Vaccine-Autism Panic Debunked Yet Again by New Study

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As the Baltimore Sun reports:

For years, the scientific evidence has been accumulating. The latest, published this week, once again showed that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative long used in childhood vaccines, does not cause the neurological disorders associated with the U.S. autism epidemic.

In fact, scientists at the California Department of Public Health demonstrated that in the years since nearly all thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2001, the rate of autism has continued to rise there. Had thimerosal been the culprit, those numbers should have decreased.

The image

The vaccine scare is a great example of what is wrong with the so-called precautionary principle. As the Sun further reports:

By 1999, some government scientists were concerned that infants might be getting too much mercury. As a precautionary measure, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics asked pharmaceutical companies to remove thimerosal from vaccines.

Still, according to Dr. Paul A. Offit, the infectious diseases chief at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, doctors kept insisting that parents not worry about the safety of vaccines.

But the firestorm came. "Many parents, frightened by a sudden change in policy, reasoned that thimerosal was targeted because it was harmful—and their faith in the vaccine infrastructure was shaken," Offit wrote in a September issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The precautionary measures were based on a few "entirely flawed" studies. The result: worried parents, unvaccinated kids and more expensive vaccines.

Whole Sun article here.

Here's a link to some of my earlier reporting on the vaccine/autism panic.

NEXT: Steve Earle's Hammer

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  1. In other news, Sir Edmund Hillary was assasinated by nature at the age of 88.

  2. mercury. it’s what’s for dinner.

  3. When it comes to issues of science and epidemiology, who ya gonna believe: the California Department of Public Health or Don Imus?

  4. When it comes to issues of science and epidemiology, who ya gonna believe: the California Department of Public Health or Don Imus?

    Are those my only choices?

    Speaking of Don Imus, I wonder if he’d like to join the Ron Paul campaign…

  5. Heh. No matter what Paul said or didn’t say, I’m pretty sure
    he never uttered the words, “Nappy-headed ho.”

  6. Ron, you might find this paper interesting and helpful in analysis:

    Shrader-Frechette and McCoy. 1992. Statistics, costs and rationality in ecological inference. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 7:96-99.

    A good paper on the philosophy of statistical inference. Although presented in the context of ecology, its conclusions are easily generalizable to other fields, and examples from other fields are used in the paper, including law and medicine.

  7. innominate: Thanks very much for the reference. Do you happen to have a link where I can download it?

  8. If this gets linked to right places, this could turn into a really “fun” comment thread.

    I love the headline on the linked Baltimore Sun article “Autism activists unmoved”; who’da thunk it?

  9. Good thing Lew Rockwell and pals are no longer writing Paul’s newsletters otherwise the good Doctor would probably be on the wrong side of this one as well:

    Rockwell’s blog:

    Does the MMR Injection Cause Autism?
    Posted by Lew Rockwell at July 8, 2007 11:41 AM
    There is far more open debate on this question in the UK than in Busherica. I do note that one of the first actions of the Bush regime and its rubberstamp Congress was to provide total immunity on the question to that Republican pressure group, Big Pharma, with its mercury-laced vaccines.

    Fund-raising letter signed (but presumably never read) by Ron Paul:

    I’ve laid bare… the federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one.)

  10. Ron, I don’t, sorry. You’ll probably have to have a copy made at a university library, or you might be able to purchase access directly from Elsevier ScienceDirect database. That would probably be $20-30 for that one article.

  11. I love the headline on the linked Baltimore Sun article “Autism activists unmoved”

    Of course they are. When you’ve invested that much time and energy in a noble cause, admitting you were wrong is impossible for many people. Acknowledging fallibility is not an admission of wrongdoing, but most people perceive it as such.

  12. Will the Imuses apologize to Joe Barton now?

  13. You have to remember these parents are driven by a real sense of panic and desperation – I know. Right now, the medical establishment offers no hope of a cure, so of course these folks are looking for alternatives.

    Now they have one less place to look.

  14. It’s easier for many people to ignore the facts and have a scapegoat to blame for their child’s illness than to accept the fact that their child was just unlucky.

  15. When you’ve invested that much time and energy in a noble cause, admitting you were wrong is impossible for many people.

    But not for Ron Bailey – viz his mea culpa on global warming…

  16. Yet more proof that Ron Paul is WRONG in asserting that parent should have the freedom to refuse vaccinations. As a tolerant Cosmotarian, I DEMAND that all children be forcibly vaccinated for the good of society. I don’t want my own child catching a disease from some unvaccinated hick kid. Libertarianism isn’t about individual freedom of action, it’s about submitting to tolerant authority.

    1. eh, if your child’s vaccinated himself then he won’t get anything amirite?

      Why the fuck do you care if my kid gets some fucking disease?

  17. Some people won settlements based on the premise that thermosil caused their child’s autism. Do they now have to give the money back?

  18. Brandybuck,

    I have just the presidential candidate for you!

  19. Brandybuck: Given that just about every parent I’ve heard fulminating about the dread vaccine phenomenon happens to be a yuppie from the upper financial strata I suggest that “unvaccinated hicks” aren’t the problem. It’s the Starbucks/Prius crowd who’ve kept their kids out of the vaccine pool and by doing so endangered the whole mass-immunity concept.

  20. I don’t want my own child catching a disease from some unvaccinated hick kid.

    So get your kid vaccinated, which prevents catching the disease.

    Problem solved.

