/m). Yet infants injected with multiple mercury containing vaccines in the 1990s received up to 187 mcg during the first six months of life. A typical dose received by a two-month old who received three mercury vaccines was 125 times EPA’s daily allowable exposure levels .

    In 2001, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) stated it is “biologically plausible” that Thimerosal in vaccines caused autism, ADD/ ADHD and neurodevelopmental disorders in general.

    Mercury, having been acknowledged as one of the most neurotoxic substances on earth, must be fully investigated to determine its impact on the population’s health and to identify treatments for affected individuals, as well as establishing much needed safety standards. Mercury in medicinal uses, created via industry emissions, in the waterways and food chain of our planet must be reduced. SafeMinds is committed to funding research that lends itself to these goals and has historically furnished research that continues to support the need for these investigates, as well as the harm of continued exposure to mercury.

  144. Todd W.

    To the anti-vaxers that have recently posted. I don’t think anyone would say that vaccines are 100% safe. They do carry risks, as do all medicines. However, the probability of serious injury or death from the diseases they prevent is much greater than the probability of serious injury or death from the vaccines themselves.

    Typical progression for autism, with or without vaccinations, is apparently normal development up to 1-2 years of age, when symptoms first become apparent. The onset of symptoms happens to coincide with the time that children start to receive their first vaccinations. While it is certainly devastating, keep in mind that correlation is not causation. Kids begin to get their teeth around the same time, but I don’t see that being blamed.

    Also, as far as there being no autism before thimerosal was invented, please present your data to support that theory.

    I will not say that vaccines are 100%, without exception, not the cause of some rare cases of autism. There could be conditions which might be exacerbated by vaccine side effects and lead to autism-like symptoms. However, the preponderance of scientific evidence argues against vaccines being a cause of autism.

  145. As much as I agree with the overall message of Phil’s post. The evidence he cites is hardly conclusive at all. That graph is ridiculously useless. First of all it seems to be citing autism rates in adult populations, not child birth rates. And second of all it’s scale renders it useless as well.

    Autism rates are hovering around 1:100-200 in much of the world.

  146. dave

    You’re wrong Phil. Ginger and wrong.
    Thimerosal is mercury and one graph is not a clincher.

  147. Gary

    This article is gravely misleading.

    Today, its possible that yes, vaccines do not cause autism.

    Why? because most of the mercury levels have already been removed back in the mid to late 90′s. So as much as this information might be correct now, it was not correct back in the early 90′s.

    The graph shows an increase because the dianoses have INCREASED.

    Let’s not forget that the diagnosis of autism and various other neurological disorders are “sketchy” at best prior to 1990.

    I’m 43, does anyone my age remember when they were 12 or 13 knowing the term “autism”. Hardly. And if you add 10 years to my age, and put me in college, I STILL would never have heard that term. It wasn’t until the early 90′s that the term became a household diagnosis for these folks.

    So to look at that chart and say “The Graph is the clincher” is sort of irresponsible. Of COURSE the numbers are going to shoot up higher, because the medical community can now diagnose the disorder!

    What’s amazing to me is that people want to use data based on NOW and not then. The pharms have done a very, very good job of masking this as being a “not our problem”.

    Simple question: If it wasn’t a “problem” then why remove thimerosal from the vaccines? If you’re that positive that its not a problem, why remove it?

    Its the biggest medical community and pharmacuetical cover up in our life time and I’m amazed that people like this person who posted are cow-towing to them.

    Again, if thimerosal was not a problem WHY REMOVE IT?!

  148. D14BL0

    Vaccines contain trace amounts of mercury. This is a known fact. It is a heavy metal. Heavy metals are highly toxic. When a small amount (like the amount they use in vaccines) enters your system, it will cause severe neurological damage. There is no way to deny that mercury is a toxin.

    Nobody has EVER said that thimerosal is what causes autism. This was disproved and accepted many, many years ago. The article entirely neglects the fact that mercury is contained in vaccines. In fact, the article doesn’t mention mercury even once.

    Way to completely miss the fact. Bad Astronomer, you just lost ALL respect from me.

  149. Todd W.

    @Gary

    “Simple question: If it wasn’t a “problem” then why remove thimerosal from the vaccines? If you’re that positive that its not a problem, why remove it?”

    Public relations. People started screaming that thimerosal was hurting their children and demanding action. FDA took the safe route. Furthermore, it was only removed from single-dose vaccines, as these do not need a preservative to prevent contamination. Multi-dose vaccines (not to be confused with combo vaccines, like MMR or DTaP) still have thimerosal, but are mainly used outside the US in developing countries, where storage facilities would not allow single-dose vaccines. Similarly, flu vaccines still have thimerosal.

    The removal of thimerosal was largely driven by politics, rather than any sound scientific basis.

  150. Todd W.

    @D14BLO

    The only mercury in vaccines is in the compound thimerosal. No thimerosal = no mercury. If you claim otherwise, please provide evidence to support your claim.

  151. Junk science at its finest. Your graph would be relevant if you got your history right. Thimerosal was, in fact, not removed from the vaccines. The law only required that the makers offered a thimerosal-free version. So your graph is completely bogus. The levels of thimerosal remained in-tact until the true doses were removed because of the link between autism and vaccines. Hmm – sort of when your curve trends downward.

    This is completely made up. First of all, the curve trends downward because all prevalence by birth year cohort curves trend downwards in the years prior to the snapshot. This is because children can be too young to be diagnosed with autism. That’s why I’d suggest using a graph from the California study instead, as it is not of prevalence by birth year, but of prevalence of a specific age cohort at a given point in time. There’s an important distinction there. There are graphs on the 3-5 cohort caseload freely available online from the blogging community.

    Second, the CDC ascertained the amount of thimerosal in pediatric vaccines in a survey between late 2001 and Feb. 2002. By the end of the survey, only 1.9% of vaccines had thimerosal in them (source).

    Plus, the graph is about what happened in Denmark. I don’t think any of us here knows about the thimerosal removal policies of Denmark, do we?

  152. qfq

    Quick point:
    If the vaccine is administered to infants then the drop in rates of autism shouldn’t show up until the about 6-10 years later when the first children without the vaccine are approaching the age when autism begins being diagnosed. Looking at the graph, this is what happens so the comment saying that “Note that the little dip we see at the end is many many years after thimerosal was stopped; if it were related to autism then the dip would have started years earlier” doesn’t really apply. If anything it should point to the fact that this vaccine and autism are linked.
    That being said, I would still promote the use of many vaccines (perhaps not this one, but many) despite potential links to autism.

  153. Niko

    Your essay is without any merit. People like yourselves are completely and utterly tansfixed on the thermosal issue, when in fact the issue is about the MANNER in which the shots are given. In the 1980′as we as children recieved about 10 shots after the age of 2. Today infants recieve about 36 shots before the age of 2. What dosn’t get reported is how sick children get (which is typical after a vaccine shot), and the high feveers that they run cause ireversible nerve damage thus raising their chancesto getting autism.

    In Atlanta, the Government has already acknolwdged that vaccines increases the risk if autism to children who are already pre-disposed to the spectrum.

  154. Gary

    @Todd W

    “Public Pressure”. That’s bunk.

    There’s no point in arguing opinion. Companies don’t remove or change products because of a single groups claims against their product UNLESS they are founded in some way.

    Think of the implications of this decision (to remove thimerosal).

    If I were the CEO of the company and my trusted scientists said, “No way, there’s no way in hell this is causing autism, here’s the empirical proof to show you.”.

    I would completely back up the scientist and show the community the data and NOT change a thing. They have a reputation to keep.

    But they removed thimerosal from the vaccine.

    Let’s see, maybe, just maybe someone in their research found that it could cause problems?

    Let’s look at what heavy metals can do to people who are exposed. If you look at the symptoms, then look at autism, you might start to think

    “hmmm. There’s a similarity here.”

    I have a close friend who’s got two children who are inflicted with this. The two were PERFECTLY normal healthy children. Then they had their vaccines. Everything since then has been different. To ask the parents, they state, “they regressed from that point on.”

    Two kids, twins both all of a sudden are autistic when 2 months prior they were happy babies, talking, smiling and interacting with their parents and their older sibling. After they had their vaccine, they completely changed to being shut down, stopped learning, stopped interacting and went completely the wrong direction developmentally.

    I smell a rat.

  155. Corey

    By looking at the graph and reasoning that it proves the vaccine does not cause any problems, you too seem to be falling into the post hoc, ergo propter hoc trap.

    We can see that even after the vaccine was removed, there was an increase in _reported_ cases of autism. This does not necessarily mean the total number went down, only that the number of detections have increased.

    We can also see that it does in fact go down, 5 years later. You seem to be expecting the effects to be seen immediately. As far as I can tell, the diagnosis is often several years after receiving the vaccine.

    I too had an experience where a relatives son was given the same vaccine twice containing Thimerosal. The dr claimed the first was stored improperly so he would need more. He had a second round, and has never been the same kid and was recently diagnosed.

    Frankly, regardless of any graphs or studies, there is nothing you can ever tell me that will cause me to agree to inject toxic mercury directly into my 18 month old’s bloodstream.

  156. Peter

    Oh brother Phil. I stopped reading at the second paragraph because of the inaccuracy that you as a so-called scientist made.

    Study after study, huh? And you don’t even bother to mention what study after study you’re referring to? Strike 1 for factual reality.

    The removal of the MMR implies that that is the ONLY vaccine received at that point in time. Typically, the MMR isn’t given until LATER – you know, a TIME period way after birth? – well after the other vaccines have directly or indirectly cause autsim or ASDs. Strike 2 for your so called skepticism. Your bias and subjectivity is showing through.

    Strike 3 was perhaps the most disingenuous: long – how long Phil? after thimerosal-based vaccines were discontinued – you’re assuming they were discontinued in all but in fact they were only the Flu vaccines – boy Phil, you’ve made me a skeptic all over again. Better read up on legislation. There you would find they banned LABELING vaccines that contain thimerosal. You know, John McCain is against torture but he signs the torture bill anyways. ALl talk and no action Phil.

    Why don’t you personally take your money and put it where your mouth is – unless it’s that leaky sinus you call a brain – and actually fund the testing of vaccines for thimerosal. While you’re at it, you can do a bunch of other things, such as giving the public the exact amounts of various heavy metals and compare that with amounts that are known to cause various disorders.

    While you’re at it, can you please blog about how eating toxins can actually improve your health? Oh wait, better: write about how vaccines provide immunity. Hint: they don’t but you knew that all along because you work for Big Pharma. Clever skeptic you.

  157. Vaccines contain trace amounts of mercury. This is a known fact. It is a heavy metal. Heavy metals are highly toxic. When a small amount (like the amount they use in vaccines) enters your system, it will cause severe neurological damage. There is no way to deny that mercury is a toxin.

    Ok. Answer me this. I assume you believe there’s an autism epidemic. Clearly, this would imply that autism practically did not exist in the 1980s, that there are few autistic adults, and so forth. We also know that kids were receiving a total exposure of about 70 mcg of thimerosal in the 1980s and prior from their vaccines.

    This would suggest, assuming your worldview is correct, that a total exposure of about 70 mcg of thimerosal is quite safe. Explain why a trace amount (by definition, less than 1 mcg of thimerosal) is dangerous or autism-causing.

  158. In Atlanta, the Government has already acknolwdged that vaccines increases the risk if autism to children who are already pre-disposed to the spectrum.

    Link please.

  159. Curt

    “If they were related in any way, you’d see a decline”
    I do see a decline!

    The graph actually indicates that removing thimersol reduced the the number of autism cases. Did you think the change would reduce autism overnight? Furthermore, its painfully obvious that you’ve “connected the dots” in a scatter graph using data points spread out by 4 years. I call BS. Not scientific at all. But left to this pathetic “voodoo” plot, it shows that autism decreased 5 years after thimersol was removed. The opposite of your argument.

    Besides, should anyone really trust the US Government or CDC? The conflict of interest between our nations health through vaccine and the money revenue from big pharma needs to be broken.

    PS, Funny that you did not include links to death by “Chicken Pox.” Or do you consider that a worthless vaccine designed simply to generate cash flow for Pharma while reducing loss of cash at schools from “absenteeism”.

  160. Kevin

    A lot of you (on both sides) are stuck in the past.

    The latest thinking is that the combinations of vaccines is the problem. Tiny kids get 3 or 4 shots at one time and some injury occurs.

    Most kids get a fever after receiving vaccines and almost all recover, but some can’t handle it and the damage leads to autism.

    So, there are now some doctors who recommend spacing the vaccines out better. Read here for more:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller15.html

  161. Steve

    Your chart shows autism on the rise after Thimerosal was removed from vaccines, but in the new cases you do not state how many had received the old vaccines.

    “It is that simple.” I didn’t realize that all we needed was a blogger to give us their opinion based on a single graph! Well done, buffoon.

  162. Dave J.

    “Before they were just awkward or shy, or countless other categories that really didn’t fit. Now at least we know what they are. ” – posted by Matt

    What he didn’t say was that Aspergers (as he mentioned) is in the Autism spectrum, but is a VERY mild form. Individuals with Aspergers can typically carry on very productive lives within society, such as Bill Gates. What he didn’t mention is that Autism is very dibilitating – children with Autism usually lack many essential skills such as, fine motor skills, social skills, communication skills, etc… They often have very violent fits endangering themseleves and those around them, exteme sensitivity to light and sound, inability transitioning between activities, unable to communicate, show emotion, etc… Mild forms of Autism are much more severe than Asbergers and severe cases of Autism are debilitating and heartbreaking.

    I would not compare a shy nerdy kid to as now having a label of Autistic such as Matt tried to do (“Now at least we know what they are. “).

    Matt: You need to do a little research on the effects of Autism before you try and speak to it…

  163. Gary

    @Joseph

    “This would suggest, assuming your worldview is correct, that a total exposure of about 70 mcg of thimerosal is quite safe. Explain why a trace amount (by definition, less than 1 mcg of thimerosal) is dangerous or autism-causing.”

    Just like all things, people react differently.

    Explain why I don’t sneeze when pollen is in the air but my wife can hardly breathe? Or that my father in law, if he comes NEAR shellfish, he breaks out, but my kids can eat shrimp until their guts are busting…

    Im no doctor, nor am I scientist. But logic tells me that if heavy metal is in something and its widely distributed in the form of a vaccine, then it might effect different people in different ways.

    Someone above pointed out the way in which these things were given might also be a problem.

    I think the problem here is you have folks like this guy out there claiming they know it all. And you have folks who are on the other end of the camp claiming “conspiracy”. Nothing productive gets done.

    Add to that, money grubbing Pharmaceuticals and a paranoid FDA, and its a recipe for “sweeping it under the rug.”

  164. Rick

    @ Gary

    Despite what you think, there were preliminary concerns about the connection between thiomersal during the mid-90s. Hence, they removed the compound from vaccines in a “play it safe” fashion. It was not an admission that the concerns were a reality, it was a public health decision.

    Also, your characterization that a company would “back up its scientists” is pretty naive considering the main impetus is profit and if removing something as an act of public relations would head off a loss of profit, they would do that. This is ignoring the fact that this was not a corporate decision.

    Not to mention the symptoms for mercury poisoning are not the symptoms for autism. I suggest you compare the two more carefully.

    In reference to your typical anti-vax anecdote, that sounds like a case of false attribution given that it does not gel with the major studies in the field.

  165. Fred

    You are only speaking a half-truth.

    Look at the immunization schedule today and compare it to the one from 20 years ago. Children today are being immunized at an amazing clip, including several that are injected at the age of 6 weeks(!).

    It may not be the that the vaccines themselves are harmful.
    It may not be that the absence (or presence) of thimerosal is a factor.

    It may truly be that we are injecting our children with HUGE doses of partially-degraded viruses that their bodies simply cannot react correctly to.

    As a parent, I have altered my child’s immunization schedule so that my kids can let their bodies adjust to one before getting the next. In every case where multiple vaccines are scheduled for a single visit, I break it up in to several visits.

    I’m not against vaccination per se, but let’s hear the AMA explain why they won’t even consider changing the schedule.

  166. Scott

    Just because the thimerosal-based vaccines were officially discontinued doesn’t mean they were still available. I accidentally entered the vaccine war when I asked to see the drug pamphlets at our baby’s first vaccination appointment. Our (well-regarded and part of a recognized hospital network) pediatrician told us that thimerosal has been removed or wasn’t present in three of the vaccines they wanted to administer that day, and the fourth vaccine only contained trace amounts.

    I insisted on seeing the drug pamphlets and he finally (reluctantly) provided them. Three of the vaccines did still contain thimerosal. Two of the vaccines had instructions in bold TO NOT BE COMBINED WITH OTHER VACCINES WITH THIMEROSAL. While looking for a new pediatrician, I found that most doctors were not aware of this, and not one doctor made a move to change their vaccination policy when I pointed out that they were violating the drug manufacturer’s instructions.

    So I am stunned when I see quotes like the following on an fda site:
    “Thimerosal has been removed from or reduced to trace amounts in all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age and younger”. From my standpoint, the Denmark study is almost worthless unless you can demonstrate that the Doctors are even paying attention to what they are doing.

  167. jay

    What’s really comical about this post is that any objective observer can see that Phil has not provided enough information to come to any definitive conclusion either way; he is essentially asking us to take his word on faith because he has a degree in another field of science.

    The fact that one ingridient was removed and a decline in autism was noted 5-6 years later is somehow “proof” that vaccines are safe?

    And people were foolish enough to lament how “uneducated” the anti-vaccine movement is? I don’t take sides on this issue, but the people here lamenting the lack of critical thinking skills need to take a good hard look in the mirror.

  168. Billy Bee

    The Amish don’t get autism, and they don’t get vaccinated. Just because this crap is printed doesn’t mean its 100% accurate.

  169. Russel

    @clan
    “how would bad eyesight be selected against?”
    In the natural world without technology to correct our eyesight, poor eyesight could me your hunting skills would not be up to par with others – can’t see the prey and therefore have a harder time killing it.

    Less food might mean less nutrition and poorer health for that individual and makes them more vulnerable to dying.

    Also, not seeing that lion on the other side of the field could also be a deadly consequence.

  170. Todd W.

    @Gary

    As to your anecdote, I’ll direct you to an earlier post of mine:

    Typical progression for autism, with or without vaccinations, is apparently normal development up to 1-2 years of age, when symptoms first become apparent. The onset of symptoms happens to coincide with the time that children start to receive their first vaccinations. While it is certainly devastating, keep in mind that correlation is not causation.

    The vaccine stands out in people’s minds because it is a big moment and comes with fears and concerns about the health of their children. There could be any number of other events around the same time that just go unnoticed. An airplane flew by and a couple days/weeks later, they regressed. An insect bit them, and… They brushed against some plant, and… There was some program on TV and…

    You might argue that vaccines interact directly with the body and my examples don’t. Well, conspiracy theorists claim that planes leave trails of toxic chemicals behind them which are poisoning us. Insects have venoms and toxins, as well as carrying various bacteria and viruses, that can interact with the body. In certain individuals, plant toxins and pollens can wreak havoc. Many would also like to blame a number of psychological/behavioral problems on television.

    As I said before, I understand how difficult it is to have a child with autism. You want desperately to know why they are that way. The vaccine-autism link sounds plausible. The vaccination event stands out in people’s minds. Then, they just make the leap that vaccines caused their child’s autism. A lot of other people with autistic children have realized that the vaccines didn’t lead to their kids’ autism. And what about people whose children were not vaccinated, yet still have autism? There are entire countries that do not have high rates of vaccinations, but where autism rates are similar to countries with high rates of vaccination.

    I’m sorry, but the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that vaccines do not play a significant role in autism. As Orac has pointed out, any role it does play is likely to be very, very small…only very rare cases.

    If people are uncomfortable with the vaccination schedule, by all means, they have the right to space things out as they see fit, but a lot of the vaccine-autism linkers seem to be of the opinion that all vaccines are bad.

  171. The latest thinking is that the combinations of vaccines is the problem. Tiny kids get 3 or 4 shots at one time and some injury occurs.

    The latest thinking by who? The ramblings of people on conspiracy mailing lists don’t count.

  172. Gary

    @Rick

    Links and data please. You’re making statements to my comments without regard to facts to back them up.

    Im under the impression that thiomersal was removed in 93.

    The chart clearly shows a rise after because more people are being diagnosed, simply because more doctors have a valid diagnosis.

    My characterization of heavy metal symptoms and autism are documented in several places, check autism.com or any of the sites that have done studies. If you look at history, people who have had mercury poisoning had been documented to have very similar symptoms as our modern day autistic people — if you’re not aware, mercury poisoning was prevalent in throughout history, and you can read about that here:

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

    As far as the “Public Reaction” issue: Have you ever been in a situation where you ran a business, and your customer claims that something is not working right, or you’ve not done your job correctly, but you clearly have proof to prove otherwise? If you have, than you know that the WORST thing you can do is knuckle under and let the customer have the upper hand.

    Why? Because they will lose trust in you, and worse, lose your respect.

    My point being. If there was NO SMOKING GUN. Than why remove the product from the market.

    You don’t do those things based on what people “think”.

    That’s just bad business and bad PR.

    Bottom line: They removed that vaccine because they probably found that it was the smoking gun, and like good politicians or corporate demagogues, they spun it such that they were doing the public a “service” leaving the opinion, as in your case, “they were being nice”.

  173. @Gary, you did not answer the question. “Different people have different propensities” does not answer it at all. Here it is again in a different form. You believe a trace amount of thimerosal (less than 1mcg) is dangerous, and I assume, autism-causing.

    If 1mcg of thimerosal is dangerous, what do you think about 70mcg of thimerosal in vaccines? Do you think it would be more dangerous or less dangerous? A lot more dangerous? If this is the case, what would be your prediction about the effects of the vaccination schedule in the 1980s, when children were exposed to about 70mcg of thimerosal from vaccines?

  174. The Amish don’t get autism, and they don’t get vaccinated.

    BTW, turns out the Amish do have autism, and they also vaccinate. That’s an urban legend started by a “journalist” called Dan Olmsted.

  175. Jacque

    Here’s another study from California released earlier this year:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/01/08/MNF7UAQI1.DTL

    In a nutshell, autism rates in California have increased despite the fact that thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2001.

    As an Aspie, I think that anti-vaccination proponents, now matter how well-intentioned, do more harm than good. Ditto for those that pill up, chelate, and put a child through a series of quack treatments in a desperate hope to make that autistic child “normal”. The harsh truth is that there is no autism recovery or cure. Nor is there a conspiracy to keep autistic people autistic.

    Certainly a tiny group of individuals are harmed by vaccines, but the research continually shows that autism is not caused by thimerosal. And the benefit of vaccination greatly outweighs any small risk of side effects. When or if I have children, I will most certainly vaccinate them.

    Furthermore correlation does not imply causation. The pathology of the disorder may simply manifest itself or is noticed at the same time a child typically gets vaccinated. Anecdotes may lead to a scientific study, but are not scientific evidence by themselves.

    The causes of autism may also be diverse. In some it may be genetic, others random mutation, and environmental factors in the rest. One potential cause has been satisfactorily ruled out and now other potential causes can be identified and studied.

    And there is always the possibility of overdiagnosis. When ADD was the disorder du jour, many non-ADD children were diagnosed with it. It follows that the same will happen with autism.

    Additionally there is always simple misdiagnosis. I was originally diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder as a child in the 80s and wasn’t diagnosed with Asperger’s until 2004. Now Asperger’s is a differential diagnosis to Schizoid, but back then there was no such thing as a spectrum disorder. So that’s at least one case that is new, but really wasn’t new at all.

    That’s why I always take the ’1 in whatever’ statistics with a grain or two of salt.

    Anyway the only tool the anti-vaccination crowd has in its arsenal is emotional appeal. I liken them to 9/11 conspiracy theorists in that they will distort any study or contrary evidence so that it fits their particular viewpoint.

    It’d be one thing if the anti-vaxers had supporting scientific evidence. Instead all you get are things like the anti-vax billboard I saw on the way home from my brother’s graduation that could only be described as emotional blackmail at its finest.

    Finally, it would be nice if people who claim to be advocates for autistic people wouldn’t be so patronizing and condescending to autistic people.

  176. Andrew

    Billy Bee spouted “The Amish donâ??t get autism, and they donâ??t get vaccinated.”

    Wrong – the Amish do get vaccinated, and they do get autism. http://autism-news-beat.com/?p=29
    http://autism.about.com/b/2008/04/23/do-the-amish-vaccinate-indeed-they-do-and-their-autism-rates-may-be-lower.htm

    If you don’t care enough about the truth to care to investigate your “proofs” please go away.

  177. Steve

    Phil,

    I don’t believe there is good evidence that Thimerosal causes a significant number of autism cases but this post is really pretty weak.

    First, you are conflating vaccines with mercury. The title says “vaccines” and the data is about mercury. I haven’t seen a lot published on the idea that multiple vaccines can over stress an immature immune system.

    Second, you present a graph that could easily represent a causal relationship with a 4 year lag. You present no data on the age of vaccination and the age of diagnosis. A 4 year lag between those dates seems highly plausible.

  178. Gary

    @Todd W

    “I’m sorry, but the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that vaccines do not play a significant role in autism. As Orac has pointed out, any role it does play is likely to be very, very small…only very rare cases.”

    I’m really glad that one study is the answer to ALL the questions and we shouldn’t still question the data.

    I wonder what the Jonus Salk would have done had he listened to people like you who kept saying “there’s no way you can cure a virus with the same virus.”

    The comment “do not play a significant role”, to me can read that it MAY play some role.

    So you yourself are leaving that door open.

