Vaccines and autism: yet another dead link

By Phil Plait | January 26, 2009 10:44 am

We already know vaccines don’t cause autism. The antivaxxers yell loud and long, but their evidence is anecdotal and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. But because the forces of antiscience are so vocal, we need to keep restating the obvious.

So here’s more force behind the statement: an Italian study shows that thimerosal has essentially no effect on brain function in children who got a whooping cough vaccine.

Syringe, from http://www.flickr.com/photos/8499561@N02/2756332192/

1400 children who got a thimerosal-based vaccine for pertussis in the early 90s were tested for brain function impariments. The vaccines had different amounts of the mercury-based preservative in them (one had twice the amount of the other), so if thimerosal had any effect on the brain — like causing autism — then the children in the study should have clearly different results depending on what vaccine they got.

They didn’t, above what would be expected from chance variations. Even better, the study was randomized in such a way that outside factors like environment wouldn’t play a role, so antivaxxers cannot say it was something else that may be affecting these results.

Now let’s be clear: thimerosal has been known scientifically not to have any link to brain disorders for years (link goes to a Word doc), and the Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccine never contained thimerosal anyway. Antivaxxers wrongly targeted thimerosal as a health risk, and thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2001, but no reduction in autism spectrum disorder diagnoses occurred. In other words, thimerosal is not linked with autism.

Antivaxxers, not willing to let something like evidence sway them, turned instead to vaccines themselves, even though many studies have been made showing vaccines in general have no link to autism. Still, because this group is vocal and has larger-than-life spokesmen (and because it’s very easy to sway the media and public opinion when talking about sick kids, especially because it’s so easy to confuse correlation with causation), antivaxxers still have influence in this country. That’s one reason why we’re seeing outbreaks of preventable diseases.

And kids are dying.

Don’t expect any of this to slow them down; antivaxxers tend to be impervious to evidence-based arguments. As with creationism, quack medicine, and all the other antiscience forces, all we can do is continue to show the public the truth, keep making ourselves heard, and make sure that when nonsense is presented as fact — especially when our children’s health is concerned — we do not tire. Lives are literally at risk.

Tip o’ the needle to AggieAstronaut (and several others who also notified me later). Syringe picture from ZaldyImg’s Flickr photostream, used under the Creative Commons license.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking
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Comments (137)

  1. Tomas

    Nice one Mr. BA. Keep these comin’. I’m hungry for more.

  2. Wes

    Be prepared for an influx of babbling anti-vax trolls ready to accuse you of conspiring with Nazi Illuminati Space Aliens to murder children and stomp on puppies.

  3. Keep up the good fight!

    One teensy weensie point: you write “it’s so easy to confuse correlation with causation”, which is of course true. But it implies that there is a correlation, and this is what the Italian study precisely falsifies! In fact, I would say that causation can never be proven scientifically, only made plausible by demonstrating the relevant correlations.

    Done nitpicking now. :-)

  4. HIRH

    Since I obviously love playing the role of the devil’s advocate… here are my thoughts on the subject.

    1. Thimerosal can cross the blood-brain barrier and remains in the system of a normal tot for approx a week following a vaccine. However, in a child that has a genetic problem which inhibits their ability to rid the body of the mercury compound, it can accumulate in the body until detox steps are taken.
    2. Children are not routinely screened for such problems, and therefore it goes undiagnosed and untreated.
    3. The way you present the data above sounds as if they had only received the one vaccine when they really measured the thimerosal content in the combined vaccines given.

    4. The study sounds promising but I have to question their outcome… only 1 child with autism out of 1403! The incidence of autism in the US is 1:150! That seems somewhat suspect. If we compare to the average rate in the US, they should have found atleast 9 children with autism which would be an acceptable normal outcome.

    5. Are they premising then that perhaps vaccinations might actually decrease the chances of autism? That’s something I would certainly check out if my study found 8/9 less autism in the study of vaccinated children!

    I couldn’t find any data regarding incidence statistics in Italy but that would be interesting to find out!

    And again I’m pro-vaccine, but it’s seriously important to analyze the possibilities before declaring it scientific law. Studies do have flaws.

  5. davidlpf

    How was autism defined was it sever autism or like in states it was autism spectrum disorder. As I understand the reason why autism is so high now is because things like aspergers syndrome are included, that is where you get the 1:150.

  6. Michelle

    aah yes.. No evidence ever stops the fools…

    I just hope that article of yours will wake up at least one parent.

  7. HIRH

    Good point David. Although, its difficult as a MH professional to write Aspergers off as not influenced by the same cause.

  8. Bystander

    Silly question…. I don’t suppose any links between pollution and human birth/development defects have been made?

  9. Jeff

    I think it’s nice that this is a European study, not an American one. Anti-vaccination people say all kinds of crazy things, and one of those things is that the world has acknowledged vaccination causes autism, except the United States, which ‘ignores data’. This is completely false (no surprise here…), but it’s also very ironic. It’s the world that is moving on and America that is stuck researching the same thing over and over again (although this particular research thing is from Italy, not America). It is unfortunate that a very small group of people are being so detrimental to society. It is fortunate, however, that in the past, science has always prevailed. And on the subject of what causes autism, science prevails, and will prevail.

  10. Noel Bullard

    Thank you for pointing out yet another study that shows that autism and vaccines are not related. I would love to see someone make the statement that anyone with common sense can tell you. Autism is not on the rise in the US, the DIAGNOSES of AUTISM SPECTRUM DISORDERS is on the rise- there is a huge distinction between the two. Most people confuse “rainman” autism and assume when they are talking to someone who has a child with ASD, they are dealing with the same issues. In fact, the most typical ASD diagnosis is Aspergers ( where children are usually exceptionally intelligent) and PDD, and PDD is simply a catchall for most children that show signs of developmental disorders, but there is no clear signs that the child can be diagnosed as autistic. Here is a great way to understand why diagnoses is on the rise…if you start diagnose everyone who sneezes with a cold, the entire world would have a cold, even if it’s only allergies.
    I cannot tell you how many mothers I have met ( most ‘crunch granola anti vaccine moms’) who tell me there child is autistic, and when pressed on the issue, they admit that their 3 year old is diagnosed with PDD because they didn’t talk until they were 2. This is not an autistic child, this is an example of a parent who wants their child to be a ‘special snowflake’, and a child who might be developmentally delayed, but that does not mean that the child will forever have problems with communication. Anti-vaccine people will use the statistics of autism diagnoses over and over again, but never look at facts. THOSE 1:150 children are NOT ‘rainman’ autistics- they are not going to go to a special school, they are most likely not even going to need special education.

  11. MaryAnn

    I don’t know about you guys, but personally, I’m getting sick of the CDC using my tax dollars for no other reason than to exonerate themselves. Phil, do you know if the Italians were injecting their newborns with thimerosal?

  12. Phil you should check out this article quote at Rational Moms:

    http://www.rationalmoms.com/2009/01/13/dr-offit-in-the-times/

    Many doctors now argue that reporters should treat the antivaccine lobby with the same indifference they do Holocaust deniers, AIDS deniers and those claiming to have proof that NASA faked the Moon landings.

  13. isles

    HIRH wrote:

    “1. Thimerosal can cross the blood-brain barrier and remains in the system of a normal tot for approx a week following a vaccine. However, in a child that has a genetic problem which inhibits their ability to rid the body of the mercury compound, it can accumulate in the body until detox steps are taken.”

    Um, evidence, please?

    “5. Are they premising then that perhaps vaccinations might actually decrease the chances of autism? That’s something I would certainly check out if my study found 8/9 less autism in the study of vaccinated children!”

    No, no one is saying that. The point of the study, as I understand it, having only read the abstract so far, is that there are no clinically significant differences in neuropsychological function between children who received lower and higher amounts of thimerosal in their childhood vaccines.

  14. 4. The study sounds promising but I have to question their outcome… only 1 child with autism out of 1403! The incidence of autism in the US is 1:150! That seems somewhat suspect. If we compare to the average rate in the US, they should have found atleast 9 children with autism which would be an acceptable normal outcome.

    Saying the incidence is 1:150 does not mean that 1 out of every 150 individuals will have the condition. To assume that variations in this number across sample sizes *don’t* exist is bad science. They shouldn’t have found “at least 9” – they found exactly as many as there were. The statistics don’t dictate, they report.

  15. I_am_reality

    What a shock – an AP story from reporter Carla Johnson touting the safety of vaccines in a study from the Journal of Pediatrics. And wait it has a quote from Dr. Paul Offit who makes vaccines for a living. I am shocked. Shocked.

    I believe she has a quota to file a story like this every few months. Here is Johson’s job description:

    “She focuses primarily on the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics and other journals published in the Chicago area. She covers any newsworthy research from those journals as well as the AMA.”

    I thinks she needs to get out of the office sometime and maybe talk to some parents whose kids were turned upside down directly after having their vaccines. And she had her chance. I know she didn’t write a story when 8,000 parents marched on Washington DC this past summer to protest against vaccines. No story from Carla on that one. (And yes that is the Jenny McCarthy “Green Our Vaccines” group so I will save you the time. Yes – Jenny does not have a PhD. She posed for Playboy. And she lives in Hollywood. She has no right to talk about anything. There I stole your thunder.)

    This Italian survey would be a useful study except kids in the US receive more than one vaccine. They receive multiple vaccines and there have been no independent studies of the full impact of all vaccines.

    And if you don’t believe me, here is a section from a bill before Congress – Bill H.R. 2832 which points this out.

    “Individual vaccines are tested for safety, but little safety testing has been conducted for interaction effects of multiple vaccines. The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes…Public confidence in the management of public health can only be maintained if these State government-mandated, mass vaccination programs — (A) are tested rigorously and in their entirety against all reasonable safety concerns; and (B) are verified in their entirety to produce superior health outcomes.”

    And this all was to be expected from Phil and his blog. Again, all you vaccine happy talkers – get out from in front of the computer or from the library or the lab and talk to people. Find out for yourselves. Do some research on your own. After you hear from parents directly, I think you may change you thoughts. And then after full and independent studies are taken – like the one called for by Congress – study the issue some more before you arrogantly dismiss the views of thousands of people who know they are right on this issue because they have seen it with their own eyes.

  16. MaryAnn

    “No Difference in Obesity Rates in those That Eat Two Bowls of Ice cream a Day as Opposed to Those who eat Three”. Once and for all, ice cream does not cause obesity.

    What does worrying about having your child injected repeatably with organic mercury have to do with the Holocoust?

    Also, ethylmercury rapidilly clears the blood, not the body. Unfortunatley, a large percentage of it ends up in the brain as Hg++ following de-alkylization of the ethylmercury compound.

  17. Michelle

    @Juan: the problem with doing that is that these people are killing. Holocaust deniers deny awful past deaths, AIDS deniers can deny all they want but AIDS is a sad reality…

    but the anti-vax movement is pretty big and killing lots of kids RIGHT NOW by reviving dead diseases! Diseases that were considered erradicated are now back!

  18. MaryAnn

    Michelle, There are now 17 different vaccines (67 injections needed) that protect against these killer diseases. Are you up to date on all these wonderful life protecters? If not, why? How about you other folks?

  19. Todd W.

    @MaryAnn

    Please cite a source that ethylmercury goes to the brain and does not clear the body.

    I have found the following abstract of a study looking at the pharmacokinetics of ethylmercury, from the study “Mercury levels in newborns and infants after receipt of thimerosal-containing vaccines.” by ME Pichichero, A Gentile, N Giglio, V Umido, T Clarkson, E Cernichiari, G Zareba, C Gotelli, M Gotelli, L Yan, J Treanor, emphasis added:

    OBJECTIVES: Thimerosal is a mercurial preservative that was widely used in multidose vaccine vials in the United States and Europe until 2001 and continues to be used in many countries throughout the world. We conducted a pharmacokinetic study to assess blood levels and elimination of ethyl mercury after vaccination of infants with thimerosal-containing vaccines. METHODS: Blood, stool, and urine samples were obtained before vaccination and 12 hours to 30 days after vaccination from 216 healthy children: 72 newborns (group 1), 72 infants aged 2 months (group 2), and 72 infants aged 6 months (group 3). Total mercury levels were measured by atomic absorption. Blood mercury pharmacokinetics were calculated by pooling the data on the group and were based on a 1-compartment first-order pharmacokinetics model. RESULTS: For groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively, (1) mean +/- SD weights were 3.4 +/- 0.4, 5.1 +/- 0.6, and 7.7 +/- 1.1 kg; (2) maximal mean +/- SD blood mercury levels were 5.0 +/- 1.3, 3.6 +/- 1.5, and 2.8 +/- 0.9 ng/mL occurring at 0.5 to 1 day after vaccination; (3) maximal mean +/- SD stool mercury levels were 19.1 +/- 11.8, 37.0 +/- 27.4, and 44.3 +/- 23.9 ng/g occurring on day 5 after vaccination for all groups; and (4) urine mercury levels were mostly nondetectable. The blood mercury half-life was calculated to be 3.7 days and returned to prevaccination levels by day 30. CONCLUSIONS: The blood half-life of intramuscular ethyl mercury from thimerosal in vaccines in infants is substantially shorter than that of oral methyl mercury in adults. Increased mercury levels were detected in stools after vaccination, suggesting that the gastrointestinal tract is involved in ethyl mercury elimination. Because of the differing pharmacokinetics of ethyl and methyl mercury, exposure guidelines based on oral methyl mercury in adults may not be accurate for risk assessments in children who receive thimerosal-containing vaccines.