  21. There’s an autism epidemic? Methinks there’s an hysteria epidemic.

  22. Brandybuck, *of course* parents should be free to refuse vaccinations for their children. They should also be free not to have any taxpayer money used for their kids when they catch a vaccination-preventable disease, and they should be free not to be able to sue anyone for any foreseeable damage to their kids which happens when not vaccinated, and *especially* they should be free to be sued by others who are damaged by any foreseeable damage due to refusing to have their kids vaccinated.

    Hey, freedom is responsibility, right? A young lady of my acquaintance (a grad student, no less) was outraged that she had to get drops put in her baby’s eyes to test for PKU. I asked her if she would be okay if her child turned out to have the debilitating problem the test tests for and to pay *all* the subsequent expenses thereof. That made her even more outraged.

  23. In other news, Sir Edmund Hillary was assasinated by nature at the age of 88.

    Guy, you’re confused. He just won the New Hampshire primary.

  24. When it comes to issues of science and epidemiology, who ya gonna believe: the California Department of Public Health or Don Imus?

    Hmm… don’t rush me, I’m thinking…

  25. You’ll probably have to have a copy made at a university library, or you might be able to purchase access directly from Elsevier ScienceDirect database. That would probably be $20-30 for that one article.

    How quaint. Too bad, though, it sounded like an interesting paper.

  26. The article is very wrong in blaming parents for insisting on vaccines that provide assurance of greater safety. Mercury after all is a potent neurotoxin, for which there truly is no known safety threshold — especially for infants, who have a porous blood-brain barrier. When the issue was raised by Congress in the late 90s, nobody in authority had stopped to consider that the recommended schedule of mutiple vaccinations over a short time might result in exceeding even the arbitrary limits for exposure to mercury for adults.

    I daresay the article is also wrong in saying thimerosal has been removed from all vaccines. Last I heard, it was still in the flu vaccine, which is recommended for infants.

    I have a son with profound developmental disabilities. I do not know that mercury, or vaccines in general, contributed to his problems. I do know people with vaccine-damaged children, and I know vaccine injuries are underreported. Throughout my son’s life, medical people have revealed a shocking level of ignorance and an even worse lack of professional curiosity in finding causes and treatments for developmental problems. They have well earned the suspicion that greet their pronouncements of safety.

    Folks who are not acquainted with the ongoing heartbreak of raising a child like mine frankly have no business, and will gain no traction, sneering at attempts to ensure safe vaccines.

  27. I don’t want my own child catching a disease from some unvaccinated hick kid.

    Welcome to Vashon Island.

    The “Alternative Medicine Mecca”. There are a lot of Subaru’s over there, so “hick” might not have the standard connotation.

    On Vashon Island, 18 percent of the island’s 1,600 primary school students have legally opted out of vaccination against childhood diseases, including polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and chicken pox.

    Most of their families have obtained “philosophical exemptions” from normal vaccination requirements – exemptions that in Washington and several other states can be claimed by signing a school form.

  28. Mercury after all is a potent neurotoxin, for which there truly is no known safety threshold — especially for infants, who have a porous blood-brain barrier.

    Which, when used in the levels of these vaccines has what effect, exactly. Since no credible link to autism has been found, what then are the effects? Can you find something else? Poor bone development, bad teeth…

    The specific question being raised is regarding the link to Autism. No credible study has found ANY link whatsoever to autism, so what then is the objection?

    I do know people with vaccine-damaged children, and I know vaccine injuries are underreported.

    How do you know they’re underreported? Could you provide a link to the evidence?

  29. I’m confused why the precautionary principle is poorly applied in this case. If the precaution is to remove thimerosal, then the scientific downside of that is… what?

    Sure, there are plenty of social downsides (people then choosing not to vaccinate,) but that’s a “people love to overreact” problem, a “people love to seize upon the first bit of information they come across and ignore any subsequent data” problem and a “our country loves to sue people” problem rather than an incorrect precaution taken by the manufacturer of the vaccine. And unlike in the case of global warming, we’re not surrendering any liberties or ruining our economy to take that thimerosal-free precaution.

    So they should have left the thimerosal in until they were sure it was harmful?

  30. Well, Ron Paul’s good friend Alex Jones has already addressed this: they’re lying about taking the thimerosal out. Not to mention all the other biowarfare agents they put in there. All part of the plan…

  31. I don’t think this is damning to the precautionary principle, which frankly makes a lot of sense in a lot of areas. Now it may not be the best for economic growth, true, but slower movement forward is probably more intelligent than unwittingly creating catastrophe without oversight.

  32. LD: But what about the taking precautions to make sure that children don’t die of measles, mumps, diptheria and the like? Not to mention the waste of resources spent on reformulating vaccines?

  33. I do know people with vaccine-damaged children

    Steven Gallup,
    Don’t you mean that you know people who have damaged children that they blame on vaccines?
    Serious question.

  34. The downside, Legate comes initially from two places. The first downside, admittedly drops over time. That first downside is that before or during a time when non-mercury based vaccines aren’t available, people don’t vaccinate their kids. This has its obvious problems. The second downside is admittedly more fuzzy and like all things, diminishes over time, but you get more expensive vaccines– and I don’t know whether the new preservative is less effective etc., but that could also be a problem.

    Also, the new preservative might later found to be problematic– thus smacking us squarely in the forehead with the 2×4 of irony.

    The bigger issue is that once a fear of vaccination exists, it won’t matter what you do to the vaccine, there becomes a “culture” of anti-vaccination mentality and people suffer as a result.

    My guess is, that the removal of thimerosal won’t by itself change the culture people seeking “philosophical exemptions” from vaccinations.