  179. trrll

    “Is it a scientific law that vaccines don’t affect medical disorders (you notice I didn’t say “cause”)? We believe in physical laws, like gravity. But theories, even though they have stood up to attacks by experimentation for decades, could possibly be changed or overturned if there is new, proven data found.”

    Oh, look, it’s the “law” vs. “theory” fallacy. This ugly little deception has been primarily perpetrated by the creationists, who have managed to convince a scientifically naive segment of the public that science draws a distinction between “laws” which are absolutely true, and “theories,” which are tentative.

    Scientifically speaking, that is utter nonsense: It’s all theories, folks.

    In science, “theory” is basically synonymous with “generalization” or “explanation.” If I say, “I dropped an apple and it fell to the ground,” that’s an observation. If I generalize, and say “Dropped apples fall to the ground,” that’s a theory, because it goes beyond the observational facts to tell us what an apple will do tomorrow, and we won’t actually know if that’s right until tomorrow comes. If a theory is really just a preliminary guess, without any good evidence to support it, we’ll call it a “hypothesis,” but that’s about as far as the name-discrimination goes.

    So what’s a scientific “law,” then. The closest expression in plain English is “rule of thumb.” A law doesn’t have to be perfectly correct (we still refer to Newton’s “laws” of motion even though Einstein’s “theory” of relativity is known to be more accurate); it just has to be simple and “close enough” for most uses. So Einstein’s theory will never be “promoted” to a law, because it’s more complicated, and most of the time you don’t need that additional complexity. Newton’s Laws are good enough.

  180. I’m really glad that one study is the answer to ALL the questions and we shouldn’t still question the data.

    Thing is it is not just one study, it’s all the studies. Yes Phil mentions only one but that is just the begining. Visit Orac and do a search for autism at his blog.

  181. Todd W.

    @Gary

    Rev. BigDumbCHimp beat me to it. I’m not talking about just one study. There have been numerous studies, all showing that there is no connection. As I noted way up in the thread, take a look at the Skeptical Inquirer issue (Nov.-Dec. 2007, I believe) on the vaccine-autism controversy. The article by Dr. Novella includes in the references a number of studies. One that jumps to mind is the study by Honda (not the car maker).

    As to my use of “significant” leaving the door open, well, yah. That’s the scientific approach. Science is never 100% certain on anything. There is always the possibility, however remote, that something, sometime, will come along and change things. But I will stress that at present, the evidence overwhelmingly suggests no causal link.

  182. Joe Shmoe

    “I haven’t taken the time to verify that though”.

    Are you kidding me, Joseph? I’m embarrassed for you. “Phil” comments in regards to bogus/debunked Danish autism studies and the best that you can do is to say that there may be issues with the studies but you haven’t taken the time to verify the issues? You haven’t taken the time to verify the issues? You’re pathetic.

  183. They removed that vaccine because they probably found that it was the smoking gun, and like good politicians or corporate demagogues, they spun it such that they were doing the public a “service” leaving the opinion, as in your case, “they were being nice”.

    No, they removed it because they were concerned that fears over it would lower the vaccination rate. Of course, they were too naive to realize that removing thimerosal would do nothing to quell the antivaccinationists’ objections and everything to give them an act to point at and say, “Why did they remove the thimerosal if it wasn’t harmful?”

    It’s a classic case of good intentions and being very conservative backfiring spectacularly.

  184. trrll

    Explain why I don’t sneeze when pollen is in the air but my wife can hardly breathe? Or that my father in law, if he comes NEAR shellfish, he breaks out, but my kids can eat shrimp until their guts are busting…

    Because these are allergies, not toxicity. Your body has an immune system that is designed to recognize extremely small quantities of infectious agents, and mobilize defenses. The effects you describe are not produced by the pollen, but by your body’s defenses to what it has mistaken for a dangerous infection. And the body is able to respond to allergens at levels much, much lower than those at which toxic substances are able to harm the body, because the immune system has evolved to be an early warning system, to mobilize defenses before there is enough of an invader to harm the body.

    The key fact about allergies is that because the symptoms are caused by your body’s defenses, and not by the substances in the pollen or shellfish, the symptoms are characteristic of how the body responds to infection–itching, hives, constriction of the bronchii. There is individual variability in the specific substances a person’s immune system responds to. So you may react that way to pollen, somebody else may react to nuts, a third person may react to a vaccine, but while the trigger may vary, the way the immune system responds is basically the same from person to person, so the symptoms are invariably recognizable as part of the body’s attempt to fight off infection.

    Ever hear of anybody eating a peanut butter sandwich and developing autism?

  185. It would be interesting to see the correlation between Autism Spectrum Disorders and parental age (both mother’s and father’s) at birth of first child. The one thing that has been changing most over the last couple of generations is the combination of the increasing age of parents before having children and the improvement in neonatal care. I’m not saying that either of these are bad in and of themselves, just that we have been warned for many years that there are risks involved and we seem to be encountering their consequences.

    Just for the record, I was almost 40 and my children’s mother was over 30 when we had our first child, and she has a much younger half-brother with PDD (initially diagnosed as Asperger’s).

  186. trrll

    Just because the thimerosal-based vaccines were officially discontinued doesn’t mean they were still available. I accidentally entered the vaccine war when I asked to see the drug pamphlets at our baby’s first vaccination appointment. Our (well-regarded and part of a recognized hospital network) pediatrician told us that thimerosal has been removed or wasn’t present in three of the vaccines they wanted to administer that day, and the fourth vaccine only contained trace amounts.

    No, the old stocks of vaccines did not disappear instantaneously when thimerosal ceased to be used. There was never any actual evidence of harm, so there was no reason to recall the old stocks. But as those stocks ran out or expired, fewer and fewer children received them. So if thimerosal really caused autism, rates of autism should have begun to decline. We now have enough years that such a decline should be effective if indeed thimerosal had anything to do with it. So you can relax; it wouldn’t have made any difference if your pediatrician had given you the “old” vaccines.

  187. Todd W.

    On the topic of the “smoking gun,” from the FDA web site:

    In its report of October 1, 2001, the IOM’s Immunization Safety Review Committee concluded that the evidence is inadequate to either accept or reject a causal relationship between thimerosal exposure from childhood vaccines and the neurodevelopmental disorders of autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and speech or language delay. At that time the committee’s conclusion was based on the fact that there were no published epidemiological studies examining the potential association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders. The Committee did conclude that the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines could be associated with neurodevelopmental disorders was biologically plausible. However, additional studies were needed to establish or reject a causal relationship. The Committee stated that the effort to remove thimerosal from vaccines was “a prudent measure in support of the public health goal to reduce mercury exposure of infants and children as much as possible.”

    [emphasis mine] from http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimfaq.htm#q4

    So, no smoking gun. The research at the time wasn’t convincing for either side, but did provide a plausible scenario. Barring strong evidence, better safe than sorry. After that, further research revealed no convincing connection.

  188. Skeptical

    This article is a poorly thought out rant. What a shame.
    The facts are true enough, but the conclusions are sloppy – and wrong.
    If there are multiple sources of autism, of course studies will not definitively show decreases after only a single element is changed (Thimerasol).
    The writer goes off the deep end, triumphantly claiming “measles Kill” but the vaccine was never in question – it is the mercury in the Thimerasol – which the writer even acknowledges.
    The crux is this: Given that there is no conclusive evidence either way… why not remove mercury (a known toxin) from vaccines? It is not necessary – and there are plenty of good reasons to not have mercury administered to children… autism or no.

  189. I’m really glad that one study is the answer to ALL the questions and we shouldn’t still question the data.

    I’ll type this again very slow and in simple words so that you can understand it: It isn’t just one study. It’s several studies. These studies were big, with lots of subjects, and they were well-designed. They were conducted in multiple countries, among which were Canada and the U.S. They had the statistical power to find small increases in autism prevalence that might be linked to the thimerosal in vaccines or to the vaccines themselves. None of them found any inkling of such a link. Moreover, there is very good evidence that other causes, including increased awareness, widening of the diagnostic criteria, and diagnostic substition, account for the vast majority, if not all, of the so-called “autism epidemic.”

    In other words, there’s lots and lots of good evidence that there is no link between vaccines and autism, and that evidence is so far and above the pathetic crap that antivaccinationists put out to support their claims that it starts to approach the difference between evidence for evolution and evidence for creationism. Old school, young earth creationism.

    No one says we shouldn’t question the data. That’s nothing but a straw man. However, in science such “questioning” needs to be evidence-, science-, and methodology-based. Just saying you don’t believe the data doesn’t cut it. You need to give valid reasons based on science. Similarly, citing poorly designed, poorly powered trials published in throwaway journals (which is all the antivaccinationists can muster) doesn’t cut it either. “Doubt” the data all you like, but if you can’t provide sound scientific and clinical reasons why you think the data shouldn’t be trusted, then there’s no reason why anyone should take you in the least bit seriously. Respect for one’s opinion has to be earned, and the commenters here trying to argue for a link between vaccines and autism have failed to come even close to earning respect for their views because they can’t produce the evidence needed and they can’t argue their way out of a paper bag.

  190. he crux is this: Given that there is no conclusive evidence either way…

    BZZZZZT! Wrong answer. There is conclusive evidence in the form of several large epidemiological studies that there is no link between thimerosal and autism or vaccines and autism. At least it’s as conclusive as epidemiological evidence can be.

    Do play again, though.

  191. Todd W.

    On the “thimerosal-containing vaccines were still around” topic and how it relates to rates of autism, the last batches of childhood vaccines in the U.S. that contained thimerosal expired in 2003. Based on that, rates of autism should have begun to fall starting around 2004-2005 (based on a typical diagnosis age of 2 years).

    Again, this is for the U.S. only. Other countries may have changed things earlier or later (don’t have that data to hand at the moment).

    Does anyone have stats on autism rates through 2007, with a link?

  192. Michael

    Any statements about vaccinations — pro or con — that claim the science is all in and the facts are proven are just dumb.

    Human vaccination is a long-ranging chemistry experiment on our children. The first thing you learn in chemistry class is that while you may know the behavior of chemical A and you may know the behavior of chemical B, you know NOTHING about the behavior of chemicals A and B mixed together until you test for it.

    So while the medical industry may have tested these vaccines individually, did they test them in all the various combinations? Did they test them for a child who might also be taking some other chemical, ie, ritalin, or some such? Did they test in combination for any of the THOUSANDS of new chemicals we are exposed to since the mid-20th century? And did they test for genetic affects in future generations?

    No to all of these because there’s really no way to do such testing. Instead, we’re doing live testing on our own children. Let’s shoot a chemical cocktail into the bodies of millions of infants and see what happens.

    Not my child……….

  193. So while the medical industry may have tested these vaccines individually, did they test them in all the various combinations? Did they test them for a child who might also be taking some other chemical, ie, ritalin, or some such? Did they test in combination for any of the THOUSANDS of new chemicals we are exposed to since the mid-20th century? And did they test for genetic affects in future generations?

    Logical fallacies:

    1. Science doesn’t know everything
    2. Argument from ignorance.

    Do try again.

  194. Todd W.

    @Orac

    You might know the answer to this. Do you know if there have been studies done to support the current dosing schedule? E.g., why some vaccines are not given at the same visit as others, why others are given on the same day, etc.?

    The question on the schedule has come up in the newer thread on vaccines.

  195. neal

    As I often agree with your opinions, this time I need to point out that you are being short-sighted in this case.

    First, note that you are an astronomer, not a medical doctor or pharmacologist. So your opinion in this case carries no more weight than any other non-professional, in the view of the law. You deride the fact that a judge or jury not trained in medical science will make a decision, yet your opinion would carry no weight as an “expert in the art” in the court of law.

    So chill out; besides, the ruling may not be so bad as you are getting all hyped up about. Give the process time to work. Lets get a decision before we decide the process is somehow at fault.

    Second, I do not think anyone will disagree that vaccines are one of man’s greatest inventions, responsible for saving millions of lives. Please do not set up a “straw man” argument.

    What is on trial here is the question of what ingredients other than the active vaccine are being injected when the vaccine is delivered to the body, and if those other ingredients are having undesired “bad outcome” effects.

    I believe it is well-documented that large corporations, with only a motivation to increase profits, have exposed the general public to hidden dangers, and then kept these dangers secreted away, even when the company’s own internal data clearly shows the danger.

    Medical products companies are particularly suspect in this kind of behavior. Large trials, public exposure, and the legal discovery process are particularly good at exposing this kind of wrong-doing.

    So it may be that *some* vaccines made by *some* companies do have secondary and purportedly inactive ingredients that have bad effects in some cases. If this is true, we need to know this, so the formulation of those vaccines can be made more safe.

    So…let the process work. In the ideal, the process with get at the truth, and we will all benefit from that.

    After all, you are a scientist, right? Any process that uncovers “the truth” should be something you support, right?

  196. John Truth

    Your graph points to you being wrong. Even after vaccine manufacturers stopped putting thimerosal in the vaccines there was a huge stockpile of vaccines that still contained thimerosal that had to be used up over several years. Children didn’t actually get thimerosal free vaccines until around the time your graph started showing a decline in autism.

  197. Second, I do not think anyone will disagree that vaccines are one of man’s greatest inventions, responsible for saving millions of lives. Please do not set up a “straw man” argument.

    He’s not–in fact, you are. People on this very thread are making the argument that vaccines are not a significant public health intervention, and that the diseases they prevent are less dangerous than autism spectrum conditions. It’s a common argument advanced by anti-vaccinationists.

    Further, there’s been a great deal of research into the purported connection, as described at great length above. Obviously, opinions differ dramatically on the quality of the research, as Orac has discussed above.

    Finally, the legal standard applied in vaccine court is essentially that the plaintiff must show that it’s more than 50 percent likely that vaccines caused harm. That standard does not comport with the legal standards to which I think we are conditioned (i.e., beyond reasonable doubt). So yes, there’s ample reason to question the process.

  198. Michael

    @Orac

    Say what? The whole point of vaccinations is that medical science claims that this is something safe and effective that we all should do.
    The author of this article and most of the posters claim that the arguments are over, vaccines are proven safe and effective, and folks like me are anti-social jerks.

    Pardon me, but before you do something to my child as extreme as pumping a dozen exotic chemicals into her still-forming immune system, I want proof of its safety.

    That proof has not been provided yet, and for the ignorant and logically fallacious reasons I gave, it never will be.

  199. isildur

    “Let’s shoot a chemical cocktail into the bodies of millions of infants and see what happens.”

    Oh, oh! I know!

    What happens: the death rate from preventable childhood diseases drops to nearly zero.

    “Not my child……….”

    And your decision weakens the herd immunity effect for my child. Thanks!

  200. isildur

    As an addendum: the herd immunity effect is the only reason I care. If it weren’t for the increased risk that scientific illiterates are posing to my child, I’d be more than happy to let them condemn their children to possible death or severe disability.

    But when you’re risking my child with your behavior… it’s comparable to incorrect use of antibiotics. You create a public health danger for others.

  201. The whole point of vaccinations is that medical science claims that this is something safe and effective that we all should do.

    No. The point of vaccinations is that a vaccinated person is less likely to contract the targeted disease than an unvaccinated person. However, it is true that vaccines are largely safe and largely effective. That is a fact of which you appear to be ignorant.

    I want proof of its safety.

    Does your child eat food or drink liquids? She might choke.

    Does your child ride in your car? She might die in an accident.

    Do you put your child in a plastic bubble to protect her from all harm? It might collapse and suffocate her.

    I do hope that your application of your desired standard of proof doesn’t compromise the quality of your life too much, or that of your child.

  202. isildur

    “The people that want you to take these vaccines are globalists and through federal funding can manipulate anything and/or anyone they wish.”

    Holy tinfoil hat time, Batman.

  203. Tom Marking

    “A couple of explanatory posts:

    1. The Increase in Autism Diagnoses: Two Hypotheses
    2. Evidence against an â??autism epidemicâ??

    The â??autism epidemicâ?? is not an epidemic at all, but rather primarily the result of better recognition, a widening of the diagnostic criteria in the early 1990s, increased access to services, and diagnostic substitution.”

    A study conducted by the M.I.N.D. Institute at the University of California at Davis in 2002 reached opposite conclusions:

    http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/newsroom/study_final.pdf

    “CONCLUSION
    The rise in the number of autism cases in California has been a cause for much concern. How to respond to these increasing numbers has been a point of major debate. Increases of the magnitude that have been reported challenge our limited understanding of the cause or causes of autism. It is natural to discount that which we do not understand or force it to fit a paradigm with which we are comfortable. This study has been an attempt to determine whether or not the increased numbers are due to a real epidemic, or if the rise in autism cases can be explained by factors that have artificially created that increase.

    Has there been a loosening in the criteria used to diagnose autism, qualifying more children for Regional Center services and increasing the number of autism cases? We did not find this to be the case.

    These results show that approximately 90% of children reported by the Regional Center System as having CDER status 1 autism met DSM-IV criteria for autism. More importantly, this close correspondence did not differ between the two birth cohorts. Our results, based on ADI-R interviews with families, are similar to the findings of a recently published study that evaluated Regional Center records35. This study by Croen and colleagues, using the birth cohorts 1983-85 and 1993-95, found that 85% of children with CDER status 1 autism in the older cohort and 84% of the younger cohort met DSM-IV criteria for autism. Using the same birth cohorts, our study found that 88% and 89% met DSM-IV criteria for autism. Although Croen and colleagues did
    not conduct independent confirmation of the autism diagnosis (as was performed in this study with the ADI-R), nonetheless both studies concluded that the diagnosis of autism was reliable for most children in the Regional Center system.
    .
    .
    .
    Has the increase in cases of autism been created artificially by having â??missedâ?? the diagnosis in the past, and instead reporting autistic children as â??mentally retarded?â?? This explanation was not supported by our data.
    .
    .
    .

  204. sheeple

    Yay! Conspiracy theorist!

    Maybe you should do some research yourself on the demographics that have never had any vaccines and still have the longest longevity and no cases of autism in comparisons to society as a whole. You can start with the Amish community….

    Who vaccinate their children. Coincidentally, some Amish children are autistic.

    It sounds like you get your facts from Fox news

    Huh?

  205. I agree with Neal. Going to an astronomer for medical advice is like going to a beautician to get tips on setting up a network for my computers.

    The fact is that is that in 1980, 1 in 10000 children were autistic, now its in 1 in 150 (in England it was recently reported to be 1 in 65!). What’s changed since the 1980′s? The number of vaccinations have increased dramatically. Nurses are injected babies toxic levels of heavy metals (such as mercury), formaldehyde, and even anti-freeze. Your going to tell me that’s healthy? If you do, why don’t you inject yourself with this chemical cocktail and let me know what you think afterwards.

    I asked a pediatrician what causes autism and she said, “I don’t know”. Excellent answer from a trained medical professional. What it all comes down to is this: doctors and pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money. Drugs are profitable. The medical industry is not interested in preventing illness, just treating it. Healthy people are a threat to their livelihood. Every time we take my kids for vaccinations, the nurse tries to upsell by scaring us with a disease that our children will surely get unless we pay an extra $150 for a new vaccine that just came out. Its all about money, not our children’s health.

    What’s interesting that autism clears up in children who undergo detoxification programs to remove the heavily metals that have poisoned them. Also, if mercury is safe, why is Norway on the way to banning it?

  206. Jeff

    As much as I agree with you, using that graph as evidence is pretty weak. First of all the dip is not “many many” years after thimerosal was stopped, it’s just 4 years after. Secondly, if it takes a few years to develop autism, then the graph actually supports the antivax croud.

  207. What’s interesting that autism clears up in children who undergo detoxification programs to remove the heavily metals that have poisoned them.

    Evidence, please. Because that’s utter nonsense.

  208. Michael

    @isildur

    And, if you’ve been paying attention at all, what also happens is lots and lots of side-effects, some far more serious than the illnesses they target.

    Jeepers folks: when the human organism encounters brand new chemicals, the results are often toxic. Intentionally dosing your child with chemicals when you don’t know how they interact is, well, as I said, not my child.

    As for “herd immunity”: my daughter is part of a different herd. Not only has never been vaccinated, she’s never taken anti-biotics. She’s had measles and chickenpox, and as was true for me, after a few days she was done. Free immunization, for life, as Nature designed it.

    Unfortunately, she’s regularly exposed to children who replaced their immune systems with big Pharma’s magic shots.

    thanks a lot…..

  209. meatbird

    where there is scinetific evidence that backs up Phild contections here…
    to make a blanket statement that antivax people are crackpots is totally absurd. there are good vaccines and than god for some of them… but most should be used when needed not as a preventative measure.
    do the richest drug companies have any motivation to develope cures…or just to endlessly treat disease? are all vaccinations the same with altrusitic intentions or healthy? (no) the vaccine you mnetioend for cervical cancer is totally evil as is laws in some areas trying to mandate it being used.
    the whole country has taken to flu shots which do little more than poison your immune system with a not very scientific msmattering of dead workd virus that most people won;t be exposed to. They best way to stay healthy is to be healthy. The less poison you put in your body the better your health. you have an immune system that will protect you, and it does a better job the healthier you are. (period) more often than not anything toxic you put in your system will eventually manifest itself in a negative way (period)
    that is science, not some skewed graph that illustrates someones point about one ingredient in a vaccination…even if it prroves to be true there are many others that show vaccinations in general can be very harmful….so making people take them is totally insane.

  210. qaz

    Let’s see mercury removed from vaccines, and 4 years later there is a drop in cases of autism. Most cases of autism are diagnosed around 4 years of age. This doesn’t prove a mercury link, but it does add a bit of evidence. Also, in the US, there is still mercury in some of the vaccines, and in Pennsylvania anyway, they are still adding more shots to the vaccine regiment.

  211. Andrew

    Michael,

    Allow me to sum up your argument – It’s better to make your child a petri dish for diseases known to kill and cripple, then to use safe chemicals that might in some combination have a bad effect. Is Typhoid Mary your hero?

    P.S. Odd coincidence that infant mortality dropped so drastically after mankind tragically turned away from natural cures.

  212. Landru, http://www.generationrescue.org/biomedical.html. A few examples of organizations successfully treating vaccines.

    Here’s some advice for you, the next time you try denying claims like that, there is really cool search engine called Google that you can use for searching. You should try it sometime.

  213. Johan, here’s some advice for you: next time you decide to cite “evidence,” don’t waste peoples’ time with crackpot advocacy sites run by quacks and softcore pron starlets with medical degrees from Google.

  214. Johan, here’s some advice for you: next time you decide to cite “evidence,” don’t waste peoples’ time with crackpot advocacy sites run by quacks and bongo starlets with medical degrees from Google.

  215. Johan, here’s some advice for you: the next time you try advocating quackery, don’t cite a source that’s known for it’s dedication to the negation of public health and science.

  216. AtheistAcolyte

    I thought I’d throw in my own anecdotal evidence here, and I think it might be nice for everyone else to, as well.

    I and all four of my siblings were completely vaccinated (myself in the “heavy metal times” of the 80s). When I was vaccinated at the age of 18 months, I grew up to be a perfectly happy healthy person.

    My wife is also completely vaccinated. Aside from a bit of the asthma (onset at age 25), she appears very healthy and happy.

    My dog is vaccinated. She does have a tendency to chew on my house’s moulding. Perhaps a link there?

  217. Rick

    First, I direct you to the Wikipedia entry on the thiomersal contraversy. I quote:

    “In July 1999, following a review of mercury-containing food and drugs, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked vaccine makers to remove thiomersal from vaccines as quickly as possible, and it was rapidly phased out of most U.S. and European vaccines.[5] The precautionary principle assumes that there is no harm in exercising caution even if it later turns out to be unwarranted, but this 1999 action sparked confusion and controversy that has diverted attention and resources away from other efforts to find the causes of autism.”

    Because of the association of mercury with neurotoxic effects, but there was no scientific consensus that the organomercury compounds were not causing harm, based on the precautionary principle, they removed it. Please pay attention to the subtlety: based on the current state of evidence, the continuing use of thiomersal in vaccines was possibly harmful, so instead of justifying the use of thiomersal in vaccines through ignorance they removed the compound. There is a world of difference between this and covering butts. And there is a world of difference between public health and “PR”. Unlike you, I don’t have my tinfoil hat on pretending there is a conspiracy.

    As far as your claim that autism is compatible with mercury poisoning, where are the other symptoms of mercury poisoning? Where are the parasthesias? The vision and hearing impairments? Etc. etc. etc. The only possible connection between mercury poisoning and a tenuous one at best is that mercury poisoning has neuropsychiatric symptoms and even that doesn’t establish that autism (a specific type of neuropsychiatric impairment) is of the type that are caused by mercury poisoning. And this is just from reading that Wikipedia entry you so kindly linked to.

    I would suggest you read the IOM’s 2004 report here since you’re so desirous of links.

  218. Johan: Generation Rescue? It is to laugh. Try again.

  219. meatbird

    sorry for the bad misspells…hit send before being able to go back.
    there are lots of good points in response here.
    the cigarette companies did a great job at denying their product was bad for years too… but anyone with half a brain knew otherwise.graphs like the one you use can be totally manipulated and used to peoples advantage. besides …saying thimesoral is benign has no weight to conveying that to saying all vaccinations are good . get real.
    you trust drug companies to tell you what is good for you? they only test some of these drugs with any reall detail. if the “right” person is on the right panel, your drug will be approved w/o very little testing.
    I supposed our industrial food chain is healthy too?

    there is good and bad in everything just as choosing anything usually has positive and negative effects. anytime you write off one side of any argument , you are creating a lie for yourself and you have closed you mind to exploring what might actually be going on. how scientific is that?

  220. Generation Rescue? Are you kidding me?

  221. neal

    “……Please do not set up a “straw man” argument.”