    So, this study found that ethylmercury is, indeed, eliminated from the body pretty rapidly.

  20. A few months ago my doctor recommended that I get vaccinated for pneumonia, the flu, and get a tetanus booster shot. I got all three. The arm where I got the tetanus shot was incredibly painful for almost a week afterward, but it’s better than getting tetanus.

  21. Charles Boyer

    I have coined a phrase for anti-vax apologists: “pseudo-thinkers.”

    They try every trick in the book, save for double-blind peer-reviewed studies, to make their point. They throw out conspiracy theories (Big Pharma, CDC studies to exonerate themselves, etc.) followed quickly by unproven (or worse) disproven statements that take advantage of the under-informed.

    Theirs is not the realm of rationale thinking. It is the realm of pseudo-thinking, or what Feynman called Cargo Cult Science.

    They are leaving dead bodies in their wake, and they are stealing the lives of children with their hysterical, uninformed and dangerous thinking.

    In short, they are murderers.

  22. HIRH

    I was asked for evidence. Since I’ve been studying this for years now… I really can’t recall all the articles and texts I’ve read on the subject. While I’d love to sight my neuropsychology text book that includes what types of materials can cross the blood-brain barrier, I seem to have sold it. So here’s the next best thing… a quick google search produced a list of real articles supporting my statements:

    Here is one study that explains how thimerasol crosses the BBB (^ Clarkson TW, Vyas JB, Ballatori N (2007). “Mechanisms of mercury disposition in the body”. Am J Ind Med 50 (10): 757–64. doi:10.1002/ajim.20476. PMID 17477364.)

    You can also look up the study that looked for the half life of thimerasol in toddlers (Pichichero ME, Gentile A, Giglio N et al. (2008). “Mercury levels in newborns and infants after receipt of thimerosal-containing vaccines”. Pediatrics 121 (2): e208–14. doi:10.1542/peds.2006-3363. PMID 18245396. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/121/2/e208. Lay summary – University of Rochester Medical Center (2008-01-30).)

    For those who don’t understand half-life. It is the amount of time it takes for approx 50% of the substance to naturally degrade.

    You should also read this article about a little girl with mitochondrial enzyme deficiency who did develop autism symptoms after recieving vaccines and won her court case. (Offit PA (2008). “Autism revisited—the Hannah Poling case”. N Engl J Med 358 (20): 2089–91. doi:10.1056/NEJMp0802904. PMID 18480200. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/358/20/2089. )

    Now I’m done doing your research for you. If you want to make grandiose statements based on reports from a Science magazine and not from a perr-reviewed professional Journal itself… go ahead, but atleast DO the research first.

    Oh, and the question about whether they were going to study whether vaccines prevent autism was a joke. I honestly can’t believe you took that seriously.

    And Robin, as a researcher, if your sample produces a dissimilar outcome than the general population you have to question the validity of the population you chose and being able to generalize your outcome to the overall population.

  23. Keep those studies coming, Phil. If we all write about it and talk about it enough, maybe other parents will realize that the real dangers of not vaccinating your children are greater than the non-existent dangers of their developing autism.

  24. Skylos

    Children are dying? Please don’t throw that around like it means something. Yes, people are dying. Children are dying. They always have died and always will die, forever and ever, so far as risk exists. We need to get off the idea, as a culture, that some level of death is not acceptable – it will happen regardless. Risks exist, and people will die. Welcome to life, enjoy it while you’re here, ’cause you, yes YOU, are going to die. And the kids are in the same boat.

  25. @Michelle:
    A vaccine killed my sister. A vaccine killed my niece. I was vaccinated, and despite that fact I almost died from the Measles.

    I am a scientifically-minded person, but what do I do? I’m not denying the Halocaust. I know there were moon landings. I am no crazy person. My family members are very dead. Undeniably so. I almost died because the same injection that killed my sister didn’t even protect me from its intended target.

    How do I reconcile it?

  26. Jeff

    “THOSE 1:150 children are NOT ‘rainman’ autistics- they are not going to go to a special school, they are most likely not even going to need special education.”

    Yo, let’s not go that far. I have Asperger Syndrome and I ended up going to a special high school. Later I found out that a classmate of mine at that school also had Asperger Syndrome. The reason for this was that we both didn’t know we had Asperger’s until we switched to high school, that’s when we started getting all kinds of . . . ‘problems’. Knowing you are autistic at the earliest possible age is very important because it makes a huge difference.

  27. HIRH

    Having read some of the comments. I wanted to make sure to emphasize that there are children (obviously in the minority of the population) who CAN NOT remove toxic chemicals from their bodies without medical intervention. It is THOSE children that are at risk from the heavy metals in vaccines. Please don’t write off those children’s parents as “nut cases” for not vaccinating their children.

  28. Michelle

    @MaryAnn: I am. I just want people to realize that there are criminals out there killing their babies.

  29. Todd W.

    @HIRH

    The first study you cite, at least in the abstract, does not provide proof that ethylmercury crosses the BBB. Unless there is something in the full text that specifies with certainty that EM does pass the BBB, this study cannot be used to support such a claim. It states, emphasis added:

    Methylmercury, and presumably its closely related chemical cousin ethylmercury, cross cell membranes as complexes with small molecular weight thiol compounds, entering the cell in part as a cysteine complex on the large neutral amino acid carriers and exiting the cell in part as a complex with reduced glutathione on endogenous carriers.

    You said:

    For those who don’t understand half-life. It is the amount of time it takes for approx 50% of the substance to naturally degrade.

    Actually, when discussing the half-life of a substance within the body, it refers to the time it takes for the body to eliminate 50% of the substance. So, it is not how long it takes 50% of thimerosal to degrade into mercury and other substances. Rather, it is how long it takes the body to eliminate 50% of the thimerosal from the body.

    Regarding the Hannah Poling case, that was settled based on the legal requirements of evidence (i.e., more likely than not), rather than to a scientific level of certainty. IIRC, her condition was likely to have been triggered sooner or later, just that the vaccines may have triggered it earlier.

  30. Mu

    HIRH, you are aware that the “scientific” article on the Poling case was written by the father of the child while he was actively suing for money, and that the editor of the journal publicly denounced the author for hiding his numerous conflicts of interest?
    And that Todd about 10 answers before yours quoted the “mercury in toddlers: study already, and it just doesn’t support any of your claims?

  31. Wyrd

    RE HIRH: The burden of proof lies with the one making the extraordinary claim. But we can’t agree on whose claim is extraordinary in this case.

    It would really be great if every person on the planet had the same level of access to scientific and medical information. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The links you cited don’t work when I click on them (I get Page Not Found). That could mean they’re fraudulent. But what it probably means is that you’d have to be logged in for those links to work. I would have to subscribe to those journals for those links to work for me. I understand that everything costs money, but without open access to the information, it’s really hard to make a case.


    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  32. JohnR

    This was a really stupid study, and only included 1 individual who experienced an effect of concern – a predisposition towards injury leading to autism. A more thoughtful approach would have looked for an additional set of kids that had not been exposed to thimeresol at all. Given how lucky they were in picking this autism free group, I can only imagine that including an unvaxed group would have have made this a grand slam, although still a flawed one.

    One thing is absolutely clear. In no way does the design of this study lend credibility to claims that multi-dose vaccines packaged with thimeresol are as safe as thimeresol free vaccines in single dose packaging. How can one use a study that compares kids who received thimeresol to other kids who received thimeresol in order to make a safety statement about thimeresol? Could this be a little like comparing kids who were hit by cars with those who were hit by trucks in testing the safety of cheap brake pads?

    And hold on – Why are the lower scores for girls dismissed as a fluke? I assume this result was unexpected, but it is what it is. Why not explore this further? Doesn’t this study support a statement that increased levels of thimeresol exposure results in lower vocabulary levels in girls?

    The other obvious point is that autism rates in this study are almost 1/10th of what we see in the US. If this population is not susceptible to autism, then perhaps they are not susceptible to damage from underlying environmental causes, whether that be thimeresol or anything else. Since the study only involved one case of autism, it is really hard to say that it says anything about vaccines and autism, other than that we see different results in different regions. Do Italians in the US experience different rates of autism?

  33. bensmyson

    I’m sorry but according to all vaccine packaging and inserts, no one makes the claim that their product is safe. Some are safer than others but all carry a risk of injury, particularly if administered wrong.

    This study of 1,403 Italians supposedly shows no direct brain injuries caused from a preservative used in vaccines apparently all of these subjects, save one, grew up to be normal and healthy ten years later. Perhaps as one post suggests sarcastically, maybe the preservative is beneficial to the human body, particularly an infant’s body.

    To state that vaccines are safe is incorrect.

    Case in point, ProQuad a MMRV made by Merck is required to state as an adverse reaction that the product may cause seizures and encephalopathy.

    http://www.fda.gov/cber/label/proquadlb.pdf

  34. Todd W.

    @bensmyson

    When people say that vaccines are “safe”, or that any medicine is “safe”, it is in a relative sense, based on the overall risk of injury from the medicine, risk of injury from the disease, and benefit from the medicine. For example, most chemo medicine is “safe”, as defined by the FDA regulations, for a chemo patient, because the benefits outweigh the risks. For a healthy individual, a chemo medicine would not be defined as “safe”.

    Also, regarding listed adverse reactions. Manufacturers are required by regulation to list all adverse events associated with their product. Proof that the product caused the adverse reaction is not required, particularly for post-marketing reports and revisions of the labeling. Now, the manufacturer may want to conduct further studies to determine whether or not the reaction really is caused by the product and, if so, what relative chance that reaction has of occurring, but if people are calling them and saying XYZ happened after using their product, they need to report that to the FDA and, under consultation with the Agency, revise their labeling. Most of the reactions listed are backed up by studies as being causally associated, but there may also be some that are listed more as a safety net than because of any causal relationship, simply because, it isn’t known for certain, particularly in the case of extremely rare reactions that would not be found in a clinical trial.

  35. Wes

    David Says:
    January 26th, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    @Michelle:
    A vaccine killed my sister. A vaccine killed my niece. I was vaccinated, and despite that fact I almost died from the Measles.

    I am a scientifically-minded person, but what do I do? I’m not denying the Halocaust. I know there were moon landings. I am no crazy person. My family members are very dead. Undeniably so. I almost died because the same injection that killed my sister didn’t even protect me from its intended target.

    How do I reconcile it?

    David, comments like these are no help to anyone trying to gain a rational footing on the issue. I’m very sorry you lost your family members, but the fact is that when suffering from stress or grief humans are especially psychologically prone to seeing patterns where none exist, and seeing causes in mere coincidences. Because of this, none of what you’re saying constitutes solid evidence which could logically (rather than psychologically) convince others to distrust vaccines.

    I’m not saying you’re a crazy person. I’m saying you’re human, and humans systematically make mistakes. The systematic tendency towards making cognitive errors becomes even stronger when deeply felt emotions—such as love for a family member—are involved. That’s why skeptics are skeptical. It’s not because they think you’re crazy. It’s because they recognize how easy it is to make cognitive errors and fall for logical fallacies.

    Anyways, you ask how to reconcile with these deaths. I can’t tell you how, but I can say that blaming vaccines without proper scientific evidence is not the right way. It’s normal to look anywhere one can for someone or something to blame when something tragic happens. But that is an urge which is best resisted.

  36. To state that vaccines are safe is incorrect.
    Case in point, ProQuad a MMRV made by Merck is required to state as an adverse reaction that the product may cause seizures and encephalopathy.

    They’re safe from a statistical point of view. You’ll find few medicines in the US that don’t carry a lengthy list of dire side effects. That’s due to increasing conservatism in labeling requirements, not because the medicines are inherently dangerous when used properly.

    For example, my bottle of ibuprofen lists hives, facial swelling, asthma attacks, skin reddening, shock, rash, blisters, and stomach bleeding. That doesn’t mean any of those symptoms have a particularly high likelihood of happening, though.

    If you only define as “safe” only those things which have zero risk, then the word has become a meaningless abstraction, like “perfect”.

  37. Hi Todd! There is a Canadian scientist, Graham George, who worked at the Stanford Linear Accelerator a number of years ago. He used the accelerator and the lab facilities there to demonstrate that mercury in fish took less than an hour to reach the brain. I heard him talk about it at SLAC. He also mentioned ethyl mercury in the same context. His comment was that he doubted that there was much difference between the two when it comes to how long it takes for the two substances to reach the brain. He would be an excellent source for all kinds of investigations on mercury. I have not seen the Italian study. So I cannot say anything about it. I definitely have questions about it. Birgit

  38. lsmw

    The studies that measured the blood content of mercury after vaccines ignored the fact that mercury leaves the blood between 24 and 72 hours. Where does it go? It goes to the organs and tissues. Look at science that is not paid for by those for self protection. The late Dr. Frank Engley studied thimerosal as early as 1942, his studies showed thimerosal damages tisues at a nanomolar level. Dr. Engley made presentation to the FDA for over 50 years regarding the dangers of thimerosal. The only study that will prove thimerosal does not cause autism will be to study the autism population. Cherry picking is what was done in population based studies and the Italians even admit it with including only one individual with autism in there study. If you don’t look at the problem you will not find the answer. I would like the questioned answered on how all these autistic children have porphyrin profiles that show they are mercury toxic. I’m not renewing my subscript to Discover, you have sold out science.