    Take, for instance, the case of pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough. The incidence of pertussis increased more than fivefold in Washington between 2001 and 2005. Given that this disease disproportionately affects young children, it’s disturbing to know that in many of these cases – such as those on Vashon Island where a significant portion of the school-age population is not immunized – children have needlessly suffered for the cause of medical freedom.

    but slower movement forward is probably more intelligent than unwittingly creating catastrophe without oversight.

    James, if the precautionary principle only resulted in slower movement forward, you might be right. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of evidence that it results in rapid movement backwards.

  35. As a tolerant Cosmotarian, I DEMAND that all children be forcibly vaccinated for the good of society.

    It’s not an unreasonable position to take. You may say that each parent can choose whether to vaccinate their child, but here’s what you’re not thinking about: Even for a child who gets every recommended vaccination, it takes several years for a child to get the series of shots required. If deadly diseases are out there circulating among the population, the child is vulnerable until completing the course of immunizations. It’s very arguable, even for a libertarian, that disease eradication is a core, legitimate function of government, like defense and courts.

  36. This Cosmotarian meme has been spreading like wildfire around here the last few days. Thing is, like “Yankee Doodle” it’s meant to be derogatory, but the folks who are being labeled are probably thinking, “Hey, that’s a catchy name!” I think this meme is gonna stick because of that.

  37. It’s very arguable, even for a libertarian, that disease eradication is a core, legitimate function of government, like defense and courts.

    I think it is. Deadly, contagious diseases pose a clear and present danger to the population. This is the stuff health departments are supposed to be doing, not regulating my salt intake, or trans-fat consumption.

  38. fwiw, here is the link to the CDC’s guidelines for when a child should *not* be vaccinated. Most of the anti-vax sites feature annecdotal stories which are sad – but the stories usually involve a situation where the child should not have been vaccinated in the first place.

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/vac-admin/contraindications.htm

    Ultimately, doctors should be responsible for knowing the contraindications and following the guidelines.

  39. This Cosmotarian meme has been spreading like wildfire around here the last few days.

    I also like the flip-side version: Yokeltarian*

    * Hat tip to someone – I can’t remember who.

  40. Maybe I’m one of the hicks, since I don’t know how to indicate quotes here.

    Paul has asked how I know adverse reactions are underreported. Sir, with all due respect, do you know how the VAERS system works? Kindly do your own research if you’re interested. I’ve fought this one too many times to continue trotting out evidence for those who aren’t.

    BTW, preservatives can be avoided entirely by switching to single-dose vials. Yes, it ups the cost. Seat belts and airbags up the cost of cars, too.

    The anti-vaccine culture you lament is fostered by resistance to such concerns.

    J sub D suggests that parents with damaged kids assign blame without adequate evidence. Try to imagine that you have a kid who is developing normally, who then gets a shot, has high fevers over the next week, and is never the same thereafter. In the absence of another explanation, what would you think?

    You guys can say what you like. I stand by the last sentence of my earlier post.

  41. Ron,

    Not sure what your first question means.

    resources spent on reformulating vaccines
    This certainly has the potential to be a problem, but as someone familiar with the vaccine industry, I strongly suspect that with only a 8-year gap between the introduction of thimerosal, most (or all) companies already had a pre-1991 formulation that they could easily switch back to. Why? Because vaccines are a high-entry, low profit business. Most (or all) of the players are in the industry because they can’t afford to get out of it. Does this make it okay philisophically? Probably not. But it’s unlikely anyone went out on the street because of this change.

    Paul,
    You pointed out something that I had missed during my original reading of the Sun article, which was that they didn’t use up their thimerosal-containing supply until 3 years later. I now understand why parents during those years may have chosen to take their precaution in reaction to the CDC’s precaution-taking. And taking that information into account, I see the precautionary principle as a (cause of/addition to) the problem between 1999 and 2002.

    To clarify my issue with blaming this on the precautionary principle after 2002 is that in that case, the people who are not vaccinating their children are choosing to bypass the precaution and then it becomes a purely social problem.

    So basically, I was kinda wrong. But I do like bacon. 😉

  42. Paul has asked how I know adverse reactions are underreported. Sir, with all due respect, do you know how the VAERS system works? Kindly do your own research if you’re interested.

    I will. A link would be nice, but I’d imagine that a google search on “VAERS” will net something.

    The anti-vaccine culture you lament is fostered by resistance to such concerns.

    I profoundly disagree. The anti-vaccine culture is, by its nature, bound and determined to find man-made chemical “causes” to every ailment suffered, including birth defects and chromosome deficiencies. When thimerosal goes away, it will be something else.

    to imagine that you have a kid who is developing normally, who then gets a shot, has high fevers over the next week, and is never the same thereafter. In the absence of another explanation, what would you think?

    To a point. Unfortunately this is a prime example of post hoc ergo proptor hoc reasoning.

    About a year ago, I got a tb test, and the next day, I had flu-like symptoms and had body aches. I blamed it on the tb test.

    There’s no evidence that the tb test I had causes any of those problems. When you take hard to pin-down things such as incubation time and the like, it’s easy to get fooled.

  43. J sub D suggests that parents with damaged kids assign blame without adequate evidence. Try to imagine that you have a kid who is developing normally, who then gets a shot, has high fevers over the next week, and is never the same thereafter. In the absence of another explanation, what would you think?

    J sub D is stating that that is not adequate evidence. I was giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  44. Steve Gallup:

    Have you ever heard of post hoc ergo propter hoc? Kindly do your own research if you’re interested.

  45. The premise underlying all this is that thimerisol is the culprit which may be wrong – but rather, a more likely culprit mycoplasma bacterial contaminants .015 microns which are too small to be filtered out by the .2 micron filter. This is being completely ignored apparently.

