Laura Hewitson’s Stinker

18 May

Sorry about the title, I couldn’t find a word to rhyme with her last name to infer wrong-doing a la Age of Autism’s ‘Grinker’s Stinker. Anyway….

Meet Laura Hewitson. Laura is the lead and joint author of a trio of papers presented at this years IMFAR as posters.

These papers (also shredded by Orac) purport to show how it is possible to mimic the 1999 US vaccine schedule and give monkeys autism as a reult. Never mind the fact that the results reported don’t sound or present anything like autism (<em>”survival reflexes, tests of color discrimination and reversal, and learning sets”</em> huh??), lets look at Laura Hewitson a bit more closely then I managed to in a quick 10 min post last time.

As I mentioned at the time, Laura Hewitson claims affiliation with DAN! Thats enough in my book to place a rather large red flag against her impartiality.

Now I’ve learnt that her entanglement with the vaccine/autism hypotheses goes very much further than that.

It turns out that Hewitson’s partner is Dan Hollenbeck, an Age of Autism contributor. Hollenbeck owns the website and in the top right hand corner of the FightingAutism website are the words:

FightingAutism is now part of Thoughtful House Center for Children.

And we all know who is the big cheese at THoughtful House don’t we? That’s right – one Andrew Wakefield. He’s also the co-author to the three studies poster presented at IMFAR.

Hollenbeck’s asociation with Thoughtful House goes beyond just having a website affiliated with them however. He’s also an employee of Thoughtful House.

Director of Information Technology for Thoughtful House, Dan Hollenbeck received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1992


When their son was diagnosed with autism in 2001, the Hollenbecks relocated from Oregon to Pittsburgh in order to accept employment as an Information Technology Manager for a large NIH (National Institutes of Health)-funded medical research organization


He is also on the Board of Directors, as well as the Research Committee, for SafeMinds…

So, here we are with three poster presentations from a woman who has an autistic son, affiliated with DAN!, is married to the Thoughtful House IT guy (who also happens to be on the Board of Directors of SafeMinds) and these afore-mentioned poster presentations are also co-authored by Andrew Wakefield.

I wonder just how impartial this science can be?

How about when we throw one more fact into the equation?

437. Laura Hewiston (sic) and Dan Hollenbeck on behalf of Joshua Hollenbeck, Dallas, Texas, Court of Federal Claims Number 03-1166V

That’s right. Hewitson and Hollenbeck are suing HHS for vaccine injury visited upon their son Joshua.

Now, lets turn our attention to IMFAR where Hewitson made her three poster presentations. INSAR have regulations governing the papers and abstracts submitted.

INSAR requires authors to disclose their sources of contributed support (commercial, public, or private foundation grants, and off-label use of drugs, if any). INSAR also requires authors to signify whether there may be a real or perceived conflict of interest. Any potential for financial gain that may be derived from reported work may constitute a potential conflict of interest.”

Now, maybe Hewitson did note the fact that:

a) Her husband is an employee of an organisation that makes money from treating what they allege is vaccine caused autism.

b) She has an autistic child.

c) Said child has been registered for compensation for alleged vaccine damage resulting in autism (I assume they’re part of the Omnibus proceedings then?)

But if she did, then it isn’t recorded in the abstracts posted on the Age of Autism website.

128 Responses to “Laura Hewitson’s Stinker”

  1. Joseph May 19, 2008 at 15:49 #

    I’m curious why you feel that controls of 3 make it impossible to blind since they still get injected with saline.

    Swartz, I didn’t say it made it impossible to blind. We have yet to see what type of blinding, if any, was used in this study. What I said is that it clearly indicates there was no randomization.

    Randomization is key a lot of times. Take, for example, an ABA study, Lovaas (1987). It found 47% of children in the experimental group became mainstreamed. Then came a randomized replication attempt, Smith et al. (2000). It found only 13% became mainstreamed.

  2. Joseph May 19, 2008 at 15:55 #

    That your kid and Pauls kids and all the other autistic kids in the UK are alive in the same proportion to normal kids as in the past?

    Hilary, I’m not sure why find this hard to believe. See my summary of indications. Rebuttals are welcome.

  3. bones May 19, 2008 at 16:21 #

    OMFG, Hillary and Schwartz, it’s just the same incessant drivel over and over and over and over…

    For God’s sake get some new material will ya. Like…ohhh…I dunno…clinical evidence validly demonstrating a link between thimerosal and autism. Start there and then we’ll talk.

    Until then you’re hypocritical rants only serve to deflect attention from the lack of evidnece demonstrating such a link.

  4. Catherina May 19, 2008 at 16:28 #


    I am sure that was a rhetorical question, but just to please you: yes, actually, there have been 6 encephalites amongst the 2000 reported measles cases in Switzerland in the past 18 months and the reason that no one died is probably their brilliant health system (so much better than what the US had as death rate in their last outbreak) and yes, Germany gets its measles deaths, two deaths and one permanent disability to show for the 1700 registered cases in NRW in 2006, and on top of that, Germany netted about 8 cases of SSPE per year from 1988 to 2006, as a legacy from when even more measles cases occured in Germany AND of course there is the unfortunate case of the unvaccinated preteen (per parental choice) who walked into a doctor´s office in Bad Salzuflen in 2000, infected 9 (nine) babies in the waiting room with measles, two of whom are now slowly dying of SSPE. So why don´t you crawl back under your stone, Hilary, instead of adding to the measles misery…

  5. Ms. Clark May 19, 2008 at 17:34 #

    Hillary, baby,

    There is no evidence for an increase in the number of autistic people. No one can tell if there is a greater rate of autistic people being born than there ever was. The numbers of autistic people being counted today include a majority of kids who would be called “learning disabled” or just quirky in the past. People like this can frequently take care of themselves when they grow up without state interference or help. I’m one of them. I’m not getting any autism-specific help now and I never have.

    I can explain how that works if you like. There are lots of LD/ mildly autistic people who take jobs that are not high pressure. There used to be more of these jobs around, some of them are being done overseas now…

    at any rate, there’s zero evidence for a big increase in autism. Deal. With. It.