  39. Lynette Rorer

    The California reports on incidence of autism have always included only cases of classic autism, not Asperger’s Syndrome or PDD. If these less severe types of autism were included in the numbers, the numbers would be truly staggering. Growing up, my family knew NO other families with autistic kids. Now every family I know knows someone with an autistic child. The problem goes beyond autism though. There are increases in virtually ALL autoimmune diseases – if you’ve ever been to a kids sporting event and counted the inhalers on the sidelines you’ll understand what I mean.
    Studies can be concocted to prove any point you want to make. Most all the autism/vaccine studies have been skewed somehow.
    For me this is a common sense issue that says “Injecting the world’s second most potent neurotoxin into newborn babies = idiocy”

  40. Charles Boyer

    ^ Interesting.

    “There may be reason for cautious optimism. The mercury in fish may not
    be as toxic as many people think…but there is a lot we need to find out
    before we can make this conclusion,” said author Graham George, who
    along with author Ingrid Pickering recently relocated from the Stanford
    Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory in Menlo Park, CA to the University of
    Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.

    see: mailman2.u.washington.edu/pipermail/phnutr-l/2003-August/006337.html

  41. Michelle

    @David: Sad for your loss but you had a terrible fluke. If you were the high statistic people would be dying in the streets.

  42. Dan

    There are definitely people who have negative consequences of vaccine. Obviously, if it happens to you or a loved one the risk is 100%. But when you span that out to the population as a whole, Michelle is correct, people would be dying by the hundreds.

    That simply isn’t happening. Saying “Vaccines killed my brother” does not mean that vaccines in general kill people. Certain individuals, for whatever reason, can be harmed. You can die from taking Tylenol under the right circumstances, should be ban Tylenol?

    Of course, there are people who are risk for vaccines. My brother for example suffers from a suppressed immune system due to a chromosome disorder. Live virus vaccines can potentially be harmful to him because of this. Of course, if he gets the disease the vaccine prevents…that is a problem as well. My parents chose to vaccinate him. It was a difficult call, higher risk from the vaccine, but also a higher risk from the disease. They opted not to rely on herd immunity.

    To this day they receive the random email from anti-vaxx groups telling them to “Join the Fight” because the vaccines CAUSED his disorder. Of course they never explain how the vaccines deleted part of a chromosome.

    But we shouldn’t attack all people who don’t vaccinate as perpetrating pseudo-science. For some people there may be genetic disorders that make vaccines as risky or even more risky than risking the disease itself.

  43. Something is bugging me about that study. Let’s take a random sampling of 1,400 kids. Assuming an ASD rate of 1 in 166 that means we would expect ~8 of those kids to have some type of autistic spectrum disorder and perhaps even ~1 of them to have full-blown autism, just by chance. So when they say the study didn’t reveal any brain disorders are they saying none of the 1,400 kids came down with autism? Or are they saying that there weren’t more autism cases relative to the control group (also 1,400 kids?)? Not sure what they are claiming.

  44. Dan

    @ Tom Marking;

    It doesn’t quite work like that. If you take a random sampling of 1400 people that doesn’t meant 8 of them will have autism. It means that on average 8 put of 1400 people have autism. But that doesn’t mean every random group of 1400 will result in 8 people with autism.

    It’s like if a toy company says “1 in 10 toys are special”, you can’t go to a store, buy 10 toys and be assured of getting the special toy. You simply have a 10% chance of getting it at random.

  45. David M.

    Not a big shock that AP’s Carla Johnson posted yet another story promoting a limited study on one vaccine from the Journal of Pediatrics. And not a shock that Dr. Paul Offit was quoted as an “expert” on this, even though he is not a pediatrician, does not treat children with autism and sold a vaccine for $108 Million. Not very fair and balanced to use Dr. Profit for “objective” commentary, I would say.

    This story and study are yet another example of “vaccine happy talk” in which the reality of thousands of parents are marginalized. AP’s Johnson has no problems citing these types of studies while not writing one word about the recent march on Washington in which 8,000 parents protested against the safety of vaccines. (This is the Jenny McCarthy Green Our Vaccines March. And in the interest of full disclosure. She lives in Hollywood, once posed for Playboy and does not have a PhD.) However, she has experienced the damages of vaccines in her family, which is not the case of Offit and many other “experts.”

    I, like many others, including members of Congress, are waiting for an independent study which examines the full slate of vaccines given to today’s children. The following is from a bill in front of Congress H. R. 2832. This bill would direct the Secretary of HHS to conduct or support a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States.

    “Securing the health of the Nation’s children is our most important concern as parents and stewards of the Nation’s future. The Nation’s vaccine program has greatly reduced human suffering from infectious disease by preventing and reducing the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases. Childhood immunizations are an important tool in the pursuit of childhood health.” But, the bill notes, “The number of immunizations administered to infants, pregnant women, children, teenagers, and adults has grown dramatically over recent years. The incidence of chronic, unexplained diseases such as autism, learning disabilities, and other neurological disorders appears to have increased dramatically in recent years…Individual vaccines are tested for safety, but little safety testing has been conducted for interaction effects of multiple vaccines. The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.”

    Let’s fund the study as called for by Congress. Would be great to see this type of study done. It has never been done and I think until it is done, this controversy will only continue.

  46. Todd W.

    @Birgit Calhoun

    Do you have a link to the study? Did his study only examine methyl mercury, and he just guessed that ethylmercury would behave similarly? Without actually using ethylmercury in his study, such a guess is premature. As the abstract I posted suggests, due to the differences in elimination half-life of the two compounds, it is likely that they do not travel through the body in the same manner, either.

    @lsmw

    Can you provide a link to the study done by Engley? Was his study replicated by anyone else, and if so, can you provide a link to that study as well? Thank you.

    @Lynette Rorer

    Better diagnosis and treatment (i.e., early intervention), as well as greater resources for schools, can lead to more inclusion, and thus, more exposure, to children on the autism spectrum. Education and knowledge about autism has also increased, meaning that more people will understand what it is. It is also possible that some families who have kids with behavioral issues may seek out a doctor that will diagnose the child as having some manner of PDD, thereby getting more resources from their school, as well as alleviating any sense of personal responsibility for the behavior issues. Casual observances among acquaintances, unfortunately, are not good data; they’re just anecdotes. Furthermore, the more aware a person is of something, the more they will take notice of it, where they wouldn’t have before. This can create the illusion of greater occurrence, when the rate has been the same or close to the same all along. Now, it may be that some of these conditions really are on the rise, but that does not necessarily mean that the rise is caused by vaccines. Just some thoughts.

  47. Richard

    Well, one time on one of these “anti-vax” threads I posted a comment that autism was all genetics. Well, according to an article, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a researcher, says it may not be necessarily so.

    The explanation is that California’s high autism rate can’t be explained by better diagnosis alone. (Point for Anti-Vaxxers.) Something else is causing the disease (Another point for A-Vs.) Also, that the time has come for the government to look outside of the genetic-cause paradigm. (And the A-Vs are close to home.)

    The problem, Hertz-Picciotto claims, is that chemicals are to blame. (The A-Vs go for the kill.) Simply put, pollutants in the environment may be to blame for changes in the brain that could lead to autism–while the baby is in-utero. Yes, chemical agents may be causing developmental problems while the mom is still pregnant. (And the A-Vs lose the ball.)

    If true, then it can be assumed that a) genetics have a part; and b) a fetus’s exposure to chemical agents may also have a part, but before birth.

    Hertz-Picciotto looked at the data regarding the upswing in autism cases and better diagnosis and found it to be lacking. So she went looking for a new question: might it be the environment? The article emphasizes this fact: thimerosal had been “linked” to autism, it was removed from most vaccines in 1999, the rate of autism has increased since 1999.

    Did you catch that part: thimerosal had been “linked” to autism, it was removed from most vaccines in 1999, the rate of autism has increased since 1999. Therefore, look for something in a pregnant woman’s environment that has been on the increase that may impair neurological development.

    And stop being a “True Believer” in “Big Pharma” conspiracies. “True belief” is a shackle willing to keep you from thinking freely.

  48. Richard

    D’oh, I was also going to add that the article in question comes from Discovery Magazine’s “rival,” so I didn’t know if it was okay to post it.

  49. Todd W.

    @Richard

    Another thing I noted about the Hertz-Picciotto study that looked at the autism rates in CA (at least, from the abstract of the UC-Davis study since I couldn’t read the full text), was that they used the CA Dept. of Developmental Services, “which coordinates services for individuals with specific developmental disorders” (Hertz-Picciotto and Delwiche, “The Rise in Autism and the Role of Age at Diagnosis”). This suggests to me that the rise could be due, not to an increase in incidence, but to an increase in claims for services. The methodology seems to be flawed.

  50. David M.

    Still waiting for my original post to run. Do you just run those who drink the “vaccine happy talk” Kool Aid or do you allow people to express their opinions on this blog?

    Here it is again, in case you lost it.

    Not a big shock that AP’s Carla Johnson posted yet another story promoting a limited study on one vaccine from the Journal of Pediatrics. And not a shock that Dr. Paul Offit was quoted as an “expert” on this, even though he is not a pediatrician, does not treat children with autism and sold a vaccine for $108 Million. Not very fair and balanced to use Dr. Profit for “objective” commentary, I would say.

    This story and study are yet another example of “vaccine happy talk” in which the reality of thousands of parents are marginalized. AP’s Johnson has no problems citing these types of studies while not writing one word about the recent march on Washington in which 8,000 parents protested against the safety of vaccines. (This is the Jenny McCarthy Green Our Vaccines March. And in the interest of full disclosure. She lives in Hollywood, once posed for Playboy and does not have a PhD.) However, she has experienced the damages of vaccines in her family, which is not the case of Offit and many other “experts.”

    I, like many others, including members of Congress, are waiting for an independent study which examines the full slate of vaccines given to today’s children. The following is from a bill in front of Congress H. R. 2832. This bill would direct the Secretary of HHS to conduct or support a comprehensive study comparing total health outcomes, including risk of autism, in vaccinated populations in the United States with such outcomes in unvaccinated populations in the United States.

    “Securing the health of the Nation’s children is our most important concern as parents and stewards of the Nation’s future. The Nation’s vaccine program has greatly reduced human suffering from infectious disease by preventing and reducing the outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases. Childhood immunizations are an important tool in the pursuit of childhood health.” But, the bill notes, “The number of immunizations administered to infants, pregnant women, children, teenagers, and adults has grown dramatically over recent years. The incidence of chronic, unexplained diseases such as autism, learning disabilities, and other neurological disorders appears to have increased dramatically in recent years…Individual vaccines are tested for safety, but little safety testing has been conducted for interaction effects of multiple vaccines. The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.”

    Let’s fund the study as called for by Congress. Would be great to see this type of study done. It has never been done and I think until it is done, this controversy will only continue.

  51. Richard

    @Todd W,

    It may be just that, but such a thing needs to be reviewed through journals and such. If in fact the methodology is flawed, their peers will find it. The case may be flawed, but what if the question “is it the environment, too?” is still valid?

    Someone once said of the great “Science Conspiracy,” trying to get a group of scientists to agree is like trying to herd cats. So far, no one I know of has successfully herded cats like so many sheep. Neither has anyone been able to successfully get scientist to conspire on anything. I digress.

    But autism rates have not dropped since the removal of thimerosal in 1999. To make the claim “vaccines cauzez the autisms,” the anti-vaxxers have the burden-of-proof. What specifically in vaccines “causes” autism? Can this be better explained from other causes (like genetics and developmental problems)? Are you willing to accept that your position is wrong when there is not one shred of evidence to support it?

    Unfortunately, it seems like the anti-vaxxers don’t want to ask these questions of themselves, since they believe they already have the answer.

  52. Todd W.

    @Richard

    Agreed. There may be some environmental component. There is some research looking into this specifically, though from what I have heard (admittedly not a scientific manner) is that genetics play a significant role. I have also heard of a study that suggests increased levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid during pregnancy could be a risk factor for autism once the child is born.

    I wrote a paper on vaccines for a grad course, and one anti-vax blog I came across was the epitome of moving the goalposts. The author ranged across the spectrum from MMR, to thimerosal, to a combination of the two, to something along the lines of “even if thimerosal turns out wrong, there must be something else in the vaccine that causes autism”.

  53. David M, your comment got caught up in the spam filter. Not everything is a conspiracy theory.

  54. Watching the kooks dance around facts, ignore what disagrees with them, and believe, believe, believe is entertaining. Or at least it would be entertaining if it weren’t leading to more killing more people than they believe they’re “saving” from a disease that has no connection to their target. Wouldn’t it be awesome if these people put this much time, energy, and money into researching possible causes that aren’t dead ends?

  55. wench

    @David: I’m sorry for the loss of your family. And if you don’t want to answer, please don’t. But you stated that vaccines killed your family – may I ask how? Was it an allergic reaction, or some contaminant? Do you see a correlation between your family’s deaths and the current autism concerns? Death and autism are very different results; the only correlation I can see is that you could be arguing that vaccines could be dangerous.

    @Lynette: Your argument goes “Autism rates have gone up. We are all getting loads of immunizations, therefore the immunizations must be causing the autism”… This argument doesn’t work. See above arguments as to why, ok? Loads of other factors & changes in how vaccines are made mean it just can’t work logically.

    “Just look at the inhalers at a sports game” also doesn’t work; inhalers are not related to autism, they’re related to asthma. One study noted children exposed to animals early in life had a lower incidence of asthma, and children in hyper-clean environments had a higher incidence… our tendency to bleach every surface out of MRSA fear might give kids asthma, but vaccines won’t.