  46. I seriously considering closing this without reading the comments at all. I am the parent of an autistic child and three “developmentally normal” kids. If you met us on the street, you wouldn’t be able to pick out the one with autism. In 1991 the AMA came out with diagnostic criteria for diagnosing PDD/aka autism. It’s all lumped in under one diagnosis code and it doesn’t matter where on the spectrum you fall, you’re still diagnosed as autistic. Those criteria were further refined in 1999 and again in ’06, I think. Doctors are better educated on diagnosing autism (which even 2 years before diagnosis would have gotten my child an ADD tag instead) and so they are diagnosing it more. There is no indication that there are more “classicly autistic” kids and there are a lot of indications that the high functioning kids are being diagnosed more often. They are anecdotal from the experts in my child’s school system, but they are there. As medicine gets better, we catch more heart disease. Why wouldn’t the same be true for PDD?

  47. I seriously considering closing this without reading the comments at all.

    Meli, I’m glad you didn’t.

  48. Meli

    I admire your intellectual honesty.

    I hope all goes well with your family.

  49. Steve Gallup,

    “Try to imagine that you have a kid who is developing normally, who then gets a shot, has high fevers over the next week, and is never the same thereafter. In the absence of another explanation, what would you think?”

    This has already been correctly identified by a number of posters as post hoc, ergo propter hoc. It’s also an example of recall bias.

    I have some acquaintance with VAERS. I would have thought overreporting of vaccine reactions would be the problem, since if memory serves this is a self-reporting system.

  50. Kindly do your own research if you’re interested

    On teh intertubes, the provision of link is considered common courtesy when asserting that research exists for something.

    As medicine gets better, we catch more heart disease.

    Just so. Not to mention that we now have tens of thousands of people looking for autism (teachers, doctors, nurses), many of whom, I hesitate to add, have a financial incentive for finding it.

    Kind of like how ADD became an “epidemic” right after drugs to “treat” it were developed and a massive “educational” campaign went public.

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure autism was under-diagnosed before, and I have no doubt whatsoever that it is hard, very hard, to raise an autistic kid. But when I see these instant syndrome-of-the-day industries spring up, I get very cynical.

  51. Meli, thanks for your input. Especially with the focus on “autism”.

    Steve Gallup said his child has “profound developmental disabilities”. The study spoke only about links between thimerosal and autism. I don’t know if the developmental disabilities that Gallup’s son has is autism. My problem with what Steve Gallup says is not that he demands “safe vaccines”, but that he implies that there is an absolute and irrefutable link between these vaccines and a broad range of developmental problems in children up to and beyond autism (I guess).

    Mainly, I don’t like the suggestion that because I’m skeptical of a link between thimerasol and autism, that I resist “safe vaccines”. This is hyperbole on the same scale as “being against the children” if you vote against some bond measure.

    If there is a vaccine which is “not safe”, then this problem must be ferreted out with proper scientific method and a replacement found ASAP. Unfortunately, the definition of “unsafe” could run the full spectrum from causing a mild rash, all the way to causing irreversible brain damage.

    The thimerasol controversy speaks to one issue: the cause of autism. So far, there is no credible scientific link between the preservative and autism (which as you point out is more broadly diagnosed than ever before). So the remaining question (which Steve never answered) is what then are the other problems caused by thimerasol? Or are we just broadening the scope and declaring any ill effect suffered some time after receiving a thimerasol-based vaccine is a direct result of the thimerasol?

  52. “Maybe I’m one of the hicks, since I don’t know how to indicate quotes here.”

    Try these: “”.

  53. I do know people with vaccine-damaged children, and I know vaccine injuries are underreported.

    What a coincidence! I know measles-damaged adults!

    Given that in first world countries, measles mortality is 1/1,000 (10% in third world countries) and that the virus is ubiquitous and highly contagious, one in every thousand kids who got the vaccine would have to drop stone dead afterwards to make it an even/even proposition.

    And that’s not counting the brain injuries that the virus itself causes.

    This is what happens when you have a generation of adults that grow up without any real fear of infectious disease. You lose all perspective of what’s really dangerous in the world.

  54. “This is what happens when you have a generation of adults that grow up without any real fear of infectious disease. You lose all perspective of what’s really dangerous in the world.”

    Exactly!

  55. People should keep in mind that when asked the question “why is my child developmentally delayed?” the only scientifically sound answer in most cases is…we don’t know?

    This is a tough answer to live with and parents who work hard to fill in that blank box should be given a lot of leeway in their efforts.

    However, those who manipulate this need by pushing pseudoscience or rumor (I am talking to you Mr. Kennedy, and you Rolling Stone and you BrainMatters Inc.) should be treated harshly.

    Scientists and businesses making unsupported claims need to be called on their bullshit.

  56. http://www.brainmattersinc.com/

    For an nice example of how neat technology paired with a desire for knowledge sells snake oil.

  57. People should keep in mind that when asked the question “why is my child developmentally delayed?” the only scientifically sound answer in most cases is…we don’t know?

    Add into the fact that speaking personally, I have no knowledge beyond my great-grandparents what developmental disabilities have existed in my family (none that I know of). I could be carrying a genetic marker which might result in some bizarre chromosomal deficiency (spend some time in a NICU, and you’ll discover some very, very bizarre chromosomal deficiencies) that shows up every few generations. So my daughter has a developmentally disabled child, one can see just how easy (and tempting) it would be to blame immediate environmental factors.

  58. Neu,

    for a minute, I wasn’t sure what your problem with this website was, then I found this:

    Detection prior to symptoms is the key to effective treatment.

    Finally, An Objective Diagnostic Tool.[emphasis mine -p]

    Research suggests that Brain SPECT Imaging can often identify the presence of Alzheimer’s disease and can be used as a screening tool several years before the onset of symptoms of this devastating disease.

    Is that it?

  59. Folks who are not acquainted with the ongoing heartbreak of raising a child like mine frankly have no business, and will gain no traction, sneering at attempts to ensure safe vaccines.

    Ahhh, the joys of special pleading, poisoning the well, and no true scotsman all rolled up into one nice sentence.

    J sub D suggests that parents with damaged kids assign blame without adequate evidence. Try to imagine that you have a kid who is developing normally, who then gets a shot, has high fevers over the next week, and is never the same thereafter. In the absence of another explanation, what would you think?

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc?

    Actually, the time that children start showing signs of autism (that parents can detect) and when they get various vaccines are pretty close. Further, studies of home movies using diagnostics and blind methods were able to diagnose which children had autism with a fairly decent rate of accuracy.

    Adrien, J., et al. Blind ratings of early symptoms of autism based upon family home movies. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 32:617-626, 1993.

    Adrien, J., et al. Early symptoms in autism from family home movies: evaluation and comparison between 1st and 2nd year of life using I.B.S.E. scale. Acta Paedopsychiatrica 55:71-75, 1992.

    Adrien, J., et al. Autism and family home movies: preliminary findings. J Autism Devel Disorders 21:43-49, 1991.

    Osterling, J., et al. Early recognition of children with autism: a study of first birthday home videotapes. J Autism Devel Disorders 24:247-257, 1994.

    Mars, A.E., et al. Symptoms of pervasive developmental disordeers as observed in prediagnostic home videos of infants and toddlers. J Pediatr 132:500-504, 1998.

    Note that in these cases the children would not have recieved their MMR vaccine yet.

    There is basically a growing body of evidence that autism occurs during in utero fetal development and so far zero evidence linking it to vaccines.

  60. Steve Gallup

    You should ask if your child should be screened for MEI. It often occurs in the situation you described. Vaccines hav e been mistakenly blamed for years. The DNA test is sequencing for SCN1A.

  61. Take a look at the vaccines themselves, not the preservative. You have a kid who’s immune system is already compromised by genetics*, you pump all these viruses into their tiny bodies and wonder why they can’t take it.

    My son had 300 times the MMR immunity necessary to fight the diseases at a recent viral titer screening. After months of cleaning out his system, he is almost “off the spectrum”…..almost, but not quite.

    *It has been shown time and time again that autoimmune issues are at play with many kids with Autism

  62. Take a look at the vaccines themselves, not the preservative. You have a kid who’s immune system is already compromised by genetics*, you pump all these viruses into their tiny bodies and wonder why they can’t take it.

    How many viruses? How many compared to older vaccines? Can you give some specific numbers?

  63. You have a kid who’s immune system is already compromised by genetics*, you pump all these viruses into their tiny bodies and wonder why they can’t take it.

    But wouldn’t this be a case-by-case decision that the caregiver would make? I think a commenter above suggested that more often than not, the tragedies that do occur were in cases where the child never should have received the vaccine in the first case.

  64. Please, folks, why is it so difficult to convey a simple concept?

    Paul, I’m pretty sure I did not say that there is an absolute and irrefutable link between these vaccines and a broad range of developmental problems in children. I was objecting to this self-congratulatory fest of saying a reasonable hypothesis has been “debunked,” and the charlatans who raised it are guilty of needlessly raising the cost of your vaccines.
    For the record, my son does have a diagnosis of autism, ok? He is 22 years old and he cannot talk. He cannot take care of himself. And despite very active participation on my part throughout those years, no mainstream medical professional has tried to tell me why. A neurologist’s bottom line was, “It just happened.” I submit that such a response does not reflect well on the notion that we can rely on such people when they say everybody else is pushing pseudoscience. Again, I did not say vaccines or thimerosal were at fault in his case. However, my experience has led me to sympathize with those who believe it has hurt them.
    Passerby says that ultimately the doctors should be responsible for knowing what is right. Yes, but ultimately it’s the family and the patient who is left to deal with the consequences of a screwup. So in my book the responsibility for acting prudently lies right here.
    You ask what are the other causes of thimerosal? Look, mercury is a poison. I’ve sat through lectures, given by MDs and PhDs, on what mercury can do. Symptoms of autism are almost identical to a malady called Pink Disease, which turned out to be caused by a teething remedy given to babies in the 1930s. That remedy contained mercury. Why put the stuff in our kids’ bodies simply because it enables multiple doses to be packaged more cheaply? Why do we need to argue about that?
    The problem with VAERS I hoped would be understood is that reporting is essentially voluntary on the part of the clinic — assuming the parent informs them of an adverse reaction. I have read about the significant weakness of both of those links in several places and while I don’t keep urls in my hip pocket I’m sure the information is still there to be read.
    Tacos attributes my position to people growing up in an era free of infectious disease. I should mention that I was born in 1950 and that I and all my contemporaries had what were then considered the normal childhood illnesses. While I understand that a minority are hurt by the experience, especially those dealing with conditions in the Third World, when I was growing up measles was dreaded because it meant you couldn’t go outdoors and play with your friends for a few days.
    Speaking for myself at least, I am not bound and determined to find manmade chemical causes for the problem. However, if we as a society are going to continue to have children, it would be nice to know ANY cause when things go awry. If it’s not mercury, what is it? Not much has been accomplished until that question is addressed.

    I do appreciate Rich’s suggestion to screen for MEI. That was a constructive addition. Thanks.

  65. TomB: Unfortunately I have no raw numbers for you, without hours of going through my notes and studies. I just know that the number of vaccines given to babies and little kids has steadily increased. The vaccines that are grouped together as one has also increased. I agree we should vaccinate, just in single-doses and spread out over a period of time….at the very least.

    Paul: How would one know ahead of time that their typically developing child was at risk? I now know that having auto-immune diseases in ones family could be a reason for some concern…but I just learned that and only because of research into my sons diagnosis.

  66. That baby looks like George W. Bush, which makes me wish the needle went into a different place. It would be similar to what he did to America.

  67. The justifications for use of Thimerisol are the same as were used for Thalidomide. Perhaps Thimerisol is perfectly safe, but for parents, whose lives and souls are their children, can you blame people for being paranoid? Can you trust big pharma? Can you trust the politicians who get the donations from big pharma? If it is so safe, why did Bush sign off on the law that gives total immunity to Thimerisol manufacturers? Only asking.

  68. Bear in mind it may well be thet so-called “auto-immune disease” is simply a conceit, explains nothing at all, and is a very empty conventional “wisdom”. The analogy has been made by others to security video of a bank robbery with the conclusion that the teller is the robber! More likely perhaps the immume system is attacking pathogens harbored intracellularly which have hijacked these cells, pathogens small enough to have not been filtered out during the manufacture of the vaccine, for instance.

  69. Paul, I’m pretty sure I did not say that there is an absolute and irrefutable link between these vaccines and a broad range of developmental problems in children.

    No, you implied it. You continue to imply it at almost every level of all of your posts. Especially with this type of commentary:

    In the absence of another explanation, what would you think?

    […]

    Folks who are not acquainted with the ongoing heartbreak of raising a child like mine frankly have no business, and will gain no traction, sneering at attempts to ensure safe vaccines.

    The only thing that has happened in this thread, and the very stated purpose of this thread was to reiterate that there is no medical evidence linking thimerosal based vaccines and autism. None.

    You then conflate this to suggest that we’re sneering a the attempt to “ensure safe vaccines”.

    You have refused, or avoided answering my repeated question: If you accept that studies have completely failed to find any link between thimerosal and autism, what then exactly are the developmental problems caused by these vaccines?

    And despite very active participation on my part throughout those years, no mainstream medical professional has tried to tell me why.

    Newsflash, science is an amazing thing. But beleive it or not…brace yourself… there are something things that occur in nature and we simply do…not…know…why. Genetic mutation is largely field of untapped knowledge.

    Unfortunately, we have reached a place where people want instant answers for fantastically complex problems. Because the developed world is now awash in information- flat information, both good and bad–people are more able than ever to come to their own conclusions, and communicate said conclusions with fantastic speed and efficiency.

    when the establishment doesn’t come to the same conclusions, it instantly becomes a conspiracy, a cover-up. Because most lay people are highly susceptible to post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning, we see stuff like this cropping up all the time.

    Look, mercury is a poison. I’ve sat through lectures, given by MDs and PhDs, on what mercury can do. Symptoms of autism are almost identical to a malady called Pink Disease, which turned out to be caused by a teething remedy given to babies in the 1930s

    There you go again, suggesting that autism is caused by thimerosal. You are aware that all poison is in the dose, right? You do know that oxygen and water are toxic, right?

    Why put the stuff in our kids’ bodies simply because it enables multiple doses to be packaged more cheaply

    It’s more complicated than that. See one of my first posts in this forum. I’m not against Thimerosal being removed from the vaccine– beyond what I don’t know about the new methods for preserving the vaccines,that is. See 2×4 of irony. It’s not entirely about cost, either. The preservative was used to PREVENT BACTERIAL CONTAMINATION of said vaccine. This possible contamination is not conjecture, it’s not a theory, it is a real possibility. Imagine injecting a bacterially infected vaccine into your kid.

    The problem is this: remove thimerosal from the vaccine, yet the culture of not vaccinating your children will and does persist.

    Ultimately, I have no problem with removing mercury from vaccines if a good, safe alternative is found. The joke is, it won’t matter. Because autism diagnoses will persist and increase, sans thimerosal. Because the culture demands it.

  70. Paul,

    There is no way to diagnose using a brain image at the moment unless you are talking a gross infarct from something like a stroke.

    They might as well be feeling the bumps on your head.

    In 10 years, maybe, but not yet.

    And the person who runs the company and diagnoses with that picture of your brain? A licensed social worker.

    Not a neurologist, a social worker.

    Neat trick.

  71. Kimberly, there is absolutely no reason to spread out vaccines. According to a study by Paul Offit, ‘Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?’*, vaccines we give children now are of such high quality that the total number of antigens are greatly reduced. In the old smallpox vaccine, for example, each shot held around 200 antigens. Now, the TOTAL for all shots in the schedule, it’s 140. So you see we were “stressing” the immune system of children alot more in the past.

    In addtion, the study calculated that a child has a theoretical limit to respond to about 10,000 vaccines at one time.

    *’Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?’, Paul Offit et al, Pediatrics; 109;124-129, January 2002

  72. Jorg(etc):

    Babies don’t get drops in their eye to test for PKU. (I have an almost-one-year-old, so this is all very recent for me.) Babies get a few drops of blood drawn to test for PKU. The chemical that goes in the eyes is to prevent blindness which babies can pick up in the birth canal if the mother has certain STDs.

    The PKU test is important because it’s an easily treated, otherwise awful disease. The eye goop is really only necessary if the mom has the STDs in question; as I don’t, we refused it (and I would indeed have been quite irked at anyone who insisted she have an unnecessary and irritating treatment).

    Get your medicine straight before you get on a high horse about it.

  73. Also, Larry: would that we could be that smug, but vaccination does not prevent getting a disease. It merely substantially reduces the likelihood. In a population with good herd immunity, this looks like prevention, but the more exposures you get, the more you’re playing that probability game…Furthermore, some vaccines do wear off over time (the pertussis vaccine after about 10 years, for instance; we’ve had a couple of small pertussis outbreaks in MA over the last few years). Normally this isn’t a problem because people are past the age of being particularly susceptible, but you can see how a disease could spread through, say, teenagers (probably without causing too much difficulty) and wallop their more susceptible younger siblings.

  74. Kimberly, there is absolutely no reason to spread out vaccines. According to a study by Paul Offit, ‘Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?’…

    Piling on too many vaccines at once may not weaken the immune system, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that an immunization can kick a little babies butt, causing him to be unusually tired and fussy the rest of the day. So, right there is a reason to go a little easier on the poor little kid and space out the shots. The only reason to give a child several shots at once is the convenience of one visit to the doctor instead of several.

  75. Piling on too many vaccines at once may not weaken the immune system, but I can tell you from first-hand experience that an immunization can kick a little babies butt, causing him to be unusually tired and fussy the rest of the day. So, right there is a reason to go a little easier on the poor little kid and space out the shots.

    Your post may give you an emotional reason not to give more than one vaccine, but it makes absolutely no medical sense. I’ve had plenty of “first-hand experience” also, and I’ve never had any issue with multiple sticks.

    However the plural of anecdote is not data.

  76. There was not one reference to emotion in what I posted, and no claim it was more than an anecdote. But one anecdote is enough to counter the statement “there is absolutely no reason …”. What you probably meant is “there is absolutely no medical reason…”, but that’s a different statement.

  77. I’m sorry, but your “reason” is not, in fact, a reason. An excuse, maybe, but not a reason.

    The most vulnerable to disease are the very young and very old, so it is an imperative to get kids fully immunized as soon as possible. I’ve seen infants with vaccine-preventable diseases and believe me, they do more that just make a kid “unusually tired and fussy the rest of the day”.

  78. And the person who runs the company and diagnoses with that picture of your brain? A licensed social worker.

    Holy crapshait!

  79. And your reason for being an arrogant prick? We’re not on any slower schedule than the normal vaccination shedule; instead of, for example, bringing our kid in once a month for two shots, we bring him in every two weeks for one shot each time. Even with the standard vaccination schedule they pace out the number of vaccines they give to a kid at any one visit.

  80. Why is the focus always only on thimerosal?
    Included on this list of chemical concerns should also be formaldehyde, M.S.G., aluminum, Butylated hydroxytoluene or B.H.T. and many others.
    Don’t let the mainstream media and pharma spin doctors lull you into only focusing on the thimerosal.
    Remember these corporations would no doubt lose everything if a connection is made between the preservatives and the world wide vaccine programs.
    I saw my 5yr old son’s live blood analysis taking place.
    I saw live candida yeast in his blood.
    I saw the heavy metals as well.
    Where do you think it came from?
    Leaky gut syndrome comes from the M.M.R jab.
    Oh and by the way if anyone commenting on this subject doesn’t have a child on the spectrum that they live with every day … shutup!

  81. associated with the U.S. autism epidemic.

    Are they even using epidemic correctly there?

    Ron, I owe you an e-mail, can’t wait to see the cigar picture from last night!

  82. B Campaigne,

    Oh and by the way if anyone commenting on this subject doesn’t have a child on the spectrum that they live with every day … shutup!

    Having spent my whole career working with families that are going through what you are going through, I will give you a pass on that comment, but please recognize that blaming vaccines for your child’s challenges is just grasping at straws.

    It is a rare thing indeed to find the cause for autistic spectrum disorders. Most are and will remain idiopathic.

  83. Guy Montag,

    Are they even using epidemic correctly there?

    By any definition I know, the answer would be “yes.”

  84. Neu Mejican

    “It is a rare thing indeed to find the cause for autistic spectrum disorders. Most are and will remain idiopathic.”

    You must be quite a scientist.
    You should publish your peer reviewed work.

    http://www.rawcuisine.co.uk/2008/01/11/study-disproving-mercury-autism-link-published-in-journal-with-financial-ties-to-vaccine-manufacturers/

  85. B Campaigne,

    I do, on a regular basis, publish my peer-reviewed work on developmental disabilities.

    As for the raw cuisine article you link to…

    Well, it just ain’t too convincing.
    Sorry.

  86. An example from raw cuisine to show the lack of clear thinking on the issue.

    The truth is that scientists have no idea what’s causing autism. They acknowledge the alarming increase in the rates of autism now being observed in the population, but with this new study, they claim, “Mercury is safe!”

    This is not what the new study claims.

    The only truly honest, independent, peer-reviewed medical journal operating today is PLoS Medicine, an open-source journal that takes no money from drug companies.

    The ONLY one? Really?

    Autism rates are still on the rise, right along with vaccination rates.

    Not true…and, of course, if it were, correlation does not equal causation.

    The only reasonable, scientifically-minded conclusion we can draw from the study is that removing mercury from vaccines does not reduce autism in children.

    This is what the study concluded, in essence.

    From the study’s abstract:

    Results The estimated prevalence of autism for children at each year of age from 3 to 12 years increased throughout the study period. The estimated prevalence of DDS clients aged 3 to 5 years with autism increased for each quarter from January 1995 through March 2007. Since 2004, the absolute increase and the rate of increase in DDS clients aged 3 to 5 years with autism were higher than those in DDS clients of the same ages with any eligible condition including autism.

