New MMR study makes the NAA angry

4 Sep

Oh dear.

As I posted yesterday, MMR still doesn’t cause autism – as reported by yet another group of researchers.

And yet there was something special about this group of researchers. The lead author is Dr Mady Hornig who it seems is trying to turn over a new leaf and recapture her place as a good scientist.

As the link I supplied shows, it was not always thus and for a long time Dr Hornig was a card carrying member of the mercury militia. In fact, she was a regular speaker at conferences organised by SafeMinds and the NAA.

Which makes the press release about this new MMR study by the NAA all the more painful to read.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released today claims there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism

Thats how the NAA refers the Hornig study all the way through its press release. ‘The CDC study’. Its a little like reading the decree nisi in the lead up to a divorce you just know is going to be long and bitter.

Anyway, lets have a look at the rest of the points the NAA try to make.

…In a 2002 paper where the majority of autistic children were found to have measles in their intestines, the children examined showed a clear temporal link between MMR exposure and regression. The CDC’s attempt to replicate the 2002 study fell far short of proving the safety of the MMR vaccine.

No reference is supplied for this ‘2002 paper’ so I have no idea what to talk about here. Thats not very smart NAA. Also, as discussed yesterday in the press conference, the intent was to replicate Wakefield’s original study. In 1998. Not 2002.

The CDC study was designed to detect persistent measles virus in autistic children with GI problems. The assumption being if there is no measles virus at the long delayed time of biopsy, there is no link between autism and MMR. But NAA says this underlying assumption is wrong. The questions should have been: Do normally developing children meeting all milestones have an MMR shot, develop GI problems and then regress into autism? Do they have evidence of measles and disease in their colons compared to non-vaccinated age and sex matched controls?

Ahhh, I _see_ – so when you don’t like the answer, change the question? Nice one. The NAA are obviously South Park fans, seeing as they just introduced the Chewbacca defense.

In the current CDC study, only a small subgroup of children was the correct phenotype to study……Only 5 of 25 subjects (20%) had received MMR before the onset of GI complaints and had also had onset of GI episodes before the onset of AUT (P=0.03).” The other 20 autistic children in the study had GI problems but the pathology developed before the MMR vaccine.

This really does take the piss in an extreme way. The NAA love the 1998 study by Wakefield which had a group of 12 participants. Now they suddenly don’t like small numbers?

And really, that is besides the point. The authors took some autistic kids with GI issues and then looked to match them to a hypothesis. The fact that the only found a very, very small number who actually fit the description that the NAA would _like_ them to fit is extremely telling. The vast majority of the kids had GI issues _before administration of MMR_ . Now, what does that tell you? Its not difficult to work out.

Inflammatory bowel disease in the absence of MMR RNA does not mean that MMR shot didn’t precipitate the GI disease and didn’t precipitate autism…

Oho…is that the rumble of some goalpost shifting I can hear? I think it is.

Lets be clear. For literally a decade now, the NAA and the groups like it have been claiming that their kids had the MMR, developed gastric issues, then developed autism all as a result of the measles vaccine RNA contained in the measles component of the MMR. This is the hypothesis that the Autism Omnibus plaintiffs are arguing for right now. This study has thrown yet another large, cold bucket of reality over that nonsense. So now, thats _not_ the hypothesis?

Public confidence in the safety of vaccines is at risk until safety studies are performed that are required by law, ethics, and science….blah blah blah

Is it? If that _was_ the case then the only people who have put the public confidence of vaccines at risk are groups like the NAA. There is no way to keep saying the same thing without appearing repetitive: what you believe is wrong. The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. Shut up. Start working _for_ autism.

And is it really the case that public confidence is slipping? I recently wrote about a phone survey that had found that:

….66 percent had heard that “some parents and researchers say vaccines have side effects that may lead to autism, asthma, diabetes, attention deficit disorder and other medical problems.” About 33 percent had not heard of these concerns, and 1 percent was uncertain.

Seventy-one percent of the adults said “the benefits of immunizations outweigh the risks,” while 19 percent “have questions about the risks of immunization,” and 10 percent were uncertain or gave other responses such as “it depends upon the kind of immunization.”

So, its clear that people (in the US at least) are beginning to get some confidence back in vaccines and see the need for them. That is backed up by an article by the American Academy of Family Physicians who report:

Although the alleged link between childhood autism and the vaccine preservative thimerosal still sparks occasional controversy, the good news is that by and large, parents don’t seem to be buying into the hype. According to the latest reports available from the CDC, overall childhood immunization rates in the United States continue to steadily increase.