    “He’s not–in fact, you are.”

    I belive it is obvious that Phil in this case has way exceeded his field of expertise. He is not a medical doctor or pharmacologist. And he is setting up a “straw man”: By arguing against vaccines causing autism, rather than accepting the debate that it may be the other ingredients in the formulation that may be responsible, he is setting up a “straw man”, he is trying to shift the debate away from its base.

    “People on this very thread are making the argument”

    I am not pointing out the fallacy in their arguments (and there are many), I am pointing out that Phil has made mistakes in his argument.

    “Finally, the legal standard applied in vaccine court is essentially that the plaintiff must show that it’s more than 50 percent likely that vaccines caused harm.”

    And this is a problem??? This is a civil trial, not a criminal trial, so yes, the standard for proof is “preponderance of the evidence”.

    “That standard does not comport with the legal standards to which I think we are conditioned (i.e., beyond reasonable doubt).”

    Please, speak for yourself and avoid the use of the plural pronoun “we”, because I happen to believe your are incorrect, I believe that you have been “conditioned” into incorrect knowledge of the law.

    Proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard for evidence in criminal trials, not civil trials. This is a civil trial.

  222. Michael

    @Andrew

    For every epidemic or plague, there are survivors, people who don’t contract the illness at all, or who get through it with minimal suffering. For instance, while the black death killed nearly half of Europe, the other half survived.

    I think we’d all be better off if we studied (as I’ve done) the survivors, rather than dissecting the dead; if we looked for positive actions and behaviors (especially diet) that we should emulate, rather than searching for “magic bullets” that will kill the various biological nasties that inhabit our world; and, if we put more faith in the innate beauty and wisdom of our bodies — end results of millions of years of evolution — than in profit-driven pharmaceutical companies promoting their latest chemical cocktail .

    As for eliminating diseases: if the “cures” are causing a whole new range of auto-immune diseases, then maybe there’s a better way.

  223. Benjamin

    Michael said: “As for “herd immunity”: my daughter is part of a different herd. Not only has never been vaccinated, she’s never taken anti-biotics. She’s had measles and chickenpox, and as was true for me, after a few days she was done.”

    And before and during those “few days”, she had no opportunity to spread infection to others around her?

    “Free immunization, for life, as Nature designed it.”

    Nature also designed the opportunity for death and serious injury from preventable diseases.
    What would happen in the event that your daughter developed acute appendicitis? Would you be content to let Nature take its course, seeing that the natural course of appendicitis can include (in addition to severe pain) appendiceal perforation, peritonitis and death?

    It’s hard to believe how many parents are content to expose their kids to preventable hazards, based on ideology.

  224. Hmmm

    Why do you use the term “many many years”, to refer to four years? Also, what is the nominal delay between an early childhood vacination and a diagnosis of Autism? I have an autistic daughter who received vacinations during her first year, but did not receive a “diagnosis” until five. Does this help you place the graph you display into context?

    I would never say that the vacinations caused my daughter’s austism. What is you personal reason for say that vacines do not causse autism? It does not appear to have anything to do with science.

  225. Neal, antivaccinationists have mutated the debate from “thimerosal” to “toxins” to “dosage” in a very short time, as their arguments have been shot down. The argument about dosage/formulation/multiplicity is, itself, a straw man.

    I am not incorrect about the law, and I cheerfully apologize for attempting to simplify the discussion on that point beyond your willingness to tolerate simplification. My point is that the legal standard for the omnibus vaccine proceedings (a form of civil trial), is considerably less than “preponderance of evidence.”

  226. NO AUTISM FOR UNVACCINATED AMISH?
    The Age of Autism: ‘A pretty big secret’
    UPI | December 7, 2005
    By DAN OLMSTED

    It’s a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill.

    But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don’t have autism.

    “We have a fairly large practice. We have about 30,000 or 35,000 children that we’ve taken care of over the years, and I don’t think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines,” said Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, Homefirst’s medical director who founded the practice in 1973. Homefirst doctors have delivered more than 15,000 babies at home, and thousands of them have never been vaccinated.

    http://www.infowars.com/articles/science/autism_none_for_unvaccinated_amish.htm

  227. neal

    “you have closed you mind to exploring what might actually be going on. how scientific is that?”

    This statement encapsulates pretty well why I disagree in this case with Phil.

    As a scientist, he should be aware that any process that attempts to find the truth should be allowed to run its course. After all, Phil just might be wrong (gasp!).

    And, in my opinion, the near hysterical ranting in this blog on the subject of vaccines (this is an *astronomy* blog, right?) is not well-placed.

    Only when the trial is done, and iff the outcome is “bad”, should we be questioning the process. Unless you believe the legal system is so out of control (and some do) that it is just not capable of getting the facts and truth……I prefer to wait and see what happens.

  228. NO AUTISM FOR UNVACCINATED AMISH?
    The Age of Autism: ‘A pretty big secret’
    UPI | December 7, 2005
    By DAN OLMSTED

    It’s a far piece from the horse-and-buggies of Lancaster County, Pa., to the cars and freeways of Cook County, Ill.

    But thousands of children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago have at least two things in common with thousands of Amish children in rural Lancaster: They have never been vaccinated. And they don’t have autism.

    “We have a fairly large practice. We have about 30,000 or 35,000 children that we’ve taken care of over the years, and I don’t think we have a single case of autism in children delivered by us who never received vaccines,” said Dr. Mayer Eisenstein, Homefirst’s medical director who founded the practice in 1973. Homefirst doctors have delivered more than 15,000 babies at home, and thousands of them have never been vaccinated.

    The few autistic children Homefirst sees were vaccinated before their families became patients, Eisenstein said. “I can think of two or three autistic children who we’ve delivered their mother’s next baby, and we aren’t really totally taking care of that child — they have special care needs. But they bring the younger children to us. I don’t have a single case that I can think of that wasn’t vaccinated.”

  229. Apologies to Johan and all for the results of my little battle with the spam filter.

  230. Stephen W.

    It’s pretty sad to call anyone who questions vaccine safety as “anti-vaccine.” That’s absurd, and is neither scientific nor objective. Sounds like bad astronomy to me. FYI, I personally doubt my son’s autism was caused by vaccine, but I’m not convinced the issue is settled, either, and there are probably multiple causes anyway (all my cihldren are vaccinated).

    Please read what a former NIH head recently said about the controversy: http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2008/05/12/couricandco/entry4090144.shtml?source=search_story

  231. Michael

    @benjamin

    Uh, we were talking about vaccinations. If my daughter has appendicitis she will go to a hospital. Likewise, if she suffers a traumatic injury. My position is not religious or ideological — unless the belief that individuals take full responsibility for their health is an ideology. Maybe it is.

    As for spreading her illness: if she was spreading anything, it was an entirely treatable, survivable, and ultimately immune-boosting illness.

    Vaccinators say we should be willing to accept the small risk that sometimes vaccines cause harm, but generally don’t. I would rather accept the small risk that measles, chicken-pox, mumps, etc can sometimes be life-threatening, but generally aren’t.

    The difference is that the risks I’m accepting are well-documented, as are non-toxic, holistic ways to deal with them.

    The risks that vaccinators are accepting are unknown until we’ve observed this experiment for another generation or two.

  232. Andrew

    Somebody said something about ‘OMG MERCURY ANTIFREEZE LET’S SEE YOU INJECT THAT INTO YOURSELF’

    Frankly, I’d glad do so because I know the quantities involved and /they are perfectly safe/ (barring, yaknow, extremely unlikely allergic complications or preexisting genetic conditions) , but you’d just say ‘BUTBUT YOU’RE NOT 2 YEARS OLD IT DOESN’T COUNT’.

    Well, and I’m terrified of needles and I don’t think it would count if I drank it or aerosolized it and inhaled it or something.

    - Andrew (the other one),
    had all his shots but blessedly can’t remember any of them
    (oh, yeah, he’s young enough that he had ZOMG 36 SHOTS ALL AT ONCE OMG KILLING OUR CHILDREN)

  233. Andrew

    Michael -

    Measles, mumps, etc, are lethal a whole hell of a lot more often than vaccines. EVEN IF you think they cause autism. Which they don’t.

    - Andrew (still the other one),
    sorry, I’m grumpy today for unrelated reasons, I don’t mean to sound standoffish

  234. I am certainly not an expert on this, however my wife and I being new parents have tried to stay on top of this debate. For us the concern has not been over whether the vaccine contained thimerosal as this link has shown to be week at best. Certainly we want our child vaccinated. We were both vaccinated as children and have most likely benefited from it. Our worry was more centered around the side effects of the vaccines and whether or not it is wise to subject a 2mos old child to such a wide array of vaccines at once. To put some perspective on our concern, it is probably worth noting that my wife is a pediatric occupational therapist, and has seen a fair number anecdotal cases where a normal child ended up with a profound disability resulting from vaccination side effects. Now we realize that the cases she encounters through her profession will always represent the extreme, but it was enough to make us cautious.

    On of the things she has learned through her work is that statistically, parents are more likely to take their children to the doctor for regular checkups during the first 6 months of life, so there has been an aggressive push to vaccinate for as many things as possible during this window, regardless of whether vaccination for that particular disease is warranted for the child at that time. The best example is the HEP-B vaccination. The only medical reason for vaccinating a newborn for HEP-B, a sexually transmitted disease, is if the mother is HEP-B positive, and even then there is only a slim chance that the newborn might contract it. Yet, where we live the first course is routinely administered with in the first 48 hours of life. My wife is not HEP-B positive, and our daughter was born perfectly healthy so we chose not to risk the side effects until she is a little older and her body is more capable of handling them.

    The approach we have taken with the HEP-B vaccination is the same that we, with the help of our pediatrician, have applied to our daughter’s vaccine schedule. Hopefully, by spreading out the first courses of her vaccinations by a few months, and introducing a couple at a time, she will be less effected by the vaccinations themselves, and be well protected at the same time.

    In the end maybe we are putting our daughter at risk by not vaccinating her for everything at once, but the fact remains that vaccines are not 100% safe. If they were there would not be potentially fatal side effects. Plus the issue of vaccinations has become so polarized that it seems likely that the true answer to proper vaccination lies somewhere between “vaccinate for everything immediately” and “don’t vaccinate for anything”. For some reason health care always seems to be driven by extremes when moderation in application is really the correct approach. Perhaps the research will eventually pinpoint the cause or causes of autism, but until that time we fully intend to practice moderation where our child’s health is concerned as following extremes always seems to lead to trouble.

  235. AtheistAcolyte

    Hey Michael -

    from
    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm -

    DISEASE

    Measles
    Pneumonia: 6 in 100
    Encephalitis: 1 in 1,000
    Death: 2 in 1,000

    Rubella
    Congenital Rubella Syndrome: 1 in 4 (if woman becomes infected early in pregnancy)

    VACCINES

    MMR
    Encephalitis or severe allergic reaction:
    1 in 1,000,000

    Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vs. DTap Vaccine
    DISEASE

    Diphtheria
    Death: 1 in 20

    Tetanus
    Death: 2 in 10

    Pertussis
    Pneumonia: 1 in 8
    Encephalitis: 1 in 20
    Death: 1 in 1,500

    VACCINES

    DTaP
    Continuous crying, then full recovery: 1 in 1000
    Convulsions or shock, then full recovery: 1 in 14,000
    Acute encephalopathy: 0-10.5 in 1,000,000
    Death: None proven

    Let’s see, for a no-vaccine population of 100,000 exposed children, we can expect:
    6,000 cases of pneumonia
    100 cases of encephalitis
    200 deaths

    Vaccine program (95% effective vaccine):
    300 cases of pneumonia
    5 + 0.1(Vaccine side-effect) cases of encephalitis/severe allergic reaction
    10 deaths

    For DTaP -
    No vaccine (n=100,000 exposed children):
    12,500 (Pertussis) cases of pneumonia
    5,000 (Pertussis) cases of encephalitis
    ~25,066 deaths

    Vaccine (95% efficacy):
    100 cases of continuous crying, then full recovery
    7 cases of convulsions/shock, then full recovery
    625 cases of pneumonia
    250 + 5(Vaccine side-effect) cases of encephalitis
    ~1,253 deaths

    To phrase it in economic terms, vaccinating an individual costs (let’s say) $20 for complete vaccination in DTaP OR MMR.
    Pneumonia costs ~$400 to treat
    Encephalitis costs ~$1,000 to treat, notwithstanding serious repercussions
    Death costs a human life.

    MMR no-vaccine total cost:
    $2,400,000 (pneumonia)
    $100,000 (encephalitis)
    ========================
    $2,500,000
    + 200 human lives

    Vaccine total cost:
    $2,000,000 (vaccination program)
    $120,000 (pneumonia)
    $5,100 (encephalitis)
    ========================
    $2,125,100
    + 10 human lives

    Net MMR savings:
    $374,900 and 190 human lives.

    DTaP no-vaccine total cost:
    $5,000,000 (pneumonia)
    $5,000,000 (encephalitis)
    ========================
    $10,000,000
    + 25,066 human lives

    Vaccine total cost:
    $2,000,000 (vaccine program)
    $250,000 (pneumonia)
    $255,000 (encephalitis)
    $5,000 (continuous crying – @$50 “treatment”?)
    $3,500 (convulsions/shock – @$500 “treatment”?)
    ========================
    $2,513,500
    + 1,253 human lives

    Net DTaP vaccine savings:
    $7,486,500
    + 23,813 human lives

    The math is actually pretty impressive. An ounce (or, perhaps, 50 mL) of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure.

    Please note: My estimates for treatment costs were pulled out of my ass, and, as such, likely stink. Please substitute your own ass-pullings for costs and find your own numbers. Please remember that this is also assuming 100% exposure-infection rate, and that not everyone will be exposed to diphtheria, tetanus AND Pertussis (I suspect). Perhaps a lurking epidemiologist or microbiologist can come in and suggest some more accurate numbers.

  236. trrll

    The fact is that is that in 1980, 1 in 10000 children were autistic, now its in 1 in 150 (in England it was recently reported to be 1 in 65!). What’s changed since the 1980’s? The number of vaccinations have increased dramatically. Nurses are injected babies toxic levels of heavy metals (such as mercury), formaldehyde, and even anti-freeze. Your going to tell me that’s healthy? If you do, why don’t you inject yourself with this chemical cocktail and let me know what you think afterwards.

    And nothing else has changed since the 1980′s? We know that the standards for diagnosis of autism have changed so that many children fit the diagnosis today who would not have done so in the past. And if you are paranoid about chemicals, there are an immense number of environmental chemicals that were not around then.

    But you are worrying about what? Thimerosal? It was a long shot to begin with. The dose is well below that which has ever been shown to cause harm, and people who have been poisoned with much higher doses of mercury have neurological damage, but not autism. A massive reduction in thimerosal usage has made not even a dent in autism rates, despite predictions by antivaccine zealots of a huge decrease in autism rates.

    Formaldehyde? This one has to win some kind of award for stupid. Your body *makes* formaldehyde. Sure, a huge dose of formaldehyde will hurt you (just like most other things), but the idea that you could get enough formaldehyde from a vaccine injection to produce even a blip over normal blood levels is ridiculous. And if you have any plywood or pressboard in your home, you and your kids are breathing the stuff every day.

    Antifreeze? This one seems to be simply a lie.

  237. Todd W.

    @Michael

    “As for spreading her illness: if she was spreading anything, it was an entirely treatable, survivable, and ultimately immune-boosting illness.”

    You’re assuming that anyone that came in contact with her had a healthy immune system. Keep in mind that there are people who have compromised or suppressed immune systems due to a disorder or meds (e.g., for transplants). These people very well may not survive, nor would their immune systems be boosted.

    Furthermore, pregnant women who have not received the MMR vaccine could come into contact with your unvaccinated daughter while she has measles. While the woman would probably survive and maybe be okay without any of the complications from measles, her fetus very likely would not fare well at all.

    A lot of these diseases have death as a possible outcome. Rare in a lot of cases, but it’s there. Far more common are other health issues that arise from the diseases or their complications (e.g., blindness, deafness, paralysis, etc.).

    I agree with you, though, about the appendicits example, as that is treated with surgery, not drugs, which you seem to be against. I’m curious, though, how you feel about cancer? Are you against the current therapies that can eradicate certain types of cancer, though they are toxic and cause a lot of negative side effects while on the treatments?

  238. Robert

    Bad Astronomer,

    I think you might want to change the title to “thimerosal vaccines do not cause autism”. Do you have medical training or are you a doctor? You article does seem a typical rehash of “vaccines do not cause autism”.

    I have a good understanding of how the scientific method works and frankly you have zero basis for your conclusions. You cannot prove autism is not caused by vaccines unless you KNOW what does cause it. As of late, no one does.

    I firmly agree that diseases the vaccines are for are dreaded and I for one am glad vaccines were developed. But I think your article is should be clarified unless you know something we all do not know.

    Regards,

    Robert
    Cleveland, OH

  239. liberty (its not for you)

    Just in case all of you AMA regurgitating (or whichever evangelical organization you got your statistics from, most of you sound *almost* as arrogant as some of the doctors we’ve dealt with ) should know that it is a FACT that one child (ours) was meeting all his developmental benchmarks. Speaking, eye contact etc. Got the MMR and the Chicken Pox in the same day (Doctor knows best right?! right?!?). He then had a bad fever as many children do. Then he stopped making eye contact, talking and now bears the cross of Autism You presumptuous twits with your charts. Gee statistics never lie! Golly! I know that a tens of thousands of anecdotes from parents swearing it was the shots couldnt possibly be true because a little god in a white coat says that its not possible. MMMM eat it up.. um slurp.. slurp.. yes.. Inject my child with unknown toxins that up until recently contained mercury and aluminum so they could save $4 per. TRUST THE GOVERNMENT They have to protect us stupid parents from ourselves. They have a great track record as well. The thought of you having to ask permission NOT to get your child injected with unknown and potentially harmful chemicals just makes your authoritarian lap dog nipples erect doesnt it. Dr Wakefield just suggested that people not get the triple shot and they are trying to take his license for erring on the side of caution. Now a recent study has shown that the latest greatest triple shot that was just soooo great now dramatically increases the chance of seizures and is no longer recommended. Good luck.

  240. JG

    Hey first time poster. Great blog! Lots of posts but I’ll add my $.02 about the amateur expert crowd.

    The overall problem, i think, is generations that have grown up being told to question everything – a good thing – and being told that their opinion is very important and that they have the qualifications to decide (entertainment / politics / combinations of above). Combined with a post-JFK assassination skepticism this has lead to the assumption that an initial sometimes entirely unresearched opinion is correct with a habit of cherry picking information. This has reduced all arguments to the level of which pop band is better or whether Ali in his prime could beat Tyson – matters of opinion where the amateur has every right to challenge the expert.

    So we are left with the ID crowd who continue to move the goal posts, the 9/11 truth types and paper moon clowns who make up ‘basic laws of physics and chemistry’ as they go along, and understandably nervous parents wondering if the govt has it wrong (again) being worked up by evangelists who may or may not have a ulterior motives.

    Full disclosure – I have a 1 year old and he sometimes hangs out with a 2 year old whose mother, an old friend and 9/11 truth type, is dodging all the vaccines. Strange days indeed.

  241. AtheistAcolyte

    Robert-
    “I have a good understanding of how the scientific method works and frankly you have zero basis for your conclusions. You cannot prove autism is not caused by vaccines unless you KNOW what does cause it. As of late, no one does.”

    I don’t know why the universe is accelerating (ie. why dark energy exists), but I do KNOW that there aren’t fluffy bunnies tugging at the boundaries of space ever faster and faster. Unless you’d like to suggest it could be possible.

    C’mon. Suggest. Do it.

  242. Michael

    @atheist

    The numbers assume there aren’t other ways to deal effectively with these illnesses than through vaccination.

    That’s just not true folks. Vaccinations make sense (to me) in a few cases — we’re trying to decide now on the human-pamploma vaccine for our teenage daughter. But for most of the illnesses targeted by vaccination there are alternative treatments that are effective and safer.

    Typically, such solutions demand more of the individual than showing up for a one time injection — changes in diet especially.

    We’re born with immune systems that can handle most of what’s thrown at them (which is why more people survive these plagues than are killed them). And there are non-toxic ways to make our immune systems even stronger.

  243. Todd W.

    @liberty

    “Dr Wakefield just suggested that people not get the triple shot and they are trying to take his license for erring on the side of caution.”

    Umm, no…his license is being taken away for some pretty serious breaches of medical ethics. I suggest visiting Brian Deer’s web site for some eye-opening insight into Dr. Wakefield.

  244. AtheistAcolyte

    Liberty -
    “I know that a tens of thousands of anecdotes from parents swearing it was the shots couldnt possibly be true because a little god in a white coat says that its not possible.”

    How about the tens of millions of anecdotes from parents who say that didn’t happen to them. You’re cherrypicking your evidence.

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

  245. neal

    “….but I do KNOW that there aren’t fluffy bunnies tugging at the boundaries of space ever faster and faster. Unless you’d like to suggest it could be possible.

    C’mon. Suggest. Do it.”

    *****************************************

    OK, I’ll bite, but I will not suggest anything, only ask a question: How do you know for sure there are no fluffy bunnies tugging at the boundry of space?

    You know this for a fact, or do you merely believe it with all your heart and soul?

    Maybe it can be said you have faith there are no fluffy bunnies in space?

  246. AtheistAcolyte

    Michael-
    “The numbers assume there aren’t other ways to deal effectively with these illnesses than through vaccination.

    That’s just not true folks. Vaccinations make sense (to me) in a few cases — we’re trying to decide now on the human-pamploma[papilloma --aa.] vaccine for our teenage daughter. But for most of the illnesses targeted by vaccination there are alternative treatments that are effective and safer.

    Typically, such solutions demand more of the individual than showing up for a one time injection — changes in diet especially. ”

    An alternative treatment to the HPV virus is to teach abstinence, chastity and celibacy to your daughter. Unless there are factors you cannot control, such as your daughter, such treatments make sense.

    I’d like to see your evidence for viral infections being staved off by changes in diet or mere personal strength of will. And I don’t mean changes like going from all-pancake-all-the-time diets to meat-fruit-veg-bread diets. Show me where people with average diets have statistically significant (I believe a p-factor of 5% is medically acceptable) improvements after switching to a more “natural” diet, such as vegetarian or vegan, or even more veg & fruit emphasis.

    Then I’ll recompose my formula to find the net savings/costs of vaccination versus no vaccination in these diet-enhanced people. Then we’ll see where the costs are.

  247. AtheistAcolyte

    neal-
    If you’re not suggesting anything, I have nothing to discuss.

  248. Two words for the antivaxers: Peer review.

    Learn it, be it, love it.

    And no, paying to have one’s dreck in a pay-to-publish rag isn’t “peer review”.

  249. Dear Spam Karma 2,

    I can’t write to the site admin, because his or her address isn’t listed anywhere I can find on the site.

    While there are those on this thread who will disagree with what I say, my posts aren’t spam. I’m very sorry that, in my first encounter with you, I attempted to recraft the same comment twice to avoid use of a word that offended your sensibilities.

    Please, Spam Karma 2, take me off of your list of Bad People.

    Thank you,
    Landru

  250. Michael

    @Todd W

    When she was sick we kept her home, of course, and — you’re all gonna love this — other non-vaccinating parents brought their kids for play days so they could be exposed.

    We’re just operating out of real different paradigms, which is why these posts could go on for a million years without changing anyone’s thinking. I was sick throughout childhood, missed all of fifth grade, and grew to distrust doctors and hate shots. So, I gravitated to alternative/holistic medicine and have had great results for myself and my family. For someone with my history, just handing my child over to the doctors is irresponsible.

    As for cancer, so far it hasn’t come up, thankfully. My guess is my wife and daughter would both start holistic but end up going the mainstream way if needed, whereas I would not, no matter how bad things got.

  251. neal

    “neal-
    If you’re not suggesting anything, I have nothing to discuss.”

    OK, then I will take another bite: I will suggest that, in my opinion, you are just a much tied up in “faith” as any of the religious people you seem anxious to distance youself from. You call yourself an athiest, but your argument is as much based in “faith” as any Christain I have ever debated!

    On the one hand, you state you do not know the source of the accelerating expansion of the universe, but you seem quick to state that it cannot be because of “X” (in this case, X == “fluffy bunnies”).

    But that is a statement of FAITH!! You admit to no proof of any kind, yet you reject outright a possible solution, based on what you a-priori believe to be true.

    Now, I admit that the evidence supporting any conclusion does NOT point to fluffy bunnies, but that is not the point.

    The point is that you are not arguing correctly, you are assigning value to an ad-hoc argument based on your faith that you are correct, not on rational though process.

    To make a better argument (in my opinion) you should be saying somthing like “I have rational reasons to believe there are not fluffy bunnies tugging at the fabric of space”, as this is a far more defensible position to argue.

  252. reader

    Either way, why individuals (parents) should be permitted to read information (such as this well-written blog post) and decide for themselves.

  253. tammy

    on the graph provided, you can see that the spike in cases of autism was around 1997 — 5 years after they stopped adding themarisol to new vials. they did not, however pull the old vials from the shelves. the old shots were still administered, which is why the number of cases continues to rise for 5 years.

    the sheer number of shots (22 before 2) is what is significant — it is no surprise that it didn’t help to only remove one vaccine (MMR).

  254. M Yaddoshi

    Guns don’t cause death. People do.

    In fact, guns aren’t even related to death, if you check out some charts I doctored up to make sure that, as a gun manufacturer, I do not have to feel guilt or remorse after someone blames my money-making product in a death.

    It’s that simple. Guns don’t cause death.

