Why Won't the Vaccine-Autism Controversy Go Away?

By Chris Mooney | May 7, 2009 8:44 am

In the latest issue of Discover, I have a major feature story exploring this question. Over a decade ago, activists began to raise doubts about the safety of the MMR vaccine, and all vaccines that containing the (now removed) mercury-based preservative thimerosal. Accordingly, scientists duly set out to examine whether these claims–centering on allegations that such vaccines were causing a tragic “epidemic” of autism–had anything to them.

Now, ten years later, the weight of evidence is overwhelming that vaccines are not guilty as charged. As I put it in the piece, summarizing the development of the science:

….even as vaccine hysteria reached a fever pitch in [2005], the scientific evidence was leaning strongly in the other direction. In discounting the dangers of both the MMR vaccine and thimerosal, the [National Academy of Sciences’ Institution of Medicine] had multiple large epidemiological studies to rely on. For MMR, the IOM examined 16 studies. All but two, which were dismissed because of “serious methodological flaws,” showed no evidence of a link. For thimerosal, the IOM looked at five studies, examining populations in Sweden, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States (studies that vaccine critics contend were flawed). Since then, further research has strengthened and vindicated the committee’s original conclusion. It is a conclusion that has been “independently reached by scientific and professional committees around the world,” as a recent science journal commentary noted. Either the scientific community has found a clear, reassuring answer to the questions raised about thimerosal in vaccines, or there is a global scientific conspiracy to bury the truth.

The article then goes on to explore the true source of harm here (the vaccine skeptic movement and vaccine related misinformation, not the vaccine supply); the way vaccine skeptics have conveniently shifted their claims as earlier ones have been buried by scientific evidence; and perhaps most worrisome of all, how science and much of the public managed to fall so out of touch with one another on this critical public health question.

Once again, you can read the full piece here. I hope you enjoy it, and expect to see more pro-vaccine blogging at “The Intersection” from now on–not only because of this article, but because of our more general sense that the vaccine skeptic movement has now become one of the chief indicators that we do, indeed, live in an Unscientific America…..

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Unscientific America, vaccination

Comments (31)

  1. Outstanding work, Chris. Lesser writers fall for “false balance” when tackling vaccines and autism, or, worse yet, describe as “controversial” parts of the story that are too hard for them to to understand. Your article clearly shows that, among real scientists, there is no controversy – the vaccine-autism link has been investigated, no association has been found, and it’s time to move on. Thank you.

  2. Jonathan

    You know Oprah is getting involved with the anti-vaccine nutters now too, thanks to her links to Jenny McCarthy?

  3. Al J Boehnlein

    There is a conspiracy to cover up the vaccine damage just like there was for smoking and lung cancer, freon and ozone hole, and now global warming. Say it is not so does not change anything. Eventually the truth will come out. The SOP of major corporations is to stall, stall, stall through obfuscation. I have seen the data and when one figures in the catch up vaccination, the correlation is unmistakable.

    If all these studies are on the up and up, then why have people needed to sue the get the data? And why did the CDC recant on their conclusions and admit that there studies were miss leading

    You can read about in the original report here: “DHHS Report to congress on vaccine safety datalink” tinyurl.com/62hflf
    and an article about it is here: CDC: Vaccine Study Design “Uninformative and Potentially Misleading” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-kirby/cdc-vaccine-study-design_b_108398.html

    Follow the money!

  4. “the correlation is unmistakable”

    And what was that again about correlation not implying causation?

  5. Julia Kunkowski

    Mr. Mooney has not done his homework. Anyone who will take the time to scratch beneath the surface of what the CDC and Dr. “For Profit Offit” (he is the patent holder of the Rotateq vaccine and has made over 30 million dollar with it)states can find the facts: Only 2 of the 36 vaccines have actually been studied with regard to autism. That a study of vaccinated vs unvaccinated children has never been done. That large populations of unvaccinated groups such as the Amish and HomeFirst (holistic practice with 30,000 members) have virtually no autistics. That although thimerasol has been removed from most childhood vaccines, it still remains in toxic amounts in the flu shot recommended for pregnant women and infants. That aluminum, a known neurotoxin, is the adjuvant (the part of the vaccine that makes your immune system go into warp drive to react strongly against a weakened virus)in the DTap, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Pneumonococcus, and HIB vaccine in amounts that far exceed what pediatricians allow in an infant IV solution. Most of the studies that exonerate vaccines in regard to autism are fatally flawed and have been admitted as such by Dr. Bernadine Healey, former head of the Red Cross and NIH and other notables.

