Court rules no link between autism and vaccines!

By Phil Plait | February 12, 2009 11:45 am

REALITY WINS IN COURT!

Three separate test cases were before special courts, all alleging that autism was caused by vaccines. The courts were set up by the government as part of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, done basically to look at the very rare cases where it was possible that vaccines caused some harm to the people inoculated. The cases started in 2007, and in all three courts, the rulings were basically identical: there is no cause to compensate parents of autistic children due to the vaccines those children received.

In other words, these three special courts all ruled that in these cases there is no scientific claim that vaccines cause autism.

In fact, in one ruling, a special master (the judge, essentially) said the parents of one troubled child had "been misled by physicians who are guilty, in my view, of gross medical misjudgment." The claims of links between autism and vaccines were also cited as "speculative and unpersuasive."

Damn straight.

My heart goes out to these parents, looking for some sort of reason why their children are autistic. I can hardly imagine what that must be like. But it is absolutely 100% critical that in our emotional and utterly human outreach for an explanation that we do not grasp at the wrong ones.

Vaccines don’t cause autism. The science is extremely persuasive, and I would even say conclusive.

However, as I have said before, the vocal antivaxxers will not be persuaded by this. They are impervious to reason, impervious to evidence, and impervious to facts. They are not looking at this rationally, they have a religious fervor and nothing can sway them from that. Here is a quote from one article on the new rulings:

“I think it is a mistake to conclude that, because these few test cases were denied compensation, it’s been decided vaccines don’t play any role in regressive autism,” said Barbara Loe Fisher, the [National Vaccine Information] center’s president.

That is complete nonsense. It’s not been decided based on these rulings, it’s been decided based on many scientifically-produced tests looking for any link between vaccines and autism. These rulings were based on a few test cases, and those were unpersuasive legally. Scientifically, the results are extremely persuasive, if you happen to live in the reality-based community.

The point being that vocal antivaxxers don’t have property anywhere near there. This ruling will only make them dig in further, and double their efforts to make sure that children all across the planet become victims to diseases which can kill or debilitate them, diseases which can be prevented by the simple effort of getting a shot.

These rulings are incredibly important, and definitely cause for celebration. But the two things we must always remember to do: have sympathy for the parents in these situations (but not so much that we are swayed by unreasonable arguments), and be vigilant. The antivaxxers will not go away, and we must keep fighting. It cannot be overstated: the lives of our children are at stake here. This is nothing less than a pending global health crisis.

Comments (138)

  1. On Darwin Day, no less!

    Score one for the good guys.

  2. Todd W.

    IIRC, these three were the best of the thousands, the ones felt most likely to show the three different ideas about how vaccines could be responsible: thimerosal alone causes autism, MMR along causes autism, thimerosal + MMR causes autism.

    I predict that a lot of the anti-vax fallout from this will be calling the Special Masters “activist judges” or claims that the Special Masters were paid off by “Big Pharma”. I sincerely hope that none of the Special Masters receives any threats, though I fear that is pretty likely.

  3. Greg in Austin

    Phil, I do indeed concur, wholeheartedly.

    I think education is the key, as is a respect for the amount of passion many parents of autistic children have. If we/they can focus their energies on making life for their kids as good as they possibly can, and to encourage more education in science and research on those that are able, we will find cures for autism and other illnesses even sooner.

    8)

  4. Elmar_M

    Hehe, my wife IMed me the good news while I was at work :)
    I was thinking all allong that you would sure have a post about this in your blog Phil. And there it is :)
    I think the militant antivaxxers wont back of anyway,because they cant. They would have to admit that they made idiots out of themselves and that they wont do.
    So they will rather keep spreading their “religion”…

  5. Todd W.

    Back when I first learned of the Ominbus Autism Proceeding while writing a paper on vaccines, I was, frankly, slightly concerned that the test cases would win because of the standards to be met. The article Phil linked to even addressed this issue:

    [T]he special court’s rules did not require plaintiffs to prove their cases with scientific certainty — all the parents needed to show was that a preponderance of the evidence, or “50 percent and a hair,” supported their claims.

    This is going to be a huge emotional blow to a lot of families, and I hope that they can get through it and overcome any feelings of anger or outrage so they can put their energies into finding the real causes and doing the best by their children.

  6. Cheyenne

    What a great article. Damn the BA handles this extremely important topic well. I wish more people would push for straight scientific thinking on this issue like he does.

    “But it is absolutely 100% critical that in our emotional and utterly human outreach for an explanation that we do not grasp at the wrong ones.”

    Spot on.

  7. Hoonser

    This is truely a great day! I predict this will cause Jenny Mccarthy to change her ways, retrain as an RN and dedicate the rest of her life administering vaccines to children in third world countries.

  8. Bill

    Oh, the irony:

    I read the AP article about this on an online news site (don’t remember which one, now or I’d provide a link, but it was the same AP story that’s being reported on nearly every news site).

    In the comments, many of the antivaxxers were saying that this ruling means nothing becuase it’s a legal ruling, not a scientific one.

    These would, of course, be the same antivaxxers who’ve spent years claiming that scientific studies are invalid because of pressure, money and influence from Big Pharma.

    /headdesk
    /headdesk
    /headdesk

    Still, perhaps this ruling will help with some of the folks who are on the fence.

    My biggest hope is that this becomes one more link in the chain of events that allows some of the research money and effort that’s currently being used to study YET AGAIN any potential autism/vaccine link to instead be used for actual research into autism itself, with the eventual goal of finding a cure.

  9. IVAN3MAN

    @ Hoonser,

    Don’t bet on it, man!

  10. Joe Meils

    Did anyone else catch “Countdown” last night? Keith had a news story that one of the primary scientists who advanced the idea that vaccines caused autisim FAKED his research. From beginning to end, this was a deliberate FRAUD on the people of the world.

  11. Todd W.

    @Joe Meils

    Would that have been about Dr. Wakefield? Phil had a post on that a few days ago.

  12. Mchl

    Joe. There’s been a blog entry here a few days ago about it.

  13. Everything’s moving so fast on this front. Whats next? Jenny explodes on Oprah, covering her with boogers?

    Yes I know its a childish post, but it feels so right. ;)

  14. Caroline S.

    I saw this story in the Washington Post today online, and then went to look at the comments posted on the article. At the time, there were about 10 comments, and less than half were of the “yay, reality/rationality wins” type. The others were antivaxxers going off about the judges were protecting the funds in the Vaccine act fund, or about how the studies don’t look at the effect of vaccines on the “vulnerable” (kids with poor immune systems, etc.). While I am heartened that the courts will see through this crap, I am saddened and angered by those who deliberately wall themselves off from reason.

  15. John Phillips, FCD

    As I said on Pharyngula (sorry Phil :) ). How appropriate that a ruling decided on the science and the evidence is released on Darwin Day. It is indeed a Happy Monkey to one and all.

  16. Science classes in primary and secondary schools need to emphasize, (among a million other things such as SI, theory vs. hypothesis, evidence vs. proof, accept vs. believe, function vs. purpose etc.) is that correlation does not imply causality.

    And the courts agree.

    Thanks, Phil for emphasizing the compassion side. It turns my stomach a little when people talk about shooting others for “wrong” thinking and making ill-informed choices. Skepticism doesn’t have to mean heavy handed sarcasm or violence.

  17. [blockquote]This is going to be a huge emotional blow to a lot of families, and I hope that they can get through it and overcome any feelings of anger or outrage so they can put their energies into finding the real causes and doing the best by their children.[/blockquote]

    Sadly, I don’t see that being the case Todd. :( These parents are just looking for someone to [i]blame[/i], not actually [i]understand[/i]. It’s the American Way it would seem, and if they can make a quick buck by suing those they blame, all the better for them.

  18. Grrr, wrong format! I was using EBB code, not HTML….

    This is going to be a huge emotional blow to a lot of families, and I hope that they can get through it and overcome any feelings of anger or outrage so they can put their energies into finding the real causes and doing the best by their children.

    Sadly, I don’t see that being the case Todd. These parents are just looking for someone to blame, not actually understand. It’s the American Way it would seem, and if they can make a quick buck by suing those they blame, all the better for them.

  19. rev. panorama change

    Science for the win!!!

  20. MJBUtah

    Unfortunately, I just discovered that a friend is an anti-vaxxer when this article was posted….he replied on twitter “and why should I believe you? my kids are still not getting your dangerous vaccines.” I was flabbergasted. It’s like finding out he’s a she or something.

  21. T S Garp

    Let me get this right, we have been told over and over again that mercury is a toxin, even a small amount causes brain damage. Thermasol is a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines. In countries where children are given fewer vaccines, such as Sweden, there are lower incidents of autism. In the Amish community, who do not vaccinate their children, their are near zero cases of autism. Granted that the life style and eating habits in Sweden and on an amish farm are better than in the rest of U.S.A., but there is something different. It must be some other environmental factor. If not vaccines, what is it?

    I suppose the fact that the eugenists movement of early twentith century stated in their own documents that population control of “undersirables” could be achieved through tainted vaccinations is just a coincidence too.

    If you think that a goverment court has the interests of its citizens at heart, you’re a damn fool.

    Signed, A Tin Foil Hat Wearing Lunatic

  22. justcorbly

    The primary danger of the vaccines-cause-autism dogma is one that I’ve never seen its proponents address: Belief in that false notion will reduce interest in and funding of legitimate autism research.

  23. DJohnson

    And who was on CNN this morning splitting hairs about how we should not rush to the conclusion that vaccines DO NOT contribute to autism? Why it was our would-be Surgeon General Sanjay Gupta! He cautions us that these judges are not doctors (so of course they can’t really know what they are talking about can they)? Sanjay is going to play politics with this until some little kids get burned.

  24. Todd W.

    @justcorbly

    The primary danger of the vaccines-cause-autism dogma is one that I’ve never seen its proponents address: Belief in that false notion will reduce interest in and funding of legitimate autism research.

    The problem is that they see the vaccine-autism link as legitimate autism research. Therefore, they feel that more funding should be going to it, rather than to other areas. So, of course they’re not going to address the problem, because for them, it isn’t one.

  25. Andy Beaton

    It’s like finding out he’s a she or something.

    I’d be very surprised if any of my male friends turned out to be secret women, maybe even shocked, but not horrified in the way I’d be if they essentially said they didn’t care if my child died a horrible death.

  26. T S Garp, there’s a rule on the internet that when you call someone else a fool, chances are you’re the fool yourself.

    Thimerosal hasn’t been used in vaccines for many years, yet autism rates increase. Mercury is indeed a poison, but vaccines have negligible amounts. And it’s been shown, many times, as I have said, that no connection has been found between vaccines and autism through any means, not just mercury.

    And the Amish thing? A blatant antivax lie.

  27. Todd W.

    @DJohnson

    Why it was our would-be Surgeon General Sanjay Gupta! He cautions us that these judges are not doctors (so of course they can’t really know what they are talking about can they)?

    Good thing they had plenty of experts called in to testify, thousands of pages of documents and hundreds of hours of testimony.

  28. Todd W.

    @T S Garp and Phil Plait

    It should also be mentioned that while thimerosal does metabolize down to ethyl mercury, that compound is eliminated from the body within several days to a couple weeks.

  29. Shawna Fugate

    Hey, I wonder why the vaccine protocal for children from 1992 until 2002 included vaccines with Thimerasol and in 2002 all vaccines having Thimerasol in them were pulled? I also wonder why the Homeland Security Act, which had NOTHING to do with child hood vaccines includes on page 167 an entry that no vaccine related autism case could go forward in state court, but rather protects the drug companies and gives the only avenue of recovery as the Court that made these rulings, which by the way is a branch of the Federal Goverment. The same federal goverment who approved the vaccine protocal listed above. Probably all just a funny coincidence.

  30. Chris J

    The first place I saw this today, already had one of the lawyers saying they were going to appeal… Same source as your link…

    “The ruling today does not preclude appeals, and the lead lawyer in the Cedillo case has indicated that they would appeal if they lost. ”

    So now they think they can appeal science too.. or did I just miss that in the past?

    I also think that T S Garp was trying to be satiric.