    Decisions based on fear are rarely good ones; and people who try to scare you with stories of their own personal demons are trying to keep you from thinking, trying to get you to react instead of consider first. It’s like someone pressing you to buy something now before it’s gone, and not giving you time to consider. Great salesmanship but very manipulative and not particularly logical.

  56. wench

    Hey Phil, can we get a widget thingie on here to subscribe to replies on posts? Like we’ll get e-mails containing all the posts on a thread so we know which ones we’re commenting on / interested in?

  57. Lawrence

    It does seem, like ID, that anti-vacc’ers will only be happy when the research confirms their own beliefs. You could do a million studies, all showing no link between vaccines & autism, but they will still spout the same old lines back at you. And if just one of them, out of a million, showed some link, they would latch on to it as the holy grail – that they were right all along (even those 999,999 other studies contradicted it).

    They won’t be happy until they are “right.” Regardless of how many children are adversely affected by diseases they should never get – like Whooping Cough, Measles, Mumps, HepB, etc.

    Of course, if (God, Gods or FSM forbid) we ever have an outbreak of Smallpox, I betcha they’ll be the first in line for the vaccine. And, I’m screwed, because I have Excema & cannot get the Smallpox Vaccine – and my son is in the same boat. So who do I get to complain to?

  58. AnthonyK

    The main problem with the anti-vaxxers is that no science, no study, no evicence, could possibly shake their conviction that vaccines (or maybe, just maybe, “envioronmental” factors) are to blame for an “epidemic” of autism. Any evidence, such as err…all of it, must be wrong or badly carried out. Add to that their paranoia about conspiracies and the repeated call for more studies and you have a situation where those of us who go for evidence-based medicine cannot possibly win the argment with them. I mean, these are people often racked with guilt because they think that if they are unlucky enough to have a child with learning difficulties then someone, or something, other than fate and genetics must be to blame. And that’s us – paid, as we all must be, by big Pharma, to spout lies.
    We can’t win the argument, no matter what we do.
    These parents are beyond help and reason. They often subject their children to untried, and untested, quack remedies in an effort to “cure” them, rather than accepting them for what and who they are.
    We need to reiterate, time and time again, that vaccines do not cause autism, but that they do prevent many diseases which once killed millions. Thanks for your work on this Phil. And if you have to regularly post threads such as this which rapidly get clogged up with anti-vax rants, then it’s a small price to pay.

  59. johnr

    The issue of thimeresol is not a vax or anti vax thing. Other preservative/packaging options are available. There is no safe level of mercury, it is intrinsically toxic. This study simply does not answer questions about thimeresol safety because it does not compare kids who did not receive any mercury in the same time period. This just goes to show how thoughtless and lazy the press is with stories on all sides of the question.

    The question is, how far do we let industry go to keep costs low? We should not use this study to answer that question.

  60. Charles Boyer

    AnthonyK, your summary captures the entire issue succinctly. Well done.

  61. @Dan “It doesn’t quite work like that. If you take a random sampling of 1400 people that doesn’t meant 8 of them will have autism. It means that on average 8 put of 1400 people have autism. But that doesn’t mean every random group of 1400 will result in 8 people with autism.”

    That’s true but when your sample only has 1 (?) autistic kid and you have reason to suspect the expected number should be ~8 that might be cause to think your sample is not random statistically speaking. Probably more likely and more deleterious to the validity of the study is that you have autistic kids in the sample that have not been detected. I’m not sure what protocols were used to detect autism – there is no medical technology that can do it. That’s why doing epidemiology concerning autism is notoriously tricky. I’m not convinced that this Italian study got it right.

  62. The irony is palpable when the anti-vaxxers make their claims that certain individuals (Offit, et. al.) are in the tank for big pharma when it is the anti-vax industry that now renders their claims as every bit as shill as what they complain about. If you share the opinion of the anti-vaxxers and think your proponents are doing it for completely altruistic reasons, you really need to look deep into yourself.

  63. It seems that anti-vaxxers would rather see other people’s children suffering and dying of diseases like measles, mumps, pox and whooping cough than admit that maybe, just maybe, they’re wrong on the vaccinations causing autism. No study will satisfy these people that doesn’t agree totally with their fantasy science.

  64. David M.

    A couple quick points for all the “Vaccine Happy Talkers”

    1- As the bill before Congress states: “The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.”

    Bring on that study as it has “NEVER” been done.

    2 – Instead of wildly speculating about anti-vaxxers and parents of autistic children. Why don’t you talk to some of them. You might get a whole new perspective on things. Sure beats sending links around or reading CDC studies and thinking you know everything.

    3 – And for those who have never actually talked to a parent whose had a child impacted by vaccines, here is some info for you to digest. My son has high levels of mercury, aluminum and other metals in his blood. He also has a low grade measles infection in his small intestine. He has never had measles in his life, aside from the live measles virus shot into him as part of the MMR vaccine, so it is likely this is how the measles got into his system, according to the doctors we have seen. The live measles virus in his small intestine is screwing up his digestive system and brain by causing swelling and his immune system is screwed up as well. We found this out by meeting with top doctors and specialists and undergoing all kinds of tests, exams, etc. According to the doctors, our son’s body was overload by too many vaccines, which impacted his immune system and digestive system and he is not able to remove and filter out toxins and other things that a normally functioning immune system could. This is impacting his development and we are trying everything to fix this.

    That is my reality. Maybe after reading this, you might understand things a little better from my side.

  65. Carton Jones

    “thimerosal had been “linked” to autism, it was removed from most vaccines in 1999, the rate of autism has increased since 1999”

    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!!

    Thimerosal was not removed from most vaccines in 1999. My daughter who was born in mid-2002 was offered mercury containing vaccines throughout her first year( we declined and waited for the ‘mostly mercury free’ ones to be ordered).

  66. Chris

    Actually, more accurately it was proposed in 1999 that thimerosal be removed from pediatric vaccines. They were mostly gone by after 2002.

    Still, that was nine years ago.

    In other countries, thimerosal started to be removed in 1992. They still have the same statistics of rising autism (depending on diagnostic criteria).

  67. Why is autism seen as such a horrific affliction that these people would gladly risk having their children DIE of preventable diseases? Those of you spouting off with your flawed theories and nonsense, please tell me. What is so bad that the alternative is to risk death for your child? Please. I want to know. Because I definitely don’t hear anyone disputing the fact that these diseases can kill or maim children.

  68. Jen

    Yet another flawed study that doesn’t take into account the use of antipyretics. (Hint: Tylenol depletes glutathione) What a surprise. This is getting all too predictable.

    Why they keep churning out these “thimerosal doesn’t cause autism” studies is beyond me. Hasn’t this been settled? Rates of autism don’t seem to have dropped since it was phased out, and in fact rates are continuing to climb. How many more of these do we need?

    Thimerosal is nothing but a red herring, and the folks at Johnson & Johnson are probably laughing their arses off watching the two “sides” duke it out.

    Quite a coincidence that autism rates skyrocketed right after aspirin was linked to Reye’s Syndrome and parents and pregnant/nursing women were told to use only tylenol, dontcha think?

  69. Todd W.

    @Jen

    Yep. Coincidence indeed. And that is all it is unless some valid, scientific evidence is presented that it is anything more than coincidence.

    And the reason these thimerosal studies keep coming out is because the anti-vax crowd keeps harping on it. Even though it has been removed from the majority of childhood vaccinations, it is still touted as a cause of autism, and they keep demanding that studies be done.

  70. Jen

    Yep. Coincidence indeed. And that is all it is unless some valid, scientific evidence is presented that it is anything more than coincidence.>>>>

    Some of us don’t have the luxury of waiting around for scientific evidence. Studies linking acetaminophen to asthma have been around for at least 10 years, and yet, no one seems to be discouraging its use. Sadly, more children will be harmed every single day because of this constant bickering over thimerosal.

    And the reason these thimerosal studies keep coming out is because the anti-vax crowd keeps harping on it.>>>

    Who cares? Do you think any of these studies are going to change their minds? It’s a complete waste of time and resources. Time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

  71. David M. said:

    And not a shock that Dr. Paul Offit was quoted as an “expert” on this, even though he is not a pediatrician

    What?

    Paul A. Offit, M.D., is a pediatrician specializing in infectious diseases, an internationally known expert on vaccines, immunology, and virology, the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases, and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

    David M.:

    sold a vaccine for $108 Million

    To borrow something from and earlier post by Phil concerning the nazism of Werner von Braun:

    So what?

    Because he made money off of a vaccine makes him unworthy of his medical opinion?? [sarcasm]Oh yes. Because if you make money off something that can save lives, you can’t possibly be a humanitarian who wants to make peoples’ quality of life better[/sarcasm]

  72. Todd W.

    @Jen

    I totally agree that it is a waste of time and resources. Just commenting on one of the reasons why these studies keep getting done.

    Studies linking acetaminophen to asthma have been around for at least 10 years

    Have a link to some of those studies? I think there have also been some studies that link reduced exposure to animals and over-sanitation to increased risk of asthma.

    Sadly, more children will be harmed every single day because of this constant bickering over thimerosal.

    Not sure how many will be harmed because of the bickering over thimerosal, but I’m sure there will be plenty that will not receive help from new research because of it.

  73. Jen

    Have a link to some of those studies?>>>

    I do, in fact.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11153577?ordinalpos=88&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10722764?ordinalpos=93&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12517240?ordinalpos=65&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12403878?ordinalpos=69&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11665870?ordinalpos=76&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15878691?ordinalpos=42&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735054?ordinalpos=43&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15706003?ordinalpos=45&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15649261?ordinalpos=47&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14711794?ordinalpos=55&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12911681?ordinalpos=58&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

    There’s many more on PubMed, but I have to run out now-no time to post more.

    Happy Reading!

  74. Todd W.

    @Jen

    1) Paracetamol sales and atopic disease in children and adults: an ecological analysis. – Inconclusive of an actual connection, as sales, rather than use, was examined.

    2) Frequent paracetamol use and asthma in adults. – Shows that acetaminophen might exacerbate asthma, but does not show a causal link. Also, it is unclear from the abstract whether higher acetaminophen use was due to some other condition that may have also contributed to more severe asthma.

    3) Paracetamol and asthma. – Appears to be more of a literature review and not an actual study.

    4) Paracetamol use in pregnancy and wheezing in early childhood. – Increased potential risk of wheezing if used during late pregnancy, but this would explain only about 1% of wheezing in early childhood.

    5) The use of analgesics in patients with asthma. – Another review, rather than a study, making recommendation, but not providing solid evidence.

    That’s all I have time to comment on for now. I’ll take a look at the rest later. So far, the first five links suggest that there may be a connection, but that it is either weak or that the effect is quite rare.

  75. AnthonyK

    No, David. It doesn’t work. It’s very sad that your son’s not well – but to go on claim that just because you claim that his illness is “vaccine impacted” doesn’t make it so – and even if it were true then your attempt to stop vaccination on these grounds is wrong, doubly so because you’re trying to play the “top that” sympathy vote. Yes, we can criticize your argument even if we can feel sympathy for your plight. And at least some of it’s crap – how do you know the measles vaccine in his gut is because he’s never been exposed to measles? I mean despite our best effort, measles is still out there even if vaccination has reduced its prevelance considerably:

    In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3–4 million persons in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400–500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis. Widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases in the United States compared with the pre-vaccine era.

    However, measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2006 there were 242,000 measles deaths worldwide—that equals about 663 deaths every day or 27 deaths every hour. If vaccinations were stopped, measles cases would return to pre-vaccine levels and hundreds of people would die from measles-related illnesses.

    That’s from the CDC website – but then, you don’t believe them, do you?
    Because, let’s cut to the chase – (And please, if you’re the exception to this rule, blame your “co-religionists” for their tactics)
    the anti-vax crowd are anti-science, anti-medicine, conspiracy nutters, who’ve convinced themselves that vaccination doesn’t work, that the diseases they prevent weren’t really serious and would have magically disappeared anyway, and that for some reason everyone who opposes this view is in the pay of big pharma and has been hoodwinked by them.
    Well, we believe that vaccination is one of the greatest benefits to humanity there ever has been. And we won’t see that halted by a bunch of crazies for whom no evidence, however oft-repeated or well-carried out, will ever be sufficient to remove their delusions.
    And once again, if this doesn’t apply to you I apologise, and would simply advise you to distance yourself from these nuts and devote yourself to the care of your son.

  76. Daryle

    Thank you to everyone who has posted your comments against vaccinations. I’m going to make this brief, because really there is so much good information out there about the dangers of vaccines, even right here on this page, that I don’t feel the need and don’t have the time to post them. I just want to say this:

    1. I do not deny the holocaust.
    2. I do not believe the moon landings were faked.
    3. I am not a creationist.
    4. I love and agree with *most* of what the BA has to say.

    Having said all of that, I do believe that vaccines are dangerous, even if they do not directly cause autism. I do NOT believe vaccines are necessary in a society such as ours (in my case, the United States) where we have abundant access to healthy foods (fresh organic fruits, vegetables, meats, not processed garbage you find in the frozen food section) and good healthy clean living conditions. If you take care of yourself, breast feed your children (to provide natural immunity during early years) and chose to live a healthy lifestyle, it is extremely unlikely that you will contract a terminal illness, even if you happen to be exposed to it. And if you do contract an illness (such as measles, chicken pox, etc.) you will surely fight it off and live on, with a healthy natural immunity.