  6. This is one more good example of the simple fact that internet searches do not equate to journalism. In a fairly recent airing of Bill Moyers Journal, journalist / producer David Simon (The Wire) talked about the loss of institutional knowledge.

    By the time the Internet had its way, I mean, they’re down to 180 now. You don’t cover the City of Baltimore and a region like Central Maryland with 180 people. You don’t cover it well.

    And the institutional knowledge of the place disappears.

    I am constantly amazed the otherwise intelligent people will analyze traditional media to death to find the invisible hand that controls everything, and accept absolutely any drivel found on the internet as long as it contains some variant of the phrase “MSM won’t tell you this, but…”

    Yesterday(May 6), there was a Senate Hearing on the Future of Journalism. The usual suspects were there, Marissa Mayer, Steve Coll, Ariana Huffington, but also Simon. At least one has a penchant for telling the truth, even with his fiction.

    Keep the good work coming.

  7. Julia,
    Keep changing the goalposts much? First it was thimerosal, then it was the MMR vaccine, then it was the number of vaccines, then it was aluminum, etc. That’s not science, that’s holding onto something despite repeated evidence it isn’t true.
    Why don’t anti-vaxxers take up arms against some of the other things that have been correlated with Autism, such as too much TV? Or coal plants? Maybe because there isn’t any individual correlation with symptom onset?

  8. Jason

    I hold to my previous sentiments in regards to the vaccine/autism ‘debate’.

    Even if, by some complete stretch of the imagination, vaccines were somehow related to causing autism in children… I would still absolutely, positively advocate vaccinations for infants and children.

    I would rather have an autistic child than a dead child. Anyone who refuses to vaccinate their kids, for whatever reason, is putting their children at severe and unnecessary risk. That to me, equals child endangerment.

    If Jenny McCarthy, Jim Carrey and so many other advocates have real concerns over the safety of vaccinations, for whatever reason, they should voice those concerns in a manner that does not presume scientific backing or incite fear in already terrified parents. There is no evil plot to destroy the world by doctors and scientists, no for-profit scheme where they would deliberately hide (and convince every other respected doctor and scientist in the world as well) evidence that these vaccines cause the mental impairment seen in autism.

    By fighting vaccines, you put children at risk and drain efforts from finding the real cause/solution to autism.

  9. Dr. Brian Moench

    Pretty one sided article, written as though the writer had reached his conclusion before doing the research and then set out to justify the conclusion. In fact, there is still a wealth of scientitic studies that not only implicate thimerasol but also implicate environmental factors.

    There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic that occurs during one generation. The definitive study on whether the “epidemic” of autism is real or not was published in the journal Epidemiology in Jan. 09. It established that, in fact the epdemic was real and the authors stated that their work clearly implicates environmental factors. This study was not even mentioned in this article.

    This writer and most thimerasol apologists fail to distinguish between the issues of whether vaccines are necessary for public health protection and whether it is appropriate to to put toxic doses of mercury and aluminum in little tiny babies as if you can’t have one without the other. Clearly you can have a vaccine that doesn’t include heavy metals. Furthermore, from the standpoint of risk/benefit to individual patients it makes no sense to vaccinate two year olds against sexually transmitted diseases and Hep. B. (those could be done much later and would be much safer). It is because of cost savings, convenience and capitulation to the pharmaceutical industry that thimerasol was allowed for decades after it should have been discontinued and in fact was in most other countries. The fact that many of thimerasol’s defenders have a clear conflict of interest in defending it, and that includes the CDC and the IOM, was also not mentioned in the article.

    This article also failed to mention the studies that show much higher rates of autism in chidren who live near sources of heavy metals and other environmental toxins, like hazardous waste sites and coal fired power plants.

    Dr. Brian Moench
    President, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

  10. Sandy

    Anyone see Law & Order last week? Was a case of a mother who did not vaccinate her child, and that child contracted the measles but recovered ok however, being at a public city park while infected unknowingly he exposed an 11 month old baby who was too young yet for the MMR and that 11 month old contracted the measles and died. This is a very real-life possible scenario. Parents who choose not to vaccinate is fine, however they are possibly exposing other children prior to the age where other parents cant even make a vaccine choice for their child.