  31. molly

    you are not kidding about the lunacy of these people. I peeked in on mothering.com forums to see how they were taking the news and came away filled with useless rage, yet also like some kind of comparative genius. I don’t recommend the place unless you can hold your tongue upon reading things like “Measles, mumps, and rubella are not diseases, but normal developmental stages.”

  32. isles

    The opinions are long but worth reading. There’s a keeper of a quotation on almost every page.

    Here’s from page 110 of Cedillo:

    “With the exception of two studies done by one suspect research pair (to be discussed below), all of the studies found no evidence of any association between exposure to MMR vaccine and autism.”

    Emphasis in original.

    Any guesses as to who the “suspect research pair” might be? Give you a hint – their name starts with G and rhymes with “liar.”

  33. Grant

    I think TS Garp just Poe’d Phil.

    Poor, poor Phil.

  34. JT

    Keeping in mind that TS Garp may have been joking, I would just like to point out that using the effects of methyl mercury to warn against ethyl mercury is as ridiculous as using the effects of chlorine gas to warn against table salt.

  35. ccpetersen

    TS GARP,

    If you’re going to make wildly unsupported accusations (like Americans’ diet have something to do with autism) or flat-out lies (amish autism rates), at least have the good grace to cite your sources so we know where you’re getting your ideas.

  36. Grant

    So, cause I hate myself, I checked out the WaPo comments Caroline S. mentioned. At 4:48:26 pm, a commenter named tweldy said, I kid you not, “Also, I’d rather have polio than mercury poisoning.”

    Would that someone could give you that choice, tweldy. >.<

  37. MartinM

    “Measles, mumps, and rubella are not diseases, but normal developmental stages.”

    So is death.

  38. tacitus

    Some people who were scared into not vaccinating their kids are now scared their kids will get seriously ill

    Pertussis outbreak at DS’ school. We don’t vax. What would you do?
    I don’t vaccinate my kids because I don’t want to cause long term health problems. But I just found out that someone in my DS’ school has pertussis. I have an asthmatic 4 year old, and if this were brought home to him, it would be very, very bad.

    I know there are homeopathic vaccinations. Has anyone here tried them? Do you think they work? I need to do something to protect my kids. /blockquote>

    (from the mothering.com forums).

    And they still don’t get it. Homeopathy??? What’s wrong with these people?

  39. David M.

    Anybody know how much mercury there is in a vaccine dose compared to a can of tuna (and yes, I know that vaccine mercury is less toxic than fish mercury)?

  40. Dr. Nancy

    This is great! Can we now get back to injecting babies with levels of organic mercury hundreds of times higher than all government safety limits? My profits are really hurting

  41. David M.

    Well, I used the intertubes to answer my own question:

    “The downside to Mercury? Certainly , mercury in sufficient quantity can cause disease and death (remember even water or salt in excessive quantities can cause death). According to FDA analysis in 2005, tuna fish contains 0.64 micrograms of mercury for each gram of tuna. A 60 gram portion (about two ounces) would contain 38.4 micrograms of mercury. By contrast, vaccine manufacturers using thimerosal (a mercury containing compound) as the preservative are adding between 12.5 and 25 micrograms of mercury per dose of vaccine. Although children get multiple doses of vaccine, they eat far more tuna fish! Even the recommendations for pregnant women to eat no more than one portion of tuna fish per week exceeds the amount children would get in vaccines if thimerosal were still in use. Simply to avoid the controversy, vaccine manufacturers have omitted thimerosal in vaccines intended for use in young children, despite the fact that there is mounting scientific evidence that thimerosal has not caused any harm and does not cause autism.”

    http://www.princetonol.com/family/columns/pedgroup55.html

  42. Mike

    I read some of the comments on CNNs website, and it is amazing how many people believe that it is some sort of government coverup. I’ve talked about it here before, but this is a personal matter for me and my wife because she has Asperger’s Syndrome wich is a mild form of Autism. She is also a nuerology junkie and has read the studies that show ZERO correlation.

    Sometimes I just want to slap people. But instead I am going to go with my “insane laughing, you can’t be that stupid so it was a good joke” way of dealing with wackos. It seems to work on their level.

  43. Pocket Nerd

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

  44. Timothy from Boulder

    “I know there are homeopathic vaccinations. Has anyone here tried them? Do you think they work? I need to do something to protect my kids.”

    Make sure those homeopathic vaccines are loaded with plenty of mercury. Otherwise, if they’re virtually mercury-free, you’ll get the a severe—possibly even fatal–case of the homeopathic version of mercury poisoning!

  45. John Phillips, FCD

    Grant, obviously tweldy has had the fortune to have never seen the effects of polio. Unfortunately, I have not been so fortunate and having seen as a child in the fifties a family friend live out a shortish life in an Iron lung and having other friends who were seriously crippled by it, I would gladly offer such an idiot the opportunity to personally experience it for himself. Perhaps he should go to parts of Africa or the Middle East, where due to Mullahs promulgating scare stories about Polio vaccines being a Western/Xian plot to sterilise muslims, there have been repeated outbreaks of polio over the last few years. Not a nice disease at the best of times, to say the least.

  46. Elmar_M

    Pertussis outbreak at DS’ school. We don’t vax. What would you do?
    I don’t vaccinate my kids because I don’t want to cause long term health problems. But I just found out that someone in my DS’ school has pertussis. I have an asthmatic 4 year old, and if this were brought home to him, it would be very, very bad.

    I know there are homeopathic vaccinations. Has anyone here tried them? Do you think they work? I need to do something to protect my kids.”

    Naaa, naaa, naaa, naaa.
    I cant believe how idiotic people are. I do have to admit though that Homeopathy is one of those cases where pharmaceutical companies really are evil. They have been promoting and selling that stuff knowing that it does not work. Personally I consider that at least semi criminal.
    I would like to start a class action lawsuit on that matter one day. Maybe once I am done with my current line of work…

  47. Yeah, I was reading comments linked from the MSNBC story and I think about 8 of the first 10 were already saying that the judges were in the pockets of “Big Pharma”. I’m starting to wonder if these parents’ autistic kids have better behaviors than them…

  48. I’d like to put in my prediction for the AntiVax response:

    “To put it bluntly, I think he’s a jackass. I think he went to clown college instead of law school or else he went to law school and slept during the Constitution classes, because his decision doesn’t jive with the law. I think he should be on a bench, but it ought to be in a center ring of Ringling Brothers Circus. He…it’s disgusting. ” BILL BUCKINGHAM, Former Dover, PA school board member.

    AntiVaxers and AntiEvolvers share many of the same traits, among them an inability to change their minds in the face of overwhelming evidence. We should remember the lession learned from anti-evolution supporters:

    “The issue is certainly not over. One of the things that we’ve learned is that the opponents of evolution are persistent and resilient. And they’re still out there.” WITOLD “VIC” WALCZAK, ACLU

    (Quotes from the NOVA website; See name link)

  49. MadScientist

    If it looks like a monkey and quacks like a duck, it must be an antivaxxer.

  50. dori

    It was sickening to read the comments to this very disappointing judgment by the court. Have any of you folks actually talked to the families of autistic children or looked into why they feel there’s a correlation between Autism and the super-vaccinations? My great nephew was a bright, vocal little infant who went from babbling and vocalizing normal infant noises before his first birthday to non-vocal (other than loud noises and weird movements) almost immediately after his first year MMR. It was that noticeable. It is a general opinion by parents of autistic children and a growing number of physicians that the preservative and mercury in these bundled vaccines is possibly a factor. It surely warrants further study, don’t you think?
    There’s a pediatrician here in the St. Louis area who refuses to give these super-shots. She gives children their vaccinations over a period of months–one at a time–instead of putting them all in one huge bundle. She says she has had maybe two or three cases of autism in her patients.
    Why the invective and ridicule aimed at the parents of autistic kids for wanting to change the way the government forces their kids to be inoculated? What does it have to do with religion? Good grief! I felt as if I entered the Twilight Zone after reading just a few of the comments. If you don’t have a horse in this race, why not keep your opinions to yourself? You sounded just as illogical as the people you maligned.

  51. Come to that, I’d love to see T S Garp show us evidence that Sweden has “lower incidents of autism”. http://www.autismfacts.com/services.php?page_id=137 seems to indicate quite the contrary. (Note that you should probably try to stick to the same definition first, and then try to match years and ages after that.)

  52. Elmar_M

    dori, You and most others that believe the Thimerosol (mercury which contains a mercury compound) in MMR vaccinations is causing autism, should actually INFORM YOURSELF ABOUT THE ISSUE!
    THAT THERE HAS BEEN NO THIMEROSOL/MERCURY IN MMR VACCINATIONS SINCE 1999!! Yet the autism numbers have INCREASED since then. They are actually LOWER in countries that still use Thimerosol in their vaccinations. So what does that mean? It means that there is no correlation between Thimerosol/Mercury in MMR vaccinations and autism. Even if there was, it is not being used anymore in the US!
    Ok I repeat, it has not been used in the US since 1999!
    So unless your great nephew is now 10, he never got mercury through vaccination. Also the symptoms of autism are very different from those caused by mercury poisoning.

  53. Elmar_M

    Oh, I am living in a country that I think still uses Thimerosol in the MMR vaccinations (not sure, dont care). Both my father and my baby sister are medical doctors.
    Guess what? They would personally kick me out of the family if I would not vaccinate my children (once I have some). Oh, I doubt that a conspiration between YOUR government and YOUR pharamceutical companies, would influence my sisters or my fathers opinions. Trust me, if you knew my sister you would understand and my dad, well he is semi famous for not being bribeable when it comes to his opinions (especially professionally).

  54. Richard

    @dori

    Look at some of the prior comments wherein there is no evidence of the link. The judge based his decision on the lack of a link. The evidence was brought forth by experts in the field.

    Look at prior entries where many people who have been vaccinated have no autism, and some non-vaccinated folks got autism.

    Most of the commentators did not simply follow some celebrity (with no medical background, no less) and say, “I believe what she says, because I saw it too.” They asked, they looked, they thought about it, then got tired of seeing comments like “Well, just because no studies have shown any link doesn’t mean that there isn’t a link.”

    Repeated facts:
    * Thimerosal was removed from most vaccines after 1999.
    * Autism rates climbed sharply after 1999
    * The one study that “conclusively” showed the link (and kick-starting the whole anti-vax thing) was done by one Dr. Wakefield
    * Dr. Wakefield’s study could not be repeated and was shown to be wrong before the latest revelation that hey may have, in fact, fudged his facts.
    * When it isn’t thimerosal that’s the link (because it’s not the link), anti-vaxxers offer up MMRs as the link saying “They put all kinds of crap in the kids, no wonder they get autistic, and stuff,” without realizing that these same kids probably have tasted real crap: doggy doo.

    The commentators who are by and large anti-anti-vaxxers have looked to the scientists in the field and looked over the evidence.

    There’s a pediatrician here in the St. Louis area who refuses to give these super-shots. She gives children their vaccinations over a period of months–one at a time–instead of putting them all in one huge bundle. She says she has had maybe two or three cases of autism in her patients.

    One commentator asked this question (I’ll paraphrase it): If there’s something inside the vaccine that’s a problem, they why increase the dosage of that something-wrong by giving out multiple shots rather than getting it all done in one shot? Wouldn’t you be giving less of that something-wrong in question?

    “If you don’t have a horse in this race, why not keep your opinions to yourself” Sorry, dear, this is America where anyone who can turn on a computer and find the letters on a keyboard can offer up their opinion, educated or otherwise. (For the record, you seem to be doing the “otherwise” bit.) We have a pediatrician who’ll pop his head in here and will let you know that he has checked for the link and has not found one…but he’s looking at other possible causes.

    Lastly, if there is a conspiracy (I’m not saying there is, just trying to gain absurdity points) I wouldn’t try to pin it on the pharmaceutical industry, aka, “Big Pharma.” Who’s pushing all of this anti-vaccination? What do they have to gain? I’d point my finger at “Pseudo Pharma,” but I think that they’re just as incapable of a conspiracy as the pharmaceutical industry.