  255. Dylan

    I am neither pro-vaccine nor against it. I do however dislike the title ‘Vaccines don’t cause autism!’ when the only scientific evidence that you quote relates to the use of Thimerosol based vaccines. You are coming to a conclusion about Vaccines on the whole by looking at studies that only look at the facts around Thimerosol. I find that a little odd considering this is supposed to be a website that attacks ‘bad science’.

    I’d be very surprised to see Thimerosol have a relation to autism. The more likely association is that your immune system is one of the most powerful systems in your body and repeatedly priming the immune system like we do now with so many vaccines would be a more likely association.

  256. Shygetz

    Why do you hate the children!?!

    Just kidding; nice post. I predict the next scapegoat will not be mercury, it will be “immune system overload” from too many shots at once. Then once that’s debunked, they’ll move on to the next one.

    Ah, the anti-vaxxers. Protecting our precious bodily fluids, whether we like it or not.

  257. Shygetz

    Oh my God, Dylan beat my prediction! Tell me, Dylan, what is the evidence for immunological inflammation of neuronal tissue in autism-spectrum disorders? You don’t know of any? Then you’re really just pulling stuff out of your ass with this whole “priming the immune system” crap. Why don’t you just say “I don’t know what causes autism.” and wait for the scientists to figure it out? Unless you haven’t realized, all “grassroots science” manages to do is force talented scientists to waste time and resources disproving hypotheses that were highly unsupported to begin with. Believe it or not, we scientists are pretty good at what we do; stop jogging our elbows.

  258. Roger

    Your conclusion that “vaccines do not cause autism” is severely flawed.

    Your argument is centered around the ingredient thimerosal, not the vaccine itself — so, if anything your conclusion should instead be that “thimerosal does not cause autism”.

    There could other ingredients in vaccines (and not just the MMR) which may contribute to autism (aluminum, etc). Ruling out one ingredient does not lend itself to putting the entire vaccine in the clear.

  259. Todd W.

    On immune system going into overdrive, do a search for TGN1412. That’s a super-serious case of immune system going nuts. Other things involve allergies, arthritis and the like. I don’t believe any studies have suggested a connection between autoimmune disorders and autism, but if there are, please post a link.

  260. Todd W.

    @Roger

    True, but then there are those other large studies that looked at autism rates between vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations, finding that the rates for autism are about the same. I don’t have a reference on hand, but perhaps Orac can contribute, as he (?) seems to have done a good bit of research on the topic.

  261. AtheistAcolyte

    The only problem is, if you intend to continue arguing without suggesting, you’re being a contrarian, and conversation is futile.

    If you intend, however, to suggest that there is a possibility, however remote, that there are fluffy bunnies tirelessly tugging away, you have just performed a classic anti-scientific method move. You are presenting a specific scenario without specific evidence to back up the assertion, an appeal to ignorance (or in this case, appeal to probability).

    If you said “There is a mystery as to why the universe is expanding faster and faster, and we must remain open to where the evidence leads us”, I would agree with you (although perhaps the BA has some specialist knowledge in this case, the general scenario holds). However, if you say “There is a possibility that a particular scenario is happening just outside our perception, and we must accept that scenario as possible” is poor science. Once you make that leap, you are no longer following where the evidence is leading. You are leading the evidence.

    It’s a subtle point, and very important in many cases of dealing with people who have vested (in many cases subconcious) interests in putting down science.

    I am making a negative claim. (There are no fluffy bunnies … / vaccines do not cause autism) It is up to me to establish that fluffy bunnies cannot exist in space and vaccines have no effect on autism rates.

    You would be making a positive claim. (There is a possibility that fluffy bunnies … / ???) It is up to you to show that bunnies could exist in space.

  262. AtheistAcolyte

    Dylan-

    “The more likely association is that your immune system is one of the most powerful systems in your body and repeatedly priming the immune system like we do now with so many vaccines would be a more likely association.”

    However, the first few months of an infant’s life, it is positively bombarded by bacteria and antigens. The few it gets on a semimonthly basis through vaccination are mere drops in the bucket. How often do babies wash their hands before putting them in their mouth? I suggest that at this period of increased sensitivity to bacteria, while the immune system is still learning and is at a constant state of readiness, as it were, immunization is the absolute best thing you could do.

  263. wikibuddha

    Once again, I find myself on the middle way. I agree incompletely with both of those on my left and my right. Both have valid points and both overlook other points.

    Let’s look at this issue from the point of view of human rights. I believe, that as a conscious being, I have the right to decide what to put into my own body. And, given that I could be a parent, I would be able to decide what my child puts into their own bodies.

    It has been made clear that the “experts” of today, on any given subject, do not necessarily project the truth, nor are their experiments verifiable (by the common man), generally speaking.

    Before continuing, I will admit this particular dependency of vaccines on wide-spread distribution in their supposed efficiency. I’m not sure, but I thought that forcing the population to conform to a particular product or practice was called “socialist”. Something so many of you Americans cry foul of, so loudly.

    I think I could write a full article, if not a book, on this subject. My thoughts are not fully organized, but the bottom line is that our forefathers failed to see the industrialized America that we have today and the biased media that propagandizes our thoughts. I believe there should be an amendment to the constitution granting freedom of consumption. No other individual or group should be able to dictate what I can or cannot put into my body, but offer (preferably objective) information about all given consumables (think warnings on under-counter cleaners that I could consume with consequences, or prescription drugs).

    Backing up, I would agree that it could be in the interest of schools or businesses to have requirements that employees/students must refrain from consuming particular substances or are required to consume a given substance before allowing hiring. Yes, I do consider vaccines a consumable (although not eaten), it is the introduction of a foreign body into my own in which my body will experience a reaction.

    Regarding the requirements of entry into schools, this is all the more reason to privatize the school system and allow parents/students to make a choice about where they send their kid. Do they want to send their student to a school where vaccines are required? They don’t want to get their children vaccinated? Well, there are schools that accept non-vaccinated children and there could be schools that will not allow vaccinated children in them.

    I do appreciate the fact that I have access to vaccination technology, but it shouldn’t be a requirement for me to live in a free nation.

    And for all of you that haven’t noticed, there is an increasing shortage of food supply and an already overwhelming number of completely impoverished human beings. The longer we extend our lives, the less that life becomes appreciated. Nature (you might call it god) is trying to balance the damage humans have wreaked, yet we leverage science to prolong our lives, increasing our toll on this world. You all fear death so much, why so?

    I’ll continue my path on the middle way. I don’t want to tell you how to live your life and I don’t want you to tell me how to live mine. I fail to understand why almost everyone is so hell-bent on controlling everyone else. Can’t we all just get along?

  264. AtheistAcolyte

    M Yaddoshi-

    “Guns don’t cause death. People do.”

    Chelation doesn’t cause death. Negligent doctors do.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2008/05/no_justice_for_abubakar_tariq_nadama.php

  265. AtheistAcolyte

    wikibuddha-

    I don’t know if you intended it, but you totally sound like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KvgtEnABY

    (particularly around 1:40)

  266. Neat Video

    Here is a link to a video showing the affect of Mercury atoms on snail brain tissue

    http://commons.ucalgary.ca/mercury/

  267. Frank

    If thimerasol was removed in ’92, there would still be thimerasol-based product in the supply chain for a while. (How long?) So, thimerasol-free vaccines would be in use 100% probably at some point after ’92. Then add some time (a couple years?) for this generation of kids to be of age of developing autisim and it’s possible that the graph IS showing a connection.

    Just a thought. I don’t know the specifics of their methodology.

  268. AtheistAcolyte

    Frank -

    Thimerosal was ordered removed in 1999, removed completely from all routine childhood vaccinations by 2001, and the last thimerosal lots expired in 2002. It’s been 5 or 6 years since then.

  269. Jess

    “Nurses are injected babies toxic levels of heavy metals (such as mercury), formaldehyde, and even anti-freeze. ”

    You forgot the monkey pus. You should never forget the monkey pus.

    Sorry, but it so rare that I get to quote Peter Bowditch.

    Good article Phil.

  270. It has been made clear that the “experts” of today, on any given subject, do not necessarily project the truth, nor are their experiments verifiable (by the common man), generally speaking.

    I wouldn’t say that’s exactly true in this particular case. There is publicly available data from the state of California. Bloggers have been putting this data into graphs, specifically the 3-5 caseload, for a couple of years now. It’s an interesting thing. The trend is completely flat – no effect whatsoever from removal of thimerosal.

    So the failure of the hypothesis is verifiable to an extent by the common man, if you don’t entirely trust peer-reviewed science. To think otherwise requires invoking some major conspiracy theories.

  271. Armin Tanzarian

    Television causes autism!

    Actually that statement like the title of this blog post is a vast oversimplification of the facts. Instead of the above I should have said,

    “One study of autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state has found a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.”

    http://www.johnson.cornell.edu/faculty/profiles/waldman/autpaper.html

    But people respond to absolute statements and simplifications of the facts. The headline is wrong but it got your attention. This is endemic in science writing and it really grinds my gears…

  272. trrll

    on the graph provided, you can see that the spike in cases of autism was around 1997 — 5 years after they stopped adding themarisol to new vials. they did not, however pull the old vials from the shelves. the old shots were still administered, which is why the number of cases continues to rise for 5 years.

    So why would the numbers continue to rise? Use a bit of logic. Let’s suppose that thimerosal was really the problem. Let’s consider the worst case. Even if you make the implausible assumption that all of the children for 5 years received the old, thimerosal vaccine, and none received the new vaccine then there is no reason for the rate to continue to increase, is there? It should have stabilized. And if any children did not receive the old vaccine, then the rate should have fallen, shouldn’t it?

    So when do you expect the incidence of autism to start to fall? Tomorrow?

  273. culvercitycynic

    @Gary
    “I’m 43, does anyone my age remember when they were 12 or 13 knowing the term “autism”. Hardly. And if you add 10 years to my age, and put me in college, I STILL would never have heard that term.”

    You asked but I’m getting the feeling you don’t really want to know since you answered your own question. Anyway, I can vividly remember when JFK was assassinated and can always remember knowing what autism was. I also thought at one time or another everyone went thru psychoanalysis. Moreover, when you were 13 or thereabouts, I was sitting in a college psych class watching a film about kids with autism sitting under a table in a ‘treatment center’ to hide. All the while I was thinking ‘thank goodness I have this long flowing hair to hide behind and it’s in style otherwise I’d be under a table as well’. So, remember your experience, Gary, is only your experience and nothing more.

  274. ZT

    So does vaccination go against natural selection or help it?

    If the immunity is passed from mother to child then only the mother would need vaccine, but this obviously doesn’t work as we have to vaccinate each generation.

    If immunity is somewhat genetic (IE: some immune systems are better than others) then isn’t vaccination just allowing the sick and feeble to contaminated the gene pool and preventing natural selection from taking it’s course?

    After all I don’t see us going out vaccinate the animals of the wild. We let nature take its course.

    Personally I’m a vaccine skeptic. I say give the kids a couple years to finish baking and letting their body finish developing. I agree with Lew on that and I think I saw a similar message on some breast feeding site.

    BTW: Phil, I think Lew talks about this study as well an notes however I cannot see the study you are refering to as I’m not getting the subscription:
    [QUOTE: http://www.lewrockwell.com/miller/miller15.html ]
    To put to rest concerns that MMR vaccination might cause autism (in a small percentage of children), the New England Journal of Medicine, in 2002, published a population-based study from Denmark, where its authors concluded, “This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism.” The NEJM did not disclose that the “Statens Serum Institut,” where three of the authors work, is a for-profit vaccine manufacturer, Denmark’s largest, or that four other authors have financial ties to this company. Only one of the eight authors is not associated with this institute, and the CDC employs him. The study compares the prevalence of autism in 440,000 MMR vaccinated and 97,000 unvaccinated children in Denmark born in the 1990s. A statistical slight-of-hand in age adjustment makes the study show no causal effect; but when unmasked and reformatted, the data actually shows a statistically significant association between MMR vaccine and autism (as Carol Stott and her coauthors make clear in “MMR and Autism in Perspective: the Denmark Story,” in the Fall 2004 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, posted online).
    [/QUOTE]

    Call me old fashioned but I take such a studies with a gran of salt.

  275. E B

    The dip is due to it being generational… Vaccines don’t cause autism directly, they affect the parent’s ability to generate normal offspring.

    Duh.

  276. Reginald

    Simple Fact

    Due to the ‘success’ of various vaccination programs children are now far more likely to be damaged(severed adverse reactions) by vaccines than the diseases they prevent.

    Why should I (as a good scientist) vaccinate my children when the odds of them getting measles are substantially lower than the odds of them having a severe reaction to the vaccine? For the good of society?

    If the goal is truly to protect your child you need to check the math. Of course when enough people elect this course of action, the odds will shift back in favor of vaccines.

  277. Jim

    Quick qualification- I’m not a vaccine-autism link believer. However don’t fall into the same trick of overhyping results here. Saying that opponents of thimerosal are “condemning millions of them to terrible ailments, and a significant fraction of them to death” is over the top considering that you can just use single dose vials instead of multi dose vials that require the preservative.

  278. Frank

    re: AthiestAcolyte’s post,

    Then the graph seems to support the notion that thimesarol might be the culprit.

  279. The Dude

    The causality of your given examples to autism is at best inconclusive. Trusting vaccinations is part of the larger picture of trusting authority. That trust in authority is declining fast. Bad astronomer, your powers of persuasion would be better spent propping up the serious sag in modern society’s trust in the powers that be.

  280. Oh yeah, I forgot that mercury, formaldehyde, and aborted unborn fetuses are good to shoot into a baby whether or not it’s linked to autism.

    Good job.

  281. Lisa

    So, if MMR NEVER had thimerosal in it and people believe that the MMR does cause autism then how is showing that the rates increase after thimerosal is removed from the vaccines proving anything??

  282. So, if MMR NEVER had thimerosal in it and people believe that the MMR does cause autism then how is showing that the rates increase after thimerosal is removed from the vaccines proving anything??

    Two different hypotheses, both basically disproven. For example, there was a period of time when MMR was not used in Japan. It’s temporary removal did not have an effect autism prevalence (but it did apparently cause other problems).

  283. Eugene

    1) I hardly would use the opinion of an astronomer as an authority on medical issues.

    2) There is a reason why thimerisol is still used as a preservative in vaccines. Its DAMN effective at preserving the life of the vaccines, particularly when they are shipped to Africa. The question is, “If I can afford to get a vaccine that doesn’t have thimerisol in it, why should I take the one that has thimerisol in it?” My kid does not live in Africa, and there is adequate refrigeration and medication storage standards in the US.

    3) There is no way I would deny my child the MMR vaccine, even if it had thimerisol, but this scientist has FAILED to take into account that children are being subjected to more vaccinations than back in 1980.

    http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh8-VacRecInfantsChidren.aspx

    It may not be one vaccine shot that is causing the autism problem, but the cumulative effects of vaccine shots administered to children.

    4) I think there are enough fiascoes occurring with the FDA, from thalidomide to vioxx, to blindly put my trust in a gov’t or drug company just because a “scientist” signed off on the study.

  284. Benjamin

    Eugene said: “I think there are enough fiascoes occurring with the FDA, from thalidomide to vioxx, to blindly put my trust in a gov’t or drug company just because a “scientist” signed off on the study.”

    It’s not “the study” showing that vaccines do not cause autism. It’s a large body of well-conducted research, as opposed to the few, flawed studies suggesting otherwise.

    By the way, blaming the FDA for thalidomide reflects a misunderstanding of history. The truth is the reverse – it was an FDA scientist who was instrumental in blocking approval of thalidomide in the U.S., saving many children from suffering horrendous birth defects and death in utero (try Googling the name Dr. Frances Kelsey to learn the full story).
    I have no idea why so many opponents of mainstream medicine keep trying to pin the thalidomide fiascoon the FDA, unless it’s part of the same “Big Lie” technique used to damn vaccines.

  285. AtheistAcolyte

    Frank -

    I apologize for misunderstanding. In Denmark, the thimerosal was removed in 1992. That means there should have been a visible drop in autism rates starting 1995, as children born after the removal were given less and less thimerosal, not spike up as if the dose increased.

    Additionally, if thimerosal was the culprit, the autism rates would have been much higher earlier, as thimerosal has been used in vaccines for many decades, not just 2.

  286. I have no idea why so many opponents of mainstream medicine keep trying to pin the thalidomide fiascoon the FDA, unless it’s part of the same “Big Lie” technique used to damn vaccines.

    That’s exactly why.

  287. Andrew

    Lisa writes:

    “So, if MMR NEVER had thimerosal in it and people believe that the MMR does cause autism then how is showing that the rates increase after thimerosal is removed from the vaccines proving anything?”

    Well in the UK, the antivaccine activists think that the MMR vaccine itself is the cause of autism, while in the US, thimerosal is accused of being the cause. Funny thing is, while the two groups have conflicting theories about what’s happening, they almost always defend each other – almost as if they don’t really care who’s right, as long as they can blame some big conspiracy for something. Weird.

    Andrew

    P.S. Hello there, “the other Andrew” – I’m glad to run into you.

  288. [ahem]

    People, if you are going to debate science, you must remember *the absolutely cardinal rule* of science, so basic that it’s turned into a joke in the movie “Real Genius”

    “Never… no… Always remember to cite your references”

    Please do not tell me that there are peer-reviewed journal articles supporting your position. This is meaningless, it’s the same horrible behavior I see on other “hot button” science issues on various other sites. Someone may have told you this. You might have read it somewhere.

    I believe you… not. I believe your organization’s claim that these papers exist also… not. Unless I *know* that your organization has a well-established history of only referencing peer-reviewed science, and there are a very, very limited number of organizations that fall under this umbrella. Best to cite those, too. Although, to be honest, any credible organization that has a real science position on a public policy issue *will provide those references* anyway.

    It’s like failing to put your ingredients list on your pre-packaged food -> you don’t get to sell it to me, I’m not buying it. And in all honesty, the internet would be a better place if people were forced to do basic goddamn research before pretending they had.

    [/ahem]

    Sorry, I’ve seen too much of this lately and it’s making me grumpy.

    There is a simple method of providing a reference. There are several different style manuals available. MLA is acceptable.

    If you cannot provide a reference, please do not include the nebulous possible existence of one as a part of your *scientific argument*.

    Homie don’t play that.

  289. fatherdaddy

    Maybe I haven’t read enough of the comments but I don’t understand. If the reaction to thimerosal was immediate, and that is what has been stated, than we should see an immediate drop in autism rates when it was discontinued. My wife and I were not told to completely stop using tuna and other seafood, just cut back. As I understand it, mercury is present in the soil of volcanic islands, such as Hawaii. If mercury was a cause of autism the Hawaiians (and seafood dependant people like the Japanese) should have more autistic kids than anywhere else. I don’t remember seeing thousands of autistic people on my last trip to Hawaii. The same could be said of people downwind from coal-fired power plants, lots of mercury and other metals are in coal. It just doesn’t happen, because the causal relationship is not there. Now, go back to your Psuedoscientific websites and leave us rational people alone.

  290. Josh

    For a good historical and scientific review of this, check out a Skeptical Inquirer article published about six months ago.
    http://www.csicop.org/si/2007-06/novella.html
    I found it a worthwhile read… if you’re into semi-scientific and skeptical analyses.

  291. AtheistAcolyte

    Reginald -

    In an unvaccinated population, the odds of catching measles is about 1 in 750 (with today’s population, that represents about 400,000 cases). The odds of being harmed (dying or encephalitis) is somewhere about 2.5 in 1000 (with 400,000 cases, that’s 1,000). Your unvaccinated child has about a 1 in 300,000 chance of being harmed by measles. Your vaccinated child has about a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being harmed by the vaccine, and no deaths have ever been found related to the MMR vaccine.

    1 in 300,000 (1 in 375,000 chance of death) vs. 1 in 1,000,000 (no deaths). That’s why you should do it.

  292. Dylan

    @ Shygetz

    Did I state that immune reactions cause autism? No I said I think it would be a more likely association. I’m not saying it is related…but apparently you only read what you want to. And as for my main point that you can’t make a claim like ‘vaccines don’t cause autism’ and only cite a study on thimerosol….well that’s just called deductive reasoning. You have heard of that before right…since you proclaimed yourself a ‘scientist’?

    As to wether a normal immune reaction can cause damage in the human body, there is tons of evidence of that. Type 1 diabetes is a perfect example. Typical case is a kid who gets a viral infection then his/her immune system goes nuts and destroys their own beta cells. Since a vaccine works on the same principle of stimulating the immune system it is not a far leap to think they might have a similar type of reaction.

    You want an example of a vaccine that can cause immunological inflammation of neurologic tissue? Ok… there is evidence that that can be a complication of the Meningitis vaccine. For a source for that one I can give you my son who developed seizures from that vaccine and confirmation that this isn’t an isolated reaction to that vaccine from the head of the Epilepsy department at Rush Hospital in Chicago. (My son was a pretty clear cut case: 3 days after first shot had a seizure that we didn’t see but saw him in the catatonic state afterward which we thought was just a flu or something. 6 months later, and again 3 days after the second shot he had his next seizure. My son now has seizures permanently)

    Am I anti-vaccine? NO! I think they are one of the greatest medical inventions of this century. But I think our current medical system is abusing the hell out of them and not treating the risks associated with them seriously. And why would they?…there’s no money in decreasing vaccinations for hospital or the drug companies. Simple economics are unfortunately one of the limitations of good modern science.

    By the way, can anyone give me one good reason why they vaccinate for Hep B on the first day a baby is born?

  293. Yes it is devastating when you hear those words. And for some of us, when we start to research terms like “Asperger’s Syndrome” a light starts to dawn… And we realize a few things.

    Being autistic is not a death sentence.

    The majority of us who ARE autistic have a high functioning form of autism, such as Asperger’s, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified. We can function in society, it’s just not as natural, or as ‘easy’ as it is for a neurotypical.

    Autistics seem to reach the same answers as neurotypicals, we just tend to reach that answer about 30% faster.

    MOST of us who are autistic were never recognized as such, instead we were called “geek”, “nerd”, “software billionaire”.

    Autistics have feelings, desires, needs, and we experience loneliness, fear, anger, frustration, just like neurotypicals do.

    We are human, just a little different than most of you. We are autistic because our mothers or our fathers had the genes that express autism. Often our mother or father or both, were autistic as well, just unrecognized.

    In many ways, I feel my life truly BEGAN when I first learned about Asperger’s. I finally knew what I was. I finally had an answer. I finally can recognize my brothers and sisters and invite them into the happy family of autistics. Autistics have voices… be suspicious of those who claim to “speak for us”. I never asked anyone else to speak for me. If you want to know about autism, talk to autistics. Some of us can only communicate through keyboards, but non-verbal people are taking that route every day. Some of them are brilliant. Listen to them. They have a lot to say.

  294. Lono

    Your analysis is flawed. At the end of the graph shows children that would be about 10 years old…you would still see a rising trend if you had only stopped tainted vaccines 10 years prior

  295. Chickenpox rarely kills, but the virus lives in the nervous system forever, so people who had chickenpox when they were toddlers can develop a nerve inflammation called shingles when they are older. It’s notorious for being incredibly painful

    I’d like to refer to some graphs, too; they are for Britain and published by the British health service. I don’t know how to embed them here, so I’ll refer to the blog post where they are.

    Immunization against infectious diseases” shows measles and diptheria. You can see that the measles cases fall when immunization is introduced and decrease to almost nothing when more people are vaccinated and a second dose is added. In the diptheria graph, the green line is cases. The black line at the bottom is deaths. Diptheria killed several thousand people in Britain until immunization; then the line drops to zero.

    In “Celebrate Maurice Hilleman’s birthday this August 30,” the meningitis graph is interesting. it shows the disease caused by two strains of meningococcus. Both go though a regular annual cycle but remain fairly constant. Then a vaccine is developed for one strain, which suddenly drops while the other continues to show the same number of cases. I think that tends to disprove the “lots of other things have changed” hypothesis.

  296. Jeff

    First I read the title — “Vaccines do not cause autism!” Then I read the mini-profile — “I am an astronomer, writer, and skeptic.”

    “Skeptic”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    “Vaccines do not cause autism!” A highly unskeptical statement. In fact, it’s a very blanket statement about reality, and not about the evidence for or against autism. You could have said “There is no/weak evidence connecting vaccines and autism”, but chose not to.

    What if I made this statement, about astronomy — “HAT-P-1 is the largest planet in the galaxy.” I make that statement because it I’m up to date, we have no evidence for any bigger planets (and if I’m not, substitute the currently largest known planet for HAT-P-1). You would know that I had committed a logical fallacy — saying that no proof of bigger planets is proof of no bigger planets. Your entire article commits the same fallacy (and yes, we all do it, but scientists, academics, and anyone claiming intellectual authority need to be held to a higher standard).

  297. Dumb chimp,
    A moron like you probably doesn’t get the humor in those out of context quotes. Would you like me to explain them to you?

  298. rmp

    Please FSM, tell me that John Best didn’t really say

    “People with Asperger’s are also brain damaged and have nothing worth saying until after they have been rounded up and cured.”

    John Best seems like an idiot to me but even I’ve got to believe this was someone impersonating him.

  299. Justin

    I think that blaming vaccines is taking the easy way out. Through my research in the lab I have come across something else that fits the bill much more than vaccines. I do believe that the current guidelines for vaccines are a tab bit overzealous, but it is dangerous for people to think that they already know the cause and to close their minds to other possibilities.

  300. John Best seems like an idiot to me but even I’ve got to believe this was someone impersonating him.

    It’s him, alright. Don’t believe me. Go and visit his blog. He says stuff like that all the time.