    People call the anti-vaccine lobby “anti-science” and I will admit that there are people out there who make un-scientific and unsupported claims to further their cause. But regardless of that, it is unfair to dismiss all people who are against vaccines as being unscientific and unwilling to listen to reason. If you really want to know what is going on out there, FOLLOW THE MONEY. It is the drug makers who stand to gain a lot of money from vaccinations, and it is those same drug makers who also stand to lose a great deal of money of people stop getting vaccinated. They will continue to fund studies that support their point of view, and will naturally suppress information that might actually disagree with their point of view. In addition to that, Doctors (M.D.’s) also make a great deal of money from mandatory vaccinations so of course they have no real interest in going against what the drug companies have to say. Finally, it is the politicians who take money from drug companies who will continue to force vaccinations on our society.

    Vaccinations do work, and can be very helpful in third-world countries and other areas where disease is rampant, living conditions are unsanitary, and people are simply unhealthy due to lack of abundant food, resources, etc. And, for some people even in this country, who are unhealthy, unclean, obese, etc., vaccines might be a good thing. But I would like to make the choice, in a free country, to not receive vaccinations, because, after doing my research and understanding the risks/rewards of taking or not taking vaccines. It’s really all about choice, and there are potential risks either way.

    The bottom line is that vaccines are not NECESSARY here in the United States and are doing people more harm than good. We should focus more on teaching people to choose to be healthy. Instead we allow the food industry to push unhealthy processed foods with little or no nutritional value. Then, we FORCE people to be vaccinated when they are babies, allow them to become sickly, malnourished, and obese, and try to fix them up with drugs when they are old. We pat ourselves on the back for encouraging people to stop smoking and stop drinking, but are perfectly fine with the significant increase in drug use in this country. I’m not talking about illegal drugs, either, but over the counter and prescription medication. Do you really believe all of that is healthy?

    Forgive me for saying, “no thank you” to that way of thinking, as “un-scientific” as that may be. I chose to live a healthy lifestyle, and there is no room in my healthy lifestyle for vaccinations!

    Thank you!

  77. David M.

    Responding to some recent posts:

    I don’t want to stop vaccination but I want the full slate of vaccines to be studied just as it is called for by the bill in front of Congress: “The strategy of aggressive, early childhood immunization against a large number of infectious diseases has never been tested in its entirety against alternative strategies, either for safety or for total health outcomes.”

    Strange how no one in this chat has mentioned this bill or called the members of Congress who support this, including the newly named Senator from New York, as loons or whatever terms you use.

    And I didn’t make the claim about my son being injured by vaccines. That came from doctors. I will go by their words and recommended treatment and not anything on this post. Thank you very much.

    And yeah, so I had some wrong info about Dr. Paul Offit’s resume. My apologies to St. Paul.

    And lastly, you should be careful about your blind worship of the CDC. This is from the Atlanta Journal Constitution in Oct. 2008 regarding how the CDC handled Hurricane Katrina and the trailers provided to area residents:

    “The Centers for Disease Control study sounded reassuring when it was made public in 2007. Hurricane Katrina survivors didn’t have to worry about reports that there were harmful levels of formaldehyde in their trailers. The air was safe to breathe and the contamination would not reach a “level of concern” as long they kept the windows open. Today, senior CDC officials acknowledge that the study was based on a fundamental scientific error and that it failed to mention that formaldehyde can cause cancer. ”

    Oops. I guess even the CDC can make mistakes. And unlike many people on this post, I just don’t accept what government agencies say as the gospel truth.

  78. Chris

    Daryle said “The bottom line is that vaccines are not NECESSARY here in the United States and are doing people more harm than good. ”

    Only because of high take up of vaccines that maintain herd immunity. In pockets where there is low take up of vaccines the diseases come back. That is why there have been outbreaks of measles in places like San Diego, and Hib in Minnesota. There has also been an increase of deaths of infants from pertussis in the USA due to an erosion of vaccination.

    If sanitation were the only answer why has measles returned to Europe, with at least seven deaths? And when Japan made measles vaccination voluntary they experienced an increase in measles (with at least eighty deaths), but when measles vaccination was made as a requirement, the cases of measles went down?

  79. AnthonyK

    Daryle: no, no, and no. Meales is a viral disease, its incidence is not lessened by hygiene or diet (otherwise we would see increased rates in poorer households and areas); rates in the US have declined precisely in line with vaccination rates, as they have in other countries. No doubt here. That you do not deny the holocaust or evolution is unfortunately no guide to your good sense in medical matters.
    The lie in two of the above posts is in the rejection of the CDC (what, specifically, is wrong in the information I quoted about measles above?) and the endlessly repeated mantra that it’s money behind these public health measures. Again and again you come on sites like this and claim that evidence-based medicine supporters are hoodwinked and influenced by money. Total, utter crap. You are morons to think this, and the instant you come out with this all your carefully “reasonable” protestations are seen for the delusions they really are.
    Try “Age of Autism” with your comments. You’ll be among friends there.

  80. Todd W.

    @Daryle

    Here is one thing to keep in mind. You can choose to not receive vaccinations, or not to have your kids vaccinated, but your decision impacts more than just you or your child. Your decisions affects every single person you or your child come in contact with. That includes infants who have not received vaccinations and for whom immunity through breast feeding has either lapsed or not taken hold, the elderly who have lost immunity, people with AIDS, transplant patients taking immunosuppressants, people with genetic disorders that result in suppressed immune systems, and so on. If you or your child contract a vaccine-preventable disease, you may be contagious even without showing symptoms in certain diseases. When you come in contact with these types of people, you may be sentencing them to either death or permanent, severe injury. Because of their compromised immune systems, they almost certainly will not just pull through without any negative, lasting effects, even if they get prompt medical attention.

    But even from a personal perspective, eating healthy, exercising and avoiding “bad habits” may give you a pretty strong immune system, but that does not ensure that you will be able to easily fight off an infection from one of these diseases. For example, tetanus, though not a communicable disease, is fatal without very quick medical attention. It doesn’t matter how good your immune system is. And even with medical attention, you will likely have permanent injury. There are other contagious diseases, too, that, even if you have a strong immune system, are quite likely to do some seriously bad stuff to you. And your risk of severe injury from the disease is much greater than your risk of serious injury from the vaccine that prevents the disease.

    So, yeah, go ahead and play Russian Roulette with your own health, but if you can sleep well at night knowing that you might be responsible for an outbreak, permanent injury to others and possibly even a death or two…well, that’s pretty cold.

  81. Jen

    That’s all I have time to comment on for now. I’ll take a look at the rest later. So far, the first five links suggest that there may be a connection, but that it is either weak or that the effect is quite rare.>>>>

    The newer studies are more compelling. I intentionally posted the older studies first to illustrate the foot dragging. I didn’t have time earlier to post the newer studies, but you can look at the more recent research on PubMed.

    The point of all this is that even if someone decides to study the possible (and IMHO probable) link between acetaminophen and autism…how many years will go by before enough studies are done to factually conclude it? Can we afford another 10 years of falling vaccination rates?

  82. Todd W.

    @Daryle

    If you really want to know what is going on out there, FOLLOW THE MONEY. It is the drug makers who stand to gain a lot of money from vaccinations, and it is those same drug makers who also stand to lose a great deal of money of people stop getting vaccinated.

    And when outbreaks of communicable diseases start up because of decreased immunization, as we’ve seen with measles in CA, the UK, and elsewhere, and Hib in MN just recently, it is the pharmaceutical companies that produce medicines to treat those diseases that stand to make lots of money. So, vaccines or no vaccines, pharma companies stand to profit a lot. And really, the sure bet is no vaccines, since the resulting illness rate is many, many times greater than with the vaccines. Strike one.

    In addition to that, Doctors (M.D.’s) also make a great deal of money from mandatory vaccinations so of course they have no real interest in going against what the drug companies have to say.

    Again, with outbreaks, there will be more people going to see the doctors for treatment if vaccinations drop than there would be with a well-vaccinated populace. So, doctors stand to make more money if vaccination levels drop. Strike two.

    Finally, it is the politicians who take money from drug companies who will continue to force vaccinations on our society.

    So, going back to my first point, if drug companies stand to make more money if vaccinations decline, then the politicians also stand to make more money by promoting reductions in vaccinations. Strike Three.

    On the other hand, if major outbreaks occur due to lower vaccination rates, then the populace will be pretty ticked, I imagine, and none too happy with their representatives in Congress. The next round of elections, therefore, may lead to many politicians being replaced. So from that perspective, it is actually in the politicians’ best interests to promote vaccines. If you’d argued from that angle, you would’ve gotten a hit, but as it stands, you’re out.

  83. @Todd W “Better diagnosis and treatment (i.e., early intervention), as well as greater resources for schools, can lead to more inclusion, and thus, more exposure, to children on the autism spectrum. Education and knowledge about autism has also increased, meaning that more people will understand what it is.”

    If that is really true, that the increase in autism diagnoses is not caused by any real change in the prevalence of the disease, then there is an important prediction that can be made. The increased awareness effect can only go on for so long. Eventually the effect ceases when autism awareness has saturated (i.e., 100% of the relevant diagnosing authorities are aware of it and looking for it). After that point all increases in autism diagnoses must be a real effect.

    It seems to me that we must be awfully close to the saturation point if we haven’t already reached it. We shall know soon enough. If autism rates continue to rise then your hypothesis is almost certainly wrong.

  84. Daryle

    @ Todd

    I always find it very humerous when people use the rediculous argument that my personal choice, of not being vaccinated, is going to somehow affect other people. If vaccinations work, and as I said in my post I’m not denying, then how in the heck is my not being vaccinated going to cause someone who IS vaccinated to get the disease???

    Then you are making the argument that if I am not vaccinated, I can become a carrier for a disease and transmit it to other, unvaccinated people. Sorry to say, but vaccinated people can just as easily carry a disease from person to person, so that makes no difference. Furthermore, people are have received fresh vaccinations have been known to transmit the disease to other people. So, I could make the same argument for not allowing people to become vaccinated.

    @ Anthony:

    As far as questioning “my good sense” in terms of “hygene and diet”… Hygene, diet and lifestyle affect a person’s immune system. A healthy immunne system will be capable of responding to viral as well as bacterial infections. How do you think people even survived before vaccinations??? Vaccinations work because they trigger a response in a person’s immune system. It is the person’s immune system that actually provides the immunity, whether through a vaccination or through having fought off the viral infection. So, please don’t try to tell me that the quality of a person’s immune system won’t affect incidence of viral infections. That, too, is rediculous.

    It’s one thing for people to stand there and say that they believe in vaccinations. I have no problems with that. It’s your body, it’s your life, and you have to do what you feel is best based on knowledge and your own personal paradyme. But don’t you dare tell me how to live my life, and don’t you dare threaten to do something with my body that I don’t approve of. Especially with the following crummy statement from Todd:

    “So, yeah, go ahead and play Russian Roulette with your own health, but if you can sleep well at night knowing that you might be responsible for an outbreak, permanent injury to others and possibly even a death or two…well, that’s pretty cold.”

    I sleep well at night knowing that I am doing the best I can to promote a healthy lifestyle for myself as well as for anyone I do come in contact with. If you are vaccinated then I shouldn’t pose a threat to you. And if you are worried about unvaccinated infants, AIDS patients, etc., I’ll do my best to remain out of contact with them. But I think they’ve got plenty more to be worried about than me…

    Like one poster said up above … maybe you should actually go out and meet some of the parents whose children died or became very sick immediately after receiving a vaccination. Then maybe you might think about this a little differently. You might be able to prove that vaccinations and autism are not related, but try to prove that they are 100% safe in all cases. That argument is not going to stand the test of time any more than cigarette companies arguments, years ago, that cigarettes were safe (according to their own, internally funded, studies).

    Daryle

  85. trrll

    HIRH:

    Are they premising then that perhaps vaccinations might actually decrease the chances of autism? That’s something I would certainly check out if my study found 8/9 less autism in the study of vaccinated children!

    It is certainly a possibility that we should be open to. Generation Rescue did a survey on the incidence of autism, and found that while autism spectrum disorders were about equally common in vaccinated and unvaccinated boys, ASD was three times more common in unvaccinated girls than in vaccinated girls.

    Autism in general is more common in boys, so it is possible that autism in girls may have different causes. For example, Rett Syndrome, a genetic condition that can produce autistic symptoms, is much more common girls than boys.

    While it is very risky to theorize based upon a single example, it is notable that Hannah Poling, who developed a fever after vaccination and later developed encephalopathy with autistic-like symptoms, was subsequently found to have a genetic mitochondrial disorder. Such disorders can predispose an individual to encephalopathy, which can be triggered by a fever. So it is possible that girls with similar disorders might be have an elevated risk from vaccination–but an even greater risk from failure to vaccinate, since many vaccine-preventable infections are associated with fever.

  86. @David M “According to the doctors, our son’s body was overload by too many vaccines, which impacted his immune system and digestive system and he is not able to remove and filter out toxins and other things that a normally functioning immune system could.”

    David, are these DAN! doctors who are telling you these things? I appreciate your dilemma and I can sympathize, being the father of a nonverbal 6-year old autistic boy (Zachary). It is hard to convey to people who don’t have autistic kids the total lack of medical direction given to us by the normal medical practitioners. Nature abhors a vacuum and therefore DAN! enters the picture.

    I think there are probably different subclasses of autism. Our son has never had problems with his gut. He breezed through both of his MMR vaccinations with only minor problems. That’s why I don’t personally believe there was a vaccine connection with our son. We are not currently doing any biomedical interventions since he seems to be making progress in our home-based ABA program. But even though I personally don’t subscribe to DAN!, ASA, Jenny McCarthy, et al, I’m not going to condemn you for such opinions. I understand that you are trying to reach out for something, anything, that can help your child get better. I guess that’s where I part company with many folks on this board who have not been there and have not lived it.