    “You sounded just as illogical as the people you maligned” Then we agree the anti-vaxxers are an illogical lot?

    The truth is, scientists don’t know what causes autism, but they know enough to eliminate vaccines from the list of culprits.

  55. Timothy from Boulder

    “It was sickening to read the comments to this very disappointing judgment by the court. Have any of you folks actually talked to the families of autistic children or looked into why they feel there’s a correlation between Autism and the super-vaccinations?”

    Absolutely. They’ve been stated here. Kids get vaccines at about a year. Kids get autism at about a year. Some kids who get vaccines get autism at about a year. A grieving parent looks for a cause and blames a shot, egged on by a whole lot of other vocal people who imagine the same connection. It’s the same thing that makes you blame the mechanic for your timing belt breaking after you go in for an oil change.

    “My great nephew was a bright, vocal little infant who went from babbling and vocalizing normal infant noises before his first birthday to non-vocal (other than loud noises and weird movements) almost immediately after his first year MMR. It was that noticeable.”

    Sorry for your nephews health problems. That’s why research is done to carefully study these correlations to see which are causations. Otherwise it’s just an anecdote, and the plural of anecdote is not data. While it may seem obvious to you that vaccines are the cause, you have one single example. You can’t get to the actual cause by looking at select examples (the parents who see this and make a fuss); you must look at large numbers of children. It’s been done. It’s shown no causation. I’d be on the other side if it did.

    “It is a general opinion by parents of autistic children”

    Because they’re emotionally invested in it; are looking for a culprit to point at; and don’t understand statistics

    “and a growing number of physicians that the preservative and mercury in these bundled vaccines is possibly a factor.”

    No. They really aren’t.

    “It surely warrants further study, don’t you think?”

    It has been studied, it is being studied, and will continue to be studied. But you can’t just call for studies when you don’t get the results you want. All the studies point overwhelmingly to the opposite conclusion to the one you’ve arrived at.

    “There’s a pediatrician here in the St. Louis area who refuses to give these super-shots. She gives children their vaccinations over a period of months–one at a time–instead of putting them all in one huge bundle. She says she has had maybe two or three cases of autism in her patients.”

    Again, anecdotal.

    “Why the invective and ridicule aimed at the parents of autistic kids for wanting to change the way the government forces their kids to be inoculated?”

    First, “the government” does not force children to be innoculated. School districts and private groups do have rules about innoculation if you want your children to attend, but that’s your choice.

    Second, it’s because their lack of innoculation is a threat to the larger society. Their unvaccinated children can contract diseases that can kill my child.

    “What does it have to do with religion? Good grief! I felt as if I entered the Twilight Zone after reading just a few of the comments.”

    A hallmark of a religion is an unwillingness to sway from doctrine, regardless of the facts. Show me well-conducted studies that begin to show a link between autism and vaccines, and I’ll change my mind. But apparently the studies that show *no* cause can’t change your mind.

    “If you don’t have a horse in this race, why not keep your opinions to yourself? You sounded just as illogical as the people you maligned.”

    I *do* have a horse in the race, the health of my community and my children. If you’re going to use insist on using that specious argument, then I’ll argue that parents of autistic children should keep their opinions to themselves–their child already has autism, so a change in vaccines won’t help them.

  56. MartinM

    Thiomersal is not, and has never been used in MMR.

  57. CalamityJohn

    My 15 year old son has severe autism (he has a vocabulary of 6 words and to oversimplify functions at an 18 month old level .. a 5’11 and 230 lb 18 month old built like a linebacker … ) through a very torturous process we came to the decision not to vaccinate our two younger daughters ..

    Despite what you might think from reading that for the last 13 years I have considered myself (and still do consider myself) an agnostic on this issue …

    The issue has really seemed flame up in recent weeks with the (coincidental ?) trifecta of Dr. Offit’s books and articles, the Wakefield reporting, and now these court cases. Upon reading many blogs, comments, and articles it is very striking how many people tend to patronize, demonize, and trivialize how so many parents of children with autism could arrive at their vaccine concerns. I think that you are doing this at your own peril. I would hope that after this legal victory that the medical and scientific community promoting vaccination could take time for a bit of self reflection on societies and their own role in creating these concerns.

    shall we quote Phil’s own statement: “there’s a rule on the internet that when you call someone else a fool, chances are you’re the fool yourself.”

    The way you use the term “antivacc” is very similar to the way the “pro life” movement uses the term “pro abortion” to demonize those whom they disagree with. I don’t know people who are “anti vacc” … concerned about vaccination .. yes .. anti vaccination ??

    You should remember that for decades established and peer reviewed professional opinion was that autism was caused by the “emotional frigidity” of the mother .. This memory is fresher than you would think in large parts of the autism community and often parents face blame from doctors, therapists, teachers .. (people who should know better) .. and just general citizens .. for the symptoms of their child’s disorder. In 1995 when we first took our concerns of our son’s speech regression to our physician we were lectured on our parenting skills and given a list of video tapes on parenting to obtain.

    You should contemplate that watching your child lose his vocabulary and regress from age 2 to 3 is an incredible and terrible experience .. The idea that a regression like this has a far removed trigger is also an extraordinary claim .. especially when combined with the issue that after more than 6 decades of work on autism the seemingly prevalent theory of causation: some complex combination of genes perhaps interacting with some unknown environmental factor (that we are sure is not vaccines) is not very helpful to a spectrum disorder defined only of communication and behavioral symptoms.

    Recently we had a year where at the same time we were legally fighting our local school board over shortening the school day of the students in the autism center room (and nobody else) .. our state was fighting a legal battle defending their right to keep thousands of people with developmental disabilities on waiting lists for services .. Tens of thousands of people with developmental disabilities are on such waiting lists nationwide. Only 10 states have mandated autism be covered by insurance. This issue has fallen to defeat in several states .. usually to the argument that covering autism would raise rates for everybody else .. My experience is not unique it is common. The idea that your government is working for its own convenience against the interests of your child with autism is not some far off conspiracy it is an everyday reality.

    The fact that the pharmaceutical industry “donated” over $26 million dollars to political campaigns in the last election cycle should rightly bring it (or any similarly contributing industry) under question for the plutocratic influence that it seems to be trying to obtain.

    The medical industry needs to accept that when it operates a for profit .. for shareholders .. model that is going to create questions about its motivation and natural desire to limit liability. These concerns are constantly reinforced by what seems to be annual occurrence of the industry drug up to Capitol Hill to testify on the latest problem.

    You stir this pot together and you will find that many parents of children with autism will be very skeptical no matter how many studies you throw at their feet .. You are not going to defeat the skepticism with demonization, patronization, or trivialization .. it will take understanding, transparency, clean hands, and time

  58. Elmar_M

    The fact that the pharmaceutical industry “donated” over $26 million dollars to political campaigns in the last election cycle should rightly bring it (or any similarly contributing industry) under question for the plutocratic influence that it seems to be trying to obtain.

    The goddamn world does not just consist of the US, get that in your head, dammit! There are other countries, where lobbying and campaign financing of this kind is not possible, where pharmaceutical companies are much less powerful also.
    Also people have a very, very wrong, twisted picture of medical doctors. But what can I say, you all have probably never seen anything but MTV in your life. Media that gives a damn playboy bunny, airtime to vocalize her completely irrelevant opinions to the masses.
    You want to hear my opinion?
    Maybe she consumed to many drugs during her time at Mr Heffners (or whatever his name is) mansion and that caused the autism. Improbable? Maybe, but still more likely than the vaccination causes autism theory. And if she can throw arround wild accusations like that, I can too.

  59. Lawrence

    The problem is that “time” kills. Each child not vaccinated is a potential victim of, at minimum, measles, mumps, & rubella. Not to mention, if things really get back, maybe polio makes a come-back (just take a look at Nigeria).

    While I certainly understand parental concerns (as a new parent myself), there is more than enough science out there to show 1) No link between autism & vaccines 2) Childhood diseases kill, routinely – if not prevented 3) These parents forget about exposing children too young to be vaccinated to these same diseases

    I certainly don’t demonize them, patronize or trivialize them. I just don’t want them or their unvaccinated children anywhere near my son. That’s my parental perogative in action.

  60. KC

    Campbell Brown just made a very strong statement on CNN supporting vaccination – and notes that she is pregnant herself. Bravo.

  61. Radwaste

    Think carefully about polio. If you let it come back, it can come and get you. It’s not just for children. Neother are the others.

  62. J. Greer

    That is great news! All of my children are adults. All of them were protected as much as science would allow when they were growing up. I doubt that this will deter the nut jobs. :(

    Jeff

  63. baryogenesis

    There are millions, yes millions, of people who believe there is a correlation between the sun being in the astrological (not astronomical) sign of Gemini and certain personality traits and professions. Try to convince them there is no correlation and they will give anecdotal evidence of how Mercury (Gemini’s “ruling” planet) causes these things to be so.

  64. OtherRob

    Just out of curiosity — in light of all the arguments blaming “big pharma” for pushing vaccines on us — just how much money would big pharma make if these diseases were allowed to return?

  65. Chris

    OtherRob said ” just how much money would big pharma make if these diseases were allowed to return?”

    Lots more, if it includes hospital equipment from ventilators and IV-fluids. If you listen to the “This American Life” episode on the measles in San Diego, one baby was admitted to the hospital with a 106 degree fever and so dehydrated they could not put a line in (I think they ended up inserting it directly to his gut, can’t remember).

    Here is a paper noting how much it cost California’s Medi-Cal system during the last major measles outbreak twenty years ago:
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=8855680

  66. Chris

    Oh, I forgot… there would also be the cost of hearing aids, Braille books, seeing eye dogs, support for those who get paralyzed, and those cute child-sized coffins. Measles can cause deafness, blindness, paralysis, severe neurological damage and, of course, death (about 1 out of 1000).

  67. Sometimes the arrogance of people like Dori annoy the crap out of me when they assume because we pro-vaxxers don’t have family or are unfamiliar with autism. In my case it is my very dear nephews. Number 2 is autistic. We noticed something was wrong well before he sat up for the first time. He is 8 now and everyone is thrilled because for the last year or two he has been speaking. Some of it is gibberish but he can speak. Number 1, who is 10, was finally diagnosed as aspy this week. We’ve known for sometime that he has had issues like anxiety and other symptoms but it is good to finally know more so he can have programs put in place to help him cope. Heck, even he knew there was something wrong. Number 3 is 5 and gorgeous little boy and not aspy or autistic. His parents never considered not vaccinating as far as I know.

    We do know what it is like to deal with autistic children. We do understand the grief and the trauma the parents and families of autistic children are going through. Some of us prefer to follow the evidence rather than the anecdotes of a few distraught parents and the flat out lies of some of the antivaxxers.

  68. I just heard the news of the court ruling on the radio here in Oz too. It was mentioned after all the Victorian Bushfire news.

  69. And in other news from Oz. Territorians are being warned to be on the alert for measles…
    http://www.theage.com.au/breaking-news-national/territorians-on-alert-for-measles-20090213-86r2.html

  70. Dr. Jack Offing

    Is it time we question if mercury really is toxic? Come on! The EPA says mercury in liquids exceeding 200 ppb is hazardous waste. Today the “special masters” say its alright to inject infants with a solution that contains 50,000 ppb mercury 10 times or more. We need to re-think the mercury toxicity question.

  71. I stopped by the Age of Autism blog after reading the article. I posted the following comment.

    “Good, now that the vaccine witch hunt is over, we can start looking in earnest for the real causes of autism.”

    It was promptly censored. No open discussion allowed.

    So I stopped by my beloved Bad Astronomy, and I see that Dori and CalamityJohn are welcome to voice their opinions an thoughts here. Then others are able to clearly point out in respectful language where they have been misdirected by the anti-vax movement.

    The difference between the two blogs is clear. One is dependent on its readers not hearing any alternate viewpoints, and is against the idea of open dialog. The other is full of smart people.

    Dori and CalamityJohn, I hope you understand the disrespectful tone that many here use comes from a great frustration and dealing with anti-science people. They refuse to listen to new information, or engage in useful debate. They refuse to read peer reviewed studies. They refuse to listen to consensus among professionals. They stick their fingers in their ears and repeat the same lies over and over, louder and louder, hoping that just repeating it often enough will make it true.