  301. Once again, I find myself on the middle way. I agree incompletely with both of those on my left and my right. Both have valid points and both overlook other points.

    Logical fallacy: The fallacy of the middle ground.

    The correct position is not necessarily somewhere in the middle between these two points. In fact, it is not. Or perhaps you could tell me what valid scientific points that antivaccinationists make and why.

  302. jrkeller

    Boy, I can’t believe what I started.

    I was born in 1961 and I still have my vaccination record.

    I recieved a DTP (first) and a smallpox (second) immunization within the first two months.

    I received addtional DTP shots at 1, 3 and 6 years.

    I received polio vaccines at 1, 1 1/2, 2 and 6 years.

    I received an additional smallpox vaccine at 6 years.

    Measles at 3 and 12 years

    I would add that none of my immunizations were mulitple injections or combination injections.

    Had the Mumps at 5 (Missed the vaccine by about a year)

    When I moved to Germany in 1976-77, I had to get another smallpox and DTP shot. I also had to get a Typhoid shot too.

    Comparing my shot record with my kids shows that the number of shots was about the same, but the received more in the first two years than I did.

    Also they have gotten shots for Hep A & B, HiB, and Chickenpox, which weren’t around when I was a kid. The girls have also had the HPV vaccine.

  303. Interrobang

    I don’t see us going out vaccinate the animals of the wild.

    Funny, I do. I live in an area where rabies is endemic, and people have been dropping rabies vaccine bait for wild animals here for I think almost 20 years now. The increased herd immunity in the local animal population is why rabies infections in wild and domestic animals are far reduced from what they used to be, and rabies deaths in humans are now so rare as to be noteworthy. That’s good, because rabies is a horrible nasty way to go, and unless it’s treated before symptoms start — with prophylactic vaccinations — it’s an inevitable death sentence.

    I lived through a case of rubella and a mild case of pertussis. I remember having pertussis. It was agonising. I was sick for over two months and had a spasmodic cough (made worse because I have cerebral palsy and so have spasticity and a predisposition to lung infections) that lasted for months more. I can’t imagine any parent in their right mind wanting to do anything that’d put their child at risk of having to go through that much misery voluntarily. Being sick is no fun. Even if the disease in question doesn’t kill, cripple, blind, sterilise, or affect your child’s health forever, why would you want to put them through it?

    Also, given my family’s history of seeming susceptibilty to herpes zoster (sister who can’t pick up an immunity after multiple vaccinations and two episodes, grandfather, grandmother, and father who had shingles), I really wish I’d been able to be vaccinated for it before I got it. I watched my grandparents and my father suffer through having shingles — my grandmother went blind in one eye, and my grandfather was in agony for six months. Harmless disease, my rosy pink behind!

  304. Vaccination / autism are super charged topics that get extreme reactions from both sides. We need to stay focused on keeping children healthy. The pharma companies make money selling drugs, and the anti-immunization organizations make money selling treatments. I used to work for a vitamin wholesaler and I’ve seen how they produce crap and sell them to gullible customers desperate for a miracle, and at the same time attacking governments and pharmas accusing them of dangerous products.

    The solution is simple. Hire a third party organization whose livelihood does not depend on the sale of vaccines or treatments against possible ill effects of them. The problem is how do you test vaccines? Do you give it to 1000 children, then give 1000 children a placebo, and then don’t give 1000 children anything, then see what happens over 5 to 10 years?

    I remember the head of the Health Protection Branch (Canada’s counterpart to the American FDA) said that they don’t have time to test all the drugs that get approved. I wonder how vaccines are tested for safety, if they are even tested at all.

    If you do vaccinate children, do it an older age when they can talk and tell you if something is wrong.

  305. frizzlefry

    why are the symptoms of autism and mercury poisoning exactly the same then? just because you don’t want to believe something because it scares you doesn’t make it untrue. i think you have just misled quite a few people.

  306. RMP,
    It’s in the best interest of people with Asperger’s to be cured. Of course, until the Aspies have their brain damage repaired, they don’t have the wherewithal to understand this.
    Arguing with Aspie’s is like arguing with drunks. When the drunks sober up, they understand the folly of the stupid things they say while under the influence. Aspie’s don’t have that luxury. So, the humane thing to do is to cure them whether they want it or not.

  307. Seth,
    Are you an Aspie? If you cure yourself, you may be able to find a better comeback without using profanity.

  308. Andrew

    I’m glad John Best is back. No one else can demonstrate the lunacy of the antivaccine advocates as well as he can. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have found Kathleen Seidel’s wonderful website http://www.neurodiversity.com/weblog/ – thanks John

  309. TB

    Phil,

    Very emphatic article. MMR may not be the cause of Autisim, but it certainly could be a contributor (I know from experience with my son).

    Yes, pertussis kills.
    Yes, rubella kills.
    Yes, measles kills.

    But so do vaccines…

    HPV vaccine is killing people: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2007/oct/07100507.html

    “HPV Vaccine Jumps to 11 with 3779 Adverse Reactions Reported”

    - I would also suggest you review the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Specifically look up MMR and deaths. Heartbreaking.

    http://vaers.hhs.gov/

    - There is also a fund set up by the US government to pay out families that are impacted by vaccines called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). If they are safe, then why is this fund needed?

    http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/

    - And they also may not work…

    Vermont, 1996 – http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/PREVIEW/MMWRHTML/00049244.htm

    “Among 19 case-patients aged 7-47 months who were eligible to have received three or more doses of pertussis vaccine, five (26%) had received less than 3 doses. Of the 155 (99%) case-patients aged 7-18 years whose vaccination status was known, 106 (68%) had received four or more doses of pertussis-containing vaccine. All case-patients reportedly had received pertussis vaccine in the form of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and whole-cell pertussis vaccine (DTP); none had received any doses of diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis vaccine (DTaP).”

    So a full 68% of people aged 7-18 years that received 4 doses of pertussis vaccinations also contracted pertussis. Nearly 7 out of 10 failure rate. Not good.

    Iowa, 2006 Mumps Outbreak: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm55d518a1.htm

    “Vaccination status of reported mumps patients is being ascertained. In Iowa, preliminary vaccination data were reported through May 3, 2006.� Among 1,192 patients, 69 (6%) were unvaccinated, 141 (12%) had received 1 dose of measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and 607 (51%) had received 2 doses of MMR vaccine”

    63% failure rate for the MMR vaccine.

    - Even the chicken pox, a childhood disease thats been around forever, the vaccine has a horrible failure rate. – http://www.nmaseminars.com/VaccineFailureList.html

    “More than 40 kids were out of school today in Elgin after an outbreak of chicken pox. School officials at Elgin Independent School District say on Friday they had 61 cases of chicken pox and strangely, school records show most of the kids have already been immunized.”

    You can find more here: http://www.nmaseminars.com/VaccineFailureList.html

    - One thing that I think we should be concerned about is why the number of vaccinations has increased 250% in the past 25 years. Were the vaccines schedules that you and I had in the past insufficient.

    Or perhaps we should “follow the money” how the vaccine companies were able to push their agenda on the sheeple making money for them. (See the HPV vaccine that the governor of Texas was trying to force on everyone: http://womenshealthnews.blogspot.com/2007/02/on-texas-hpv-vaccine-law.html
    )

    Vaccines are not the saviors everyone out there makes them to be. They certainly do help and can be successful (polio, smallpox, etc) but they can also to terrible damage (deaths, servere reactions, etc) beyond Autism (if it is every truly linked).

    TB

  310. Andrew

    “So a full 68% of people aged 7-18 years that received 4 doses of pertussis vaccinations also contracted pertussis. Nearly 7 out of 10 failure rate. Not good.”

    You’ve accidentally done the math wrong, inadvertantly misleading people. To calculate the failure rate, you need to divide the number of people who caught pertussis by the number of people who were vaccinated in the _total population_. The same applies to the other bogus failure rates you’ve reported.

  311. why are the symptoms of autism and mercury poisoning exactly the same then?

    That is a pretty ignorant thing to say. Did you know that when Sallie Bernard wrote her article, she had never seen a single person with mercury poisoning?

  312. AtheistAcolyte

    Dylan-

    from vaccineinformation.org:

    Why is this vaccine recommended for all babies when most of them won’t be exposed to HBV for many years, if then?
    There are three basic reasons for recommending that all infants receive hepatitis B vaccine, starting at birth.

    First, babies and young children have a very high risk for developing chronic HBV infection if they become infected at a young age.

    It is estimated that about 1 out of 3 of the nearly 1 million Americans with chronic HBV infection acquired their infection as infants or young children. Those with chronic HBV infection are most likely to spread the infection to others. Infants and children who become chronically infected have an increased risk of dying prematurely from liver cancer or cirrhosis.

    In contrast to other vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood, HBV infection in infants and young children usually produces no symptoms. Thus, the small number of reported cases of hepatitis B among children represents the tip of the iceberg of all HBV infections in children. For every child with symptoms of hepatitis B, there are at least 100 HBV-infected children with no symptoms—hence the increased risk to spread the infection to others without knowing it.

    Second, early childhood infection occurs. About 16,000 children under 10 years of age were infected with HBV every year in the United States before routine infant hepatitis B vaccination was recommended. Although these infections represented few of all HBV infections in the United States, it is estimated that 18 out of 100 people with chronic HBV infection in the United States acquired their infection during early childhood. Clearly, infections occur among unvaccinated infants born to mothers who are not HBV-infected. In addition, unvaccinated foreign-born children account for a high proportion of infections. More effort needs to be placed on vaccinating these unprotected children.

    Most early childhood spread of HBV occurs in households where a person has chronic HBV infection, but the spread of HBV has also been recognized in daycare centers and schools. The most probable ways children become infected with HBV are from skin puncture (e.g., biting) or from having their mucous membranes or cuts and scratches come in contact with infectious body fluids from an HBV-infected person. HBV remains infectious for at least seven days outside the body and can be found on and spread through sharing of inanimate objects such as washcloths or toothbrushes.

    Third, long-term protection following infant vaccination is expected to last for decades and will ultimately protect against acquiring infection at any age.

  313. TB

    You are correct, my mistake in the wording. But I would say that if the vaccines were as effective as they are made out to be, then why are the number of unvaccinated so low?

    I would expect the numbers to be exactly opposite.

    Either way, nearly 2/3 of the people that contracted the diseases I report had been vaccinated.

    Does that map to the whole popluation? Dont have the numbers.

  314. Andrew

    Because the total number of unvaccinated is low. Suppose that in a population of 1000, 25 people are unvaccinated and 975 people are vaccinated. 9 people catch the disease, 6 vacinnated and 3 unvaccinated, so 2/3 of the people who caught the disease were vaccinated, but out of everyone who was vaccinated less than 1% caught the disease, while 12% of the unvaccinated caught the disease. That’s the measure of success to use.

  315. Bigz

    I seem to recall studies on the addictiveness of cigarettes that showed no link. I believe they were, in the end, funded by big tobacco. We all know had that ended. I think a look at all the studies and any potential conflicts of interest need to be examined before claiming certain studies (one way or the other) as proof.

  316. I seem to recall studies on the addictiveness of cigarettes that showed no link. I believe they were, in the end, funded by big tobacco. We all know had that ended.

    It ended with a reduction of lung cancer rates. Because you see, true hypotheses produce actual results normally.

    BTW, is this talking point about tobacco actually true or an urban legend? Was there at any point in time any sort of scientific consensus on a lack of risk from smoking or anything of the sort? I seriously doubt it.

  317. [pedant]Doctor Plait: Scientifically [i]revealed[/i] reality. The truth value of reality is “true” whether or not the goddidit theory, Aristotlean epicycles, or the law of universal gravitation is used.[/pedant]

    Look on the bright side: Darwinian selection in action. People don’t want to immunize their spawn because “vaccines kill?” Well, hope they like going to funerals then as herd immunity breaks down and the freeriders get a nasty shock.

    Vaccines kill, yes. However, “X kills” is a useless metric because, for some unfortunates, water kills. A more useful metric is to compare a given things efficacy of killing.

    Atomic weapons have a 100% mortality rate for everyone exposed within, what, 500 meters per kiloton?

    Measles has a mortality rate of 5% to 30% depending on the quality of treatment and public sanitation.

    Vaccines have a mortality rate somewhere on the order of 0.001%.

    Yes, vaccines kill. But they kill much less effectively than the diseases they prevent.

  318. AtheistAcolyte

    TB -

    HPV vaccine is killing people

    VAERS is not a final-stage reporting system. It is a catch-all intended to be a starting point for adverse event investigation. Just because an adverse event is reported doesn’t mean it’s actually vaccine-related. Read the PDF of the VAERS report. Lots of “Information received from X who heard of a case from Y…”, “Information received from X who went to a conference where Y cases were presented…” One must wonder why the initial person didn’t report the case.

    There is also a fund set up by the US government to pay out families that are impacted by vaccines called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). If they are safe, then why is this fund needed?

    No medicine is 100% effective or safe. It’s all about playing the probability game. If your child has a 1 in 300,000 chance of dying from a preventable disease or a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being harmed (not killed, mind you, just harmed) by a vaccine, which would you choose? I’d rather not take the 1 in 300,000 chance of having to buy a teeny-tiny baby coffin.

    One thing that I think we should be concerned about is why the number of vaccinations has increased 250% in the past 25 years. Were the vaccines schedules that you and I had in the past insufficient.

    No, the vaccines weren’t available yet. It’s no trivial matter creating a vaccine and performing all the necessary tests and clinical trials to get FDA approval.

    Or perhaps we should “follow the money” how the vaccine companies were able to push their agenda on the sheeple making money for them. (See the HPV vaccine that the governor of Texas was trying to force on everyone)

    Oh, yes, those greedy “Big Pharma” boys, curing our children and reducing the caseload on our already overloaded healthcare system. Curse them for helping people and making money at the same time!

    Vaccines are not the saviors everyone out there makes them to be. They certainly do help and can be successful (polio, smallpox, etc) but they can also to terrible damage (deaths, servere reactions, etc) beyond Autism (if it is every truly linked).

    Just for a second, imagine that “Big Pharma” is really just corporations of people, trying to make money, but at least making money by creating cures and providing medicine for people. At least they’re not places like Blackwater or Exxon where they make money by killing insurgents or destroying the environment (respectively). When “Big Pharma” makes money, the overall human life expectancy and quality rises. This is NOT a bad thing.

    PS – to the BA; I’m not a spammer! Let me post, dammit! :-)

  319. AtheistAcolyte

    The Centipede -

    With all due respect, where are you getting your numbers? Everything I’ve read about measles mortality suggests 0.1% (developed country with medical intervention) to 10% (undeveloped country). (Wikipedia)

    Vaccines do not kill. People may die after getting a vaccine, but you might as well say eating bread kills because most people who die eat bread within a day or so. What must be established is the causal relation between the vaccine and death, and that has not been established in any clinical trial of currently approved vaccines.

  320. Bantering statistics about childhood diseases that hardly harm anyone is pretty stupid when comparing those minor annoyances to a lifetime of autism. I had all of those diseases and they were no big deal. Shove your BS and stop supporting drug companies who poison babies.

  321. Benjamin

    Using VAERS database statistics to claim that the HPV vaccine is “killing people” is grossly misleading. Young people can die of a variety of unexplained causes (including cardiac ones); the fact that they had recently had gotten immunized against HPV does not mean that the vaccine caused their deaths. Investigation of such cases has not turned up evidence that the vaccine was responsible. Antivaxers continue to harp on the “correlation equals causation” fallacy.

    John Best: “Bantering statistics about childhood diseases that hardly harm anyone is pretty stupid…I had all of those diseases and they were no big deal”

    It’s stupid _and_ heartless to dismiss childhood diseases when you are no longer at risk from them. It’s the kids who wind up paying for these foolish beliefs.

  322. Todd W.

    On the VAERS database, keep in mind that any adverse event that has a time-correlation to the vaccination gets reported there, regardless of whether the vaccine was actually responsible for the event or if it was caused by something else. At best, VAERS serves as a tool for suggesting areas where further research is called for.

    As to the vaccine compensation fund, it was set up for several reasons: 1) to avoid vaccine shortages due to companies being sued and going broke; 2) because it is known that vaccines carry with them some risks (refer back to point 1); and 3) to keep the justice system as a whole from getting bogged down by vaccine liability suits. Such a fund would probably not be necessary if the U.S. were not such a freakin’ litigious society.

  323. John Best:

    > Bantering statistics about childhood diseases that hardly harm anyone

    They don’t hardly harm anyone anymore. Hmm, why is that?

    1. Improvements in sanitation by baby-poisoning drug companies (among others)
    2. Development of antibiotics by baby-poisioning drug companies
    3. Poisoning babies so they won’t get those diseases.

    Autism and Aspergers and all that have been around forever. They have been amalgated into a spectrum, and more and more things are being identified as diseases (kids who used to be considered “rambunctious” or “rowdy” now have “ADD”). Combine the expansion of the definition of illness with an improvement in figuring out who’s ill means that the percentage of those defined as ill, all else remaining equal, increases.

    Meanwhile, comparing autism rates between those who are fed applesauce and those who aren’t fed applesauce show no difference between the two populations. Likewise, comparing autism rates between those who are vaccinated and those who aren’t vaccinated show no differences between the two populations. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that vaccinations have about as much effect on the development of autism as being fed applesauce.

    This isn’t rocket science.

    Think with your brain, that’s what it’s there for. Not your heart. That’s for pumping blood and crying at girly movies.

  324. AtheistAcolyte:

    Quick non-Wikipedia internet search, concerning mortality rates in areas without vaccination (such as most of sub-Saharan Africa) and including complications that would not have necessarily been fatal in and of themselves but were when measles were also a factor. This was done to compare apples to apples because people don’t die from vaccines, they die from complications and allergies to vaccines.

    To be more specific, then, measles isolated as a factor in complications resulting in death compared to vaccinations isolated as a factor in complications resulting in death, all else being equal.

    The central argument remains valid: for a given population exposed, vaccines kill and harm many less people than the diseases they prevent would (and do, when vaccines are not applied); and atom bombs are far more lethal than both vaccines or vaccinated diseases.

  325. Kate

    Mr. Best,

    I sincerely hope that you are not, in fact, in a position of responsibility over a child. I truly do hope that the child you refer to is a fabrication for dramatic purposes, because you have just demonstrated that you have the emotional and intellectual maturity of a child, yourself and would be incapable of making rational, mature decisions for another human being.

    I have an autistic family member. Your shrill insistence that your child is “damaged” and will only “have a life” if you fix them is disgusting. You appear to view those with autism as less than human, or at the very least, less than you. You, Mr. Best, make me sick. That you think my nephew, whom I love beyond reason, is somehow only “alive” if he were to be “cured” of his autism is twisted and sick.

    …and if I were less inclined to follow the rules of Phil’s blog, I’d tell you what I *really* think of you.

  326. Todd W.

    On vaccines and autism, here are some papers that have shown no change in autism rates between vaccinated vs. unvaccinated:

    Honda, H., Y. Shimizu, and M. Rutter. 2005. No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 46(6):572–79.

    Doja, A., and W. Roberts. 2006. Immunizations and autism: a review of the literature. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences 33(4):341–46.

    Parker, S.K., B. Schwartz, J. Todd, and L.K. Pickering. 2004. Thimerosal-containing vaccines and autistic spectrum disorder: a critical review of published original data. Pediatrics 114(3):793–804.

    As to the claim that levels of mercury administered over the course of the vaccine schedule exceeding government limits, bear in mind that those limits, set by the EPA, are for methylmercury, whereas thimerosal breaks down to ethylmercury, a compound for which the government has not established limits. Furthermore, the body can eliminate some mercury on its own, making the mercury level argument somewhat more specious.

    Finally, to John Best, please take a look at the commenting policy (http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2008/03/04/commenting-policy/) for this blog. Please be more respectful in your tone and language.

  327. Regarding the possibility that vaccines may do harm:

    This may or may be true (I don’t have the time to exhaustively look into it, myself). It’s also very nearly unimportant.

    Look, if you’re performing a risk analysis and trying to judge (rationally) whether or not something is a good idea or not, you have to take your choices together with their outcomes *in toto*.

    Illustrative (and highly exaggerated) example: Let’s say that there’s a new pandemic disease. Ebola crossed with Avian Bird Flu and it’s airborne transmission-enabled. 90% of the people infected with it die within 36 hours. It is virtually a certainty that you will be exposed within the next week. There is a known vaccine that kills one out of four people that take it, but is 99.999% effective at preventing the disease. Pop quiz, hot shot -> what do you do? Do you take the vaccine and the Russian roulette 1 in 4 chance, or do you pass on the vaccine and take the 9 in 10 chance that you’re going to die within 9 days?

    Some people would have a very difficult time taking the risk of vaccinating their two children, because they feel like *if the child dies, it is their fault*. But they’re not examining the situation rationally -> if you do nothing, it’s much more likely that both of your children are going to die. Math is left as an exercise to the reader.

    End exaggerated example.

    Back to reality. Vaccines may cause adverse reactions. Just like *food*. Or *riding in a car*. But you eat, and you feed your kids. You drive. You put them in car seats and take them on the road every day, an activity that is *several orders of magnitude* more dangerous than giving them a shot. The shot keeps them from getting sick. Maybe it’s not 100% effective, that’s not the point.

    It certainly adds more value to their life than a jaunt in a car so that their parental unit can go shopping for shoes. But you do that anyway. How many times a year? 10? 50? How often do you put your child at risk because of your own convenience?

    If you’re normal, the answer is “quite often, because driving a car really isn’t that risky”. So, if driving a car really isn’t that risky, how is something *less* risky than that by a huge margin even worth consideration?

  328. I sincerely hope that you are not, in fact, in a position of responsibility over a child.

    Unfortunately, John Best in fact has a child. Here is an example of what he has said of that child:

    “When a kid is already dead mentally due to mercury poisoning, there is no choice. You either try to cure him or you torture everyone in your family with autism until the day arrives that the kid has to be sent away… If he dies young, I will rejoice for him that he has excaped the nightmare that was his life.” (source)

    John has been chelating his obviously autistic child for at least 3 years as far as I recall. Sam is still obviously autistic, although John claims he’s seen some subjective improvement. In cases of real and severe mercury poisoning, chelation might be done for a few months, tops. It should be noted that there are some concerns about the safety of the drug in question, DMSA. Obviously, no one knows what might happen if you administer it for years at a time, since it has never been attempted before.

  329. Kate,
    My son was severely damaged from mercury.
    If he were less than human, I would do the humane thing and put him out of his misery.
    Since he is not less than human, I am doing the humane thing and trying to cure his brain damage.
    I will also advise you how to cure your nephew’s brain damage if you can act like an adult and ask me politely.

  330. Andrew

    We’re still waiting for proof that anyone’s autism was caused by mercury and that the treatment that you are withholding from a child because his aunt was brusque with you (very humane) is any good.

  331. The amount of mercury in vaccines is so low that for the general population it has no toxic effect. This is proven not only by study after scientific study paid for not only by pharmaceutical companies but also those paid for by health services, hospitals, universities, charitable foundations, etc. etc. etc.

    That on extreme outliers of the population there will be adverse reactions is inevitable. There are people allergic to water. More people are harmed by shellfish and peanuts individually than the toxicity of vaccines. More people are harmed by atmosphere pollution than the toxicity of vaccines. More people are harmed by the toxicity of sunlight than are harmed by vaccines.

    One child allegedly having his brain destroyed because of vaccines is a tragedy.

    A thousand children truly dying of a preventable disease that, were the entire world vaccinated, would die out in a few generations just like polio is a statistic.

    To steal a line from Quiet_Desperation, savvy?

  332. While I’m at it:

    A child with autism is still alive. Should the autism be severe, it is at least treatable and said child can grow into a functional adult.

    A child who catches measles and dies is dead. Despite the best efforts of Herbert West, death is at the moment an incurable disease and dead children are not known for growing into functional adults.

    So, Mr. Best, would you prefer your son autistic (assuming vaccines cause autism, which they don’t) on a, say, one-in-a-ten-million chance or would you prefer him dead from a preventable disease on a, say, one-in-a-hundred chance?

  333. Please Mr. Best, explain the humor for all of the quotes there.

  334. fatherdaddy

    By the way John, your kid was harmed more by you being a parent than by any vaccine.

  335. Todd W.

    @fatherdaddy

    Although I agree with the sentiment of your post, I need to call you out on the commenting policy, just as I did for John Best. In fact, even more so, due to the profanity in your post. Dr. Plait would like this blog to be available in schools, and a lack of respect and using profanity kinda works against that. So, while you may be (justifiably) irate at Mr. Best, rein yourself in and use more school-appropriate language.

  336. Kate

    Mr. Best, you are the last person here to be lecturing about adult behavior. The fact that you would use “aspergers” as a pejorative says volumes about your maturity, intelligence and attitude towards those with ASDs. You have a problem, Mr. Best, and it’s called bigotry. You may want to look into getting some help with that.

    As you *should* have been able to infer from my previous post, I have no interest in your “therapies” or “cures” which are not scientifically proved. I am, as are the rest of my family, far more concerned with making sure my nephew is happy, healthy and loved and has access to the therapies and programs that help him to better understand and deal with the world around him and have been proven, clinically, to be effective for my nephew’s particular issues.

    Children are being used as pawns by people looking, hoping, praying to place blame for their “imperfect” child on someone, anything… whatever they can think of. It’s sickening and it needs to stop immediately.

  337. Kate

    @Andrew:

    Thank you for commenting on Mr. Best’s statement that he would have given me the magic secret if only I was nicer.

    It’s more than apparent that Mr. Best has no sincere desire to improve anyone’s life. He only wishes to blame and punish others, regardless of any fault on their part. Even if he was right about thimerosal (Which he is *NOT*) he would still be a jerk.