    People that are so paranoid to believe the government is out to get children need to get on some Zoloft. You should not base medical choices by word of mouth, either. David Kirby had a lot to say way back when and we all waited for those autism rates to drop after Thimerosal was removed. That never happened and it still would not explain why more boys than girls and please do not suggest estrogen or testosterone. Keep on mind, most media wanna-be’s are not experts on anything other than their own child. McCarthy’s son’s issues started with a seizure and depending on which interview you read, that seizure was no where near the time of a vaccine. We’re also talking about a mom who publicly announced she took her own son’s seizure medication to ‘see what it was like’. Come on people, are you going to rely on the words from a person who so carelessly takes some one else’s prescription? She had to have had her own brain wires crossed by taking seizure medication when she doesn’t have seizures to begin with. Maybe McCarthy should advocate the reasons why it’s more dangerous to ingest another’s prescription than vaccines. Maybe she ingested many things while she was pregnant too if she was so careless to do it at all.

    As for Offit, he is not the only patent holder for Rotateq. Also of those famous 36 vaccines, quite a few of them are optional/ non required vaccines like pre natal flu and other flu vaccines and there are no statistics to know of those with autism, who had all 36 including the flu and Hep A. Go take a look at the scare tactic- there are no 36 vaccines required without a waiver. ” Recommended” doesn’t mean you have to, nor does it mean any one did. Aluminum Salts is not the same as plain old aluminum but it sounds good after it couldn’t be the Thimerosal. Aluminum Salts have been in vaccines longer than Thimerosal ever was as well. And although it’s popular belief, Amish do vaccinate.

    People get tired of being pressured by other people’s choices when there is no valid proof for those choices. Basing it on who holds a patent, come on as if that would mean anything. McCarthy is the author of a book, out for a profit as well. Everyone is out to make money. So McCarthy is no better than Offit, only she’s putting lives at risk including her own.

  11. Think about all the for-profit medications that have come on the market, turned out to have dangerous side-effects, and had to be recalled. Researchers dig deeper into the numbers, do more studies, and come to conclusions that the big money interests.

    Big lawsuits can result, and Big Pharma walks away with a bloody nose, despite all their best efforts to cover up, rationalize, or spin away the problem. Sure, it takes a while, and it can be a hard struggle, but bad drugs really do get pulled and banned.

    Now, given that that result comes along distressingly often, and nearly the entire population receives vaccines, if there were a connection it should have become evident by now and somebody should have been able to get the attention of the FDA, medical journals, or product liability lawyers with clear, actionable evidence, as happened for Vioxx and all the other products that have had to be recalled. The system doesn’t actually allow the kind of vast cover-up to persist indefinitely that would be required to fit the picture of “activists know better than scientists/big money is preventing official action.”

  12. Callinectes

    @ Jason:
    No, actually “anyone who refuses to vaccinate their kids” puts OTHER children and anyone with compromised immune systems, as well as their own child, at risk.

    @ Julia:
    Why cherry pick the Amish’s lack of vaccines as proof? There are so many other underlying factors with a stronger case for why the lack of autism in this community – it probably has more to do with genetics than with the lack of shots. Or perhaps it is related to a diet wholly void of processed foods.

    Having just read Chris’ article, I guess I would describe myself (a mother of two under age 5) as one of the “vaccine hesitaters” – I’ve delayed some of my children’s vaccines or stretched them out over time so that they’re not getting five shots at a time. But both feet are unequivocally in the vaccinate-my-children camp.

    Listening to parents of autistic children and the anti-vaccine advocates, if you’re a parent it is hard not to become emotional about this issue. Most of these parents are not scientists or doctors, though they may state their case very convincingly a la Jenny McCarthy on Larry King. But let’s not mistake eloquence for expertise. While I think using celebrity status to bring attention to a critical or overlooked issue is appropriate and often helpful, I look to the experts – in this case doctors and researchers – when informing my own decisions.

    After many conversations (with my doctors as well as people whose opinions I respect, and that are not always supportive of my own views) and much research, I’ve reached the conclusion that I’d be doing a disservice to my children AND society by not vaccinating them. Furthermore, I find the “it’s okay to not have my kid vaccinated because everyone else’s are” mindset completely offensive and a first-rate tragedy of the commons.

    Thanks, Chris, for writing such a spot-on piece.