    I hope you take the time to read some of the thoughtful responses posted to your comments.

  72. tacitus

    CalamityJohn, first nobody is belittling the tragedy of autistic children and I cannot even fathom the pain and anguish you and other parents of autistic children must go through. I doubt I would be strong enough to cope. But no amount of understanding and patience is going to sway the vocal antivaxer who, every day, poison the minds of more and more people who are at their most vulnerable against the benefits of vaccinations in keeping their children safe from harm.

    No amount of patience and understanding is going to help parents if and when their kids catch whooping cough or a severe dose of measles, risking death or the severe lifelong affects of what should have been an almost completely avoidable illness. When someone becomes an activist for a cause that is harming the health of our nation, and when they refuse to acknowledge the mass of medical and scientific evidence refuting that cause, and when they even refuse to acknowledge bald, plain, irrefutable facts, then they forfeit the right to be treated with patience and understanding. These people don’t want transparency. Transparency is their enemy — all they ever do is fudge and obfuscate the truth whenever it proves inconvenient to their cause.

    You and others like you are just as much victims of these people as those whose kids get diseases they should never have had. I completely understand why you would be wary about giving your other children vaccinations having lived through what you did. It would give anyone pause for thought. Why did it happen? We all would want to know It’s one thing to want answers, but it’s another to have people who have twisted those legitimate concerns into a pseudoscientific crusade whispering such nonsense into the ears of people who just want to know what happened to their kid. They are the ones to be vilified and demonized.

    One day we will understand the causes of autism, and hopefully we will be able to prevent it from happening to other kids. But think of the untold millions of dollars that have been wasted on proving and reproving what was already known and think of how much more research that money could have funded into the real causes of this terrible disease. Each day more kids develops autism is more blood on the hands of the antivax crusaders.

  73. ad

    Bart, so you went over and trolled? Not surprising you were censored. Perhaps if you posted a few times, got yourself known, you might be able to engage in some honest and meaningful debate with them. Just a thought…

  74. Ultima Thule

    Hello everyone. I am a skeptical and a science believer ;D

    just wanted to show a big discussion that i’ve been having against one anti-vax lunatic, read and enjoy. ad your point (i am the transtlantic in the discussion)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELx2eX_kM-w me against a123

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHJexlnl694 me against pondman27

    laugh out loud

  75. OtherRob

    Chris said:

    OtherRob said ” just how much money would big pharma make if these diseases were allowed to return?”

    Lots more, if it includes hospital equipment from ventilators and IV-fluids.

    The “big pharma just wants to sell vaccines” argument has always bugged me. Sure they make money on the vaccines. But just how much more money would they make if 50 million Americans suddenly developed measles or whopping cough? How many more jobs for the medical profession would be created?

    In one sense, big pharma/the medical establishment is actually hurting itself by convincing us all to get vaccinated….

  76. Grump

    @”Dr” Jack Offing

    We need to re-think the mercury toxicity question.

    No. We don’t. Because Hg hasn’t been used in vaccines in the US for nigh-on ten years.

    The fact has been repeated ad-nauseum in this very thread. Can you not read? Are you too lazy to read? Are you so blinkered that your mind deliberately blanks out when you see information that you disagree with?

    Do you think any pro-vax people here haven’t heard this hysterical, emotional “argument” a hundred times before? Do you think that by dropping in here, ignoring the whole thread, then dropping your little bowel-movement at the end of it, will change any damn thing?

    Or are you just that lowest form of internet life, the troll? If so, your bridge is missing you, please console the lonely thing.

    (No claims to have a child with autism, thus, IMHO, a legitimate target for scorn, derision, and insults.)

  77. Autumn

    I bet that there is a really good correlation between vaginal birth and the onset of autism a year or two later.
    Alert Jenny McCarthy.

  78. It’s been stated before, but I think it bears repeating: What about the naturlistic/holistic/homeopathic pseudo-science goobs who are hawking their “alternative” cures? I’d bet they’d stand to make as much, if not more than the pharmaceutical companies off the grief of parents of autistic children. With one stark difference, they’re not regulated in any sort of fashion the “big pharma” companies are. Vaccines go through rigorous R & D and clinical trials, but some dope dilutes saw palmetto or whatever and bangs a jar of water on a table a couple hundred times and calls it medicine, and the FDA either can’t or won’t say “boo”.

    And the believers keep believing and buying and buying and buying, all the while screaming conspiracy from the rooftop that “big pharma” is hiding the facts so they can keep up their profits.

    To quote Phil from earlier, “there’s a rule on the internet that when you call someone else a fool, chances are you’re the fool yourself”.

    Indeed…

  79. No ad, I didn’t troll. I stopped by a blog and left a comment. I came back to see if there was a response, but it was censored.

    Compare that to here, were two antivaxxers come in, make long winded appeals to emotion, and get good answers from the other posters. No censorship.

    Age of Autism censored my comments just because he didn’t agree with them. He censors because he refuses to open his mind to the chance he might be wrong in his dogmatic attacks on vaccinations.

  80. David Henry

    Sorry to just pop in like this, first post, but i was just wandering around youtube and found this little video series regarding the topic of Autism in Vaccines. I should probably put this under the other one where there were doubts cast on the original publication as this is perhaps more relevant there, but the more recent entry (This one) is more likely to draw attention (Especially considering that the other entry has been kicked back to the next page).

    The link to the first video is below, the rest can be reached through the sidebar or through the the persons channel page. This is almost criminally under viewed.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPwEdeW10z8

    The start of the second video presents some rather convincing points to indicate that the original paper by Wakefield was fraudulent, and known to be such since at least 2004.

    On second thought, here is the link to the second video. The information is right at the start:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U255geK9aYQ

    Anyhoo. Have a good one.

    -David

  81. dori

    Bart, your latest posting preceding mine makes it obvious why you were censored at the other blog. It looks like you go looking for a fight.Why is it that two people with opposing viewpoints to the majority of the respondents –both very articulate and reasonable people, I might add– are accused of being emotional, ignorant saps, while all of the other people posting with you are considered to be thoughtful posters? No bias there, right?
    Believe it or not, the consensus this issue is pretty much fifty-fifty. I hope there will continue to be much research into what causes autism, regardless of how much the people in your camp try to suppress those of us with an opposing view. What does it matter to you folks if we choose not to overly inoculate our children? If yours are getting their vaccines, they won’t be getting any diseases from our kids.
    BTW, the issue is these super doses of vaccines–not totally refusing to vaccinate our kids. Mine are long grown and had all their shots at the required times. Luckily they didn’t have the supershots then, so they all came through without any ill effects. Shoot, back in my day we all got measles and chickenpox as a natural rite of passage and no one was getting immunized against these common childhood diseases. When they came up with a way to keep kids from having to go through that, it was a great thing, but it appears they’ve kind of gone overboard with it.
    I saw what happened to my great-nephew just a few weeks after getting his MMR. He regressed drastically. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the MMR vaccine or not, but the coincidence was pretty convincing to us. Autism has reached epidemic proportions and there’s a reason for that. I’d like to know why, wouldn’t you?

    Timothy from Boulder says years of proof by a local doctor is “anecdotal” when she says that these large supershots are the problem and that she has only seen a couple of cases of autism in all of her years of practice because she gives the vaccines one at a time. Who is being willfully ignorant? He also says,
    “First, “the government” does not force children to be innoculated. School districts and private groups do have rules about innoculation if you want your children to attend, but that’s your choice.”
    Some choice–either get your kids vaccinated, or they can’t come to school. Who do you think makes these “rules”? Who dictates to the school districts? You guessed it–the government. The school districts depend on the government monies handed out for each kid and comply with all government regulations. You are not allowed to send little Johnny to school unvaccinated, so the government does indeed force children to be inoculated.

    Let me guess, Timothy, you think anyone who says the sun is more a cause of global warming than man’s use of greenhouse gases and weather patterns are cyclical is an ignorant religious fanatic, right?

    My great-nephew may very well have already been genetically predisposed towards autism, but what if it WAS the supershot he was given at one year old? I’d like to know more before simply dismissing it because to question it is to risk being called names.

  82. Karl

    Speaking of vaccines.
    Recently The Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care, SBU, announced a study where they reviewed the scientific literature for some of the vaccines that are part of the Swedish child vaccination programme.

    The press release, in Swedish inly, may be found here:
    http://www.sbu.se/sv/Press/Pressmeddelande-2009/Barnvacciner-sakra-och-livraddande/

    Part of the press release, with my translation:

    • Kombinerad vaccination mot mässling, påssjuka och röda hund skyddar mot dessa sjukdomar och mot de allvarliga följdproblem som de kan ge. Feber är dock en vanlig biverkan, och risken för feberkramper ökar under de två första veckorna efter vaccinationen. Men vaccination ökar inte risken för autism, epilepsi, diabetes typ 1 eller allvarliga infektioner som kräver sjukhusvård.

    The MMR vaccine protects against these illnesses and the serious side effects they may lead to. Fever is a common side effect and the risk of febrile seizures is increased the first twoo weeks after the vaccination. The vaccine does not increase the risk of autism, epilepsy diabetes type 1 or serious infections that require medical care at hospital.

    • Allmän vaccination mot kikhosta – en mycket smittsam infektion som kan bli långdragen och få allvarliga följder – skyddar barn från att insjukna och gör att färre behöver vårdas på sjukhus. Skyddet varar minst fem år efter tre eller fyra doser. Den samlade forskningen tyder inte på att vaccinet skulle orsaka allvarliga biverkningar.

    Common vaccination for whooping cough – a very contagious disease that may be lengthy and give serious side effects – protects children from getting sick and lessen the number of children in need of care at hospital. The protection lasts for at least fie years after three or four doses. The gathered research does not indicate any serious side effects.

    • Vaccination mot bakterien Haemophilus influenzae typ b (Hib) ger ett effektivt skydd, och det vetenskapliga stödet för detta är starkt. Skyddet varar minst 3–5 år. Hib-infektioner kan vara allvarliga, och inga data tyder på att Hib-vaccin skulle ge allvarliga biverkningar.

    The vaccination for the bacteria Haemophilus influenzae typ b (Hib) gives an effective protection and the scientific support for this is strong. The protection lasts at least 3-5 years. Hib infections may be serious and no data suggest that the vaccine should have any serious side effects.

    • Vaccination mot hepatit B (som bara erbjuds vissa barn) skyddar effektivt mot den infektion som kan skada levern. I mycket sällsynta fall kan vaccinet ge en allvarlig överkänslighetsreaktion. Det finns inte tillräckligt med vetenskapligt underlag för att vare sig utesluta eller bekräfta att hepatit B-vaccin skulle kunna ge multipel skleros (MS), men de data som finns idag talar sammantaget mot ett orsakssamband. Det finns inget som tyder på att vaccinet ger andra allvarliga biverkningar.

    The vaccination for Hepatitis B (which is only offered to some children) gives an effective protection against the infection that may harm the liver. In very rare cases the vaccine can give a serious allergic reaction. There are not enough scientific data to neither eliminate nor confirm that the Hepatitis B vaccine can cause Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but the available data suggest that there is no connection. There is nothing that suggest that the vaccine should have any other serious side effects.

    • Vaccination mot tuberkulos (som bara erbjuds vissa barn) kort efter nyföddhetsperioden skyddar tre av fyra barn mot olika former av tuberkulos, åtminstone under de fem första åren. Spridd tuberkulos är en livsfarlig men ytterst sällsynt biverkan av vaccinationen. Den förekommer hos kanske 1 barn av 100 000 vaccinerade, och drabbar framför allt barn med en sällsynt genetisk immunbristsjukdom, som också ökar risken för andra sjukdomar. För att hinna upptäcka immunbristsjukdomen rekommenderas det numera i Sverige att vaccination mot tuberkulos ges först efter 6 månaders ålder, inte till helt nyfödda.