  338. fatherdaddy

    Mr. Best,

    I as well as many others have been waiting for you to teach us something.

    My inappropriate language was an extreme reaction to your idiotic, insensitive, and inane remarks you find constructive.

    General audience,

    I would like to apologize to the more refined members of the Bad Astronomer audience who I offended with my post (now removed, so stop looking). I never intended to be constructive with my comments. I merely wanted to vent on Mr. F. Wad (notice the implied vulgarity). There is no point in trying to engage people like him in a debate as he will never rise above the level of argument he is currently presenting us.

    One last thing for you, John. It’s fatherdaddy not Father daddy. Even when I do a similar tag I use Father Daddy, moron.

  339. fatherdaddy

    Woops it is still there, but, don’t look kiddies.

  340. I just deleted several posts that used bad language or were ad hominems. John Best, I deleted two of yours. One more outburst from you like those and I will mark every single message from you as spam.

  341. TBA,
    It’s not my fault some people can’t learn a simple fact. Mercury causes autism and chelation is the key ingredient in curing it.
    All the kids who’ve already been cured prove I’m right. Why would anyone argue with this? Is it sane to argue with people who cure disabled children?

  342. Andrew

    People who claim to have cured children are a dime a dozen – especially in the case of autism. Until some actual evidence in presented, it’s only reasonable to withhold belief. Will we see some evidence, or just more claims?

  343. All the kids whoâ??ve already been cured prove Iâ??m right. Why would anyone argue with this?

    Yes, show us the case reports.

    For people here who are not that familiar with autism, cases of children who lose the label of ASD are not that uncommon, and that’s why claims of recovery are not that uncommon either. That’s especially true of children diagnosed at the age of 2. A diagnosis of ASD is well known to be somewhat unstable at that age. Anywhere from 10% to 20% of children diagnosed at that age will end up losing their labels. The factors that determine this are not clear, but they don’t appear to involve woo. I’ve written about some of the myths around developmental progress and outcome in autism here:

    http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2007/10/dose-of-real-autism-reality.html

  344. All the kids whoâ??ve already been cured prove Iâ??m right. Why would anyone argue with this?

    Yes, show us the case reports.

    For people here who are not that familiar with autism, cases of children who lose the label of ASD are not that uncommon, and that’s why claims of recovery are not that uncommon either. That’s especially true of children diagnosed at the age of 2. A diagnosis of ASD is well known to be somewhat unstable at that age. Anywhere from 10% to 20% of children diagnosed at that age will end up losing their labels. The factors that determine this are not clear, but they don’t appear to involve woo. I’ve written about some of the myths around developmental progress and outcome in autism here:

    http://autismnaturalvariation.blogspot.com/2007/10/dose-of-real-autism-reality.html

  345. sarah

    wow, do any of you think that by reading your article they will suddenly change their minds about the link between autism and vaccines??? Youre right, Im not a “scientist”. I am a Mom. And yes, I have an Autistic child. Do you really expect there to be any proven link? There is not enough money in the world to give out to families of Autism if the pharmicutical companies admitted fault!!!!!!! They will never accept responsibility for what has happened to our precious children.
    Why is it that parents are not given the information on vaccines they are legelly required to get at the time of vaccination, such as side effects or ingrediants? hhhmmmm…
    Its no surprise to me that there are people out there that have no physical, real life experience with the subject, but think they know all about it based on books or articles they read. Once one of your children has Autism, and you have spoken with many other parents like yourself, many different kinds of doctors, specialists, nutritionists, teachers, therapists, and even so called “scientists”, get back to me and THEN tell me what you think is best for your child. But untill you have lived through this horrible disease, and improved its effects significantly, you have no right to assume that these parents are irresponsible.
    Lastly, Jenny McCarthys book was about her FIGHTING for her child and SHE WON!!! Its about inspiration, and love, and never giving up on your children! She is a role model for all other parents, and I strive to find that strength in myself every day with my son. Nowhere in the book does she outright blame vaccines for autism. She questions it, as all parents of autistic children do, but she also states that she is not a doctor and cant make any quotable statements regarding the cause.
    Listen, the same child of mine that I speak of is also a scientist. He is the same as all of you. Needs it on paper, needs it in the flesh to believe it. But we are not all like that. Some things you just know in your gut. As a mother, you just know…you dont need statistics, or “specialists”. Or random emails from strangers stating that your beliefs are wrong.

  346. Andrew

    Sarah,

    My child has autism – that’s why I care about this issue; every bogus claim of a cure, every wrong-headed idea about the cause takes time and effort away from really helping him. As a father, I need statistics and evidence, not emotional random emails from people talking about beliefs, not fact.

  347. John Best, it is your fault when you use bad words, call people names, and generally break the one commenting rule I have on this blog.

    Settle down. Or better yet, answer the questions put to you, like showing actual scientific evidence, and not anecdotes you relate without citations.

  348. Its no surprise to me that there are people out there that have no physical, real life experience with the subject, but think they know all about it based on books or articles they read.

    If I had a dollar every time someone has showed up in a blog with this exact tired canard…

    Sarah, I recognize several people in this thread who do not agree with you and who are parents of autistic children.

  349. Dave

    I’ve recently discovered something perhaps even scarier than the content of the vaccines shown in the generationrescue ad. Just look at this list: coliform, organic carbon, barium, chlorite, copper, lead, nitrate, chlorine, chlorine dioxide, haloacetic acids, trihalomethanes, atrazine, alpha emitters, beta/photon emitters, bromodichloromethane, chloroform, dibromochloromethane, and flouride. I’ve just come to understand that for the past five years, since birth, my children have not only been exposed to these toxins, but they have been INGESTING them.

    It’s amazing what you can discover if you read your local tap water quality report. I’m sure that the percentages there are just as high as the “toxins” reported to be in the vaccines.

    I propose a response ad to the generation rescue one with a similarly menacing list of ingredients, only this time from “tap water”. Perhaps show two different glasses of water, both with the same list of ingredients over time, and yet still the autism rates climb.

  350. Joseph,
    Can you find me some feces smearing, head bashing, self-biting, non-verbal, illiterate autistics who miraculously lost their ASD diagnosis?
    Perhaps you used the acronym “ASD” to avoid using the acronym “ADD”. That way, you might fool someone into believing that an autistic as I described above had any chance of losing their diagnosis. But, since ADD is “on the spectrum”, your carefully worded assertion is probably true.
    You, I and every doctor who treated those severely autistic kids knows that every single one of them wound up in an institution, don’t we, Joseph? That is, until now, when some of those kids are making remarkable gains with chelation since we discovered that mercury caused the epidemic.

    TBA,
    I’m not going to argue with your comment policy. I can’t just walk away though when I see these half true arguments that are capable of fooling some people.

  351. GDG

    Actually I’ve worked in social work for over a decade now and know for a fact that some children have an adverse reaction to the vaccine and do in fact develop mental disability’s after the episode IF they survive at all. Autism can in fact be caused by children having little or no oxygen to the brain for an extended period of time. If the child has an adverse reaction to the shot then his organs begin to swell putting pressure on his lungs, the child often begins coughing for a while then turns blue. Most children either pull threw on their own or die, there is very little a medical professional can do at this stage. Then some but not all children suffer brain damage afterwards. This isn’t unnecessarily BECAUSE of the shot itself, its just that the child has an adverse reaction to it. If a grown adult suffers oxygen loss for that long the same thing can happen. So while the shot itself doesn’t cause autism there is a chance it can happen because of the shot.

  352. Starviking

    On the Chickenpox / Shingles side of things – you really, really do not want to be susceptible to shingles.

    I had a recent brush with shingles. My face became swollen and my nose swelled up to twice its normal size. For a horrific time ‘pustule’ and ‘face’ became synonymous in my vocabulary. The pain was bad, more so when I smiled, or any other emotion elicited sudden facial motions.

    Once it was over I had nerve damage about my left cheek, and a fissured nose. Thankfully the damage to my nose has become less evident with time.

    It could have been much, much worse. I had felt ill one weekend, probably through stress caused by the extra work and worry that wedding preparations bring. That Monday at work my face began to get ‘tingly’ and a bit numb.

    Being a bit paranoid about such things I made my excuses and went straight to the doctor. That probably saved my left eye and my nose. I was put straight on strong drugs and watched my face slowly become like that of a flesh-eating bug victim. The spots that appeared on my left eyelid, thankfully did not grow enough to threaten that eye.

    So, if you can get a vaccination against Chickenpox for your kids – get it.

    If you get symptoms like mine – head straight for the nearest hospital, your face will thank you.

  353. Todd W.

    @John Best

    “That is, until now, when some of those kids are making remarkable gains with chelation since we discovered that mercury caused the epidemic.”

    First, please provide citations to peer-reviewed studies in respectable journals that show, with a p-value of .05 or less, that mercury causes autism.

    Second, please provide citations to peer-reviewed clinical studies that show, again with a p-value of .05 or less, that chelation therapy cures autism.

    If you can’t provide citations to actual evidence, then please take your anecdotes elsewhere.

  354. Can you find me some feces smearing, head bashing, self-biting, non-verbal, illiterate autistics who miraculously lost their ASD diagnosis?

    Can you, John? Even anecdotally?

    You, I and every doctor who treated those severely autistic kids knows that every single one of them wound up in an institution, don’t we, Joseph?

    No, I don’t believe this is true. I haven’t seen any evidence to this effect. Most autistic children make progress regardless of their functioning level at any given time. In fact, while non-verbal IQ is a good predictor of outcome, severity of symptoms independently of IQ does not appear to be.

    That is, until now, when some of those kids are making remarkable gains with chelation since we discovered that mercury caused the epidemic.

    And once again, there is simply no evidence that chelation therapy alters the course of autism. Anecdotes are quite useless in this regard given what is known about the variability of outcomes in autism.

  355. fatherdaddy

    It is becoming painfully obvious that we are not going to get a scientific response from the no-vac people who have visited a scientific blog. John Best keeps telling us he has a cure, yet chelation has killed more children than any vaccine (sure, it’s anecdotal, but I’ve read more than a few stories about children killed by the therapy). They can’t even make up their minds about how it is caused, it’s the mercury, it’s the vaccine, it’s the phases of the moon. The first comments claimed it was immediately after the shots, and that is what Jenny McCarthy said on Oprah. If that is the case, we should see an immediate dropoff in autism rates. Now, they are telling us it will take time to see the dropoff, like it never was an immediate affect. They can’t get the story straight. I have nothing but sympathy for those families affected, even the Best family, but, to try and disuade us from protecting our own children from disease over an opinion of how their children aquired this condition that cannot be pinned to any one cause is ridiculous. When the studies show there is no significant affect, I will trust the study over opinion every day.

  356. Todd W,
    You can wait for all the P values you like. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching my mercury poisoned son get better. If you were looking out for autistic kids instead of the companies who poisoned them, you’d want to learn from us. Asking for proof that you know does not exist hardly nullifies the truth I present here. It does, however, show that your argument is completely disingenuous.

    Joseph,
    You and I can both name lots of these cured kids. I won’t use their names because that would violate their privacy. You won’t admit to their success because it voids your position.
    Low functioning autistics never progress beyond age 2 without medically treating the mercury poisoning. You can observe this is any facility that houses them.
    I suppose you’ll throw Amanda Baggs at us as an example of a low functioning autistic next.

  357. fatherdaddy

    John Best,

    How does asking for a simple thing, like evidence for your claims, make anyone disingenuous? No, we don’t want names of kids. I think we would like to see the names of the facilities you would like to cite. Or do those not exist, either?

    I would also like to know why you were claiming that it wasn’t the thimerosal in an earlier comment and now you mention the mercury, again?

  358. You’re so set against learning that mercury causes autism that I don’t think it would do any good to give you 100 links to sources that offer this proof.

    A normal response to someone who is curing autism would be to ask how that is accomplished, not to start demanding evidence from some alleged authority who has decided to admit the truth.

    Another normal response to people who are curing autism, something that had never been done until the last few years, would be to suggest that the people who discovered how to cure this nightmare called autism should receive a Nobel prize.

    At an estimated $3.2 million cost to taxpayers to care for each autistic person, anyone who was discussing this subject genuinely would be excited to keep that money in their pocket instead of contributing to the cost through taxes.

    I hope that explains your disingenuity for you so you can work a more credible obfuscatory argument.

  359. Andrew

    Since you refuse to provide any evidence for your claims, it’s safe to conclude you can’t provide any evidence. Goodbye.

  360. Who Cares

    John
    If mercury causes autism as you allege then why are there no studies that confirm this? it should be easy to verify. Better yet you should have autism loci where the environment has elevated mercury levels (Seeing you can’t blame mercury in vaccines since about 2000).
    You yourself admit that there is no evidence but even so demand that we accept your assertion. That is delusional.

    About the assertion of low functioning autistics. Wrong. They never treated these for mercury poisoning at the facility my mother worked. Improvements depended on the person and the difference in treatment (as it evolved over the last 50 years).

    If you are so worried about the privacy of those kids then request a study being done on them and if approved send the names to the researchers. There is NO reason to keep something that might cure several members of my family (patriarchal traced back as far as 1802) and countless others.

  361. You and I can both name lots of these cured kids. I won’t use their names because that would violate their privacy.

    John, I know which kids you’re referring to. I’ve posted videos on my blog (without naming names). I would disagree they are no longer autistic. Either way, these kids in no way demonstrate the effectiveness of any alt-med treatment, as I’ve been explaining.

    If you had simply read Kanner (1972), for example, as any parent of an autistic child should, you’d realize the absurdity of your worldview. Of course, it’s entirely possible you know this stuff, but it doesn’t jive with your intent to game the system and get compensation some time in the future.

    You won’t admit to their success because it voids your position.
    Low functioning autistics never progress beyond age 2 without medically treating the mercury poisoning. You can observe this is any facility that houses them.

    Again, you are making all sorts of assertions that simply are not true. There is no evidence whatsoever that low-functioning autistics never progress beyond age 2. The mere suggestion is absurd.

  362. fatherdaddy

    You told us chelation is how you do it, now prove it.

    100 links to credible sources would be good, 100 links to your site or some other parents site would not. I’m not demanding anything. I just want to see some evidence. If you won’t provide it you can’t win your case.

    Don’t fall into the trap of assuming I won’t look at the evidence. I just need more than your obfuscatory arguments. I used to buy into the garbage that gets spouted by the anti-pharmacuetical/anti-government gang you stand up for. Now, I have pulled my head from my rear and look to the science. I have heard no science from you.

  363. Todd W.

    @John Best

    Todd W,
    You can wait for all the P values you like. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching my mercury poisoned son get better. If you were looking out for autistic kids instead of the companies who poisoned them, you’d want to learn from us. Asking for proof that you know does not exist hardly nullifies the truth I present here. It does, however, show that your argument is completely disingenuous.

    Mr. Best, I hardly see how asking for evidence is disingenuous. Further, do not presume to claim that I am looking out for the vaccine manufacturers. I am fully aware that these companies are capable of doing underhanded things to further the bottom line, rather than the health of the public.

    Further, I am not asking for proof that I “know does not exist.” I don’t know if it exists or not. That’s why I’m asking for it. If the science is clear and sound, then I will happily support the cause. Your reluctance to share anything of the sort, however, does not speak well for your position.

    A Nobel Prize for a cure to autism, if such a cure exists, would certainly be in order. However, in order for such a prize to be awarded, there needs to be solid scientific evidence that such a purported cure actually works. Anecdotes do not count as evidence.

    You say that it has helped your son. That may very well be, but one case, based on an understandably biased anecdotal source, does not equal valid scientific (or clinical) evidence. If there are a lot of cases, then we’re getting into the area of a potential clinical study that could show whether there is a true effect or not. If such a study showed that the treatment worked, others would try to replicate it, to make sure that the research was sound and that it was not just an anomaly. If the collection of all this research supports your contention, great!

    By your own admission, though, such evidence does not exist. I ask, therefore, besides personal observations, on what do you base your claim that it works? Anecdotes, particularly those from people who are biased by emotion, is hardly a sound basis for clinical treatment of the larger population.

  364. Todd W.

    @John Best

    And by the way, the p-value is a measure of the reliability of the study. The smaller the p-value, the more reliable the results. I mention this because it seemed from your post that you didn’t know.

  365. Yes, yes, let’s all ascribe a simple cause (mercury in vaccines) to a complex problem (neurological development disorders such as the autism spectrum). I’m afraid this isn’t a matter as simple as “kid eats lead paint, kid becomes mentally retarded” via direct brain damage. As said before, (extremely few) people get hurt by adverse reactions to vaccines, but as also said before, that doesn’t make vaccines any more dangerous than beestings, soybeans, peanuts, shellfish, or tap water.

    All the antivax arguments boil down to conspiracy theories. Big pharma wants people to be autistic. Big government wants people to be autistic. Antivax arguments, which haven’t gotten much of anywhere since the 1800s, are being consciously suppressed by Big Science just like Intelligent Design.

    Please let me know when aliens, the Freemasons, or the Illuminati start getting involved. Or maybe the Bildeburger group.

  366. Please let me know when aliens, the Freemasons, or the Illuminati start getting involved.

    I take it you haven’t read John Best’s blog. The Illuminati are most certainly involved, and they have been for quite a while.

  367. Believe what you want. Are you going to tell me the Illuminati is not real?
    http://www.illuminati-news.com/witch-hunt.htm

  368. J.MacLennan

    I tried to read most of the comments on the anti-anti-vaccination tirade but I just couldn’t stomach it. Anyone who knows anything about the issue can look at the “clincher” graph and immediately point out that it’s completely flawed. Sure, maybe they stopped putting thimerisol into vaccines in 1992, but thimerisol gives the vaccines such a long shelf-life that my son still got thimerisol-preserved vaccinations in 2005. And, yes, my son exhibited autism-related behaviors immediately after the vaccination. His twin had a full-blown physical reaction that kept us in the doctor’s office for several hours, but no following neurological symptoms.

    So, was it the vaccination? We believe so. Was it thimerisol? Don’t know. What else happened. Well, the twins were sick when there previous vaccinations were due, so the doctor advised us to “double-up” the vaccinations to catch-up the schedule. Further investigation shows that with the number of vaccinations they got that day, the mercury level exceeded 5 times the recommended allowance (I don’t remember if it was the adult or child allowance, but my children, being twins were underweight as well).

    We spoke with a neurologist who doesn’t discount the possibility of thimerisol being an issue, but more believes that the issue is the vaccinations themselves. When I was a child I got 10 vaccinations, not children get 37. 37 vaccinations for a child who’s own immune system has not yet developed. His theory is the problem is not necessarily the vaccines themselves, but the vaccine schedule which deliteriously effects a substantial percentage of children and that if they simply postpone the vaccines until the children are three or four, than the incidences will greatly diminish (barring other environmental factors)

    The people on this board who are insulting and offensive towards the parents and families that this crisis is destroying are simply inhuman monsters. Walk a mile in a man’s shoes and then come back with your bile – I don’t think you could

  369. Todd W.

    @J.MacLennan

    Just a quick note regarding the graph and thimerosal in vaccines circa 2005. The graph that Dr. Plait provides is from the Dutch study. It does not reflect thimerosal-containing vaccines in the U.S. For the U.S., no single-dose vaccines (except flu vaccines) that are recommended for kids 6 yrs. or younger, have been produced with thimerosal since 2001. Any vaccines that did contain thimerosal expired by Jan. 2003. So, if your kids got a vaccine for which the label listed it as containing thimerosal, either the labeling had not been updated, or the vaccines were expired. If the latter is the case, then your doctor was irresponsible, and the vaccines may have been contaminated.

    How old was our son when he started to exibit autism-like symptoms? Also, do you remember how much time passed between the vaccination and when you first noticed signs? Finally, what vaccines did your children receive that day? If you know the manufacturer or brand name of the vaccine, too, I might be able to do some digging to find out information on the particular products and their labeling.

    My suspicion is that your doctor may have been irresponsible in his/her administration of the vaccines, rather than vaccines in general. I am not saying that vaccines are 100% safe. As I’ve said above, they do carry risks, and there are contraindications for them.

    A final note, a lot of the people who have been posting in this thread against the anti-vax crowd have been personally affected by autism or a related disorder. They either have children with an ASD, or they have a high-functioning form of ASD themselves.

    I, too, have been very close to the world of autism and seen what it can be like for people. I feel for you and hope that you can find the assistance to help you through the most difficult times.

  370. fatherdaddy

    Finally, John Best gives us a link. Too bad it isn’t a link to anything sane, just a load of conspiracy garbage. If this is the evidence we can expect from him I think you can guess how effective the “cure” will be. I half expect to hear that aliens gave him the cure. I tried to refrain from assuming he was linked to nutjobs, but, The Centipede called it and John confirmed it.

    John, your crediblity is now in the negative.

  371. fatherdaddy

    J. MacLennon,

    I am sorry to hear about your child. However, the only anti-vaccination person I can recall anyone being insulting to is the one person who started off insulting us and out intelligence. Personally, I have nothing but compassion for those in your situation. However, I will not sit still and let people tell me that vaccinating my children is more dangerous than not vaccinating them without presenting reliable evidence. Even if the vaccine did cause your child’s problem, the risk seems to be greater to not give it. If it can even be shown that too many vaccines at once is a problem I will pay attention. Until then, I will encourage everyone to vaccinate their children.

  372. fatherdaddy

    Change “out intelligence” to “our intelligence”. I never said I was intelligent. No, John, you can’t cure my stupidity. My form of stupidity has never been curable.

  373. fatherdaddy,
    I’d rather be considered a nutjob by a sheeple than to be a sheeple. Since the Illuminati don’t buy commercials for the Super Bowl, you don’t believe in them. I’ll bet you think the expensive laundry soap is any better than the cheap stuff because some guy in a commercial says so.

    The people who want to reduce the population tell you to eat the poison and you say, OK. James Jones would have loved you.

  374. fatherdaddy

    The Illuminati are a joke. I have little regard for those who would take them seriously. If you ever thought you were credible (you weren’t) you blew it with that link. Is there anything you won’t believe? I thought I was being ridiculous when I said the phases of the moon would be the next thing blamed, but, you sure fooled me. It wasn’t ridiculous enough. OK, top this: Women are out to steal our precious bodily fluids through the act of procreation. This lack of precious bodily fluids has caused every disease/illness/condition known to mankind from autism to cancer to Dutch Elm Disease.

    This conversation is just getting too stupid. If you won’t answer any of the questions directed at you with anything but comedy, I can’t do anything but laugh and say “goodbye”.

  375. Todd W.

    @John Best

    Just wondering if you might consider responding to my post responding to your calling me disingenuous.

  376. Todd W,
    Kids who were vegetables and are now normal are not anecdotal evidence. The kids got better. It’s that simple.
    The only complicated aspect of this is that the people who poisoned our kids don’t want to admit that we caught them. They are trying to avoid being arrested and found guilty. Have you ever heard that criminals might not tell the truth about the crimes they commit? You are like a killer who is caught in the act of shooting someone and tries to escape justice by asking why you can’t find his fingerprints on the gun because he wore gloves.

    fatherdaddy,
    Your opinion of the Illuminati show that you are naive and uneducated.

  377. Todd W.

    @John Best

    Your saying, repeatedly, that “Kids who were vegetables and are now normal are not anecdotal evidence. The kids got better.” is anecdotal evidence. You are not providing links to proof to support your claims. The only thing you are offering is your word. That is anecdotal evidence.

    All we are asking for is evidence that we can look at for ourselves, rather than just your word that what you claim is so.

    I don’t see how this is such a difficult concept to grasp. Show us the evidence. I could claim, over and over, that I had cancer, and, by drinking a daily concoction of ginger root, steak steeped in boiling urine with a touch of sugar, that my cancer was cured. I could go on to claim that I know of a number of people who were cured by the same means. But all of my claims amount to nothing, in terms of scientific inquiry and arriving at the truth of the matter. Unless I provide some documentary evidence in the form of a well-controlled scientific or clinical study that backs up my claims that the ginger-steak-urine-sugar tea cures cancer, it’s all just anecdotes. Anyone who believed me at my word is naive.

    I hope I’m making it clear that the only thing you are providing to us is anecdotes…stories. There is nothing to substantiate your claims.

  378. fatherdaddy

    I can no longer handle your ranting. I’ll leave the arguments to those with more patience than I. Goodbye, John. Or should I, as a good sheeple, say “goodba-aa-aa-ye”.

  379. J.MacLennan

    Todd W.
    My son started exhibiting symptoms within 48 hours of receiving the double MMR and the flu vaccine (since he was underweight and therefore was under additional risk). My other son, as I stated, reacted immediately, but didn’t have any long-lasting neuro-developmental issues. My wife checked the serial numbers and verified that they did contain thimerisol.

    fatherdaddy.
    My point wasn’t that anyone shouldn’t vaccinate their children, my point is that the whole vaccination procedures and schedules need to be reviewed seriously to see where there are problems. You can be an anti-conspiracy theorist, but “big pharma” doesn’t have any incentive to determine the truth. A corrolary, unrelated example is the Colorado representative that is (was?) working on a bill to _ban_ labeling of milk indicating that the cows weren’t given hormones. Guess what, said representative owns dairy farms. It goes under the heading of “just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.” See the article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/dr-bernadine-healy-dont-d_b_101421.html

    Sure, maybe the vaccines are safe for all the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but it doesn’t seem that they are safe for all of the people all of the time. People on this board want “evidence” where the people who are impacted simply want help and want to make sure that the same thing doesn’t happen to other people.