  13. Callinectes

    @ Sandy:
    That Law & Order was actually ripped from the headlines:
    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm57e222a1.htm

  14. The anti-vaccination community, and specifically Jenny McCarthy, are leading to increases in vaccine preventable illnesses and vaccine preventable deaths. Check out this website for more information:

    http://www.JennyMcCarthyBodyCount.com

  15. Gina Mel

    The strength of the anti-vaccination movement in the United States may also be an unintended consequence here of the strong campaign against Communism. Vaccination is an example of collective action working. That is counter to the way have been cultured in our society (Collective action=Communism=Bad, therefore collective action can’t be good). How do you overcome a frame like that?

  16. The problem of big pharma is one I can sympathize with. I don’t trust them because they have a history of promoting drugs for profits and covering up side effects. However that is a problem of funding. Before big pharma, scientific research was publicly funded. A lot of our current vaccines predate the pharmaceutical business: polio, smallpox, rubella. And people need to be reminded of the deaths and permanent injury that children sustained routinely before vaccination. The families who choose not to vaccinate their kids piggy-back on the families who do, keeping down the incidence of those illnesses. As parents, to make good choices we need good information. We need the voices of analytical people in the scientific field. Good work Chris. Keep it up please.

  17. “However that is a problem of funding:

    As someone working in big pharma, I cannot second that enough. One has to receover the money spent, especially because discovering drugs is not getting any easier.

  18. bob

    Dr Moench, you spouted so many BS antivax talking points that I hardly know where to begin. I’ll just point out a couple, and we’ll see if you’re just a drive-by copy-paster or not.

    You’re talking about thimerosal, but I don’t understand why. Are you aware that it was removed from the childhood vaccination schedule to placate antivax nutters, yet autism rates did not plummet? Even if it was “implicated” in autism (which it wasn’t), that would be irrelevant nowadays!

    You’re talking about the “epidemic” of autism appearing in a single generation. Are you aware of the changes that occurred in the definition of autism in the DSM, specifically the expansion of the definition of the “autism spectrum”? You don’t seem to be …

    You’re insinuating some sort of conspiracy surrounding the vaccination program. Wouldn’t all parties involved (the pharma-medical complex, let’s call it) make a whole lot more money if these diseases weren’t nearly eradicated? I’d think iron lungs cost more than a single injection, wouldn’t you?

  19. ababa

    Julia Kunkowski,

    You are aware that the research about the Amish has been thoroughly debunked? Seems the reporter didn’t look too hard for autistic Amish and the myth that the Amish do not vaccinate is, well, a myth.

    The controversy won’t go away because the same lies are being kept alive by people that have been mislead by anti-vax organizations that are selling books and “treatments”. Why is “Big Pharma” routinely treated like the devil, yet no one blinks at the money the anti-vax organizations bring in?

  20. Sandy

    Oh sure Law & Order was ripped from the headlines, only more people watch Law & Order than they pay attention to headlines and you wont ever hear McCarthy mention those headlines.

    One has to go down the time line as to vaccines being the culprit. The article did a good job with that time line, but let’s recap. First is was the MMR, which was the very first blame on vaccines which was a study of a mere 12 children, and they all had autism. Debunked. Then it was the Thimerosal and although it was removed and rates didn’t drop, you’d think that’d be the end of it yet you hear it being blamed all the time still. The flu vaccine has it, but ‘they’ fail to remind the public they come Thimerosal-free for children and no matter the age of the child, just ask for it. After Thimerosal was debunked, now we hear about Aluminum (salts) and anything else in vaccines that by the way pretty much have always been in vaccines. Certain Activists want greener vaccines yet they can not pin point one specific content of the vaccines that is the trigger for autism. Pretty soon it’ll be the alcohol swabbing prior to vaccination. The vaccine controversy doesn’t go away because some people are hard-pressed to dissect vaccines until they find something, anything and they just move onto another ingredient hoping to find a needle in a hay stack. Blame is not the same thing as cause.

    One cant really say autism is an epidemic since autism is based on DSM and counts of IEP’s from the educational system, not a blood test. The margin for error is much greater due to this. As of today, you can go to 3 doctors and they say its not autism, then the 4th says it is. A diagnosis of autism pretty much is a matter of observed opinion for confirmation, no actual medical test generally is performed or required. When it comes to the Amish, although it is a myth that they do not vaccinate, an infant a few years ago contracted Polio. Because of the Amish’s belief’s, if they had a child displaying symptoms of autism, they wouldn’t take that child into the bigger city to gain services or have that child in the public school system to be counted per the IEP. Ever see the movie The Village? The character Noah Percy certainly displayed symptoms of something, however the outside world would not have ever known about his disability. The Amish would be the same way and so are many other cultures. They’d not be sending that child into town on a horse-pulled buggy for all to see.