    The vaccination for Tuberculosis (which is only offered to some children) shortly after the child is born* protects three out of four children against different kinds of tuberculosis, at least during the first five years. Disseminated tuberculosis is a lethal but extremely rare sied effect. It occurs in maybe 1 child of 100 000 vaccinated, and affects mainly with a rare immune system deficiency, which also increase the risk of other diseases. In order to find the immune system deficiency it is now recommended in Sweden that the vaccine for tuberculosis is given when the child is older than 6 months, not to newborns.

    * I have no good translation of “nyföddhetsperioden “, but in essence it is a period just after the child is born.

    De allmänna barnvaccinationer som inte ingår i SBU:s granskning gäller vaccin mot difteri, stelkramp, polio och pneumokockinfektion.

    The common child vaccinations that are not part of the SBU review are vaccines against diphteria, tetanus, polio and pneumococci infection.

    ~*~

    As far as I can tell, there is unfortunately no English version of the report, but there is always the option to mail them and ask for it. They may translate it if enough people are interested.

    URL: http://www.sbu.se/en
    Mail: info@sbu.se

    Take care,
    /Karl

  83. MartinM

    Believe it or not, the consensus this issue is pretty much fifty-fifty.

    Not in the scientific community, which is where it counts.

    What does it matter to you folks if we choose not to overly inoculate our children? If yours are getting their vaccines, they won’t be getting any diseases from our kids.

    This is a remarkably wrong statement.

    1) No medical intervention is perfect, and vaccination is no exception; vaccines have a failure rate. Vaccination greatly reduces the chances of contracting a disease, but does not eliminate it altogether.
    2) Some people have genuine medical reasons for not being vaccinated.
    3) Some people’s immune systems are compromised due to illness; such people are susceptible to disease even if they’ve been fully vaccinated.
    4) Most vaccines are not given at birth. Young children remain at risk until they receive their vaccinations.
    5) Some vaccines wear off over time. Older members of the population are at increased risk.

    So yes, it matters if your children are not vaccinated. It not only places them at unneccesary risk, but others too. This is not some obscure, arcane piece of knowledge. It doesn’t require an indepth knowledge of medicine to grasp it. It’s elementary. It’s basic. It’s something anyone who wishes to claim to be informed on the topic ought to know. You want to know why some people are called ignorant here? Because it’s true. You sound off at great length on a topic you clearly haven’t bothered to properly familiarise yourself with, a topic on which lives depend. This tends to annoy people. If you want to convince others that you have a legitimate point, you’re going to have to do due dilligence and ensure that you’re informed on the subject first.

  84. Elmar_M

    Again Dor, your account of your nephew, as sad as it is, is purely coincidential. Just because there is a timely coincidence between two events, does not mean there is a causal coincidence.
    Also, would you have made the connection, if you had not read about the “possibility” (falsly produced anyway) of the two things being connected somewhere?
    I guess not. It is the same as it is with “mediums”. Your memory is basically playing tricks on you.

  85. I’m baffled by some people’s inability to learn (or read).

    Now, someone is probably going to repeat the inanity about mercury in vaccines causing autism, in a comment below this one.

    Since I haven’t yet read that comment (since it’s not yet written), I feel free to call the author an idiot in advance. Idiot! If you have children with autism, sorry for calling you an idiot, even though I did mean it.

  86. Grump

    @Lars: Premptive insults? I like it! Saves so much time in the long run. :)

  87. “Believe it or not, the consensus this issue is pretty much fifty-fifty. ”

    @dori: Based on what? I’m not even sure that the consensus is 50/50 even among us parents of autistic children.

  88. Gary Ansorge

    OK! I think I have this whole thing figured out. Big Pharma has decided there is more money to be made treating people sick with typhoid, tetanus,typhus,diphtheria,cholera,polio,etc,etc,etc, than there is to be made off cheap vaccines and keeping people well. So the anti-vax movement must be funded by Big Pharma.

    See how much sense THAT makes???

    Dang, my meds must be wearing off,,,

    GAry 7

  89. Todd W.

    It seems this needs to be stated every freakin’ vaccination thread, regarding mercury (since David M once again trolls by).

    First off, there are no Federal guidelines on the amount of exposure to ethyl mercury, so saying that the amount of mercury in vaccines surpasses EPA limits on mercury exposure is flat-out wrong. The EPA guidelines are for methylmercury, which is a different compound that behaves quite differently in the body.

    Second, for the majority of vaccines, thimerosal was removed back in 2001, IIRC. The last vaccines that still had thimerosal in them would have been expired by 2002 at the latest. The remainder of vaccines that contain thimerosal (primarily some, not all, flu vaccines) have trace or very small amounts. So, overall exposure is even less than it was 30-40 years ago.

    Third, thimerosal was removed largely due to public pressure. The FDA has a very nice FAQ on the history. When the decision was made, the research that was presented was inconclusive, so a “better safe than sorry” approach was used. Furthermore, single-use vials of the vaccines were available, negating the real need for the preservative in the U.S. Since that time, more studies have been done which show zero correlation between thimerosal and autism.

    Fourth, as one person already commented, thimerosal has never been in the MMR vaccine.

    Fifth, as I noted above, the type of mercury in thimerosal (ethyl mercury) is eliminated from the body over the course of several days to a couple weeks. The short half-life of ethyl mercury means that it is extremely unlikely to be able to build up in the body. Contrast this with methylmercury (the kind found in fish and other environmental sources), which stays in the body for many weeks, having much more time to build up to toxic levels.

    Sixth, autism rates have continued to climb, despite the significantly reduced exposure to thimerosal. This suggests that thimerosal is not connected in any way to autism. If it were, we should have seen some decrease in autism rates within the last several years, but we haven’t. Furthermore, studies among populations with no- or low-vaccination rates, as well as among those with no- or low-levels of thimerosal exposure, show comparable autism rates to populations with higher vaccination rates/thimerosal exposure. Again, if thimerosal were a causal factor, the rates in the low- or no- groups should be significantly smaller, but they aren’t.

    Finally, thimerosal is an effective antimicrobial agent. The reason that it is used in vaccine production is because it prevents the growth of bacteria and fungi in the vaccines or constituent ingredients. Such contamination puts patients at significantly higher risk of illness or injury than any risk of injury from the preservative itself.

    Do some research about thimerosal. Read what the FDA, CDC, NIH and similar agencies around the world have to say about it.

  90. Nigel Depledge

    TS Garp said:

    Let me get this right, we have been told over and over again that mercury is a toxin, even a small amount causes brain damage.

    What do you mean by “a small amount”?

    As with all such things, dose is everything.

    Vitamin C is toxic if you take enough of it. Similarly, very small amounts of mercury are harmless (and, indeed, unavoidable, being in the air we breathe and the water we drink) – and I cannot recall off the cuff what the exposure limits for mercury are.

    I can guarantee that the amount of mercury in the vaccine dose is far smaller than the exposure limit, which in turn will be substantially less than the dose levels that have been demonstrated to cause harm.

    So what’s your beef, exactly?

    Thermasol is a mercury-based preservative used in vaccines.

    Yeah, see above.

    In countries where children are given fewer vaccines, such as Sweden,

    Wait, what?

    Shouldn’t that be “more” vaccines? I’m pretty sure Sweden as a nation is one of those where vaccination is seen as a good thing (because most Swedish public policy is actually based on rational thinking). If I am wrong, I would be happy to read whichever reliable reference you can quote on this point.

    there are lower incidents of autism. In the Amish community, who do not vaccinate their children, their are near zero cases of autism.

    Which proves nothing. The environmental and lifestyle differences between a typical American and the Amish are huge, and it could be any of them, or some combination, or it could be mostly genetic with environmental triggers.

    We don’t know what causes autism.

    However, we do know some things that don’t cause autism. Vaccines is one of these.

    Granted that the life style and eating habits in Sweden and on an amish farm are better than in the rest of U.S.A., but there is something different.

    Many hundreds of things, probably.

    It must be some other environmental factor. If not vaccines, what is it?

    Two logical flaws here: one, it doesn’t have to be environment alone. There could be some genetic component that has yet to be uncovered. Two, just because we don’t know what causes autism, this does not add any weight to the claim that vaccines cause autism. As I have said, we really do know some factors that don’t cause autism.

    I suppose the fact that the eugenists movement of early twentith century stated in their own documents that population control of “undersirables” could be achieved through tainted vaccinations is just a coincidence too.

    And completely irrelevant. Did you have a point?

    If you think that a goverment court has the interests of its citizens at heart, you’re a damn fool.

    But, seemingly, less of a fool than you, who does not appear to know a ludicrous argument when it plops out of your keyboard.

  91. Todd W.

    Oh, and just a clarification to my previous post. I am not saying that mercury is 100% safe and happy. It has known health risks. FDA, however, has ensured that exposure to the kind used in vaccines and other medicines, is kept to a minimum.

  92. Timothy from Boulder

    I hate when posts degenerate into a flame war, so I’m going to say this as a clarification, not as an agument, and then drop the matter.

    “Timothy from Boulder says years of proof by a local doctor is “anecdotal” when she says that these large supershots are the problem and that she has only seen a couple of cases of autism in all of her years of practice because she gives the vaccines one at a time.”

    Yes. A single doctor’s experience in this case is anecdotal. She can’t compare it against the rate of autism she would have seen if she had given the supershots, and even if she could, that’s only a tiny fragment of the population. That’s why studies with large populations are needed.

    Again, I would change my mind if the data showed otherwise.

    “Some choice–either get your kids vaccinated, or they can’t come to school … You are not allowed to send little Johnny to school unvaccinated, so the government does indeed force children to be inoculated.”

    I make very clear distinction when I use the word “force”. The government “forces” you to pay taxes, that is, if you do not pay taxes there are criminal pentalies (even if you are poor and think you can’t afford it). The government does not force you to get a driver’s license, though, unless you want to drive a car. It’s a requirement to particpate in a particular activity. You don’t have to send your child to public school. You can send him to private school or home school (even if you are poor and think you can’t afford it). It is not a criminally enforceable offense to refuse to vaccinate your child … or, if you believe it matters, to vaccinate him with a supershot.

    ‘Nuff said.

  93. Dori, the core issue I posted about was censorship. You are free to comment here as long as you keep the language clean (Phil tries to keep this a safe place for kids to read). Beyond that, this is an open forum that allows uncensored discussion. The moderator at Age of Autism refuses to consider that he might be wrong, and censors opposing viewpoints. I read other comments on other topics, and found no major dissenting views. He just wants a cheering crowd, not a real conversation.

    My comment was brief, but sincere. I just said it was time to look for other causes, and stop blaming vaccines. The studies have been done and they don’t cause autism. They have been shown to clearly reduce the incidents of disease.

    Just because a stay at home mother reads a couple of books does not make her an expert in the field. People dedicate almost a decade of their lives in daily learning to be able to understand all of the issues involved in disease. Spending some time on Google does not make you have the same level of understanding these professionals do. These armchair specialists have about as much clout in the immunization field as your car mechanic does in surgery room. Expertise counts, it means something. If we just start basing public policy on peoples opinions, then we might as well go back to using leaches and bleeding instead of modern medicine.

    Not vaccinating does have an effect on other people. Vaccinations are not primarily individual protection, they are used to great herd immunity. The anti-vax movement is quick to point out that vaccines don’t always work. Its true! Thats why it’s important to have as many people vaccinated as possible, to prevent the spread of infections.

    I am more than open to admitting I might be wrong. Vaccines very well may cause autism. Show me a study that makes that claim. I am willing to review any set of data. To date, the only thing I have seen from those against vaccinations are anecdotes and lies.

  94. Gary Ansorge

    We should be seeking genetic triggers for developmental disorders in the biological realm, in the form of parasites, bacterial or viral infections. When you have a population , such as here in the USA with its multi-ethnic, high density environment, there is a probability of lateral transfer of unknown infectious agents which then, some time down the road, trigger genetic disorders that might never BE triggered in an isolated population. It took a long time for us to determine that ulcers were caused by a bacterium, mainly because the onset of symptoms occurred long after the initial infection had destroyed the cells responsible for generating the mucus lining in the stomach. I expect autism will prove to be initiated by something similar and will likely only apply to those with a specific genetic predisposition to autism.