This is good news. Partly anyway. It is good news for herd immunity and the general level of the health of the US.

However, this is never going to be good news for autism and for autistic people whilst we have the various conspiracy theory addled groups who claim to represent the autism community continually burying their collective heads in the sand whenever yet another study comes out to show them how silly they’re being. I urge two things to happen.

1) Doctors and scientists – please don’t stop talking about this issue once vaccinations reach safe levels. Your job is only part done at that stage. You *must* continue to talk to reach new parents and the parents who can be reached from the autism community. Don’t let these kooks get the control back.

2) So-called autism advocacy groups in the US and UK. You know who you are. You’re doing nothing to help autistic people. Change your ways or shut up.

11 Responses to “New MMR study makes the NAA angry”

  1. mike stanton September 4, 2008 at 08:37 #

    Well that did not take long. There is going to be more spinning within orgs like NAA than was every seen in a centrifuge in one of Wakefield’s labs.

  2. Ringside Seat September 4, 2008 at 16:09 #

    I smell desperation here. CDC study? Ahh, Hornig? Buie? Bellini? O’Leary?

    I also see that Rick Rollens spoke in support of the paper, which, of course, follows dozens and dozens, all looking at the thing from different directions, and all coming to the same conclusion.

    BTW, does anybody know how many of the omnibus litigants have filed claims with measles virus as the alleged culprit?

    Even for Cedillo, which was the double-hit thing, rested pivotally on one of O’Leary’s Post-it notes.

  3. Regan September 4, 2008 at 18:02 #

    They will never agree with the results.

    Not after “20 epidemiologic studies reported no temporal relationship between MMR and ASD [13]–[33], and three studies found no MV RNA in PBMC of ASD children [34]–[36];”
    And not after this one, which directly examined GI tissue, in addition to temporal relationships, in a blinded fashion, across 3 separate labs on two continents, including one that was involved in the original Lancet study.

    I have noted that for those who insist on the connection, no study is flawed enough to be disregarded when it is in aid of the MMR-autism hypothesis, and there will never be one perfect enough to satisfy them that the hypothesis has been rejected.

    The collected evidence has spoken. Time to move on.

  4. Ms. Clark September 4, 2008 at 20:04 #

    While NAA has an office in tiny Nixa, Missouri, strip mall. Autism Speaks is a big organization with real clout that goes beyond sending out press releases wherein one mercury mom interviews another mercury mom who says that vaccines cause autism. I suspect that the NAA takes directions from anti-vaccine lawyers directly and that they function as a sort of astroturf faux parent-led org, I could be wrong about that, but they seem to say what would help out the antivax lawyers the most.

    Autism Speaks says this about the Hornig study:

    Study Shows No Connection Between Autism and Persistence of MMR Virus RNA
    A study published today found that measles virus RNA was no more likely to be present in the bowel tissue of children with autism than that of typically developing children. Furthermore, GI symptom and autism onset were found to be unrelated to MMR vaccine timing. These findings refute an earlier report published in 1998 that indicated autism is associated with the measles virus vaccine. The study published today, conducted by Ian Lipkin, Mady Hornig and colleagues, involved a careful comparison of children with gastrointestinal disturbances and autism versus children with GI disturbances alone. Notably, 88% of the children with autism had experienced behavioral regression. The investigators were careful to match the groups in age and evaluations for the measles virus RNA examination was done in three separate laboratories by technicians who were unaware of the diagnosis of the child. No differences in the groups were found. The presence of measles virus RNA was no more likely in children with autism than in children without autism.
    “This was a well-designed study that clearly refutes a connection between autism and the presence of the measles virus RNA,” noted Geri Dawson, Chief Science Officer at Autism Speaks. “While this study answered some questions, it raised others. The investigators suggest that there may be an association between GI disturbance and language regression among children with autism. Given that many children with autism suffer from GI problems, more studies focused on understanding the cause and treatment of these problems are needed,” she further noted.

  5. isles September 5, 2008 at 04:49 #

    I think you are correct, Ms. Clark, about the nature of NAA. What I don’t understand is how there is a reporter left in the country naive enough to believe they are a credible organization that speaks for large numbers of autism families.

  6. ????? ? October 4, 2009 at 06:35 #

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