Anti-vaccination and autism

16 Apr

I need to reproduce this comment from Amy Tuteur, MD on Autism News Beat. Its perfect.

“How does Dr. Tuteur explain parents who fully vaccinated and trusted the vaccination policy and then became disenchanted with it only after seeing their children seriously injured?”

Disenchantment is not the standard. The scientific evidence is the standard. It is not as though this hasn’t been studied. The purported link between vaccines and autism has been studied extensively and repeatedly. The scientific evidence indicates no difference in the incidence of autism between those who are vaccinated and those who are not. There is also no difference in the incidence of autism between those who received vaccines containing thimerosal and those who did not.

We’ve looked and the link simply isn’t there. That’s not surprising when you consider that the classic descriptions of the onset of autism, elucidated long before the use of multiple vaccines, is exactly the same as the onset of autism today. Vaccines do not increase the incidence of autism. Thimerosal does not increase the incidence of autism. The natural history of autism has not changed since the introduction of vaccines. It cannot be any clearer than that.

The conspiracy theories are a bunch of baloney. In order for there to be a conspiracy, someone must be hiding information. Doctors are vaccinating their children. Vaccine manufacturers are vaccinating their children. Immunologists are vaccinating their children. Who, precisely, is conspiring to keep information from the public and are we really supposed to believe that they would sacrifice their own children just to preserve the conspiracy?

Moreover, it isn’t as though doctors, immunologist and vaccine manufacturers are denying that vaccines have risks. It is well known that vaccines can and will cause small numbers of deaths and cases of brain damage. We have set up a compensation system precisely because we know about and acknowledge these risks. If doctors, immunologists and vaccine manufacturers are forthcoming about the risk of DEATH, isn’t it a bit absurd to suggest that they would hide the risk of autism?

One thing is certain, vaccine rejectionists do not understand immunology. Immunology is extremely complicated, so it’s not surprising that many people don’t understand it. However, the fact that they don’t understand it tells us nothing about immunology or vaccines, just like the fact that most people do not understand Einstein’s theories of general and special relativity tell us nothing about whether they are true.

Autism is a very serious problem. To the extent that we waste time, money, attention and effort on something that is not causing autism, we are diverting time, money, attention and effort from finding the real cause for autism. That is the saddest aspect of this incredibly sad situation.

I also recently read ‘Trusting blindly can be the biggest risk of all’: organised resistance to childhood vaccination in the UK which has some fascinating things to say on the anti-vaccine movement and their history. Consider this:

There is a small but fascinating social history literature which looks at the birth of resistance during this period in the form of groups like the Leicester Anti-Vaccination League and critical publications like the Vaccination Inquirer . Several of the accounts demonstrate the successes of organised campaigns which inspired marches of up to 100,000 people, riots, public burning of effigies of Edward Jenner, and the celebration of martyrs (Beck 1960, Porter and Porter 1988, Durbach 2000)…..Other accounts of this period stress the impressive ability of the anti-vaccinators to harness the power of the press (Howard 2003) and the important role of key individuals in pushing forward the movement.

Sounds familiar huh?

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12 Responses to “Anti-vaccination and autism”

  1. bones April 16, 2008 at 13:51 #

    Perfect, indeed.

  2. David N. Andrews M. Ed. (Distinction) April 16, 2008 at 20:27 #

    More evidence that it isn’t individual IQ that determines behaviour, but the collective IQ of the group!

  3. Brazilian April 16, 2008 at 21:50 #

    In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1906, there was a “Vaccine Revolt”, when people resisted the compulsory smallpox vaccination after being misguided by a campaign promoted mainly by the monarchists (Brazil had recently become a Republic).

  4. Melody April 16, 2008 at 22:30 #

    ” If doctors, immunologists and vaccine manufacturers are forthcoming about the risk of DEATH, isn’t it a bit absurd to suggest that they would hide the risk of autism?”

    Ah, but EVERYONE knows autism is worse than cancer, AIDS, or death.

  5. Mick April 16, 2008 at 22:46 #

    Can you state the research citations that exonerate the link between Hg and ASD’s?

  6. Kev April 16, 2008 at 23:09 #

    Which aspect Mick? that’s a fairly broad topic.