    Pharma’s don’t make a ton of money on vaccines. Think about it. once you turn a certain age, when do you ever get another vaccine? As for Pharma’s in general and recalled meds, once they release a medication there is no way to conduct a study using every human beings genetic make up and know every one’s biology to know who will have a reaction, and who will not. It’s literally impossible. These Pharma’s are the same people who makes drugs people rely on daily to live. Way back when, life expectancy was 35 to 45 years of age. People died of infections, all sorts of things. I imagine the person who invented penicillin profited a mint. But look what it brought us? In one generation, parents were bending over backwards thanking the scientists for vaccines that saved their children’s lives. That was the motivation. Saving children’s lives, not making money off them. There are 3rd world countries still today where thousands of children are dying from the same diseases from a generation past. I’d bet those mother’s wish they could of had a vaccine for their child, but she lives in a country too poor to have a vaccine program.

  21. Micki Jacobs

    Obviously, many lives have been saved by many vaccines, but now that the schedule of recommended vaccines has increased exponentially (and questioning this is not unreasonable) AND because autism has increased equally exponentially, there may be a correlation that has not been considered – an “outside” variable not on the radar that should be. The variable that has not been considered when doing vaccine/autism research:
    vitamin D status.
    Please follow the following links to understand why this is so.
    The reason that this is so important is that vitamin D status directly affects immune system status; both innate and acquired immune systems depend on D sufficiency.
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/science/research/vitamin-d-in-innate-and-adaptive-immunity.shtml (link around)
    Also see: “Cod Liver Oil, Vitamin A Toxicity, Frequent Respiratory Infections, and the Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic” published Nov 2008 in Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology 117(11):864-870 by John J Cannell MD et al.
    The levels of deficiency/insufficiency of D in babies (and all of us) HAS increased in recent years, that is, we are even more lacking today than ever. Hence, our immune systems are even more impaired with each passing year and increasingly so in each baby born. Hmm.
    http://www.endocrinetoday.com/print.aspx?rid=38901
    So babies today have more impaired immune systems than those in previous decades and it appears to be that D levels continue to decrease, yet they are exposed to more toxins than previous generations – not only in vaccines but in their environment, even in the womb.
    We’ll just ignore for now that we have “dinked” with bacteria, further harming our immune systems, by administration of vaccines or addition of antibiotics in livestock feed (70%+ of antibiotics of antibiotics administered in the US are given to livestock, who excrete 85%+ unmetabolized into the environment, making for some antibiotic resistant and profoundly altered bacterial populations in our groundwater – MRSA?).
    How will their immune systems handle these changes? No one knows, but it doesn’t look good. Why couldn’t vaccines be the hair that broke the camel’s back? They can – they are relatively high doses, even if they diminish rather rapidly, which is a strain to an already strained immune system.
    In order to investigate whether vaccines and their adulterants or even their strains of bacteria will have differing effects on babies based on their D status and therefore the resulting strength of their immune systems, we would need to know the 25(OH)D levels of every kid as they undergo vaccination. We don’t. Scientists didn’t even think about this and doctors sure as hell don’t know about this. So all the studies exonerating thimerosal or vaccines in general missed the most important variable of all: strength of immune systems to deal with environmental assaults based on nutritional status (vitamin D levels), levels largely from sun exposure (!moms are sure to keep their babies “safe” from the sun!).
    And a further problem with today’s babies is that they are born to mothers deficient in D AND in K2, another fat soluble nutrient that has eluded all our revered “experts”.
    We are equally deficient in vitamin K2. Use PubMed and search for “vitamin K2″ – Japan, Italy and the Netherlands are all studying K2 and finding many effects that the USA has missed because we thought vitamin K was about coagulation…and then we stopped looking. Also see: http://www.vitaminK2.org
    All this connects with one topic: fats. Both D and K are fat soluble nutrients.
    We have incorrectly been told that fats – especially saturated fats – are bad. Interestingly, lard is an excellent source of vitamin D, yet we eliminated it from our diets on the “expert” advice that it was a health risk. We have been told many fats lead to CVD. They don’t – see: Uffe Ravnskov’s The Cholesterol Myths and Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories to learn the history of this misinformation and how a man named Ancel Keys really harmed us all. Fats are so deficient in our diets that we are starving, our CNS are damaged and we are getting sicker and fatter while we shun supposedly “bad” fats. Without enough K2 (and almost no one has enough), our calcium deposits inappropriately in coronary arteries, kidney stones and other inappropriate places because K2 is the calcium “director” which tells calcium to go to teeth and bones, where it belongs. Arteriosclerosis is not “natural aging”, it is calcium gone awry. Enough K2 makes for elastic and flexible cardiovascular systems and it is likely that the higher consumption of K2 in Asian countries (found in fermented foods as well as some made in our guts by bacteria from K1, consumed as leafy greens, but we do this poorly, so we need to get some from diet, too) is behind their improved health over ours. Even the hard cheeses and pate consumed by the French – the so-called “French Paradox” may reflect that these are high K2 foods and therefore helpful for heart health.
    Now babies are born without enough nutrients from their time in the womb and on, with impaired immune systems, calcium gone awry due to lack of enough K2 and we look at vaccines with myopic eyes, missing co-factors and misunderstanding what we truly need to be healthy. Sigh.