    My son, who at 14 month was saying all the typical words such as “plane”, “bird”, “mommy”, “daddy”, etc. etc. and then suddenly within 48 hours after his multiple dose immunization, stopped talking, wouldn’t make eye-contact, and wouldn’t even look into a mirror, and within a week started lashing out violently by scratching faces and biting, and constantly climbed on anything he could such that we had to block any open spaces in our house with rigid plastic bolted to the walls. Two years later, after learning accidentally about the GFCF diet, we tried it and he started saying single words after two days. Now, he’s not fully recovered, but he’s getting better. You can’t tell me that this is “coincidental” with the vaccination – it’s a direct result.

    Am I saying don’t vaccinate – no. Am I saying we can do a better job in ensuring the safety of our children from envirotoxins including poorly subscripted vaccination schedules – yes.

  380. Todd W,
    All evidence is anecdotal if you did not see it with your own eyes. Anecdotal does not mean false or bad. You can go to the Yahoo group Autism Mercury and see parents who have recovered their kids advising other parents how to do the same thing. You can watch the Generation Rescue movie Autism Yesterday. You can go to the Autism Research Institute and watch their video of 100 cured kids.
    You can also explain to me why any parent whose child suffers with the nightmare of autism would lie to anyone about methods that reduce that nightmare.

    father daddy,
    Only a troll with nothing intelligent to say would claim I am ranting in a desperate attempt to discredit the truth.

  381. Wow. This discussion has actually hit the low of Illuminati wahooism.

    Now that we’ve been exposed, it is my duty as a Freemason-elect member of the Socialist-Zionist-Catholic-MJ12-Big Oil-Islamist Bildeburger Group of Reptilian Illuminatus to derail this discussion with satire and Sealab 2021 references taken from my vast computer memory stored in the people-pods below the blasted landscape we’ve convinced everyone to be Belgium.

    [aboard the secret flying base of the Neptuninati]

    NEPTUNINATI GRAND SECRET ELDER: “Well, we’ve lost the Infinity Trident. No matter.”

    NEPTUNIATI ADJUTANT: “My lord! Without the Infinity Trident, how can we protect ourselves from the Five Jew Bankers?”

    NEPTUNINATI GRAND SECRET ELDER: “You fool, we made up the Five Jew Banke–”

    [flying base explodes]
    [camera flash pans upward to reveal THE DEATH STAR OF DAVID]
    [aboard the DEATH STAR OF DAVID]

    JEW BANKER #1: “Direct hit, Mort Vader.”

  382. Todd W.

    @J.MacLennan

    So, your children were vaccinated at 14 months of age? Do you remember the names of the vaccines? Like ProQuad or MMR-II (for MMR) or Fluarix (for influenza)?

    I did a quick look at each of those. The MMR-II vaccine, by Merck, suggests first vaccination at 12-15 months of age and a second one before elementary school, and that there is no safety or efficacy data for children under 12 months. It lists several contraindications and warnings for its use. MMR vaccines do not contain thimerosal.

    Fluarix, a flu vaccine approved in 2005, was not labeled for use in children. The labeling for this one said that thimerosal is used during the manufacturing process, but that it is then removed to trace amounts.

    I would question the doctor’s administration of 2 MMR shots in the same day. And without knowing which flu vaccine was used, it may have been irresponsible to administer that vaccine to infants.

  383. fatherdaddy

    J. MacLennon,

    I will grant the possibility that the regimen of vaccines is something that needs to be looked at more closely. I can see that doctors, often over worked in many clinics, are tending to take the approach that they can move more kids through the assembly line by giving more vaccines at once than should be given. If that is the case, it is more the doctor/clinic that is more responsible than the vaccines. I would not be opposed to further investigation.

    I find the conspiracy of Big Pharma hard to swallow, though. It seems to me that most businesses are too scared of liability to deliberately cause harm to their customers. If the conspiracy were that powerful than we would have never seen a single lawsuit aimed at the cigarette companies. Cigarette companies tried to keep it down but they couldn’t stop the parade of lawsuits, despite the billions of dollars at their disposal. I think the pharmacuetical companies are in a similar boat, just with a little more support from their political cronies, hence things like the compensation fund.

    The Centipede,

    Thank you very much for that. I am running out of sheep noises.

    Ba-aa-aa

  384. There is no proven link between MMR and autism but of course vaccines can have other side effects. But the small risk of an adverse event from vaccinating is overwhelmingly outweighed, by several orders of magnitude, by the benefits. Unfortunately nothing in life is risk free. You have to play the odds.

  385. Just commenting to express support for your valiant effort at convincing people with evidence. If nothing else you’ve given people like me something to link when talking to people who’re still “on the fence.”

    As far as the really die-hard anti-vax folk, though… I think it was Jonathan Swift who said you can’t reason a man out of a position he did not reason himself into in the first place.” The problem is not that the evidence is unclear on this subject. The problem is that anti-vax fanatics didn’t come to their conclusions by looking at evidence. They got there by getting scared and latching onto that fear.

    My real curiosity here is why people are so attached to that fear, to the constant paranoia that their children are the targets of a deadly assassin: the medical community! When the alternative is something with proven benefits, why leap to something that’s going to endanger your child?

    Can we say “Munchausen by Proxy?” Maybe that’s caused by vaccines, too…

  386. Vaccines may not cause autism, but they cause needles. Vaccines = needles = pain=crying=sadness, therefore vaccines=sadness .. and nothing that makes you sad can be good.

    Kmuzu

  387. Wow, that’s got to be one of the more shallow worldviews I’ve ever seen, Kmuzu. Sounds like a joke, I hope it is a joke, but I know people who honestly think like that.

  388. Avianna

    Well I think I’ll add my two cents,

    I am in no way anti-vaccine, however I have had several bad reactions to vaccines as a child and more recently in my teens. My main problem with vaccines is the vaccine schedule, and the position that you can injection someone with PROTEINS or the LIVE virus of the disease and expect that it is 100% safe for everyone and that to question this is the same as wanting millions of babies to die. Everyone knows that medicine has side effects, to mandate that a medical procedure with risk of injury or death be done, no exceptions, is against your constitutional rights. Everyone has a right to informed consent, and the vast majority of parents will choose to have their children vaccinated when presented with all the facts of both the risks and the reward of no being infected by the disease.

    Likewise as with all side effects only a small subset of people will have them and they will range in severity from mild to severe and death. For the majority of folks in the world Vaccines my be safe effective and life saving, but as with any procedure it is that small minority that is effected that needs to be worried over. Autism is no joke. It effects million of children and adults and interferes with their daily lives from mildly to severely. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that such a mandate DOESN’T in any way cause damage to ANYONE, if it is to be mandated to the entire populace.

    It is in my opinion that the group of children who have been anecdotally reported to have regressed after and exposure to any vaccination be put in a genetic study. If these children posses a commonality of genetics not found in the non-disabled population, it should be further investigated whether this commonality of genetic abnormalities or material could have effected their response to vaccination (i.e the genes involved are part of either the immune system brain development or self recognition) If so then Vaccination WITH other environmental factors can be possibly linked to the development of symptoms.

    I would just like to add that as Autism has been expanded into a spectrum of disorders and syndromes, so to is any person’s reaction as compared with another to a particular substance going to range from mild to severe. The only thing the doctors have done in my opinion is recognize they have caused more types of damage than initially expected and recognized.

  389. ZT

    Sure this thread is old now but thought you might like to look at some recent studies using what may be closer to real science.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2008/05/26/hautism126.xml&page=1

  390. Todd W.

    @Avianna

    I am always a bit surprised that people comment that vaccines are supposed to be 100% or that someone is saying that they are 100% safe. The vaccine manufacturers do not say that, nor does FDA or the CDC.

    You make some good points about informed consent and right to refuse treatment. That’s the primary reason that I am against any laws that mandate without exception that everyone must be vaccinated. That said, I think there does need to be some measure to encourage vaccination where there is no medical reason to avoid it.

    I also liked your comment about looking at those children who appear to have regressed into autism after receiving a vaccine, checking for genetic differences that are common to a significant portion of them. The healthy population should also be examined for these differences, however, to make sure that the genetic difference really is at fault and to avoid selection bias.

    You present a very reasonable approach to the issue.

  391. I just did a search for “Simpsonwood” on this site, and it’s not here!

    Why does that matter? Because the Simpsonwood Transcripts are available online, and they provide the *precise results* of the first CDC-sponsored meeting of scientists, where they were provided data that has since been sold to a private company for the express purpose of evading the Freedom of Information Act. They don’t provide explicit proof of an autism-vaccine link, but the scientists themselves repeatedly point out in the Transcripts that there is an undeniable statistically-relevant correlation between “neurological developmental delays” and vaccines, even down to mentioning which delays happen at which months of age when infants are exposed.

    Check my Squidoo lens for a summary (under The Thimerosal Connection) and a link to the Simpsonwood Transcripts themselves.

  392. mom of aspie

    The only study after study that has been done is with injecting only one vaccine at a time into monkeys. Then it is proposed safe. And yes they are safe when injecting only one at a time. But when you over load, you are heading for danger. Too many too soon. And I can’t believe some of you over here are comparing autism to the genetics of eye sight. Very uncaring crowd and you should be ashamed of yourselves. There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic, sorry.

    SICK MONKEYS: RESEARCH LINKS VACCINE LOAD, AUTISM SIGNS
    BY DAN OLMSTED

    The first research project to examine effects of the total vaccine load received by children in the 1990s has found autism-like signs and symptoms in infant monkeys vaccinated the same way. The study’s principal investigator, Laura Hewitson from the University of Pittsburgh, reports developmental delays, behavior problems and brain changes in macaque monkeys that mimic “certain neurological abnormalities of autism.”

    The findings are being reported Friday and Saturday at a major international autism conference in London.

    Although couched in scientific language, Hewitson’s findings are explosive. They suggest, for the first time, that our closest animal cousins develop characteristics of autism when subjected to the same immunizations – such as the MMR shot — and vaccine formulations – such as the mercury preservative thimerosal — that American children received when autism diagnoses exploded in the 1990s.

    The first publicly reported results of this research project come in both oral and poster presentations on Friday and Saturday at the International Meeting For Autism Research in London. Poster presentations must go through a form of peer review before they are presented at the conference; the papers have not yet appeared in a scientific journal.

    In addition to Hewitson’s oral presentation today, on Saturday in one of two related poster presentations, the researchers also are reporting in their abstract that “vaccinated animals exhibited progressively severe chronic active inflammation [in gastrointestinal tissue] whereas unexposed animals did not. We have found many significant differences in the GI tissue gene expression profiles between vaccinated and unvaccinated animals.” Numerous scientific studies, as well as many parents, report severe GI ailments in children with regressive autism.

    The results are sure to be controversial, in part because they lend credence to studies first published in 1998 by British pediatric gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield, one of Hewitson’s co-authors on these findings. He described an unusual inflammatory bowel condition in children who had regressed into autism after they received the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination. Wakefield is currently fighting charges of medical misconduct in Britain over allegations of conflict-of-interest and improper procedures related to that paper. He denies the charges.

    In the program for the conference, the 7th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research (IMFAR), there are three separate presentations listed that report results from the overall research program. The first, an oral presentation entitled “Pediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior, and Amygdala Growth and Opioid Ligand Binding” (the “amygdala abstract”) was led by Dr. Hewitson and lists 12 co-authors, including five of her colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and Dr. Wakefield. Other authors are chemists, pathologists and psychologists from the universities of Kentucky, California-Irvine, and Washington.

    Hewitson’s introductory presentation will be followed by two poster presentations on Saturday; one of the two, “Pediatric Vaccines Influence Primate Behavior, and Brain Stem Volume and Opioid Ligand Binding”, was led by Wakefield and includes six additional co-authors.

    It focuses on the developmental effect of vaccine exposures on brain growth during infancy. The second, “Microarray Analysis of GI Tissue in a Macaque Model of the Effects of Infant Vaccination,” was led by Steven Walker of Wake Forest University and performed gene array analysis on the intestinal tissues of the vaccinated and unvaccinated monkeys.

    The studies address – albeit in animals, not children — one of the major criticisms by parents and scientists concerned about a possible link between the greatly stepped-up immunization schedule in the 1990s, including higher exposure to the mercury preservative, and autism. While the Food and Drug Administration approves individual vaccines as safe and effective, and an advisory committee to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the childhood immunization schedule adopted by the states, the overall health outcomes from the total vaccine load, versus no vaccinations at all, have never been compared, the authors said.

    A bill requiring the government to conduct a study of autism rates in unvaccinated American children is pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, co-sponsored by Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Tom Osborne (R.-Neb.). Just this week, former National Institutes of Health Director Bernadine Healy called for more research into a possible vaccine link to autism and said the question had not been settled, despite repeated assertions to that effect by the CDC, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    In the abstract for today’s oral presentation, the authors noted that macaques, the type of monkey used in the study, “are commonly used in pre-clinical vaccine safety testing, but the combined childhood vaccine regimen, rather than individual vaccines, has not been studied. Childhood vaccines are a possible causal factor in autism, and abnormal behaviors and anomalous amygdala growth are potentially inter-related features of this condition.”

    The study found evidence of both behavioral and biological changes after the 13 macaque monkey infants were administered proportional doses, adjusted for age, of the vaccines recommended between 1994 and 1999. Three monkeys were not given any vaccines.

    “Primate development, cognition and social behavior were assessed for both vaccinated and unvaccinated infants using standardized tests developed at the Washington National Primate Research Center.” MRI and PET scans looked for brain changes after administration of the MMR.

    “Compared with unexposed animals, significant neurodevelopmental deficits were evident for exposed animals in survival reflexes, tests of color discrimination and reversal, and learning sets,” the authors reported. “Differences in behaviors were observed between exposed and unexposed animals and within the exposed group before and after MMR vaccination. Compared with unexposed animals, exposed animals showed attenuation of amygdala growth and differences in the amygdala binding of [11C]diprenorphine. Interaction models identified significant associations between specific aberrant social and non-social behaviors, isotope binding, and vaccine exposure.”

    One of the Saturday abstracts makes the further point that the research “revealed significant differences between exposed and unexposed animals” in the kinds of developmental behaviors a mother might be able to observe, “with delayed acquisition of root, suck, clasp hand, and clasp foot reflexes.” They conclude by noting that “This animal model examines the neurological consequences of the childhood vaccine regimen, Functional and … brainstem anomalies were evident in vaccinated animals that may be relevant to some aspects of autism. The findings raise important safety issues while providing a potential animal model for examining aspects of causation and disease pathogenesis in acquired neurodevelopmental disorders.”

    Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.

  393. mom of aspie

    Furthermore, the studies you are looking at are done by the “You know who”, thats right…. Pharma companies….

    Oh yeah sell me a lemon and tell me everything that is wrong with it…. Go ahead trust your asses to these criminals who pay off the politicians and doctors…..

    Harvard Doctors Failed to Disclose Fees, Senator Says……
    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601124&sid=aXgL9xC2OWho&refer=home

  394. mom of aspie

    This study was published April 2008 in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences. After the CDC let their secret data unfold. If you want to see the actual study there is a link below attached to this article.

    Hidden CDC Data Confirms Vaccine-Autism Link

    Press Release Contacts:

    For Immediate Release CoMeD President [Rev. Lisa K. Sykes
    (Richmond, VA) 804-364-8426]

    June 12, 2008 CoMeD Sci. Advisor [Dr. King (Lake
    Hiawatha, NJ) 973-263-4843]

    WASHINGTON, DC – A newly published study in the Journal of the
    Neurological Sciences,[1] [1] the official journal of the Worl d
    Federation of Neurology,[2] [2] links mercury from the Thimerosal in
    vaccines with autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

    This study represents six years worth of effort by independent
    researchers to gain access to hidden US Centers for Disease Control
    and Prevention (CDC) data in the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD). In
    2003, the Government Reform Committee of the US House of
    Representatives asserted, “(a)ccess by independent researchers to the
    Vaccine Safety Datalink database is needed for independent replication
    and validation of CDC studies regarding exposure of infants to
    mercury-containing vaccines and autism.”

    Nonetheless, this new analysis of some of the data in the carefully
    guarded VSD database, documenting the mercury poisoning of a
    generation of American children, would never have been possible
    without the intervention of Congressional leaders, parent autism
    advocacy groups, and legal experts. Ironically, only a few
    independent researchers have gained even this limited level of
    restricted access to the VSD database, despite the fact that the VSD
    Project is funded by hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

    The new study, led by Dr. Heather Young, Ph.D., a professor of
    epidemiology at the George Washington University School of Public
    Health and Health Services, examined the CDC-supplied medical
    vaccination records from the VSD of 278,624 children, born from 1990
    through 1996.

    This study calculated the average mercury exposure children incurred
    from routine childhood Thimerosal-containi ng vaccines, by year of
    birth, during their first year of life. After calculating average
    mercury exposure by year of birth, the study then estimated the
    prevalence rates of various medical diagnoses for children born in
    each of the years examined.

    The prevalence rate of autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders
    correlated with the average mercury exposure children received:
    increasing/decreasi ng levels of mercury exposure from routine
    childhood Thimerosal-containi ng vaccines resulted in corresponding
    trends in prevalence rates of these diagnoses. By contrast, medical
    outcomes presumed to be unrelated to mercury exposure did not
    correlate with the average levels of mercury exposure from routine
    childhood Thimerosal-containi ng vaccines.

    Depending upon the specific neurodevelopmental disorder examined
    (autism, autism spectrum disorder, tics, emotional disturbance,
    attention deficit disorder-hyperactiv ity disorder, and
    developmental/ learning disorder), the observed overall risk of autism
    and other neurodevelopmental disorders was significantly higher (about
    2- to 6- fold) following an additional 100 micrograms of mercury
    exposure. For autism alone, the overall risk was about 2.5-fold
    higher following an additional 100 micrograms of mercury exposure.

    These results demonstrate that the suspicions of those serving on the
    Government Reform Committee were correct: “…(t)o date, studies
    conducted or funded by the CDC that purportedly dispute any
    correlation between autism and vaccine injury have been of poor
    design, under-powered, and fatally flawed. The CDC’s rush to support
    and promote such research is reflective of a philosophical conflict in
    looking fairly at emerging theories and clinical data related to
    adverse reactions from vaccinations. ”

    To financially support further research conducted by independent
    investigators in the VSD, please use the PayPal link on CoMeD’s
    website, http://www.mercury- freedrugs. org, for your tax-deductible
    contributions. CoMeD, Inc. is a not-for-profit 501(C)(3) corporation
    actively engaged in legal, educational and scientific efforts to stop
    all use of mercury in medicine, and to ban the use of all
    mercury-containing medicines.

    [1][1] Young HA, Geier DA, Geier MR. Thimerosal exposure in
    infants and neurodevelopmental disorders: An assessment of
    computerized medical records in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. J Neurol
    Sci. 2008 May 1 4. [Epub ahead of print] Article available at:
    http://www.pharmalo t.com/wp- content/uploads/ 2008/05/thimeros al-vaccine- study.pdf

    [2][2] The World Federation of Neurology is a non-governmental
    organization associated with the World Health Organization (WHO).

  395. mom of aspie

    Sorry, bad link hopefully your blog will pick this one up. If not do a search…. It is there and available.

    [1][1] Young HA, Geier DA, Geier MR. Thimerosal exposure in
    infants and neurodevelopmental disorders: An assessment of
    computerized medical records in the Vaccine Safety Datalink. J Neurol
    Sci. 2008 May 1 4. [Epub ahead of print] Article available at:
    http://www.pharmalo t.com/wp- content/uploads/ 2008/05/thimeros al-vaccine- study.pdf

  396. lisa

    That study did not include the fact that at the same time they started the study they also required people with autism or parents of children with autism to register. Previous to that there was none. How about 90% of autistic citizens were not registered until after they took the thimerisol out. Even RFK Jr knows that one!!!

  397. James

    I disagree with the conclusion you draw from your data, for a number of reasons.
    1) Autism has a mean diagnosis age of somewhere between 3-5, often later for more high function kids, so the effects from taking a chemical out of vaccines could potentially take up to 4 years to see a decline in the number of cases.
    2) Also, the differences in autism diagnostic criteria are a huge confounding factor, especially in high functioning autistics. In the 90′s, if you could read, tie your shoes, and carry on a conversation it was quite difficult to get an autistic diagnosis even if you showed clear signs of mind-blindness. If you look at the california autism studies they show clear evidence of this (the fraction of autistic children with M.R. drops dramatically as diagnosis expands to include more high functioning autistics who make up more of the autistic community than you would think)
    I’m sure someone has brought up these points before, but i didn’t feel like reading 400 posts

  398. According to the CDC and the WHO’s numbers, when you take into account every one of the diseases that we currently vaccinate against (except Varicella, which is diarrhea and can be ‘cured’ with water, and influenza, the biggest joke of a vaccine ever) — the total lethality to an unvaccinated population is a whopping…

    0.116%

    That’s right — while vaccines look really good spread over hundreds of millions of people, in that they do in fact save several thousand each year, any given person has a 99.994% chance of living just fine without them.

    Contrast that with the risk of adjuvant excitoxicity in infant brains (a theory of autism-vaccine connection that, to the best of my research, no one has refuted), which has a .667% chance of causing brain damage — a chance six times as high — and you’re looking at a pretty strong argument against vaccinating your child.

  399. Ed

    Autism can kill too, through accidents.

    The studies you sighted have heavy links to the pharmacuetical companies.

    If it is due to better diagnosis, where are all the 40 year old people with autism? Don’t give me the misdiagnosed as Downs syndrome routine, the two disorders are too different.

    The head of the CDC recently admitted (with little coverage) what proponents of the link have been saying for years.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dh-nkD5LSIg

  400. Dawn

    The moron that wrote this must work for the drug companies. To inject someone with umpteen known neurotoxins and not expect there to be brain damage is just ludicrous. A baby’s brain is still developing until the age of three. Just talk to any veteran teacher and they will tell you how severely damaged kids are these days and how it has gotten worse over the years. FYI – Julie Gerberding (director of the CDC) just went before the Appropriations Committee on June 18th and admitted that all previous studies done were “useless” regarding thimerosal and vaccines. I guess this author didn’t know. There is STILL mercury in the mercury free vaccines – there is no way to remove it 100%!! Also, former director of the NIH, Bernadine Healy recented blasted our government agencies for saying that vaccines don’t cause Autism. She claims that this WAS NEVER PROVEN in any study for children with regressive autism!! Enough with the lies buddy. My baby and I were injured by vaccines last year and I CANNOT WAIT until I have our day in court.

  401. FORCED ANARCHY

    Perhaps it is time to inject this fool along with his loved ones with multiple toxins. Seriously, where does he get off thinking he knows anything on the subject? As a vaccine injured person I am beyond upset over his lack of knowledge.

  402. Pat

    The graph at the beginning of this site is misleading and the analysis uninformed. Just because they stopped putting the mercury preservative in vaccines in 1999 does not mean that vaccines given after that time were mercury-free. The companies make 100s thousands of doses with long shelf life. I never heard that the stores of vaccines were dumped when mercury was taken out of newly produced vaccines.

    1. Tens of thousands of mercury-laden doses were used for some time after 1999.

    2. It would take a few years until diagnosis anyway. Usually 3-5 years old.

    So the continued increase in autism from 1992 to 1997 could very well be the result of mercury-laden vaccines already distributed and warehoused. Notice the decline later on at the point where the diagnosed cases from vaccines NOT containing mercury would have taken place.

    The analysis of that chart at the opening of the discussion was very misleading.

    That being said I think the problems stem from administering too many vaccines in combination at too young of an age regardless of mercury.

  403. Pat

    In the above post please replace “1999″ with “1992.” Clerical mistake. Sorry

  404. Hi,

    Please consider visiting http://www.neoteny.org/?cat=7 to review a unique and unorthodox theory for the cause of autism. Vaccines do not cause autism. Autism is an evolutionary condition.

    Thank you,

    Andrew Lehman

  405. Samantha

    I do not think that such diseases are not caused by one vaccination itself, but by many vaccinations. a six month old baby has 52 vaccinations in the form of 15 shots. i was reading that and thought, hmmm… i wonder why so many children get so sick from these vaccinations…

  406. Did you know when children eat their buggers out of their noses it is a natural vaccine. The mucus dries up and kills the germs and then they are ingested and the body sees the dead germ and devolves a resistance to it. Let you kids eat their buggers… it just might save their life.

  407. Becky

    It’s amazing how many extremely intelligent “crackpots” there must be out there. I, apparently, am one of them. 3.9 GPA and 131 IQ, but I believe, after extensive research, that mercury and vaccinations are part of the cause of the rise in the rate of autism. So fine, call me a crackpot, but at least look at the facts.

    That graph from the Denmark study actually backs up the hypothesis. Firstly, if Denmark was anything like America when Big Pharma stopped putting Thimerosal in most children’s vaccinations, then they did not take the ones that still had Thimerosal in them off the shelves. This would mean months, if not a year or more of such vaccinations still being used after they were no longer being made. Secondly, any child receiving the Thimerosal vaccinations in 1992 would not necessarily be diagnosed immediately. It’s very likely that these children would continue to be diagnosed for the next few years. So the fact that the graph starts to drop off a few years after Thimerosal was removed is very significant. Besides vaccinations are not the only source of this or other environmental toxins causing this rise in autism. Coal mining releases large amounts of mercury into the air. In Texas, counties with coal mining have significantly higher rates of autism than those that don’t.

    These parents and politicians fighting to make people open their eyes are not crackpots. Mercury is a well-known neurotoxin. It should not be used in ANY products for use on or in our bodies. Don’t listen to everything the government tells you. They’re just trying to cover their asses. Open your eyes and your mind instead of shrugging others off as nut-jobs.