    Thus we need:

    1) to isolate the genetic link
    2) find the bacterial/viral initiating vector
    3) then maybe we can develop an early warning test(like for PKU) that will allow us to prevent autism(like maybe a vaccine to the specific initiating vector).

    (If we do develop a vaccine for autism, what will the anti-vaxers do?)

    Gary 7

  95. Todd W.

    @Gary Ansorge

    I recently heard about a study (sorry, I don’t have a link) that suggested that elevated levels of testosterone in the amniotic fluid may be a warning factor for autism.

  96. David M.

    @Todd W. -“It seems this needs to be stated every freakin’ vaccination thread, regarding mercury (since David M once again trolls by)”

    Did you actually read my second post, where I found that a can of tuna has roughly TWICE the mercury that a vaccine dose had when thimerisol was in use? Or did you notice that in my first post I pointed out that there are two different flavors of mercury, and that the vaccine type is less toxic?

    I’m on your side. If you bothered to read what I wrote rather than flaming me, you might recognize that.

  97. Todd W.

    @David M

    Sorry. I mistook you for the person that in previous posts has said things like “mercury happy talkers” or something similar. I reread your posts and stand corrected. Once again, apologies.

  98. Misunderstanding or not, Todd, it does bear repeating. I’ve sampled a few of the comments sections on different sites’ reporting of this, and they’re stuffed full of the usual mercury militia, “Big Pharma” comspiracy talkers and just general stupidity.

  99. Peptron

    What is the exact point defended by the anti-vaccination movement? That mercury in vaccines causes autism? That mercury causes autism? That vaccines in themselves cause autism? That vaccines cause autism, but only on US soil? That mercury-free vaccines cause autism by homeopathic mercury poisoning? (overdosing on mercury due to excessive absence of mercury)

  100. Muzz

    In short, yes.
    And that all of the above needs to be continuously researched until one of them is inevitably proven (to do otherwise is to provide evidence of a cover-up)

  101. Gary Ansorge

    “,,,inconvenient facts are merely the means conspirators use to hide their conspiracy,,,”

    No matter what researchers say, opposed viewpoints(anti-vaxers) can always attribute their research to a vested interest.

    Even when we point out the logical inconsistency of a pharmaceutical company being able to make a LOT more money by NOT encouraging vaccine use, anti-vaxers will insist their POV is the only right one.

    Sounds a lot like religion, doesn’t it???

    Facts: such an inconvenience,,,

    GAry 7

  102. Gary Ansorge

    Randy Newman has a great song on Monk:” This world you love so much might just be trying to kill you,,,”

    The universe is a chaotic place. It has no compassion, no desire, is neither good nor evil.
    We, as self replicating, self sustaining data patterns(AKA life) have the ability to organize the mass/energy of this universe into a pattern that shives a get. WE are the progenitors of love and compassion. WE decide good and evil.

    If there is a god, it must be us.

    One of the inconvenient facts of reality is that the universe doesn’t care how many humans suffer from autism but if we ask the right questions in just the right way, it will honestly reveal to us the cause of our disability.

    So long as people think of themselves as victims of human conspiracies, just so long will we be unable to focus our attention and resources on discovering the real cause of our discomforts.

    Gary 7

  103. Andy

    @David M

    Maybe the fact that Tuna contains mercury is why the FDA recommends that pregnant/nursing mothers and young children are not supposed to eat much tuna…
    http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/admehg3.html
    You can’t argue that thimerisol was never a problem (it looks like that’s what you’re attempting) by stating it has less mercury than another product which also should not be given to infants. Name a product containing mercury that is safe for infants to ingest/consume if you’re going to make this argument. For all I know, feeding tuna to a baby, or perhaps even nursing mothers eating a lot of tuna could be a factor in autism.

    (Settle down, vaccination lovers, I’m not saying vaccinations do or do not still have mercury, I’m talking about 10+ years ago when you’re all saying they did…)

    Also, I’ve seen repeated in these comments many times that autism rates shot up after thimerisol was removed from vaccinations. What is the significance of this statistic? Should thimerisol be added back to vaccinations because it was actually helping to prevent autism?

    Before I’ll believe vaccinations have nothing to do with autism, I’d like to see a study done on non-vaccinated kids who have autism. What was their diet? What was their mother’s diet if she was nursing them? What kind of environment did they live in?
    If anyone knows of such a study, please post a link.

    I’m not “pro-vacc” or anti-vacc….just trying to understand the facts by getting info and asking questions. My wife is pregnant, and I want to make an informed decision here…so I’m listening to the “Mercury Militia” and the “I’m in Love With Vaccinations!” crowds to see who has better facts/logic. Seems like most commenting on this blog are really gung-ho about vaccinations being great for you and there’s no chance of side-effects (such as autism), which is odd to me. Isn’t it possible that certain kids are pre-disposed to getting autism and a vaccination can put them over the top? So the vaccination alone wouldn’t have caused it, but that was the tipping point?

    Thanks!

  104. @Todd W. “Sixth, autism rates have continued to climb, despite the significantly reduced exposure to thimerosal.”

    I could have swore you took the opposite position in previous threads which was that autism rates have NOT climbed – it’s all an artefact of better diagnosis, greater awareness, yata, yata, yata. Have you recently changed your position on this question?

    On your previous comment which was:

    “This is going to be a huge emotional blow to a lot of families, and I hope that they can get through it and overcome any feelings of anger or outrage so they can put their energies into finding the real causes and doing the best by their children.”

    Nah, not so much. My son is still autistic today. He will be autistic tomorrow. He will still be autistic next week, and so on, regardless of all this hoo ha. I never bought into the whole autism-vaccine link crap so I have no emotional investment in it. So relieved that’s over. So now all of us autism families can put our energies into finding the real cause of autism – yeah, like that’s ever going to happen without some major government funding. Obama? Obama? Where the heck are you on this issue, Mr. Presidente?

  105. Elmar_M

    As always looking at genetics is certainly a good idea.
    Here are multiple (possible) explanations that have been studied so far:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209205049.htm
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090209094403.htm

    Of course the antiscience and anti vaxxer- crowd would never accept an explanation like this because it could imply:
    1. That it is kinda their fault (though of course noone could blame anyone for his genetic makeup.
    2. That they would have to look into genetics which are “evil” according to the catholic church, G.W. Bush as well as FOX, Gatacca, TV shows like “eleventh hour” and other garbage that is floating arround the media.

    Anyway, genetics are awesome. No day goes by where molecular biology does not discover something new and exciting about us. This branch of science also is a frontrunner in cleaning up nonsense and missconceptions.

  106. Grant

    @Tom Marking:
    http://www.usnews.com/blogs/on-parenting/2009/1/21/autism-screening-tops-obamas-medical-to-do-list.html
    And before you say it… yes it’s largely campaign promises, but c’mon, the man’s only been president 24 days, and this whole financial crisis thingamabober is kinda important.

  107. Todd W.

    @Tom Marking

    My position has been that the apparent spike in cases around the early- mid-’90s was likely due to better diagnosis, etc., not that autism cases were not increasing.

    As for the emotional blow thing, I was thinking more in terms of those families who have invested a great deal emotionally, and in some cases, financially, into the vaccine-autism bit. Over 5,000 cases filed in the Omnibus and even more supporters and the like across the country. My hope is that they will stop pressuring for more research into a supposed vaccine link and pressure for greater funding into other areas of research that are showing more promise, such as the genetic and pre-natal aspects. My comment was not directed toward folks like you, Tom, who already knew better and are already advocating for better services for their kids, as well as for research funding into the areas I just mentioned.

    I know you and I don’t always see eye to eye on the issues involved, but I do count you as among the enlightened parents of people with autism. I mean no offense to you or anyone that has dealt with autism.

  108. Andy Cooke

    For dori and others on the “anti-vaccination” side,

    Maybe you’ll accept my opinions aren’t thoughtless or uncaring. I have a five year old son who presents as severely autistic, so I’m not disinterested in this.
    I’ll also make a rather categoric statement: The MMR vaccine does not cause, trigger, or encourage ASD.

    It’s not subject to opinion, or arguable. It’s proven. And I’d like the colossal amount of attention being given to this absurd wild goose chase to be diverted back to studying what does actually cause the condition and what treatments may be of use, please.

    It’s proven because if you avoid the triple-jab and go to single jabs, the rate of increase in ASD is undiminished. Forget Wakefield’s flawed and misreported trial on 12 children (for whom, when medical records of the childrens’ conditions were checked, it was shown that the post facto association by some of the parents of the onset of symptoms with the MMR vaccine was misremembered by the distraught parents – for many of them, the symptoms had been reported before the jab). Look at an entire country which shifted from the 3-in-1 “superjab” as you call it to individual shots.

    “The incidence of all autistic spectrum disorders, and of autism, continued to rise after MMR vaccine was discontinued. The incidence of autism was higher in children born after 1992 who were not vaccinated with MMR than in children born before 1992 who were vaccinated. The incidence of autism associated with regression was the same during the use of MMR and after it was discontinued. ” (H Honda et al. No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 2005 doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01425.x)

    Take a look at the words “a total population study”. Not the impressions of twelve sets of distressed parents. The actual facts from an entire country over several years. And the autism increase continued. Why?

    Here in the UK, the MMR vaccine was only introduced in 1988. Autism pretty much predated that year, as I recall. Indeed, the frightening increase in autism dates from well before.

    And as for the “measles is a part of childhood” thing. Do you know how many people wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for that immunisation? It’s hard to say, but simple arithmetic comparing rates of measles infection and consequence before the mass vaccination programme and after it began shows that in the first twenty years of the programme alone, 5,200 children did not die who would have been expected to in the USA alone. Five thousand two hundred young lives NOT snuffed out in pain and fear.

    Would you turn back the clock and erase the vaccination programme? Knowing that for the 1971-1991 period you’d be killing nearly twice the number of people who died on 9/11. With, in fact, all of those people being innocent children.

    And, of course, the fact that these diseases didn’t always simply kill. In that same period, 17,400 children were NOT afflicted with mental retardation as a consequence of a raging case of measles.

    And if you wouldn’t do that, if you do accept that the programme is beneficial, why on Earth oppose it now? Why damage the herd immunity that was pushing these child-killers towards extinction? It’s not just “your children” who are in danger. If they come down with it from any other source – and measles cases are on a sharp rise because the proportion of children protected is falling – and they go anywhere that there are toddlers who are too young to have had the vaccine, then you are exposing other people’s children to that danger. And if I had toddlers who caught measles from a child of someone who had refused vaccination for their children, and my toddler developed serious complications, then I for one would find it very difficult to forgive that other parent, when the evidence has been presented pretty much irrefutably again and again and again.

    On the bright side, my son Xander is responding well to visual prompts and techniques and has made major steps recently with verbalisation. There’s a useful programme here in the UK called “EarlyBird Plus” which is aimed at parents with ASD children, giving excellent information on the effects and challenges of autism for parents and their children, as well as a great deal of highly useful advice on strategies for coping and minimising the distress to the children (and families) and encouraging dvelopment. If you’re in the UK with a child with ASD and you haven’t heard about it, ask at your GP.

  109. MartinM

    @David M

    Sorry. I mistook you for the person that in previous posts has said things like “mercury happy talkers” or something similar.

    An easy mistake to make, as that fellow also goes by David M.

  110. Jen

    Andy says: Before I’ll believe vaccinations have nothing to do with autism, I’d like to see a study done on non-vaccinated kids who have autism. What was their diet? What was their mother’s diet if she was nursing them? What kind of environment did they live in?
    If anyone knows of such a study, please post a link.>>>>

    Purely anecdotal…but I have an unvaccinated child with autism. Please read my comments regarding my theory of what is behind the rise in autism here:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/02/07/did-the-founder-of-the-antivax-movement-fake-autism-vaccine-link/

  111. CalamityJohn

    I am sorry I am just getting back to this now .. hard to tear myself away from “Headbangers Ball”

    It seems to me that many of the posters here a “very, very wrong, twisted picture” of these concerned parents. What % of risk does one have to see in vaccines before one is demonized as “antivaxx” ? 10%, 1%, .01%, .0001%, 00000001%, infallible?