    http://www.gutresearch.com/VitaminK.pdf
    http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health/autism/

    And, for those who want to learn more about PhRMA and possible corruption:
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22237
    Read the three books reviewed and the ones in the footnotes.

  22. bob

    Micki, please read my previous post. We know why autism diagnoses have increased, so your proposed connection to Vitamin D (as well as your “too many too soon” claim) is extraneous at best. I say “at best” because it’s likely just a goalpost shift. Antivaxxers were all about mercury (some still are, as you can see in this very string of comments), and now they’ve moved onto other things like aluminum, antifreeze, “toxins” in general, too-many-too-soon, etc.

    You don’t get to decide on something and then just keep special-pleading your way into new explanations when your decision is shown to be wrong. Well, that is, if you’re doing science and living in the real world, of course …

  23. David Pollard

    Part of the reason why the myth that vaccinations cause autism won’t go away may be that there really is a connection, albeit a non-causal one. Post-vaccination fever may bring the symptoms to notice.

    Recent research has confirmed a couple of decades of anecdotal evidence that fever reduces the symptoms of autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). See, for example: http://www.aecom.yu.edu/home/news.asp?id=331 and http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/12/071208144002.htm

    ASD sympoms generally develop quite slowly. In a proportion of cases where a child’s ASD symptoms were as yet unrecognised it is plausible that the mild fever following a vaccination would cause the symptoms to be reduced for a while. The swift return of symptoms as the fever abates could well bring them to the attention of child’s parents. In situations where this happens it would be by no means unreasonable for parents to conclude that the vaccination, preceding as it did the apparent onset of symptoms, was the cause.

    While ever this aspect goes unmentioned, that fever-induced modulation of symptoms following vaccination can bring them to notice, the myth will continue. No amount of ‘scientific proof’ will persuade a parent against the evidence of their own eyes.

    Epidemiological research shows that vaccination doesn’t cause ASD; but at first take to some parents it may certainly look as though it does.

  24. Jen

    Epidemiological research shows that vaccination doesn’t cause ASD; but at first take to some parents it may certainly look as though it does.>>>>>>>>

    Indeed, if one really wants an eye opening look at what might be behind the rise in autism, check out Dr. Stephen Schultz’s book, “Autism Risk” and view the graph on page 38.

  25. Nice reporting, Chris. The belief that vaccinations cause autism won’t die because the public does not have all of the information regarding the risks of prenatal ultrasound, which has been been shown to cause disruptions in neuronal migration consistent with those found in autopsied autistics (http://www.pnas.org/content/103/34/12903.long).

    My article, “Questions about Prenatal Ultrasound and the Alarming Increase in Autism” was published in 2006 and suggests that ultrasound-induced damage to (http://midwiferytoday.com/articles/ultrasoundrodgers.asp) heat-shock proteins could make children vulnerable during their first thermal episode — for some children, the high fever that can follow a vaccination.

    Since that time, as I have continued my research, I believe that another factor might be changes in gene expression caused by the thermal effects of ultrasound. This would explain why geneticists are having a hard time discovering specific autism genes; the gene pool does not change quickly, but the intrusion of energy in the womb — specifically, sound waves transformed into heat when they are absorbed by tissue — could change gene expression in myriad ways, causing a spectrum of difficulties in children.