    Conclusions The DDS data do not show any recent decrease in autism in California despite the exclusion of more than trace levels of thimerosal from nearly all childhood vaccines. The DDS data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to thimerosal during childhood is a primary cause of autism.

  87. NM,

    These are both of the ‘applicable’ Webster’s definitions:

    1: affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time
    2 a: excessively prevalent b: contagious 4

    And you find autism to fit all of them?

    Just who is publishing you?

  88. NM
    I do, on a regular basis, publish my peer-reviewed work on developmental disabilities

    Where?

    And why don’t you use your real name??

  89. Guy,

    I think definition 1 applies to ASD…at around 1 in 150 people in most US communities.

    B Campaigne

    I also don’t publish my phone, email address,or social security number…just the way I roll I guess.

  90. Guy,

    Of course, many want to reserve the word epidemic for a growing problem. ASD is probably staying steady in the population with better identification being the primary reason more people are diagnosed now than in the past. There is, however, some interesting work that posits an actual increase as the skills often associated with high-functioning autism are found to have value in the society.

    See
    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.12/aspergers.html

  91. More on “The Geek Syndrome” argument
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/oaar/G&M-2002-oct-19.html

  92. A systematic review of the prevalence studies on Austism and ASD
    http://adc.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/91/1/8

  93. Freedom of the person requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities.
    I have come to the conclusion that those who benefit from any societal mechanism rarely wish to understand that mechanism, especially if it appears to grant them power or authority and understanding it or any alternatives would restrict, diminish or destroy that power apparently granted.
    They live in a vapid world of learned assumptions.

  94. B Campaigne

    Nice paragraph…

    Reminds me of the short version:

    A mind is like a parachute, useless unless it’s open.

    I like this most libertarian of quotes on minds…

    Donald Hebb:
    The large brain, like large government, may not be able to do simple things in a simple way.

  95. A new study of interest

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T44-4RJSP05-8&_user=582538&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000029718&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=582538&md5=cde9b3fea45fde7295c4bed3d4743334

    Prevalence and Characteristics of Children With Autism-Spectrum Disorders
    Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 18, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 130-136

    by Joyce S. Nicholas, Jane M. Charles, Laura A. Carpenter, Lydia B. King, Walter Jenner and Eve G. Spratt

    Results indicate that ASDs affect 1 in 162 children 8 years of age in South Carolina. Continuing surveillance will permit assessment of potential changes in this prevalence estimate over time….ASD is now the second most frequently occurring serious developmental disability in the United States after mental retardation. Mental retardation occurs at a rate of 12 per 1000 (31), ASD at 6.6 per 1000 (2), cerebral palsy at 3.1 per 1000, hearing loss at 1.2 per 1000, and visual impairments at 1.2 per 1000 (32). Still ASD remains a disability with no clear cause, limited diagnostic tools, and limited published research on medical and educational intervention. Understanding the magnitude of ASD prevalence along with the societal and personal consequences of the disorder will help to direct decisions by policymakers, raise interest among researchers, and help to develop better and a wider range of evidence-based intervention techniques.

  96. I would add that Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders occur at a rate around 10 per 1000, making them more prevalent than ASD…many with FASD or ASD, however, would be included in that MR count, so it is not straight forward to create the list here.

  97. Hmmmmm

  98. Prevalence and Characteristics of Children With Autism-Spectrum Disorders
    Annals of Epidemiology, Volume 18, Issue 2, February 2008, Pages 130-136

    by Joyce S. Nicholas, Jane M. Charles, Laura A. Carpenter, Lydia B. King, Walter Jenner and Eve G. Spratt

    I suggest anyone considering the implications of this propaganda in any serious way do a little homework first.
    – Reed Elsviere is the publisher of this article.
    – They are a worldwide conglomerate.
    – “Spearhead” (a subsidiary of Reed Elsevier) organizes international “arms fairs”.
    – “Spearhead” manufactures cluster bombs and riot equipment.
    – They are “imbedded” in big pharma, government and the war machine.
    – In 2006, Elsevier revenues totalled ?2,236 million.

    People who have acronyms after their names all want to be “published”.

    I mean really !!

    Anyway,

    I suggest Rich Schull for a start. His book is called “Autism pre-RainMan”
    I don’t agree with all he say’s but he’s on the right track explaining to NT’s what it is like to be living in a world of NT’s when you are on the spectrum.
    As so called NT’s we need to meet Aspi’s and Auti’s half way.
    We need to evolve our methods in how we communicate.
    Current methods are in most cases sadly outdated or their perceived potential are unrealized by the receiver.

    We need to consider and explore new avenues now, 19th century ideas are just that.
    To all parents who feel that something is different with their child.
    Early diagnosis, GFCF, Chelation, ABA/IBI.
    Learn all you can about leaky gut syndrome
    Get a live blood cell analysis. Treat the symptoms.

    Get down on the floor with your kid.
    Engage, engage, ENGAGE!
    Each one is unique.
    Embrace your child’s autism.

    Get to know Phil Commander + Jake
    Here is his link
    http://youtube.com/profile?user=PhilCommander2

    Here is a link to a government doc that is the result of a broadbased report done in Canada.
    It’s well done considering none of us is as dumb as all of us.

    http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/commbus/senate/Com-e/soci-e/rep-e/repfinmar07-e.pdf

  99. With many new announcement about the wizard of oz movies in the news, you might want to consider starting to obtain Wizard of Oz book series either as collectible or investment at RareOzBooks.com.

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