    You want to believe in an epidemic. Go ahead. It doesn’t change the fact that there’s zero evidence for it. Zero.

    If there’s been no epidemic, then there are a lot of undiagnosed and misdiagnosed adults, if you had been reading the science in autism then you’d know that is what the evidence shows.

    I am thrilled that the UK is willing to spend a lot of money to find autistic adults. They will find them, and they will find that they currently have no diagnosis, or a misdiagnosis or they aren’t getting any help. Many of them are suffering in silence and can use some help, or even be saved by some help, and some they will find are doing OK because they have a family or neighbor support system or they have a job that fits them well and isn’t too stressful.

    Deary, you just need to realize that there never was any evidence for an “epidemic”. There never was any evidence for an epidemic.

    One more time. There never was any evidence for an epidemic.

    If you think you can show some data that shows a real increase in autism. Share it, deary. I’ve seen it all. I know what the numbers say. They say give zero evidence for a large increase in real autism rate. They give zero evidence for an epidemic.

    No epidemic. No reason to implicate vaccines.

    Sorry. I know you hate vaccines, but they do not cause autism. They save lives.

    Diphtheria is not our friend. Measles is not our friend. Rubella is not our friend. Pertussis is not our friend….

    Vaccines are our friends. They save lives. Antivaxers and their toxic rhetoric are deadly to lives and health. You need to be ashamed of yourselves.

    Oh, and the way that the UK and US used to treat disabled children and adults led to the deaths of many of them in institutions. So some of the “missing” adults are “missing” because they are dead.

  6. Kev May 19, 2008 at 17:44 #

    Ah, so brevity = provaccine, and length and weirdness equals antivaccine. So scientific of you.

    Nothing scientific about it toots. Just my experience – like I said.

    1) Are you honestly going to tell me that Offit’s “study” in Pediatrics in which he intones that 11,000 vaccines at one go is kosher, is peer reviewed, and worthy of spouting as fact?

    Do you have any peer reviewed scientific evidence that contradicts it? No? Didn’t think so. Your basic objection is that you don’t like vaccines. Boo-hoo, get over it.

    2)Are you also suggesting that the DSM criteria can be adequately applied to both monkeys and humans?

    LOL…shouldn’t this be a question for Laura Hewitson toots? Unless of course, you’re referring to that ‘special’ autism that only anti-vaxxers know about which isn’t documented in any medical text book?

    What would you chose to assess whether a monkey had developed autistic traits or not? Or a mouse perhaps? Do you have a patent for a diagnostic autistic mouse maze?

    No – guess what – neither did Mady Hornig.

    As usual, so you too revert to epithet. I’m a jackass now am I?

    No Hilary, not _now_ but I suspect _always_ .

    If people like Paul Shattuck and the others honestly believed that there was nothing in the vaccine/autism connection, then why didn’t they just get on with finding out what autism was all about?

    I suggest you direct that question to them.

    Oh, but wait a minute. I forgot. Autism Diva , the expert, tells us that there was no autism epidemic at all!

    Well, she’s in excellent company. Most decent epidemiologists seem top agree – including Autism Omnibus witness for the families Sander Greelnand.

    If there has been not change in the autism proportional rate in the UK Kev, where are all the autistic adults being kept now?

    My God, you _are_ new to this whole thing aren’t you toots? NAS only last week announced the _first ever_ study into finding autistic adults in the UK. No one’s found them before now as no one has looked.

    However, when asked about adult prevalence, 45% local health authorities in Scotland (for example) stated things like:

    There is low diagnosis for longstanding clients, whom workers are aware have autism as well as a learning disability……day centre managers locally consider a number of people to be on the spectrum who have had no formal diagnosis.

    And how about these figures – also from Scotland:

    The population of Scotland is 5,062,011. The latest prevalence estimates for the UK are 1 in 100. This means that 50,620 people are autistic. If 35,000 adults in Scotland are autistic (NAS data) then 69% of autistic people in Scotland are adults.

    It makes perfect sense to me that if the medical profession really wanted to, and had the drive to find out why the autism rate has (NOT) risen then they would have already done so.

    Yeah, its that simple. Dang, why didn’t we just ask you first thing eh?

    But since MsClark/Diva knows best, and there is no autism increase, then I must admit, there is no need to dedicate any further research, or discussion to it, is there?

    Not being a parent to an autistic person, and further being a jackass, I’ll forgive the idiocy of that statement, but I will correct it. Research goes beyond ‘cure’ toots. It touches on education, therapy, housing, social care. Hopefully, when we’ve finally got past the vaccine idiocy and its apologists we can get back to researching those things as they actually _do_ help autistic people.

    Ah, you were talking about the 14 year old, itinerant with chronic lung disease and an immunodeficiency who died of measles. Right. And on that basis you think anyone can die of measles. Very scientific of you. I’ve met that red herring before.

    WTF are you talking about? Lets break it down into pieces your brain can manage:

    1) High vaccine rate =
    2) Herd immunity =
    3) Very, very low to no measles =
    4) No one can catch measles =
    5) No one can die of it.

    And how many of Mike Fitz’s patients who got measles recently, had complications and died, Kev?

    Uh, again, that’s a question for someone else.

    Do we hear of mountains of bodies and hundreds of children maimed for life in the UK papers Kev? You mean amongst all the unvaccinated kids in UK you can only find one death?

    You’re genuinely scary.

    I happen to think that one is one too many. You obviously only notice when we get to ‘mountains of bodies’. If you want ‘mountains of bodies’ then look elsewhere.

    I know all about the measles outbreak in USA Kev. I tracked it from day one of the media baying. As of the URL you put up, of the known 64 cases “at least” 14 were hopsitalized.

    Course you do Hilary, that’s why you knew what I was referring to straight away toots.

    Wave after wave? more like trickle after dribble.

    You do know its still going on right? If you want to take the moral position of belittling hospitalisation of children then you be my guest.

    [snipped meaningless mumbo-jumbo]

    In terms of believing in medical conspiracies Kev, I only believe in conspiracies (by innuendo) when I take a rare detours to read blogs like yours.

    Of course you do Hilary. You keep telling yourself that toots ;o) .