  26. HCN

    Jen said “Indeed, if one really wants an eye opening look at what might be behind the rise in autism, check out Dr. Stephen Schultz’s book, “Autism Risk” and view the graph on page 38.”

    Dr. Schultz is a dentist, and the book is a self-published tome that costs over $90 for its mere 140 pages.

  27. Joe Keleher

    Reading “Vaccination Nation” I have my own speculation on what has/ is happening to our children and population at large.

    I had some of the set of symptoms many refere to as Morgellons Disease and documented getting better (Keleher, Joseph W., Hell and Back Again: An Account of Morgellons Disease and Its Cure from a Former Sufferer. Explore 2008: vol 17, #4). In reviewing the historic documentation of these symptoms, there is a possible mercury link (Keleher, Joseph W., Patterns in Early Morgellons Disease Considered as Effect of Mercury Exposure. Explore 2008: vol 17, #6).

    The recent growing numbers of Morgellons sufferers and children with ADD, ADHD, and autism may correlate. The reason for the growing numbers of both I believe relates to dental adhesives such as Dycal, Life, etc.. Dr. Omar Amin documented a connection between these adhesives and Morgellons symptoms ( Amin, Dr. Omar, Dental Sealant Toxicity: Neurocutaneous Syndrome (NCS) a dermological and neurological disorder. Holistic Dental Asso. Journal The Communicator 2004, #1). I’m speculating the adhesives react with mercury and pull it into the nervous system. So, in a nutshell, my view is that Morgellons is actually symptoms related to mercury as a neurotoxin.

    Mercury in a pregnant woman can be carried to an unborn fetus (see FDA and EPA warnings) and this may be the reason such effects as ADD, ADHD, and autism have risen.

    I am not a medical professional: my research background is in archaeology.I wonder if any medical researcher and/or biochemist have looked into this possibility? If so, I haven’t seen the research. Certainly I am of the opinion that putting mercury into our bodies or environment has serious consequences.

    Sincerely, Joseph Keleher

  28. JGH-4774

    Excellent post (#9) by Brian Moench:

    “Pretty one sided article, written as though the writer had reached his conclusion before doing the research and then set out to justify the conclusion. In fact, there is still a wealth of scientitic studies that not only implicate thimerasol but also implicate environmental factors.

    There is no such thing as a genetic epidemic that occurs during one generation. The definitive study on whether the “epidemic” of autism is real or not was published in the journal Epidemiology in Jan. 09. It established that, in fact the epdemic was real and the authors stated that their work clearly implicates environmental factors. This study was not even mentioned in this article.

    This writer and most thimerasol apologists fail to distinguish between the issues of whether vaccines are necessary for public health protection and whether it is appropriate to to put toxic doses of mercury and aluminum in little tiny babies as if you can’t have one without the other. Clearly you can have a vaccine that doesn’t include heavy metals. Furthermore, from the standpoint of risk/benefit to individual patients it makes no sense to vaccinate two year olds against sexually transmitted diseases and Hep. B. (those could be done much later and would be much safer). It is because of cost savings, convenience and capitulation to the pharmaceutical industry that thimerasol was allowed for decades after it should have been discontinued and in fact was in most other countries. The fact that many of thimerasol’s defenders have a clear conflict of interest in defending it, and that includes the CDC and the IOM, was also not mentioned in the article.

    This article also failed to mention the studies that show much higher rates of autism in chidren who live near sources of heavy metals and other environmental toxins, like hazardous waste sites and coal fired power plants.”

    Dr. Brian Moench
    President, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment

  29. JGH-4774

    Parents,

    As Dr. Brian Moench said above, there are indeed a wealth of scientific studies that not only implicate thimerosal but also implicate environmental factors.

    Don’t let anyone tell you that there are no reputable studies linking vaccines (and/or the exposure of subacute doses of injected ethyl mercury) to negative neurological changes in children including ADHD, ADD, developmental/language delays, tics, and possibly… Autism (ASD). Here they are….

    http://www.talkaboutcuringautism.org/medical/studies-about-vaccine-autism-link.htm

    On the preceding web page, click on “Autism Studies and related Medical Conditions” located at the upper left margin. There you will find an astonishing 384 page PDF outlining over 500 studies relating to vaccines, mercury, autism, and other neurological disorders. These studies have been published in peer-reviewed (PubMed indexed) journals.

  30. JGH-4774

    Your response “bob”?

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »