The legal study published by anti-vaxxers and law students yesterday claims that 80 cases show definite autism. If we accept that as true (which I don’t, but there we go) this is an autism prevalence amongst the population of claimants of just over 3%. As we all know, a recent study puts the Korean prevalence as just under 3%. Close enough on behalf of the legal claims, when we allow for their dodgy definitions to be a match.
Or maybe we can be a little more exact. As Kim Wombles noted yesterday, 39 cases confirmed beyond parental anecdote equals a prevalence of 1.5%. Half a percentage over the UK official prevalence.
So what does this mean? It basically means that all things being equal, whichever prevalence figures you like to use (Korean or UK), this law study shows that amongst the population of claimants, there are no more autistic people than one would expect.
But surely, what we should be looking at is if vaccines caused autism in these cases?
OK, lets do that (thanks to Sullivan for spotting these):
From the paper:
[R]espondent’s report. . .suggests vaguely. . .that Kenny’s problems ‘can be attributed in part to other causes such as a family history of epilepsy, autism and tonsillar hypotrophy. . .Dr. Spiro did not even purport to know what did cause Kenny’s seizure disorder;? his basic point was that in his view the DTP did not cause it.”
From the case notes:
In this regard, respondent’s report (filed September 7, 1990) suggests vaguely (p. 5) that Kenny’s problems “can be attributed in part to other causes such as a family history [*18] of epilepsy, autism and tonsillar hypotrophy.” But in the attached expert report, upon which respondent based that assertion, Dr. Spiro candidly admitted (p. 2) that he can only “speculate” as to such possibilities. And certainly at the hearing, Dr. Spiro did not even purport to know what did cause Kenny’s seizure disorder; his basic point was that in his view the DTP did not cause it.
While Dr. Kaufhold notes Dr. Schmidt’s initial impression of infantile autism, she does not list autism among her impressions, but rather says Travis is significantly developmentally delayed to a degree not yet ascertained. Other medical personnel appear to use the term “autism” or “autistic” synonymously with “aphasia” or the absence of the ability
to speak. See, e.g., Pet. Ex. 7 at 148; Pet. Ex. 7 at 208; Pet. Ex. 7 at 393.
Here is an interesting statement:
While Dr. Schultz believes that Travis suffers from some autistic-like features, he does not now nor has he ever believed that Travis suffers from true autism.
In this case, Dr. Schultz is the doctor of the petitioner: Travis Underwood. Travis is child 7 in the PACE table. Here is how Holland et al. quoted that decision:
“In addition, respondent noted that Travis’ medical records indicate that he suffered from mental retardation and autism. These conditions, according to respondent, are not related to the residual seizure disorder.”
Dr. Schultz also said:
Moreover, Dr. Schultz testified that Travis is distinguishable from children with true autism because he (1) seeks affection; (2) makes eye contact; (3) doesn’t require sameness in routine as usually found with autistic children; and (4) doesn’t engage in twirling, flinging and other self-stimulatory behaviors to the same degree as autistic children.
So, next time someone tells you ‘autistic-like’ features or ‘features of autism’ are the same things as autism, tell them to look at the cases in question.