    I’ve not posted on your blog before, but I’m glad I took this one opportunity Kev. I appreciate your hospitality, but I’ll not waste your breath again. You will be pleased to know that you fulfilled everyone’s predictions and expectations.

    ‘Everyone’s’? You mean ‘you’ – one person? LOL…interesting little messiah complex you got developing there toots 😉 Tell you what, you bend over and I’ll kiss your ring – how’s that?

  7. Ringside seat May 19, 2008 at 18:19 #

    I love these people. The thing is, if they weren’t so greedy, they’d stand a better chance of getting away with it. I mean, if there was a shred of credibility in these posters, then there would be a gross, manifest epidemic of vaccine-induced autism and inflammatory bowel disease that you could spot by opening your window.

    It was the same with Wakefield’s original stuff, with 8 of 12 children supposedly vaccine-injured. And then the same with O’Leary’s garbage. I forget the figures, but it was like more than 80% of kids, recruited through lawyers and media stories, with measles in their guts.

    Aren’t these the same people who, in another breath, say that epidemiology fails to detect the cases because they are such a small subset?

    Preposterous. Talk about monkey business.

  8. Schwartz May 19, 2008 at 18:54 #

    Ms. Clark,

    Oh, I forgot, lack of studies means there must be no correlation. Riiight.

    If you haven’t tested for safety, you don’t know how safe it is. And since you brought up the 40% which is actually less than 15% backed by credible evidence, I don’t see how you can make assumptions of genetic causes since such a small percentage of cases can be proven to fall into that category.

    That leaves your assumption to faith then, certainly not evidence.

    I’m also curious where you got the impression I said Hewitsons experiment says anything? In fact I said quite the opposite — we can’t really draw any conclusions until the details are published.

    Who’s the one putting words in others’ mouth?

  9. Schwartz May 19, 2008 at 19:04 #


    Great work paraphrasing what was already said. You seem to have a need to lecture to everyone about obvious topics?

    Those first three points of your unnecessary post were already agreed upon so unless you’re giving your approval, you missed something along the discussion.

    OH, I almost missed your whine about the monkeys. And you linked Orac again. I guess his writing style is about as logical and professional as yours. Not worth discussing with you.

    That leaves the discussion of Ad-hom which is completely illogical. Not much to your post then.

    Good luck with the diffy q’s.

  10. Schwartz May 19, 2008 at 19:06 #

    Kev, HCN,

    OK, I laughed at the Pharma shill and funding part. I don’t think either of you are pharma shills.

  11. Schwartz May 19, 2008 at 19:13 #


    Your predictable contribution was exactly on schedule.

    I find it amazing you fail to see the hypocracy of your post. Accusing me of repetitive drivel (especially when the evidence hasn’t changed) is interesting given that I’m actually discussing the topic at hand in detail.

    Given your post, which probably contains the exact same words as the last time you posted to me — despite that being a completely different topic pretty much illustrates who is guilty of illogical drivel.

    Raise the same argument, you will get the same logical response, unless the evidence has changed.

  12. Schwartz May 19, 2008 at 19:15 #


    On the randomization topic: I see what you mean especially wrt to the subjective aspects of this study. However, do you think the same problem would apply to the biological aspects? I’m assuming they will autopsy the monkeys and take measurements from organs etc…

  13. Schwartz May 19, 2008 at 19:19 #


    Monkey business aside, the Wakefield study group targeted a very specific subset of children suffering from Austism — those that also suffered from severe GI issues, so of course one would expect to find a high percentage of problems.

    You seem to imply that it was a random sampling of the population and that the results can be applied. That is not at all the case.

    As for the monkeys, that should be a random sample, but I’m skeptical that they can actually scale the doses appropriately, so if there was a huge percentage of damage, I would concur that some methodological flaw was likely.

    However, until we get the details, it will be impossible to tell.

  14. HCN May 19, 2008 at 19:27 #

    Schwartzy said “Good luck with the diffy q’s.”

    There is a difference between differentiating and differential equations (diffy q). I guess we will add college level mathematics to the list of things you know very little about.

  15. Joseph May 19, 2008 at 20:00 #

    However, do you think the same problem would apply to the biological aspects? I’m assuming they will autopsy the monkeys and take measurements from organs etc…

    Of course, why wouldn’t it?

  16. bones May 19, 2008 at 21:01 #

    Schwartz, you haven’t stated a case to be debated- you never do. You merely attact, in your usual passive-aggressive manner, any post that decries the vaccine-autism hypothesis without presenting any evidence of your own that substantiates such a link or a novel opinion of your own (in fact, I think your completely incapable of doing so).

    All scientific studies have their limitations, and pointing them out does not invalidate the conclusions. That’s why multiple studies are necessary in an attempt to disprove the null hypothesis. However, and here’s the thing you continuously fail to grasp, there is a qualitative difference between a study that has limted findings and one that is so methodologically flawed (see Geier, Wakefield, Holmes, Bradstreet, etc…) that it renders any conclusions utterly useless and inconsequential.

    My posts directed at you are the same – albeit alot more infrequent becuase I tire of repeating myself – becuase you deserve nothing else.

  17. Ms. Clark May 19, 2008 at 21:45 #


    Autism is the most hightly heritable mental/developmental condition known to science. You want to rewrite autism science when you know next to nothing about autism?

    If you add up the known causes of autism as shown by research they can account for about 40% of it with Rett, Frag X, Tuberous Sclerosis, Angelman/Prader Willi, Cornelia de Lange, agenesis of the corpus collosum, various copy number variants, MECP2 mutations, not considered Rett (even in some boys), IDIC 15 and some variations on IDIC 15, and a few others. There’s a girl whose mom blogs on the hub, (the girl looks quite normal to me. She has an extra partial chromosome (see Marla Baltes’ blog). They never would have known that her ASD was genetic if they hadn’t tested her in a way that would show this problem up.