  7. Mick April 17, 2008 at 20:06 #

    There are some 4 or 5 main pieces of research that have been used and quoted by the CDC, NIH, and WHO. I think one of them is referred to as the “Dutch Study”. Any ideas? I continue to hear that there is NO plausible link, and these studies are referred to, but not quoted. I imagine you formulated your blog by this info.
    Regards,
    Mick

  8. Joseph April 17, 2008 at 21:26 #

    The link between Hg and autism and the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism are two different things, albeit related.

    There are numerous studies whose data do not support an association between thimerosal and autism. Of course, these are retrospective ecological studies and therefore not perfect. (An ideal study will probably never be done for ethical reasons). It’s pretty easy to be picky and point to various study limitations and remain “skeptical” of a lack of association.

    The most convincing fact that demonstrates a lack of association, in my view, is that the thimerosal hypothesis resulted in policy shifts which have not produced any tangible results whatsoever in many countries around the world.

    Anyone who distrusts science (which seems to be the case of most alt-med and anti-vax types) can go and check California DDS data for themselves and graph the 3-5 cohort. The fact is that a quick phase-out of most thimerosal from pediatric vaccines did not even cause the trend to flinch a little.

    After learning this, the excuses from anti-vaxers are frankly irrational (e.g. it’s the crematoriums, or the darned immigrants, or the darned conspirators are still giving out vaccines manufactured in the 90s!) and don’t actually explain anything.

    Whenever irrational excuses of this nature are given to counter facts in evidence, that’s when you know actual closed-mindedness (not the skeptic’s so-called closed-mindedness) has taken place.

  9. Kev April 18, 2008 at 09:24 #

    I think you mean ‘Danish Study’ Mick.

    To me, these studies – whilst being of service – have limitations. Of more importance in terms of a vaccine link to autism is – is there any reason to suppose that _is_ a link? So far, there’s not.

  10. Mick April 18, 2008 at 16:09 #

    “The link between Hg and autism and the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism are two different things, albeit related.”
    For the sake of discussion we can refer to it as ethyl Hg.

    “There are numerous studies whose data do not support an association between thimerosal and autism. Of course, these are retrospective ecological studies and therefore not perfect.”

    You sound very sure of yourself when you wrote your blog that there is “NO” link. For example, “The scientific evidence indicates no difference in the incidence of autism between those who are vaccinated and those who are not. There is also no difference in the incidence of autism between those who received vaccines containing thimerosal and those who did not.”
    So it seems to me from your reply that there “may” be a plausible link, just as you believe there MAY not, due to the vague science that has been done so far. And why do vaccine manufacturers test new vaccine against an adjuvant like Aluminum? As oppose to testing it against saline?

    It also occurs to me that what we should really be focusing on is encephalitis and the immunological effects of continued brain inflammation and what effect this has on possible auto-immunity, ASD’s, and the like.

    Thimerosol does cross the blood brain barrier, just as aluminum does and that may cause encephalitis and alter normal immunologic action.

    I agree that using a blanket statement like thimerosal causes Autism is silly due to the mass amount of immunological, biochemical and physiological functions that take place upon vaccination, none the less, I believe the debate is the increase in the amount of vaccines, and the fact that new vaccines are being mandated at a staggering rate.
    People are “skeptical” because they see a definite, albeit, coincidental change in their children following vaccination, and because they don’t have M.D.’s and Ph.D’s after their names, they are being ignored.

    In the U.S. our vaccine schedule is the most numerous. When compared to other countries, like G.B., Denmark, Canada, these countries have less mandatory vaccine and as a result may not be hitting a threshold that may result in ASD’s as we do here in the U.S. To my knowledge, the “one size fits all”, mentality is having an ill effect, as well as, how many antigens are being injected in one visit. The shots are also close together and done at a verey early point in a childs life.
    Trying to learn as much as I can regarding safety and effectiveness.
    Regards,
    Mick

  11. Joseph April 18, 2008 at 16:53 #

    You sound very sure of yourself when you wrote your blog that there is “NO” link. For example,

    Mick, you’re responding to me regarding Kev’s blog, where he posted an opinion by a third person.

    Either way, it is perfectly valid to say there is no link even if there’s simply absence of evidence. But there’s more than absence of evidence, clearly.

    So it seems to me from your reply that there “may” be a plausible link,

    No, I don’t think a link is plausible at the moment. The fact that studies might have limitations is not enough to conclude a link is plausible. Otherwise, it will be plausible for ever.

  12. Mick April 18, 2008 at 21:14 #

    fair enough. Thanks for your insight.

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