  87. @Ethyl “Why is autism seen as such a horrific affliction that these people would gladly risk having their children DIE of preventable diseases? Those of you spouting off with your flawed theories and nonsense, please tell me. What is so bad that the alternative is to risk death for your child?”

    Well, it’s probably the people who do not have autistic kids who are the most afraid, judging by the strange looks I receive when I take my nonverbal son out in public. The symptoms can range from head banging, self-infliction of bruises, eating dirt and feces, growling like an animal, etc., etc. So tell me, if you truly thought that all of these symptoms could happen to your child if you injected him/her with a vaccine, would you not run away at light speed?

  88. Todd W.

    @Daryle

    I always find it very humerous when people use the rediculous argument that my personal choice, of not being vaccinated, is going to somehow affect other people. If vaccinations work, and as I said in my post I’m not denying, then how in the heck is my not being vaccinated going to cause someone who IS vaccinated to get the disease???

    Then you are making the argument that if I am not vaccinated, I can become a carrier for a disease and transmit it to other, unvaccinated people. Sorry to say, but vaccinated people can just as easily carry a disease from person to person, so that makes no difference. Furthermore, people are have received fresh vaccinations have been known to transmit the disease to other people. So, I could make the same argument for not allowing people to become vaccinated.

    Go back and read what I wrote again. I did not say anything about passing diseases on to people who have been vaccinated. You can pass diseases on to those who do not have immunity, for whatever reason.

    Regarding being a carrier, my point was that with some diseases, you contract the disease and become contagious before symptoms show or when symptoms are still mild. Other diseases, it is mainly when you are in the full set of symptoms that you are contagious. If you come in contact with the disease, and do not have immunity (either through vaccines or having gotten the disease before), then you are almost certainly going to become a carrier of the contagion. If you have immunity, through vaccination or previous infection, you are almost certainly not going to be contagious.

    And if you are worried about unvaccinated infants, AIDS patients, etc., I’ll do my best to remain out of contact with them. But I think they’ve got plenty more to be worried about than me…

    How will you identify people whose immune systems are compromised? They don’t go around wearing badges (nor should they have to). They don’t turn some different color. They look perfectly normal. Just like you look perfectly normal and don’t have any discerning factor that you have not been vaccinated. As far as having plenty more to worry about than you, since you could potentially be the reason that they contract an illness and suffer permanent injury or death, I’d like to know what is more serious that they have to worry about. People that are not vaccinated are a pretty major thing for them to be worried about. Perhaps you should talk to someone who is in that position, sometime. Get their opinion.

    maybe you should actually go out and meet some of the parents whose children died or became very sick immediately after receiving a vaccination. Then maybe you might think about this a little differently. You might be able to prove that vaccinations and autism are not related, but try to prove that they are 100% safe in all cases.

    I’ve spent a good bit of time with autistic children and their parents. Not once did any of them blame vaccines. For them it is hard, yeah, but they are focused on providing the best care for their kids and finding out the real cause and finding ways to stop it. They understand that the vaccines didn’t cause the autism and aren’t wasting time with that avenue. And as far as your request that vaccines be proven 100% safe, you will not get anyone to do that. No one here is saying that vaccines are 100%. Nothing that affects the chemistry of your body is 100% safe. Even vitamins and water can kill you.

    In addition to talking to those who have compromised immune systems, I also suggest you talk to those people who have lost family members or who have family members with permanent injuries due to vaccine-preventable diseases.

    Again, you can choose what you want to do with your body and your children, but I’m asking you to understand that when it comes to vaccines, your decision affects a lot of other people. In the U.S. right now, the primary reason that you remain free of being infected by these diseases is because the people around you are almost all immunized. But if vaccination rates fall, that herd immunity goes away, and you will be at a much greater risk of infection.

    If you have not read it yet, I suggest going to look over the CDCs extensive database of information about vaccines. Also, the AAP and NIH have a lot of valuable information.

  89. @Todd W “I’ve spent a good bit of time with autistic children and their parents. Not once did any of them blame vaccines.”

    You’re joking, right? Have you, like ever been to an ASA meeting? (Autism Society of America is the largest autism advocacy organization in the USA). ASA seminars are filled with anti-vaccine “information”. You probably couldn’t swing a cat without hitting some type of autism woo promoter whether it be chelation, tomatis, horseback riding therapy, etc., etc.

  90. AnthonyK

    For god’s sake, vaccines only work if we keep them up, and if the rate of vaccination is over a certain high percentage. Herd immunity will protect most of those who are unvaccinated though if there is a measles, say, outbreak unvaccinated children are at much higher risk, obviously. And as for the argument that if our immune systems are healthy and will fight off infections on their own – no they won’t. That’s why before vaccines people caught measles and died from it, and why those who do catch measles now aren’t those with unhealthy lifestyles but rather those who aren’t vaccinated (and a few who are, because most vaccines aren’t 100% effective).
    Why on earth do you idiots come on a blog like this and spout such nonsense? I’ll quote this again because you just didn’t get it first time around:

    In the decade before the measles vaccination program began, an estimated 3–4 million persons in the United States were infected each year, of whom 400–500 died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and another 1,000 developed chronic disability from measles encephalitis. Widespread use of measles vaccine has led to a greater than 99% reduction in measles cases in the United States compared with the pre-vaccine era.

    However, measles is still common in other countries. The virus is highly contagious and can spread rapidly in areas where vaccination is not widespread. It is estimated that in 2006 there were 242,000 measles deaths worldwide—that equals about 663 deaths every day or 27 deaths every hour. If vaccinations were stopped, measles cases would return to pre-vaccine levels and hundreds of people would die from measles-related illnesses.

    But then, you aren’t interested in evidence are you?

  91. Vortmax

    How quickly we forget. Was it really only 50 years ago people were still dying and being permanently injured by polio? There are still people today living with the consequences of the disease, from crutches to iron lungs. Plenty of these people ate well, lived in clean environments, had good hygiene, and had strong immune systems. They still caught it and died from it, or were permanently changed by it. And now it is eradicated in the United States, and on its way out of existence across the world. Can anyone in the class tell me why?

    Anyone?

    That’s right, a massive vaccination campaign. The same thing that eradicated smallpox from the world.

    How very sad that we forget what happened just 50 years ago.

  92. @Anthony K “For god’s sake, vaccines only work if we keep them up, and if the rate of vaccination is over a certain high percentage.”

    I’m going to assume you’re an American for the sake of argument. I don’t know when you were born. Let’s assume it was the 1960’s. You would have received probably 5 vaccines (and 8 shots) up to age 2:

    1.) Diphtheria
    2.) Pertussis
    3.) Tetanus
    4.) Polio
    5.) Smallpox

    As an adult the CDC recommends that you take the following vaccinations that you didn’t have as a child:

    1.) Measles, mumps, rubella (1-2 doses)
    2.) Varicella (2 doses)
    3.) Influenza (1 dose per year; ages 50-64)
    4.) Human papillomavirus (3 doses for females)
    5.) Pneumococcal (1-2 doses)
    6.) Hepatitis A (2 doses)
    7.) Hepatitis B (3 doses)
    8.) Meningococcal (1 dose)

    So if you only received your childhood vaccinations you are 10-12 doses (13-15 doses if you’re female) behind schedule leaving out the yearly flu shots which I’m sure you are already receiving. So my question to you and Todd W. is this: Are you caught up on all these vaccinations? If not when can we schedule you appointment for them? Would a Tuesday morning be better for you or perhaps a Friday afternoon? BTW, remember to bring your checkbook. Assuming an average cost of $50 per shot you will be shelling out $500 to $600 ($650 to $750).

  93. Meant to say $650 to $750 if you’re a lady.

  94. AnthonyK

    You know what, you’re right. I take vaccinations when I’m advised to, but I haven’t taken a flu jab recently – since I’m over 50 it’s probably advisable. Problem here is that, as I’m sure you know they don’t provide permanent protection as flu mutates so rapidly. Just watch, though, if there’s a deadly flu outbreak (like the one which killed 15-20 million in the 1920s) then everyone, even the most ardent anti-vaxxers will get one – there’s nothing like seeing a preventable disease to send the alt-med crowd scurrying to proper doctors. As regards other diseases, well I had measles when I was little, and mumps, had a rubella vax, and hep B or A recently as I work with kids who sometimes bite or spit. But I didn’t have chicken pox when I was a child but got it in my 30s, which was utterly horrible, even if not life-threatening.
    So yes, I get vaccinations when I’m told to, especially since, in the UK, they’re free.
    Why wouldn’t I? After all – they’re safe, and stop others from getting preventable diseases. Or are you merely trying to suggest I’m some kind of hypocrite?

  95. Jen

    …head banging, self-infliction of bruises, eating dirt and feces, growling like an animal, etc., etc. So tell me, if you truly thought that all of these symptoms could happen to your child if you injected him/her with a vaccine, would you not run away at light speed?>>>

    Nonverbal autistic children who self injure do it because they are in pain, and it’s usually abdominal. Self-injury is not a normal part of autism.

    I know you said in a previous post that you are not a subscriber to the DAN! protocol, but please view Dr. Krigsman’s presentation: http://www.thoughtfulhouse.org/0405-conf-akrigsman.htm

    My son quit the aggression and self injury within 2 days of starting the elemental diet. He was getting to a point that he was having pain every time he ate. And before anyone says it’s “just a coincidence,” these behaviors went on for several months, and traditional medicine had no other explanation other than “hormones” (he is 14) and shoved us out the door with a script for Risperdal. His behaviors were so out of control that I had to have the police out to my house several times to help me with him, and he ended up in the state hospital twice before I got desperate enough to contact Thoughtful House in Austin for help. No one was a bigger skeptic of the DAN! protocol than I was, but I needed no further convincing once I saw the nearly overnight improvement in his behaviors. They are very up to date on the latest treatments for autism, and many of the staff, including Dr. Jepson are parents of autistic children themselves.

  96. Paul Kemp

    If only there was some way to slay the myths and lies that surround autism. When my son was first diagnosed, I sought all kinds of treatments and confirmation and ran into more than my share of quacks, one of whom was endorsed by the Phoenix Chapter of the Autism Society of America. When I took my son to the Southwest Autism Research Center, they claimed the sole causes of autism were vaccines and gluten allergies. All they could provide for their evidence were photocopies of articles from Redbook and Ladie’s Home Journal. When they tried to discourage me from having my son vaccinated, I dove head first into researching it and found how bankrupt their arguments were.

  97. Vortmax

    Maybe hundreds of dollars if you go to a GP to get them done. I just go to my county health department, where they’re incredibly cheap.

    I got all my vaccinations done before I went to college, but at the time they didn’t have a HepB vaccine that I knew of. Time to go get another tetanus booster, maybe I should pick that up as well.

  98. Na

    I’ve been following the posts and comments of these autism/vaccine discussions, and have been trying to figure out why there is so much of a disconnect between the ‘pro-vaccine’ people and the ‘anti-vaccine’ people. I’m not a scientist, but am interested in the human (emotional/psychological) aspect of this. I know no one with autism, and have been vaccinated myself (currently considering getting the HPV vaccine in Australia).

    Anyway, I think I’ve figured out some of it. Here I must state I’m talking in generalisms, and do recognise there are all shades of arguments and believers.

    I think why there is such a backlash at vaccines isn’t so much about the vaccines themselves, but (and here I’m generalising from comments and posts from here and other sites) about the feeling parents have of being frustrated that their child is different and requires special care – and that perhaps their doctors or the mainstream scientific community at large can’t provide an answer as to why, and/or doesn’t seem to be offering enough information/assistance/resources to cope. A lot of the anti-vax (again, generalising) comments sound like they come from parents who either received little to none info about vaccines before they were given – in the case of preemies and just after being born – or that they have to fight governments/schools for more resources to provide support and medical care, or that current medicine is not treating behavioural problems as effectively as needed. A lot of the commentary from people with autistic kids mentions doctors who have provided little assistance or have been described in a way that makes the doctors sound inconsiderate, incompetent (in the sense that they do not have training to treat or diagnose autism correctly) or like they have better things to do with their time. Of the comments that have been complimentary towards doctors, they mostly come from pro-vaxxers, who describe more competency from their doctors. It sounds as though the more informed and helpful the doctor is, or the more the doctor is described as having taken the time to listen and assist, the more likely the person is to not have a grudge against vaccines.

    On the side of science, I agree with discounting anecdotes – as mentioned it’s not a replacement for data. However, I think this is where the anti-vaxxers are most frustrated. The backlash is perhaps more because parents feel as though the scientific community is not listening to them and their problems and instead doing their own thing (or Big Pharma’s); a reflection probably more about the frustration of the lack of current understanding of what causes autism and how to treat it, than about a true anti-science position. I have a feeling that if there were more resources/info/support available, the fiery discussion would die down.

    I also think part of the disconnect is that polio and small pox are too far away in the memories of many young parents to truly feel any risk; the problems that worry us are the ones that affect us now, since those are the ones we are dealing with. If we have a cure for AIDS tomorrow, a hundred years from now there will be complacency about getting sick from it. It’s not that people don’t care or don’t think it will affect them, it’s just that we only have a certain amount of capacity to focus on problems of the day.

    Feel free to pick apart my statements… it’s only an opinion, one based on generalisations and little knowledge of autism, no degrees in any science or psychology area. For those who want to say I am a supporter of the ‘pro’ side; yes I believe that vaccinations work, yes I believe we should be taking them, no I don’t believe they cause autism, and I’m reading all of this because I never even thought about whether or not vaccinations work or whether or not they cause any high risk of getting bad side effects. I’m reading this, and commenting on it, because I came to the table with no preconceived ideas (except that I had vaccinations as a kid AND got chicken pox – don’t remember if that was before or after vaccinations) and that if the arguments were persuasive enough, I would be on the side of the anti-vaxxers. So far I have read very little to convince me of anything except vaccinations are good for the majority of people and that there is a disconnect between what both sides think the argument is about. I have sympathy for those parents who deal with autistic kids, but somehow I don’t get the impression that the issue is truly about vaccines. (Again, feel free to go nuts with that statement. It’s generalised, and I’m trying my best to understand your – anti-vaxxers – point of view)

    (By the way, for the people who keep on saying ‘follow the money’… if you’re dead from an illness like measles, then you can’t possibly keep ‘Big Pharma’ in profit. And if autism also causes deaths, then you still can’t make them go into profit. If everyone dies, so do the companies that profit from both the illnesses and the vaccines to prevent them)

  99. Stuey

    Na, I think I agree with where you are coming from. With something with a really low incidence rate it is damn hard to study and find the root cause. There is just way to much “noise”. This is one reson thatthe studys tend to pick a factor and study that rather than pick the population and look for the cause.

    The real sham with the anti vax brigade, is that they do 2 things then do not serve themselve well.

    1) They keep the cause of austism studies focused on debunking the vacine myth and don’t let this group move to the next reason. Where are the breastfeeding, organic food studies

    2) The stop the herd maintaining their resistiance. So babies and those with egg aleregies are more at risk, not to metion the issues with travel later in life.

  100. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    You’re joking, right? Have you, like ever been to an ASA meeting? (Autism Society of America is the largest autism advocacy organization in the USA). ASA seminars are filled with anti-vaccine “information”. You probably couldn’t swing a cat without hitting some type of autism woo promoter whether it be chelation, tomatis, horseback riding therapy, etc., etc.

    It may have been because my exposure was through an institute specializing in ABA. So, the woo woo factor was already kinda culled out some. Call it observation bias.

  101. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    So my question to you and Todd W. is this: Are you caught up on all these vaccinations?

    Yes, I am up to date. Granted, I work at a hospital, so I’m kinda required, but even before I started here, I was up to date.

  102. Todd W.

    @Jen

    Nonverbal autistic children who self injure do it because they are in pain, and it’s usually abdominal. Self-injury is not a normal part of autism.

    Self-injurious behavior can also occur due to stress or frustration.

    As far as abdominal stuff and special diets, those with autism appear to be at higher risk for GI issues, like celiac disease or food allergies. I’m not surprised that doctors said nothing was wrong, as celiac is still a pretty poorly understood autoimmune disease that people just don’t know too much about. Other food allergies are a little better understood. That said, physical discomfort does play a role in inappropriate behavior in people with autism, so a diet that addresses those specific conditions can help. But note, that the diet is treating that other disease, not autism.

    @Na

    Nice summary of the emotional aspects of this debate. I would agree with a lot of what you said. Parents are scared and frustrated. They want answers that medical science currently can’t give them. They have certain experiences which don’t match up with what science is saying, so they feel that the science is wrong. They need to understand, that those of us on the “pro-vax” side do understand their pain and frustration. We want to find the answers just as much as they do. And the best way to do that is to try to get past the emotions and use objective science to get there.

  103. @Tom Marking: “Well, it’s probably the people who do not have autistic kids who are the most afraid, judging by the strange looks I receive when I take my nonverbal son out in public. The symptoms can range from head banging, self-infliction of bruises, eating dirt and feces, growling like an animal, etc., etc. So tell me, if you truly thought that all of these symptoms could happen to your child if you injected him/her with a vaccine, would you not run away at light speed?”

    I’d definitely agree with that — people are afraid of what they’re not familiar with. Sorry to hear strangers feel at liberty to judge your son from a distance; that’s humans for you I suppose.

    As to your question, well, since I don’t believe that I can’t answer 😉 I get that you understand where the anti-vaxxers are coming from, as the parent of a non-verbal autistic child, but I feel like my question remains. Let me rephrase it a bit. If you could have the choice of having your child die of whooping cough or keeping him just the way he is, what would you choose? All I’m trying to do is point out that the anti-vaxxers literally are saying they would rather have a dead child than a child like your son. And I think that’s a messed-up set of priorities. Especially considering some of the stuff I’ve been reading online lately from people with ASD.

  104. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    One more thing on being up to date. I admit to being most aware of my tetanus shots, because I also do some work building theatrical scenery. The risk of tetanus, therefore, is pretty strongly in mind. I also encouraged my girlfriend, who does a lot of gardening, to get her booster, since the bacteria live in dirt just as much as on rusty metal. In fact, compared to the average person, gardeners are quite a bit more at risk of getting tetanus. All it takes is a tiny scratch (and what gardener doesn’t ever get scratched on their hands?).

  105. @Todd W “Yes, I am up to date. Granted, I work at a hospital, so I’m kinda required, but even before I started here, I was up to date.”

    Well, then you are probably in the ~1 percent of the adult U.S. population who is entirely up-to-date. Most of us are not. I’ve been to many doctors over the years and not one of them inquired as to my vaccination history or even mentioned the adult CDC vaccination schedule. The dire predictions of what would happen if herd immunity vanishes – i.e., hundreds of people dropping dead in the street, do not seem to have happened to most adult Americans who have never been vaccinated for measles, chicken pox, human papillomavirus, pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and meningitis. So yes, in general vaccinations are good, but that does not mean that the current CDD vaccination schedule is necessary or optimal.

  106. @Ethyl “anti-vaxxers literally are saying they would rather have a dead child than a child like your son.”

    I’m not aware that they are “literally” saying that. Can you please provide a quotation? That may be your interpretation of what they are saying.

  107. @AnthonyK “So yes, I get vaccinations when I’m told to, especially since, in the UK, they’re free.”

    That’s one big difference. Here in the US they are not free.

  108. dice

    In fact there is an excellent argument for adolescents and adults to get pertussis vaccine boosters (as DTaP).

    If everyone did this, then we would probably eliminate infant pertussis, as most of the infections infants get before they have had a chance to complete the course of vaccinations come from contact with older individuals in the family whose immunity has failed and who have mild infection. They act as a reservoir, rather than being part of a protective herd.
    http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/337/nov27_2/a343

  109. Grant

    tome Marking said:
    ,blockquote>So my question to you and Todd W. is this: Are you caught up on all these vaccinations? If not when can we schedule you appointment for them? Would a Tuesday morning be better for you or perhaps a Friday afternoon? BTW, remember to bring your checkbook. Assuming an average cost of $50 per shot you will be shelling out $500 to $600 ($650 to $750).

    CDC report on vaccination costs as of 11/2008

    I cranked these through excel and got an average cost per dose of $32.44 for pediatric vaccines and $34.17 for adult vaccines, purchased through CDC contracts. (The averages are $48.81 and $69.15 if pruchased throught the private sector.) These costs assume the out-of-pocket payment, and no financial assitence from health insurance, government-funded programs, etc. So now we have some facts in evidence.

    Tom Marking, I know you pride yourself on being the contrarian of this blog, but this is a strawman. Whether or not any given individual has recieved a full panal of vaccines and boosters has no bearing on the established efficacy and safety of vaccines or vaccination programs.

    Allow me to elaborate: you’re arguement is “[Such and so individual] hasn’t gotten their full panel, therefore any statement this person makes about the safety of vaccines is invalid.” The second simply doesn’t follow from the first, though the first seems like a poor position. If perhaps you were saying, “[Such and so] doesn’t have their full panel because they think the vaccines aren’t safe, therefore their statements are invalid” you might have a logical arguement. But you don’t (and frankly, can’t) make this case. You further exacerbate the falicy by getting snarky about it. And finally, the cost of vaccines has not come into question, except by the “follow the money” crowd, whose logic also fails on its own.

    Evidence and logic, Tom. Abandon these at your own risk.

  110. Tom Marking,
    I apologize, I thought you were attempting to seriously discuss issues. I see instead that you are interested in semantic quibbles to avoid discussing points of consequence. Sorry about that.

  111. @Grant “I cranked these through excel and got an average cost per dose of $32.44 for pediatric vaccines and $34.17 for adult vaccines”

    Well, $50 per shot was not such a bad estimate then if you include the extra cost that your doctor will add on for the office visit. Of course, assuming you have medical insurance then your out-of-pocket costs will be reduced.

    “Tom Marking, I know you pride yourself on being the contrarian of this blog”

    Someone has to do it, now don’t they?

    “Allow me to elaborate: you’re arguement is “[Such and so individual] hasn’t gotten their full panel, therefore any statement this person makes about the safety of vaccines is invalid.””

    That actually wasn’t the point I was making. There were essentially 2. The first one was a tongue-in-cheek sarcastic (i.e., snarky) comment to the effect: Since you probably haven’t gotten all your vaccinations then how can you sleep at night? Unfortunately this back-fired when the individual in question insisted that he had received all his vaccinations listed in the CDC adult schedule. I hate it when that happens. :)

    The second was a more serious comment to the effect that the predicted mayhem due to loss of herd immunity (e.g., people dropping dead in the streets) does not appear to have happened as a result of most adult Americans not receiving all the shots on the CDC adult schedule. That should at least have some bearing on the necessity of said schedule.

    “And finally, the cost of vaccines has not come into question, except by the “follow the money” crowd, whose logic also fails on its own.”

    It has not been a big topic at least on this thread. If the BA feels a need to discuss it as a separate thread I would probably have some things to say about it, but since I am frequency accused of going OT I will refrain at the moment.

  112. @Jen “I know you said in a previous post that you are not a subscriber to the DAN! protocol, but please view Dr. Krigsman’s presentation: http://www.thoughtfulhouse.org/0405-conf-akrigsman.htm

    For those who don’t know about Thoughtful House, it is a clinic in Austin, Texas. I see from the attached URL that Dr. Andrew Wakefield is now the executive director. Yes, THAT Dr. Wakefield. Not a whole lot more I can add to that. If you feel that Thoughtful House is helping your child then I say go for it. I’m not going to condemn that based on my personal opinion of Dr. Wakefield.

  113. David M.

    Hey all you mercury fans and those who think the government can do no wrong – anyone see the story today that there is mercury in corn syrup and that 45 percent of foods tested from grocery stores – soda, oatmeal, chocolate syrup – had mercury in them. It also says that the FDA knew about this and did nothing. It also said that mercury, at any level, is bad for you.
    See U.S. News – http://www.usnews.com/blogs/fresh-greens/2009/01/28/mercury-found-in-high-fructose-corn-syrup.html
    Gee, I can’t believe it. You mean there could be something harmful in a product that many say is totally healthy and it turns out the government knew about this and did nothing. This is ruining my faith in the world.
    I say test all foods for mercury. There are a few people in this chain, as well as the author of this blog, who I would love to see sign up for that test. Seeing how they think mercury in vaccines is just fine for small children, they would have no problem eating lots of food with mercury. Any volunteers?

  114. Grant

    @Tom Marking
    No, the CDC site was not a refutation. I was genuinely curious, cranked the numbers, cited the source, and now we all know: vaccines run about $50 per. Of course, that’s direct cost from the manufacturers. A definative answer would require quite a bit of digging and number crunching (since health care costs are such a political football). But, given that: a)many Americans do have health insurance; and b) many more do participate in cost-reducing vaccination programs, I suspect we will find that the out-of-pocket cost of a vaccination panel (i.e. the amount you will write that check for) will be reduced, perhaps significantly.

    In the meantime, that may have been what you meant, but it’s not what you said. You have all the time you want to type your posts – try to be more careful.

    I think the effects of adult vaccinations (or lack thereof) on herd immunity is a legitimate question. You seem to be implying that it is one which no reaserch has ever addressed. I don’t have an answer but I will offer this observation and speculation: given that the community of immunologists and health organizations seem to uniformly stress the importance of childhood vaccination and its effects on herd immunity, the conclusion I draw is that the research has been done, and been found to show that the stastical effect of adults failing to get boosters pales in comparison to the effects of children not being vaccinated.

  115. @Grant “The conclusion I draw is that the research has been done, and been found to show that the stastical effect of adults failing to get boosters pales in comparison to the effects of children not being vaccinated.”

    For Americans born in the 1960’s the following vaccinations are NOT boosters. They never received even the first vaccination as a child because when they were children these vaccines were not part of the schedule:

    measles, chickenpox, human papillomavirus virus, pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and meningitus.

    Here is some statistical data from CDC concerning vaccination rates for the pneumococcal vaccine for adults in the USA:

    http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/pdf/pneumococcal-vaccinetrend.pdf

    In 2006 only 6 percent of people in the age group 18 to 49 had received the pneumococcal vaccine. That is hardly enough coverage for herd immunity to apply.

  116. Todd W.

    @David M

    Junk food causes autism! Where’s Jenny McCarthy? Why isn’t she saying anything about this? She must be part of the conspiracy!

    Sorry for the snarkiness. I’m in a bit of an off mood. No offense intended.

    Seriously, though, there is quite a bit of information missing from that article. It reported that the FDA knew about the mercury being in high fructose corn syrup and did nothing, but it does not report anything about why nothing was done. Without knowing that, don’t condemn FDA just yet. We also don’t know what kind of mercury it was or what levels of mercury were discovered. That can make a difference insofar as the risks involved.

    Your implication is clear: that mercury, no matter the quantity nor the form, is absolutely bad and dangerous, and that the government cannot be trusted. But, your argument is flawed. Depending on the form of the mercury, minute, trace amounts are very unlikely to cause damage. There is a chance, yes, but it is very small. Also, FDA is a human agency, and therefore is not perfect and is prone to mistakes. Does that mean that they are 100% out for what benefits the agency? No. They get a lot of stuff right, like discovering contaminated foods (most recent example being the salmonella-tainted peanut butter) and issuing recall orders. If there is a product that you have concerns about, you can request information on it from the FDA. Lots of information is freely available on the web site. Others require filing a FOIA request.

    So, go ahead and question FDA. Just do some digging to make sure you have the full story.

    Also, you seem to be missing this point, though it is stated again and again. No medicine, including vaccines, is 100% safe. There is risk of injury. Also, there are many studies, including some from overseas, that are independent of the pharmaceutical companies, that have shown that there is no link between vaccines (or thimerosal) and autism.

    And just to be clear, I agree that mercury is dangerous. When we are able to decrease exposure to it, we should do so. But the consequences of that reduction, such as greater risk of bacterial contamination in vaccines, should also be considered. That said, for the great majority of individuals, vaccines are safe (in a relative sense).

  117. Na

    @Stuey
    @Todd W.

    Thanks for your comments on my thoughts; I hoped I would come across as genuinely curious and respectful. It’s hard to formulate clear ideas with so much data, commentary and general attacks from both sides. I’m glad at least some of it made sense 😛

  118. dice

    Tom Marking:

    For Americans born in the 1960’s the following vaccinations are NOT boosters. They never received even the first vaccination as a child because when they were children these vaccines were not part of the schedule:
    measles, chickenpox, human papillomavirus virus, pneumococcal pneumonia, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and meningitus.

    Of these diseases, virtually all will have had measles and chicken pox as children, inducing lasting immunity. Herd immunity matters for these diseases.
    Regarding Pneumococcus, hepA and B, and HPV these vaccines are given for individual protective reasons only, and NOT to provide herd immunity, where their benefit would be a big fat zero.
    Regarding meningitis, if you are talking about HiB and meningo, then there may be some merit thinking about improving herd immunity and reducing the risk of vulnerable kids getting exposed.
    Not all vaccines can be considered to be used for the same reasons and assumed to have the same consequences.

  119. @dice “Not all vaccines can be considered to be used for the same reasons and assumed to have the same consequences.”

    You’re missing the wider point. The CDC promotes a vaccination schedule for adults. By their own statistics the CDC admits that only 6 percent of the adult population (ages 18 to 49) are in compliance with the pneumococcal part of the schedule. What dire effects have happened due to this lack of compliance? If the answer is none then that calls into question the necessity of that part of the schedule.

  120. Jen

    @Tom:”For those who don’t know about Thoughtful House, it is a clinic in Austin, Texas. I see from the attached URL that Dr. Andrew Wakefield is now the executive director. Yes, THAT Dr. Wakefield. Not a whole lot more I can add to that. If you feel that Thoughtful House is helping your child then I say go for it. I’m not going to condemn that based on my personal opinion of Dr. Wakefield.”>>>>

    Regardless of your personal opinion of Dr. Wakefield, please don’t dismiss your child’s self-injury issues as being just an unfortunate autistic trait.
    He is very likely in pain, and this is his only way of communicating it. I realize that I have never met your son, and as Todd previously commented…it could be just due to frustration or stress…but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to rule out pain in a nonverbal, self-injurious autistic child.

    Please don’t wait until he is 14, and big enough to do serious harm to himself or others. My son is strong enough to pull me across the room by my hair, and he once bit me so hard, that he left a grapefruit sized mark on my leg that took months to heal. Forgive me for being blunt, but I don’t want another family to have to learn these things the hard way, like we did.

  121. Todd W.

    @Jen

    If you haven’t tried it (can’t remember if this came up in a previous comment), look into Applied Behavior Analysis. It offers far more promise of functional improvement than anything Wakefield or his ilk provide.

    As far as pain being the triggering factor, I would suggest a combined approach. First, find a doctor knowledgeable in GI and autoimmune disorders to rule food allergies in or out. Second, find a board certified behavior analyst to design a program that can determine the function of the behavior (e.g., self-injurious behavior, tantrums, stimming, etc.) and how best to respond to such behaviors. Changing to a DAN! diet should be based on sound medical reasons, rather than simply anecdotes from other families or biased personal observation. While it may cause an alteration in behavior, you also need to make sure that they are not missing out on other essential nutrients. So, again, check with a specialist to determine if there actually is a medical issue involved.

  122. Jen

    If you haven’t tried it (can’t remember if this came up in a previous comment), look into Applied Behavior Analysis. It offers far more promise of functional improvement than anything Wakefield or his ilk provide.>>>

    Thanks, but my son is already working with a highly qualified PhD level BCBA, and a dear friend of mine. She hasn’t been able to get very far with him lately, though, due to his numerous recent hospitalizations and behavior issues. Children cannot learn when they are in pain. In the past, she has been very skeptical of biomedical approaches, but my son has made a believer out of her. She has even tried a few dietary interventions with her son and has seen remarkable improvements in his bowel issues…(this kid was a milk addict.)

    My son can actually sit through an entire session now, his eye contact improves every day, he sleeps soundly through the night again, (and so does the rest of my family) and even his “stimming” has decreased enormously. I have laboratory data that support what they are doing there, and the improvements in behavior to prove that it’s working. So thanks for your suggestion, but I’ll stick with Dr. Wakefield and his “ilk.” :)

  123. Todd W.

    @Jen

    Glad to hear you’re making use of ABA services. As to Dr. Wakefield, should you be interested, Brian Deer, a journalist in the U.K., has a rather extensive web site about him. Perhaps he has changed since he left the U.K. I certainly hope he has.

  124. Jen

    As to Dr. Wakefield, should you be interested, Brian Deer, a journalist in the U.K., has a rather extensive web site about him.>>>

    Yes, I’ve read Brian Deer’s um…”work”. He has made it his mission in life to destroy Dr. Wakefield’s career and reputation, and IMNSHO, he is a nothing but a scumbag with an axe to grind.

    Dr. Wakefield and the staff at Thoughtful House are doing more to help autistic children than all of traditional medicine combined, and it is an honor and a privilege to be a part of the wonderful work they are doing.

  125. Todd W.

    @Jen

    Hmm. Perhaps Dr. Wakefield has changed. I haven’t heard too much about his activities since the MMR debacle. I sincerely hope that he has revised his lab techniques to avoid contamination, and that he has taken greater care to avoid conflicts of interest.

  126. Truth19486

    12-Feb-2009 COURT RULING: Vaccine doesn’t cause Autism

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29160138/

    [MSNBC.com] Court says vaccine not to blame for autism
    Legal blow for parents who claimed measles shots caused disorder
    The Associated Press
    updated 10:39 a.m. ET, Thurs., Feb. 12, 2009
    WASHINGTON – A special vaccine court ruled against parents with autistic children Thursday, saying that vaccines are not to blame for their children’s neurological disorder.

    The judges in the cases said the evidence was overwhelmingly contrary to the parent’s claims — and backed years of science that found no risk.

    “It was abundantly clear that petitioners’ theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive,” the court concluded in one of a trio of cases ruled on Thursday.

    The ruling, which was anxiously awaited by health authorities, was a blow to families who have filed more than 5,000 claims with the U.S. Court of Claims alleging that vaccines caused autism and other neurological problems in their children.

    To win, they had to show that it was more likely than not that the autism symptoms were directly related to the measles-mumps-rubella shots they received.

    But the court concluded that “the weight of scientific research and authority” was “simply more persuasive on nearly every point in contention.”

    The court still has to rule on separate claims from other families who contend that rather than a single vaccine, the culprit could be a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal that once was common in children’s inoculations. But in Thursday’s rulings, the court may have sent a signal on those cases, too.

    “The petitioners have failed to demonstrate that thimerosal-containing vaccines can contribute to causing immune dysfunction,” a judge wrote about one theory that the families proposed to explain how autism might be linked.

    ===============================
    http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/02/11/autism.vaccines/index.html

    (CNN) — A special court ruled Thursday that parents of autistic children are not entitled to compensation in their contention that certain vaccines caused autism in their children.

    “I must decide this case not on sentiment, but by analyzing the evidence,” one of the “special masters” hearing the case said in denying the families’ claims, ruling that the families had not presented sufficient evidence to prove their allegations.

    The decisions came in three test cases heard in 2007 involving children with autism that their parents contend was triggered by early childhood vaccinations.

    The three families — the Cedillos, the Hazlehursts and the Snyders — were notified Wednesday night that a decision had been reached, as were the more than 180 lawyers collectively representing the 4,800 families with claims in the Vaccine Court Omnibus Autism Proceeding, said lead plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Powers.

    At 14, Michelle Cedillo can’t speak, wears a diaper and requires round-the-clock monitoring in case she has a seizure. Her parents say their only child was a happy, engaged toddler who responded to her name, said “mommy” and “daddy,” and was otherwise normal until at 15 months she received a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine combined with the preservative thimerosal, found in MMR and other vaccines at the time.

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

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

    Powers’ litigation steering committee is representing thousands of families that fall into three categories: those who claim MMR vaccines and thimerosal-containing vaccines can combine to cause autism; those who claim thimerosal-containing vaccines alone can cause autism; and those who claim MMR vaccines, without any link to thimerosal, can cause autism.

    Thursday’s rulings will only affect the families that fall under the first category, Powers said.

    Since 2001, thousands of parents of children with autism have filed petitions seeking compensation with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program at the Department of Health and Human Services.

    By mid-2008, more than 5,300 cases were filed in the program. Five thousand of those are awaiting adjudication, according to the agency.

  127. In reading many of the statements made regarding vaccines and autism, it seems that those talking with authority are not speaking from a place of true knowledge. How many speaking about vaccines and their affect on children actually have an autistic child. I do. And until you do, please show some empathy and kindness. Until you know what it is truly like to have your beautiful son one day be able to speak clearly to you, and the next day, after receiving a vaccination no longer able to speak at all and looks at you as if you are no longer there, staring right through you, you couldn’t possibly know why one might believe that the vaccines might have harmed the person you love the most in this world. Please, if you are willing to post a comment, I would appreciate your letting everyone know whether you have an autistic child. To be honest, I find it hard to believe that very many of those posting have children at all, because most people with children know what it’s like to feel empathy and show compassion to others rather than trying to make fun of those you don’t understand. Until you have walked in my shoes, you have no right to show such disregard and disrespect for something you couldn’t possibly understand. In closing I ask you this: If you have vaccinated your child and other parents choose not to, isn’t your child protected? Or are you telling me vaccines really don’t protect your child. Then why would you vaccinate your child if they cannot protect you from getting a disease from someone who has it? Isn’t that the point of vaccinations? Sounds like you don’t have a lot of faith in vaccinations and don’t truly believe they work.

  128. Chena

    I am not anti vaccine, but I am against people vaccinating their children and being uninformed. Parents subject their babies to shots that they themselves are uninformed about and furthermore are not even sure if their babies are at risk for what they are vaccinating against. For example, the risk factors for HepB are, contracting from mother, sexually transmitted, or sharing dirty needles. If you do not have HepB and don’t anticipate your little one have unprotected sex and shooting up some smack, why on earth would you let someone put them at risk for injury by injecting them with something they don’t need? Okay I understand the need to make some mandatory. It’s for the good of the community. Someone could test negative for it and have sex with their cheating husband who then infected them afterwords. In that case it would not be a bad idea to have that child vaccinated. But if thats the case should we than vaccinate our child for everything even if they do not appear to be at risk for it. Whats next HIV vaccine? I care about the community, but when making decisions I do whats best for my children. I recently conducted a poll in which I asked the question “Was your child vaccinated against HepB and why?” My default dummy answer was “yes thats what you should do” won with 73% to be followed by “yes my child was at risk”. I wonder how many of those even knew what the risk factors are. I was the only on who answered “no my child was not at risk” and a few answered “no I don’t believe in any vaccine”. Don’t even get me started on the fact that all polio cases in the past 10 years in the U.S. have been directly or indirectly the result of the polio vaccine. Or what about all of the parents who have lost their daughters to the Gardisil vaccine. I am not telling parents to not vaccinate their children, just educate yourself and use your brain to THINK! also research newborns and eye ointment.

  129. I am wondering if any of you blathering on this topic Have a child with Autism? Do you know what it is like to really live with it. DO you know what it is like to have someone you love affected by this? Well I do, and she does not have any genetic link to this disorder. I wish that all the idiots still beating this dead horse would maybe look for what environmental factor is or could be causing this dramatic increase in autism. Besides we all should at this point be perfectly aware of the power the pharmas. have in north america, they decide and inform us if it is harmful or not. They kindly inform us if they made an error that effected thousand or millions of American children and families, I am sure they would be more than willing to admit any error or take any responsibility and compensate those they harmed…o look I just saw a pig flying….

  130. Andrew

    “I am wondering if any of you blathering on this topic Have a child with Autism? Do you know what it is like to really live with it.”

    Of course we do – that’s why we care. Once I had a child with autism, the lies of antivaccine activists stopped being a trivial annoyance – and became very personal. Every time an antivaccine fantasy-monger tells the lie that vaccines cause autism, it is a lie about my son, and I’ll never stop fighting that lie.

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