    On top of the known genetic contributions to autism there are things like mother’s antibodies that the UCD group are saying could account for 20% of all regressive autism, if I recall. And fetal alcohol syndrome (we have no evidence one way or the other about Dr. Hewiston, it would be stupid to say that her child was a FAS child and just as it would be stupid to say that it’s impossible that he is one, and yes, you can say the same about my child, but I can tell you that my kid is not), there are various drug exposures that could lead to autism. The PSC is making a BIG deal about terbutaline causing autism. Prenatal flu exposure might be a cause. And lets not forget the rare cases of fetal rubella syndrome, that will become more common, no doubt if the antivaxers have their way.

    If you want to pretend that the number considered to be solid for genes is still 15% you mark yourself as ignorant. And genes aren’t the whole story. We don’t know if little Laura got terbuataline or if she was on valproate for seizures when she got pregnant. We don’t know if her baby was a very low birth weight baby (correlates to autism dx).

    Dr. Randi Hagerman who is a leading expert in Frag X said at the IACC town hall meeting that the figure that was accounted for by genes was 40%. You can call her up and tell her she’s wrong if you like, maybe she can explain it to you in really simple words.

  18. HCN May 20, 2008 at 00:31 #

    bones said “You merely attact, in your usual passive-aggressive manner, any post that decries the vaccine-autism hypothesis without presenting any evidence of your own that substantiates such a link or a novel opinion of your own (in fact, I think your completely incapable of doing so).”

    His answer to why he could not answer my direct questions was there was “not enough data.” Yet there has been a pertussis vaccine in one form or another for almost 70 years. There have been studies on the effectiveness and safety of the versions that have been available in recent history done in multiple countries, by researchers from universities, medical centers, and various public health agencies… and yet he claims there is “not enough data” (he tries to get away by diverting it to influenza or other vaccines, changing the subject to something else to avoid answering any direct questions).

    He is also not quite clear on this concept:
    Put up or shut up.

  19. Schwartz May 20, 2008 at 01:38 #


    You’ll have to help me out here. From what I can gather, the Lovaas study separated the control groups based on a subjective measure of input IQ. Of course since it is a subjective measure and can change with time, you can get changes in the selection criteria.

    In this study, the randomization happens at the beginning and the group separation is deterministic. None of the control or study group can change because their inclusion in the group is determined by the randomized series of injections.

    I don’t understand how randomization can be a problem. Unless you think that Autistic symptoms have such a huge prevalance in the monkey population that they would show up in the 13 monkeys from the study group.

  20. Joseph May 20, 2008 at 01:54 #

    From what I can gather, the Lovaas study separated the control groups based on a subjective measure of input IQ.

    That was simply an example used to illustrate how a simple thing like lack of randomization can result in what is apparently a hugely biased result.

    Lovaas did not separate groups based on IQ (although that might have been the end result, and Michelle Dawson’s analysis on intake IQ is interesting in that regard). The groups were separated based on availability of therapists. In fact, Lovaas basically argued there was near randomization using this method, and claimed there was matching of variables. Subsequent analyses had to show this wasn’t true.

    I doubt these kinds of biases are only applicable to behavioral measures. Wakefield could, say, pick the strongest looking monkeys for the unexposed group. I’m not saying he would do that intentionally necessarily. Bias can be subtle and unnoticed. (Although I’m sure some people reading this don’t think there’s anything subtle about either Lovaas’ or Wakefield’s bias).

  21. Schwartz May 20, 2008 at 02:11 #


    I didn’t hear your case on the topic being debated. In case you missed it, I made several points here:

    1) I strongly agree with Kev that COI’s should be declared, but pointed out that they almost never show up in abstracts.

    2) I pointed out that presenter instructions don’t invalidate the statement “form of peer-review” because qualifying for a poster presentation probably had qualification rules that were separate — this was supported by subsequent posters. Note I never stated that it did undergo a form of peer review.

    3) I did not agree with Ms. Clark’s opinion about the wasted monkeys, certainly not before seeing the details of the study. I have expressed that further study on the vaccine schedule is justified since no safety studies have been done on them. I haven’t seen you or anyone else bring any evidence to the table to contradict that.

    Where exactly are your specific points of discussion? Where your general complaints about study flaws comes from I don’t know since we’re only talking about this study here and the lack of safety trials on the vaccine schedule (brought to that topic by Ms. Clark) — which as admitted by the authorities, never tested.

    If you read the Cochrane reviews on vaccines (MMR and Flu are great examples), you’ll find they describe many if not most of the mainstream vaccine safety studies as methodologically flawed and inadequate. You don’t have to take my word for it.

  22. Schwartz May 20, 2008 at 02:15 #


    “Wakefield could, say, pick the strongest looking monkeys for the unexposed group.”

    Absolutely. However, that would be a risk that has nothing to do with randomization or low numbers, but has everything to do with actually using randomization during study and control group selection, and blinding those involved.

    Selection bias should be eliminated by selecting the groups at random, and observer bias should be eliminated by blinding the observers. Where they may run into difficulties with observer blinding is if they sacrifice the monkeys at different times depending on the group they fall into.

  23. Schwartz May 20, 2008 at 02:31 #

    Ms. Clark,

    Clearly genetics is involved but I’m not debating that. It’s the 40% number that is as of yet unsubstantiated by any studies I’ve seen. I know where that number comes from and even the authors don’t use it as a firm number, only a hypothesis that requires further testing — because their study was limited and thus the conclusions were as well. So sticking with actual known prevalence of purely genetic causes today, the number is much lower than 40%.

    I also don’t know where you got the impression that I think that genes are the only story because I don’t. Just one of many probable causes as you pointed out.

  24. Schwartz May 20, 2008 at 02:42 #


    I guess you still don’t really understand the science of risk assessment. It requires credible safety data and quality adverse event reporting first. Without credible safety data or reliable adverse event reporting, no risk assessment is possible.

    What are the estimates of the VAERS real converage? How about the consistency of reporting? How about real followups on actual serious adverse reactions? Since you can’t answer any of these questions, you should realize that the risk assessment is not possible to determine at this time.

    I suppose you prefer people like Dr. Offit who speak general statements about safety without actually having credible data. Each to their own. You continue to hold on to your faith in the system, I’ll stick to hard data from credible analysis.

  25. HCN May 20, 2008 at 05:39 #

    Schwartzy said ” guess you still don’t really understand the science of risk assessment. …
    What are the estimates of the VAERS real converage? ”

    The fact you even mention VAERS in the science of risk assessment means that you do not have a clue. VAERS is never used in the large scale safety and efficacy studies.

    Also, I’ve never seen a large scale efficacy and safety report by Offit (a review yes, but not a specific report on a vaccine). I’ve seen plenty of others, written by lots of other people and in other countries:

    Stop explaining away the fact that the data does not go the way you want it to. If you have a problem with the pertussis vaccine, bring up the papers that show there is an issue. Don’t claim that in the almost 70 years of there being a vaccine for pertussis that there is no data.

  26. HCN May 20, 2008 at 05:42 #

    And this historical review:
    “An antivaccine movement developed in Japan as a consequence of increasing numbers of adverse reactions to whole-cell pertussis vaccines in the mid-1970s. After two infants died within 24 h of the vaccination from 1974 to 1975, the Japanese government temporarily suspended vaccinations. Subsequently, the public and the government witnessed the re-emergence of whooping cough, with 41 deaths in 1979. This series of unfortunate events revealed to the public that the vaccine had, in fact, been beneficial.”

    If you have documentation to counter the experience that Japan had, please present it.

  27. bones May 20, 2008 at 13:29 #

    Brian, Schwartz, Hillary,

    This term “conflict of interest” is being thrown about willy-nilly, and I think some clarification is in order.

    The Hewitson example above, any study by Geier, Bradstreet, Holmes, Redwood, Sykes…did I mention Geier…oh yeah…are the most blatantly egregious examples of COI, and the very reason why transparency, in the clinical setting, is so very necessary. I am not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by explaining why the aforementioned examples cross…nay, leap over the line of ethical decency. If you don’t get it, then there’s nothing I’m going to be able to say to convince you otherwise.

    COI is NOT a researcher/author who received past funding from industry, or happened to work for at some point in his/her career for industry – any more than a sitting judge is conflicted because he used to be a defense attorney, or because he/she currently is paid by the govt (fed, state or otherwise). To say any of these people are conflicted and, therefore, necessarily render biased conclusions is ridiculously ignorant.

    Comparing Geier’s or Hewitson’s blatant COIs to the perceived COIs of Hviid or Fombonne is trite, at best.

  28. Erwin Alber May 20, 2008 at 13:52 #

    The vaccine-autism issue seems to be hopelessly confused and divided because vaccines may indeed NOT be the cause of autism, and because the so-called autism epidemic may be a case of misdiagnosis.

    What if vaccines are the leading cause of the epidemic of neurological disorders including developmental regression and sypmtoms RESEMBLING autism, but not linked to TRUE AUTISM, which may be a different type of condition altogether, not at all linked to vaccines?

    The so-called “autism epidemic” may possibly need to be renamed “vaccine-induced epidemic of neurological disorders”. This would clear the way for some real research, and – as far as I am concerend – hopefully the abolition of all vaccination programmes.

  29. Joseph May 20, 2008 at 15:30 #

    The so-called “autism epidemic” may possibly need to be renamed “vaccine-induced epidemic of neurological disorders”.

    If this were the case, we’d expect to actually see evidence of, say, an increase of an aggregate of all special education categories. No such thing is observed, especially if you look at cohorts where earlier diagnosis is less likely to be a factor.

    What does this tell us? Neurological vaccine injury is apparently undetectable at the population level, so it does not make sense to call it an “epidemic.” Either that, or some types of neurological outcomes are dropping simultaneously with the increase of other other outcomes; which would be a big coincidence.

  30. Ms. Clark May 20, 2008 at 16:46 #

    Actually, neither of us knows why Dr. Hagerman used the number 40% to say how much of autism is of know-able etiology. She might have been referring to the Schaefer paper, she might have done her own math based on a variety of papers. See you don’t have to just use the schaefer paper to arrive at a number. You can tally the percentages of known causes of autism from a variety of well respected sources… or you can go with any old number that makes you feel better, I guess.

    As time goes on we should expect that the ease with which science can pinpoint a set of causes for a particular kid will get easier.

    We have flea shampoo exposure now as a hypothetical cause of autism. Are you disappointed that the CHARGE study isn’t implicating vaccines? Will you accuse Dr. Hertz-Picciotto of being blind to the dangers of flu vaccine?

    Why don’t you go find a board where they will debate flu and gardasil and whatever and leave autism alone? Seriously. You are not helping MY child to have a better life by constantly trying to link autism with vaccines, vaccines, vaccines.

    There has been no autism epidemic or big increase in autism numbers so no reason to implicate anything. I don’t appreciate your efforts to undermine confidence in vaccines in the States because you won’t be here if one of my friend’s babies dies of pertussis because you convinced neighbors of hers not to vaccinate.

    It’s all fun and games isn’t it, Schwartz? And if someone dies becuase of antivaxers’ idle speculation, antivaxers won’t be around to face any consequences for their promulgating their amateur vaccine expertise.

  31. Tom May 20, 2008 at 20:29 #

    I have grown so weary of people like Schwartz coopting the discussion of autism to suit their uninformed anti-vax rants. To assert that Paul Offit claims safety w/o supporting data is the height of ignorance. Shwartz, do you even know what safety is?

    Please consider for one moment that you are an armchair quarterback who has never played the game professionally and that you really haven’t the first clue. Read the latest blog post by Prometheus; he’s talking about you.

  32. Schwartz May 21, 2008 at 01:34 #


    I wasn’t aware there was a scale of Conflict of Interest nor was I aware that I was using the term incorrectly. There are certainly different types but the most common ones are financial and professional. However, most places only require financial COI disclosure.

    In this case we clearly have a financial COI. But what does ethics have to do with this? COI needs to be declared so people understand a risk of bias. As long as it is declared to all parties, the ethics of the situation are satisfied. After that, it is up to those evaluating the evidence to consider the level of bias present.

    Financial conflict of interest qualifies for anyone who has the appearance of financial benefit from a particular outcome in the topic they are investigating. Past work for an industry on the side of a trial with the possibility of future work for pay certainly qualifies as a conflict of interest in any definition I’ve ever seen. Staking one’s reputation on a particular position in science is also a strong conflict of interest, especially when one’s credibility can affect future financing.

    If you don’t understand these basics of COI, then there’s not much hope of convincing you otherwise.

    Under this standard definition, people like Fombonne have financial conflicts of interest, as do clear cut people like Dr. Offit. They have every right to publish research just like Hewitson and they should clearly declare and publish their conflicts of interest.

    From an ethical perspective, Hewitson performing scientific experiments for her own court case is not too far from someone hiring a private investigator to gather evidence for a trial. In both cases, the evidence gathered must be carefully examined as the gatherer has a clear financial conflict of interest.

  33. Schwartz May 21, 2008 at 01:47 #


    “The fact you even mention VAERS in the science of risk assessment means that you do not have a clue. VAERS is never used in the large scale safety and efficacy studies.”

    Thank you for pointing out the obvious and restating my case! VAERS can’t be used because it has such poor data, yet it is the method of tracking vaccine reactions nationwide.

    “Also, I’ve never seen a large scale efficacy and safety report by Offit (a review yes, but not a specific report on a vaccine). I’ve seen plenty of others, written by lots of other people and in other countries:”

    Thank you again for making my point. Dr. Offit often makes generalized (non-specific) safety comments on vaccines. As usual you link studies that don’t make your point. That study abstract you linked only looked at efficacy — this illustrates exactly how you forget the second part of the risk assessment — we’re talking about safety first remember?

    “Stop explaining away the fact that the data does not go the way you want it to. If you have a problem with the pertussis vaccine, bring up the papers that show there is an issue. Don’t claim that in the almost 70 years of there being a vaccine for pertussis that there is no data.”

    So you give me a link about efficacy when we’re talking about safety, and then you go right back to your generalized statement that the data must exist because it’s been used for 70 years — I don’t think I need to point out the flawed logic in that statement! Credible safety data does not exist. Numerous systematic reviews have stated the same about several vaccines. The CDC and Health Canada both admit the schedules and vaccine combinations don’t undergo safety trials. So exactly what data in the 70 years of history are you talking about — especially since the current recommended vaccine hasn’t been around that long?

  34. Schwartz May 21, 2008 at 01:55 #


    I love the people who use terms like “armchair quarterback” and have nothing concrete or specific to say.

    Dr. Offit has made many generalized, misleading and sometimes incorrect statements to the press (his latest NYT piece was a prime example). None of these are backed by reference, and several have been shown to be quite incorrect. I personally call that marketing, not science, and he is fully entitled to play the politics and marketing. But don’t ask me to take it seriously. And please don’t suggest he doesn’t have a conflict of interest.

  35. HCN May 21, 2008 at 04:16 #

    In several attempts, I cannot seem to post anything with a link except once:
    Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Aug;134(4):850-62. Epub 2005 Nov 29.

    Pediatrics. 2006 Sep;118(3):978-84

    Vaccine. 2003 May 16;21(17-18):2015-21.

    Vaccine. 2005 Nov 16;23(46-47):5299-305. Epub 2005 Aug 8

    J Adolesc Health. 2005 Dec;37(6):517.

    J Pediatr. 2006 Nov;149(5):603-610.

    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2005 Dec;24(12):1059-66
    “We conducted a randomized, controlled, evaluator-blinded comparison of local reactions”

    Vaccine. 2006 Jul 7;24(27-28):5627-36. Epub 2006 May 2.

    Acta Paediatr. 2003 May;92(5):541-5.

    Hum Vaccin. 2007 Jul-Aug;3(4):121-6. Epub 2007 Feb 28.

    Pediatr Int. 2004 Dec;46(6):650-5.

    Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2002 Oct;12(4):247-57

    BMC Pediatr. 2006 Jun 19;6:20.

    J Pediatr. 2004 Jul;145(1):58-66

    Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2007 Dec 8;151(49):2732-7.

    BioDrugs. 1999 Sep;12(3):175-91.

    Curr Opin Neurol. 2007 Apr;20(2):181-7

    Epilepsia. 2008 Feb;49(2):219-25. Epub 2007 Dec 18.

    Still waiting for evidence that the DTaP or Tdap or other versions of pertussis vaccines that have been in use for almost 70 years are more dangerous than pertussis.

  36. Auntie Vaccine May 21, 2008 at 05:09 #


    so far you have 130 replies to your two posts on these posters.

    Orac gathered 92, science based medicine another 15. Another 10 for Mike Stanton.

    Total 247?

    AoA got 95 replies.

    Not that I’m counting or anything…

  37. HCN May 21, 2008 at 05:36 #

    Auntie Vaccine said: “AoA got 95 replies.”

    Now that is just unfair! AoA severely moderates their comments. I’m sure they would have triple the comments if they allowed free debate on their site.

    (I’ve left lots of comments on AoA, and only a couple got approved)

  38. Erwin Alber May 21, 2008 at 11:50 #

    In response to HCN’s request “If you have documentation to counter the experience that Japan had (with pertussis), please present it”:

    Germany suspended its “official recommendation” for the pertussis vaccine in 1975, after Prof. Ehrengut had published numerous scientific papers in which he drew attention to the dangers of pertussis vaccination

    As a result, few if any pertussis vaccinations were carried out in the 16 years which followed, until 1991, when the vaccine was again added to the list of “recommended” vaccines.

    Despite many warnings by some that whooping cough epidemics and resulting deaths would eventuate if children were not vaccinated, this did not happen. Deaths in fact dropped, from 10 in 1975 to 6 in 1991, and were at an all-time low of 2 in 1989 (in a population of around 84 million).

    From Dr med G Buchwald’s book “Vaccination – a business based on fear”

  39. Erwin Alber May 21, 2008 at 12:03 #

    In reply to Kev’s response to Hilary:

    “If these parents elect not to vaccinate, then they have to bear the cost of not only the possibility of their own child falling ill but the societal cost (as being demonstrated throughout the US right now) of their environment being contaminated as a result of their inaction”.

    Would you please explain what you mean by “the societal cost of their environment being contaminated as a result of their (non-vaccinating parents’) inaction” ?