    One of the things that seems to be consistently misunderstood by many posters on this blog is the idea that the people you are concerned about are part of a top down organization .. being led away from reason by Pied Pipers of lunacy .. the reverse is true it is a bottom up .. when you watch your child’s language dissolve in front of your eyes from age 2 to 3 .. then find so many other people with the same experience you don’t need a Playmate or a British physician to draw the conclusion .. and alleviating the concerns of these parents will have nothing to do with discrediting any of these “leaders” .. In my opinion it is going to take a well researched and believable causality.

    Watching this striking event is far more terribly impressive than any number of epidemiological studies done from afar .. watching it happen makes it far harder to dismiss as thousands upon thousands of coincidences ..

    Here is some language charting we did soon after we became concerned about the regression … (this is meant to me demonstrative not some emotional play).

    Andrew, away – Go (a)way, Baby (often as self reference), bad, bed, Bug (nick name), Big Bird, Bodie (name of dog), brush teeth, choo-choo, close, color, cookie, Cookie Monster, dada – daddy, do – I do, you do, mommy do etc… doggie, down, done, Donna (Grandma’s name), draw, duck, E-I-E-I-O, go, good, good morning, happy, hi, I (the pronoun) – often in two word phrase, it, it’s , jump, kitty, letters (knows all in order), love, Mama, Mommy, me. meanie, mine, no, numbers (1 – mid teens), open, pee – go pee pee, I pee pee, potty, poo poo, quack, Rachel (mom’s name), sessie street (sesame street), sleep, that’s easy, tickle, toy, tuggie (Tug Boat), up, yahoo, yes, yeah, you, yum – mmm -mmm

    Here it is months later after regression (and where his verbal language has stayed for 13 years) – he uses these words about biweekly .. most of the time he is nonverbal.
    bug (nickname), good buggy, daddy, mommy, meanie,

    It is nice to know that in a single generation the (many) parents of children with autism have moved in the eyes of peer reviewed science from the cause of their children’s disorder by bad parenting to the cause of potential world wide pandemic .. maybe in another generation we’ll take over the world

  112. dori

    Elmer:
    You asked: “… would you have made the connection, if you had not read about the “possibility” (falsly produced anyway) of the two things being connected somewhere?”‘

    My great-nephew is almost 5 years old. His autism symptoms appeared almost 4 years ago. At that time the theory that the MMR might be the cause was just being advanced–at least to the best of my knowledge. As I said in my post, my kids all had their MMR and other shots in a timely manner, so the charge that I am in some “anti-vac camp” is ludicrous and untrue. But something changed in the recent years in the makeup of the vaccines. I’m going on what the doctor from St. Louis was saying. She thinks it is when they put all of the vaccines together that causes the problem and she DOES see the link between vaccines of that type and autism increasing to epidemic proportions. She is a physician, which I think gives her a hint of legitimacy to speak to scientific matters. *-)

    I don’t have any “evidence” other than a strong suspicion that it is when you give the children all of these vaccines bundled together (a far more potent combination from what I’ve read) there is a preservative added (I had thought it was mercury, but just know it is something they weren’t using 10-15 years ago). I’m not trying to pass myself off as an expert and don’t appreciate the condescending tone of some of your fellow posters. To condescend to people, one assumes it is from a more superior viewpoint, and I think my opinion is as valid as theirs.

    Thank you for your polite response. I knew when I spoke up I’d draw a little ire and I’d be accused of having an agenda, but I felt I needed to speak out. I sure do hope you folks are right, but I’d like to see more research into this issue.

  113. David M.

    “I don’t have any “evidence” other than a strong suspicion… I think my opinion is as valid as theirs.”

    Opinions that are backed up by actual evidence are more valid than those that are backed up by suspicions. That’s the way things work.

  114. RickK

    Andy Cooke said: “For dori and others on the “anti-vaccination” side,
    Maybe you’ll accept my opinions aren’t thoughtless or uncaring. I have a five year old son who presents as severely autistic, so I’m not disinterested in this.
    I’ll also make a rather categoric statement: The MMR vaccine does not cause, trigger, or encourage ASD.
    It’s not subject to opinion, or arguable. It’s proven. And I’d like the colossal amount of attention being given to this absurd wild goose chase to be diverted back to studying what does actually cause the condition and what treatments may be of use, please.”

    THANK YOU!

    The vaccine-autism link was a suspicion. We (science, society) looked into it, did the studies, found no link. It was healthy to ask, and it has been answered. But the people that have turned it into a religious crusade, the people who dedicate their lives to fighting the evils of vaccines (Scudamore), the people who pour fortunes into anti-vaccine propaganda (McCarthy/Carrey) – these people are

    1) putting young lives at risk by rejecting the proven benefits of vaccination; and
    2) taking valuable resources away from finding the true cause of (and cure for) autism.

    To the parents of autistic children:

    We understand that it is a horrible, life-long tragedy to a family. But please don’t be angry with the people promoting an evidence-based approach to finding the cure. You should be angry with the people (Kirby, McCarthy, etc.) who are stealing money and effort from finding solutions for your children and others.

    We WANT to find the cause and cure for autism. We’re voicing our support for YOU, and we’re angry at the people who are using your tragedy to brighten their own spotlights or further their personal agendas. But we believe that the cure will be found by whoever has the best science, not the most emotional story or the loudest mouth.

  115. Andy Cooke

    Hi dori,

    “My great-nephew is almost 5 years old. His autism symptoms appeared almost 4 years ago. At that time the theory that the MMR might be the cause was just being advanced–at least to the best of my knowledge. “

    I’ve had quite a lot of incentive to look into these things (obviously) – the Wakefield paper purporting to link autism to MMR was advanced a little over ten years ago. It gained traction in 2001

    “As I said in my post, my kids all had their MMR and other shots in a timely manner, so the charge that I am in some “anti-vac camp” is ludicrous and untrue.”

    Good for you.

    But something changed in the recent years in the makeup of the vaccines. I’m going on what the doctor from St. Louis was saying. She thinks it is when they put all of the vaccines together that causes the problem and she DOES see the link between vaccines of that type and autism increasing to epidemic proportions. She is a physician, which I think gives her a hint of legitimacy to speak to scientific matters. *-)

    Depends how much training she’s got in research and standards of evidence, really. I’ve found some surprisingly poorly informed physicians – turns out they are as human as the rest of us :-)
    The vaccine has had no major changes here in the UK since 1988, when it was introduced. The “bundling together” of the vaccines occured in the US in 1971, so I’m a little flummoxed at what she sees as the problem.

    “I don’t have any “evidence” other than a strong suspicion that it is when you give the children all of these vaccines bundled together (a far more potent combination from what I’ve read) there is a preservative added (I had thought it was mercury, but just know it is something they weren’t using 10-15 years ago). I’m not trying to pass myself off as an expert and don’t appreciate the condescending tone of some of your fellow posters. To condescend to people, one assumes it is from a more superior viewpoint, and I think my opinion is as valid as theirs.”

    It could be irritation – anyone gets a little ground down by having to repeat the same evidence repeatedly. I’ll point out that there have now been 31 rigorous studies seeing if there is any way that there could be a link – if it could cause, encourage or trigger autistic behaviour. It can’t. As I said earlier, the largest and most comprehensive study was a rigorously done one on the entire child population of the world’s tenth most populous country after they turned from the “all-in-one” MMR to separate shots as advocated by your physician friend. Children still developed autism. Not only did the rate not fall, it continued to rise – exactly as in the rest of the world.

    It’s done. It’s now proven. Thirty-one studies, including one covering hundreds of thousands of children over seven years (as against the Wakefield study of the distraught recollections of parents of twelve autistic children – which wasn’t even borne out by their medical records).

    “Thank you for your polite response. I knew when I spoke up I’d draw a little ire and I’d be accused of having an agenda, but I felt I needed to speak out. I sure do hope you folks are right, but I’d like to see more research into this issue.”

    And thank you for staying well-natured about it. I’d prefer the attention and research devoted to this to cease, personally. There’s only a certain amount of money and research effort available and I personally now resent every penny of autism funding and every minute of researcher time spent on this. There have been 31 studies, after all. Do we need a 32nd? Or a 33rd? A bigger nation than Japan?

    As RickK says above – we need to find out what IS causing the increase, what autism actually is and how to treat it. Let’s just get on with it and walk away from this blind alley. Please?

  116. Gary Ansorge

    31 studies? Wow! I had no idea we’d done that much.

    We need to know several things to move forward on this.

    1) Is the autism rate really rising or is it just better reporting?
    2) Perhaps a study of autism rates in traditionally isolated populations might indicate base rates.(Tribes of New Guinea, Amazon, etc.)
    3) If it IS rising, that COULD imply a contagion, possibly viral or even a prion.
    4) If it IS a contagion, it should be more common in high density population centers(like New York city, Singapore, Mexico City, etc)
    5) Providing a reporting standard for all locales might help identify true rates.
    6) Or perhaps it’s just the nature of genetic mixing, ie, as we breed back to our ancestral, original type, we’re regenerating Australopithecus. That may be the scariest scenario of all, implying we’ve gone as far in our evolution as we can and now we fall back from the (intellectual) heights as in “how intelligent is it possible for a biological organism to be?”.

    I think that last is the least plausible scenario but it needs to be considered.

    Gary 7

  117. dori

    Thank you Andy and Gary for your interesting posts. It’s obvious you both are reasonable people who want answers. So do I. And if it takes 50 more studies until we’ve put it to rest to my satisfaction and gotten to the source of what IS causing such an increase in the cases of autism, I don’t have a problem with that. Many other things may come to light through further researching of the little evidence we have now. I’m sure most every scientific hypothesis was pooh-poohed at its inception and yet we continued to investigate further, with varying results each time. It’s how we got the polio vaccine.
    I have an adult son who became an insulin dependent Type 1 diabetic on his 13th birthday. I bemoan the fact that they keep getting closer and closer to a cure, with breakthrough after breakthrough, but it just takes time and money. I know how you feel, Andy, thinking this is useless research and money wasted that could be spent more positively–I yell at the TV screen at the Jerry Lewis Telethon on Labor Day weekend because I keep thinking he could surely expand his research on MD to include diabetes and other diseases–spread the wealth, so to speak. Maybe these recent court case decisions will give you what you want, but I still refuse to discredit the opinions of people in the other camp until it has been proven to my satisfaction. But I do promise to read more about it to better inform myself before entering into future discussions on the subject. *-)

  118. CalamityJohn

    If you want my opinion on casuality and autism … it is a disorder defined purely by symptoms in various combinations and across a very wide spectrum of severity .. My guess is we will end up finding that we are actually casting the net too wide and that we what we describe as autism is a number of different things .. much like stomach pain could be anything from food poisoning to cancer ..

  119. Bad science meets bad science. I doubt this fight is over.

  120. Grant

    I just notice that there is another Grant here. None of the above comments from Grant are mine and I’ll now be changing my display name to Grant H.
    Thank you.

    On topic, you should have a quick look here:
    http://www.healing-arts.org/children/holmes.htm

    I don’t know how trustworthy that site is (I’v only been pointed to it today), but if it’s true it would seem to suggest there’s still room for debate on this subject.

  121. j

    Of coarse vaccines are good! All the pharm companies say so. I mean why would they lead us astray? They give us all kind of great stuff like diet pills!! why exercise and eat right, that’s for hippies. Plus the U.S. is rated one of the highest in healthcare in the world………….. oh wait thats right were somewhere in the low thirties. Go U.S.A!!!

  122. (Unfortunately, the paper’s website isn’t responding at the moment, so I can’t get a URL.)

    From the local paper (The Journal News), front page of the local news section: Mom still insists shots caused autism
    And her quote:

    Science is about observation, right? Well, I watched my son descend into illness. I think a mother’s observation of her child is valuable. … It’s not bad science, it’s bad vaccines.