  408. RWR

    I’ve seen several very good studies indicating a correlation between age of father at child’s birth and autism risk. These come from Israel, the UK, Japan… What I want to know is why the media doesn’t cover these adequately? Is it some sort of fear of the autism community, a weird patriarchal taboo, disinterest, disbelief…what? Is it a fear of throwback to the old days when the mother was blamed for autism? Whatever it is, I just don’t understand why the best documented and most plausible explanation for the rising rates is left almost untouched by both the media and the autism community?

  409. Ingrid

    The reason the vaccine debate isn’t closed is not because those who suspect vaccines are crazy. It’s because there has not been a single study done that illustrates that non-vaccinated kids have the same rates of autism as vaccinated kids. Nor have there been any studies looking at the overall vaccine schedule. NOT A SINGLE STUDY.

    So while there have been dozens of studies on individual vaccine safety, and on individual ingredients… that is very different from there being a study on the whole vaccine schedule.

    For example – try this thought experiment on for size. In the 1970′s you receive about 10 shots before kindergarten. Right now there are 36 shots we give kids. Now…consider this…. what if we upped it to 100 shots for the year 2010? And then let’s say in 2011, 2012 we noticed a dramatic increase in the number of children with neurological disorders. Would it really be crazy to suspect the fact that we 3x’d the number of vaccines?

    Now…let’s say the ONLY studies the FDA and the CDC did on vaccine safety were on each individual vaccine’s safety – they did not do a single study to see if collectively adding 200 shots to the schedule had any overall affect on a child’s development. They claim the schedule is “perfectly safe” because they tested each shot individually.

    Would you really say that it’s “unscientific” to challenge the safety of a vaccine schedule that includes 100 shots- just because the FDA tested each shot individually?

    To me that’s like concluding that drinking does not impair driving ability because “we studied the effect of one beer on the system and found it does not impair a person’s driving ability.”

    It would be different if in their pile of scientific studies they included many studies on the overall safety of the vaccine schedule… but the fact is – and you can verify this – NO such studies exist right now. They have not looked at it. And that’s what’s scary to those who are skeptical of vaccinations.

  410. HDL

    I don’t believe vaccines are the cause and only source of Autism… but I do believe there is a definite link between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism. Do you honetly think because doctors don’t back up the theory it means it isn’t possibly true? Did it ever occur to you that there is a much larger cover up than we could even imagine. Read this intriguing article by Robert F Kennedy Jr… and then tell me there isn’t a cover of between the Pharm companies and the government. Becky and Pat.. I agree with you a well on your statements!

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/7395411/deadly_immunity/

  411. Vaccines are Drugs

    Vaccines in fact do cause autism. Looks at the drug companies own studies. Look at the lawsuits which were paid out. It is a fact no matter how much you drug company bloggers try to fool the public.

  412. Vaccines are Drugs

    doctors, governments and Big Pharma all are in deep doodoo if the truth came out so they keep the lie going. the wouldn’t survive the avalanche of lawsuits and public anger which followed admission of guilt.

  413. Michael Polidori

    Let’s talk about that Japanese study and what the author of this article DID NOT reveal. Signing on as an author to give the study some credibility with Europeans and Americanadians was a guy named Michael Rutter, a well-known expert witness for the drug companies and vaccine companies. Look up some vaccine court cases, you will find him testifying for the defense.

    That’s a large conflict of interest.

    The author doesn’t mention that while the MMR was stopped the Japanese continued to vaccinate with single dose vaccines instead of the triple dose. That ommission speaks volumes for the credibility, honesty or research abilities this author doesn’t have.

  414. ok, you all know so much, what do you tell a parent who knows their child was normal before the shot? That its for the greater good? You tell a parent with a child with autism that it was required so 150 kids or so would not get itchy bumps? I will tell you that I was pro vaccine 25 years ago when I took my daughter for her dpt shot, and she never stopped screaming until the Dr. hospitalized her the same day and sedated her. 3 days later she came home different and deaf. All the Dr. could say was never to get the p (pertussis) part of the dpt again. Drs. knew 25 years ago. My beautiful daughter is married to a wonderful man who was also vaccine injured. 22 years ago at age 4 he had Guillian-Barre syndrome, and was hospitalized for 6 months, and had to learn to walk, talk, feed himself, and potty train again. All the Dr. could say was to never get another vaccination again. Isnt that odd, two vaccine injured people meeting and marrying? Or is it becoming so common now that its not unlikely. When are you going to realize that anti vaccine people have a very good reason? They are not paranoid, they are warning other people in good conscience. I hope none of you know it alls end up on the other side of the fence like me. Both were perfectly normal before the shots. Should I not have been given the choice of whether my daughter would have whooping cough or be deaf all her life. Things change, we had to learn to sign, get hearing aids, special ed. put up with mean people, etc. Do you think autistic children just disappear? They dont, somebody has to care for them, and your tax dollars pay for their high cost of education. And if Obama care passes, your tax dollar will pay for their medical care also. Once again pharmaceutical companies get away with it, dumping their damaged, injured people, on the backs of the public. Things will change when people say enough, and say their children can get measles, mumps and rubella, so another child wont have to suffer through life autistic. I would have all three at the same time if I could save a child from autism. I think its much more common for a child to have autism than for a pregnant woman to be exposed to rubella, but I have a deaf foster adult whose mother had rubella, and she is much better off than an autistic child, I can guarantee it. I realize most people get their children vaccinated because the law requires it in their state, but how did we let this happen? How can we fight it and win? Vaccines are all about money, and I think I could prove it if we could take the profit out of it. Even the Drs. who claim they dont make money on vaccines still make money on the office visit. Please understand vaccines DO cause damage, and have a little compassion for the suffering out there who were minding their own business doing what they thought was right and got blindsided, and remember that just because it hasnt happened to you yet, or a beloved family member, that doesnt mean that it couldnt. God bless you and remember that the nurses in New York who protested against forced vaccinations, work with sick people all the time, and most likely come into contact with vaccine injured adults. You are being warned. If you want to have an informed opinion, go to a meeting of vaccine injured people and find out their stories, and then talk about it. You are outside of the real life experiences of suffering people and your flip comments are insulting to peoples intelligence.

  415. @Robin

    If you’ll be patient enough with me, I’d like to take this point-by-point:

    ok, you all know so much, what do you tell a parent who knows their child was normal before the shot? That its for the greater good? You tell a parent with a child with autism that it was required so 150 kids or so would not get itchy bumps?

    No. So that kids will not die. Infectious disease didn’t stop killing people just because we hit the twenty-first century. Even assuming the false dilemma that the choice is between infectious disease and autism (something you simply cannot take for granted) the current rates of autism (where the child survives) are at least subjectively preferable to pre-vaccination rates of death from infectious diseases which often left long-term damage such as paralysis, blindness, sterility, neuropathy, and more in the survivors of these diseases.

    I will tell you that I was pro vaccine 25 years ago when I took my daughter for her dpt shot, and she never stopped screaming until the Dr. hospitalized her the same day and sedated her. 3 days later she came home different and deaf. All the Dr. could say was never to get the p (pertussis) part of the dpt again. Drs. knew 25 years ago.

    How are you sure it was in fact the DPT shot? If your daughter had displayed symptoms a fraction of a second before the vaccine- which happens since autism manifests around that age, would you be anti-vaccine? Also, I really have to beg the question, what did doctors know 25 years ago? My uncle was a GP/Family Physician, 25 years ago (and still is) and he would never recommend skipping a vaccine. He has five kids, all of whom are vaccinated.

    My beautiful daughter is married to a wonderful man who was also vaccine injured. 22 years ago at age 4 he had Guillian-Barre syndrome, and was hospitalized for 6 months, and had to learn to walk, talk, feed himself, and potty train again. All the Dr. could say was to never get another vaccination again. Isnt that odd, two vaccine injured people meeting and marrying? Or is it becoming so common now that its not unlikely.

    Guillian-Barre is one of the few acknowledged risks inherent to vaccination- and thankfully there’s treatment for it if it can be addressed quickly. Chances are much, much better that the coincidence you describe is not a coincidence at all- since chances are that your daughter was not harmed by the vaccine. The thing about Guillian Barre is that the mechanism of action is understood and explainable. It’s auto-immune, which makes sense because of the way vaccines work to stimulate the immune system. Meanwhile, people who attempt to link Autism to vaccines have no scientific questions left. Is there a link? We looked and the numbers say no. We looked again, and they said no. We looked again, and again, again. No, no, and no. Beyond that- they have no more questions that can be answered by data or experiment. There are no proposed mechanisms for action. At some point scientists and doctors have to throw their hands in the air and say, “We’re going to look somewhere else for answers.”

    When are you going to realize that anti vaccine people have a very good reason? They are not paranoid, they are warning other people in good conscience. I hope none of you know it alls end up on the other side of the fence like me.

    I’ll take that to heart, and I hope so too. Chances that I’ll have children with autism-spectrum disorder are higher for me though. There’s no way to say this without seeming immodest, but there’s strong evidence these things are genetic. There is preliminary evidence children with autism in particular tend to have parents where one or both have above average IQs. Now I’m not a big fan of the IQ scale in general (a whole different story entirely), but I sit well above a hundred. Now, I believe IQ correlates with socioeconomic factors and is not ultimately determined by inherent genetic traits, but the correlation applies to me either way. My point being that if all of this is a numbers game, (and the severity of the conditions involved would indicate this is no “game” at all) I may very well have been dealt a poor hand.

    Both were perfectly normal before the shots.

    Both were perfectly normal before they got sick. Once again, Guillian-Barre is an expected risk, and many would consider it an acceptable risk since the incidence is so low. In addition to this, it is an informed risk. It’s right there on the paperwork. No one wants to hide anything- least of all GPs, Pediatricians, OB-GYNS, who believe it or not do not become doctors for the money. They do well enough, but you could do better with an MBA that probably costs half as much as what you pay for med-school.

    Should I not have been given the choice of whether my daughter would have whooping cough or be deaf all her life.

    I’m very sorry that your child has to live with a disability, and I really mean that. I’m sorry anyone has to live with a disability or illness, and I really hope you take me at my word here. I’d go so far as to say that goes for most, if not all the people here. Phil Plait has kids of his own. I’m hoping that we can at least assume good-faith here in this comments section. Now I’m not a parent yet: I’m not financially in a position to become one and women don’t seem to want to touch me, but I think I want to be one at some point. But, you are a parent- so you know as well as anyone that sometimes you don’t get to choose your kids’ fates. This is something that I expect faces any parent, whether it’s because they can’t afford to send their kids to private school or because a spouse died and the children couldn’t get as much parenting as they deserved. In an ideal world no one has to make difficult choices. However once again, you’re taking it for granted that vaccines are what caused your daughters problems. There’s simply no way you can know beyond a doubt that a vaccine was the start of it. You can certainly have a strong intuition about it- I’m sure you do or you wouldn’t be writing here.

    Things change, we had to learn to sign, get hearing aids, special ed. put up with mean people, etc. Do you think autistic children just disappear? They dont, somebody has to care for them, and your tax dollars pay for their high cost of education. And if Obama care passes, your tax dollar will pay for their medical care also.

    I don’t mind. I believe that one of the costs of choosing to live in a tiered agriculturally based society with a high level of specialization is a shared interest in the common good. I hope that I won’t have to pay for any of it though, and here’s why: We have scientists and doctors who really care about this issue looking for answers, and I am confident that we will find them as we have for so many other problems before. Forget the pharmaceutical industry, scientists work in academic labs all over the country on donations from people like me and you (scientists by-and-large are also “people like me and you.”) as well as various private and public grants. They are not spending time looking at vaccines. These are people who’ve spent years, sometimes decades trying to understand the illness. They are not looking at vaccines. If you gave a scientist money and told him or her, “Here, look at vaccines for a possible cause for autism.” Any reputable scientist or doctor worth their salt would refuse it at this stage, with so much having been done to answer that question. Science cannot bring gold out of a coal mine. It’s a coal mine, we’ve looked and there’s nothing there. Scientists have to pursue the questions that the evidence seem to pull them towards.

    Once again pharmaceutical companies get away with it, dumping their damaged, injured people, on the backs of the public. Things will change when people say enough, and say their children can get measles, mumps and rubella, so another child wont have to suffer through life autistic. I would have all three at the same time if I could save a child from autism.

    But right now, kids are suffering though both, and they don’t have to. When people stopped vaccinating in the UK, measles rates skyrocketed, but autism held steady.

    I think its much more common for a child to have autism than for a pregnant woman to be exposed to rubella, but I have a deaf foster adult whose mother had rubella, and she is much better off than an autistic child, I can guarantee it.

    No. You can’t guarantee it. High functioning autistic people may very well take issue with that assertion. They may not, but you can’t guarantee anything. Also, once again, you are taking the assumption that vaccines cause autism for granted. I’m harping on this, but it has to be harped on. If your basic premise is wrong, then everything else is wrong all the way down the line.

    I realize most people get their children vaccinated because the law requires it in their state, but how did we let this happen? How can we fight it and win? Vaccines are all about money, and I think I could prove it if we could take the profit out of it. Even the Drs. who claim they dont make money on vaccines still make money on the office visit.

    Yet there are doctors out there who volunteer their time to give vaccines for free in impoverished areas. The vaccine for polio was not patented specifically because the inventor wanted it to be disseminated. Salk became a national hero, not just because he helped make sure a debilitating disease was finally about to be eradicated, but because he refused to make a fortune off of it. In India a lab in Hyderabad created a new Hep B vaccine that had some issues with transportation (it has to be kept cold) but was ultimately affordable enough so people living in poverty could have access to them. Meanwhile Wakefield, the man who tried to publish an article establishing the supposed vaccine-autism link while being paid by trial lawyers, patented a separate measles vaccine he was hoping would take off when people slowed up the vaccine schedule.

    Please understand vaccines DO cause damage, and have a little compassion for the suffering out there who were minding their own business doing what they thought was right and got blindsided, and remember that just because it hasnt happened to you yet, or a beloved family member, that doesnt mean that it couldnt.

    Everyone here cares about people who have been forced to face one tragedy or another. We’re human beings for heaven’s sake. But, we simply cannot, and do not, take the idea that vaccines cause autism for granted. Meanwhile, we acknowledge that it can happen to us at any time.

    God bless you and remember that the nurses in New York who protested against forced vaccinations, work with sick people all the time, and most likely come into contact with vaccine injured adults.

    Those nurses are also more likely to come into contact with people like your son-in-law. They put people like him at risk. He can never be vaccinated again, it is only the concept of herd immunity that protects him and others like him. The fact that a certain number of people are vaccinated keeps disease levels so low that the chances a susceptible person will get moving through the community are abysmally low. Once this number drops below a certain threshold, however, people with the vaccine will start to become ill and contagious. Your son-in-law is protected by people who are vaccinated and won’t spread the disease. This is especially important when, as you yourself pointed out- he encounters people who work with sick people all the time.

    You are being warned. If you want to have an informed opinion, go to a meeting of vaccine injured people and find out their stories, and then talk about it. You are outside of the real life experiences of suffering people…

    No we’re not. I may not personally have experiences with someone who has autism, but you’re taking something else for granted: That among all those people who have autistic children or work with autistic children and adults- that there is not one among them who does not blame vaccines. There are in fact people like you who do not blame vaccines:

    http://www.neurodiversity.com/main.html

    and your flip comments are insulting to peoples intelligence.

    Flip or not, we have to call it as we see it. Perhaps tact is a virtue some of us are lacking, but tact doesn’t make you right or wrong. Now I’ve tried extensively not to insult you or your intelligence. Still, I had to constantly point out that you were taken certain things for granted, or at least appeared to be, and I’m 100% sure you didn’t like that. But, ask yourself this: IF you are in fact wrong- what else would I have been able to say?

    (By the same token, IF I am in fact wrong, then all I need to someone to show me is hard scientific evidence. I simply haven’t seen that.)

    *Sorry for the long comment Phil.*

  416. The thermosil study has been a dead issue for a while – even the researcher who claimed to develop the original study owned up to his bogus research.

    The fact that people are refusing to provide immunizations to their children could lead to an epidemic of serious health issues …are vaccines a risk worth taking?

    I will wait for more evidence – vaccines are still worth investigating – I really think research should continue looking at the “toxic” environments…beginning with the chemicals and construction materials within households and communities then outwards to industry and major pollutants …research has already begun to emerge on these fronts …from inutero to the potential for genetic damage and changes.due to toxins.

  417. Jennifer

    So how’s it feel to be wrong. Come on now! I am a skeptic and that includes research studies along with deities. Thanks to the freedom of information act we now know that vital information had been removed from the results of this study and that autism had actually significantly been reduced after thimerosol had been removed. Talk about sheeple. SCIENCE IS NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL, IT IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE RELEASING THE INFO.

  418. Farbod

    Vaccines do save lives by minimizing the chances of catching an epidemic disease. On the other hand Vaccines do contain other substances making them more potent, these substances are called adjuvants and since they produce inflammation wich recruits different arms of immune system, they increase immunogenicity of an antigen.
    they also have the potential to break immune system’s tolerance to self-antigens and may increase the chances of getting autoimmune disease in individuals with strong genetic back ground for these kind of disorders.
    i think this matter can be solved in future through pharmacogenomic approaches. by taking genetic back ground of people into consideration we can prevent people prone to autism and other kinds of disorders -which can be exacerbated due to vaccination- from being immunized, but we shouldn’t prevent other people from being vaccinated.

  419. Michael Polidori

    Vaccines rely on a working immune system recognizing, combatting and remembering the antigens in any particular vaccine.

    A properly functioning immune system does not need vaccines.
    Immune systems, even those that have reacted to vaccines, are subject to being impaired by poor nutrition, environmental toxins, radiation or genes. Even in someone who has been vaccinated, immune impairments can nullify any “protective” reaction vaccines may have induced.

    Drugs & vaccines top the list of toxins, to which we are regularly exposed, that affect immunity. There is a category of drugs on the market today designed to impair the immune system. Drugs like Humira, Remicade, Singulair and 100′s of others.

    HFCS is contaminated with genetically engineered bacterial cell debris & toxins in the soup the bacteria were grown in. Similar toxins in an L-tryptophan supplement killed or injured thousands of people in 1989, causing their immune systems to attack their nervous systems.

    If you read Merck’s MMR package insert you will find a number of linked side effects that are autoimmune disorders. Merck warns us that MMR may cause these autoimmune diseases, including arthritis and diabetes.

    Along with autoimmune diseases linked to vaccines there are dozens of neurological injuries linked to MMR. These linked injuries came out of Merck’s own clinical trials and follow up research. While Merck states in the 12 page package insert that MMR is not proved to cause these “adverse events”, Merck execs & scientists warn us they may happen to anyone who gets MMR. Some of the injuries have been recognized by the National Vaccine Injury Program and are automatically compensated if a child presents with the injuries & supporting medical records showing the temporal correlation of vaccine administration with the onset of symptoms… TEMPORAL CORRELATION WITH THE ONSET OF SYMPTOMS… much like what parents and some pediatricians report when diagnosing children with autism.

    What this proves is
    1- Vaccines are suspected to be unsafe & deadly in many ways
    2- Vaccines are proven to be the cause of many adverse events, including brain injuries & autoimmune disorders
    3- Merck is unable to say for certain that MMR won’t cause diabetes or arthritis in any particular child or adult (along with over 100 other adverse events, contraindications, warnings & precautions).
    4- Merck has been warning us about MMR’s linked dangers for decades, but is unwilling to do the research that would define the actual dangers posed by MMR.
    5- Every live vaccine has linked adverse events that could result in symptons of autism, but no one does the research to get to the truth

    It is as the late Dr Bernadine Healy said in a 2008 CBS News interview- “Vaccines may cause autism” & “It’s inexcusable that the proper research has not been done”
    Dr Healy is a former NIH Director, Johns Hopkins Professor of Medicine, Chair of Cleveland Clinic’s Research Institute… many other notable accomplishments. Her opinion in the matter of vaccines and autism research-deficiencies is expert and relevant.

    Vaccines and their dangers need to be competently and objectively studied. The time for doing this is long past due.

  420. Michael Polidori

    @The Chemist

    You are clearly intelligent enough to know what you are parroting is wrong, deceptive, deflective or simply outright lies.

    I read a portion of your “article” on Dr Andrew Wakefield, filled with the parotting of other’s lies & deceptions.

    You know full well Dr Wakefield’s paper did not claim to prove a link between vaccines and autism. Dr Wakefield stated the sample size his paper was based on was too small and biased to draw reasonable conclusions. He encouraged others to conduct large independent proper clinical studies of the issue.

    If this was the best he could do for lawyers who were paying him to find a link, as you wrongly claim, then he failed miserably. The paper did not prove a link, and so states.

    But to avoid the paper’s more pertinent issue of calling for INDEPENDENT clinical studies, the drug industry paid shills like Brian Deer, Paul Offit, Crispin Davis, Nigel Davis, James Murdoch, Fiona Godlee and many others to attack Dr Wakefield’s paper for things that were not claimed in the paper and to attack Dr Wakefield himself with a barrage of insults, lies, deceptions… all to save face for a drug industry gone mad.

    10 years later, in a 2008 CBS News interview, Dr Bernadine Healy said “Vaccines may cause autism” & “It’s inexcusable that the proper research has not been done”
    Dr Healy is a former Director of the NIH, Johns Hopkins Professor of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic’s Chair of The Research Institute… her opinion is expert and relevant regarding if a study design is appropriate for the objectives and if the conclusions are supported by or could be drawn from the data, or if the data were relevant to the objectives.

    To date that hasn’t been done any large clinical study on the vaccine autism issues. To date there has not been large clinical studies on any vaccine’s list of “adverse events” that are linked by the drug industry’s own clinical trials to their vaccines. The only large studies have been epidemiological, the study of medical records, & every one of them have been shown to be conflicted, manipulated and/or not based on scientific method.

    I dare you, “Chemist”, to post the best 2 studies you can find that show there is no correlation between vaccines and autism. Only the best 2. I don’t have the time to expose all the lies that can be told and all the irrelevant/fraudulent studies that are available… Only the best 2. List lead authors, sponsors, conflicts, short summary, sponsors.

    Repeating Dr Bernadine Healy’s opinion “It is INEXCUSABLE that the proper research has not been done”

    2 studies “Chemist”… I will be watching

  421. blackheart

    Sorry to resurrect an old post but did you notice in your analysis that this is a lag between ASD diagnosis ie 5 years minimum in Denmark.

    This would then actually evidence that some children were in fact reacting to Thimerosal as a vaccine ingredient and it may well have played a part in their ASD pathology particularly in line with robust findings of immune system pathways and genetic expression studies undertaken in 2011

    http://www­.ncbi.nlm.­nih.gov/pu­bmed/21614­001

    Aberrant NF-KappaB Expression in Autism Spectrum Condition: A Mechanism for Neuroinfla­mmation 2011

    http://www­.ncbi.nlm.­nih.gov/pm­c/articles­/PMC309871­3/

    Expression Profiling of Autism Candidate Genes during Human Brain Developmen­t Implicates Central Immune Signaling Pathways

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21935439

    These two studies showed us -

    *”NF-κB is aberrantly expressed in the orbitofron­­tal cortex as indicated by measuremen­­ts on post-morte­­m tissue from ASC patients, and particular­­ly in highly activated microglia.

    * This region is a locus of abnormal function in ASC that underlies the abnormal developmen­­t of social and cognitive skills”

    *Identifie­d a subset of highly expressed ASD-candid­ate genes from which interactom­e networks were derived.

    *Strikingl­y, immune signaling through NFκB, Tnf, and Jnk was central to ASD networks

    *Cell-type specific expression suggested glia—in addition to neurons—de­serve considerat­ion.

    * ASD-implic­­ated genes may converge on central cytokine signaling pathways.

    * Most prominent transcript­­ome changes are related to neuro-immu­ne disturbanc­es. In the Garbett et al study, the most significan­t functional pathway implicated was NFκB

    The highly expresses genes identified were -

    GO:0002682 Regulation of Immune System Process


    GO:0006915 Apoptosis

    
GO:001250­1 Programmed Cell Death


    GO:0031347 Regulation of Defense response

    Cheers – yours in psychoanalytic theories

  422. Woah this weblog is great i really like studying your articles. Stay up the great work! You already know, many persons are looking round for this info, you can help them greatly.

  423. Hannah

    People can still get shingles after having had the chicken pox vaccine. I know several kids that have had the CP vaccine and had shingles within 5yrs of having had it.

  424. Bob Nelson

    My grandmother, born in 1885, lost two brothers to tetanus (lock jaw), which was not uncommon here in Florida.. I have two friends, who are 40 years old, who have a beautiful 7-year old daughter, but refuse to have her vaccinated against anything, including tetanus.

    I have even shown them photos and drawings of opisthotonos, where people’s bones break, and which can cause people to bite off their lower lip and gnash their teeth out of their head, hoping that this would bring the potential severity into clear focus — see the following URL:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetanus .

    I might as well be speaking to a wall. They are Pentacostal Christians, and say that this is against their religion! This is enough to make me crazy! Other Pentacostals say that this is not against their religion.

  425. Ian

    I am not an antivaxxer. I vaccinate my kids and myself.

    That being said, I do not believe that the thimerosal removal chart above is good evidence against the idea that thimerosal does not cause autism.

    Just a few months ago I read some headlines about how things that your ancestors were exposed to can affect what sorts of diseases and disorders you have, generations later.

    Like this: the daughters and grand-daughters of rats who were fed junk food were more likely to develop breast cancer.

    Finding correlations in medicine and health can apparently take much longer than the amount of time since we stopped using thimerosal.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18799-rats-on-junk-food-pass-cancer-down-the-generations.html

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