  40. bones May 21, 2008 at 13:02 #

    “I wasn’t aware there was a scale of Conflict of Interest nor was I aware that I was using the term incorrectly.”

    -I know Schwartz, that’s why I felt a need to point it out to you.

    “There are certainly different types…”

    -Contradicting yourself again. Well, nothing new there…

  41. Tom May 21, 2008 at 16:12 #

    How simple can I make it for you Schwartz?

    You are incapable of understanding that your uninformed anti-vax rants have nothing to do with autism. Go away.

  42. HCN May 21, 2008 at 16:14 #

    Erwin Alber:

    Yes, they did suspend pertussis vaccination. I did find some papers by the fellow:
    Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 1985 Jun 14;110(24):974-5.
    [Adverse effects of pertussis vaccination in West Germany (1970-1978)][Article in German]

    and Eur J Pediatr. 1995 Mar;154(3):209-14.Links
    Immunogenicity and safety of a monovalent, multicomponent acellular pertussis vaccine in 15 month-6-year-old German children. Monovalent Acellular Pertussis Vaccine Study Group. …. which says “Immunization against pertussis has been re-recommended for healthy children in Germany in 1991. In addition the former restriction of immunizing only in the first 2 years of life was abolished.”

    But, I think you should understand why the book is not a good source of evidence. It looks biased, and is skipping some of the results of suspending vaccination.

    Like this:
    MMW Fortschr Med. 2003 May 15;145(20):13.
    [Whooping cough has an at least 1% mortality rate in infants. Vaccinate parents for pertussis!][Article in German]

    and this:

    Because it would have been very strange that Germany would have a very different experience than Japan:
    Expert Rev Vaccines. 2005 Apr;4(2):173-84.
    Acellular pertussis vaccines in Japan: past, present and future … which says:
    “After two infants died within 24 h of the vaccination from 1974 to 1975, the Japanese government temporarily suspended vaccinations. Subsequently, the public and the government witnessed the re-emergence of whooping cough, with 41 deaths in 1979. This series of unfortunate events revealed to the public that the vaccine had, in fact, been beneficial.”

    And this one abstract from GDR (back in the days when Germany was two countries):
    Dev Biol Stand. 1979;43:101-6.
    Experiences with pertussis vaccination in GDR…. which says “Because of a high pertussis morbidity, compulsory vaccination with DPT-vaccine was started in GDR in 1964. The performing of vaccination for many years has led to a 60–100 fold decrease of morbidity. The well established system of medical care for mothers and babies and the high percent of children who spend their day in nurseries and kindergardens enables satisfying control of the vaccinees. The observed side reactions give no reason to abandon the DPT-Vaccination.”

    Unfortunately, while I can see what the papers were in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, I cannot even get an abstract. Though from the titles I see that there was a great deal of debate. I suspect your book only tells part of the story.

  43. Schwartz May 22, 2008 at 01:28 #


    If you can’t see the difference between scale and types, then you need an english refresher.

    COI rules for journals are fully documented, and there are no scales or grades defined there. Your general reponse is again typical of someone who can’t support your case with specifics.

  44. Schwartz May 22, 2008 at 04:08 #


    Posting links is very problematic:

    Link 1: Efficacy Study (anti body response)

    Link 2: A modelling analysis. Interesting research, short on evidence.

    Link 3: Efficacy Study (PCR meaurement)

    I didn’t want to get into issues of efficacy trials (read the outcome of the mumps outbreak analysis in the midwest for a great recent example of how the efficacy statments based on studies turned out to be quite wrong — let alone the fact that they noted the lack of natural immunity also caused issues — lack of vaccination was not cited as a major issue at all), but this one is interesting. They only used PCR tests to determine incidence. I find that method to be highly subject to selection bias. If a child was vaccinated for pertussis, what are the odds the doctor will send a sample to a lab for PCR testing? I would think the odds would be quite a bit lower.

    Link 4: Yet another efficacy study (from Sweden)

    Link 5: YAES (from Italy this time)

    Link 6: Efficacy of a booster shot

    Link 7: Discussion about booster shots

    Link 8: Study of LOCAL reactions of booster shots (note, not the shots given to infants…)

    Link 9: We’re getting warmer, but still no dice. ONly a study about various booster shot and LOCAL reactions. This only looked at children who were healthy. Not a study about the original shots, nor did it test the original vaccines, but candidates for boosters.

    Link 10: This study did measure a safety comparison of a whole cell Pertussis vaccine. This study is not free, so I can’t read any of the details –> I’ll count it as a candidate.

    Link 11: This was an expert opinion on whole cell vaccines.

    Link 12: This one is interesting in that they compare known reactions in pre-term infants between wP and aP vaccines (and it was free so I could read the whole thing). However, they only studied very specific reactions within 72 hours of vaccination. Additionally, pre-vaccinated children were used as controls, so this was not a general safety trial, but a very narrow one. The study group was only 124 pre-term infants. No longer term followup.

    Link 13: Another study of events for pre-term underweight infants. Very narrow study as above, noting numerous cardiorespiratory events some requiring intervention. Small study group of 78. No controls. No long term followup.

    Link 14: Another small study looking at exactly the same things as 12 and 13. Same problems as above.

    Link 15: A discussion paper about relative efficacy and reactions between aP and wP. Not an actual RCT. Not available to read.

    Link 16: Your second last link is a step in the right direction. However, it was a narrow review focussed only on seizures. This is good. It confirms my understanding that aP is less risky than wP, but the study itself is not free so I couldn’t read more. It is valuable, but again limited in scope, so can’t provide an overall risk factor.

    Last Link: This one was good. Although it only really talked about Epilepsy, the analysis here appears to be excellent. It does provide a reasonably credible risk of encepalopathy from DTP and appears to have been done by indepedent researchers. This is a very new paper (just 3 months old) and talks about potential genetic causes of some of the cases associated with the vaccines. This particular discussion was very interesting, although it is unclear if the reaction due to genetic mutation is exacerbated or triggered by the vaccine application. More study here was recommended.

    I’m curious if you found anything interesting in this last paper?