    Yup, the old “I don’t care what the evidence says… A mother knows better” argument. “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” lives. :-)

  123. Figures… A reboot on my end “cured” the issue of not getting to the paper’s website. (Perhaps I shouldn’t have that anti-virus program running? :-) )

    http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009902140350

  124. Andy

    @Jen – Thanks for responding to my question.

    So you think Tylenol played a big role in one of your children’s autism? I’ve never heard this before, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it were true.

    Is it your belief then that vaccinations are fine, but Tylenol (and I’m assuming other similar drugs) should be avoided in children and pregnant/nursing mothers? If your child developed autism and wasn’t vaccinated, then clearly, vaccinations cannot be “the” cause of autism. I’ve never really thought it was vaccinations alone, since most children are vaccinated and most children don’t have autism…there have to be multiple factors involved.

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

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

    I have much more to say on this topic here.

  126. Michael Polidori

    I’m not familiar enough with thimerosal and autism to draw conclusions yet, but I can discuss some things concerning scientific studies, influence of money on opinion (political and scientific), protection of industry by government, immune systems damaged by chemicals and death from medication.

    Of course people on both sides of the autism/vaccination issue already feel they know which side I’m on.

    The feeling of celebration, a carnival atmosphere, I see from the pro-vaxxers is clearly indicative of a vested interest of the revelers in pharma and/or medicine.

    A few try to take into consideration the feelings of the parents of afflicted children, which the vast majority here are happy to abandon to a nether world of government irresponsibility and corporate shenanigans.

    They seem to miss the very important point that NO ONE knows the origins of autism. And that the door is still open to having vaccines cause it, as there are many components of modern vaccines that are dangerous to ingest, let alone inject directly into the body (such as genetically engineered endotoxins).

    And to have a panel of “Special Masters” (without professional medical backgrounds), make a decision that should require strict, long-term, independent and un-biased medical analysis (which the masters did not seek) is worse than a slap in the face to all the parents and children continuing to suffer with an unexplained and mostly undefinable poisoning that robs victims’ minds and saps family vitality.

    A more reasoned undertaking should have occurred.

    In this forum, my words will fall on mostly deaf unfeeling ears, attached to bodies still leaping for joy at this rush to non-judgement.

    Although I am currently involved in investigating gardasil as a useless pharma product, I will soon be turning my attention to autism where I feel I can help expose the hypocrisy, callousness and truth about vaccines and their probable connection to autism.

  127. Justin

    Lol genetics never show you the origins of the problem but its also an easy way to write something off for a few hundred years by suggesting that its mostly genetic.Its a way of not dealing with the source of the problem in a hitler esq fashion coupled with abortion and the push for predetermination of genetic traits, consider “race building”, but no we will just keep judging life and creating life and cloning that life and think we can handle that yeah, so we think were god as scientists yet we will be athiest but have an egotistical attitude of superiority. There is an extreme loss of individuality in the world I fear that people may soon lose their identities to what they do.

  128. Heather

    I don’t think victory is the right word here..

    Maybe it’s not the vaccines alone that cause the problem, but a combination of issues at the time of getting the vaccines. Maybe we don’t need to have 4 or 6 shots given to our children at one time. Maybe our kids could get shots the ‘old-fashion’ way – one at a time, like we did.

    I think it is very important to vaccinate our children.. in a healthy way. Just because some kids can take multiple shots in stride doesn’t mean all children will, it would be nice for families that have children who are ‘high-risk’ for autism to be given the option of having vacines done one at a time and with no thermasol in them.

    To me, it’s always been very strange that no one wants to help any of these children or the parents and families that do their best to care for them. With 1 in 150 children now having autism it doesn’t matter if we can find someone to blame this very second, what matters is helping these little ones as best we can so they might have the hope of living a life when they are older. Who will be taking care of them when they are 20 & 30 & 40?? Who will be paying for them then? When no one wants to help pay for them (the therapy and services and education) now, when the money would actually be making a DIFFERENCE!

  129. Sandra

    (edit version)I Have a cousin who is 11 and has autism.Many times i have thought, “what about what causes autism?” We can try anything to find out what causes it.I believe it might just be genetic. it is often seen that when numerous people in a family has it autism will continue to be with in that family forever.However, what if it has never been in a family before?I believe it can happen to any developing baby.I belive that autism can develop along with the baby, like any other disease or disability.Another question is if autism is really one complete disability.Perhaps people with autisim are slow with learning or can’t say everything perfectly or even speak!But, they understand clearly and i’ve noticed that some have special abilities that ordinary people don’t.I won’t go into detail about that, but the thing is there is so much we don’t know or can fully comprehend about people with autism.There is a possibility that the reason we can’t find a cure or cause is because we don’t know everything.I even think to myself sometimes that autism has made them who they are and if they didn’t have autism would they be a different person?This doesn’t mean that i dont want a cure, but just my thinking into it a lot.Even with my cousin being unable to speak and tell us what she feels exactly i can understand her clearly.I, such as everyone else, will be thinking of her future and what is to become of her.

  130. Jake

    First of all there is still Thimerosol in vaccines it has been taken out of most of the ones recommended/required vaccines but still remains as a preservative in the Flu shot, DTaP (universally recommended) as well as Tetanus and if memory serves the Heb B shot as well. The flu shot is recommended for everyone every yr from cradle to grave by the CDC and also contains formaldehyde which is a known carcinogen. Second mercury bound to an animal protein and ingested is less absorbed and easier dealt with by your immune/detox system than any amount injected into your muscle tissue and this is where the problem with vaccines lies. It’s not necessarily what they contain but the route by which they enter the body, your not supposed to have foreign DNA, RNA, viruses, and other garbage like aluminum hydroxide and egg protein, MSG and anti-bacterial agents injected into your blood stream. That would never happen under normal circumstances and the result is in many cases severe immune system damage. If all of you who think you are on the side of science would take the time to read several vaccine package inserts you might notice something; that almost every vaccine can cause similar conditions to autism as well as ascending paralysis or Guillan Barre syndrome. Here’s what the package insert for the MMR vaccine by Merck says under adverse reactions – Nervous System
    Encephalitis; encephalopathy; measles inclusion body encephalitis (MIBE) (see
    CONTRAINDICATIONS); subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE); Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS); febrile convulsions; afebrile convulsions or seizures; ataxia; polyneuritis; polyneuropathy; ocular palsies; paresthesia. That’s just for the nervous system, also no vaccines are tested for their carcinogenic potential or their potential to damage fertility this may be something worth considering since cancer and infertility are both on the rise and have been for sometime. Lastly Phil Plait you told a blatant lie when you said that Thimerosol has been removed from vaccines for yrs now and that the amounts were negligible it has not been removed and it is not the only dangerous ingredient in the long list of chemicals as I stated above it’s not the amount but the means of exposure that is the key to understanding but just read the package insert it’s admitted that they cause all kinds of problems (auto-immune disorders) and even death …where’s your proof that there’s no link? Your article didn’t cite any type of science or peer reviewed articles it’s just a sad, poorly disguised attempt to demonize people who don’t want to be forced to vaccinate their children with something that is admittedly dangerous. The reality is people have never been sicker than they are now and there is no such thing as a genetic epidemic, cancer and autism rates have both skyrocketed in recent times and the gene pool just doesn’t change that quickly so good luck finding a genetic cause for autism I’m sure that it’s just around the corner like the cure for cancer. Please write me back I would love to see some of the scientific studies that can “prove” that getting a vaccine didn’t cause someone’s autism isn’t that like the fact that I never get attacked by a lion when I wear my lion repelling sunglasses proves that they really work!

    Jake Turner

  131. JGH-4774

    “Thimerosal has been removed from all childhood vaccines.”

    That statement, as stated, is simply NOT true. And the official websites of the CDC, FDA, and the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health (see below) prove that it is untrue.

    1) The “regular” seasonal flu vaccine (12.5 mcg of ethyl mercury/shot) is recommended for all infants/children over 6 months of age. It is a two shot series for first time recipients, including children. This flu shot is not “optional.” It is on the official CDC “Recommended Immunization Schedule” just like all the other typical pediatric vaccines like DTaP and MMR. [1]

    2) The H1N1 flu vaccine (12.5 mcg of ethyl mercury/shot) is also recommended for all infants/children over 6 months of age. The H1N1 flu vaccine is always a two shot series (four weeks apart).The H1N1 flu shot is not “optional.” It is on the official CDC “Recommended Immunizations for Babies” schedule. [2]

    3) The website of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health confirms that these pediatric flu vaccines contain thimerosal. [3]

    4) Finally, the website of the FDA verifies that thimerosal-free versions of both the pediatric ‘regular’ seasonal flu vaccine and the pediatric H1N1 flu vaccine are in “limited supply.”[4]

    Therefore, the statement that “Thimerosal has been removed from all childhood vaccines” is obviously and demonstrably FALSE.

    ——————————–

    [1] http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/schedules/child-schedule.htm#printable
    [2] http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/spec-grps/infants/rec-iz-babies.htm
    [3] http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/components.htm
    [4] http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/ucm096228.htm#t

  132. Michael Polidori

    Dr Bernadine Healy, in a 2008 CBS News interview, said “Vaccines may cause autism” & “It’s inexcusable that the proper research has not been done”

    Who is Dr Healy? Vassar summa cum laude, Harvard Med cum laude, former National Institutes of Health Director, Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins, Chair of The Cleveland Clinic’s Research Institute… unquestionable qualifications validating her comments/concerns about vaccines possibly causing autism… and she is not alone, but the drug industry and the FDA and the CDC want her to shut up. The motivation? Money… the huge liability incurred by government and the drug industry should vaccines be admitted to cause autism.

    Get smart about this issue (http://www.ageofautism.com/ or read articles by Edward Yazbak or John Stone)… Then call your representatives (local/state/federal)… Let them know that you know vaccines & their toxins should be clinically studied… that increasing vaccines, vaccine toxins, and live bacteria/virus are the likely culprits increasing USA autism rates by a factor of 33 while vaccines were tripled over the past 20 years

    No one knows the causes of autism.
    The 33 fold rise in autism CANNOT be explained by changing diagnosis. FDA and CDC agree on this statement, stating that diagnostic changes could account for only a small portion of the rise.
    Genes CANNOT cause an increase in the % of kids getting autism. If, out of 1,000,000 three year olds, 3 in 10,000 get autism (1990 figures) that’s 300 kids out of 1,000,000 with autism. Now in 2010 if we look at another 1,000,000 toddlers we should expect to get around 300 kids with autism, if genes were responsible.
    In 2010 it is not 300 out of 1,000,000 toddlers but 9,900 out of 1,000,000. Genes CANNOT increase autism diagnosis like that
    If you claim changing diagnosis is causing the numbers to rise then The American Psychiatric Association (who sets the standards psychiatrists use to diagnose) or the psychiatrists themselves (who apply the standards in practice) are completely incompetent…

    If changing diagnostics caused autism’s rise then, together or seperately, these two groups (the APA or psychiatrists) caused a 3300% ERROR IN DIAGNOSIS that neither the APA nor the psychiatrists have been able to recognize and/or correct in the 16 years since the Diagnostic manual came out.

    If that’s the case there is clearly no reason to believe anything they say regarding autism, Asperger’s, CDD, Rett’s or PDD-NOS.
    Neither the APA nor the FDA is willing to admit that, so they are forced to defend the rising diagnosis as mostly factual, but BOTH still disingenuosly hint that changing diagnosis is having an effect (though actually insignificant)
    The FDA is not defending the public interest, is not trying to help thousands of families burdened with/caring for affected children FOR LIFE as is the case with children suffering from regressive autism, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder or other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

  133. sean

    are these men that claim to be the law actual scientists? if it’s not true,, why do we see so many side effects associated with common medicine we are all prescribed? also,, why do we see commercials claiming they can get us a cash settlement for death associated with certain medicines? those are just the common medicines,, i can only imagine what the vaccines are doing,,,

  134. Andrew

    “Dr Bernadine Healy, in a 2008 CBS News interview, said “Vaccines may cause autism” & “It’s inexcusable that the proper research has not been done””

    She also worked for Phillip Morris’s “Tobacco is totally safe” ‘scientific organization’, so I guess if you paid her enough she’d say anything.

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