It’s been interesting reading the news reports following the Hornig MMR/regression/bowel-disease study. That has been picked up by most major outlets (and minor outlets). It has been extensively blogged (Kev, Orac, Kristina, Anthony, Steve, Phil (bad astronomy), to name a few).
I have enjoyed reading the various experts that have been brought in to comment on the paper. I list some of them here.
“This really puts this issue to bed,” said Andy Shih, vice president for scientific affairs of “Autism Speaks,” an advocacy group.
Dr. Marie McCormick of the Harvard School of Public Health said these results are definitive and significant.
“This is the nail in the coffin,” she said. “The final bit of research we were looking for to finally discredit this link between the measles vaccine and autism” is proven. But there have been dozens of studies over the years debunking a link between vaccines and autism and the controversy has still continued.
“This really closes the scientific inquiry into whether measles or MMR vaccination causes autism,” Schaffner tells WebMD. “It is convincing because it takes the original concept of the profoundly flawed [earlier] study and does it the way it should have been done the first time.”
One of the most amazing parts of this event was the participation of Mr. Rick Rollens. Scientific American included some of Mr. Rollens’ statements:
Rick Rollens, who has an autistic son who suffers from a “horrible bowel disorder,” called the new research sound science and praised it for calling attention to an underserved subset of the autism spectrum: those children who also suffer from GI problems. But he insists that it does not give the all clear to all vaccines.
“I’m totally convinced that a vaccine caused the autism my child suffers from,” Rollens says. “This study by itself does not exonerate the role of all vaccines”—only the MMR.
On the stranger side (is it possible to get stranger than using Rick Rollens’ quotes in support of a study unlinking a vaccine from autism?), Sallie Bernard, quoted at WebMD states
“On the plus side, this study has shown a link between gastrointestinal distress and regression in autism,” Bernard tells WebMD. “A lot of people don’t accept this and deny parents’ perspective when they say their kids’ with autism have GI trouble.”
I call this one strange because (a) the study didn’t show this link and (b) she complains that the study size is too small to be significant. Too small for the parts she doesn’t like, just fine for the conclusions she wants to create.
What’s missing so far is a statement from some of the people whom we all expect to not accept this study. The good people at the Age-of-Autism have warned us that they have a “powerful response” from Mr. Olmsted coming out on Friday. It’s 11:38 now on the west coast, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it didn’t happen. Julie Deardorff (Julie’s Health Club, a blog run by the Chicago Tribune) skipped past it and blogged about the vaccine uptake data that came out the next day. Sharyl Attkisson…well, it doesn’t seem to be on her radar that yes, indeed, researchers have not turned their backs on the question of vaccines and autism. Yes, indeed, they are looking at “the children that got sick”. Odd, since she has a vaccine-oriented blog post dated Sept. 4. It would have been very easy to include this new study there. I guess correcting her old stories wouldn’t be much fun.
What is fun, and totally off topic, was a bit from this blog post by Ms. Attkisson. She was complaining that the CDC wastes money. She talks about
“…grants being awarded to projects that investigators have found in some cases to have “no objectives,” are “not performing,” or have been rated as “abysmal.” In other cases, grants have gone to community-based groups with very little oversight.”
I hope she (and others) apply similar rules when considering whether to include projects in the IACC’s Strategic Plan that are likely to be rated “abysmal”, or are expected to be “not performing”.
I wonder how she would feel about hundreds of thousands of dollars in pork sent to one of autism’s alternative medical groups with no oversight, no results.
Well, I’ve wandered off topic. It is 11:59 and still no “powerful response” from Mr. Olmsted. Time to hit “publish”.