    So to sum up, there is still no evidence of any RCTs with a longer term followup (most are 72 hours) which has been my main issue from the start.

    There are 3 studies that looked at pre-term infants and a number that studied wP vaccines and a couple of local reactions to boosters (not the infant vaccines). All had very narrow focus and short followup periods. One had questionable controls (vaccinated children) although that might be OK in that case, because the scope of study was extermely narrow.

    One very new review (Feb 2008) looking at encephalopathy stands out among the crowd and satisifies me that the risk of encepalopathy from DTaP is measurably very low — probably lower than the risk of death from pertussis infection. However, it does raise the question of genetic succeptibility, and the lack of followup from the original study is disappointing. This reinforces my feeling that there is little attempt to investigate and mitigate damage in future vaccine recipients. Most tellingly is that the majority of these studies only look at 72 hours post vaccination (in your group, I don’t think any looked further than that). It is interesting that according to the IOM over 10,000 occurences of seizures were estimated per year. That is still a pretty big number and they don’t really know the effect of those seizures.

  45. Schwartz May 22, 2008 at 04:13 #


    One interesting statistic about West Germany is that the infant mortality rate supposedly dropped significantly during the 1970’s and then surpassed the rate in East Germany in the 1980’s.

    Clearly the effect of the lack of pertussis vaccination had little relative measurable effect on the rate of infant mortality and that other things have a lot more effect on the infant mortality rate. To me, this speaks to the overemphasis of the relative effect of some of the vaccines on health and mortality. There appear to be a lot more important things that improve health and reduce risk.

  46. Schwartz May 22, 2008 at 04:15 #


    You’re right it’s pretty simple. Yet another post from you with nothing concrete to discuss. Sigh.

    PS: You’ll note that I didn’t bring the discussion to the DTaP vaccine and in fact, I started my posts right on topic. Perhaps you should read more carefully?

  47. Erwin Alber May 22, 2008 at 13:02 #

    To HCN: Thanks for your response in which you say: “But, I think you should understand why the book is not a good source of evidence. It looks biased, and is skipping some of the results of suspending vaccination”.

    Dr. Buchwald’s book is written for the general public. It features numerous graphs based on the official infectious diseases death rates collected by the Federal Office of Statistics in Wiesbaden, including a graph showing pertussis deaths during the 16 years when the pertussis vaccine was taken off the list of recommended vaccinations.

    Here are the numbers of pertussis deaths for each of these years – from 1975 until 1991 – when pertussis vaccination was suspended in Germany:

    1975 8
    1976 10
    1977 8
    1978 8
    1979 6
    1980 7
    1981 13
    1982 12
    1983 2
    1984 1
    1985 5
    1986 6
    1987 5
    1988 7
    1989 2
    1990 8
    1991 6

    These figures show that although there was a brief increase in deaths due to an epidemic in 1981 and 1982, there was nevertheless no overall increase, but rather a slight overall decrease in pertussis deaths over this time period, despite the absence of pertussis vaccinations.

    In New Zealand, the use of pertussis vaccines has failed to reduce the number of deaths or hospitalisations from the disease.

    The use of the pertussis vaccine is (like that of other vaccines) not justifiable on the grounds that the vaccine appears largely ineffective and that the vaccine poses as great a health risk (or even a greater health risk) than the disease itself.

    The fact that the annual deaths from pertussis in Germany (pop. 84 million) can now be counted on the fingers of one hand shows that the expenditure of vaccinating German children is both a waste of time and money, especially considering that there was no overall increase in pertussis deaths in the 16 years the vaccine was suspended.

    Meanwhile, nearly 10000 people are killed on Germany’s roads and around 12000 people die as a result of suicide in Germany every year. I think this should put this matter into its proper perspective.

  48. Catherina May 22, 2008 at 15:32 #

    Buchwald is hardly a reliable source – he thinks there are live bacteria that can “spread immediately through the whole body” in the DTwP writing in 1989:

    Andererseits dürfte die Keuchhustenimpfung das gefährlichste der heute gebräuchlichen Impfverfahren sein, weil es sich um eine Spritzimpfung mit Erregern handelt, die sich sofort im Körper ausbreiten.

    And in an interview in 1989, he shows his true colours, suggesting that children in developing countries have “less developed nervous sytems” and would therefore not have so many adverse reactions to the DTP in “our” children:

    “Wahrscheinlich sind nicht nur die dortigen Länder in ihrer Gesamtheit unterentwickelt, möglicherweise sind dies auch die Nervensysteme der Neugeborenen und der Kleinkinder… Trotz zunächst noch bestehender kindlicher Unreife der Gehirne unserer Kinder, scheinen diese im Gegensatz zu den Gehirnen der Kinder der Dritten Welt doch “hoch entwickelt” zu sein, um auf Impfungen entsprechend zu reagieren…. Denn in unserem Vaterland sind Impfungen, die so furchtbare Schäden anrichten … ein Verbrechen”
    (“Naturheilpraxis” 1989; 42(5): 5-10).

    So we are looking at someone who does not understand the nature of the vaccine given and who has rather dated views on comparative nervous system development – why should we read his book again, except maybe for sociopathological studies?

    As for pertussis deaths, we know that about 5% of German children whose deaths were classified as “SIDS” were infected with pertussis (

  49. Schwartz May 23, 2008 at 05:34 #


    Ignoring Buchwald and focusing on that study, it raises a number of interesting questions:

    Do you how the rate of SIDS changed over the same time period? I’m guessing it dropped (when did they implement sleep position changes?), but I can’t find the data.

    How long does is Pertussis B detectable by PCR after infection?

    It is interesting to note that 5% of control subjects also had Pertussis B infection. They had a 1.4% false positive rate on the PCR samples. Since they only sent negative test samples 1/3 of the time, up to .9% of the total samples could be assumed to be false positive.

    Additionally, other URIs and low birth weight were more prevalent in the study.

    The study appears to be well done even if it was funded by Wyeth. I won’t disregard it because of the funding source. The conclusions are indeterminate though, a lot of questions are outstanding.

    I am hitting all pay sites trying to get the information and my Technische Deutsch is not good enough to read scientific studies in the vernacular.

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